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Offline SGB

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Iron Butt Saddle Sore & Bun Burner on Adventure Bikes
« on: February 04, 2006, 09:03:13 pm »
IRON BUTT RIDE ? CAPE TOWN AND BACK: NO RAIN, NO GAIN.
Ever since we first heard about the Iron Butt Association (IBA), it felt like unfinished business.
The 24,000+ members of the Iron Butt Association are dedicated to safe, long-distance motorcycle riding. Although based in the United States, they have thousands of enthusiastic members throughout the globe. One of their more popular slogans is, "The World Is Our Playground". Most of us identify with both the slogan and safe motorcycle riding.
For the few that don?t know, the IBA has a few certified rides ranging from the Saddlesore and Bunburner rides, comprising 1600 and 2500 km in 24 and 36 hours respectively, to extreme rides like the 10 -10th and ultimately the 100k club. The last two rides being 10 consecutive 1000 mile per day rides, and 100 000 recorded miles in one year. The IBA maintains an excellent website with lots of valuable tips for safe long distance riding. See www.ironbutt.com
Opinions regarding IBA rides range from ?can?t see the point? to ?madness? to ?something I wish I could do?. On completion, some Iron Butt riders vowed ?never again? while others come back for more. Howie wrote a story in a recent Bike SA of three Saddlesore 1000 mile rides in three consecutive days by him and his friends. Whilst we did not desire to try and improve on Howie?s feat, we certainly saw the point and opted to try at least an entry level IBA ride.
During casual discussions over several months, we slowly agreed on a few principles. Since all of us ride dual purpose bikes, super high speeds were out of the question. Nobody minded a very early departure, but we did not want to do too much riding in the dark. The IBA rules do not allow ludicrous ideas like 1000 laps around the block and rides must either be point A to point B, 1000 miles apart or out and back efforts with witnesses at critical points. We favoured a point A to B ride.  Within these constraints plus the fact that various members of our team would depart from home in KZN and Pta respectively, we started to look at possible routes. Traffic patterns, road conditions, toll gates, weather and wind all played a role, but Cape Town?s late sunset in summer did not go unnoticed so a vague plan was born.
Riders would depart from Pretoria and Durban to meet in Harrismith and then proceed via Bloemfontein to the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town ? a distance of about 1700 km from either departure point. We planned for departure at 04:00, a total of 3 hours for rest, meals and fuel stops and 13 hours of riding to reach Cape Town just as the sun sets at 20:00. It was felt that 98 km/h overall average for the day or 120 km/h moving average was not too ambitious. Even if things slowed down, we would not need to do much riding in the dark.  
Since we had to start the ride back home the next day, it soon dawned on us that we could do another 900 km on day two before 16:00 to qualify for the Bunburner (2500 km in 36 hours) as well. A plan was finalised, with detailed planning for fuel stops, meals, emergencies, GPS routes etc and most importantly ? a date was set.
With detailed planning complete everybody focussed on getting the bikes ready. The group would comprise of Piet, Jaco and Gaukes on three 1150 GS BM?s and Stefan on a 950 KTM. Everybody planned to fit road tires for the trip and all bikes were to be serviced. Piet had a difference of opinion with his friendly technical service provider when it transpired that the maintenance instructions in the owners manual of the 1150 GS Adventure differs from the BMW service instructions to workshops. The owners manual recommends replacement of the poly belt, spark plugs, fuel filter etc. every 20 000 km while the BMW service instructions only schedule those items to be replaced every 40 000 km. After voicing dissatisfaction, everything barring the spark plugs was replaced as per the owner?s handbook. BMW?s recommendations or not, Piet bought four new plugs and the old ones were replaced.  
The KTM maintenance organisation did not do much better and Stefan?s bike spent a little longer in the shop than anticipated. Fortunately, a few days (if you can call one a few?) before the D-day, the bikes were all set with new tyres, synchronised throttles bodies (BM?s) and synchronised carburettors (KTM), valve timing set, spark plugs, air-, fuel filters and belts renewed and fresh oil of the brand and grade that satisfied the owner?s whims, superstitions and preferences ? if you can take the advisors? word?..  
As the time for D-day neared, the weather started to turn against us. While the rain in Pretoria, KZN and the Free state delighted the farmers and Department of Water Affairs, we were not overly pleased.  On day D-1 the forecast was for rain in KZN and cloudy conditions in the Freestate and Pta with thunder showers in the afternoon. At least the Cape was to be windy but clear.  We hoped to be out under the rain clouds before 09:00 so we decided to proceed.
At exactly 04:00 on 27 January the two Pretoria riders left the Engen filling station in Doornkloof and some 600 km distant the two KZN riders left the Shell in Kloof. Everybody had a date and time stamped fuel slip to officiate the start time, a signed departure witness form and a fuel and distance log as per the IBA rules in a waterproof container.
The route from Pretoria to Harrismith proved uneventful but the KZN team had to don rain suits immediately. They experienced rain all the way and thick fog in places.  The KZN team had a slightly shorter first leg but a fuel stop for the KTM and the rain and mist slowed down their progress.  Unbelievably the four riders arrived at the Harrismith Engen at exactly the same moment. We took it as a good omen.
 
From Harrismith the route went via Bethlehem, Senekal and Winburg to Bloemfontein. Unfortunately the weather forecast proved to be wrong and we had pouring rain all the way. Piet?s brand new rain suit provided by John Briscoe of Gear-Up proved to be an excellent product and wise investment.  Jaco?s new rain suit was even better ? no difference in the water proofing qualities but the bright fluorescent yellow - green of his suit was visible for miles in the poor conditions.  Despite the pouring rain everybody arrived in Bloem in a comfortable, warm and dry state with broad smiles all round.
We South Africans are spoilt. Unlike the European and UK bikers we park our bikes at the slightest sign of rain or sub 20?° temperatures. With a minimum of preparation and with the right gear biking can really be enjoyed all year round in South Africa.  All the GS?s were on Michelins and the KTM on Pirelli Scorpions. The tires provided surefooted grip and despite a few slippery patches nobody even had one scary moment. The ?No Rain No Gain? principles of wet riding, being a smooth, relaxed and supple rider on the bike, short shifting and doing any braking / accelerating in the upright position were constantly in the back of our minds.  
In Bloem we had breakfast. In an effort to save time, Piet packed breakfast for everybody. We eliminated waiting for a waiter (excuse the pun?) to take our orders and a chef to prepare our meals, saving valuable minutes with a little preparation. We did order warm coffee but that did not take long.
Before too long we were on our horses again. The rain stopped eventually, but the conditions remained cloudy ? not entirely unwelcome if you think of the normal summer temperatures in the Karoo. Kilometres blitzed past on the N1 and we soon arrived in Beaufort West where we had lunch. This time we had a bit more time and sat down at the Wimpy to be served.
 
By now the rituals at the fuel stops had become second nature. Filling up, paying for fuel, resetting trip meters, activating the next GPS route, completing IBA distance and fuel log, phoning or SMS wife, attending to bio needs and stretching legs only a took few minutes.
Gaukes and Jaco heeded the advice on the IBA website and arranged head phones and audio entertainment for the trip. Jaco had a few audio books and plenty music loaded on his i-pod while Gaukes used a MP3 player. Jaco enjoyed his books and music but Gaukes did not check his repertoire of music before the trip so he had to endure his teenage daughter?s head banging music all the way to Colesberg.
One aspect that we did not plan for was the few roadwork projects that we encountered. Lanes were closed for several kilometres, necessitating one lane of traffic to wait for extended periods whilst the oncoming traffic cover the distance at snails pace in single file. We simply did not have 15 or 20 minutes at a time to wait. One or two traffic controllers almost had heart attacks when 4 bikes shot passed their stop signs into the oncoming traffic. Their reaction reminded of scenes from a Leon Schuster movie.  Not being on suicide missions, we promptly moved over to the dirt side of the road to dodge oncoming traffic. The KTM and GS?s were in their element and handled the dirt road and road works with absolute ease. One or two motorists felt obliged to try and impress us with an array of immaculately displayed rude signs but we did not have time to show any appreciation for the mastery of their art.    
The Karoo environment swept past us and soon the magnificent Cape Mountains were in view. The Hugenot tunnel was a special experience and Stefan could not resist the temptation in the confined space to rev his KTM up a bit for some audio entertainment to those without i-pods and the like.  
Once clear of the tunnel near Paarl it was only a short home run to the V&A Waterfront. One thing that we did anticipate but which we could not do much about is the fact that the last 100 km or so would be done in a Westerly direction ? directly into the sunset. With gusty winds, the sun directly in front of us and dense traffic we did not feel very welcome in the Cape. To make matters worse, an intoxicated pedestrian, hell bent on getting himself killed, provided a final test. Fortunately we managed to frustrate his suicide attempts with neatly executed evasion manoeuvres. Judging by the traffic volume and poor visibility he surely had a better than 50% chance to succeed in his mission before the day was done.  
Just after 20:00, almost exactly as planned, we rolled into the Engen at the Waterfront. Our total stationary time was about 30 minutes less than planned but we used up 30 minutes more riding time than planned. In the last bit of light we took a few pictures with Table Mountain in the background.
Everybody repeated the fuel stop ritual for the last time. Wives and friends were  phoned or SMS?ed and messages of sympathy, relief and congratulations soon rolled in. Everybody enjoyed the ride and felt remarkably fresh but frankly it did not feel as if we achieved anything extraordinary.
We parked the bikes in sight of a restaurant on the Waterfront and ordered a few drinks. When the waiters failed to take our orders fast enough, Jaco fetched a huge bowl of Kentucky, which we promptly devoured.
Next we rode back to the Road Lodge at the airport where we had a booking for the night, arriving after 22:00. The manager on duty agreed to serve as witness and the IBA forms were signed. The bikes were parked right in front of the entrance, a security guard was asked to look after our prized possessions and then everybody crashed in their beds.
The next morning we left Cape Town at 05:00 and shot up Sir Lowry?s Pass. We were treated to a magnificent view of the moon above the mountain at first light and a spectacular view over Gordon?s Bay. Pity we did not have time for a few pictures or a few minutes to savour the moment. From there we zipped to the southern tip of the continent via Bredasdorp, and took a few pictures at Cape Agulhas.
Special mention must be made of the various Cape mountain passes. What a thrill to manhandle a heavy bike through the tight corners. One trick that we discovered is to zoom the GPS map to cover 500 meters or so. In the blind bends a quick downward glance provides a clue of the shape of the road ahead ? very useful. All you have to worry about then is the possibility of an 18-wheeler on its roof around the next corner while you are gunning around at full tilt.
 
Breakfast was ordered at a nice location in Swellendam, from where we took the famous Route 62 through Suurbraak, Ladismith, Oudtshoorn and Willowmore to Graaff Reinet; to arrive 3 minutes ahead of plan. As we were well within the Bunburner time constraints, the last 150 km or so was a relaxing slow cruise which everybody enjoyed.  Everybody was pleased to have qualified for the two IBA rides but nobody more so than Stefan. His 950 KTM could be the first one on the IBA website to complete a Bunburner ride.
The guest house owner at Carrow ? Veld Cottages, Morven Munro, agreed to be our witness and signed the IBA forms.  What a beautiful little town. One of the oldest in the country and every building seem to be a monument. We had a relaxing few hours around a few cold ones and after a properly sized rump steak for dinner we once again crashed for the night.
From Graaff Reinet our home runs took us trough Bloemfontein to Pretoria and Durban respectively.  We departed on Sunday morning at 5:00 as usual, and once again appreciated the crisp morning air and Karoo sunrise with a bit of mist here and there.  Another 1000 km or so was in store for the day, just to get home.  We stopped at Tom?s, just outside Bloemfontein for breakfast and the group split towards Durban and Pretoria respectively.  Some more rain was encountered on route by both parties, which by now did not scare us at all.  KZN welcomed its inhabitants with typical soft rain and mist from Town Hill onwards. All arrived safely and by late afternoon everyone had exchanged SMS messages confirming safe arrival and was sitting feet-up with coffee made by our own wives after a total of about 3700 km in each for the weekend.
The bikes and gear performed brilliantly and while detailed praise for everything that worked well would be out of place, it is worth mentioning the benefits of a top quality helmet. While it is difficult to justify the 5 to 10 times price difference between entry level and top quality helmets in terms of safety alone, the difference in design and quality of padding, aerodynamic qualities, noise, weight, ventilation, anti fogging qualities etc. soon become apparent during an extended trip like this. Good advice is to buy the absolute best ? it is worth every cent.
Motorcycle journalists have the habit of sheepishly copying each others comments on bike tests. BMW?s are universally criticised for the indicator switches and the KTM?s for uncomfortable seats.  Most BM riders far prefer the three big single function buttons and easy of operation in the cold with gloved hands to some pea sized fiddly multi function button. During this ride Stefan proved that a KTM?s seat is good enough for 3700 km in less than 40 hours riding time. Maybe some journalists could benefit from some more riding before they write their test reports.
There is no denying that biking does come with its risks. Every once in a while we are brutally reminded of the risks when one of our friends pay a terrible price for the privilege of enjoying the freedom and thrills. We prepared and planned as best we could and obviously tried to be as careful as possible but to complete a collective 15 000 km in a weekend without the slightest trouble is to some extent down to good luck as well.
Will we do an Iron Butt ride again? For most of us the thrill is in the motorcycle riding and not about names on websites or bragging with certificates, stickers or badges. So in terms of the IBA probably not, but if you ask if we will do another long ride of approximately 1000 miles in one day the answer is a resounding yes. The IBA?s recommendations for extended distance riding will still be followed, and their contribution to the safety of this kind of trip will always be acknowledged.  With the correct planning and preparation, the enjoyment and safety aspects are greatly enhanced and really essential.  In fact we are already planning to string some of those intoxicating Cape mountain passes together or go and have a look at the most westerly point or maybe a ride to Tanzania.
The World Is Our Playground.
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Do not believe everything you think....
 

Offline SGB

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« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2006, 09:15:02 pm »






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Offline macduff

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Iron Butt Saddle Sore & Bun Burner on Adventure Bikes
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2006, 10:41:42 pm »
very entertaining reading  :)  :)
and VERY impressive trip :shock:  :shock:

great stuff, thanks for sharing    :wink:
 

Offline funacide

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Iron Butt Saddle Sore & Bun Burner on Adventure Bikes
« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2006, 07:26:35 pm »
GR8 report man and well done on completing the ride. I got to do me one of these trips very soon.

Thanks for sharing
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Offline macduff

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Iron Butt Saddle Sore & Bun Burner on Adventure Bikes
« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2006, 07:53:25 pm »
fun
you almost did it not too long ago
just that you guys wanted to act like sheep and watch a karoo sunrise  :lol:  :lol:  :wink:
 

Offline LiveInTheOutdoors

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Iron Butt Saddle Sore & Bun Burner on Adventure Bikes
« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2006, 08:30:26 pm »
STefan, that was a GREAT GREAT report... thanks mate. You have done the Austrian crowd VERY proud, and if I may suggest, throw this up on Orange Crush.

You guys did brilliantly.

SALUT!!!!!!!!!!!!  :headbang:  :hello1:  :headbang:  :hello1:  :glasses7:  :wav:  :wav:  :wav:  :wav:  :wav:  :wav:  :wav:  :wav:  :wav:  :wav:
very minute is a chance to turn it all around - Vanilla Sky



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Offline SGB

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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2006, 10:11:33 pm »
Hello everyone

Thanks for all the positive comments!  The beauty about this game is that it is a team sport, although you only have yourself to chat with under the helmet (OK most of us....).  The best part is the sharing and chatting and learning from others afterwards.  NICE!
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Offline >Herman<

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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2006, 10:41:59 pm »
Cool report. Tx for sharing your experience.  8)

Offline Maverick

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Iron Butt Saddle Sore & Bun Burner on Adventure Bikes
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2006, 07:34:34 pm »
Hardcore okes - big raspect all round :D
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