You might be curious about what it’s really like to ride an Iron Butt flag rally. Yesterday I posted pictures on Facebook of each of the require photo stops. In addition to those pictures, I took a few others to show more of what happens on Rally Day.
First thing, (before 5 a.m.) we submit our release form and get our rally flag.
A good hot breakfast follows.
At 5:30 there is a rider’s meeting where IBA President, Mike Kneebone, gives us our last minute instructions. Then at 5:45 we’re off.
At each stop there are usually several riders parked, getting their cameras and flags ready, and taking their pictures. Gas stops are quick as can be. I usually take a restroom break, eat a bite of protein bar, and drink some water or Gatorade G2.
Some of the stops yesterday were military memorial parks. This one in Cordele, GA had other equipment on display.
The object of the game is to ride from point to point in order and take a photo of the specified object with the flag in the picture. Of course the flag number has to be clearly visible. Riders have the option of emailing the photos back to the headquarters as they go. I did that and posted to Facebook as well. There’s also the “old” method of bringing your camera to the check-in table and showing each photo in sequence to the checker.
Here are the 12 stops.
1 – Lake City, FL. This is an A7-E, Corsair II
2 Alabama Welcome Center on US 231. This is a Huey helicopter.
3 – Cordele, GA Veterans’ Memorial Park. The plane is a B-29 Superfortress.
4 – Ocala, FL A Navy A7. This one was marked with the squadron, VA-105. That squadron deployed on the Saratoga while I was aboard. We probably operated that aircraft.
5 – Pinellas Park, FL. This is an Air Force F-16A Fighting Falcon. It was about 7 p.m. when I took the picture as the sun was setting. This was the last of the daylight stops.
6 – Bartow, FL Air Force T-37 Tweet. It was dark, but there was a spotlight on it, so it wasn’t too hard to get a good shot. There was heavy traffic in Tampa, so I took an alternate route around the jam. There was still stop an go traffic on I-4, so I lost at least an hour because of the al the congestion.
7 – Orlando International Airport. There is a B-52 Stratofortress in a fenced park. The park was closed, so I tried, unsuccessfully to get a picture of the plane. I ended up taking a picture of the designated alternate sign.
8 – Orlando Executive Airport. Air Force F-4 Phantom II. This plane is in a dramatic position and is well-illuminated, but there is nowhere to park safely to take a good picture. Again, I took the alternate sign shot.
9 – Sanford, FL Navy RA-5C Vigilante. We had 2 of these on the Saratoga. They had a huge camera mounted in the belly and were used for high altitude aerial reconnaissance. They were original designed to carry and deploy atomic bombs.
10 – DeBary, FL Memorial Park. Air Force F-15 Eagle. This plane was so poorly lighted and I was getting tired, so I took a shot of the alternate sign.
11 – Deland, FL Naval Air Station Museum. Navy F-14 Tomcat. My last year in the Navy (’73) the Saratoga was in dry dock being repaired and fitted with new equipment. Part of the project was to remove the stuff used by F-4s and install stuff need for the F-14. I just couldn’t get a picture of the unilluminated plane, so here’s the sign.
12 Jacksonville, FL Cecil Field. F-18C Hornet. Cecil used to be a Navy air base. As I recall, A-7 squadrons were stationed here when they weren’t at sea.
From here it was 15 miles back to the hotel and a final gas stop. We use the gas receipt for our ending time. My elapsed time was 21 hours, 13 minutes. I covered 1090 miles according to my GPS. A “standard” Saddle Sore 1000, which you do on your own and doesn’t have picture stops, took me a little less than 17 hours. These flag rallies are much tougher, mainly because they take so much longer.
Today guys are taking it easy and just talking. I washed my bike because I didn’t have anything else to do.
This afternoon there is a gathering in the hotel’s theatre. A local sponsor usually provides free beer (one flavor – anything cheap.) The certificates will be handed out at this time.
This evening there is a banquet where once again, everyone will be acknowledged.
And that’s it’s rally like.