Long Distance Riding

Long Distance Riding

Long Distance Riding is the title applied to the pastime of riding motorcycles over very long distances in defined times, with a popular target being to cover 1,000 miles in a day.

The basic goal of endurance/long distance riding is to explore time/distance/physical endurance while riding a motorcycle.


Long distance riders may participate in a number of structured and unstructured events.


Endurance riders sometimes engage in endurance events known as rallies. Rallies take on a multitude of formats, differing in duration (anywhere from 12 hours to 11 days), style, types of roads ridden and so forth. Some rallies have been referred to as "advanced scavenger hunts" and require participants to successfully locate a list of specific locations (a series of "Little House on the Prairie" locations, for instance), perform specific tasks (take a Polaroid photograph of a giant baseball bat, write down time, date and mileage and so forth) and sundry other items during the duration of the rally.

Iron Butt Rally

The 'Olympics' of all endurance rallies is the Iron Butt Rally (also known as the IBR, the Big Show, or the Butt.) This event takes place over eleven days, usually in late August, on odd numbered years, and is run by the Iron Butt Association. In the early years this was an obscure event with only a dozen or so riders. Over the past decade or so, as distance riding has gained in popularity, the event has become so crowded that the IBA has imposed a limit of 90 riders. Entry is via lottery and discretion of the rallymasters. Rumor has it that over 1000 entries were submitted to the 2005 lottery. The basic concept is a lap around the lower 48 United States, with possible diversions into Canada and Alaska. There are interim checkpoints, at which the rider must appear within a brief time window or forfeit any bonus points acquired on that leg. The Iron Butt Rally, like all endurance rallies, is not a race. There is no advantage to arriving early at a checkpoint. The goal is to earn the most points, which are not directly related to number of miles traveled. The winning rider may not be the one with the most miles ridden. Other endurance rides recognized by the Iron Butt Association are not competitions, but are documented rides (such as the Saddlesore 1000, the BunBurner 1500, the BunBurner Gold 1500, the 100 Coast-to-Coast-to-Coast insanity) that require the rider to meticulously record mileage, fuel taken on and other factors in order to successfully complete a documented ride.

Other rallies

There are plenty of other rallies, shorter and easier to get into, available to the competitive and fun-seeking LD rider. Some popular 24-hr rallies are the Utah 1088, Minuteman 1000, Land of Enchantment 1000, Mason Dixon 20-20, Texas Two Step, Cal 24, and many others. For those looking for an IBR-like event, there are multi-day rallies such as the Butt Lite, Northwest Passage, and newcomer Spank. These rallies are all put on by rallymasters and volunteers who devote countless unpaid hours to their events. The riders themselves are competing for nothing more than bragging rights and the personal challenge. These rallies are also viewed as training grounds for the 11 day Iron Butt Rally.


It is not unknown for keen riders to ride from Chicago to St. Louis for dinner, and to then turn around and proceed home, while some will even ride from the East Coast all the way across the country for a ride-to-eat function. There are major annual Ride-to-Eat events (RTEs) in locations from Alaska to Florida.


Smart long-distance riders know to stop and rest before their fatigue reaches dangerous levels. They are acutely aware of their mental and physical fatigue. They mitigate fatigue when it starts so it doesn't become dangerous, by efficiently resting and recharging. Ultimately, they extend the time it takes to become fatigued. Dr. Don Arthur, noted Navy doctor and long distance rider, has written a very informative article on managing fatigue on a motorcycle. [http://www.motorcycletourer.com/Safety/Fatigue.pdf]

Long distance riders are dedicated to safe, sane and responsible riding. ATGATT (All The Gear, All The Time) is a common mantra, and it means wearing safety gear (such as helmet, riding suit or jacket & pants, boots, gloves, et cetera) whenever riding. The premise is that a great protective riding jacket does one little good if it does not get used.

Long Distance Rider Mailing List

Long Distance Rider is an internet email list focused on the subject of riding motorcycles over long distances. Long Distance Rider (LDRider) was started in 1996 by Joe Denton and still exists as primarily a text based email only list. The [http://ibdone.org/mailman/listinfo/ldrider_ibdone.org LDRider info page] is a good place to learn more about the list, and to subscribe.

External links

* [http://www.longdistanceriders.net/ Long Distance Riders]
* [http://www.ironbutt.com/ Iron Butt Association]
* [http://www.saddlesore.com/ Saddle Sore website]
* [http://www.ironbutt.org/forum/default.asp IBA Web Forum]
* [http://www.farriders.com/ FarRiders Australia]
* [http://wildpelicans.net/ Wild Pelicans Club]

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