Apparently the last name ‘Lipps’ has as one origin a shortening of the family name ‘Phillips’ or Philipps’ depending on the source language and country. My grandfather explained to me that our family name was changed at one point from ‘Lips’ to ‘Lipps’ to differentiate between two families in competing businesses in the same neighborhood in Chicago. Both were said to be in the upholstery business and there was confusion among their customers about who was who. Because my familial line was the better one, we got the extra ‘P.’
Another story was that the name was longer and reduced to ‘Lips’ during the immigration process. I’m not sure if either is 100% factual but both make for a good tale.
In any event, the name ‘Lipps’ is not very common. The name ‘Todd’ ‘Lipps’ is even less common. I know of one other man with our name. He is the semi-well known banker I refer to in my introductory post.
I don’t know him but he has reached out and tried to contact me. As an intro, he asked me, “What was it like growing up with the name Todd Lipps?” I answered him, but the answer I gave him was a sarcastic response about growing up in a rich and influential family who spent summers in luxurious vacation spots, private schools, gated communities and jetting to a home in the Hamptons. None of it was rooted in truth. In fact, the truth was completely opposite. I didn’t mean anything rude by it. At the time I didn’t think much about it, and didn’t consider that receiving that from someone he didn’t know would come off as incredibly dick-ish. In time I realized that it did. He didn’t reach out again.
From everything I can tell, he’s a lot like me – about my age, a professional in his field, has a family and kids, may like some of the same things I do. Sorry, Todd. You were the better man. I wasn’t very nice.
Louis Lipps played wide receiver for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He’s probably the most famous Lipps.
There is an island in Antarctica named Lipps Island after researcher Jere Lipps.
My wife is Lisa Lipps. But not that Lisa Lipps.
There is the unincorporated community in Wise County – Lipps, Virginia.
German philosopher Theodor Lipps was an influential university professor who inspired Sigmund Freud.
Lipps, Inc.? Funkytown?
There are some Lipps’ in directory listings in a number of areas. There are a couple of us in the FAA pilot license database. There are three of us in the Ironbutt ride database – all Americans. All riders. We’ve never met. We may or may not be related. One rider stands out above the rest. Earlier this month Erik Lipps finished fourth in one of the most difficult motorcycle events in the world – the Ironbutt Rally.
The IBR is held every other year on odd-numbered years, usually attracts close to 100 of the best long-distance riders in the world, and the top finishers usually ride about 13,000 miles over 11 days. There is some confusion that the rally is a race – a two-wheeled version of the Cannonball Run – but nothing is further from the truth.
The riders have a set starting point, two staging locations about 1/3 and then 2/3 of the way through the event, and a known finishing point. This year the start, the end of stage one and the finish were all in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The end of stage two was in Kingsport, Tennessee.
There is no pre-established route for the riders. The IBA gives every participant a list of bonus locations. Each location is worth a specific number of points. The riders individually decide on the most efficient route to scoop up as many bonus points as they can. Faraway locations may carry big points, but several closer ones may have a larger cumulative point total. There are several catches, though.
The riders have to check-in via phone at specified times or they are docked points. The riders have to check-in at each stage-ending checkpoint during a two-hour window – not making it in time means a DNF. It’s after this check-in time – usually less than 10 hours – that riders eat real food, shower and sleep for more than a couple hours at a time. On the road the riders are in the saddle for 20+ hours per day over the 11-day event.
The riders are not without sleep. The IBR organizers offer bonus points for sleeping between checkpoints — usually more points than a rider could have gotten had he or she ridden on to other bonuses. Because it is not a race, speeding and dangerous riding is not encouraged. If a rider gets somewhere too fast it can mean trouble with the organizers.
At the finish, riders have drained the adrenaline that’s gotten them through the last days, out of energy, sore, just plain exhausted. Most have endured in the same riding clothes for several days and because the IBR is held in any weather, most are suffering from some form of rash caused by wet conditions and dirty clothes. None compete for a cash prize. There isn’t one. The winner gets the biggest trophy. Other finishers get smaller trophies. All finishers get an IBR license plate frame and a three-digit IBA number. To put into perspective how difficult the event is, consider that a little over 500 riders have finished the rally in its history. About eight times as many have summited Mount Everest.
A rider receives the bonus list near the start of each leg and begin route-planning. As stated above, each location earns a rider a specific number of points. Proof that a rider has been to a bonus location is usually established via photo – the rider must snap a picture of his or her towel with their competitor number on it at a specific location like a sign or sometimes with an obvious landmark in the background. Sometimes a receipt with a time and date stamp is necessary. Group photos in a very tight time window that earn points are peppered throughout the rally. Some locations only reward a rider points during daylight hours. Far off bonus locations carry big points – Key West, Prince Edward Island and Alaska are typically available, and all are probably doable mathematically. The question will come down to the max number of points per mile ridden, however, and so riders may stretch their legs over great distances, or stay within a days’ ride of the next checkpoint, in an effort to get a max number of individual bonus locations.
Each year the IBR has a theme that ties most of the bonus locations together. This year it was National Parks. In order to be credited as a finisher, each rider had to gather points at a minimum of 50 different bonus locations in at least 25 different states. Riders went as far south as South Padre Island, Texas, and some ventured north into Canada for the points available there. For the most part, bonus locations encouraged routing east of the Rocky Mountains and very few riders picked up points in the western states. On the last day of the event some riders were still 1100+ miles away. Most rode through the night continuing to collect points, finishing shortly after dawn on Day 11.
The motorcycles all start out as bikes that are used as vanilla commuter or touring bikes every day. Most are then highly-modified to suit the needs of the riders. Most have some form of custom seat that is comfortable hour after hour, day after day. Most also carry additional fuel up to the IBR max of a little over 11 gallons. Auxiliary fuel can be as complex as remote tanks that feed the main tank via an electric fuel. Some tanks are gravity fed. Some riders carry extra fuel in the form of a plastic gas can that can be purchased for $20 at Wal Mart. Most bikes have multiple GPS units, some radar detectors; some are so electronic-laden they rival a modern jet. Almost all have additional lighting to give better viewing of the road and to make the riders more visible at night.
Recently the Yamaha FJR1300 has been a consistent high finisher. Honda’s Gold Wing is well represented. BMW is a popular bike though recently a number of mechanical failures on BMWs contributed to DNFs. A number of Harley Davidson motorcycles are ridden each rally. The winner this year, Eric Jewell, rode a Honda ST1300. He arrived at the finish with a failing fuel pump. Had it completely died, even a few miles from the finish, he could have DNF’d. Many of the bikes complete the rally on the same set of tires they started on. Some rears get changed after the end of one of the legs. Most go without an oil change over the course of the rally.
Some years the “Hopeless” class is packed. These bikes, usually older, or smaller, have a much greater chance of failing to finish due to mechanical issues. In years past, a rider finished higher on a 250cc scooter than he had in a previous attempt on a Gold Wing. This year Kurt Worden finished 37th on a Kawasaki 250 Ninja with 90,000 miles. As I understand it, he rode on the stock seat. This class, though not competitive with the top riders, is very interesting just because almost every rider on one will have some bike-related difficulty to overcome.
Al Holtsberry, 79 years old, is the oldest finisher of any IBR. 2015 was his fourth rally finished and he rode nearly 1300 miles during his last day in order to make it back to Albuquerque in time.
Erik Lipps, one of the three Lipps’ on the IBA finisher list, was a rookie in this year’s event and because he is an experienced rally rider, was expected to finish well. He was not expected to finish as well as he did, however. He ran a fantastic Leg 1, finishing third in points. His second leg was a bit of a setback and he dropped several spots after the points were totaled. His third leg was extremely efficient, extremely quick, and by the time it was over, he had finished in fourth. Rookies don’t generally place anywhere near as high. Erik spent much of early 2015 prepping a newer FJR1300 for the rally when his old bike’s reliability began to be an uncertainty.
Are Erik and I related? I have no idea. Was his family name derived from something else or changed when they came to America? Did his family compete with another for upholstery business in a Chicago neighborhood shortly after the turn of the century? I don’t know. Related or not, we are brothers. Congratulations, Erik. You did well.
See additional Rally Reports and photos by viewing: http://www.ironbuttrally.com/IBR/2015.cfm .