Iron Butt Association

Who would want to become a member of something called the Iron Butt Association? Especially if you have to ride 1000 documented miles in under 24 hours to qualify for membership.

Well, I submitted my application about three months ago. They said it might take three months to process it. Sure enough. A nice package just came in the mail. I got a backing panel for my license plate, an official certificate, a record of finishers with my name at the top of the list, several decals and patches, a membership number and password, and a nice letter from president Michael Kneebone himself.

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On the same day that I rode the BMW F650, 10/15/17, a guy named Andrii Korpusov from Lutsk, Ukraine rode a BMW R1100RT 1008 validated miles to gain membership.

The finishers almost exclusively rode big displacement motorcycles, Harley Davidson Road Kings, Goldwings, big BMW touring machines, Yamaha FJRs, Kawasaki Concours, etc. But a guy named Anastasiya Vinogradskaya from Moskow, Russia finished on a Yamaha 125 on 8/03/17. I was surprised that there weren’t more small displacement rides.

I enjoyed the challenge. It was fun. I was very careful and took most of the 24 hours to complete it. On longer rides, though, I don’t want to be limited by a tight schedule on a relatively naked, lightweight bike. The more epic Iron Butt runs (coast to coast, for example) may best be left to those with a 1200cc engine and a big fairing.

Instead, I think I would enjoy some simple, aimless wandering on the F650 when it gets warmer. But every time I get on the bike, I’ll see that Iron Butt plate holder and think about US Route 1 from Fort Kent, Maine to Key West, Florida, or Key West to Prudhoe Bay, or Lubec, Maine to Homer Alaska, or even Alaska to Terra del Fuego like Lois on the Loose.

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30 Miles at 20 degrees

Time for my usual lunch outing with a friend. Wait! It’s only 20 degrees out there. It’s 15 miles to his place.

No worries. I have my new Gerbing heated vest. I’ll take the bike.

The F650 hadn’t been started in a while and it had been very cold. Wouldn’t start. My guess is a little condensation in the fuel or in the cylinder. Maybe a coating of frost on the plugs? Don’t know. Eventually I got it going with some starter fluid sprayed near the air intake.

I have left the 20W50 weight oil in it so far this winter, so that didn’t help either. Pretty stiff.

Also, I had to spread some ice melt in order to have some footing to keep the bike upright until I got out of the driveway and onto the pavement.

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My $50 vest controller loops over the handlebar. You press the round button to cycle it through OFF(no light), FULL POWER(red), 3/4(blinking red),1/2(green) and 1/4(blinking green). One end connects to an SAE outlet from the battery and the other plugs into the vest.

I used some “8 hour” hand warmers between my outer mittens and the liner mittens. Over the fingers. My thumbs did get cold. Also my knees. Need to do something about the knees.

Well, I’m out there on the bike making my way in traffic. I can almost hear the thoughts, “Wait a second, it’s 20 degrees out there. What is this guy doing?”

“No woman would be so stupid!” Probably accurate.

“That’s out there!” Obviously.

“I knew it! It had to be a Beemer.” Another BMW nut.

“Captain America!” Vague admiration hidden in sarcasm.

Actually, I’m having a good time. It’s an adventure. Why? I’m the only bike in sight for one thing. Never saw another. It’s cold, but I am prepared. Also, there’s that mental magic, “It’s just not as cold on a bike as you would think”.

I don’t know why.

P.S. It turns out 20 degrees was a really warm day. Lately it’s been hovering around zero. Fahrenheit. For the time being, the bike is sitting happily on the battery tender.