Actually, the indoctrination started months earlier, traveling the country with Eddie. I was an interstate kind of person before then. "Making good time" was the goal, right?
Pull on to an interstate, point in the general direction that you wanted to go, stop occasionally for fast food and gas and ultimately, make it to your destination in record time. It is what the majority of Americans do.
But not Eddie's people. I was introduced to a sub-culture of seemingly normal people - lawyers, doctors, teachers, mechanics, business people, retired folks, pilots - who led a secret life. It wasn't all about making good time for this crowd. And it surely isn't that way for me any longer.
These people travel mostly by motorcycle. They travel long distances to meet friends for lunch. They go to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska via the Dalton Highway - on their motorcycles, of course, just to say they did. They enter "rallies" (paying perfectly good money) to be sent to the most bizarre and far-flung places you can get to on two wheels. Enduring heat, cold, rain, hail, mechanical failures, blown tires, bad GPS directions and wildlife all for the distinction of saying you did it and perhaps a cheap trophy that no one will appreciate but you.
In August of 2006, I finally got to see what it was all about. I entered the city limits of Niobrara, NE for the first time and finally got to visit the infamous Two Rivers Saloon, Steakhouse and Hotel.
And I met these People. A whole bunch of them. A most diverse group who shared a love of adventure, travel, motorcycles and a good story over a cold beer.
I knew within the first 30 minutes that I had found my people.
As Eddie's girlfriend, I got to witness it all from the "inside". How he scouted bonuses, laid out the route sheets, told a story with each bonus, led the rider on a ride that would frustrate and exhilarate all at the same time.
The best part was after it was all over, hanging around the Two Rivers and listening to the stories they told. The stories were always funny. All adventures suck while they are happening and then become the most glorious event of your life when you stand in a western bar with your friends and fellow riders and re-tell it again and again.
Butt Lite was the creation of Eddie and his friend, Adam Wolkoff. It would be a multi-day endurance rally to help prepare riders for the 11 day Iron Butt Rally. Held on the off years of the every-two-year IBR, Eddie and Adam built a reputation of creating a truly Strange event.
It has had several incarnations, since the first event in 1999. Once Eddie died, I think we all thought it was part of our past.
And then I got a phone call from Mike Kneebone - head honcho of the Iron Butt Association. Mike can be very convincing when he wants to be. And after about an hour conversation, he had me pretty convinced that we could actually pull this off.
I knew I didn't have the know how to do it alone. My long distance riding was always as a pillion, with only three 24 hour events on my resume', one a DNF (Did Not Finish - I'm still pissed about that). All I had was an ability to quickly absorb anything that is presented to me. I had been a part of two Butt Lite rallies and I paid attention to every detail. Of course, in typical Eddie fashion - he made it look really easy.
I like working on teams. So I assembled one. Bart Bakker - rally master of the Minnesota 1000 for the last 8 years. Rick Miller - a rally master with much experience with the Mason Dixon 20/20 and The Beast In The East. David E.B. Smith - lawyer, LD rider, Eddie's right-hand-man, technical go-to guy and one of the most brilliant people I know and one of the funniest (in that dry, sarcastic way that I love). Throw in the ever present and ever weird, John Pedrow - and I think we might just make this work.
So, tomorrow evening the five of us will converge in Blairsville, GA at The Lodge at Copperhead to kick off Butt Lite 6IX. We have a sold out event in a bad economy. We have most of the best riders in the long distance community. We have a great group of volunteers who are all experienced, long distance riders themselves.
We have a motorcycle resort for the start and the Iron Butt National Meet in Denver for the finish. And a whole bunch of secret, fun, challenging locations in between.
So, I invite you to join us. This blog will act as our main communication method between now and the finish on Thursday, August 16th. All of us will be posting, commenting, taking photos and videos. I even heard Lurleen got a couple of weeks off from Waffle House and Junior has agreed to watch the kids. No telling what she might have to say about all this.
Where ever you are, there is a grin on your face and you are shaking your head. Part of you is appalled that I would "insert myself into your sport". The other part is down right giddy that Butt Lite is continuing.
I love you, sweet man. And this one is all for you.