WATAUGA — When he was young, Robert Peurifoy was enthralled by the sight of a motorcycle. Collecting magazines about them, watching them in movies and on TV, he always wanted to get his hands on one and hit the open road.
“My parents were of the generation that thought motorcycles were for gang members, drug addicts or alcoholics,” Peurifoy said. “So they didn’t want me to get one.”
Years later, he went to seminary school in Washington D.C., becoming a pastor in Robbinsville. While there, he had two church members with motorcycles who needed a place to store them. Peurifoy offered his basement, and having them so close reignited the idea of getting one for himself.
Eventually, he got himself a stripped down Golden Wing bike, and he has been riding ever since.
After turning 70, Peurifoy wanted to challenge himself. The former pastor had dealt with medical issues in the years prior and knew what challenge was right for him: the Iron Butt.
Founded in 1984, the Iron Butt Association honors the toughest riders around the world, who are willing to ride for hours on end.
Peurifoy opted for the Saddle Sore 1,000, a challenge of 1,000 miles in 24 hours. On April 19, he set out from Boone for his trip that would take him all the way down to Miami.
“You have to start at a gas station, get your tank filled and have something signed off by someone who works there,” Peurifoy said. “You have to do that at every stop you make for gas, it’s part of the association’s rules to make sure you’re actually doing it on a bike.”
Peurifoy also had to log any business receipts, to prove the timing and location, before sending all of the proof off to the IBA.
He said the plan was to head down to Miami and then catch the launch of the SpaceX shuttle on the drive back. While the launch was delayed, forcing Peurifoy to miss out, he said the trip was a total success.
“I wanted to prove I could still do something like that, and I did,” Peurifoy said.