2003 … The First Ride
After riding nearly a 1000 miles "straight through" to Florida in the fall of 2002, Robert "Hoagy" Carmichael, a long-time cyclist from Moundsville, West Virginia, decided to organize a group of friends to complete an Iron Butt Association (IBA) ride just for "fun". Hoagy's first IBA ride started in the early morning hours of Saturday, July 19th, 2003 when seventeen motorcycles carrying twenty-one adventurous people set out from St. Clairsville, Ohio to complete an IBA Saddle Sore ride. Although not everyone in the group knew each other prior to the ride, they were all inspired by Hoagy to attempt the 1000 plus-mile ride in less than 24 hours.
The 2003 ride started in St. Clairsville, Ohio and covered interstate highways through Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland before ending at the Black Bear Tavern in Deep Creek, Maryland. Despite some mechanical problems with a couple of the motorcycles, some bad timing following a truck hauling some pigs, and some minor traffic backups, all but one of the seventeen bikes that left that morning successfully completed their first IBA ride within the designated time!
On the night of July 19th while celebrating the achievement of riding nearly 1100 miles, a road-weary Hoagy quickly vowed to never attempt to organize another long-distance ride. Fortunately for hundreds of motorcyclists and many seriously ill children, Hoagy's "never" didn't last for very long. By the following day, the "wheels" in Hoagy's head were already turning as he started to plan a ride for the following summer. Although completing any Iron Butt ride is quite a feat in its own right, Hoagy set his sights on much higher goals for the first official Hoagy's Heroes long-distance charity ride. Not only did he organize the June 2004 ride to raise funds for A Special Wish Foundation, he also set out to establish a new world record for the most bikes to complete an Iron Butt "Bun Burner" (1500 miles in less than 36 hours) event.
Hoagy's passion for riding and helping seriously ill children energized him and a handful of friends to advertise the 2004 event through flyers, phone calls, emails, the IBA website, newspaper articles, presentations at biker's meetings and events, and any other means that they could get the word out to the long distance rider community.