New Member Intro and 1st Iron Butt Ride Around Minnesota

Snert

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2021
Messages
48
Location
Minnesota
Howdy-Ho fellow adventurers!

I'm from southern Minnesota and last fall I brought a Super Tenere after my beloved Bandit 1250 was totaled. I rode dirtbikes in my youth, and didn't really get into riding again till about 4 years ago. I had been looking into an Africa Twin, but stumbled across the Tenere at my local dealership. After taking it out for a test ride I decided it should be my next bike. I had been planning to do an Iron Butt ride and decided to do it after purchasing the bike. I wrote up my ride and tried to dig a little deeper into the why I rode 1000 miles in a day. I wrote this story up for guys that aren't familiar with the motorcycles or the Iron Butt Challenge.

If you want to see the route: https://goo.gl/maps/J13K4G3p1DUNcMaX9

A couple of fun stats on the journey: avg mpg was 40.8
my avg driving speed was 56.4
with stops (gas, breaks, photo ops, police warnings) brought it down to a whopping 48.8 mph.
The ride took me from the first 5:14 AM fuel stop to the last 2:42 AM fuel stop.

Now On with the story, and like the ride it's a little lengthy.

Grab the Popcorn and Enjoy!


“You’ve got to get a motorcycle, and then we’ll do an Iron Butt!”

Iron Butt, is that worse than Monkey Butt?

The official challenge is the Saddlesore 1000: one thousand miles in under 24 hours. Upon completion, the rider is granted entry into the worldwide club of 75,000, those claiming to be the “World’s Toughest Riders.”

The requirements are quite simple: documentation must be taken to prove the ride was done correctly, and upon verification, paying a one-time membership fee. Everything else is left to the participant to decide: route, motorcycle, time, etc. No prior registration is needed; it’s mostly left up to the honor system. The easy way to complete this challenge is to find some interstate, hammer down 500 miles, spin around and drive 500 miles back. The 24 hours is wall time not riding time, so if you leave at 6 A.M. you need to be finished by 6 A.M. the following day. That means the average speed only needs to be 42MPH. With the proper planning and determination a lowly scooter could complete the ride.

Hang around with any seasoned biker, and this cheeky challenge will eventually become a topic of conversation. For many, it’s a one and done. A bucket list task. For others, it’s the taste of a new lifestyle of long rides. Those who do follow through have one thing in common: they're all a little crazy.

When this challenge was presented to me I didn't have a motorcycle, not even a permit! But what I did have was an adventurous soul. Every once in a while the idea of buying a street bike interested me, but I dismissed the thought through the lens of logic and practicality. And so it went for years, until I received a sign-on bonus at my new job. My lovely wife allowed me to do whatever I wanted with it. It was now or never.

I signed up for an MSF course and started scouring the craigslist ads for a good beginner bike. Growing up I had some experience riding dirtbikes out in the country, and had even ridden my cousin’s V65 Honda Magna a time or two. From the ads I plucked a perky 750 Honda Nighthawk.

Over the course of the season I began to want more power, so I purchased a Suzuki Bandit 1250 the next winter. Now I felt I had the machine to take on the Iron Butt challenge. Over the course of the summer the Bandit and I grew to be quite in sync. I started prepping it for long rides, adding saddle bags, a larger windshield, a new seat, etc.

Then tragedy struck and my beloved Bandit was demolished in an accident. Worse yet my wife, who had been at the controls, was injured. She healed, but now I was again bikeless. Feeling guilty, my wife allowed a bigger budget for the next motorcycle purchase, a 2012 Yamaha Super Tenere.

The Super Tenere is an “adventure type” motorcycle. Which means it’s a heavy, stable, wannabe dirt bike. It’s basically an SUV of motorcycles. The previous owner had added many “farkles” (accessories) to the bike: heated hand grips, extra wind protection, crash bars, throttle lock, soft saddlebags, and of course a throaty exhaust note. All I added was a magnetic tank bag and a sheepskin seat cover.

The summer came and went, and it was fast approaching Labor Day weekend. The “Super T” and me were still very new to each other, but I was comforted in knowing it was a popular choice with long distance riders. It was time to either attempt the ride or put the bike up for storage for another year. I decided the time was right. My resolve to attempt the iron butt was ironclad.

Owing to the traveling restrictions of 2020, I decided I’d make my lockdown governor happy and plan my whole route in state. I’d travel around the Northern perimeter of Minnesota and ride on the west side as I hadn’t driven much in that area. Minnesota is riddled with silly tourist statues, so I decided to make them goal points as I travelled.

I took along some basic tools: fix a flat, bungee cords, a small 2 gallon fuel tank, a print out of my schedule, directions, phone, phone charger, snowmobile gauntlets, face mask, mp3 player with music and a couple audiobooks, an extra sweatshirt, and a small cooler with lunch, snacks and water. Also stowed away two cans of pop for emergency caffeine. On my person I wore my helmet, riding jacket, boots, gloves, and wallet. I was prepared, but travelling relatively light.

At 5:15 A.M. I topped off on fuel and started the clock. Since my phone battery was rather lousy, and I needed to photographically document stops, I decided to navigate by memory. I would trust the road signs to lead me to my destinations, rather than having GPS guiding me the entire way. What a great way to flex those “map muscles”.

First stop was Pipestone, and a picture with the “World’s Largest Peace Pipe.” I began scrolling through my memory to determine which road to look for. Despite studying my route backwards and forwards, in the wee morning hours... I got lost. As my headlights lit up road signs I panicked and took what I thought was the road I was looking for. I was too stubborn to check my map and thereby admit that I had already started off course. I found myself trudging along in the dark desperately looking for highway 59. Dumb luck seemed to be on my side and there was the sign for Highway 59. Happy with this success I followed 59, but for too long. I missed the road that would take me west. Instead, I went northwest. So much for having an early morning smoke break.

So there I was, already 40 miles short because I missed my road. I had made the decision to post my progress on Facebook as a way for friends and family to track my journey. I couldn’t help but wonder: Do I give up now? Do I admit I had already goofed only two hours in? Do I keep updating my progress to my audience? Only a couple hours in, my confidence in my decision making was shaken, and the shame of owning up to my “accountability” group loomed.

Well, I decided to own up to my mistake and be honest with myself and my audience. I admitted I had deviated from my route and would try to make it up elsewhere.
 

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Snert

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2021
Messages
48
Location
Minnesota
After fueling the tank and filling myself with a slice of breakfast pizza, I took off again. The sun was now rising as I came through a Wildflower prairie reserve. I could see in all directions for miles, and nothing and nobody was on the horizon. Peaceful zen.

Why would anyone want to ride 1000 miles in one day, let alone on one motorcycle? Riding taps into the soul. The rider is exposed to all elements for better or worse. A flick of the wrist can bring thrills in an instant, a tighter corner requires the rider to lean further. The body and mind have to work together. As the rider, you are engaged with the world as you move around it. You can make it challenging or relaxing, flipping between the two at will. As for riding 1000 miles in one day, it’s the desire for accomplishment, mounting confidence, and mostly bragging rights that keep the wheels turning.

The coldness of the morning subsided and the warmth of the day drove away the sting of shame from starting the journey in the wrong direction. I was making good time; my confidence was building. Then I hit road construction.

Now, it’s to be expected to run into road construction in Minnesota. What I didn’t count on was, for the second time, getting completely mixed up in my directions. I was heading north, but I kept running into bridges that were out. Being the captain of wrong gut directions, I went hither and thither before deciding I could take the gravel road ahead of me. After all, I figured it was heading back to the main highway.

Soon I was exploring minimum maintenance roads in a fool’s attempt to ride as the crow flies. By the time I got back to a paved road and checked the map, I had added my morning’s missed miles, and then some. Thankfully, I was not too far off course as I was starting to get range anxiety. I had never run the “Super T” to empty and all I had were some average fuel estimates and internet guesses on fuel range. I had planned on nine fuel stops, and I wanted to stick to that schedule as closely as possible. It kept my average speed up, and this two-wheeled object in motion needed to stay in motion.

With my gauge just starting to blink the thirsty light, I cruised into Fergus Falls. It was now about 11A.M. and I decided to have Lunch with Otto the Otter. A look at my planned schedule showed that I was only 20 mins off. Not too shabby. It’s amazing what a small break does to improve the mind and body, but the initial excitement was starting to wear off.

I was a quarter of the way through my day’s ride. The next hour was scenic riding through little lake towns, stopping to take pictures of Pelican Pete and the Vergas Loon. Along the route I passed fellow motorcyclists, giving each other the customary wave. Some waved, others didn’t, and one Harley rider looked like he wanted to show me another bird. Fully decked out in hardcore Harley gear I’m sure he felt like Jax Teller rolling down the highway.

Many riders get so wrapped up in the image, they forget to just enjoy the ride. I myself had succumbed to this mindset, and it nearly drove me away from the hobby. Left to my own thoughts, I would have kept riding my first bike, the Nighthawk. As I found myself riding with my brother and his Harley-riding friends, the constant pecking about the Nighthawk’s size started to wear on me. I felt insulted, that I was being judged less of a man.

To combat these attacks, I told myself I needed to move up in the hobby and get a bigger bike. It’s only natural to want more power, I reassured myself. But as I searched for a bigger and better motorcycle I felt hollow. Motorcycles are great at exposing one's own insecurities. Instead of riding what brought me joy, I was trying to appease others. I wonder if this is why so many bikes trade multiple owners with the odometers only changing hundreds of miles between.

With a new motorcycle came a new identity. The Bandit’s size and speed helped to stop the ridicule, but it didn’t help me deal with my insecurities. All it did was mask them. I was top dog, the guy with the “stupid fast” motorcycle. I took pride in being the quickest in the group. A false bravado took hold and I started looking down on “lesser motorcycles.” It was me against the cruiser crowd. I relished the chance to proclaim the superior stats of my motorcycle. I had made the Bandit into an idol and didn’t realize how quickly it could fall.

In an instant, a sharp curve, and a few flips seen in the rearview, my bike became a twisted piece of metal that showed me just how skewed my view of riding had become. When the Bandit was destroyed, all the insecurities came back. I had poured so much of myself into the bike that I felt exposed. Over the next month while my wife healed, I started digging out the poisonous self image I had built behind the motorcycle. The toxicity I had accumulated trying to live up to this imaginary group of “manly” riders. Why did I need to impress other bikers? They weren’t riding it, and they sure weren’t paying for it.

I started throwing a leg over bikes that I would, in past years, have never given a passing glance. When I found a good fit with the “Super T” I sprung for it. Funnily enough, the adventure bike segment was the one I had found most alluring before getting my endorsement. No one in my circle had a motorcycle in that category. My early insecurities of standing out from the crowd had stopped me from pursuing those bikes, but riding became much more enjoyable when I stopped being such a turkey and image was no longer my main concern.

At the world’s largest turkey I steeled myself for the longest, straightest stretch of the journey. I would head north through Thief River Falls to Greenbrush before starting the curve towards home. No attractions to look forward to, and not much scenery. The road was going to be dull, and this was a road to make time on.
 

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Snert

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2021
Messages
48
Location
Minnesota
The magnitude of going 1000 miles in one day, started to weigh on me. My body reminded me that I had been up since 2 A.M. Dutifully, the Super T and I trudged on, with only the act of passing slow campers to entertain us. At this point, it’s important to note that while riding long distances one must be able to stretch while on the move. I know I looked quite comical riding with my legs up on the crash bars or standing on the pegs at 60mph, but it helped to keep me limber and awake. I found myself fighting the doldrum of continuous movement by counting political signs, calculating arrival times, and figuring out ways to increase my average miles per gallon gauge display. Amid these distractions, my mind returned to the one question yet to be answered: why had I even attempted this ride? Maybe it was to prove something to myself.

My father seemed to have a sixth sense, an instant intimate knowledge of the machine. He seemed to instinctively know how to get the most out of any motorized vehicle. Like race car drivers, he could “feel” the machine. His reflexes were sharp, and in dicey situations he could calmly think through ways to actively avoid accidents.

My father’s older brother died from cancer at the age of twenty-one. It stirred within my father a desire to not let life pass him by. He threw himself into any hobby that interested him. Racing muscle cars, riding rocket bikes, flying airplanes, he did it all. His stories would seem unreal, but for the many friends who witnessed it, who would even sometimes say that he downplayed the tales! As one of his friends put it “People generally have one or two near-death experiences in their lives. For you, it’s just Tuesday.”

Me, well I just seem to have dumb luck. Growing up, I was given a dirt bike. I could ride it but was only ever just adequate. When my bravado was riled up, I would try to push myself to be daring. This would generally lead to me collecting soil samples, new scratches, and a wounded pride. That wound stuck and attached itself much more deeply than a broken bone. With it came a feeling that I could never step out from my father’s shadow.

Within a year, my father went from being in perfect health, to living within the shadow of an unknown illness. Wheelchair bound, he succumbed to a tumor and passed away. I lost my father, my best friend and the only man who I felt could usher me into manhood. The last time I talked with him he told me that he saw me standing on the cusp of manhood.

Now I stood not knowing how to take the final step. Almost all of his interests were my interests. Without my mentor, could I still pursue the same hobbies? My dad’s friends would see me attempting similar pursuits and say that I was just like him, but could I ever live up to his legacy? I felt a growing burden to live an adventure-filled life as he had, lest I dishonor his memory.

I pulled into my fuel stop, battered and mentally worn. It was then that I realized I had only just crossed over the halfway mark. The time was now 4 P.M. I took a brief rest and decided now was the time for an early supper. I started recaulating my ETA and felt I could still make it back before 3 A.M. Only an hour and half behind my planned arrival time but well before the 24 hour time limit of 5:15 AM.

The next road would take me up along the Rainy River, right along the Canadian border. The scenery started to change; it went from flat prairie land to the northwoods. The curvy road and fresh air of the deep woods revived me. At an overlook I pulled over and gave myself ten precious minutes to sit on a rock and look out across the river. I sat there gazing at the tranquility of the water. Even if I didn’t make the time limit, it was worth it to get here.

Along with my father’s adventurous spirit, he had instilled within me the belief that one should never take small moments for granted. Life’s a stumbling journey, ambling along never knowing when we’ll cross the finish line. I know I could never measure up to the same adrenaline-packed adventures he led, but he would never have used that yardstick against me and I didn’t need to use it against myself.

I rode into International Falls and after taking a quick photo with Smokey Bear finally started heading south. But in all my planning I had forgotten: it gets darker quicker in the northwoods.

Frantically, I rode toward Chisholm, out of the deep woods and back to civilization. With the setting sun rose the realization that there was nobody on this road to offer help with a break-down. There was no cell service. This was bear and moose country, I remembered, and tried to outpace my fatigue. Ahead of me was a lone car making this trek, and every bend that took its useful headlights away from me would cause a tremor of panic. If I could just keep those taillights in view, I wouldn’t be alone.

Each time I lost sight of the lights, a small short prayer would involuntarily escape my lips. “Stay with me God.” After each utterance the taillights would come back into view. My father might not be able to ride with me tonight, but I knew my heavenly Father was right there. The last year of his life, my father vividly illustrated how to walk with God despite incredible hardships. Every day was an adventure, but no longer filled with adrenaline and glory. It was a slogfest, trying to find the best in the small moments. With each turn and each prayer I realigned my thoughts to why I was undertaking this challenge. It was to grow closer to my Father.

yam 3.JPG
 

Snert

Member
Joined
Mar 12, 2021
Messages
48
Location
Minnesota
At last I saw the sign for Chisholm: 20 miles.

Just outside of Chisholm stands the Iron Man statue, made as a tribute for those miners whose steely resolve helped to build America into a great industrial giant. I paused and looked up at the giant figure. Unlike the previous roadside attractions this one had more meaning than a simple tourist stop. These men hadn’t quit when the work became hard, and neither would I. Only two more fuel stops lay between me and victory.

Chisholm is on my childhood road of 169, the first road I memorized when I began driving. 169 South was my road, and now all I needed to do was follow it home. Even though it was now dark, I knew the unfamiliar would become familiar again.

I pulled into my second to last fuel stop just as the cashier changed the sign to closed. I had needed to pee, but decided it was a good insurance for me to stay awake for the final three hours. Wearily, I bundled up as tightly as I could and straddled the bike, more in a daze than anything. I had started to lose my mental capacity to focus so I decided it was time to break out the audiobook A Hero’s Guide to Deadly Dragons to keep my mind from fixating on the cold. For that next hour it was just me and the adventures of Hiccup the viking and his dragon, Toothless.

Suddenly, the lights of law pierced the dark and sadly, they didn’t go around me. Since the “Super T” was so new to me, I still had the previous owner’s North Dakota license plate. I had my permit in my wallet, but the highway cop was a bit on edge as he approached this out of state bike a little after midnight. After a brief inquisition, his mood softened. I had rolled through a speed change, and he realized I just hadn’t seen the sign. Before this unexpected stop, I had felt my senses dull. But the jolt of being pulled over reawakened me. After giving me a helpful heads up on the upcoming speed changes, the officer let me ride away, no ticket issued.

After a couple of paranoid miles of watching my speed, I became aware of increasingly concerning throttle issues. All day, I had been finding a “dead zone” where the twist of the wrist seemed to do nothing. Now, nearing the end of this journey, my throttle stopped taking inputs. I slowed to a stop, and started to diagnose. I feared the worst. My bike had been sent in for a recall; the throttle could become stuck open. I feared that maybe the opposite had happened. With no conclusive idea as to what was causing the lack of response, I went with a tried and true method of fixing all problems: I turned it off and on again. Hoping for the best I restarted it, and it seemed to solve the problem. Removed from the journey, I now know that it was only the grip glue that was starting to let go. An easy fix.

As I approached the Twin Cities and the final homestretch, I was delivered another surprise. As I approached city limits, brilliant flashes of lightning lay in front of me. It was quite a treat to see until it dawned on me that I, the tallest being in six lanes, was getting closer to them.

Then the forecasted 12% chance of rain unleashed all of the misfortune it could upon me. I had no rain gear to put on and no overpasses to hide under, so I bravely braced myself. At first most of the rain seemed to only spray up from the road and hit my legs, but then the lightning, thunder and rain intensified. Within minutes I had hit full saturation. Luckily, my “water resistant” jacket hadn’t soaked through to my inner layer. My jeans were soaked on top, but dry underneath, with my legs shivering in between. Then, for the first time in many hours, I ran into traffic.

For some reason, people decided that the right thing to do was to follow closely behind me. I was shooting up quite the rooster tail of water, and getting angry at the cars by me. Didn’t they know I could hydroplane?!? Probably not. So, I gingerly maneuvered the bike around the turns, keeping the angle as little as possible. I played the game of how little I could open my visor to keep it from fogging up, but also keep the rain from hitting my face.

The rain played tricks with me and I kept fearing I had missed my exit. At long last I spotted 10A. After this, it would be only seventy miles to the finish line and home. I entered the long turn. I was so cold and miserable that for a long moment I thought of just allowing the bike and I to come crashing down. In that moment, the physical agony would be over. All the toiling would end.

One of the many times my father stared down death, happened to be on a motorcycle. He came up over a hill, and without seeing my dad, a milk truck driver had pulled out broadside across the road in front of him. The driver and he realized that he was doomed. His speed was too great to lock up the brakes; he would splatter all over the trailer. He put the bike into a skid sliding sideways ever closer to the truck. In that small moment, he made a choice. Looking back, he believed God helped him to do the unthinkable and slip the clutch and start roasting the back tire. At the last possible moment the bike stopped skidding, got traction and shot down the length of the trailer where he was finally able to stop. He hadn’t stopped fighting when fate showed him a way out.

I couldn’t give up. Charging from the depths of my soul came a resounding no to this apathy. With a trembling prayer that grew into a roar I pleaded to God to help me through this turn. The rain caused the motorcycle to step out in a skid, but I held it through. I straightened the Super T out at the bottom of the ramp, ready to tackle the last seventy miles.

With a renewed mental strength, I carried on into the final stretch, not that it didn’t try and test me at every turn. The rain subsided, but the wind picked up. Bucking a crosswind, I had to lean over to keep myself from being pushed sideways. I hung on tight. As the miles drug on I was pushed more and more. My strength was wearing thin, but for the first time I was on a road I knew well. “Finish strong. You’ll be home soon enough,” I’d repeat to myself.

Then. there it was. Kwik Trip, the final gas station, the finish line.

I started the Iron Butt clock at the first gas station and ended it at the last. I rolled in and nearly tipped over trying to find the kickstand. After getting the picture of my last fuel receipt, I strolled in and finally relieved myself. With that, most of the tension left me. I had contemplated wetting myself in exchange for warmth, but I had held out. Warmed by a gas station burrito, I wearily suited up for the last time. My challenge was complete, but the journey was not. Home was still fifthteen minutes away. Mostly by muscle memory I followed the road home.

My wife had been following my journey and had opened the garage door for me. I wheeled in, dropped the kickstand, and turned off the key. I felt like I was glued to the bike. For a long while I sat there, frozen, before trying to pry myself off. I could barely get my foot to clear the seat one last time.

I had made it. A little over 1100 miles in under 24 hours. And I had been up for over 25 hours straight. It was just past 3:30A.M.

When my friend who had first told me about the challenge heard about my trip, he welcomed me into the fold of toughest riders saying: “I did my Iron butt trip on interstates. You went along 2 lane highways. You’ve got the real iron butt!”

I had neither outrun the cops nor raced down backroads at speeds higher than 150 mph as my father had. What I had done was have an iron butt adventure, and I believed it would be able to stand tall alongside one of his tales. No longer did I relegate myself to the shadows.

You have to be a special kind of crazy to undertake a Saddlesore 1000. But the payoff for conquering your limitations? Well that’s not crazy at all.yam 2.JPG20200905_211447-scaled.jpg
 

tntmo

Well-Known Member
Joined
Nov 10, 2017
Messages
646
Location
San Diego, CA
Welcome to the group, I was born and raised in Minnesota (Milroy, just east of Marshall) but now I live in California.

Cool writeup on your ride. I haven't been to a lot of the places that you visited on your ride, guess I need to ride back to MN and check them out. I have done a few 1000+ mile days but never bothered to save the receipts and send it in.

Hopefully the weather warms up soon and you can get a lot more riding in.
 
B

ballisticexchris

Guest
Welcome to the forum and congratulations on the Iron Butt completion.

Welcome from Texas. I am one that will never have an IBA number.
+ 1 here on doing it on a the Super Tenere. Once you've done it on a dirt bike the Super Tenere would be like going to the corner gas station.
 

StefanOnHisS10

Converting fuel into heat, noise and a bit motion
Staff member
Global Moderator
Joined
Apr 8, 2020
Messages
2,136
Location
The Netherlands, Friesland.
Welcome aboard Snert (your name is a delicious meal here in The Netherlands!!),

You’ve put quite an effort in the intro, nice read. I Ain’t an IBA member by far, but go lovethe S10.

Stefan.
 
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