Webmaster’s Note: Do not get into a contest with Victory Rider Rick Tilbury in which a participant’s determination is the key to victory, Odds are, Rick will win. He simply won’t allow himself to lose, nor to give up. At the start of August 2012, Rick left his Oregon home on his Hard-Ball to ride back-to-back BunBurner Gold 1500 Iron Butt rides. This would require him to cover at least 1,500 miles in less than 24 hours, then repeat it immediately. If he succeeded, he would be the first Victory Rider to achieve an Iron Butt Association BunBurner Gold 3000.
Rick completed the grueling pair of 1,500-mile runs, but as he prepared to submit his paperwork for certification of the rides, he discovered he had not completed the second BBG 1500 within 24 hours. The time stamps on his fuel receipts showed he took about 24 hours – and 20 minutes.
Rick was crushed. But as his wont, he quickly reset himself for another attempt at the BBG 3000. He simply would not be denied. He successfully completed the dual 1,500-mile runs in late August, then was rewarded for his determination by learning from the IBA that both BBG 3000 rides would be certified.
From the IBA website:
Here, in his own words, is Rick’s story of long-riding determination.
My motivation to ride this Iron Butt ride was my belief in Victory Motorcycles. [When I owned a High-Ball,] I wanted to be the first rider to ride a SaddleSore 1000 on my High-Ball. When I first started planning that ride, I had no intention of trading the bike in for the Hard-Ball. Once I purchased the Hard-Ball, I wanted to be the first rider to ride a BBG 3000 on a Victory. That was my motivation!
I have chosen out-and-back courses for my IBA rides because there is such motivation for me to get home and be able to sleep in my own bed. Lari, my girlfriend, says "The horse is happiest as it gets closer to the barn." She's right.
The BBG 3000 is two back-to-back BBG 1500s. Each has to be completed in its own 24-hour period, and the total period must be less than 48 hours.
I chose to ride north from Troutdale, Oregon (a suburb of Portland), from I-84 east to I-82/395 North, linking me up to I-90. From that point on, I would ride a straight line all the way to Mitchell, S.D. – a total of 1,526 miles.
The challenging part of this ride was to ride across the Rocky Mountains. There are the 4th of July Pass and Mullin Pass east of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. Then, east of Missoula are the Bridger Mountains. Can anyone predict the weather in the Rockies?
Earlier, in July, I had ridden a SaddleSore 1000 from Troutdale, Oregon, to Missoula, Montana, and back. I sort of feel that this is my home course in the same way an athletic team gets to play on its home field. I've ridden this route so many times that I don't need a map – a fact that later cost me dearly.
Heading East on BBG 1500 No. 1
During the first BBG 1500, the eastbound leg, I rode under a clear Montana sky during a full moon. It was just glorious to be able to ride in such weather. I will always have this wonderful memory.
At mile marker 45 in Montana there was a wheelbarrow in the middle of the right lane – as well as countless pieces of tire tread left from blown-out semi tires. At mile marker 76 in Wyoming a pair of crows on the interstate didn't jump until very late as I came toward them. I hit one of them with the Hard-Ball and had blood spattered all over me. I took the time to assess the damage to the bike and to remove as much of the blood as possible. (On the way home there was a chair in the road in Oregon as well as some firewood that must have fallen off of a truck.)
On the first BBG 1500 of the two back-to-back runs, I stopped 10 times for fuel before getting my 11th receipt in Mitchell, S.D. On the second (attempted) BBG 1500, the westbound run, I stopped 12 times for fuel before reaching Troutdale, Oregon.
The ride to Sturgis, S.D., from Troutdale, Oregon, took me approximately 18 hours, 58 minutes, then I rode straight through from Sturgis, S.D., to Mitchell. You can say I rode to Sturgis, S.D., twice in '12 because, when I turned around in Mitchell, I headed back and rode straight through to Sturgis again.
The Westbound Return Trip
This time I was not so fortunate weather-wise. Around Sturgis I was pelted with rain. Just when I said to myself ”it could be worse, at least it isn't hailing,” I got hit right on my nose and mouth with a big chunk of hail. This slowed me considerably.
I rode through extreme temperatures on August 2, 2012. By the time I reached Mitchell, S.D., I felt as though my face was going to burn off even though I had sunscreen on for protection. The rain was welcome in Sturgis. I just didn't want to deal with the hail.
Across Wyoming and Montana that next day and night it rained on and off again and again. What really concerned me were the lightning storms. They are scary and spectacular at the same time. A big part of me just wants to be off the bike whenever I see lightning, especially when I am riding into it.
Getting pelted by a deluge of a drenching rain in the Bridger Mountains just about did me in. It was so sudden that I didn't even have a chance to put on my rain gear. I should have put on my rain gear earlier that day, but I just couldn't bring myself to do so. It was a costly mistake. By the time I started to climb up both Mullin Pass and 4th of July Pass, I was so cold that I had no feeling in my hands. I just lived with it as best I could. There is a reason we are the World's Toughest Riders.
Once I was hit by the rain in the Bridger Mountains, I kept saying to myself, "If I can just get to Missoula, Montana, things will get better."
Then, when I was wet and cold, I kept saying to myself, "If I can just get to Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, things will get better." They did.
Costly Late-Ride Delays
When I rode through Spokane, I just couldn't think as clearly as I should have. I had a costly fuel stop when a clerk thought it was funny to tease me about my use of the English language. Everything I do during a fuel stop is regimented, or done the same way each and every time. I pull up to the pump, set the kickstand giving it a second kick just to make sure. I then take the key out of the bike and use it to open the lid on my tank. Then I run my credit card and enter the proper info into the keyboard to make it happen, grab the nozzle and fill the tank. I even stretch during the time I am pumping gas… I grab my receipt and write down the mileage on the back of it. Once everything is put away I run – I literally run – to the bathroom. I try to wash my hands thoroughly as possible, and then run back to the bike. I am literally jogging inside of the stations on my way to the bike. And, off I go…
On the way home, I couldn't seem to remember my way. It was disturbing. (This was something I remedied the second time by having the directions taped to my fairing.) The simplest things can become quite a bit more complicated.
Three factors caused me to fail on my way back. First the rain and the hail caused me to slow down considerably. The second was while fueling in Spokane, Washington, the station attendant decided I was the guy to tease. I asked him if a key was needed to get into the restroom, and he refused to answer me. I asked him again, and this time he smiled and said, "You may need a key, but I don't. So can you ask me in proper English?" If ever I was so upset with someone during a ride, this was it. That stop caused me to use valuable time.
Then I forget the way home. I just wasn't sure how I would get home. Even though I've ridden this road many times before – including just recently having ridden a SS1000 on my Victory High-Ball before I traded it in – [getting lost temporarily] cost me valuable time.
The Sad Realization
Even though I made it [all 3,000 miles in] under 48 hours total, I was 20 minutes over on the second BBG 1500. I didn't even know this until a week or so afterward when I was trying to get my receipts ready to turn in… It was then I realized I didn't do it on the clock. My girlfriend and good friend who were with me in the end thought I did the 1,500 in 24 hours, they said I just didn't get my receipt until after, because there wasn't a filling station until Troutdale. I wanted to believe them, and I did for a while, but eventually I told them that I didn't make it. I also let them know I was going to go for it again. Otherwise the failure would haunt me for the rest of the winter.
I memorized the following message when I was a child. As I read it to my girlfriend Lari while informing her that I didn't make it, and that these words had to console me, I was crying. By the time I was finished reading it to her, she was crying, too. The message:
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strongman stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or short coming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither knows victory or defeat.
I had to settle for daring greatly. These words were a comfort to me once I realized I was unsuccessful. This was the first time Lari saw me break down, fall to my knees, and just weep. It was devastating to me to come to realize that I didn't make it.
Ready to Try Again
For the second BBG 3000 attempt, I picked another out-and-back course. This time I would start in Troutdale, Oregon, and ride I-84 east to I-82 east to I-80 all the way across Utah, Wyoming, and Nebraska to a little town of Grand Island, Nebraska. This would be 1,506 miles total for each BBG 1500.
Everything is so important, timewise, that I woke up and rode to Troutdale from Vancouver, Washington, in order to start the ride’s clock. There was no way I was going to try and ride across the busy Vancouver and Portland traffic just to add miles on to the clock. I took my time getting to Troutdale. Once there, I used the filling station restroom, got my head around it, topped off the tank, and I took off.
The first thing that went wrong was I lost my pen. It had blown out of my pocket. I had to run into the gas station on my first fuel stop and buy a pen. Things like this just drive me almost as nuts as when the pump says, "See attendant inside." I just want to scream. So I bought my pen and was back on my way.
A confession: I didn't really study the map until two days before I left. And then, not seriously until the night before I left. I wasn't familiar with all of the little towns in Wyoming.
My first BBG 1500 on the second back-to-back attempt went without a hitch. I rode across Oregon, Idaho, into Utah, across Wyoming, and on into Nebraska very easily. But every ride I make mistakes. This time I didn't put my warm gear on until long after I was cold. I was not going to waste one second, and I didn't bother to put in on until after I had became chilled. Man, did I ever feel warm once I finally put my warm gear on.
There is something exciting for me when I realize that the sun is getting ready to rise. It seems as though if there is a struggle between night and day for only day to win out. I've never ridden into such a beautiful sunrise as I did riding across Nebraska.
My route for the second attempt was filled with truck traffic all through the night. I felt safe knowing that many of semis had been driving in the right lane that most likely I wouldn't be dodging any tire tread from blown-out semi tires.
There were 11 fuel stops before I reached Grand Island, Nebraska. I stopped for fuel a couple of times because I didn't know my stops in towns before hand. I'd rather be safe than sorry, and I realized that this could cost me and make me fail. That's why I ran, and only took off my helmet five times both ways. I didn't allow myself the luxury of doing so more often.
The Final Run Home
I stopped approximately 13 times for fuel on the way home. I had to hydrate more since I didn't do so very well on the first half. At first it didn't concern me. But after awhile, it did. I felt it slipping away from me. Lingering at a fuel stop became my biggest concern, other than riding safely. I was back to running.
I will also confess that I didn't eat much more than beef jerky both ways. If I had it to do over, I would've opened all my bars out of the wrappers. Because I didn't do that, I didn't bother to eat them. I told myself that all champs go hungry, and that there would be plenty of time to eat after the ride was over. So when I finally got home, I was very hungry.
My butt was sore as heck coming home. I wasn't sleepy tired, but I was feeling the fatigue. My two mantras were "Close Ain't Tough Enough" and "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."
Again on the way home I felt all of the temperature extremes. It was so hot during the early morning hours and during the afternoon that I felt as though my face was burning off. Then it started to shower on and off, which was a welcome relief because it cooled me down. When I finally made my way half way across Wyoming, it was partly cloudy. This was good for me. The clouds blocked the sun from glaring directly into my face as I rode west. Anyone who has ridden west knows how blinding the sun can be. It wasn't until I had to find I 84 West from I-80 E that the clouds finally were gone. I had to slow down considerably and ride behind semis in order to see them. This was the cost of me not knowing my geography. I kept hoping over and over again that I wouldn't miss the turn. I was never so happy as when I found it.
Finally, all I had to do was stay on I-84 all the way home. My first sign of Oregon was an informational sign that said, "Portland, Oregon 374 miles." [On this ride, seeing that sign] felt good. I was down to the wire. I was finally going to get this done. I had been watching the clock closely and determined that if nothing went wrong, I had a good – better than even – chance to make it.
When I finally crossed into Oregon from Idaho it became unreasonably cold. I'd never experienced such cold during this time of year riding before. I though I'd just have to tough it out. By the time I made my way to Baker City, Oregon, I was frozen stiff. I had brought along the same gloves I use to climb Mt. Hood in the spring, so I switched over to those. I have never been a fan of heated vests and gloves, but I've already ordered them for future rides.
Riding across the Utimilla-Whitman National Forest I became concerned to the point of scared. There were several deer lying dead alongside the road, and I once again became very aware of this [danger]. Usually, I am always on the lookout for deer, but for the most part, I just block out the possibility of [a collision with one] ever happening to me. Now I was feeling it more than ever.
What scared me was the fact that if I hit a deer, went down, I would die of hypothermia within an hour, it was so cold. It wouldn't take long for an injured biker, me, to lose body heat and die. Understanding this possibility was very alarming. It always haunts me, and it haunts me to this day.
When I finally fueled in Boardman, Oregon, I knew I had enough fuel to finish the ride to Troutdale, Oregon. I took off. It's never over until it's over, so I didn't start celebrating. When I finally rode in to Troutdale, Oregon, for fuel to get my receipt, which would cover a 1500 BBG, I was just sore, tired, and most relieved. I extended the ride to my girlfriend's home.
I had a beer, some ice cream, and a hot bath. I went to sleep and was finally happy that it was finished. But it is only finished for now. It took me three tries to do 1,000 miles in 24 hours, and the same on a BBG 1500.
In November, Rick received word from the IBA that both of his rides were certified as BunBurner Gold 3000s. The IBA has an exacting documentation process for its rides, but emphasizes safety and takes into account the possibility of slight timing discrepancies. It’s our view that the IBA ride certifiers recognized that Rick accomplished an amazing distance riding feat and proved both times he is a true Iron Butt.
Here’s Rick, looking exhausted at the completion of his first BBG 3000.
Here are Lari and Rick on the Hard-Ball.
Here is Rick on the High-Ball he owned before purchasing the Hard-Ball.