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First UK Iron Butt Ride

The RBLR1000 annual charity ride is a brilliant option for a well-supported first ride and raises funds for #PoppyAppeal

The UK can be a challenging location for a first Iron Butt ride because, unlike mainland Europe or continental USA, there aren't any major highways running for 500 miles or more. The routes are more complicated and generally slower. There are two goals for this ride:

The primary purpose of the ride is to ride 1,000 miles within 24 hours, safely.

It may turn out to be a fun ride, it may turn out to be a challenging ride but those are incidental considerations, do not plan a ride to include fun or challenging elements, Do take advantage of the motorway network wherever possible.

The secondary purpose of the ride is to obtain IBA validation of the ride.

Completing the ride will be very satisfying all by itself but the icing on the cake will be to obtain certification from the Iron Butt Association - World's Toughest Riders.

Taking the first goal first and having studied the advice given in the Iron Butt Archive of Wisdom start planning the ride, in detail: Where will you ride? When will you ride? How fast will you ride? Where will you get fuel? What will you eat on the journey? What will you drink on the journey? What will you wear while riding? How will you keep track of the pace?

You must be fit to do the ride. That doesn't merely mean strong enough, it means you must have adapted your sleep patterns to allow for longer than usual periods of alertness. You'll need to keep toilet and food breaks aligned with fuel stops. You'll also need to recognise and respond to the need for sleep as and when it arises. Make sure you start freshly rested, not after work on Friday!

Don't consider aims other than the two goals. Leave out "I'll stop at 7pm for supper in the Harvester" and "I'll allow 30 minutes for viewing Lincoln Cathedral" - you are just going to ride your bike until you have ridden 1,000 miles. The only stops will be "pit stops" or if you need to sleep.

Time is lost every time you stop and every time you drop behind your planned pace. Practice getting in and out of fuel stations quickly and efficiently. On a 1,000 mile ride you might need six fuel stops. Aim for ten minutes each rather than 20, one hour "wasted" instead of two. Check that the fuel station will actually be open when you'll get there!

Getting the ride validated entails proving to a sceptical audience that you actually did the miles, within 24 hours. The proof takes the form of your own log of the ride and, most importantly, receipts accumulated along the way.

The start and finish receipts are critical as they are used to calculate the time taken; Make sure timestamps are accurate on these receipts!

The distance is validated by entering the details of your receipts into a route planning application such as Garmin MapSource, Garmin BaseCamp, Microsoft Streets and Trips, etc. Make sure your receipts contain the accurate address of the location, not just the head office address. The official distance is taken as the shortest route calculated between your receipts. This means that obtaining receipts at "corners" of the ride is critical.

As an example, if your route is broadly London to Exeter to Carlisle to Newcastle to London then you will need receipts at Exeter, Carlisle and Newcastle as well as start and finish receipts in London.

and finally, efficient navigation is essential. Understand your route in detail before the ride, use an updated satnav to make sure you stay on track.