Iron Butt Association : Circuit of Ireland

According to Wikipedia :

The Iron Butt Association (IBA) is a US-based organization dedicated to endurance motorcycle riding with a claim of over 60,000 members worldwide who tout themselves as the “World’s Toughest Riders.” One of its more popular slogans is “The World Is Our Playground.”

The IBA does have membership in a traditional sense. There are monthly newsletters sent to subscribed members. There are no mandatory yearly dues, although members can voluntarily pay an annual fee to become a premiere member. Premiere members receive occasional news and information from the IBA staff, early notice of some events, additional chances to enter some events, discounted entry fees for some events, and access to special areas of the web-based discussion board.

The IBA is a loose-knit organization with only one way to earn membership: ride one of the several rides the IBA certifies.

All that sounds pretty accurate. You can check out the official IBA Websites here :

Iron Butt Association Web Page :

Iron Butt Association UK Web Page :

Iron Butt Association Ireland Web Page :

It was this bit that got me : ‘with only one way to earn membership : ride one of the several rides the IBA Certifies.’


After a little research I decided that the one for me to attempt was the Circuit of Ireland – a complete lap of the island of Ireland in under 24 hours. Sounds alright doesn’t it? I thought so too. I can start close to home, the costs really aren’t too much, after all I am already here, so no travel fees, all I need to supply is fuel and food – sounds like a great days craic.

But then you look at the figures and maths behind it. The route for the sake of a few miles is 850 miles in total – that means over a period of 24 hours you need to have an average speed of about 35 mph – every hour for 24 of them. That makes things a little more interesting as this is Ireland – it isn’t all motorways that you can push on at 70mph for the duration – to be fair most of the route is A Class Roads and they are all in a good state of repair but averaging 35 mph for 24 hours in Ireland is no easy feat.

The route has certain ‘checkpoints’ that you must pass through – as per the map above. For me the starting point was Banbridge, County Down – as it has a 24 hour filling (petrol) station. From there my route would be Banbridge -> Wexford -> Cork -> Killarney -> Clifden -> Letterkenny -> Ballycastle -> Banbridge.

So all the rules and regulations are on the website – and come in the downloadable pack that you must fill in as you complete the ride :

But the crux of it is this :

1. Choose your starting point – fill up with fuel – get a time and date stamped receipt – record your mileage and have a witness confirm all these details.

2. Start riding.

3. You can go clockwise or anticlockwise – but personally I’d make sure to get the Killarney – Letterkenny (or Letterkenny – Killarney) stages done in daylight.

4. Get time / date stamped receipts at each of the mentioned ‘checkpoints’ – you must also fuel up and get a date and time stamped receipt at least every 350 miles regardless of your motorcycle’s range.

5. Enter each one of these on your log along with any breaks you take. Your mileage gets recorded at each log entry (and the ‘checkpoints’ and breaks also).

6. Finish your lap at the same point as you started – fuel up – get a receipt and record your mileage all with a witness again.

If that sounds in any way daunting – don’t worry its not – it’s all very straightforward and when you have done a couple it all falls into place.

From there then it’s just a case of complete the ride, safely and legally – return home nice and safe – perfect your records and send them off for verification.

From there you will then get your much sought after IBA Membership number (along with a certificate an pin badge should you wish to purchase them) and the ability to buy some more IBA pruck in their e-store (only members can log in) and access to the members only section which contains more rides that only verified members have access to and an active forum / message board.

2016 : Iron Butt Association : Circuit of Ireland Attempt :

For my first attempt I was riding a 2014 BMW F800GS Adventure, I set off on 28th June 2016 – the main benefit of this time of year being the days are at their longest – it was a little nippy so early in the morning but that’s nothing a jacket won’t fix. I set off at 04:23 hours from the Tesco 24hr Filling Station in Banbridge, Co. Down and headed off towards Wexford…

This leg was pretty easy – it is effectively the M1 motorway from the border of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland – and when it isn’t motorway it is a huge and easily negotiated A road. The thing that amused me most on this leg is that it is scattered with mobile fruit shops – although they weren’t open when I was heading down the road by the time I got to Wexford I really wanted some strawberries!

Wexford Town :

From Wexford it is onto Cork. The first problem you are likely to encounter on a ride such as this is that there is an awful lot to stop and see such as the famine ship at New Ross, County Wexford :

You need to be really disciplined however – this is a timed run and as I will soon find out the time can actually be quite tight, my suggestion is either stop quickly take a snap, or make a note and add it to places to visit at a later time.

I had already stopped for breakfast at a Subway Sandwich Shop, for a breakfast sub, at the side of the road – only for 20 minutes but the question was would this 20 minutes be too long?

Cork City :

From Cork it is onto Killarney – at this point I have already covered almost 300 miles and it is 10:57am – I’m thinking the 24 hours is actually very generous. So off I zip towards Killarney – the home of the Irish Red Deer – thankfully I didn’t meet any of these guys on the road – you wouldn’t have too much of chance should one of these chaps decide to take you on head to head!

I stopped for lunch in Killarney – simple burger and chips in ‘Supermacs’ – a quick stop in all – 30 minutes and then off towards Clifden.

This leg took a different turn – there had been a recent landslide – yep a landslide. That meant that the main road was closed, blocked – completely impassible. A diversion was in place that took you off into some rural roads. No problem, I like rural roads however this was now a rural road with A Class Road traffic, with Clifden being so popular with mobile home owners and holiday makers the road was crazy – big caravans, buses, cars, tractors, even on a bike making progress was difficult but eventually at 18:04 hours I made it to Clifden.

So the last 180 miles took over 5 hours. My progress was now pretty much half of what it had been.

Clifden – it’s nice to look at, I get its appeal however if you have had a read at my Wild Atlantic Way posts you’ll see I’m not a big fan of Clifden, so I stopped as it is a checkpoint, filled up and left as quickly as I arrived and headed towards the next point Letterkenny.

This was the point I almost broke, at the filling station in Clifden. I programmed Letterkenny into the sat nav and it was over six hours away. From Letterkenny to Ballycastle and home I am familiar with the road it is the home stretch and that’s what was breaking me – the easy home stretch was still six hours of hard riding away and it would be getting dark during this leg. I think maybe the detour had taken its toll – it was slow, and unenjoyable – it had without doubt zapped my morale. I even looked at just heading straight home, however that was still going to take a good 5 hours. I knew getting to Letterkenny would break the back of the route so chin up, drive on.

I struggled on, by now I was getting sore arse syndrome, and when you are uncomfortable everything just seems that little bit worse than it is. At 23:37 I got to the petrol station at Letterkenny – and honestly I’d say that was the longest 5 hours 33 minutes I have ever spent on a bike.

From Letterkenny though it actually was the final leg and I filled up the tank and headed back towards Northern Ireland and Ballycastle.

Ballycastle is a checkpoint – but here is the problem with a 24 hour monitored run in Ireland – when it gets late – things close. I arrived in Ballycastle at 01:32 hours. Ballycastle is a small coastal town – nothing is open at 01:32 hours in the morning. That shouldn’t be a problem as an ATM receipt generally has all the information you need printed on it, so no problem, I’ll just get an ATM receipt :

Oh dear – now it is a problem, the ATM has no paper. After a quick tour round the main streets of Ballycastle I can find no other ATM!

The IBA instructions mention something like this happening and suggest you gather up as much evidence of your location, date, time and mileage as possible and use it to back up your ride documentation – a witness helps too, however good luck finishing a witness in Ballycastle at half past one in the morning.

I took all the pictures I could think off, one of the ATM machine, one of the garage and my bike, one of the mileage and one of the sat nav and clocks. Hopefully that would support the fact that I was in Ballycastle at half past one?

Well nothing more I can do other than head towards the finish line and Banbridge.

Then just as I was leaving Ballycastle there it is another ATM – I never checked the route out when looking for an ATM and there it is – panic over. So if you find yourself at the Maxol in Ballycastle unable to get the documentation rest assured there is another ATM on the way out of the town.

At this point it is 01:32 hours – I have 2 hours 51 minutes to get back to Banbridge. That shouldn’t be a problem as long as I hit no other issues. I have loads of petrol and a straight road ahead. What can go wrong?

Ballycastle :

Well nothing actually – the final leg went without issue and at 03:19 hours (following a couple of short breaks / leg stretches) I arrived into Banbridge, filled up the tank and stopped the clock.

All in all that took 22 hours 56 minutes and I covered 846 miles. But it was completed. Job Done!

2017 : Iron Butt Association : Circuit of Ireland Attempt :

So my 2016 attempt (successful and verified) wasn’t enough to put me off trying it again – this time I had a bit more interest and a few buddies had mentioned doing it this year too, however when it came to actually saddling up I was back on my own.

The route this time being the same as last year – a clockwise loop starting at Banbridge and taking in the same ‘checkpoints.’

This time however the time of year had changed as had the motorcycle. I set off from Banbridge at 04:25 hours on the 19/07/2017 on my new to me 2010 BMW R1200GS Adventure.

As you can see the sun was rising and it was a nice 13 degrees. The weather forecast was that it was going to be a glorious day but early on on 19th July 2017 it was to get wet and windy, very wet and windy so I was in the mindset to get back and into bed before the first drop of rain even fell.

Again it is a straight run down to Wexford and you really can make good progress on this section. The roads are great and I am on them before the rest of commuters are even stirring in their beds.

I learnt from last year and skipped breakfast this time stopping just outside Wexford to get my photo…

Then Cork, however you can’t go to Cork via Wexford and not stop at the New Ross Memorial…

I also spotted these wooden sculptures on the road just outside Cork and really needed to stop, impressive no?

This year I got into Cork 10:19 hours so was almost six hours in and had munched up over 300 miles again. In fact when I looked at the figures from both this year and last differed by one mere minute!

300 miles travelled one year apart and the difference is only one minute!

Cork City :

From Cork it is back back to Killarney.

This leg was deadly for some reason. I felt tired, really tired, not that I was going to fall asleep tired – just tired and sore. I thought there is no way I will get round this. I remembered last year’s run and it was Clifden to Letterkenny that almost broke me, I thought there is no way I can get to Clifden then take on that Letterkenny leg given how I feel now. This was going to get really tough.

Killarney marked lunch time for me, again I stopped in Supermacs and opted for the burger and cheesy / mayo chips. Couldn’t even come close to finishing it. With my stomach and the bike filled it was time for Clifden and I felt better. Maybe it was the lack of breakfast, lack of caffeine or both but I had a second wind, Clifden here I come.

Last year this main road was closed due to a landslide, that had all been fixed and the main road was open. And what a main road it is. I didn’t really get to appreciate the scenery on this leg last year as I was too busy negotiating traffic – this year it was a little quieter, no diversions and I got to relax a little and take in the views, which are outstanding!

Then Clifden, yep you know it I don’t rate it, I fuelled up took a snap and moved on.

From Clifden it is the ‘problem’ leg to Letterkenny. Only this year it wasn’t a problem, I enjoyed it. It must have been the continuation of my second wind after Killarney. Being more relaxed and enjoying it I really appreciated the initial part of this leg, the roads out of Clifden that follow the Wild Atlantic Way are outstanding, one mountain pass in particular is just world class, do it during thee day, the later part of the day ideally, and you’ll have the entire place to yourself. That’s the beauty of rural Ireland you can have the roads to yourself for literally miles and miles. Enjoy it.

I had a quick stop in Westport. Anyone from Ireland or Northern Ireland will know about Westport, they may have never been but they will know about it. Why? Because that’s where their Granny went on her holidays. If you are wondering what it’s like, here you go…

I don’t get it, but believe me every Granny on the island of Ireland has went to Westport for her holidays.

I stopped for a leg stretch and a drink at roadside garage and spotted this Irish Coastguard Land Rover – and let’s be honest everything about the coastguard is cool – boats, helicopters and even their jeeps!

I got into Letterkenny at 23:18 hours, filled up with fuel and headed onto the homeward legs.

With Brexit currently in full swing and the issue of the Irish border in the spotlight – added to the usual issues with the Irish border it looks like a vigilante graffiti artist has popped up near Londonderry / Derry / Stroke City…

Last year I mentioned my issues finding a receipt in Ballycastle – no such drama this year, Ballycastle completed without issue!

Here it is, the final leg – Ballycastle to Banbridge and with the completion this year of the dualling of the A26 carriageway this section is now seamless and I pulled into Banbridge, filling the tank and stopping the clock at 02:46 hours. The total time taken being 22 hours 21 minutes and a total mileage of 863 miles. That means an average speed of 38.64 mph.

There is now a 24 hour McDonald’s right beside the filling station so I felt it would be rude not to have a celebratory burger… and that’s what I did.

This year all in all I found this run more enjoyable – after the Killarney break I really enjoyed the route. There were no issues I seemed to have a bit more time although in total there isn’t that much of a difference. It just seemed more relaxed, maybe it was the bigger bike, maybe it was my past experience and expectations, maybe it was my new AirHawk -which is amazing! Maybe it was a combination of all of these things, but that’s me done with the Circuit of Ireland lap, I have my eyes on something different for my 2018 IBA run.

I reckon I will definitely need my AirHawk for it…


About The Author

I am a road race loving, adventure motorcyclist, with a huge bit of techie built in.  I am currently trying out a bit of photography.

Motorcycling | Technology | Photography

TBNI.Blog is proud to recommend the following businesses and services, please feel free to check them out...

3 thoughts on “Iron Butt Association : Circuit of Ireland”

Leave a comment