Somewhere in Florida

Over a Benchmark & Under the Limit

February 2009

At 9:20pm ET on Sunday, 20 January 2008, I logged an ATM slip at the South Beach Wachovia Bank marking the end of what should be certified as my 30th Iron Butt Ride and my second in-state Florida SaddleSore 1000 (FL-1000). On this ride I covered 1,018 miles in 15 hours 31 minutes, for an MTH (miles traveled per hour) of 65.61. Beginning at 5:49am from Miami Beach, my route took me from I-95 north to I-595 west to I-75, across Alligator Alley to Naples and then north to I-10, west to Lamont/Nash, back east on I-10 to Jacksonville, then south on I-95 from there back home.

This ride was originally supposed to be an attempt at another Bun Burner Gold (“BBG”), which requires riding over 1500 miles in under 24 hours, and is far more challenging than the SaddleSore 1000. Unfortunately, however, I received some bad news in the mail earlier that week that mandated I lower my aspirations. To my surprise, a couple of out-of-state “performance awards” picked up over the prior two years made their way to my good friends at the DHSMV, pushing my point totals dangerously close to the State of Florida’s 12-month and 18-month suspension thresholds. Both would roll off my record in a couple of months. But until then, I could not afford to risk any more roadside recognition from the LEOs. Obviously, cutting my 24-hour distance requirement by 500 miles significantly reduced any temptations.

Before I continue, let me point out that excessive speed is not required to complete an Iron Butt run, and it is not recommended by the Iron Butt Association (“IBA”). Their position is stated clearly on the website: “Please remember that the Iron Butt Association is dedicated to the sport of safe, long-distance motorcycle riding. It does not condone nor will it tolerate unsafe activities such as excessive speed, reckless motorcycle operation, riding while fatigued or otherwise impaired, the use of stimulants to maintain alertness, or any other activity that results in riders exceeding their personal limits.”

That said, it is dictated by common sense and generally accepted in our courts that the definition of what constitutes “excessive speed” is relative to the situation and not necessarily reflected by the posted speed limit … which is arbitrary at best … and often set more with the intent of increasing municipal revenues than decreasing traffic accidents. As the National Motorists Association (“NMA”) points out on their website: “You see them everyday. Speed Traps. The police may be out in the open, hiding behind bridge abutments, or passing overhead in an airplane. As is obvious from the traffic flow, the speed limit is grossly under-posted and universally ignored… Traffic is moving safely and expeditiously, but not legally according to the posted speed limit. As fast as the pen can be applied to paper, driver after driver is issued a speeding ticket that results in exorbitant fines, points on their driver’s licenses and insurance surcharges.”

Again I say that “excessive speed” is not required to complete an Iron Butt run. On this ride, for example, my MTH was only 65.61. Had I maintained it for 24 hours, though, I would have covered 1574 miles, which is more than enough distance to earn a BBG. But that is not to say that I always observe the posted speed limit (and I wouldn’t believe anyone who said they did). Iron Butt riders … like all other riders and motorists … may at times be tempted to exceed that limit. Especially, as the NMA says, when it is “…grossly under-posted and universally ignored”. Consequently Iron Butt riders … like all other riders and motorists … may at times receive traffic citations. And if seems like we get more tickets than other riders, it is arguably not because we’re more likely to be guilty of “excessive speed”, but simply because we spend so much more time in the saddle.

According to, “At one point in our lives, almost everyone will receive at least one traffic citation”. And regardless of cause, justification, innocence or guilt, we will all have to decide how to respond. Up until now, my tendency was to simply pay the fine and move on, especially if it was an out-of-state ticket that I thought would entail no points. But I won’t be making that mistake again. From now on, I will be fighting every speeding ticket I get. And I won’t be fighting alone, because I’ll have the full resources of the NMA behind me:

For $35.00 a year, you can become a member of the National Motorists Association. As part of the package, their website says you’ll receive all the benefits of their Traffic Justice Program, including this protection against future tickets: “As part of our Traffic Justice Program, any person who receives a speeding ticket while they are a member of the NMA, fights it in court, and loses, will have that ticket paid for by us!”

Does their program really work? I’ll let you know…

Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!