What drives you?
What are those things or activities that you have thought about doing a million times but have never attempted? I believe each person has something; that one activity, place or adventure that has been on your to-do for a very long time, but has never been done. It could be because of a lack of time, money, family commitments or maybe even fear that’s prevented you from crossing that “thing” off of your list.
My “thing” was related to motorcycles. I kinda like motorcycles; if kinda is a passion that involves nearly every aspect of your life. However, very few people know about my secret obsession with long distance touring. For years I’ve had a passion to complete a certified Iron Butt Association ride. The “starting” ride is called a SaddleSore 1000 (SS1k), It’s riding 1000 miles in 24 hours or less. To some this may sound crazy, but to me it’s been a draw for the last 17 years.
I love motorcycles. I have been drawn to them since I can remember. I didn’t grow up around them much. I had cousins that rode dirt bikes, but I had never ridden a two wheeled motorcycle. I vividly remember the weekend when I first heard of this group called IBA and what they did. I was taking my basic MSF rider safety course, it was May, 2000, and I was taking the class because I had always wanted a Harley-Davidson Fatboy. To me, at that time, a black leather jacket, half shell helmet and black leather boots riding down any number of roads was what I dreamt about. Then the instructor walks into the class with this hi-viz yellow riding suit that look like something from NASA. I had never seen anything like this before. Even though I thought his suit was “funny-looking” something inside of me was intrigued by this different type of riding than I had ever known. The instructor was very personable and we chatted many times throughout the course of our 3 days together. He was also very patient with me as I asked a lot of questions. I asked about his riding, his suit, his motorcycle and many other things related to the world I was looking into from the outside.
A few things he said stood out. First was the suit, it was some brand called Aerostich, they were a small company out of Duluth, MN and they only sold their suits through a mail order catalog. I recall thinking that was a funny business model but didn’t give it much thought at the time. After all, I wanted a black leatherjacket. Next was his bike. It was a well-loved BMW 1100GS. It had beat-up saddlebags that had stickers of his many adventures. Talking about the bike led to telling me about a group he belonged to, the Iron Butt Association. This was a group of riders that were dedicated to safe, responsible long distance riding. I couldn’t get my head around riding 1000+ miles in a 24 hour period.
Over the years I had thought about the SS1k many times and wondered what would that be like. Could I do it? If I tried once and failed would I be willing to try again? If I didn’t attempt it again, would I always regret not being successful? In the last 17 years since getting my motorcycle endorsement I have traveled around this country on a motorcycle. I have been around people who are as passionate about riding as I am and yet no one I knew ever had the desire to do a SaddleSore. In recent years, for a number of different reasons, the desire has grown stronger.
There have been a million reasons why I had never done this prior to July of 2017. Busy at work, kids activities, it would take too long, the list goes on and on. Then something changed, I got a push I couldn’t ignore. About 36 months ago I started having medical issues. At first it was bouts of sharp pain in my abdomen that would send me to the ER but they could never find anything. I explored what it could be, visited multiple doctors and still nothing. Then at the end of March 2016 I had an “attack” only this time it was followed by me turning jaundice. I went to the Dr. and my bilirubin levels were 6x what they should be. I was sent in for an immediate MRI. They found a blockage in my Common Bile Duct. I was sent home while they figured out what to do. Two days later I was admitted into the hospital. Several surgeries later I had a splint in my common bile duct and my gallbladder had been removed. Fast forward 13 months I had another “attack.” After several days of testing and additional scans I was again admitted to the hospital. The latest and perhaps strongest push came this last April while lying in the post-surgery room being told I was “lucky.” I had just undergone a procedure that cleaned out a massive infection from my common bile duct which had spread to my liver. Apparently I was “lucky” because most people with this type of ailment and liver infection either spend weeks in the hospital or worse. When you hear that you could have truly died from something it makes you think. Life is short, it’s a common saying but the reality is all too real. Lying in that hospital bed thinking of how much worse it could have been, I had a thought about what hadn’t I done? And what did I want to do more of? What are the things that I want to do with the life God has given me? We never know how long we each have on this earth. In that moment I came up with 4 broad topics that I wanted to focus on.
· Without a question was to make sure my children, Audrey and Benjamin, know how much their daddy loves them each and every day!
· Ensure that my wife, Stephanie, feels and knows she is the love of my life every single day.
· Spend time with parents and siblings and make memories with them that will last a lifetime.
· Do things that, for whatever reason, I haven’t done but wanted to. There are many things on this list but a huge one was do an Iron Butt Ride!!
I have had completing this type of ride on my goal list for a while. When I talked to Stephanie about this a few weeks ago she said I was crazy but that she fully support me. Her support wasn’t a surprise, as she was the driving force for getting my 1st Stitch back in October 2016. She knew riding was a passion and wanted me to be prepared and safe. Over the next few weeks I started looking at routes that would get me 1000 miles and allow me to start and finish around our house. I got the bike dialed in and felt like I was ready.
Yesterday I made this dream a reality. At 3:15 am on Saturday July 8th I strapped on my Aerostich R3 suit, put in my earplugs strapped on my helmet and took off from Vancouver, WA, rode to Caldwell, ID from Caldwell to Seattle, WA and Seattle to home. All told, I covered 1080odo miles in 16.5 hours. I was sore and tired by the end of it but I did it! It’s an incredible feeling to accomplish something you have held as a goal for so long. Now, I need to come up with a new goal related to my passion for motorcycles but for the next few days I’m going to savor completing this one.