Big As Texas Party (IBA HQ)

Big As Texas Party (IBA HQ)

The IBA staff had planned to arrive at the IBA BAT HQ, The Hilton Garden Inn in Allen, Tx, around noon on Thursday.  I had finished my SS1K Ride In, the first in my hat-trick, at 00:29 eastern, 23:29 central, so I had gotten plenty of sleep before staff or participants began arriving.  Once I had gotten out and about I walked next door to Two Rows Classic Grill for a good lunch.  Nothing fancy, just a burger and fries, but having only eaten a gas station sandwich and a couple of candy bars during my previous day’s ride, a burger and fries was a welcome meal.  When I walked back across the parking lot to the hotel, I saw that IBA members had started to arrive.

I decided I better take care of business before I got distracted.  There would be lots of new people to meet, ride in stories to hear – and – the IBA staff had scheduled some presentations for the afternoon that I wanted to attend.  In fact, it was the presentations that caused me to move my departure forward by a day.  So, first things first, I went to the IBA conference room in search of Howard Entman.  Howard was the ride master for my SS1K Ride In.  I needed to find him and provide him with the documentation of my ride from Jacksonville to Allen.

A few days prior to my departure for Dallas – Allen, I received an email from Howard which provided the requirements for a Ride In Certification.  Anyone meeting the requirements could have their ride verified at BAT HQ and receive their certificate from Mike Kneebone during the BAT Banquet.  Howard had provided his phone number for anyone with questions.  Well, I had a question, so I gave Howard a call.  During our conversation I received much more than the answer to my question.  It turns out that Howard lives just 15 miles south of me.  So he has driven the route to Allen on more than one occasion.  He asked me what my planned route was.  After I told him, he suggested that I might want to look at a couple of modifications, and explained the benefits that each alternative provided.  The IBA prides itself on the willingness of more experienced riders to provide genuine assistance to less experienced members.  So, obviously, I altered my route to match Howard’s suggestions.  I don’t know what the original sections of my route would have been like.  I’ve never ridden them.  But the sections that Howard suggested were exactly as he described.  So I’m quite certain that the benefits were as described as well.

When I entered the conference room the IBA staff was already setup and running.  Materials for the next day’s rides were being laid out and Howard was at a computer reviewing riders documentation and finalizing certificates prior to printing.  After I introduced myself and thanked him for the routing recommendations, it only took a few minutes for Howard to review my beginning and ending receipt/odometer photos and starting and ending marks on my spotwalla map.  I had all of the documentation required for manual verification as well, however, it turned out to be unnecessary.  As a premier member I am able to use many of the electronic submission tools.

With my first of three SS1Ks verified, I headed out to the parking lot to meet the riders and look over the bikes that had arrived.  Riders continued to trickle in over the next several hours.  I believe that in the end there were roughly 100 participants in the event and 60 of those participated in one of the 3 sponsored rides.  You can see a good selection of the bikes that arrived in the photo gallery below. 

While many of the participants I met, and spent a few hours socializing with, were from Texas, I also met riders from many other states.  Most notably Wisconsin, Arizona, Oklahoma and Florida.  The gentleman from Phoenix spoke quite graphically of the construction zones he had encountered on I-20, around Odessa, on his way in.  I made a mental note of his comments since I would be riding through that same area the next day during my second SS1K.  The gentleman from South Florida, who had completed his 44th Bun Burner Gold for his Ride In, described the many benefits of running a car tire on the back of his BMW R1200RT.  You can see his bike, with the car tire mounted, in one of the photos in the gallery. 

There were countless other tales about rides, farkles, bonus locations, great successes, lucky breaks, and epic failures throughout the day.  As fascinating and informative as it all was, I did break away from the parking lot social a couple of times to attend presentations on Spotwalla and Rally Routing.  All too soon, however, the IBA staff was out in the parking lot, rounding everyone up, and loading all who wanted to go into the hotel vans for a short ride to Rudy’s BBQ.  It was a non-hosted, you’re on your own, affair, but the transportation was being handled and the socializing could continue.  So we all piled in.

Rudy’s is a very casual, “everything sold separately”, BBQ joint, with several long tables.  If you’re going to go to Rudy’s, you’re going to socialize.  You can see Rudy’s in the gallery as well.  I had a pulled pork sandwich, fries and slaw.  Another simple yet very good meal.  It was at Rudy’s that I first met Jim Judge, the person I would end up riding with the entire next day, in the BAT SS1K.  He just happened to sit next to me at dinner.  Rudy’s is very efficient, so by the time the vans arrived with the second load of diners, we were ready to go back to the hotel.  Back at the hotel, things broke up fairly quickly.  Most of us had to get ready for the next day’s 24 hour rides and needed to get as much rest as possible.

The next morning, Friday, there were 3 sponsored rides for participants to chose from. 

There was a basic SS1K, which is what I chose, where you simple rode a route that was provided and visited 6 bonus locations that were specified.  Points were not part of the equation on this one so if you got to a bonus location outside the available hours it was okay.  You only needed to ride the miles, photo the bonus location with your flag in the photo, and get back in less than 24 hours.  I was out to experience multiple long distance rides in succession.  Similar to what I might experience in a multi-day rally (hence the hat-trick).  So the basic SS1K provided the experience I needed.  You can read about my BAT SS1K Here.  

The second ride people could chose was a SS1K for points.  Essentially the same ride I was doing, however, the Mammoth National Monument, in Waco, had hours of availability.  It was only open during business hours and the actual photo required for points was inside the facility.  So riders who chose this ride would have to wait for the facility to open and pay to take the tour to get the points.  If they didn’t get the points from all 6 locations, they didn’t get the certificate. 

The final ride, available to riders, was a mini-rally.  It was the first time the IBA had done this type of ride during a party event.  This ride utilized all of the Texas bonus locations available during the Iron Butt Rally (IBR) run earlier in the year.  Same locations, restrictions, and point values.  The riders would select which bonuses to visit, design their own routes and ride their rides.  They too had to be back in less than 24 hours.  Most points wins.  But then…  They threw in some other fun distinctions for awards, like least points, least bonuses, etc.  The point of this ride was to give people a chance to experience an IBR style rally event, only 1 day instead of 11, and a whole lot less pressure to get the most points.

It was reported, during the banquet the following evening, that for the first time, all of the riders made it back successfully.  No-one broke down, dropped out or did not finish in time (DNF).

The following day, Saturday, the staff scored everyone who chose to do manual scoring and resolved any issues associated with those who were utilizing electronic scoring.  Once that was completed, they printed the certificates in preparation for the events final proceedings.

At 4pm there was an award ceremony for everyone who participated in the rides, with a few notable exceptions.  The major awards, both high and low, for the rally style ride, would be presented during the banquet later in the evening.  As for myself, I received my certificates for both my SS1K Ride In (1st of 3) ride, and my BAT SS1K (2nd of 3) ride.  The 3rd would be my ride home and would therefore not get certified for a while after that.

The banquet, the final event of the Big As Texas Party, was a 6pm.  It included an excellent buffet style meal, an award ceremony for the rally style ride participants of special note, and several presentations.  All were very well done and quite informative.  One in particular… well, I wish I had brought my video camera to the banquet. 

One presentation was by a person who had done 10 Bun Burner Golds in 10 days.  On one ride he even picked up a trailer and towed it, having never towed a trailer with a bike before, for the 1,500 miles.  He explained his strategy, preparation and execution.  By essentially riding the same route, a particularly favorable road in the northwest, with little traffic and high speed limits, he was able to accomplish his objective.  Even still, only 4 hours per day to bath, sleep, eat, prepare for the next ride, for 10 straight days, is an amazing accomplishment.

Another presentation was by a person who circumnavigated the lower 48 states and visited every lighthouse.  He had started out by visiting all of the lighthouses in smaller areas of the northeast and just kept expanding it.  Eventually, he ended up creating several IBA lighthouse challenge rides.  You can see the spotwalla from his rides here.  Here, you can also see the lighthouse spotwalla in which he circumnavigated the lower 48.

The presentation for which I wish I had my video camera was by a participant in this year’s IBR.  He, his wife, and his daughter, rode the IBR with a Harley and sidecar.  There is no way I could possibly do his presentation justice.  The story he told, of being selected, the preparations, the planning, the many crises in their business at the time of the event, and then the realities of the ride itself, were absolutely hilarious.  He spoke of wanting the bike and sidecar to be as stock as possible, despite Mike Kneebone’s suggestion that he consider auxiliary fuel, only to end up having to fuel it 73 times in 11 days.  He spoke of getting so few miles per tank of gas that they began to check wind direction before choosing the next bonus location to visit.  He said it was more sailing ship than motorcycle.  He described passing only 5 vehicles in 11 days and not being sure if the 5th could be considered a legitimate pass since it was a pickup truck, pulling a full loaded lowboy, up a grade.  I’m not completely sure what his business is, but he has a great future in public speaking or standup if he wants it.

Yes, it was a wonderful evening.  Add to the festivities the fact that I and the individuals I had ridden the BAT SS1K with, and with whom I had become fast friends, sat at the same table and shared the experience, made it all the more special.  As the evening wrapped up we made sure we had each other’s contact information, agreed to keep in touch, and promised to ride together again in the near future.

Once I got back to my room it was time to prepare for my next ride.  My final SS1K in the hat-trick.  Oh, and just to keep things interesting, hurricane Nate was planning on hitting land right in the middle of my route home.  Should make for an interesting ride.

Below is a gallery of images from events at IBA BAT HQ.  Clicking on an image will display a larger version.  Once a larger image is open, you can navigate from image-to-image using the arrow that appear on the left and right edges when you move you mouse to those areas.