Just over two and a half years in fact and some of you may have wondered where we went.
It’s been an interesting couple of years. After my episode during the 2014 European Tour a brain scan indicated possible MS. We moved house and I spent the next couple of years under investigation. At one point I was told I did have MS, only to be told a month or so later the specialist had misinterpreted one of the scans (the scans look different if done on different machines; one had been done in Kent the other in Lincolnshire) and I had to wait another year for a new scan. Shortly before Christmas last year I was given the all clear. I can tell you that was a huge relief for both of us.
Kevin meanwhile was having his own issues. During 2015 it was too painful for him to ride the bike for anything but short distances following complications from a hernia operation. That was finally resolving itself when he thought he was going down with ‘flu in December of that year. Two days later he literally couldn’t get out of bed, stand up from a chair, shower or dry himself without help and could only shuffle instead of walk. Things didn’t improve and the problem was fairly quickly diagnosed as rheumatoid arthritis (RA). It’s currently incurable but his medical regime has evolved to weekly injections topped up with copious painkillers and the odd steroid injection which are mostly keeping it under control. (For anyone thinking “We all get a touch of arthritis when we get older, I can’t see what the problem is.” click the link and you’ll see we don’t get RA.).
It wasn’t all bad though. Our second granddaughter was born in 2014 and we have been able to concentrate on refurbishing our new-to-us home (it’s nearly finished now).
On the riding front, we had to pull out of the 2015 Iron Butt Rally (IBR) while I was being investigated for MS and we pulled out of the 2017 IBR when Kevin was diagnosed with RA. We haven’t rallied or done much riding – nothing long distance – since September 2014.
So that, you may be thinking, is that. Well not quite. We’ve just started riding again; only short rides until this week, nothing more than around 150 miles, and the amount of riding we’ll do will be less than we used to but it’s good to be back in the saddle.
Where are we now? We’re in a hotel in Minnesota waiting to start the 2017 IBR.
Kevin’s RA isn’t going to get any better but it’s reasonably well controlled at the moment. After a short discussion about three months ago we came to the conclusion this might be our only opportunity to ride the IBR again so it’s worth a shot. Lisa, the IBR Organiser, kindly allowed our re-entry so here we are in Minneapolis preparing for the rally.
We landed in Toronto on Monday, picked up the bike, spent the night in a hotel then rode about 500 miles to a friend’s house in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario (thanks for your hospitality Neil and Grace). After a day spent sorting out an issue with the the bike’s lights and chilling, oh yes, and having our first North America ice cream for a while, we rode a further 500 miles or so to Minneapolis today. That’s our IBR riding preparation taken care of then ;-).
The ride was uneventful. The weather was awful – I hadn’t realised we’d hit the Wisconsin monsoon season – but the sun came out as we got into Minnesota.
We pulled into the car park and saw our first friendly face, Scott from Switzerland; shortly afterwards we bumped into Gerhard and Robert who we’ve known for years and were with us for the 2013 IBR. There are other old friends here we’ve yet to see.
We’re not confident we’re going to finish – fatigue is one of the symptoms of RA and we’re nothing like bike fit. If Kevin has a flare during the event there’s no question we’ll have to pull out but if that happens we’ll go for a bit of a wander when things calm down and still have some fun.
The rally starts on Monday 26th June and from around that date the IBA will be posting updates here. There’s also a page on Spotwalla which will show the current position of IBR riders who have chosen to share their location. There are mid-rally checkpoints on the 29th June and 2nd July in Allen, Texas, and the rally concludes back in Minneapolis on Friday 7th July. Let’s see how it goes shall we?