Monday, August 6, 2012

A Tradition Continues

In August of 2006 I was introduced to the world of long distance, endurance, motorcycling.

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.

I hope you are pleased with the results.


  1. Nice job Lisa. The big man is proud. See you in Blairsville, Joeja in a couple days. Larry M.

  2. giddyup! eddie's proud of what y'all are doing.

  3. Almost makes me wish I was riding it! (almost) :-)

  4. The best to all the staff and competitors. May your skies be partly occluded (it's cooler that way), your roads be infinitely curvy, (cause that's the way we like em), your bonus' be interesting, (and not too hard to find at 3AM), and your ride be an adventure.

  5. Sooo....I'm not the only one watching this ride from afar... Wish I could have made the ride but the "W" word gets in the way. Glad you got this going again Lisa. See you all in Denver. - Aikens

  6. Thanks Lisa for starting this. Looking forward to following along and watching friends who are riding. For me, too many choices, too many trails, and a tough choice to not ride BL this time. - MikeS

  7. I'll be armchair rallying with ya. Weather and 2 toddlers have kept me off the bike since Ed's Last Resort Rally. Can't wait to hear all of the adventures.

  8. Lisa, So glad you are doing this, so sad I am not there. Good luck to all!

  9. Safe travels to the start - we'll see you at the finish! (And will follow along in between!)

  10. Great job so far Lisa !
    i wanted to do this event, but that dirty 4 letter word ( work) got in the way. I have a few friends running in it and I will just need to live through them.

    Good luck to everyone and please be safe out there.

  11. I'm with Karol! Wishing all the competitors a safe and rewarding rally.

  12. Goodonya Lisa! All the very best for the TEAM and the Rally Riders. Ride safe everyone and have a GREAT time with GREAT memories. And look after those Aussies - make sure they ride on the RIGHT side of the road.

  13. Thank YOU, Wish I could be there, Keith

  14. all the best to all riders lucky enough to be in this event.
    Kevin M Qld Australia

  15. Wish I could have made it, and hope all the riders are safe. See you in Denver.

  16. I'm thrilled to be following along. Safe travels to all.

  17. Good on you Lisa for picking up the baton and running with it as a team event. From the other side of the globe we'll be watching and waiting for updates. Thank you to you and your team for pulling all of this together and thank you to the volunteers for making it all happen.

    May all the riders have the time of their lives, that their experiences are fruitful and they can spin a yarn or two over a cleansing ale when they meet up with their families again.

  18. Awesomeness - got a glimpse at the pertinent bonus (nice job on the ID and value ;)... so honored to be a part - thanks for saying "yes" to the challenge.