Iron Butt Association:
Have you ever thought that you fancy trying something other than the usual Sunday run out on the bike, along the same route, with your head down and bum up?
If so have you ever considered long distance motorcycling?
That is what the Iron Butt Association is all about. Safe, enjoyable long distance motorcycle riding that gets you out and about to places you probably haven’t seen before, or take routes or challenges that you probably had never even thought of before.
“The 60,000+ members of the Iron Butt Association are dedicated to safe, long-distance motorcycle riding. Although based in the United States, we have thousands of enthusiastic members throughout the globe! One of our more popular slogans is, “The World Is Our Playground.”
Check out out the IBA Website here : http://ironbutt.com
Check out the IBA Ireland Website here : https://www.ibaireland.org
Check out the IBA UK Website here : https://www.ironbutt.co.uk
A Bridge Too Far :
Having been a member of the Iron Butt Association for a few years now I thought I would give their 2018 Photo Rally a go.
The info on their site sums it up pretty well :
The locations are spread all over the island of Ireland and the route between them amounts to many thousands of miles.
I’m sure you could plan a route and tackle every location across a few days (reducing the mileage), but personally I used my free time over the summer months and probably took about 5 or 6 individual day trips to gather up all the checkpoints.
Some of those days trips were very long. For example my final trip took in the far west and south west of Ireland coming from Northern Ireland that specific trip, which took in 4 bridges started at 7.00am and finished at 1.30am and consumed about 780 miles.
But long mileage is all part of the Iron Butt Challenge, so if you enjoy full days in the saddle, seeing parts of the country (world even) that you probably didn’t even know about Photo Rallies are a good way to go about it and there are plenty of them about. Most motorcycle clubs, and the bigger Internet forums all offer Photo Rallies, so now that winter is here have a good look about and see what may take your fancy for the next year.
For me this year I opted for the IBA Ireland : A Bridge Too Far Photo Rally and it really did not disappoint.
This Rally took me all over Ireland – having lived here my entire live, explored the entirety of the west coast (the Wild Atlantic Way) the entirety of the north coast (the Causeway Coast) and having completed two entire 24 hours laps of the island along with numerous other trips I can say that 11 of these 15 bridges were completely new to me along with the surrounding town lands and villages. The other 4 I had discovered on the Wild Atlantic Way.
One perfect example of seeing something that I was oblivious to is :
Dromona Bridge in County Waterford :
Not only do you get to see new things, you get to learn a little too, and I reckon this bridge has a pretty cool story.
Dromana Gate is a Hindu Gothic gate dating from around 1830, 5km south of Cappoquin in County Waterford. The only one of its kind in Ireland.
The gate was originally built from wood and papier mache to greet the owner of the Dromana Estate, Henry Villiers-Stuart and his wife, Theresia Pauline Ott of Vienna, on returning from their honeymoon in 1826. The couple were so enchanted with the gate it was reconstructed in stone in later years.
The gate structure was restored by the Irish Georgian Society in the 1960s and again by the Waterford County Council in 1990. The bridge over the Finisk River was replaced in 1971. The gate forms the entrance to Dromana Drive and Dromana House and Gardens which are open to the public.
And that’s not the only great story, but rather than tell you them all, here is a link to the map to all the locations. The Photo Rally may be over but the locations are still there. Take a trip out and about and see some beautiful locations :
A Bridge too Far : https://goo.gl/maps/Bz1MWwZL6Rv
I am happy to say I took in all 15 bridges by the deadline and covered around 2500 – 3000 miles doing so. It was a brilliant set of trips that took in some brilliant roads all over Ireland. That ‘brilliant’ term does not include motorways. Motorways are required, but it is when you get off the M class roads that the true enjoyment of motorcycling through Ireland occurs. You have everything, nice big A class roads, couple with immaculately finished , yet still nice and twisty B class roads and plenty of rural Irish roads. You can go for miles and not see another vehicle.
The roads are great and the scenery is bliss. What more do you need?
I am looking forward to getting another go at the 2019 Photo Rally and seeing plenty of who knows what!
I have put together a quick Spark Page Publication which shows each of the bridges, along with their GPS coordinates. Hopefully you enjoy the photographs and who knows, they may even inspire you to visit a few, or even get involved in next year’s rally. (You don’t need to be an IBA certified member to enter and enjoy the Irish Photo Rally.)
See you in 2019.