Pink Ribbon Rides
2001 Iron Butt
|After losing sight of the friends I was riding
with and forced to make my own decisions, I finally learned
to use my Street Pilot. Affectionately named "Street P",
she woke up every morning with a smile and bright face, not
unlike mine of course. I tend to follow quicker than to strike
out on my own, but once I do I can overcome my lack of confidence
in my ability to find my way. I was nervous about riding the
Iron Butt Rally alone so I tried to hook up with folks I knew
and comfortable with their riding styles. It was not to be and
turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I had to do this on
||Day Two IBR2001 and beyond
|Day two found me streaking across I-10 toward El Paso alone. It
had been raining off and on most of the day and I finally had to pull
over to take off my wet vest and put my Gortex lining in my suit.
"I thought it didn't rain in the desert". I learned later
that I hadn't quite made it to the real desert yet.
|At one point I was slowing down for a construction
zone, all the workers were looking across the street, I took
a peek and lo and behold there in the distance was a funnel
cloud. It was at the end of a large rain cloud and stirring
up dust and debris quite dramatically. Remember the sky is just
about as big as it gets and you can see for miles and miles.
I figured the funnel cloud was pretty far away so I stopped
to take a picture of it. I had a few brave thoughts about being
able to out run it when suddenly it pulled back up into the
cloud and was just a memory. I saw that movie about the tornado
runners, I guess I really couldn't have gotten away if it was
|I had traveled a good 800 miles and I saw only one other Iron Butt
rider. We parted ways when he stopped for gas, gosh I love that fuel
After a moment of distress with the cap on my fuel cell not sealing
properly I had a fleeting thought that if I don't fix this thing
my ride could end right now. I messed with it and finally got it
to seal. Whew!
|Sunset after the storm
|I next rode around some incredible storms and
got wet enough be make myself into a mud pie when I rode through
a dust storm. It looked like a storm cloud, but brown. The wind
was pretty intense too. Dusk was settling in and the sunset
was breath taking. I decided to stop and check out a bump I
kept feeling in my rear tire, change my helmet shield and catch
a quick picture of the sunset. I didn't see anything wrong with
my tire and about that time 2 other IB riders zoomed past. Yeah,
company! I boogied on up to them waved and settled in behind
them for a bit of camaraderie.
|I knew who one of them was because he had a sidecar on his BMW RT.
It was Bob Mutchler, who rides all over the world in his quest to
eradicate Polio, of which he was afflicted with as a child. Bob and
I had bonded at breakfast before the start and sat together at the
banquet. Oh goody, company for a change.
Soon that bump on my rear tire became quite regular and I
felt like I kept slipping on wet pavement. I finally convinced
myself that I really needed to stop and check this out while
I had help with me. I scooted in front of Bob and pointed
to my rear tire, put my blinker light on and the guys followed
me to the side. I got one of my many flashlights out and took
another look at that tire. Holy Cow!!! My rear wheel glistened
with oil totally covering it and more was puking out of that
big arm that connects to my tire.
|Oil on the rim!
|Here I am on the side of I-10 in the dark, in the middle of nowhere
and I am in big trouble. Will Lee was the other rider with Bob and
in minutes David Smith pulls up in front of us. Little did I know
that Andrew Duthie was up a few exits waiting to see if we were coming
along. Andrew eventually turned around and saw me two up with Bob
and heading to help. Where did everyone come from? I had seen only
one other IB rider in 800 miles, now there are 4. Thank you to the
The ride on the back of Bob's bike was an adventure all in it's
self. He has to shift that thing with a real shifter handle,like
in a big truck with 4 on the floor. He did it well and was quite
adept. I put my important equipment in his sidecar and we proceeded
to the next exit. The most important thing I grabbed was my BMWON
anonymous book. Will went on per the rules. I was safe and getting
help. David Smith followed us in. As soon as I got off Bob's bike,
unloaded my stuff, I shooed them on. Being men and gentlemen it
was hard for them to leave me all by myself. I insisted. I was safe
and had a phone. Their job was complete.
I noticed a big bike outside the Texaco station and asked who owned
that big Goldwing? The fellow behind the counter said it was a Kawasaki.
I apologized and asked if he knew of a tow company that could handle
a motorcycle. I proceeded to pull out my anonymous book and with shaking
hands picked out a number. Why didn't I use the first one? Why I chose
that particular number I'll never be able to explain. I was panicked
because I couldn't remember what all the letter abbreviations meant
and couldn't find a reference to them. I plunged into a distress call
to a total stranger. I got a hold of Dean Reardon who gave me directions
to the Iron Horse BMW dealer in Tucson, Arizona, just a mere 100 miles
|While I was talking to him the fellows with the
tow truck showed up. Bert's towing at my service. He was so
proud that he had just bought this new truck that could safely
haul a motorcycle. Now he could help any stranded vehicle. Within
15 minutes they had my bike on that truck and his partner, Cork,
was hauling me to Tucson . Cork chatted away about how he and
his wife had retired here from where water is a premium, unlike
Arizona. I had not allowed myself to dwell on my predicament
after my initial thought on the side of I-10 that this might
be the rally for me.
|We finally arrived at the Iron Horse BMW dealership
around midnight, but Cork and I were afraid to leave the bike
there, so he took me back up to the expressway and saw me checked
in and unloaded the bike. We actually slipped the bike off the
truck, both wheels where covered with gear oil. Ugh! I hate
the way that smells.
Dean called in my room the next morning and said he was coming
to pick me up and take me to the shop. He had already called
Marty Cohen, the owner, and alerted them to my situation.
At this point I finally broke down and cried, OK , so I sobbed
my heart out. Was I going to be able to make the checkpoint
in Pomona, CA? Was I even going to get fixed? I had to let
it go. I didn't know the outcome at all and need not waste
energy on it..
Dean was a very calm, and efficient fellow. In no time we were
at Iron Horse and unloading the bike. I was meeting everyone, Marty
Cohen, who was quite concerned for my predicament , Jim Strang the
service manager, and most important in this story was Matt Noli,
the mechanic. They got my bike on the lift and of course I immediately
took a picture with my flag on it to document the ordeal.
There was some head shaking and scratching going on, a bit of talk.
Dean started talking to them and saying isn't there anything you
can do? Can you take some parts from another bike? They were getting
ready to take my bike down, because I needed a whole new rear drive,
parts would have to be ordered. Suddenly they all looked at the
brand new GS1150 waiting to be assembled from its crate. Matt quickly
pulled the whole rear drive off the new one and mine and within
2 and a half hours had me back in the rally.
|While all this is going on, Dean took me shopping
to acquire some items I had blow off my bike the previous day.
At the shop I was celebrating. People were coming and going
and I was having a blast with everyone. Cops included. I got
my wet vest soaked and some of my clothes washed in the sink.
I got a standing stool and started putting all my electronics
back on my bike. Matt just kept working away while I scurried
around him manipulating my gear. By the time the bike came off
the lift, I was ready to ride.
|The happiest call I made was to Donnie and Michael Kneebone to tell
them I'm getting ready to high tail it to Pomona. At one time I saw
the temperature was 103 and it kept getting hotter. I kept computing
the time and mileage and always came up with sometime in the 6pm to
8pm window. Losing points didn't matter at all. Just getting to the
checkpoint was my goal. If I was time barred I wasn't going to care.
I had to finish whether I had points or not. This was where my whole
attitude changed about my ride. I wanted to finish. I was so close
to not finishing I never even once contemplated taking a risk that
might cause me to DNF. I had too many people, not to mention my generous
sponsors counting on me to do nothing but finish the Iron Butt. That
is what I did.
Will Lee came up to me and said I was the bravest woman he knew,
Bob Mutchler, with his beautiful movie star smile hugged me, as
did David and Andrew. I had made it and was still in the Rally.
I had an hour and a half before bonus packets would be handed out
again. As soon as I saw mine and Pat Widder's shop was once again
a bonus, I drove straight to Ventura, CA got a motel on the beach
and then took a look at the map to decide what I would do. I went
for a leisurely walk on the beach and had a total awakening about
what is really important in this rally and my life.
This episode was what caused me to abandon my dream to go to Hyder,
Alaska. It also caused me to reevaluate my route through Canada
and to Radisson in the land of nowhere, Quebec. Once I arrived in
Thunder Bay, the sky filled with stars and my sometimes-riding partner,
Bob Mutchler by my side, I knew my goal must be to get to Maine
as safely as possible. That is what I did.
We left Thunder Bay with beautiful blue skies. Lake Ontario looked
like an incredible Sapphire sparkling constantly on our right. We
crossed the Macanac Bridge then over to London, Ontario where I
had to stop. Bob rode on because he is a maniac. I needed to sleep,
but woke the next morning missing him greatly.
I was a few blocks from Niagara Falls when I pulled up next to
another BMW RT. Bob Higdon, the man whose voice I kept hearing in
my mind for the last 3 or 4K miles, "This is the stupidest
thing that I have ever done". Bob and I took our pictures and
he guided me out of that maze and onto the through way. I heeded
his advice and stopped in Bennington, Vermont, with the knowledge
that I would get to Gorham, Maine in time to leisurely check in,
go take a nap on the beach and get the lobster dinner I had been
dreaming of since Thunder Bay.
My ride down I-81 and my favorite Shenandoah Valley was uneventful,
except for the driving award I received in VA. I was off that GS
and in Donnie's arms around 8:30 CST September 6.
Bonuses? What bonuses? If they were on my way I stopped. If they
became difficult at any time I abandoned them without a blink of
the eye. I wanted to be at the finish line. Sleep was more important
to me than any bonus, ever.
I am so thrilled to have been a part of this wonderful event. I
loved the miles, the camaraderie, and even the events that caused
me to reevaluate and reevaluate. Do I want to do this again? I don't
think so. I want to learn to play golf, go fishing, learn to kayak,
dig a garden and plant flowers. I want to use my experiences to
inspire and encourage other women and men to seek their dreams.
So if you see me at rallies doing my seminar, "Women Who Ride"
or my dropped bike demo, come on in. Come be a part of my enthusiasm
to share my enthusiasm, dreams and adventures.