Who needs abs of steel, when you have an Iron Butt?
Only about 100 people have been able to complete it in its 17 years of existence.
It’s an extreme ride for motorcyclists in the Iron Butt Association the 48 Plus Ride, also known as the Butt Buster.
Mike Schuster of Easton can now be added to the list of Iron Butt riders to have completed it.
The 48 Plus Ride challenges bikers to hit all of the continental states, even Alaska in just 10 days.
“I completed it in nine days and two hours,” Schuster says. “It was sooner than I thought.”
The trip started on July 11 in Sisseton, S.D. and ended on July 20 in Hyder, Alaska. Schuster had to travel about 1,000 miles a day.
Since the time restraints to finish in 10 days were so tight, he spent between two and three months planning beforehand.
But he wasn’t in this alone; he was hoping to complete the ride with his son-in-law, Jake Zojonc.
“The premise was to be the first father and son-in-law team to complete this ride,” Schuster says.
Planning included mapping out the quickest route to hit all 49 states as well as what stops they would need to make along the way.
The stops they factored in were hotel reservations and gas stops. The stretch between gas stops were planned based on Zojonc’s bike due to the fact that he had a smaller gas tank.
“You also need to build a cushion into that schedule, in case anything happens,”?he explains.
And, things did happen road construction, toll roads, traffic, bike troubles and crashes.
They experienced it all on this trip, even an unfortunate spill.
“After the first half of our trip, Jake dropped his bike,” Schuster says.
They were in Colombia, Mo., when it happened. It had been raining and the roads were slick, but Schuster was never too sure what exactly caused the accident.
Zojonc wasn’t hurt too badly, but he scuffed his helmet and had some road rash.
“We had just got done saying the hardest part of the trip was over,”?Schuster says. “But he couldn’t continue, so I went on alone.”
The two had traveled through Michigan to Rhode Island, rode outside of New York City to travel along the East Coast. Then, they traveled down to Century, Fla. and over to Missouri, when they had to part ways.
“He told me to keep going. I would’ve told him the same thing,” he says.
From there, Schuster made his way from Missouri to Kansas, Nebraska and into California alone.
“That’s when I ran into the 107-degree heat,” he adds.
But, he needed to be prepared for all types of weather. He brought two different helmets, wore a full wind-breaker jacket and a long-sleeve T-shirt.
“The long-sleeve shirt is actually better when it’s hot like that,” Schuster explains. “And, my full helmet helped with rain and to keep my glasses in place.”
After the extreme heat, he was able to continue on, except it wasn’t smooth sailing from there, he hit yet another snag in his journey.
“I got to Washington and then I had some bike troubles,”?he says.
Thankfully he had a little help behind the scenes. His wife, Denise, was back home looking up the nearest NAPA Auto Part stores so he could pick up parts.
“I was on the phone with my bike dealer to diagnose the problem,”?he says.
Then, 45 minutes later he had his bike back on the road.
“I’m pretty handy with that kind of stuff, so I knew I should pack some tools for bike troubles like that,” he says.
Then, Schuster had time for a little rest before the last portion of his trip. When he woke he headed out toward Alaska.
As he neared the town of Hyder, Alaska, he was for almost the first time on the trip able to enjoy the scenery.
On the route Schuster had chosen, glaciers came up right next to the road.
“I had some sleep,” he says. “So, a guy could really appreciate a sight like that.”
There were many times he took a second or two to appreciate the scenery along the way.
“But most of the time I had to make a mental note of a place so we could come back and visit it another time, because we just didn’t have time to stop,”?he says.
When he finally arrived in Hyder, he reached his goal with plenty of time to spare.
“After it was all said and done it was only about noon that day,”?Schuster says.
So, despite being awake since about 5 a.m. and running off only a couple hours of sleep, he decided to head home.
Schuster finally got home on July 23, and admits a couple of weeks later, he still isn’t back to normal.
“Usually we would get two-and-a-half hours of sleep each night,” he says. “And, you do run out of things to think about when you’re on the road.”
But that didn’t mean he let the logistics of the trip fall by the wayside. In order to be recognized for the completion of the bike ride, lots of documentation is required.
“You need to get a receipt from each state, as proof you were there,”?he says. “One problem people often run into is that the receipts don’t have the state printed on them.”
In that situation, it is required that the riders seek another receipt from a different business, or get the receipt initialed by a witness.
“I had an envelope labeled with each state. After I left each state I sealed the envelope so the receipts wouldn’t get lost,”?he says.
After the trip all of the paperwork is sent to the association for approval.
“They are really particular and want you to be as thorough as possible,”?he says. “It’s going to take probably three months to hear from them.”
If everything is approved he will receive a badge for the 48 Plus Ride as well as a possible five or six more badges.
When asked, Schuster says he would do it again someday and already plans to do other rides. Although this one was no walk in the park.
“Not too many people do this,” he says. “I can see why now.”
And, due to the name of the ride the Butt Buster there seems to be one common question he has been asked by people since his return home.
He simply responds with a smile, “No, my butt wasn’t bothered too much.”
Now, about two weeks after his ride, he and Denise are doing something they’ve done every year for 11 years hopping back on the bike and heading to Sturgis.