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Make Your Own Long Distance or Cross Country Motorcycle Ride

Updated on November 1, 2012
Me on my first bike, a Suzuki Savage
Me on my first bike, a Suzuki Savage | Source

Get an Iron Butt!

The best motorcycle road trip is the one you make yourself. The Iron Butt Association has a great way to do a big motorcycle trip and get credit for doing it. Sure, there are a couple of rules, and no one said it would be easy, but it is fun, and afterwards, you can claim your own space among the “World’s Toughest Riders.”

What is Iron Butt

Iron Butt is actually the Iron Butt Association, a group that is “dedicated to safe, long-distance motorcycle riding.” They don’t have dues or monthly meetings. To “join” the group, you complete one of their rides. They have a website and mailing list that you can join to hear about their rides and to find out about other events. Even if you don’t think you can make a ride, you can still volunteer to work a rally or support a rally and earn your Iron Butt that way!

Doing a Saddle Sore Ride in Texas from Galveston

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A markerGalveston Texas -
Galveston, TX, USA
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B markerAmarillo, Texas -
Amarillo, TX, USA
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C markerAustin, Texas -
Austin, TX, USA
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Three Most Popular Levels of the Iron Butt

The Saddle Sore 1,000 (1,000 Miles in 24 Hours) or BunBurner 1,500 (1,500 Miles in 24 Hours or 36 Hours):

This is the easiest way to become an Iron Butt. You need to create your route, get a witness for your start, collect and track your gas (and rest stop) receipts, get a witness at the end of your ride, and submit all your documentation to the association. For the ride, remember that while you can choose to take a circular route, you will need to make sure that you hit each “corner” of the ride to prove that you did all the miles. Similarly, if you go out and come back, make sure to get a receipt at each end of the ride. You cannot simply take the same 100 mile ride 10 (or 15) times.

Also, please note that the Iron Butt Association is not encouraging speeding. If you have completed too many miles in the time to have been riding responsibly, they reserve the right to not publish your accomplishment.

Planning Your Route

Depending on where you live, your route for an Iron Butt ride may take you outside your own state. I’m living in Texas, so it’s easy to hit 1,000 miles without really going anywhere! You can go North, South, West, or East – the state is almost 1,000 miles across, so get creative.

Of course, those of you from another state may have a harder time. In California, you can take a great ride up and down the coast, but if you’re in a smaller state, be willing to travel. Check the maps, talk to friends, see if anyone else has completed a route in your area. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. Check the weather that may be moving in, and make sure you aren’t going outside your comfort zone. Pick roads that are safe; it’s a good idea to avoid toll roads (for the sake of time and safety), but it’s not always possible. Know your limits and know where you feel good; don’t ride somewhere that isn’t safe for your skill level or comfort zone.

50cc Ride from Hoboken, NJ, to San Fransciso, CA in only 47 Hours!

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A markerHoboken, NJ -
Hoboken, NJ, USA
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B markerSan Francisco, CA -
San Francisco, CA, USA
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Bikes resting after a long ride (Yamaha V-Star and Triumph Thunderbird)
Bikes resting after a long ride (Yamaha V-Star and Triumph Thunderbird) | Source

50cc Quest

Coast-to-Coast in 50 Hours

The basic rule is complete a coast-to-coast ride in 50 hours or less. Yes, it is possible! To get credit for the ride, you need to follow some simple guidelines so that you can submit proof that you’ve completed the coast to coast ride. First, find someone that is eligible to sign your “witness form.” This can be a police officer, firefighter, notary public, or authorized Iron Butt Association member. Before you begin, fill up your gas tank. Your receipts will help serve as tracking. The time on your first gas fill-up is your official start time. From then on, you must stop at least every 300 miles to fill up (even if you can go longer). At each stop, you must log the date, time, time zone, location, and odometer reading. In addition, you need to include the receipt from the stop/fill-up. If you stop for more than ten minutes at any time, you need to log it. However, it can be as easy as keeping your receipt from a restaurant or hotel. When you’re at the end of the ride, again get gas. Use that receipt, and, if possible, also get a business card from the gas station so that you have the phone number for that gas station. Finally, find someone at the end to sign the witness form. You need to then create a map of your travels, circling your stopping points. Mail your documentation (and payment), and assuming there are no problems, you’ll get your official certification! (Don’t worry if there is a follow-up phone call or question; the association just wants to make sure everyone completes it as outlined.)

Other Ride Options

These aren’t your only options, however. There are other rides, such as ones around the Great Lakes, crossing from Mexico to Canada, ones that can be done in other countries, and Xtreme rides that can last up to 10 days!

Check out their rules and list of possible rides at

Helmets - Yay! or Nay!

Do you wear a helmet when you ride?

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Make sure you follow the laws of the state(s) you’re in. If you need to wear a helmet to be in compliance with the laws, wear one. If the speed limit is 60, follow it. If you’re tired, stop and get some rest. Don’t put yourself in danger. The ride should be fun, not dangerous.

Always be careful of weather – remember the first ten minutes after rain starts is when it’s most dangerous, so while you’re on a timed ride and you may not want to stop, sometimes you’ll have to. Be safe; there’s always another day to try again.

Some additional tips offered by those who have gone before include joining a towing service (just in case!), learning your limits, eating healthy and staying hydrated, getting gas before it’s too late, avoiding trucks, watching for speed limit changes, avoiding high rates of speeds, using a tracking device, carrying a flat repair kid, and upgrading your tool kit. Also, avoid making any changes or repairs to your bike immediately before leaving. What may seem to work as you take off might not last or may cause problems.

Central Arizona Bikers Presents: Ride the Road

Riding with a Group

You can find events sponsored by the Iron Butt Association at their Event website. They have everything from rallies to mini-rallies to charity events. Some events are local to one particular place, such as rides in New Jersey, California, and Texas, but other events are worldwide, allowing you to take place and post your ride no matter where you live.


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