by Daniel Stephans
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne'er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
Henry V, Act IV, Scene III
Endurance, or long distance motorcycle rallies are not for everyone, in fact they are for a very few. The Butt Lite II, the second longest endurance motorcycle rally, second only to the Iron Butt Rally, ran from August 28th to September 4th, 7 days, 7,000 miles. (The Iron Butt Rally is 11 days, 11,000 miles). 66 riders signed up for the Butt Lite II. 54 riders started and 48 riders finished. Of that number, I was the only rider from Wisconsin. During the rally I rode 7,163 miles, the highest miles on a Harley-Davidson during the rally, 9th highest miles of the 48 finishers. In the points standings I finished 24th. Points are obtained by stopping at interesting, sometimes out-of-the-way or difficult locations. Bonus point locations might take a rider to Washington DC, Florida, California, Washington state, Canada, or about anywhere in between. Points are also given for keeping gas receipts and occasionally for a prescribed rest stop. (Finishing positions are determined by bonus points acquired.) Rules insure safety and fair play. Excessive exhaust noise, acts that endanger the general public, excessive speeds, or excessive citations are not tolerated.
My mother-in-law, who was at the awards dinner at the end of the Rally, noted that this group of "bikers" was of an age and demeanor she had not expected to see. A high percentage of the endurance riders are well over 40, professionals, and politely mannered. "No "Hell's Angels" here!", she observed. There are men, women, husband and wife teams, and in my case, father and son involved in endurance rallying. My grandson (10) is planning his first rally in the Minnesota 1000 next year, riding behind Grandpa. Personally, I find endurance rallying an exercise in time management that makes me more productive in my work environment. We do this because we like riding motorcycles, (A LOT), traveling this great nation, and meeting the challenges presented by very creative rally masters.
The base route of the Butt Lite II had us riders starting in Reynoldsburg, OH at 7:00 AM, August 28th. August 29th, we were to be in Baton Rouge, LA, 977 miles away, by 11:00 AM. On my way to Baton Rouge I visited Hamilton, OH, Nebraska, IN, Rome, IN, Metropolis, IL, and Memphis, TN before arriving in Baton Rouge with 1349 miles for the first day. I could tell you I was in Nashville also, but that was only because I got lost.
At 1:00 PM we were on the road again, heading for Salt Lake City, UT. We had until 7:00 PM August 31st to ride the 1855 miles of the second leg of the rally. My ride took me to Groom, TX, Tulsa, OK, Denver, CO, Golden, CO, Central City, CO, and Richfield, UT for a total of 2298 miles on the second leg.
We received bonus point locations for leg 3 at 9:00 PM and we exited Salt Lake City knowing Fargo, ND, 1150 miles away, was our next scheduled check point and we had to be there at 8:00 AM, September 2nd. On my way to Fargo I found a number of bonus locations in Wyoming. Architect Henry Hobson Richardson designed a pyramid monument to the Brothers Ames, 19th century railroad developers, that was built outside Laramie. Yes, I was at this western most project of this great American architect. Another interesting monument, the only monument to a prostitute that I am aware of in America, is found about 15 miles out in the desert near Lusk. A visit to the Mother Featherlegs Monument was a test of man and machine. Many riders turned back because of the road, (or lack there-of), conditions. Little America is on the map because it has a post office and permanent employee residences. About 10 miles across the desert, (again), outside of Medicine Bow you can see wind generators. 7 miles down the road from Medicine Bow you will find a house built of dinosaur bones. ("This house once walked!" according to Eddie James, Rally Master). Third leg I rode 1356 miles.
Last leg, Fargo to Reynoldsburg, started at 10:00 AM, September 2nd. We had until 3:00 PM September 4th to complete the trip. This leg is only 1014 miles and we had 52 hours to get from Fargo to Reynoldsburg. My route via Lone Rock, IA, Albia, IA, Independence, KS, Mansfield, MO, Franklin, IN, and Brock, OH, brought me to Reynoldsburg, 2,159 miles from Fargo and 7 minutes late, which cost me 105 points.
Last year I was the highest finishing Harley-Davidson rider in the Butt Lite. My son, who also rode the Butt Lite last year, crashed hard twice and did not finish. However, this year Dan, (the younger) finished the Butt Lite II in 3rd place riding his BMW K1100. Next year I will ride the Iron Butt Rally with approximately 80 riders who have been granted entry to the event. Of the over 700 applicants for the 2001 Iron Butt Rally, I have a spot, my son does not yet have his spot. I hope I get to see him ride the 11 day, 11,000 miler next year.
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