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James Owen - Iron Butt Rally

Our speaker was Easton Kiwanian James Owen, who had a 33-year career flying long distant routes for United Airlines. An avid motorcyclist, James’ earthbound days are often filled with a different type of long-distance adventure. His hobby led him to participating in various rallies across the country. His support for a “No Polio Rally” in California earned him Paul Harris Fellow recognition.

Eventually he became associated with the Iron Butt Association where he found a whole community of long-distance riders. IBA has over 75,000 members who are dedicated to safe, long-distance motorcycle riding. Entry level rides are known as Saddle Sores and feature a 1000 mile ride in 24 hours or less. A 50CC ride gives participants 50 hours to travel from coast to coast. The Bunburner Gold event is 1,500 miles in 124 hours and entails interstate highway routes and can easily be ruined by traffic delays or bad weather.

James favorite is the highly competitive bi-yearly Iron Butt Rally. This 11-day event literally crisscrosses the United States and covers 12 - 13,000 miles. Riders are given maps covered with icons indicating the location of checkpoints and opportunities to pick up bonus points. There is no set route, and it is up to the ingenuity of the riders to maximize their time. Speeding is not permitted, and the bikes locations are monitored to prevent cheating. Infractions can result in warnings, point deductions, or disqualification.

James is currently training for the 2021 version scheduled to begin in Provo, Utah on June 21. His preparation is far different than he debuted in 2003. Physical conditioning is much more critical and he pays strict attention to diet, nutrition, and exercise. James remains the only two-time winner of this incredible event. Aside from the fun of competing in such a strategic event, he enjoys the incredible beauty of nature during the ride. There is no competitive advantage for speed so much of the ride meanders through the countryside. Next month James will attempt to add another win as he travels from Utah to Alabama and back in a mere 11 days. More information on the IBA can be found at


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