Derry man has ‘Iron Butt’

Cashelmore Park biker, Joe Fisher pictured by the Grand Canyon during his epic bike trip across the US earlier this year.
Cashelmore Park biker, Joe Fisher pictured by the Grand Canyon during his epic bike trip across the US earlier this year.

Derry biker Joe Fisher has taken long distance biking to extreme lengths. Not only has he crossed the United States twice this summer he also biked to the English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish and NI Parliaments and Assemblies.

Mr. Fisher rode a Harley Davidson across America East to West in 54 hours, thereby completing the IBA, the Iron Butt Association, challenge.

The IBA ensure people who like to ride that bit further have the opportunity, guidance, advice and a framework of rules which keep everyone safe.

The biker from Derry’s Cashelmore Park jumped on a Harley Electraglide and travelled from New York to San Francisco and in doing so achieved an ambition he has held since 1977.

He explaind: “The USA trip was a Saddle Sore 5000, that is 5,000 miles in less than five days, my total journey was 6,500 miles in seven days.”

The trip back was a little slower taking five days in total.

Mr. Fisher, a process engineer for Hivolt Capacitors Limited, Maydown, explained: “Speeding does not help, it is frowned upon by the IBA and only tires you out anyway. Anyone attempting these rides are given advice and guidance and they must progress from the easier rides before being allowed to attempt tougher challenges. It’s mostly about preparation, managing sleep, conditioning, nutrition, hydration, being aware of and managing risk and keeping the wheels turning.”

In addition to the USA ride, Joe has completed IBA routes totalling an additional 1,000 miles. Joe Fisher has biked around the Isle of Man race circuit, a trip to the Outer Hebrides and a rally that took him from middle England to The Orkney Islands, and finally to Connor Pass, Dingle.

“I’ve also driven across the Alps and the famous Grossglockner Pass in Austria to Mont Blanc in France.

Wife, Catherine, gave Joe a “kitchen pass” to complete the US trip, as a 50th birthday present: “I know visiting the Parliaments was my last trip this year though as my wife told me so! I drove more than 1000 miles in 24 hours to do that.”

Describing the vast scale of the US journey undertaken in August, Joe said: “You can get yourself into trouble and get forgiven for it all along the same road.”

En route to San Francisco, Joe crossed the Grand Canyon, Route 66 and the Mojave Desert, poured water down the inside of his jacket and stuffed ice in his pockets, all in order to combat temperatures in excess of 40°C.

Joe told The Journal: “Cruising into San Francisco over the Bay Bridge which was illuminated at night, only 54 hours after leaving New York was great. I headed off over the Golden Gate Bridge, with ‘born to be wild’ blaring in my headphones - naturally.

“It was all was plain sailing at least until I collected the bike at Newark. There was a heat wave as a result of a tropical storm. I was driving into a huge lightning storm for three hours thinking I had dodged the bullet, that was until the rain hit. it didn’t fall it hit.

“I couldn’t do justice to a description of the rain except to say it was heavy, but I had no option to stop and shelter, as I had booked rooms in Big Springs, Nebraska and San Francisco.”

As the weather improved, Joe said: “It was funny to watch the endless lines of rented Harleys, mostly Germans, trundling along at 40 mph with their rented leather vests, chaps and bandanas etc. You can literally go into a Harley rental shop in your nylon slacks and come out looking like an extra from Mad Max, and many do.”

Asked for his most vivid memories of the trip Joe said it was: “Riding for more than two hours arrow straight on the Salt Lakes of Salt Lake City, 300 miles of vineyards in California and the obesity levels. It was sad to see the levels of obesity, especially in native American Indians. There was also the many strangers happy to spark up a conversation without reservation. They all understood a Derry accent no problem. One girl in a shop somewhere in the South said to me in a southern drawl: ‘Ah lurve yore ack-sent, ah wish ah had an ack-sent.’ It made me laugh anyway.”

For more information on the many rides and rallies offered by the IBA log onto www.ibaireland.org or contact Joe onjoe@ibaireland.org