Traveling by bike is one of the most liberating feelings you can imagine. Experiencing the open road on a bike is completely different from riding in a car. You are not in a climate-controlled pod. You smell the air, feel the temperature changes, and experience the road. You stop often to stretch your legs and get gas, and since you are equally as interested in the journey as in the destination, you take the side roads and the long ways, ending up with a richer traveling experience than the superhighways could ever offer.
If you enjoy your long weekend trips, you might start to think of yourself as tough in the saddle, and you may want some kind of certification to prove it. Look no further than the Iron Butt Association, home of the world’s toughest riders.
Butts of Iron
The IBA is an association of riders that specialize in long-distance riding. The minimum requirement for membership is the completion of a 1000 mile ride in 24 hours or less, called the SaddleSore 1000. The more extreme rides call for covering 1500 miles per 24 hours, or 1000 miles per 24 hours for many consecutive days. Trips like this call for the next level of organization and planning, as you have to do the ride and provide proof of completion to have it certified. I had the opportunity to complete the SaddleSore 1000 with three friends in 2013, and I have a few tips for riders planning an IBA membership qualifying ride.
Plan Your Route Wisely
* I highly recommend completing your first IB ride on the freeway. Your goal is to cover miles while conserving energy in this event, and the best way to do that is on the slab.
* When covering this much ground you will be riding from one climate to another, and should consider what time of day you will be hitting each part of your route. Try to cover hot areas in the early morning or late evening, and ride foggy areas in the afternoon.
* Watch the length of your rest stops. This was a problem for us first-timers. If you make 10 10-minute stops during your 24 hours, that is almost two hours out of your 24! Time spent at stops add up.
Prep Your Bike and Your Gear
* With endurance riding, fatigue is your biggest enemy. Find a couple of riding positions where you can relax your muscles and switch between them. Try to avoid any tension in your body.
* Avoid little annoyances that will wear you down. Make sure your gear fits, your earplugs don’t bug you, and nothing rubs, pulls or requires you to hold your body in a weird position.
* Stay hydrated with a hydration pack. You don’t want to spend your valuable rest time drinking water.
* Be sure you are comfortable with your seat. There are products you can put on top of your seat to make it more comfortable. As usual, test out any changes you make to your bike or gear ahead of time.
* Wear layers and carry rain gear. You will experience a lot of temperature changes, and being too cold or too hot eats up your energy and takes your attention away from riding.
* If your bike has a dinky little windscreen or none at all, get a good one. The wind from highway speeds over long periods of time will exhaust you. I did not do this, and really wish I had.