In May 1998, Ron Ayres spoke at one of our club socials about endurance riding. This was just before he undertook his 7/49 ride. In that 30 minute talk I was hooked! I had heard of the 1000-in-1 for years, even saw the ad in the BMW MOA magazine back in the 80's and had done 2 of them without documentation. I had no idea that endurance riding had grown to the extent that it had. After hearing Ron, I signed up on the LD Rider list and started following peoples' exploits. In July I did my SS1000. Then in the fall, I heard about the Butt Lite 5000. I thought "this would be a good way to see if I have an Iron Butt Rally in me", so I signed up and sent in all the forms and money that Adam repeatedly asked for.

Finally, June rolled around and the anticipation rose as I prepared my bike and me for this undertaking. The ride to St. Paul was uneventful and I got there on Friday relaxing for the next two days. FIrst tech inspection and odometer check. Then the MANDATORY riders meeting on Sunday night and the first of what was to be FOUR bonus routes for the first leg. I had no idea what was ahead of me but I had heard "pace yourself for the end". Monday morning and it was time for the 7am rider meeting and then the final envelop for the first leg - THREE MORE BONUS ROUTES. Eddie, you sadist!

I took a conservative route on the first leg, wimping out on the South Dakota route 50 miles into it when I found myself making slow progress through all those small towns. I defaulted back to the route handed out on Sunday night. I got to Denver about 2:30am only to see 2 bikes already there and the riders laying beside their bikes on the pavement. I opted for a motel room. When I checked in they were doing backup on the system which would prove catastrophic to me. I went next door and bought a coffee to prove the start of my 4 hour rest stop. I went back 6 hours later and got another receipt. The only problem was, I paid in cash. Kiss 400 points goodbye. Well, maybe not. I still have the motel receipt. WRONG. The backup never completed until after 5am and they registered me at 5:18am, only 3 hours before I checked out. This mistake dropped me from tied for 8th to 38th! OUCH!

In Denver we were all in pretty good shape, all except for Terry Smith (east) who had bitten off more that he could chew and was time barred. Getting the bonus packets for the second leg, I laid out a route that would get me a lot of bonus locations and a short route to Marietta, about 2003 miles. I didn't realize it at the time but the only problem was there were too many secondary roads. I went to the shrine and, while there, realized I was going to have to get back through Denver in rush hour - sucker bonus! HOWEVER, I outfoxed Eddie (so I thought!) and took the 470 loop around to the south side of Denver then cut cross country, picking up I-70 at Limon. Now it was interstate to Wichita Kansas where I took a 4 hour rest getting the correct receipts this time.

From Wichita it was on to Independence Kansas, the Little House on the Prairie then on to George Washington Carver, Precious Moments and Booger Hollow. Coming in to Russellville Arkansas from Booger Hollow, I came on Dan Stephans II who had just wrecked. Staying with him for an hour to make sure he was OK, I then pressed on to Memphis and got there about 9:30 and got the requisite picture on Beall Street after getting a police escort. I had stopped at a convenience store and asked a local lady gendarme how to get to the statue. She said, "you're the second person tonight to ask me that. Follow me". I then parked illegally and was getting a ticket when I told the officer the lady officer had given me permission to park there (she really hadn't but it sounded good) so he tore up the ticket.

By this time it was lightning pretty badly where I was headed so I stalled around a bit before finally heading out about 11:30pm towards the Natchez Trace, getting there and riding the Alabama section about 1:30 am. I pushed onwards until about 5am when I hit the wall and laid down on some grass behind a Comfort Inn with the screaming meanie on my chest for a whoppin' 35 minutes sleep. When it went off it was daylight BUTT a fog bank had set in and I still had miles of 2 lane road to ride.

I finally got to Marietta 13 minutes after the window opened but was given an hour's grace due to Dan's accident. I had ridden less than 2000 miles but had collected enough points to move me up to 16 place but at a price. It was hot and I knew I needed rest so, when we got our bonus sheets for leg 3 I took it and headed to a motel. I showered and tried to sleep at 3pm but that did not work so I laid out my route planning that, when I got to Chattanooga I would decide whether to go after bonuses or forgo them and head straight for Springfield. I chose Springfield. I then headed up I-75 and got to London Kentucky before an illusionary 18 wheeler came up beside me about 10pm. I knew there was a lot of construction between London and Lexington so I decided it was time to get off the road so I stopped for gas and some caffeine. I looked over and there was a Comfort Inn calling me, so I took a four hour sleep. I got up rather well rested and pushed on, foregoing all bonuses except the rest and fuel log. Arriving in Springfield I dropped to 22nd place. I knew I probably would not place well at the end, so I decided to ensure I got my 5000 miles (I wanted at least one major achievement out of this ride!). I needed 1600 miles so I laid out a route that was all interstate. I knew I could do it, "the good Lord willing and the creek don't rise". The creek rose.

Leaving Springfield I went to Columbus to the AMA museum then started the push west on I-70 to Kansas City then north on I-29 to Fargo and back to St. Paul. At Eiffany Illinois the skies opened. The cross wind was vicious and the sky was green (hail) so I camped out for an hour waiting for it to blow over but it did not so I got on the bike and started riding. The truckers were saying it cleared up 40 miles ahead but that was only temporary. By the time I got to St. Louis it was a frog chokin' gully washer! The truckers could not believe I was out there riding in that downpour. I was doing about 40mph with my 4 way flashers on but there was no alternative. Somewhere on the west side of St. Louis I heard another BUTT rider on the CB. It turned out to be Brent Bruns. We started riding together. As time went on, it became apparent that I could not get to Fargo without being time-barred at the end and losing everything so I decided to start picking up bonus locations. Brent and I did Speed Kansas, then Kansas City before heading north on I-35. We stopped somewhere in Iowa for the last 4 hour rest and then went to the museum in Minneapolis before arriving in St. Paul about an hour and a half before the window opened.

Picking up those bonuses moved me back up to 19th as my final finishing position. I fell short of the 5000 miles by about 300. All in all I was disappointed in my result. I know I can do better than that. I just made some rookie mistakes. HOWEVER, I did finish. Will I do it again? YOU BET! Tomorrow - not likely. After I finished the LITE, I went to Ottawa Canada and did a 3 day canoe trip with high school buddies then pushed home in 2 hard days. The total mileage for the 18 days I was on the road was 8320 (corrected to 8450 miles). Not bad.

I congratulate every finisher of the BL5K. You know there was not one entrant who had done a multi-day endurance rally. I especially congratulate Eric Jewell on one heck of a ride and finishing first.

Most of all, I would like to thank Eddie and Adam for an outstanding rally. I'll be ready for next year!

Norm Grills horizontal rule


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