Maggie Willette

  I love the slogan the Rally Masters chose for the 2001 inaugural Buckeye 1000.  1000 Miles 24 Hours, That’s Impossible!  I don’t know how many people said these words when I described to them what I was going to do on my long weekend.  I proved it is possible.

 Thursday afternoon I was too excited to concentrate at work so I left early.  Went home, packed my bike then went to dinner with my husband.  Anxious to get on the road, I departed Kalamazoo about 6 pm.  Not wanting to get to Columbus too early, I got a hotel in Lima OH.  I watched a good movie on Cinemax then snoozed off.

 Friday at noon I arrived at Eddie’s house. I had planned on camping at Team Strange Headquarters East. Gus and Tim were there playing hosts as Eddie was at work.  I set my tent up while being entertained by Iron Butt stories.  When Will arrived I was introduced to him with the side remark that Will is an IB wannabe.  I was to learn later he is a seasoned veteran and was the grand winner of the Buckeye 1000.

  I made a run up to the Dairy Queen that was mentioned in a prerally mailing so I would be sure of where it was located in case it was a bonus stop.  While eating my DQ special I tried to chitchat with some guys on Valkyries.  I got the impression they did not have time to chat with someone they did not perceive as a “biker”.  While getting ready to leave on my bike I noticed a guy with a Excelsior hat on asking the Valkyrie riders if they knew how to get to Eddie’s house then getting into a discussion of what the Buckeye 1000 was.  The Valkyre riders said, “That’s impossible”.  I told Excelsior rider I’m going to Eddie’s for the odometer check, he can follow me.  I loved the amazed looks on the Valkyrie rider’s faces. 

 Soon enough it was time for the odometer check.  We were given a specific route to follow with the instructions that if any errors were made we would have to start the whole route over again from the beginning.  The route looked simple and well explained.  I set out through the scenic Ohio farmland.  I was lucky enough to see a rider ahead of me make the turn onto the hidden road by the silver silo.  I surely would have missed that road and had to start all over again.

 The AMA Museum is in a beautiful setting.  It is a new building surrounded by trees with a stream running next to it.  After checking in and stashing the give-a-ways on my bike, I had a chance to scope out the rally participant’s motorcycles.   It was amazing to see how people adapt their bikes for long distance traveling.  I started to think that maybe I don’t know what I’ve gotten myself into.  I have set my bike up for my convience on long distance rides but is nothing compared to the modifications these experts have made to their bikes.  Since this is my first long distance rally my goals were to earn my Iron Butt Saddle Sore and to not be a DNF.

 After a good meal at the Liar’s Banquet we gathered around the central stairway for a talk from our Rally Masters.  After a lot of good-natured ribbing the route sheets were handed out.  Paul was kind enough to explain the sleep bonus to me and give me a couple other tips. He seems like such a nice guy.  Why are the Rally Masters always trying to find ways to kick him out of the rally?  

 I hurried back to Eddie’s house to chart a route.  Tim, Gus, another newbie and I, armed with maps and highlighters, plopped on the floor of Eddie’s bike room to lay out our strategies.  Keith stretched out on the floor to get a little rest.  He was convinced the bonus sheets that would be handed out the next day would change everything.  I learned a lot about rally routing from Tim, Gus and Keith.  I am very grateful to them.  At each gas stop I made I could hear Keith saying the efficiency of the stop is what counts.

 The next morning at the Lenox Inn everyone was anxious to get a look at the bonus sheets.  After a little speech from Eddie in the back of a pickup truck and much waiving around of BBQ chicken, the sheets were handed out.  Everyone scattered to finalize his or her plans.  Since being new to this type of rally I decided to stick to familiar area to me and to keep it almost all four-lane highway.  My bike only holds 3.5 gallons of gas. I would have to stop about every 120 miles to fill up.  I was concerned that I would not be able to find a gas station open at 3 am and run out of gas somewhere in BFE.  I planned my route north to Toledo, crossing into Canada at Windsor, reentering the USA at Niagara Falls, then back south to Columbus.  I did most of the ride without consulting maps as I usually go to New York a couple of times a year via Canada from Michigan.  

 At the Ashtabula bonus gas stop I had parked my bike so I could use the facilities.  When I came out I noticed a guy on a bike parked behind me trying to start his bike without any success.  I figured he parked by my bike thinking a man would be out soon that could help him get his bike going.  I’ll never forget the look of disappointment on his face when I got to my bike and asked him if he was having trouble.  I helped him push his bike across the parking lot.  He was able to jump start his bike and with a wave of thanks he was on his way.  

 Sometime during the early morning I made another facilities stop.  While I was at the sink washing my hands I looked up into the mirror and was shocked!  Looking back was a familiar face with red, bloodshot, watery eyes.  The face was scary looking.  I had never seen myself looking so exhausted.  I went back out to my bike, sat on it and put my head down on the tank bag.  A rejuvenating 45 minutes later I was refreshed and ready to go. I was a new woman!

 I made it back to Columbus about 3 am.  I had done about 875 miles to my goal of 1000. I circled Columbus on 270 then headed east on 70. I got to Zanesville and turned back around, keeping an eye on the trip meter counting to 999.9 then 0!  I did the impossible! I AM AN IRON BUTT!  I go back to Eddie’s house and take my sleep layover in the cozy comfort of my sleeping bag. 

 I woke up about 7 am and headed to the Lenox Inn. It was too early to check in from the rally so I sat down with Bubba and some other volunteers for breakfast. Bubba was a very nice southern gentleman.  He gave me a hug and made me feel right at home.  Why does everyone pick on Bubba?  I was very proud that I had done 1011 miles in 24 hours.  When I was telling everyone how great my ride was I was asked if the 1011 miles is enough taking into consideration the odometer variance.  I had no clue.  Not wanting me to miss qualifying for the Saddle Sore a rally staff member took my breakfast tab to pay himself and told me to get out there and put more miles on.  I flew out of the restaurant, jumped on my bike and did the 270 circle again.  I made it back to the Lenox with plenty of time to spare and a grand total of 1077 miles.  I officially earned my Iron Butt Saddle Sore and finished the Buckeye 1000.  Goals met.


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