When a job opportunity caused Eric Levy to move to Denver in 2002, his first order of business was becoming a member of the BMW Motorcycle Club of Colorado. He soon realized that even a room full of seasoned bikers hesitate when anyone mentions the “Iron Butt.”
Aptly named, the “Iron Butt” covers 11,000 miles in 11 days. To keep up with the grueling pace, riders only sleep for four hours a day. Participants are monitored through several checkpoints along the way to keep time and discourage cheating.
Needless to say, only a select few even bother signing up for such a draining ordeal, and fewer still actually finish the race. Which is why Levy’s previous bike club in San Diego invented their own variation of the competition, affectionately called the “Baby Butt”.
The modified journey covers 1,000 miles in 24 hours, a still daunting but slightly more manageable venture. For his first ride, organizers chose a fairly easy route – San Diego to Laughlin, Nevada – because there was lots of “desert, straight roads, [and] plenty of places to stop for gas.”
Even as an experienced rider, Levy had never ridden more than 500 miles in one day, so he was understandably nervous about the challenging ride. He surprised himself however, completing the first 350 miles in less than five hours.
By the time Levy hit Caliente, Nevada, he was overwhelmed with a wave of fatigue so powerful he had to pull over and lay on the ground. “I’d hit my wall,” Levy said. “That was my personal limit right there.”
Levy went on the finish the race, and since his arrival in Colorado, he has organized three “Colorado Classic 1000” rallies and is currently planning another. This year’s trip is a 1,000-mile loop from Denver to Grand Lake – the long way around – and it is scheduled for July 21 and 22.
Not for the faint of heart, Levy says the trip attracts mostly professionals in their 40s, 50s and 60s. “We wear full gear. There are mufflers on our bikes. There’s no drinking, no carousing, no speeding or breaking laws,” Levy said. “We aren’t bikers, we’re motorcyclists. There’s a difference.”
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