Why in the world would anyone want to ride around the country nearly non-stop for 11 days on a motorcycle? Countless hours spent riding through blistering heat, rain, the dark of night and the tedium of solitary confinement inside of your own helmet. It sounds, great doesn’t it? Surely that must be the most common question Iron Butt Rally participants get asked. Why, indeed?
For those that are unfamiliar with the Iron Butt Rally it is an 11 day, 11,000+ mile road rally billed as The World’s Toughest Motorcycle Competition. It takes place takes place every two years under the tutelage of the Iron Butt Association. I bet it takes just about that long to recuperate from the last one for all of the volunteers, organizers and participants.
No doubt, volumes have been written about this event. It has become the stuff of legend with tales of the sheer mental will and physical stamina that is required to carry a person across the finish line on time, with all of the required pictures, paperwork and a mechanically sound motorcycle. For every story of triumphant completion there must be 5 other stories of utter disappointment, breakdown and the succumbing to the toll that these solitary long distance rides can take on a person. Armed with this knowledge it again begs the question: Just what kind of a maniac volunteers for days on end of sunrise, sunset, sunrise, sunset, sunrise… from behind the windscreen of a motorcycle?
Finally for the 2009 event, I know the answer. It is a single word that if you were a local in the ‘everyone knows everyone’ motorcycle community here in Suffolk County, New York would make you nod your head in understanding. Catfish.
For the last few years that I’ve known Catfish he has been eat, sleep, buy, talk, race, ride and sell motorcycles. All motorcycles, all the time. That’s our man. But is a driving passion for motorcycles enough to throw your hat into the ring for the world’s toughest road rally? No, no it certainly isn’t. To have the
Behind the long hair, tongue ring and thick Long Island accent is a kind hearted dreamer who isn’t shy about following his whims no matter how outrageous they may seem to onlookers. I don’t claim to have any insight whatsoever into what makes this man tick. I am merely watching on the peripheral as a casual observer, relaying my observations on how this curious undertaking is unfolding.
With that, I’ve asked Catfish 10 questions on his impending foray into the lunacy that is the Iron Butt Rally 2009.
10 Questions for Catfish – August 2008
I suspect that the answer to this question will change over time but as of this very moment what is your biggest fear regarding participating in the Iron Butt?
Not making it home safe.
Given the relentless nature of this riding there are basic hygiene routines that may fall by the wayside. Clearly shampooing your silky Sampson-like locks might not be first priority when you’re fighting your way through day 8 out of 11. It would be interesting to know, what do you think will be the first to go?
Thought about shaving my head before I go. Jaime says I should just do whatever I have to and if I have to shave it after then so be it. Another option was small braids or corn rows to keep it from flying around. Showering is not a priority. I’m not sure I’ll even be showering for the 11 days. Maybe at the midway point. Brushing my teeth is a priority though.
Part 2 of that question:
When you get to the nitty-gritty of planning your attack and begin to break down the basics of day to day life on the road, what do you think that the average person would not initially think about regarding taking care of their physical person?
I don’t think the average person would have a clue. They would think about sleeping, showering, and brushing their teeth. They wouldn’t think about hydration, sun burn, monkey butt, etc.
Is it possible to train for such an undertaking? If so, what do you think you need to do to mentally and physically prepare for 2009?
I’ve been told training for the IBR should consist of a few Saddle Sores (1,000 miles in 24 hours) a week for the last couple of months. I plan on continuing my weight training figuring if my core is strong it won’t fatigue as fast. Also some cardio for the same reasons. You obviously don’t need to be in good shape to ride a motorcycle but the more conditioned I am the easier my 11 days will be.
Also modifying my sleep patterns the last few months to break myself of wanting to sleep at night when it’s dark, and wanting 7-8 hours all at once. I think I’ll try 10-60 minute naps during the day and night and see how I can train my body and what reaction I get.
Do you have a good luck charm that you plan on bringing along?
Buddy Christ, my cross, and probably a picture of my family.
You must choose 1 path or the other to continue participating in the Rally, which way do you go?
A) Riding through a very narrow path that is populated by 25 very large, ill-tempered alligators
B) Having to eat every last morsel of 5 pounds of chili with extra onions washed down with a quart of milk
Are you crazy?
I’ve heard that LONG before this all started. Actually, long before I got into motorcycles at all. Weird.
Sure. They’ve done it for years. Is it possible to be competitive without a GPS? No. Sure some of the Big Dogs would still do OK but equal riders, equal bikes, the GPS rider would definitely do better.
What is one non-mechanical, non-repair or non-navigational based item that you absolutely cannot leave home without?
Good rain proof gear probably. Otherwise a hydration system. Radar.
Close your eyes, count to 3 and then open them again. What was the first thing that popped in to your head?
Honestly, I was thinking about the last question. (Boring)
Those of us that are watching you plan this undertaking are quite proud and slightly in awe of you. It’s really amazing to see a hometown boy get in there and get ready to slay Goliath. I really think this really is for the world’s toughest riders. Are you proud of yourself? Is this something you always knew you wanted to do?
I’m not proud of myself. It has the potential to be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done. We’re talking the top of a pretty impressive list.
I’m not in it for the win I’ve set up a few goals for myself. One is to get home to my family safe. Two is to have fun. I’ve never really traveled west of Pennsylvania so this is going to be a major sightseeing mission for me. Three is to finish. Four is to finish mid pack or better. I saw an episode of Cycle World back in 2001 that had some coverage of the IBR and I thought it was a cool idea.
I hope to follow up with Catfish periodically before he leaves on his magnum opus. Stay tuned for more updates. While you’re at it, be sure to bookmark his webpage for updates directly from the man himself at CatfishRacing.com or stop in to his online store and peruse the motorcycle farkles at Farklemasters.com
Man, I need a Team Catfish IBR 2009 Cheerleader t-shirt! 😀