Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Their entry level ride for us wannabees is fairly straight forward. Ride one thousand miles in 24 hours. If you don’t think about it long enough to do a little mental math it doesn’t sound like that big of a deal. They call this ride the “saddle sore” event and anyone that wants to give it a go is more than welcome. If you feel like this is too easy you can upgrade it to the “bun burner”. This entails adding a mere 500 miles to the ride and you get another 12 hours to complete this portion. That is 1,500 miles in 36 hours.
They have rides that go coast to coast, coast to coast and back again, from
I have been kicking the idea of doing an Iron Butt run since I heard about the Association but had not taken the initiative until recently. I read the rules, gathered the forms, planned my route and prepped the bike. The first thing I did was to calibrate the speedometer/odometer so that I could be relatively sure I was actually completing the required miles. Second thing I did was order a sheepskin seat pad with a gel liner to give my posterior a comfy surface to sit on for the day and a half in the saddle. I pulled some general maintenance and did a fairly intensive inspection of the bike. I had decided that if I was going to give this a run, I wasn’t going to take the easiest award available. I mapped out a 1,500 plus mile route and added just enough extra miles to make sure I didn’t come up short during the verification process.
Up until this attempt my actual longest day in the saddle was just over 500 miles. I usually try to stay off of the interstate so piling up big miles on two lane mountain roads is just not that realistic. In my initial planning I laid out two different potential routes to give myself some flexibility in the event of poor weather conditions in a particular region. I kept a close watch on the weather channel up until the night before I left and made my final decision.
Saturday morning I opted to attend my usual early morning prayer breakfast rather than trying to use every available minute of daylight for the ride. I got home and rolled the bike out of the door at about 8:15. I made a few last minute preparations while the bike warmed up and then pulled out of the driveway toward the Gainesville Police Department. I caught the 8:30 shift change and easily convinced a local peace officer to fill out a start of trip odometer statement. I then went around the corner and filled up with fuel and got my first dated and time stamped receipt of the trip.
I pointed the dreamsickle (a restomodded 1978 Harley-Davison FLH) south on I-985. Soon I merged onto I-85 south towards Hotlanta and enjoyed the ride in the relative comfort of the H.O.V. lane. I crossed under the engineering marvel called spaghetti junction and rolled through the metropolis of downtown
With the dreamsickles limited fuel capacity due to the 3.5 gallon tanks combined with a moderately hot-rodded evolution engine and fairly high interstate speeds I had to stop for fuel every 100 to 120 miles to avoid the risk of having to push the bike. Whenever I stopped I would top off the tanks, use the restroom, swallow a light snack and pour either a cup of coffee or some water down my neck. Each stop took about 15 minutes and was spaced at about two hour intervals. While some folks seem to like to go farther between stops I seem to get less fatigued when I am able to stand stretch my legs every couple of hours.
I eventually took the I-57 split and crossed into
It was just before 2:00 am EST and the hotel clerk was kind enough to fill out my end of the day mileage statement. The odometer showed 1049 miles and the official time to travel that distance was 17 hours and 17 minutes. That figured up to an approximate trip average of 60.75 mph including stops. By the time I unloaded the bike and showered it was pushing 3:00 am. I watched the Weather Channel for a little while and set the alarm for 8:00 am.
I awoke after my five hours of sleep feeling very refreshed and ready to hit the road. I stepped through the shower again, loaded the bike and hit the free breakfast bar. I got the morning clerk at the hotel to fill out my mileage verification statement for the start of day two and was pulling out of the parking lot at 9:30 am EST. I made my way back to I-81 and headed toward
Upon crossing the
This was another really beautiful drive even though the pavement was a tad rough. I stopped for fuel near the intersection of hwy 52 and I-40 and then continued on Hwy 52 to finally turn south on I-85. Finally I was on the downwind homestretch run to the house. As I approached
I managed to get through the cluster of traffic surrounding the dealership and turned back south on I-85. At this particular point I couldn’t help but be surprised at just how well I felt. Soon I crossed into
I was fishing around in my pocket with my throttle hand when one of the retards a few cars in front of me decided they just had to two foot the brake pedal for no reason whatsoever. I instinctively grabbed a handful of brake lever with my left hand. Since the throttle was locked and the back end was pushing this threw the front end into the worst speed wobble I have ever experienced. I couldn’t get my right hand out of my pocket quick enough to help get the front end under control much less disengage the throttle lock. Traffic in both lanes quickly slowed way down and I was fighting a bike that was bucking like a bronco and the front end was acting like it was going to fold up at any second.
I didn’t have time to do much of anything including thinking. Luckily my years of riding trials bikes kicked in and I instinctively used some bodacious body english to motivate the bike to the right and split the lanes. Here I was fighting a carnival ride gone mad, while splitting the lanes between two rows of bumper to bumper traffic. I eventually got my right hand on the throttle, disengaged the lock, got the front end under control, and slowed the bike down to the same pace as traffic. I merged into the slow lane and contemplated how I had survived. The folks that I had blown by were looking at me like I was a space alien as they passed by. I imagine I was white as a ghost and contemplating how I had escaped going down.
The funny thing is that at that moment a song called “I believe in Miracles” started up on the MP3 player. Yeah, it was a combination of miracle, luck and a little experience riding trials courses. All of that riding, trying to be careful and I tried to kill myself less than one hundred miles from the house. The rest of the trip was uneventful and I pulled back into the
I had covered 11 states, 1575 miles, and wasted 34 hours of my life for a meaningless piece of paper that does nothing but confirm the fact that I may be insane. Lots of good riding, one close call, and I was really hungry. I parked the bike and got in the truck to go get some dinner. I felt way too tired to risk riding the bike even a couple of miles to eat. All in all it was a blast and I am already plotting my next Iron Butt/No brain event.
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