September 5, 2000: Aftermath
The date: September 5, 2000. The time: 0300. The place: The Lenox Inn, Columbus, Ohio. Carol Youroski awoke with start as panic filled her mind. “I looked at the clock, saw the time and started thinking about how many points I was going to blow for oversleeping. It wasn’t until I was almost out the door that I remembered the rally ended yesterday,” she reported with a laugh.
By the clock, the rally has been over for almost 24 hours. In the minds of participants, however, the event will not soon be forgotten. The BL2 was easily the most challenging multi-day endurance event of the year. Riders put miles on roads ranging from goat path to interstate highway. Weather conditions were an additional obstacle. Eddie Otto, no stranger to the world of long distance riding, commented, “Your riders have faced some of the toughest weather conditions on a multi-day event in years. Record heat in the south, cold and rain in the north, those guys just didn’t catch a break.” We believe that every rider who finished this event can be proud of a very significant accomplishment.
Mark Kiecker stood in the cemetery, scratching his head. One of the leg four bonuses required riders to visit the cemetery in Brock, Ohio and photograph the gravestone of a famous person buried there. Time was wasting, and a decision had to be made. Shrugging his shoulders, Kiecker pulled out his Polaroid and snapped the photo. Sometimes a rider needs a little luck. This time, it worked. “I didn’t know who Annie Oakley was,” he admitted, “but the name sounded familiar, so I figured that was the one you guys wanted.” (We’re not sure whether Will Outlaw was ever able to convince Mark that Annie was the person who invented Oakley sunglasses.)
Kiecker overcame his lack of cultural literacy, and a few more obstacles besides. We are very proud to congratulate Mark Kiecker as your first place finisher. Mark is an intelligent, aggressive competitor who ran a very smart rally. We at TeamStrange are particularly happy to tell the rest of the world, “We told you so.” We have watched Mark’s skills develop from a mistake-plagued BL5K, through second place in this year’s MN2K, to the Winners Circle of BL2. As winner of the rally, Mark will be guaranteed a spot on the grid for the 2001 Ironbutt Rally. Riders in that event, be warned: you’ve got a real rider in your midst.
Riders at the opposite end of the field had their own challenges. Ren Berggren laughed as he sat down at the scoring table. He’d managed to earn the sleep bonus, as a consequence of sleeping off a hangover in a hotel on route to the finish. “I would have had the gas bonus, too,” he chuckled, “but the receipts blew away.” The first reason anyone should have for riding a motorcycle is for the fun of it. Ren wasn’t in the running for any trophies, but he was clearly having fun on the ride. His ride reminds us that fun has to be the first objective of any endurance ride. If its not fun its just work, and everyone knows that work is a four letter word.
The final leg of the rally had its share of heartbreaks. Howard Stueber put in a great run, including a stop at Parry Sound, Ontario. Howie made sure to carefully copy down the words on the surveyor’s marker that formed the bonus, and was convinced his efforts would move him up in the standings. Unfortunately, to earn the bonus a photograph of the marker was required. Though his trip to the great white north was wasted, Howie found some humor in the situation. “I remember that marker,” he laughed, “that’s the one that Eddie took a pee at the last time we were up there.” We’re not laughing at Howard’s performance: he is the first rider ever to earn an SS5K on a Buell.
Joe Ray showed a lot of class on leg four, by providing assistance above and beyond the call of duty to a fellow competitor. Joe was riding with Doug Stout when Doug’s tiny Ninja broke with a bang. A machinist by trade, Ray helped get the bike to a local shop and commenced wrenching. “The bike had two broken rocker arms, a bent valve, and a broken piston skirt. It was a mess,” he recalled in his understated manner. Joe was able to get the bike running but unfortunately, the Ninja was too far gone—it died a few miles down the road. Joe took nine hours from his own rally to help a fellow rider, the whole time knowing he would receive no reward from the Rallymasters for his actions. This quiet rider from Ohio showed his true colors on the way to the finish, and we are proud to have had him in the event.
Eric Jewell was able to repair his bike after the deer strike, but it wasn’t quite up to factory standards. Over the course of two lengthy voicemails, Eric related that the front suspension was tweaked but rideable, and he planned to do the best route possible on the way to the finish. Eric’s message related that after patching up the his RT, he grabbed the bonus at Burr Oak, visited some relatives, secured more bonuses at Festina and Waukon, and visited a second set of relatives. “These folks use guns to kill things,” he reported, “so they hooked me up with some deer jerky and sent me on my way.” Though Eric was obviously disappointed at how his ride had turned out, he wasn’t giving up. He concluded his message by saying, “For all I know, everyone else is DNF or has quit, so I’m just going to keep plugging away.” We believe this attitude is the core of successful endurance riding. Eric is a true competitor, and has already earned a spot in the 2001 Ironbutt by virtue of his victory on last year’s BL5K. If he can just keep away from the animals, we’re sure you’ll be hearing his name again.
Bill Davis rode his homemade Harley to the finish line and a standing ovation from his fellow riders. The bike began experiencing chain problems along the way, and Bill had to engage in multiple repairs. Because Davis was riding without a flashlight, often repairs had to be delayed until daylight hours. Electrical gremlins also came along for the ride. “Even my watch shorted out,” he said. Many observers felt that bike and rider would never make the first checkpoint. They obviously never spoke to Bill. We applaud Bill Davis for his accomplishments, which include but are by no means limited to proving that gadgets and gimcracks do not a rider make. As Bill rode into the Lennox parking lot, he saw a banner hung by waiting fans: “Welcome Back, Ironbutt Bill.” The name has a certain ring to it.
TeamStrange congratulates each and every ButtLite II rider for completing this difficult, challenging event. Look for the return of ButtLite in 2002. Until then, in the words of Audubon, Iowa’s famous fiberglass bull Albert, “Drive careful, now.”
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