Could you ride a motorcycle 2,000 km in 24 hours? Winnipeg woman’s Iron Butt wins award

Keeping your kiester planted on long drives is difficult, but for Winnipeg’s Tiffaney Taverner, it’s been rewarding.

Taverner, who travelled just shy of 32,000 kilometres from April to October as part of the Antique Motorcycle Club of Manitoba’s riding season, was presented with the organization’s top mileage award in late November.

She is the first woman to accomplish the feat.

“It was definitely an honour to be the first female to do so,” Taverner said.

The mileage award is given to the person who accumulates the most miles during the motorcycle club’s seven-month riding season.

A smiling woman holds a large trophy next to a man with a microphone.
Tiffaney Taverner receives the Antique Motorcycle Club of Manitoba’s mileage award from club president Ken Charlton after accumulating just shy of 32,000 kilometres during the April to October riding season. (Submitted by Tiffaney Taverner)

Taverner said she was humbled to receive the award and gave credit to her closest competition while also noting Manitoba’s difficult riding terrain.

“[He] did an astounding job as well, because he had an antique motorcycle, which was a Harley Davidson, an ex-police bike, which is a completely different ride compared to my Honda,” said Taverner, who rides a 1990 Honda Gold Wing Aspencade.

“We were both riding antique motorcycles, and then riding the roads in Manitoba, which can sometimes be a little bit challenging, as we all know.”

Taverner also earned honours in 2020 and 2021 as a member of the Iron Butt Association, with certifications for travelling 1,600- and 2,000-kilometre distances in a 24-hour period.

“It’s very intense,” she said.

Though introduced to motorcycles in her early 20s, the love of riding on the long winding road came later in Taverner’s life. In 2019, she did her first Cannonball Rides, a collection of routes that drivers or riders can pursue either for fun or to earn ballots for a grand prize draw.

“It wasn’t until I was in my 40s that I decided that I really, really liked [motorcycles],” she said. “I started off with a cruiser-type motorcycle, and a very small motorcycle at that.”

A woman stands next to a motorcycle in a rural area.
Tiffaney Taverner stands with with her Honda Gold Wing Aspencade, which she used to complete the 2,000-kilometre, 24-hour Iron Butt challenge. (Submitted by Tiffaney Taverner)

Taverner was introduced to long-distance riding by Paul Bezilla, who has been an Iron Butt rider for over 20 years.

Bezilla wasn’t shocked about Taverner’s mileage award — he’s always known she had the ability to do it.

“When she puts her mind to something, she can accomplish great things,” he said.

Bezilla and Taverner have known each other since 2019 and become friends during their time tackling the 1,600-kilometre, 24-hour Iron Butt challenge in 2020.

Bezilla says Taverner will likely shoot for the 2,500-km, 24-hour Iron Butt challenge this year, which he’s certain she’ll pull off.

“It really is just about keeping the wheels rolling and refining what makes that easier all the time,” he said. “We’re learning all the time about better gear and better food … and the discipline it takes to do this.

“That’s the real challenge in this, is keeping the wheels rolling and keeping yourself in good enough shape to finish it safely.”

Tiffaney Taverner and her friend, Paul Bezilla, hit the Ontario boarder during a long ride.
Tiffaney Taverner and her friend, Paul Bezilla, hit the Ontario border during a long ride. (Submitted by Tiffaney Taverner)

Being a female cyclist, Taverner noted the gap between men and women riders, which she says is fairly wide in the province. 

“There’s not very many women riders in Manitoba,” she said.

Belliza said he’d like to see more long-term motorcycle riders in general.

“People that ride a lot are, actually, even rarer,” he said. “I mean, most people go after an Iron Butt certificate as kind of something that they’d take off their bucket list. They do one ride and that’s as much as they ever try again.”

Enjoying the open road

A white dog in a bag on the back of a motorcycle, wearing goggles and a pink patterned scarf, looks toward the camera with its tongue out.
Taverner will sometimes hit the road with her well-travelled furry companion, Cyndi Lauper (Submitted by Tiffaney Taverner)

Taverner prefers antique motorcycles over modern-day bikes for long-distance rides.

“Antique motorcycles, I feel, are probably more reliable, because their parts are very rudimentary and basic so that if you did have to fix something on the fly, especially in the rural communities … a good portion of rural communities would have basics on hand that you’d be able to almost like MacGyver or something if you really had to,” she said.

Taverner’s favourite thing about long rides? The freedom.

“Just feeling so free in a sense that, you know, you don’t have your phone on,” she said.

“Just seeing more of Canada and seeing the beautiful scenery, and everything the open road has to offer.”

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