Friday, December 21, 2012

End of the World SS1000

Planning for this ride was minimal, other than to decide that I was going to take the day off work and go do it. However, I had lots to do to the new bike to get it ready for it’s first LD challenge.

Rule #5 of the Iron Butt Archive of Wisdom says “Avoid adding accessories or doing maintenance immediately before a trip.” Well I broke that rule with abandon.

I had been piling up all the things I wanted to do to the bike since I was looking for the right fuse block. Finally I found the Blue Sea fuse block that would fit under the seat and I figured out how to wire the bike so it could be split in the event of serious engine/transmission work. So the work began in earnest the 2 weeks before the ride. I fabricated a new shelf for the radar detector, Sena SR10 and Spot. Then I started wiring things up. I simply ran out of time before the trip to get the cruise control installed along with some safety lighting options. I buttoned the bike up Thursday afternoon.

Friday morning I woke without an alarm clock. I got up, checked the weather and prepared to leave. It was just after 5am when I finally made it out of the driveway. I wasn’t in a hurry, I knew I had a long day of riding ahead of me but I expected to be home before 10pm.

I rode down the street to my favorite nearby gas station, topped off the tank and got my starting receipt. The receipt read 5:12AM, I was on the clock!

I headed south on Hwy 59 and immediately my temperature gauge was flashing 35 degrees. It seems the BMW instrument cluster does that for temps below 36. I guess it’s the Germans’ way of telling me to watch out for ice on the road. I was expecting the temperature to warm up so under my Klim suit I had on my gerbing electric jacket and beneath that just my normal LD Comfort base layer. I wasn’t even wearing my heated socks, just the new coconut socks I bought this past summer.

Near Hungerford, TX the speed limit climbed to 75 and I raised my cruising speed according. The farther south I went the colder it seemed to be getting. By the time I passed El Campo I was starting to wonder if I should put on my electric pants liner. But the thought of taking off my pants, to the put the liner on seemed more chilling then just toughing out the cold. Besides, I was expecting the temperature to rise when the sun came up.

When I pulled into Goliad, my gas gauge was telling me I would likely not make it to Beeville, so I whipped into the Exxon station which I thought would be a quick gas and go stop. No such luck, the pump was out of receipt paper so I went in for a receipt. Upon filling out my log, I noticed I had only travelled 133 miles while consuming 4.3 gallons of fuel. Hmmmm, my plans to go 160 to 180 miles per tank wasn’t looking so good. Now I had a few extra gas stops to contend with. I put things away and got moving again.

The temperature was now down to 30 degrees as I left town and the sun was coming up. I felt a little chilly but with the Gerbing on high and the heated grips on high I was still OK. The speed limit in south Texas is pretty much 75 everywhere so I kept the speed up at the expense of fuel mileage. I figured I just had enough to get down to Laredo for my next stop.

As I approached Laredo I decided I’d take the loop around town to avoid a traffic jam that my XM traffic was reporting. I stopped in at the Shell station on Hwy 59 at Loop 20. Fueled up and got my receipt. 5.097 gallons and 154 miles. My miles per gallon was hovering around the 30mpg mark. Definitely not what I wanted with only a 5.3 gallon tank. A quick dash inside for a bio break and I was back on the road.

While cruising on Loop 20 I tried to pull up Del Rio on my Zumo 550. As I went to search for City and spell the name, the GPS would reset. I tried it a couple of times before giving up. Apparently there’s a bug in my firmware or a problem with my maps. I’d have to deal with that later.

After a quick ride up I-35 toward San Antonio I was back on 2 lanes heading northwest on US 83. Traffic was minimal and the posted speed limit remained at 75mph. The temperature had finally started to climb out of the 30s into the 40s.

In Carrizo Springs I picked up US277 and saw my first mileage sign to Del Rio. According to the onboard trip computer I had just enough fuel to make it. So I kept the wheels turning.

When I got to Del Rio I stopped on the east side of town for fuel as my trip computer had said I was out of fuel. I’ve learned with this bike that when it tells me I’m out of fuel I can usually get another 20 to 30 miles out of it. Well I put in 5.131 gallons so I didn’t have much left in that 5.3 gallon tank. I recorded the stop and headed through town. I knew from my notes that I had 210 miles to go until I reached Ozona where there would be fuel. With the sort of mileage I had been getting on this trip I needed to stop before I got to Dryden to top off the tank.

Comstock, TX was the filling station I had in mind so just 33 miles after leaving Del Rio I stopped again and topped off the tank. This put me closer to the 170 ~ 180 mile range to get to Ozona. A few miles down the road I realized I could have stopped at the station near Judge Roy Bean’s place which would have definitely insured I made it to Ozona. As it was I figured I’d be easing up on the throttle anyway when I headed north from Dryden so I’d be fine.

I had planned to get a receipt in Dryden to mark the corner of my route but as I rolled into town it was pretty much deserted. The station said it had gas but I didn’t see any pumps nor did I see a large fuel tank around back. The place didn’t even look like it was open. So I turned north on TX 349 and kept going.

The speed limit on TX 349 is 60mph. And I opted to stay closer to that for a few reasons. First of all I was saving a little fuel. Second, there were deer, lots of deer. Third, no cell service in the area and very few people traveling on the road. The whole time I was on the road I only passed 1 vehicle. So I kicked back and enjoyed the twisties at a moderate pace.

When I got into Sheffield, I saw a sign pointing to the right for Ozona but the GPS told me to go left. It turns out the sign was for a route on 290 which would have cut out a couple of miles while the GPS wanted to take me up to I-10. I followed the GPS.

The trip computer told me I had plenty of range left on this load of fuel so I cranked up the speed and enjoyed the 80mph posted speed limit. I stopped at the Chevron (a.k.a Stripes #269) in Ozona and fueled up. 4.87 gallons and 170 miles since the last stop. I was now back into the 35mpg range.

My next planned stop was going to be Kerville, TX. So I motored down the road. By now my radar detector was giving me problems due to the excessive bouncing it was suffering. It turns out my new custom made shelf needed a little extra bracing to stiffen it up. So I turned off the detector and kept going. It wasn’t like I needed it any way with an 80mph speed limit.

As I rolled through Junction, I paid particular attention to my speed and watched to see what sort of exotic traffic enforcement vehicles the city had this time. I didn’t see any, I guess they were on break.

When I got to Kerville, I decided to try an east bound Exxon on the west side of town. It’s at exit 505. Pay at the pump didn’t work. I had to go in just to get them to turn on the pump. That was one line to wait in. Then after I finished I went back in to pay. That was another line to wait in. Finally I get my receipt and I leave. I won’t be using that station again, it’s a serious time suck and the receipt is sketchy at best. It shows the city and state, but no address.

By now I was starting to get hungry. It was around 6pm when I was getting to San Antonio. I’d had 2 cliff bars, some juice and a couple of carrots. I was thinking a quick dash into a McDonalds would be in order when I got to the other side of San Antonio. Traffic was horrible, in the other direction. I was lucky and sailed through town without much effort. I was going to take the short cut through San Antonio by jumping onto I-35N over to I-410S to I-10. But as I approached the exit I saw cars backed up on the exit ramp so I stayed on I-10 all the way through town.

I called Reagan to let her know that I’d be home around 9pm. She said she was going to see a friend and would be home a little bit after me. When she asked what I had to eat, I knew I was in trouble. She reminded me to eat something.

When I left San Antonio a surge of energy hit me. I was in the home stretch. I only had 1 more fuel stop. I figured I’d get something to eat then. So I watched my trip computer and kept going. When I got to Schulenburg I stopped for my final gas stop. The only problem, no McDonalds. Nothing fast to speak of at all. As it was 7:38pm and I knew I’d be home by 9 I just kept going and planned to eat when I stopped.

The traffic between San Antonio and Houston is always on the heavy side and this evening was no different. I just kept the bike moving and tried to stay relaxed. When I made it to the greater Houston area I-10 opened up to plenty of lanes and it was smooth sailing to the BeltWay 8 toll road and then back around to Hwy 59 and to my start/stop gas station.

When I got to the Exxon I just put in a small amount of fuel to get an end receipt, I expected to take the tank off the next day to work on some electrical items. The receipt read 9:00PM. I had completed 1,074 miles in 15 hours 48 minutes. Not bad for a ride with 8 gas stops. I went across the street to the Taco Cabana to celebrate.

As I mentioned there was lots of farkling done to this bike to get ready for this shake down ride. Here’s a list of what worked and what didn’t.

- Sena SMH10 Headset, went 16 hours w/o needing a recharge
- Sena SR10, worked w/ the Valentine 1 radar detector except for a ground loop

- My custom shelf over the instrument cluster, needed more bracing
- Bicycle water bottle mount (my juice holder), left the bike @ 85mph on I-10
- Highway pegs, need to be extended outward and angled in

Of course, I need to get the auxiliary fuel cell built to extend the range a bit. But this ride showed me that when I’m out west with higher posted speed limits I’ll be limited to a range of 330 miles with the extra capacity. That of course is still better than the range I had on this trip.

Here’s the link to my Spotwalla page for this ride.

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