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Iron Butt Association
August 26, 2013
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The Memorial Ride

"The 2011 Memorial Ride"

When Jack Shoalmire passed away in August, 2011, a large hole appeared in the fabric that weaves together the Iron Butt Association and the long-distance riding community. It had been a difficult season already for endurance minded throttle twisters as too many of the chosen ones had been called to higher riding grounds. As one IBR veteran remarked on LDRider, “it’s going to be a difficult time on the Playa this year”, referring to the somber respects paid to fallen riders at the memorial site in Gerlach, Nevada. And from all reports it was just that.

Jack was a good father, a decorated Viet Nam veteran, a world-class off road biker, and a dedicated IBA rider having completed more than 100 IBA certified rides. His all too early departure left a void for many riders who knew Jack and had shared the road or a dusty trail with him in the past. At his memorial service in Tulsa, riders gathered to pay their respects, some joining the Patriot Guard escort, some serving in the flag line that framed the doors to the church. Others were just looking to lose that helpless feeling you have when someone you know and love is taken from you.
Into that collective emptiness stepped Howard Entman, IBR veteran, retired medical doctor, and a new friend to Jack, having only met him in recent years, sharing a handful of rides with him during that time. It was after one of those rides, the Vernal Equinox 2011 that Howard and Cliff Wall were invited to spend the night at Jack’s house in Broken Arrow. Both of them were caught off-guard at the sight of the hundreds of riding awards displayed in Jack’s garage and throughout his home. They pumped Jack for information about the IBR and any riding topic they could well into the wee hours of the morning. He was an encyclopedia of knowledge on riding, and he could tell a good story too! When they left the next morning neither of them could imagine the future importance of that chance opportunity.

As soon as the wheels started rolling home from the memorial service Howard’s idea for a “tribute” ride starting taking shape. It’s amazing how much thinking you can do while “sitting here and twisting that”. A call was made to Mike Kneebone detailing the plan to the IBA President who immediately jumped on board. The post announcing the ride went out on the various riding forums. Immediately riders took to the idea. It seemed the “tribute ride” was the perfect answer for a grieving LD riding community needing to shake off the ill effects of a long year.

And what a ride it turned out to be.

Howard: “When I posted this first announcement, I thought we’d have 40-45 riders sign up, with only one rider in each state. I didn’t think that we could get volunteers to ride in states like Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Delaware or Hawaii (look at a map; can you imagine doing an in-state SS1K in those states?); or Alaska (at this time of year, you have snow, ice, darkness, and moose); or some of the other New England states, which had just suffered the ravages of Hurricane Irene. I was wrong.

There was an initial flurry of sign-ups in the long interstate highway states—Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia, and Pennsylvania, with several riders in those states. Some riders offered to ride in states some distance from their home state if nobody else signed up. Then the New England riders contacted me, and soon we had riders for Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and the rest of New England.

Our Hawaii-based IBA rider had his bike on a freighter, being shipped back from the mainland, with the arrival date later than our ride date. It appeared that Hawaii might not have a rider. I contacted most of the motorcycle dealers and bike clubs on the islands, but got no volunteers. And then the miracle came. One of our mainland riders offered to fly to Hawaii and rent a bike to do the ride. Wow! And then as luck would have it, our Hawaii based rider received his bike a few days before the ride, so he was able to do the ride as well -two riders in Hawaii - one in Oahu and one on the island of Hawaii.
‘I completed the ride’ reports were received from over 160 riders. All 50 states were begun. In the interest of safety, we asked our Alaska rider to abort his ride after 700+ miles when he reported “ice ruts on the road with snow so heavy you couldn’t even see the road.” The other 49 states were completed. Many IBA'ers recruited other riders to ride with them. Most of these recruits are new to LD riding. There were 50 new riders brought into the IBA from this ride.”
This reads like the typical LD ride story. Someone came up with an off-the-wall ride idea that most “normal” riders would consider impossible. And then a swarm of the “World’s Toughest Riders” mows the challenge down as if it was a walk in the park. God I love this group of people. I guess that’s because of sacrifices they willingly make for each other. These are people who will stop at three a.m. on a mountain pass to aid a rider they’ve never met or people who will loan you a bike so you can finish the last few miles of the Iron Butt Rally. These are people who will offer you their home on a long journey and people who pay tribute to others. People like Howard. People like Jack.

The Jack Shoalmire Tribute Ride is now in the books and is a fond memory in the minds of the riders who rose to the challenge, a memory that, in my opinion, could and should live on as a testament to the closeness of the IBA and LD community.

"The 2012 Memorial Ride"

It was early in 2012 that riders started asking whether there would be a repeat of the Memorial Ride. We wanted to improve on the original formula. For 2012, the format was expanded to allow riders to honor any passed relative or friend and allowed them to complete multiple rides if they desired, giving them a three week window of time to do so. That effort culminated in another 181 rides. All totaled, in the first two years of the Memorial Ride’s existence over 360,000 “memorial miles” have been accumulated by the World’s Toughest Riders.

"The 2013 Memorial Ride"

2013 saw the first season ending party for the “Memorial Ride Season” billed as “The Big-As-Texas Party”, complete with its own ride, “The Republic of Texas 1000”, a great finishers banquet, new awards for riders completing 5,000 or 10,000 “Memorial Miles”, and an award for the rider who had the most lifetime “Memorial Miles” accumulated. Ninety plus riders completed the ride and over 160 riders and guests attended the banquet and “Mr. Ironbutt”, Mike Kneebone, personally presented the ride certificates to the attendees.  The traditional Memorial Ride three week window was also employed again in 2013 and all total, counting the Texas Party and the Memorial Ride Season, the Memorial Miles total for the IBA passed the 550,000 mark.

"The 2014 Memorial Ride"

For 2014 we returned to the “ride where you are” format with riders constructing and completing their own rides to and from any location.  The traditional three week window was again employed and for 2014 we issued 127 new “Memorial Ride” certificates and pushed the lifetime mileage total to over 750,000 miles.  

"The 2015 Memorial Ride"

The Memorial Year got a jump start in 2015 with a special ride window on the Memorial Day holiday.  This new event window gave some riders, especially ones in colder climates, a chance to book some Memorial Miles ahead of the normal three week fall riding window.  Over 50 riders took advantage of the early start to the season and completed a Memorial Ride for 2015.

But that was just a teaser!  The “Party” is back!

Those of you who attended the IBA Big-As-Texas Party and Memorial Ride Season finale in 2013 know what a great time we had riding through Texas. The fall weather makes for great riding in the Lone Star State.  We enjoyed it so much we decided it was time for an encore, so…

WE'RE BACK IN DALLAS for 2015 on October 16th & 17th !!!

Bill Thweatt, five time IBR Finisher, has devised two great rides, the “Stadium 1000 and the “Stadium BBG 1500”, which both qualify for Memorial Ride certification and both will be Texas “in-state” rides for those wanting to get Texas off your bucket list. Lisa Landry has arranged a great hotel for the event and Mike Kneebone will be there to present certificates for both event rides, any ride-in certifiers, as well as any offsite 2015 Memorial rides for those in attendance who want to have their certificate presented by “Mr. Ironbutt”.  And don’t forget, we’ll be handing out certificates to any riders who have reached the 5,000 and 10,000 “Memorial Miles” levels, and we’ll once again recognize the rider with the most lifetime Memorial Miles.

When the wheels stop rolling you’ll be able to kick tires with more than 100 fellow riders, admire each other's bikes and farkling solutions, tell tall tales of your riding adventures and plan that next big ride to who knows where.  The Saturday evening banquet is sure to be a great finish to the weekend with a fine Texas dinner and a cash bar.

To register for these rides and for the event,  go to Ridemaster and click ‘Register for the 2015 IronButt Dallas Party.  For more info on the Dallas party, go to www.ironbutt.com/texas.
Not coming to the Texas Party?  Or just want to get an early start on some lifetime Memorial Miles before coming to Texas?  You may schedule your own Memorial Ride during the traditional Memorial Ride time window of October 2-17, 2015.  As with past years, you may schedule your ride to and from anywhere, to begin anytime within the three week window.

Go to Ridemaster to sign up.  Click on 2015 IBA Memorial Ride.

2016--Another great Memorial Season 

For the final weekend of our 17 day riding window, we had anogther fabulous party in Dallas, Texas.  this yeqr we moved from the giant commercial Marriott hotels to the smqaller, more intimate Hilton Garden Inn in Allen, Texas.  We were the major tenant in the hotel for the weekend,  We were able to kick tiires, tell stories, have some nice breakfasts and dinners and generally congregate without getting lost in a giant hotel.  Hopefully we can go back to the Hilton in future years..

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