S10s in the Iron Butt Rally!

Gatey

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Well it passed inspection and I got my Iron Butt plaque. My aux tank meets all the requirements in Appendix A per IBA rules. And no you don't need an aux tank on a Super Tenere. In fact it is discouraged by the IBA

IBA is not the IBR. Two different animals in the same farm yard.
 

EricV

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question , has anyone figured the amount of money it takes to participate in the iron butt rally ?
The joke is 11 days, 11k mile and $11,000.

The reality depends on many things. The entrance fee is around $2k. Hotels for start, checkpoint and finish are at a discounted rate the IBA makes with the host hotels, but still average over $100/night. So depending on how early you wish to arrive at the start, you're looking at around 8 nights or more. Let's just round up and say $1k in hotels that you pretty much can't avoid. You need to stay at the host hotel for the start, checkpoints and finish simply because you don't have the luxury of time. Rider meetings at the start and checkpoints are commonly at 4 am. The IBA arranges breakfasts that are included for all hotel nights and departure day. You are on your own for other meals except the start and finish banquets. An additional fee for the "Last Chance" banquet occurred this year too. Normally there are only the two banquets, this was an additional one, (not mandatory for riders), the day before the start banquet. IIRC, it was about $70.

So we're at ~$3k

If you have a bike ready to go that will pass rally tech, then no cost there except a fresh set of tires. Many will need at least one more rear tire during the rally.

You need to get to the start. It may be in your backyard or across the country. That info is not released until after the selection process most years, though they give you some general idea in the application process that it will start and end in the SE with a checkpoint somewhere in the West, (for example). Some years have had as many as 5 checkpoints, but most of the recent IBRs have had only three legs with two distinct locations. In '13 when I rode, the start and finish was in Cranberry Woods, PA and the other location was in central CA. The first leg started and ended in PA, the second leg was from PA to CA, then the third leg from CA back to PA. The riders get more detailed info sooner than the public so they can arrange logistics, ship tires or other items ahead of time, etc.

Getting to the start is gas and hotels for most. During the rally many, though not all, will have a hotel every night except the one before the finish. Most riders ride all night that last 'day' since the finish is 8-10 am, 8am being start of the penalty window and 10am being DNF. You can sleep when you get scored before the evening finish banquet.

So 11 days, 2 of which are covered already as host hotel locations for checkpoints, (riders pay for all of their hotel costs, none are included in the rally fee), and the last night you skip a hotel. That leaves you with 8 hotel nights while riding the rally in addition to the already factored in host hotels. That could be less than $800, but will more likely be around $1k. However, the rally takes you places off the beaten track and when your body tells you you have to sleep, or your plan requires you to get some sleep or simply stop so you're close to the next bonus you really need to get, price sort of loses out to need. The most I've paid for a room during a rally was $156 plus tax. I know riders that paid over $400 for a room. Keep in mind that most riders are only in the room for 4-6 hours except when the rest bonus gives more points for up to 8 hours and their plan allows them to maximize that w/o costing them points elsewhere or cutting into their time to get to the checkpoint or finish.

So we'll take that as an average of $1k + $3k for fee and host hotels + $1k in gas from the time you leave home to the time you get back home. (which could be higher. I paid $7/Gal in Death Valley one year, never mind AK). So we're at $5k now. And you haven't eaten or covered that extra tire, shop fees if needed to get it mounted and incidentals like road snacks, bags of ice, etc. You can factor those in many ways and everyone's rally goes a little different. Minimum $500. Easily $1000.

That's $6000 in real costs, on average. No bike or bike prep. Some do it cheaper. Some consider the cost of a new bike as part of the cost of doing the IBR, but that bike lasts a lot longer than just the rally, so that's not really a rally cost, just you wanting/needing a new bike.

Some real world examples:

In 2011 my wife rode the IBR. She had a very nice GL1800 set up for long distance riding, though no fuel cell. The previous IBRs had all had multiple dirt road bonuses and she was concerned about the big GoldWing and the real potential for dirt road bonuses. Remember, NO info on the rally theme or bonus style is given to riders until the night before the start of the rally.

She bought a new BMW F650GS twin and fully pimped it out for the IBR. Lets be conservative and just call that $20k. (It was more, but individual set up varies.) Her IBR turned out to be a 48 State ride with the capitals of each state worth more points, but not required to be a finisher. In the first time since the '80's, riders knew exactly what they needed to be a finisher when they left the start: Get a gas receipt from every state and make it to the checkpoints and finish on time. I don't think anyone did just that. Most got photo or receipt bonuses from a few to all of the capitals, as well as other additional bonuses available like the four corners of the US, etc.

Had she known what the theme was, she would have ridden the Goldwing and not bought the BMW. Had we even considered that the '11 IBR would be an all paved road rally, we would have ridden the Goldwing to the start along with the F650 and she could have chosen which to ride after the rally pack was given to riders. Oh well. The little F650GS twin survived, but not w/o drama, (and additional costs during the rally). She also sprung for a really good pair of waterproof gloves while getting an oil change and service at the BMW dealer just before the start in Seattle, WA. That added $130 to the rally costs. (Worth it) It was a very wet year.
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In 2011 after the rally, when the application period for the 2013 IBR came, my wife convinced me to enter. I really didn't expect to get drawn, but don't know why. I had plenty of rally experience and was well known to the IBR staff as a competent rider and not a drama queen. At the time I was riding a '04 Yamaha FJR with 160k miles on it. Fully rally prepped with fuel cell, lights, etc. It needed nothing more than a fresh set of tires to head to the start of any rally.

Naturally, I sold it just before I got the word that I had been selected for the '13 IBR. We were riding more ADV stuff, so I had bought a Yamaha Super Tenere to ride with my wife on her F650GS. I wasn't planning on making it into a rally bike, just using it for touring. Now I was sitting there looking at a new, stock, bike and staring down the throat of the IBR in 18 months. Crap.

I spent about $6k in prepping the bike. Custom seat(s) (2 because the first one sucked, even after 2 re-works), lights, fuel cell, various other bits and pieces, some of which I likely would have bought anyway, but not all at once!

I spent another $6k from the time I left for the start to the time I got home after the rally. So for me, my "rally costs" were around $13k. I was given generous donations by a few individuals or it would have been closer to $15k total. Note that there was a lot of riding during the prep time too, including other rallies and LD events. I arrived at the starting line with 50k miles on the Super Ten. None of that is factored in my cost numbers.

For many riders, the 'joke' isn't far off. If you're all dialed in and ready to ride to the start on a fully prepped bike, you can figure around $6000 and maybe do it for as low as $4000 if you have no issues and don't spend as many nights in hotels. I will say that a little Good Sleep and a shower beats the hell out of more bad sleep and no shower in terms of taking care of your body and mind when riding the rally.

Some riders chose to stay at cheaper hotels at the start, only staying at the host hotel the one night before the start. This is a pain, but saves some money. Some riders were able to cancel their reservations at the host hotel in Kennewick this year for the second checkpoint, because they were allowed to skip by getting one of two required bonuses and because the checkpoint because a time restricted bonus. There was also a rest bonus at that same time, but it was just easier for tired riders to stay at the host hotel instead of go find a cheaper one after the second leg, (which turned out to be the first half of the long second leg).

Some riders survive on Ensure and one meal a day. Others eat three meals a day while on the road. I got fast food and snacks at gas stops and only had one 'good' meal during the rally, when I got stuck for 11 hours in a hotel because I screwed up and needed the major bonus of the leg the following day. I got the closest hotel I could find and ordered delivery Chinese food. I ate a lot of Arby's Jr Roast Beef and McD's cheeseburgers while riding down the road. Often the last one, cold, at the hotel room I spent the night in, around midnight.

I hope that gives you some insight.
 
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tabledrain

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Coming from international don't forget to factor in exchange rates losses. Coming from Oz, we lose 30% in real terms. Factor in I dont have the luzury of fixing my own bike( which lives in MN) so anything that needs doing is going to cost me US100/ hour, which translates into AUD130/hr straight up.
Then factor in i ride an 2000 BMW. It might be pre all the mechanical issues but its still a BMW and is a princess when it comes to reliability. I love the way it does absolutely everything, but there are days, many,many of them, when i wish i was able to get anything from Japan back in the days when this was what was available and I was buying on short notice.

From when we apply and pay our first US100, to when we get back in the door after a month, my wife( who goes and does her own thing forthe 11 days) and I will burn through AUD 25k.
 
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Eric and Drain
Good write ups guys. I have ridden in two IBR's 2015 and 2017, plus two Butt Lite's. VII and VIII. I live in Australia, but was in NM for 20 months.
Eric is on the light side dollar-wise for anyone from OS, including Australia, but overall the figures are close to correct in US dollars.
All up, including practise runs and a bike, it cost me about AU$25,000 per year. This included a new BMW GSA in 2014, and a full farkle program over time, with a number of swap-outs totalling $20,430 for the bike (US dollars) and about $15,000 for the fitout. This part could be done MUCH cheaper, and I would recommend that new riders buy a well-farkled second hand bike for less than half the price and then modify it slightly for your fit. Savings;
FIRST most riders take FAR too much stuff. I reduced my load by about 60% for Butt Lite and repeated that in the second IBR, and had a much more enjoyable ride. I also found out that tin panniers add 7% to my fuel bill, so off with them.
SECOND using the rally hotel is well worth the cost and less stress
THIRD the Iron Butt hotel actually works very well if you are set up for it, and saves money.
FWIW
Olaf
 

EricV

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Thanks for posting the blog link to the forum Kevin. I'm sure others will enjoy reading your story and it will give them a better idea of what it takes to finish the IBR when things don't go as planned. You and Lyn did an amazing job and finished an incredible ride. All the more so for the challenges you had. Congrats on being the top finishing 2-up couple!

Clearly my post on the costs involved did not include what foreign riders run into, or some of the extremes in repairs that can occur during the rally. Several BMW final drives were replaced, one before the rally started. At least one bike self destructed on the way home, though it had over 200k on it. Word is that won't be rebuilt since the expense exceeds the value of the bike. Not a S10 or even a Yamaha.
 
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