Depending how you look at it, a dozen tough riders or a pack of crazy fools set off from Digby just before sunrise this morning.
The 12 bikers taking part in the Wharf Rat Rally’s Iron Butt ride plan to drive 1600 km today “just for the fun of it”.
Scott Cameron of New Glaasgow has taken part in lots of these rides, even longer ones. He admits he wears special underwear – not diapers – but a seamless boxer to reduce chaffing.
Waiting at the Irving parking lot in Conway before sunrise he is visibly anxious to get going.
“We should be back here for midnight,” he says totally serious. “You can usually do a 1,000 miles in 18 hours. At the speed limit. It’s not the speed that’ll get you, it’s the stops.”
This ride will take the riders to Yarmouth, Liverpool, Lunenburg, Halifax, Port Elgin, Moncton, Fredericton, Saint John, back to Truro and Halifax and through the valley to Digby.
The Iron Butt Association certifies these rides and provides the certificates. The riders also get a t-shirt.
“It’s bragging rights,” says Cameron’s partner Donnie Cook. “Just to say you did it. It’s fun.”
According to the IBA this event is a “saddle sore”. To get the t-shirt the riders have to be back in Digby in under 24 hours. At designated stops along the way, they have to pick up receipts with the date and time.
Usually that’s gas, but if they don’t need fuel, Cook says they’ll buy whatever.
Other rides they explain are more like scavenger hunts where you to take certain photos in certain places, or find clues or gather information – all for points.
The big event for the club is the Iron Butt Rally. To qualify you have to have completed a saddle sore like the Wharf Rat Rally run. Your reward then is you get to do 11 rides all of 1600 km in 11 consecutive days.
The IBA also provides certificates for riders who do a 160,000 km in one year, or who go from coast to coast and back in less than 100 hours. In Canada you get a certificate if you can make the ride from Halifax to Vancouver all on Canadian roads, one way in less than 90 hours.
Cameron drove down from New Glasgow last night and he’ll be heading home Saturday – he won’t even be sticking around for the rally. To him, it’s all about the drive.
Cook is also going back to New Glasgow Saturday after the 1600 km run. And then turning around with his wife and riding back to Digby for the rally.
Cameron and Cook were the first to leave; they roared up the exit 26 on-ramp at 6:13.
Hubert and Heather Devine were taking things a little slower. The Yarmouth couple were doing the ride together on the same bike – one of two couples in the ride today.
This is their first Iron Butt – Heather’s idea, says Hubert.
“She talked me into this,” said Hubert laughing.
“For the adventure,” she answered. “I just like to go, go, go. It should be fun.”
The Devines left at 6:23. They too hope to be back for midnight.