Motorcycle clubs are magnificent in both scope and specialisation – there’s something for everyone, be they into discussing 1950s Ducatis in Dorking or racing rat-bikes in Rutland. But the members of the Iron Butt Association all share one very simple interest: riding a ridiculous amount of miles.
A worldwide association started in the US, the UK branch of long-distance lunatics has been going strong for over 10 years. Dedicated to doing intense routes of over 1000 miles with names like Saddlesore and Bunburner, lifetime membership is free: but to earn it, candidates must get an IBA Certified ride completed and verified, for example riding Land’s End to John O’Groats between sunrise and sunset.
Members also attend regular meets, generally monthly, called Ride to Eat. IBA UK President Phil Weston, whose first IBA ride was Bristol to Budapest in 24 hours, explains the social side of lone long-distance riding. “The club is fantastic, with friendship and support from like- minded bikers. But when you ride such distances it’s difficult to find a pace that suits everybody and their need to stop or refuel, so we ride alone to be together. Someone picks a place to eat and when we’ll meet, and people come from all over to be there.
“You don’t have to be a member to come along – anyone can organise one on the IBA forum. But once people come a few times they see how we prepare and ride, learn a bit from us, then want to join up and do it safely rather than badly. One of our slogans is ‘all the gear, all the time’ – we never go anywhere without proper kit. If you ride long distance regularly, you’re vulnerable.”
As well as the UK Rides to Eat, there are European jaunts every other month. This February, for example, association members are lunching in Luxembourg, then scoffing in San Marino in April.
The rough plan is always the same – meet at the destination at 4pm on Saturday, take a picture, stay the night and ride back on Sunday. These aren’t two-week trips or leisurely holidays – they go for a weekend and are back at work on Monday morning.
What it's all about: Long-distance lunatics doing mad miles on a regular basis – but as safely as possible
What it costs: Membership is free, though to become a member you must complete a certified IBA Certificate ride
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