By Michael Dapper
Victory Community Page Contributor
Victory Rider Greg Moe of Buffalo, Minnesota, made history Thursday and Friday by becoming the first person to complete an “Iron Ball” – an Iron Butt ride of 1,000 miles within 24 hours on a Victory High-Ball. To the best of our knowledge, no rider had achieved this before Greg.
Greg made the September 15-16, 2011, ride on a stock High-Ball, on a counter-clockwise tour of the northern half of Minnesota. It was a route he had originally plotted for an All-Minnesota All-Victory Saddle Sore 1000 ride in 2008.
He rolled up 1,017 miles in about 19 hours, 40 minutes.
I was fortunate enough to join him on a High-Ball provided by the Victory engineering team. Both bikes ran flawlessly. A tip of the helmet to the engineering team for their work and for the loaner bike, and to the Spirit Lake production team for building such fantastic bikes.
Greg is a veteran of more than 10 Iron Butt rides and has planned and led several All-Victory Iron Butt rides in recent summers. He also holds an AMA speed record in the 2000-M-AG class, which he set by running 166.585 mph on a Kingpin at the Bonneville Salt Flats in 2010.
He has owned several Victory models over the years, everything from a V92C to a Vegas to a 10th Anniversary Victory Vision. But he said the High-Ball he got this year is probably the most fun of all of them. Naturally, he wanted to pound out an Iron Butt on it, and he wanted to be the first to do so.
At 12:44 a.m. on September 16, 2011, he became the first known “Iron Ball” rider. His paperwork is already en route to the Iron Butt Association
for certification of what the IBA classifies as a Saddle Sore 1000 (at least 1,000 miles in under 24 hours). If you’re a High-Ball rider who previously completed an Iron Butt on the bike, let us hear from you
An Iron Butt is a challenging ride, even on a bike like a Victory Vision or Cross Country Tour. But on a High-Ball? It’s brutal. We were probably on the bikes 16+ hours, which means hanging onto ape hangers for two-third of a day and traveling at highway speeds that create wind force of 60-80 mph.
Unlike the Victory touring models, the High-Ball doesn’t
have a plush touring seat, floorboards, comfort features like heated grips, cruise control or, most importantly, any front-end wind protection. Our bikes did
have storage. We each added a tank bag, Greg had a small tool roll, and I added a set of Leather Saddlebags
with quick-detach brackets. (If you own a Vegas, High-Ball or Kingpin, check these out. They’re great.)
The wind protection and comfort would have been welcome since the morning of September 15 featured the first real frost of the season throughout much of Minnesota. We left the Twin Cities in temps around 37° F, and unfortunately, our route took us north toward Duluth. It got colder with each passing mile and when the sun rose, we saw fields along the road covered with heavy frost.
How cold was it? We were both wearing balaclavas inside our helmets and we both wore snowmobile bibs, not motorcycle riding pants. I was wearing huge snowmobile gloves and Greg had an electric heated vest and right glove. At times, even this gear wasn’t warm enough, but once you start an Iron Ball ride, the clock is ticking, so you roll on.
With the sun up, it heated up to 41° F in Duluth, our first fuel stop. Apparently not content with such tropical conditions, we went further north along the North Shore of Lake Superior and turned inland toward towns like Ely, Tower and International Falls, which has trademarked the town slogan, “Icebox of the Nation.” It had snowed in the region the day before.
But the run from the lake to I-Falls was mostly on High 1, one of the most scenic roads in Minnesota. The road surface was rough, but the route took us on a twisting, rolling path through beautiful northern woods, many of which displayed early traces of fall colors.
In mid-afternoon we reached Roseau, the birthplace of Polaris and home to the Polaris Experience Center, where we posed with the bikes in front of the Snowmobile Thrill Team loop. We had ridden just over 500 miles and things were going well.
From Roseau we headed south and ran eastward along the south shore of Lower Red Lake. Unfortunately, heading directly back to the Twin Cities from there wouldn’t give us the mileage we needed, so we backtracked to the west as the sun set. Minnesota 200, the road that took us through Mahnomen to Ada, was directly aligned with the path of the setting sun. We wished we were wearing welders’ masks as Old Sol scorched our corneas. On a day that started so cold, I never expected I would want the sun to set, but we both hoped it would drop out of sight at that point.
We ran south from Ada to I-94 and finished the Iron Ball with a sprint through the dark back to Maple Grove, Minnesota. The ride ended at a suburban gas station where we acquired gas pump receipts that officially stopped the Iron Ball clock at 12:44 a.m. (The ride started at 5:04 the day before.)
As noted, the High-Balls ran flawlessly. The engines thrived in the cool temperatures and delivered outstanding power that let us pass vehicles with confidence on 2-lane roads. They handled beautifully and are a blast to ride. I cannot honestly recommend the High-Ball as a touring model, not when Victory has such an impressive fleet of well-equipped long riders. But if you’re up for the Iron Ball challenge, go for it and let us hear about your ride
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Iron Ball riders Greg Moe (left) and Michael Dapper in front of the Polaris Experience Center in Roseau, MN, the birthplace of Polaris.
Iron Ball rider Greg Moe hydrates at the first gas stop in Duluth, MN.
Iron Ball rider Greg Moe, dressed to endure the cold temperatures of ride day.
Iron Ball riders Michael Dapper (left) and Greg Moe in Roseau, MN.
The Iron Ball High-Balls.
Iron Ball Rider Michael Dapper in Ely, MN.