|First for those that have no idea what an Iron Butt ride is... It's a long distance motorcycle ride, an endurance ride if you will. There are many rules and regulations. SAFETY is priority number 1.
Most people hear Iron Butt and they think you'll be hauling ass around something or somewhere while being sleep deprived and creating a threat to not only yourself but others on the road as well. With proper planning it isn't like that at all. That is a common misconception.
The fact is, I'm not here to debate that. I have completed a ride, or at least attempted one. It has not been verified at the time of this writting. So if you're reading this, you are either interested in Iron Butt and have questions or are just lost on the internet.
For more information on Iron Butt, the Iron Butt Association
visit their site: The Iron Butt Association
The views expressed in this ride report are the authors and the authors only. They do not represent the views of TWT, Iron Butt
or anyone else. The author is a "Say it how it is" kind of guy. If you live in the cities we passed through, and can't take
sarcasm then you might not want to read this as you may be offended.
It all started for me a couple months before 9/11/2004 when some guy named Tony T on TWT posted that he was going to ride around
lake Michigan IBA style. This post caught my attention as I had no idea what he meant but the ride sounded cool. I've been
there before as a kid, and remember it being mostly flat which didn't excite me, but going around the entire lake, a long distance
ride, well I needed something, something to get me away from work.
As things progress, it was quickly discovered that this was going to be an Iron Butt Lake Michigan 1000.
From Chicago around the lake, and back. Add in a little "Jaunt" to put on some bonus mileage because the real distance around
the lake is only like 960 and you're set.
I'll spare you all the details of the testing and planning that I went through, the 600 mile test ride that I took to make sure:
and all of that. But I put a lot of time, energy and effort into making sure that this could be done safely. Because like a lot
of people, I was a tad skeptical. Unlike a lot of people, I do and have stayed up 24 hours at a time and do it often for my job.
I bought new and extra gear, rain gear, full leathers (that I wanted anyway), over pants, etc. All stuff a sport tourer should
have anyway. Did routine maintenance on my bike, new tires, etc.
O.K. I said I'd spare you those details... I'll stop now. On to the good stuff.
- That my Butt could handle it.
- That would could actually make the time with reasonable stops without riding like AssHats
- That it could be done safely.
Ride Report Starts Here
My ride starts from a Trenton Ohio, West of Middletown, about 30 Miles North of Cincinnati. My original intention is to leave early
on Friday and take my time riding back roads through Indiana, up to Chicago. Staying up too late on Thursday I kinda slept in a
little longer than planned, which was OK. Because the fog was out in force. While waiting for the fog to burn off I double checked
the bike, all my gear, etc...
Finally at 10:30am (Cincy Time) I had to roll, as you can see in the right photo the fog still hadn't lifted but I figured by the time
I got out of Ohio, and things would be clear and I needed to get going. This was already going to put me into Chicago at a bad time.
I could no longer afford to take back roads and enjoy the ride. I needed rest before the big ride, and needed some time to meet the other
My ride out of Ohio was out 73, up 127 to Eaton, up 35 to Catch I-70 across to Indianapolis, then around on I-465. I stopped there
just before the 65 north interchange to fuel up. While at the gas station, I was approached by an older gentleman on a teal GoldWing.
We sat and chatted for 30 minutes or so before I headed up north up I-65. The trip to Chicago was very uneventful until...
I realized I was going to be hitting it right at Rush Hour. I stopped for a bite to eat near Lowell Indiana. I called Tony and told him
where I was and what time it was. I asked him if there was any other way to get where I needed to go? Should I get off the interstate when
I get there? He said just gut it out. Mileage wise I was an hour to an hour and a half away. But that was not to be the case...
First, Gary, Indiana... Why? I mean really Why? What is that smell? All they way across 90. What is that? And what is the purpose of a
15 cent toll? Can't you make it a quarter? a dime? Something easy? Obviously, 15 cents isn't enough. We have gravel roads in Ohio that are
easier to ride on than that stretch of I-90. I mean come on! Gar, we need to sue someone!
Then across the Skyway, Oh, what a beautiful sight! (not) $2.00 for the privilege of looking at the city of smog and trash and coal stuff, and I
think I can still smell Gary Ind. I'm heading inbound, and the traffic is reasonable. Looking over to my left, I think people are leaving? or do they
use that part of the freeway for parking? Man I'm glad I'm not over there. It's about 82 degrees, and I'm zooming along at 45-50 MPH because:
As I get closer to the City, I realize, that this was simply bad planning. That parking lot that I've been passing also includes this side
of the highway as well. And I'm now in it. In full leathers, on a black motorcycle. This sucks. After about 45 minutes, even my Camelback
is warm. Grumble grumble. Look at directions... Get of at Exit 82b... I'm at exit 52 something. Going 5 MPH. Not good. Then out of nowhere
comes my hero. A honk, I look to my right, a rider on a GSXR waves me over. Asks where I'm headed. I ask how much longer until Exit 82b.
He asks what street is that. I tell him. He shakes his head. I said is there a faster way? He says Follow me...
Now I don't know if lane splitting is legal in Il. But we exited the highway, and
went to the front of every line, at every light, and people seemed to let us in front. We cruised through the city. We were not speeding, mind you,
we just drove like NY cabbies. Or perhaps like Chicago cabbies, on motor cycles. But ya know what? At least we (or I was moving). Finally he pulls over
and says. OK, I'm not going to go any farther than where I need to go, but you need to take this road, until you reach North, then go left, and watch for
Milwaukee, then turn right and start looking for your address. We exchanged cards. Faith from the Most Wanted MotorCycle Club! You are the Man!
The fun didn't stop there though... I didn't have the hangy down things to continue riding in that fashion. So I gutted out the stop and go
traffic, through Chicago, up Milwaukee for what seemed like an eternity.
Here is where I decided that I don't like Chicago
No city should be this large [Period].
While the City my be beautiful. I say start from the pretty big buildings, go out about ten blocks or so, declare the rest blighted, nuke it and start
over. Use bulldozers and big earth movers. Add some shape, hills, and for gods sake some scenery. If you have that many roads, you aught to be
able to figure out how to take care of them. If you have that many people, you aught to be able to figure out how to keep traffic moving.
You need more one way streets, more of something. Their city managers and mayors need to play Sim City for a while and figure this stuff out.
It's not rocket science. I know for a fact that Dayton Ohio is the armpit of america. I think I may have ridden trough the butt hole, and that would
be the 'outer' city of Chicago.
On my quest through Chicago I was looking for my hotel, I believed it to be south of our meeting place, the Blue Angel restaurant. When all of a sudden,
there it is, the Blue Angel. Arrgh. This does not please me. Up to this point I had only ridden through areas where I'd expect them to be filming episodes
of cops or looking for America's most wanted. Surely Tony would not have suggested a hotel for me back in any of those areas. So I pulled into the Blue
Angel and called him up.
He set me straight that my Hotel was up the road about 2 miles to the north in Niles, and was completely safe across the street from the Police department.
So off I went. I had to get out of these leathers. I was dripping with sweat.
- I don't know where I am.
- The roads, Oh, my goodness, the roads... Are these really roads?
- Are turn signal optional in Chicago?
- Did I mention the roads? Maybe I should have ridden the YZ
- What does that $2.00 pay for I wonder?
Home Away From Home
Tony T hooked me up with the Travel Lodge in Niles Il. Like I said it's right across the street from the Niles PD. Scott cut me a deal
only $50 a night for two nights. That's deal if you don't mind not having control of your AC, and gambling on Hot Water. But other than
that it's a basic room, I was able to get a first floor room and park my bike right outside the door, put a disc lock on it and cover it up.
Later that evening Tony T and Orange SVS came over to drink a beer or two, go over the route details, and share tips and thoughts, etc. We talked
trash, and bantered about until 9pm Chicago time. At which point it was time to turn in and get some shut eye.
3:00 AM Sept 11 2004 Coffee at the Blue Angel
I arrive at the Blue Angel at around 3:15am, Orange was there, Tony was not. We stood outside for a few minutes, and decided, or
at least I did that coffee now was a good thing and that he could catch up. So we headed in and sat down. The manager was expecting us
and put us in a booth so we could see out bikes. We looked like typical sport-touring hooligans. Me in my full leathers, Orange in a
two-piece full black leather Joe Rocket ensemble. We sit down and order Coffee.
Shortly after, a guy comes in and sits down in the booth across from us and the conversation goes a little like this...
Orange and I start wondering about Tony, where he is, We order our Breakfast... And he starts up again...
- Goofball: You dudes ride Motorcycles or something?
- Me: Yep
- Goofball: Wow, Aren't those leathers, hot? I bet you get hot in those leathers?
- Me: Nope, they are actually quite comfortable, they have vents, and breath pretty well
- Goofball: Oh, I don't know they look hot to me.
- Goofball: What kind of Motorcycle do you have?
- Me: Normally I enjoy a good motorcycle conversation, but as we're just about to head out for an iron butt, I wasn't in the mood
for this so I answered a short... Kawasaki
- Goofball: Kawasaki What?
- Me: ZX11
- Goofball: Never heard of it, is it fast?
- Me: Fast enough, with big grin...
- Goofball turns to OrangeSVS: What about you?
- OrangeSVS: I have an SVS
- Goofball: What's an SVS?
- OrangeSVS: It's a Suzuki, a semi-naked bike with a moderate fairing
- Goofball: I have a Scooter, a Honda 50
- Goofball: Hey, do guys do wheelies?
- Me: I can but usually don't, it's not safe on the road... Save that for track days thing like that
- Goofball: I can do wheelies on my Scooter
- Me: At this point I got the feeling that this guy was going to talk to us all morning if I didn't stop
it and I turned to him and said...
That's nice, We're going to have our breakfast now...
Just as I'm having thoughts of strangling this guy, Tony T walks in, sees 'Goofball' and says, Hey man... Come join us..
He brings him to the table and introduces him as Kawirider. A guy who was supposed to ride with us, but couldn't because
his bike is broken (or so he says ;).. So basically... He was jerkin our chain... Nice, Dave, nice, remember payback's :)
- Goofball: So where you guys going?
- Me: Around Lake Michigan
- Goofball: Really, How far is that?
- Me: 1000 miles
- Goofball: 1000 miles on a motorcycle? No way, how long is that going to take you a week?
Have you ever ridden that far before?
- Me: 24 hours, and yes, I've ridden long distance before.
- Goofball: I don't know man, I don't think you can do that on a motorcycle.
4:15am KickStands Up...
Note this is not our actual route, used as an example only :)
| Our Route was similar to the route on the left image, we deviated by going around lake
Winnebago down (41) and ran out I-94 towards Madison to put on some extra miles. Then back to Milwaukee and down to Chicago.
Recreating the Ride from my receipts yields the following:
Start: Joe's Amoco 5210 N NW Highway Chicago IL Pump Number 4 Time 04:29 Sept 11, 2004 My ODO: 11850
First Receipt: Chicago Skyway Lane#5 09-11-04 4:51am $2.00
Next Receipt: Indiana Dept of Transportation Toll Road Direction East Lane #4 9/11/04 4:56:08am
First Leg End: Central STA Amoco, 4609 Red Arrow HWY, Stevensville, MI Pump 06, 09/11/04 07:08am (I think we crossed out of the stupid 1hour indiana time).
My ODO: 11956
My Mileage: 106
Streets & Trips: 100.00
Notes: We actually deviated by the 80/94 split and kept going on 80 (read we missed the exit). So we kept going and hopped off at (49) and shot up to 94. This didn't add much if anything apparently.
Our Goal was to get the hell out of the City before it woke up and that worked out well. This first leg was still mostly
riding in the dark. We were making good time and we off. No turning back now!
There was only one problem...
I was freezing to death and it wasn't that cold. 50 degrees should be fine for these leathers. Apparently they didn't
dry out overnight and were still moist inside from me sweating in them from 3 hours of stop-n-go traffic in Chicago. At this
stop I put on my Joe Rocket Revolution Jacket on Top of my full leather riding suit in an attempt to keep warm.
2nd Leg Start: Central STA Amoco, 4609 Red Arrow HWY, Stevensville, MI Pump 06, 09/11/04 07:08am (I think we crossed out of the stupid 1hour indiana time).
My ODO: 11956
2nd Leg Start: 4252 West Shelby Road, Shelby, MI, Self Serve 09/11/04 09:15 [No Pay at the Pump Here]
My ODO: 12083
My Mileage: 127
My Running Total: 233
Streets & Trips: 123.7
Streets & Trips Running Total: 223.7
By the time we reached this stop, the Sun was up. I was still cold. It was clear (to me at least) that the damp
leathers had to go. So at this stop after the fill up, we took a quick break. I jumped out of my leathers and into
shorts. Then dawned my over pants. I was immediately warmer. I wadded up the leathers and stuffed them into my bag.
I was just happy I had something else to change into otherwise my day would have been agonizing for sure.
From here it was onward and upward... Up north that is...
3rd Leg Start: 4252 West Shelby Road, Shelby MI, Self Serve 09/11/04 09:15 [No Pay at the Pump Here]
My ODO: 12083
3rd Leg Stop: 303 First St, Manistee, MI, Pump #4 09/11/04 10:53am
My ODO: 12137
My Mileage: 54
My Running Total: 287
Streets & Trips: 54.6
Streets & Trips Running Total: 278.3
I cannot recall why we stopped after only 50 miles. I may have had to stop and see a man about a horse, but I cannot remember.
Our next stop would be NorthPort. We knew the gas station there was a small mom-n-pop and Tony was concerned that the Mom-n-Pop
might not be witness friendly. We were also heading into the only true twisties of the ride. Known as M-22. This road, is where
a lot of car clubs like to come and run up and down and around. Poor saps. They need to road trip it to KY/Ohio. While M-22 is a
very nice road. I counted only (2?) turns that were under 30MPH ? and I think they were 25 MPH twisties. Those in the town of NorthPort
don't count. Be that as it may. It's a beautiful ride. Definitely the best part of the trip. We scooted through there until...
We ran into a Motorhome... Not literally, but one that ruined our fun, so we stopped and gave him some time to get where it was that he
was a going. No sense in letting the only twisty roads that we're going to see be ruined right?
4th Leg Start: 303 First St, Manistee MI, Pump #4 09/11/04 10:53am
My ODO: 12137
4th Leg Stop: Party Store, North Port, MI, No Pay at the Pump 09/11/04 12:27pm
My ODO: 12235
My Mileage: 98
My Running Total: 385
Streets & Trips: 95.4
Streets & Trips: Running Total: 373.7
OK, this is where things get a tad messy right now... I believe the Iron Butt folks do what I've been doing. That is
pretty much plot the fastest route between your receipts. Well, the fastest route between our points is not shown in the map in this segment. What is shown is the actual route we took, all the way up Route M-22. This is a potential difference of + or - 10 miles depending upon how you chart it.
We had to stop along M-22 to let a motorhome and a few other road hogging vehicles get ahead of us so we could enjoy what little
twisties we were going to get to experience. OrangeSVS (Ben) Chows down a power/candy bar, while Tony double checks our time. (I
think that's what he's doing.) I was in the bushes over there, uhm checking out the wild-life, yeah, that's it. Oh, wait, I was probably taking the picture (duh).
5th Leg Start: Party Store, North Port MI, No Pay at the Pump 09/11/04 12:27pm
My ODO: 12235
5th Leg Stop: 411 West Mitchell, Petoskey, MI, Pump #11 9/11/04 2:54 pm
My ODO: 12334
My Mileage: 99
My Running Total: 484
Streets & Trips: 94.8
Streets & Trips Running Total: 468.5
This particular map is accurate. We stopped here and grabbed a bite at Arby's. Filled up and hit the road... :D
6th Leg Start: 411 West Mitchell, Petoskey, MI, Pump #11 9/11/04 2:54 pm
My ODO: 12334
6th Leg Stop: Z Corner Mobil, Gulliver MI, Pump #6 9/11/04 6:40pm
My ODO: 12455
My Mileage: 111
My Running Total: 605
Streets & Trips: 115.9
Streets & Trips Running Total: 584.4
Ahhh, Well over half way... Almost 2/3rds... We stopped at the rest area after the Mackinac bridge to stretch our legs. We bumped into a couple on Harley's, struck up a chat, and turned them into witnesses. :) At this point we were starting to
feel it a bit, or at least I was. I know Tony broke out his Air-Hawk seat pad pretty early.
After this stop it was time too race for home (figuratively, not literally).
7th Leg Start: Z Corner Mobil, Gulliver MI, Pump #6 9/11/04 09/11/04 6:40pm
My ODO: 12455
7th Leg Stop: Cedar River Plaza N8151 Highway M-35, Cedar River, MI Pump #4 7:55pm
My ODO: 12552
My Mileage: 97
My Running Total: 702
Streets & Trips: 94.8
Streets & Trips: Running Total: 679.2
This by far was the crappiest part of the ride. Why? Because this is where the rains came. Did we stop and put onrain gear? No. Why? Because we thought we were behind. Did it rain hard? Eh, medium. But you could see daylight justaround the next corner, literally. But the problem was, daylight was just around the corner to the right, and every next corner went to the left.
For nearly to hours, in the rain, it sucked. Well, OK, I was dry, but my gear wasn't. I didn't have everything in my saddlebags in the water proof liners. My leathers were already wet in the big bag, and my clothes were in water proof bags in that bag. Or so I thought. But I wouldn't discover this mess until the end of the trip.
We did pull over a couple times to wipe our visors clear, but pretty much pounded on through "Mail Man" style. Neither rain, nor sleet...yadda, yadda... I felt most sorry for Orange. He had the least windshield of all of us, and still had full leathers on. I had at least switched up to 'touring gear' that was water proof except for my gloves and I had dry gloves waiting for the rain to STOP.
8th Leg Start: Cedar River Plaza N8151 Highway M-35, Cedar River, MI Pump #4 09/11/04 7:55pm
My ODO: 12552
8th Leg Stop: 1620 Lawrence Dr, De Pere, WI 54115 Pump 12 09/11/04 21:31
My ODO: 12642
My Mileage: 90
My Running Total: 792
Streets & Trips: 109.3
Streets & Trips: 788.5
Along the stretch darkness set in, and Bambi became a concern. We rode in formation, doing double duty with the brights. I think that helped, we did see one Doe, standing on the side of the road, looking like she was ready to jump onto the road. I flashed my lights quickly back and forth and that got her attention. Don't know if that's good or bad but she looked our way and actually turned around as we zoomed on by. It was rather freaky. Deer Suck. 3/4's of the way :) From here a quick jaunt to Appleton to grab a receipt and establish that we're going around 41 and NOT 43.
9th Leg Start: 1620 Lawrence Dr, De Pere, WI 54115 Pump 12 09/11/04 21:31
My ODO: 12642
9th Leg Stop: 523 Main St. Allentown, WI Pump #4 09/11/04 23:56
My ODO: 12735
My Mileage: 93
My Running Total: 885
Streets & Trips: 89.7
Streets & Trips Running Total: 878.2
10th Leg Start: 523 Main St. Allentown, WI Pump #4 09/11/04 23:56
My ODO: 12735
10th Leg Stop: 122 Arrowhead Drive Mukwonago, Wi Pump #5 9/12/04 01:25am
My ODO: 12805
My Mileage: 70
My Running Total: 955
MapQuest Running Total: 933.8
We hit this gas station to pull a reciept, or rather we stopped at this exit, I suggested we go to the BP because it looked open and I needed/wanted a cup of coffee. It was not, but at least pay at the pump worked. Orange needed a cat-nap. So parked the bikes for a few. Tony ran over the numbers and figured with could give Ben 15 minutes of snooze time. I layed down too for a quick power-nap. I only took 5 minutes or so. Then Mr. Officer stopped by to see what 3 Sport Touring hooligans were doing in the parking lot. We explained the situation, and he was nice about it. I expected him to shake us down, make use empty our luggage, but he didn't. Ben woke up and we decided we'd headed out 43 enough and it was time to run home...
11th Leg Start: 122 Arrowhead Drive Mukwonago, Wi Pump #5 9/12/04 01:25am
My ODO: 12805
11th Leg Stop: Joe's Amoco 5210 N NW Highway Chicago IL Pump Number 4 Time 03:55 Sept 12, 2004
My ODO: 12909
My Mileage: 104
My Running Total: 1059
MapQuest Running Total: 1032.4
All in all this was a LOT of fun. At the end of the ride we went back to the Blue Angle Cafe and had a cup of coffee and breakfast
to celebrate! I got to see the Chicago 4am drunks first hand. Again, if you nuked the outer perimeter of the city, problem solved!
I returned to the hotel to unpack my bike only to find that things I expected to be water proof weren't.
Nearly everything in my saddlebags was wet or damp, including the jeans I planned to wear on the ride home. My leathers were even wetter than before :/ My bag of clothes inside the duffle was damp or wet. But luckily my undies/sox and other necessities were in a water proof bag that did stay dry :) Yeah!
I learned an awful lot on this trip, had a great time, met new people. Will I do it again? I dunno. Probably. On Zed? I'd probably make a few modifications. Mostly a better windshield, maybe a double-bubble. I had and have a LP Touring shield and it sucks. Just creates turbulence that beat me to death, so this ride was all stock. Today (two days later), my butt is OK, but my legs are sore, my calves, I think more from bouncing up and down to pass the time, or to the beat or the iPod. My hands though, man they are raw. Raw as in almost bruised. They didn't feel that way until today. Neck and shoulders are fine, but I'd probably add bar risers to my bike for another jaunt such as this.
A better, nicer fitting helmet too. My Shoei TZ1 was nice, but I still have fogging issues. Especially in the rain. My cheeks are sore on the inside from eating candy and chewing gum while the helmet pushed on my cheeks.
We definitely had a _lot_ of stops. We should have pushed a little further. We wanted to stay within Orange's tank range (130 miles or so).
But we ended up with a lot of 90 mile stops? We really only had one, maybe two, had to pee stops. I know I caused 1, and that was when we we're going to stop behind the motorhome anyway. What could we have done differently? Maybe planned a little differently. I'm not second guessing Tony. He did an outstanding job putting this together. My hat is off to you man... :) Perhaps we should have pushed forward and been more regimented in our stops.
To that, I'll call this version 1.1 until I get some more rest, and photos from Tony to add. I also need to get his feedback and take on the route calculations that Iron Butt will do. I understand he did a verification and came up with 1001.1 miles. I want to know before I send in my $35.00 :)
To that end I'll leave you with these final two action photos taken on Route 31 going north!
Tony Rockin on!
OrangeSVS (Ben) Trying to get away!
-Peace, and keep it shiny side up.
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