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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 started 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.”

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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"

So, for 2013, how do you top all that? Well, how about some new awards for riders completing 5,000 or 10,000 “memorial miles”, or maybe an award for the rider who has the most miles accumulated?

And you wouldn’t want to just mail out those awards so why not stage a party and have Mr. Iron Butt, Mike Kneebone, present the awards in person? And just so no one gets bored sitting around waiting for dinner, why not stage a Memorial Ride for party attendees so they can get some “memorial miles” in while they’re there?

Sure, that all sounds pretty good but where would you find a place big enough to do all that with lots of wide open spaces and mile and miles of roads to ride? Well, Texas of course! Howard started making phone calls and twisting arms and in short order he had a hotel in Dallas (Irving, Texas actually – the old home of the Dallas Cowboys). With plenty of volunteers, the blessings of IBA top brass, and Cliff Wall to create the local memorial ride – “The Republic of Texas 1000”, the “Big-As-Texas Party” was launched.

Riders will still have the option in 2013 of completing Memorial Rides at home during the three weeks leading up to the party in Dallas. As well they can complete a “ride-in” to Dallas as a Memorial Ride and of course everyone has the option to ride the Republic of Texas 1000 on November 1st. Thanks to a large volunteer ride checking team all riders attending the Big-As-Texas Party will have their certificates presented by Mike Kneebone regardless of where they completed their ride!

"The 2014 Memorial Ride"

The goal of the IBA is to promote long distance riding. We help individual ride organizers hold regional and local rides around the country.

In 2014, several regional rides were scheduled around the time that we had planned to hold another Dallas event. Rather than compete with these other events, we decided not to hold an IBA sponsored event. But the Memorial Ride was still held over a seventeen day period, and 98 riders participated.

"The 2015 Memorial Ride"

Riders in the northern part of the country had always complained about the dates of the Memorial Rides, saying that the weather was too cold or snowy to participate. We know that some riders completed Memorial BBGs in Montana when the high temperature for the day was below 20 degrees!

Although our type of riding is supposed to be challenging, it is also supposed to be fun, so to accommodate these Northern Riders, we decided to hold a special one day Memorial Day Memorial Ride on Memorial Day. The requirement was that some part of the ride, even if it was only one minute, had to be ridden on Memorial Day. Forty five riders participated in that one day event.

We also held a regular seventeen day Memorial Event, with an award ceremony in Dallas in early October. Once again Ridemaster Cliff Wall and Ridemaster Bill Thweatt planned a challenging SS1000 AND a BBG for this event. The BBG riders will never forget this ride: after riding all day and being on the way home for a successful completion of their rides, they found that the interstate was completely shut down due to a wreck. They were all delayed almost two hours until the road was cleared, but almost everybody made in back to hotel for a successful completion.

After 2015

Memorial Day Memorial Rides and the fall 17 day Memorial Ride window continued as part of the IBA tradition.  Each year, at the Big As Texas Event held at the conclusion of the fall Memorial window, awards are given to riders who have completed increments of 5,000 or more 'memorial miles' since 2011.  Dozens of riders have earned this coveted award.

As of August, 2020, Dave McQueeney is the only rider who has achieved the 45,000 Memorial Miles Award.

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