Iron Butt Rally 2019: Page 4

Iron Butt Rally 2019

Going Home

Having sent a small parcel home to relieve the pressure on our panniers now we’d added the excellent rally book, T-shirts and caps we hit the road with just over 860 miles to travel to our friends, Kris and Scott, in Connecticut. The plan was to ride most of that on the Saturday leaving a short hop to do on Sunday but we’d reckoned without the holiday-week traffic. Once into Virginia and the Blue Ridge Mountains area the interstate was at a complete standstill. We excited the road at the earliest opportunity intending to try to take some back roads and ran straight into another traffic jam. A quick about turn and we were back on the interstate and sweated it out (literally). It was extremely hot. We swapped from lane to lane in an effort to keep going and confess on occasion we did some crafty filtering when it all got a bit much. Eventually, about 200 miles from the hotel, we’d had enough, saw a sign for a Denny’s and accommodation and abandoned the ride. The following morning, nice and early, we completed our journey and found the roads were pretty much empty.

We thought we’d stay with Kris and Scott for a few days then head off in the direction of Vermont and Maine as we’d been there before and really liked the tiny roads in the area. In the end we were so relaxed and comfortable, sitting on their porch in front of a lovely garden full of birds we don’t see in the UK (including the ‘humming’ variety) we just didn’t want to move on. We finally left on Sunday morning after deciding to spend a couple of nights in Canada next to Niagara Falls.

We happily renewed our acquaintance with the local ice cream parlour and I did go for a short horse ride with Kris on a new-to-her horse and me on one she’s had for years.

Kris and I on the horses, Scott and Kevin walking, we went through a beautiful meadow and Kevin remarked to Scott that he remembers meadows like these in the UK from his childhood but we just don’t see them any more; we’ve apparently lost 97% of our meadowland since the 1940s. As Kris and I meandered back Scott took Kevin a bit further to show him some of the outstanding countryside they have there. Thank you both for a lovely relaxing week. We really enjoyed staying with you and appreciated your hospitality. As Kevin said on Facebook, when you haven’t seen someone for six years but start chatting when you meet as if you last saw one another yesterday you know you have good friends.

The border exiting Canada for the US was absolutely heaving with traffic backed up for miles. The road into Canada was almost empty and we went straight to a booth, had a quick chat with the very pleasant border guard and were on our way. The Oakes Hotel in Niagara Falls was right on top of the Horseshoe Falls with a view from our room which included the American Falls as well. It was a very pleasant hotel and the view was fantastic but it had a major flaw – no bar! Instead of relaxing in the room with a drink after our hot ride we had to make do with coffee and water until we could be bothered to shower and head outside for something to eat and drink in the adjacent Applebee’s.

We bought passes which covered several attractions, and tickets for the local IMAX theatre and spent the following day doing the tourist thing which included walking miles to the Whitewater Walk as we’d missed a vital legend on the map we were using – Not to Scale!

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On Tuesday it was time to head back to Mississauga as the bike had an appointment with Air Canada cargo. Bike ready to be shipped, we spent the night in the very friendly and convenient Best Western Plus hotel (we’d also stayed there on the way in) then it was time for us to be shipped home as well. We arrived home early on Thursday morning with a total mileage for the trip of 12,242 miles during the four weeks we were away.

The Gloves

The gloves Kevin bought at the start of the rally proved not to be IBR-proof and now have holes in the fingers, which is a shame as Kevin found them very comfortable. It mirrors our experience with gloves he bought at the start of the 2017 rally. I suppose it is a bit of an extreme test.

The Bike

We’d been having an ongoing dialogue with Yamaha in the US about our wheel. We have never had a wheel fail in this way or heard of anything similar. We were horrified by what had happened and feel there must have been something intrinsically wrong with the rim. The bike is supposed to be capable of going off-road but the only places it had ever been ridden which weren’t tarmac were all gravel with me on the back; Kevin is a very steady rider in those circumstances as he really doesn’t want to throw me down the road. The US-97 we were on when it failed was flat, the surface looked fairly new and we knew we hadn’t hit anything. We have no idea why the rim failure would have occurred.

Yamaha US’s conclusion from the pictures the dealer sent them was there had been nothing wrong the wheel and if it had been presented as a warranty claim they would have disallowed it. We were quite staggered. They did suggest we could contact Yamaha UK about it which we did last week but have had no response yet.

If Yamaha UK aren’t interested either we’ll contact the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) so at least they know about it. We’re not happy that it happened to us but our bigger concern is there may be others out there with the same problem. We’ve got higher mileage on our bike than many of the same age will have and if it happens to someone else at a later date they might not be lucky enough to remain upright. We’d hate to think we’d done nothing after our experience. Maybe it was a one-off but we don’t think Yamaha should just shrug it off without at least having a proper look at the wheel.

I said to Kevin on our way home that I just didn’t trust the bike any more which prompted him to confess to me that he winces every time we go over a large bump. It’s illogical and we know it’s very unlikely to happen again but we’re no longer comfortable riding on a bike we’ve really enjoyed. I suspect we’ll go back to a GSA, a bike we’ve owned before that Kevin has always liked. The BMW can have its own issues but Kevin has reasonably seriously off-roaded those and never had any problems.


Kevin asked Garmin for an RMA so he could send our 595 back for repair. It would appear they don’t offer a repair service but were willing to sell us a refurbished unit in exchange for ours at a reasonable price. The sting in the tail was when their agent told us that any downloaded services – our lifetime American maps and the annual speed camera waypoints Kevin purchased in March – would not be transferred.

Kevin sent an email asking them to reconsider as our unit was only just out of warranty but got a reply from the same agent he’d spoken to on the phone saying there was nothing they could do. That was patently untrue. However their systems are designed it’s a simple database update replacing one device serial number with another so the reason they don’t do it is because that’s what they choose to do.

The maps and camera database aren’t cheap so that prompted Kevin to look for an alternative solution and the repaired unit has just been delivered back to us. SatNav Repairs were unable to replace the socket at the moment due to lack of parts but rather than lose the maps and cameras Kevin agreed for them to solder the battery connections to the motherboard. The relevant parts should be available in September. Their service has been excellent and professional from the start. Perhaps Garmin should take note.

[Later] Kevin emailed Garmin telling them he no longer needed a refurbished unit and, again, expressed disappointment that he would have lost services if he’d gone down that route. He’s just had a response from a different agent telling him that when they supply a refurbished they do transfer the services, the first agent had got it completely wrong. It’s not often that Kevin is lost for words but he is on this occasion!

The Rally

With the honourable exception of some we’ve participated in in Germany and Ireland, many rallies involve hammering up and down the country on motorways or interstates if we want to be competitive. We freely confess that sometimes the thing we like best about a rally can be the sense of achievement on finishing it. We can see beautiful sights and interesting places we wouldn’t have ever seen without the rally but the bit in between, all those boring roads, can be a bit of a drag. Jeff did a really great job with this rally and it was very different. Yes we travelled a lot of interstate miles but they were interspersed with some fantastic roads to out-of-the-way places that we both really, REALLY, enjoyed riding – those roads less travelled. Whilst the IBR is on a much larger and grander scale, it reminded us of the first rally we ever rode in – the Brit Butt in 2010 when we spent much of the rally on back roads and arrived at the end point with huge grins on our faces.

There is no denying that participating in the Iron Butt Rally is an expensive undertaking, especially for non-North American residents who ship their bike there as we do. Before the rally we’d made the cost-driven decision that this was definitely going to be our last one. Now? Now we’re not so sure. In fact Kevin enjoyed the 2019 IBR so much he’s pretty sure he wants to do another one.  Assuming we can afford it and are lucky enough to be drawn it’s very likely we’ll be putting our bike on a plane again some time in the future.

Now we’re back on the bike we hope to be out and about a lot more so see you on the road.

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    • Carl Griffis on July 19, 2019 at 14:41
    • Reply

    I really enjoyed your trip report. Talked to you briefly at the finish in Greenville.

      • Anonymous on July 19, 2019 at 16:02
      • Reply

      Really enjoyed reading all about your amazing journey, your sense of adventure is very inspiring. America is a very special place. Like none other thanks for sharing xx

    1. Thanks Carl.

    • Paul Partin on July 19, 2019 at 17:27
    • Reply


    1. Thanks Paul.

    • Paul Partin on July 19, 2019 at 17:57
    • Reply

    Great read guys. Whilst? Tyres? Chemist?
    You Brits!

    1. Hey! What’s the name of this language anyway?! šŸ™‚

    • Steve G on July 19, 2019 at 19:28
    • Reply

    Wonderful account and congratulations on the Silver and Top Two-Up finish!

    1. Thanks Steve. We’ve been enjoying yours as well and looking forward to the next part.

  1. Thanks for your delightful report on your IBR experience! Very well-written, great pictures. It made me feel as if I were riding along with you.

    1. Thanks Phil.

    • Cletha on July 19, 2019 at 23:11
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    Wonderful read. You certainly had your share of trials and tribulations but managed to overcome successfully. Congratulations on the Silver finish and Top Two Up Riders! So fun to spend some time with you!

    Cheers, Cletha

    1. Thanks Cletha and please thank Eric again for us.

    • Nancy on July 19, 2019 at 23:57
    • Reply

    I really enjoyed reading your report and your adventures. I especially enjoyed meeting you on the road!
    Great job you two did, congratulations on the finish!

    1. Thanks Nancy. We enjoyed our brief chats as well.

    • Ron Pope on July 20, 2019 at 02:01
    • Reply

    Thanks so much for the ride report. Enjoyed it very much, an interesting perspective and very well written. I found myself reading it with an English accent for authenticity! Fun read…the IBR has been on my bucket list for a long time, maybe 2021? But at 70 years old, I am having a Dickens of a time convincing the wife that I can manage it. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Thanks Ron. The ‘English accent’ bit is funny. Someone who rode this year was 77 and, according to the records, it was ridden by a 79 year old in 2015 so you’re just a youngster. šŸ™‚

    • Holly on July 20, 2019 at 06:26
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    A wonderful account of your ride. Thanks so much, it really fleshes out the rally. Following Spotwalla and reading on the forum “Someone has activated the help button.” is so different from reading why the button was activated and what happened next.
    Congratulations on your finish, silver medal, and 2-up win.
    As a Vesterislendingur (North American of Icelandic heritage) I agree completely about Old Faithful. I’ve seen the actual Geysir as well as Stokker in Iceland and was bored by Old Faithful. The log hotel just next to it, though, is a wonder!

    1. Thanks Holly. We’ve ridden a bike a couple of times in Iceland. Strokkur is impressive and we love waterfalls so we were in heaven while there.

    • Rick Morcom on July 20, 2019 at 12:36
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    Thank you, Lyn and Kevin, for a wonderful write-up, and for including Wendy’s quote near the end. I enjoyed reading it and living the experience with you. So glad you survived the wheel incident! Best wish for 2021.

    1. Thanks Rick. I wish we could write and ride like Wendy does!

    • Mike on July 20, 2019 at 22:08
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    Thank you so much for taking the time to present with such vivid detail the story of your 2019 IBR! Effort is amazing to finish the rally and do so well in it to boot but then to take the time to do such a wonderful write up for the rest of us to enjoy. the pictures were outstanding as well!

    1. Thanks very much for your kind words Mike.

    • Gregory M Hensley on July 21, 2019 at 18:00
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    Thank You for taking the time to share your ride with me/us!

    1. Thanks Greg. I’ll let you into a secret, we do this as much for ourselves as anyone else. In six months time when I’ve forgotten a lot of what happened I’ll sit down and read this and it’ll all come flooding back. šŸ™‚

  2. Hi Lyn, great read. Thanks for sharing. The stamina required to do this day after day is truly phenomenal. I honestly don’t know how you do it. Congratulations on your win, wherever you are placed! Cheers, Alan

    1. Thanks Alan, I’m not sure how we do it either!

    • Eric Bray on July 22, 2019 at 00:34
    • Reply

    I talked to that same couple at the same gas station near Fargo.

    1. That’s funny! They were a really nice couple weren’t they. I bet they couldn’t believe their luck when you stopped.

    • Jane Larkins on July 22, 2019 at 19:00
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    Well done Lyn & Kevin, great photos. Keep on riding. X

    1. Hi Jane, Thanks šŸ™‚ x

  3. Thanks gor this womderful scribe. It reopen a lot of memorxs from our own ibr17… thanks a lot! Hope we(conny and me) see xou again somewhere in europe

    1. See you on Saturday?

  4. Awesome ride report! Iā€™m so impressed you not just finished but finished so well given all the bike dramas! Congratulations to both of you and wonderful to meet you. Bec

    1. Thanks Bec, good to meet you both too.

    • William Burke on July 23, 2019 at 14:55
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    As always, thank you so much Lyn (and Kevin) for taking the time to share your IBR ride reports. I’ve been a fan for all three (and hope there’s a fourth!)….
    Meanwhile, I have a friend who rides an S10 and shared your blog and broken wheel story with him as a safety issue. I’ll be very interested to hear whatever followup or explanation that Yamaha provides to explain this (and, I hope, make it right by you).
    Congratulations on your award, and thank you again for sharing these great tales.
    Best regards,
    Bill Burke
    Rutland, VT

    1. Welcome back Bill and thank you. I’ve got to be honest and say I doubt Yamaha will show a lot of interest but it would be good if I was wrong. The DVSA may want more information but their interest will be complicated by the rim still being in the US.

    • Patricia Hewitson. on July 23, 2019 at 15:05
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    Just, Proud of you both, & I can’t see you leaving it there!

    1. Thanks Pat. Let’s see šŸ˜‰ x

    • David White on July 24, 2019 at 12:43
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    Hi Lyn & Kevin, a great adventure and a superb article Lyn
    Glad you are back safe

    1. Thanks Dave.

    • Steve Bracken on August 1, 2019 at 17:22
    • Reply

    What a terrific tale from a very determined couple.


    1. Thanks Steve.

    • Kevin on August 6, 2019 at 23:30
    • Reply

    What an epic adventure! Congratulations on finishing and thanks for taking the time to share your adventure.



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