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Mark & Todd vs. Iron Butt Insanity!


Riding a motorcycle is not merely a mode of transportation; it’s a celebration of freedom, a symphony of wind and road. The exhilaration of cruising on two wheels, with the wind in your face, transforms every journey into an adventure, whether it’s a quick trip to the store or an escape to the mountains. The curves of the road become a canvas, each twist and turn eliciting a smile that transcends the mundane worries of daily life. Riding, for enthusiasts, is a therapeutic escape—a cathartic experience that allows you to leave behind the stress of the day. And, as the unwritten rule goes, any day that ends in a Y is a good day to ride, making every moment an opportunity to embrace the joy of the open road.

At the age of 60, my mind persists in its belief that I’m eternally young, filled with the same sense of curiosity and daring that defined my youth. Yet, my body occasionally interjects, reminding me of the passage of time with its subtle protests and whispers of wisdom earned over the years. Despite the inevitable signs of aging, there’s an undeniable thrill in facing challenges and dares, as they propel us into uncharted territories and new adventures. The juxtaposition of a seasoned body and a spirited mind creates a unique dynamic—a blend of experience and youthful enthusiasm that encourages the pursuit of new endeavors. It’s a testament to the enduring spirit within us, ever ready to embrace the thrill of the unknown, proving that age is but a number in the grand narrative of a live well lived.

My post-retirement life provides me with more time to enjoy my favorite sport. With this newfound freedom, I’ve embraced every opportunity to venture farther, savor longer rides, and explore destinations that only existed in my wildest dreams. I share many of my adventures with a kindred spirit and childhood friend, fellow MOA member Todd Low. He introduced me to long distance riding and the Iron Butt Association. Now, I understand long distance riding is not everyone’s cup of tea-some might even label it as foolish or perilous. But let me tell you, it’s an absolute blast if you’re into that kind of thrill. It provided us with thrill seeking opportunities to ride together testing our skills and stamina.

Embarking on our inaugural adventure, we plunged headfirst into the exhilarating challenge of a Saddle Sore 1000. Picture this: A daring journey where the goal is to conquer over 1,000 miles in a mind-bending 24 hours, documenting every twist and turn with a trail of receipts. The ritual begins at the gas station, where the pumps printed receipt becomes your initiation into the daredevil’s club. Address, date, and time intertwine with the whirring wheels, immortalized in a snapshot alongside your odometer reading. This peculiar dance repeats at each fuel stop, a symphony of proof etched in receipts, leading to the crescendo of your final receipt unveiling the grand total of miles conquered. One bit of advice, strategically plan to surpass the 1,000-mile mark to ensure victory should odometers be off leaving you sadly uncertified for your efforts.

Post-ride, the ritual takes an intriguing twist as you submit your odyssey to the scrutinizing eyes of the Iron Butt Association’s review team. Milage, receipts and any other proof become the ingredients for this thrilling recipe. Don’t fret; modern technology like Spotwalla or other tracking programs can also vouch for your audacious feat. The sweet reward? A modest certificate, a tangible testament to your mastery of the asphalt labyrinth. Dive into the rich tapestry of their site and forums at ironbutt.org, where a treasure trove of information awaits, whispering tales of the road less traveled. Here, you’ll discover not just one or two, but hundreds of challenges of motorcycle endurance rides, beckoning you to attempt and relish each thrilling twist in the journey.

One day, amid the humdrum of daily life, we embarked on a daring conversation that enticed us both about doing something grand. Something other than meeting for weekend rides. The idea, born out of a shared desire for an epic undertaking, gradually took shape as we contemplated the Iron Butt Association’s Ultimate challenge. A coast to coast odyssey from Mile 0 in Key West to the rugged landscapes of Prudhoe Bay in Alaska…and back. The sheer audacity of the endeavor sparked interest in both of us, igniting a collective determination to tackle the longest jaunt across North American by road on our bikes.

As we delved into the nitty-gritty details, we discovered the intricacies of the route—the twists and turns, the challenges, and the sheer magnitude of the landscapes that would unfold beneath our wheels. The Ultimate Coast to Coast ride beckoned us with promises of breathtaking scenery, unpredictable weather, and the raw, untamed beauty of the American continent and most of Canada.

The logistics became a puzzle, and each piece represented a shared commitment to this grand undertaking. Living in different states, we navigated the hurdles of coordination and synchronized our schedules, aligning the stars for the grand departure. The prospect of navigating from the southernmost point to the northern reaches of the continent and back felt like a mythical quest—an adventure of Homeric proportions.

The decision to embark on this epic journey wasn’t just about conquering miles; it was a testament to the enduring spirit of friendship and the pursuit of the extraordinary. As we geared up for the Ultimate Coast to Coast ride, the echoes of our childhood dreams melded with the thunderous roar of motorcycle engines, forging a bond that transcended state lines, uniting us on a quest that promised to etch its mark on the highways of our memories.

Embarking on an odyssey of this magnitude demands meticulous planning and thorough research. My compatriot and I delved into marathon phone sessions, dissecting every conceivable item we deemed essential to guarantee the success and safety of our impending journey. These discussions, akin to strategic war councils, unfolded over hours, the weight of each decision hanging in the air like an unspoken challenge.

In our quest for wisdom, we turned to the digital realm, where the vast landscape of YouTube unfolded like a treasure map of insights from seasoned riders. From tales of rustic camping escapades to the lavish allure of glamping, the platform became our virtual campfire, where hundreds of stories flickered to life for our viewing pleasure.

Venturing further into the cyber expanse, Facebook emerged as our social portal to a world of experienced riders. In groups and forums, we sought counsel on the best gear and on-the-road maintenance, tapping into the collective knowledge of a community bound by a shared love for the open road.

Yet, amidst the abundance of guidance, there was one elusive piece of counsel…how to broach the subject with the spousal unit. With our dates set in stone, the necessity of securing approval from our significant others loomed large. Crafting an artful persuasion, I presented the expedition as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, a mere blip on the calendar, lasting approximately a week and 21 days. Yes, creativity sometimes dances on the edge of time! A bemused yet approving smile played on her lips, leaving me in momentary uncertainty. Was it relief that I’d be away for a month, or did she harbor a flicker of doubt about my audacity to embark on such an epic quest? The enigma lingered, shrouding the impending journey with a touch of intrigue and a dash of domestic diplomacy.

Embarking on an epic motorcycle journey across North America, our adventure began in Key West, Florida, on June 3, 2023, with MapQuest guiding us from the southernmost point to the northern extremes of the continent. Our quest took us through the heartland of America—marked by the Iron Butt sign in Iowa—leading us to the geographical center of North America in Rugby, North Dakota, where a stone obelisk awaited us on June 8.

Five days into our odyssey, we crossed the Canadian border into Manitoba, pressing westward through the stunning landscapes of Alberta, British Columbia and the Yukon Territories. As we ventured through acres engulfed in flames and smoke, the journey became a surreal encounter with the raw forces of nature. Reaching Dawson City on June 11, the gateway to the iconic AlCan Highway, our adventure took a pause at the therapeutic Laird Hot Springs on June 12, where we paused to soak sore muscles from a week and a half of riding 600-700 miles a day.

We entered Alaska, where our journey unfolded like a wildlife spectacle, adding an extraordinary dimension to our already epic adventure. While traversing the rugged Alaskan terrain, we found ourselves mere feet away from the awe-inspiring presence of grizzly and black bears. The thrill of encountering majestic creatures in their natural habitat was a humbling reminder of the untamed beauty that surrounded us.

As we continued our exploration, Alaska unfurled its wild wonders before our eyes. The landscapes played host to an array of creatures, from the grandeur of moose to the graceful elk, the regal sheep perched on rocky precipices, and even the untamed spirit of wild horses galloping freely across the wild open wilderness. Each encounter was a brushstroke in a living painting, a testament to the diverse and untamed life thriving in the heart of Alaska.

These close encounters with wildlife added an element of exhilaration to our journey, reinforcing the untamed spirit of the Last Frontier. Amidst the pristine beauty of the Alaskan wilderness, our motorcycle journey became not only a test of endurance, but also a rare opportunity to witness nature’s grandeur in all its untethered glory. The memories of these encounters, woven into the fabric of our North American odyssey, were as indelible as the vast landscapes that stretched before us.

Crossing the majestic Yukon River and leaving our mark at the Sign Post Village on June 12 (look for my TN tag “EJOILIF”), we forged ahead to the Arctic Circle sign and Coldfoot on the 14th. The next leg, a challenging 250-mile stretch—devoid of stores or gas stations—across the Antigun Pass, led us to our ultimate destination: Prudhoe Bay! Exhausted but elated, we checked into the Aurora Hotel, reveling in a well-deserved feast and hot showers. The following day brought I took a refreshing dip into the half-frozen Artic Ocean, a brave accomplishment for one of us.

Having conquered our initial goal, the return journey began on June 16. Riding through rain and sleet near Coldfoot, we playfully planted a yard sign proclaiming “Dollar General Coming Soon,” announcing its imminent arrival in the wilderness as a joke. By the 21st, we found ourselves in Banff, following a perfectly timed ride on the Going into the Sun Road in Glacier National Park—a breathtaking stretch I consider to be one of the prettiest parks I’ve ever seen.

As we traversed Yellowstone and the Tetons on June 23, the next six days tested our endurance, taking us through ever-changing landscapes across America. Battling heat and humidity, we completed our Ultimate Coast to Coast Challenge, reaching Key West on June 29, 2023. Reflecting on our incredible journey, we couldn’t help but appreciate the support of friends and family, turning two old friends’ dream into the trip of a lifetime. While the regret for not extending the adventure lingered, the satisfaction of achieving our ambitious goal outweighed any fleeting longing for more time on the open road.