Friday, March 15, 2013

Heading to the IBA Pizza Party–Coast to Coast to Coast

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Quick Stats:
BBG3000  3,126 miles 46 hours 44 minutes
100CCC 4,759 miles  85 hours 50 minutes
SS5000 5,680 miles  106 hours 28 minutes

Saturday 3/9: The prior week had been busy with non-motorcycle related activities. So I didn’t have much time to prep the bike. The Iron Butt’s Archive of Wisdom is a wealth of information for long distance riding. Well I ignored item #5, Avoid adding accessories or doing maintenance immediately before a trip. I installed a new remote display for my radar detector and rewired it. I moved my GPSes and phone around. I replaced a coax connector for my heated gear and I prepped my new Shoei Neotec helmet with a Sena headset mount. OK, none of these things were really that new but they were changes. And change can be irritating.

Sunday 3/10: Spring Forward!
Reagan and I started moving a little slower than normal because time had sprung forward over night. We made it down to breakfast at Bob’s Taco station a little past 8am and met up with the gang. After enjoying a nice breakfast and getting my witness forms signed, I got on the bike and headed to the Exxon for my start receipt. The pump at the gas station had not yet sprung forward but since I had 3 witness forms signed with the correct time I didn’t worry about the start receipt time. I left the station heading into Houston with a slight drizzle. I knew I’d find the really hard rain as I moved east.

When I got east of Houston I caught the heart of the storm and we travelled together through most of Louisiana.  I cleared the the rain in Mississippi only to catch more of it in Alabama. When I reached Florida I left the rain for the day and my GPS showed clear skies all the way to Jacksonville.

Rain was about the most exciting thing of the day. After all, riding on I-10 is not the most exciting piece of roadway in America. But I was happy to see that traffic was light the entire day and I was mostly able to leave my cruise on.

I got to Jacksonville and my hotel just after 11pm. The hotel clerk was so nice that I asked him to be my start witness, he was happy to help.  I got a snack from across the street at the Shell station and went to bed. Tomorrow would be a fun day and I wanted to leave town at 7am.

Monday 3/11: Ready to start.
I was up with my alarm clock and out the door in about 15 minutes. The GPS told me I had plenty of time as I went over to Jacksonville Beach to get my water sample and start receipt. I went to my Shell station only to find it closed. So I continued up A1A to the fire station, went to the beach and picked up my water sample just as the eastern sky was starting to glow orange and yellow. I stopped in the McDonald’s to get breakfast and my start receipt as I still had enough fuel from the previous day. The receipt read 3/11/13 07:04am, I was on the clock. I had 100 hours to go to San Diego and return. I just had to be back by 11:04am on Friday 3/15.

Trying to get out of town was a little challenging as my Zumo 665 wanted to take me up Hwy 90. The only problem is there seems to be a traffic light every 100 yards. So after a couple of lights I cut south through a residential area and got down to SR 202 where I could move along at freeway speeds. A quick jaunt up I-95 and then west on I-10. It was 7:45am EDT when I cleared Jacksonville.

The first gas stop was in Lee, FL at the Chevron. I was 123 miles into the ride and all was good albeit a little chilly. I filled the bike and got moving again.

The second gas stop was in Moss Point, MS at the Exxon. The stop was all business, fill the bike, get the receipt, log it and get moving. Stops were running around 6 to 8 minutes.

The final stop of the day was in Beaumont at the Shell station. It was 5:37pm when I finished the first 814 miles in 11 hours 33 minutes. I checked into the Super 8, got dinner at the Jack in the Box and went to bed before 7pm. Tomorrow was going to start EARLY.

Tuesday 3/12: Game ON!
The alarm went off at 12:30am. I showered, packed and left the hotel to get across the street to the Shell station for my departure receipt. I waited until 1am to get my receipt to start the BBG3000. After the fill up, the receipt printed with 03/12/13 01:00am. I was really on the clock. I needed to be in San Diego prior to 03/12/13 23:00 PDT. And if I wanted to reach my metrics to complete the back to back BBGs I really needed to be there by 20:00PDT.

The first few miles after I start the clock on a ride I have to remind myself not to go crazy on the throttle. Riding these rides isn’t like riding a quarter mile drag strip, you have a long ways to go. So I settled in with my cruise set to move along with traffic.

I cleared Houston without issue. At 2am on a Monday there aren’t too many people out and about. As I left Houston everything felt good, I was on track with my schedule and even a little ahead.

In San Antonio, I took my normal route through town without any traffic issues. On the west side of town though I had my first mechanical issue. The right side HID aux light fell off when the aluminum bracket broke. I pulled over to collect the light before it hit the ground and broke. If you are a subscriber of the great Iron Butt magazine, I was reminded of the lesson Paul Tong learned on his first SS1000 regarding aluminum brackets and repeated stress.

As I rode off into the Hill Country and deer territory I was now one light short and it was still dark out. I stopped in Kerrville at the Exxon for gas and bio break. When I left the station at 05:33CDT it was still very dark out. I had to keep my speed below the posted limits in order not to over drive my lights because I was in serious deer country.

I called Reagan at 07:00 to wish her a good morning and talk a little to relax from the stress of my lighting situation and the deer population. She reminded me that the sun would be up soon so I kept heading forward.

When I reached Junction, the sun was up and I was feeling better about my ability to see deer so I picked up the speed. Things were looking up and I started to make up the time I had lost since leaving San Antonio. The temperature this morning was in the low 30s and I was glad I had my heated liner (top and bottom) on.

My next gas stop was just before Kent, TX. at the Chevron on the the south side of I-10. I filled the bike, got my receipt and kept going. I had travelled 329 miles since the last stop. I still had gas but not enough to make it to Van Horn.

When I was on the other side of Van Horn, I noticed a burning sensation on my right thigh so I pulled over to pull off the pants liner as the temperature was getting into the 60s. I found a heat blister on my right thigh. I guess I had the pants warmer than I thought, or maybe they were just too tight. With the pants off I resumed my travels west.

With the discomfort removed from my hip I was able resume my ride with my focus being on the task at hand. I worked my way through El Paso and into New Mexico. It seemed like every town in the state had put up construction cones and work zones. Whether or not there was actually any work going on was another matter but the opportunity for a LEO to issue a more expensive ticket for speeding in a work zone was present so I kept my speeds at or below the posted limits.

In Lordsburg, NM I stopped for fuel. By now my routine seemed to be really flowing with ease. I was off the bike, refueled and back on the road with little effort. And before I knew it I saw the New Mexico state line in my mirrors.

Temperatures were in the 60s and 70s as I rolled across Arizona. Traffic was moving at a reasonable pace and I felt like I was still doing well with my schedule. My anticipated gas range showed I had enough fuel to make it to Gilla Bend, AZ on I-8 where I stopped for gas. This was the best stop of the trip. I pulled up to the pump, refueled, logged my receipt and was back on the road in a very short time. Things just felt like they clicked perfectly at the stop. Maybe it was the fact that I had used that station before.

As I moved through Arizona and into California the sun began to set directly in front of me. It felt like my retinas were being roasted inside my head. I rode for almost 2 hours with an arm raised to block the sun. Because of the visibility issue I really kept my speed close to the posted limits to increase my margin of safety. I watched my ETA slip past 8pm but figured it was better to get there a little late than to not get there at all.

When I finally got to the mountains the sun was out of my eyes and the temperatures began to fall. I had less than 60 miles to go and a fun twisty road to ride. I carved those canyons with zeal but reminded myself that I’d been riding all day and made sure to leave plenty in reserve in case of the unexpected animal or slow moving truck. I really lucked out at the border patrol check point as I was able to ride right up to the officer, say hello and then move on. I barely had time to put my foot down.

The last 20 miles into San Diego found me having to reintegrate with traffic. I was familiar with the route so I just moved along my way why making sure I was part of the traffic flow and not a rocket ship trying to get to the beach. When I reached the Shell station it was 8 minutes after 8. I got my receipt and then went inside to get my witness form. The attendant remembered me from last summer and was happy to sign my form. He even said it was an honor as it was something he felt he could never do. I asked him what the best way to the beach was and he pointed out an easier way which I followed. I ended up driving right up to the sand before I stopped.

I collected my 2nd water sample of the ride and punched in the hotel as my destination. I wanted to load up on some McDonalds burgers for the return trip so I found one on the way to the hotel. The trip through the drive through was slower than expected because they had to make fresh fries. Then when I got to the hotel my check in seemed to take longer. It was 9pm when I finally walked into my room and closed the door. I ate a burger and fries before laying my head on the pillow and going to sleep. I wanted to leave San Diego by 1am, the alarm was set for 12:30.

Wednesday 3/13: Half way done!
The alarm went off moments after I closed my eyes. I’d gotten about 3 hours of sleep. I cleared out of the room pretty quickly and was on the bike finding a gas station. I collected my receipt with a time of 3/13 01:00 PDT. I had a receipt to show my rest stop was over and I was moving once again. I was already 2 hours into the second 24 hour period of the BBG3000. The schedule was going as planned, my gps said I would be back to Beaumont by 11:37pm local time. That meant I had 1 hour 23 minutes of cushion.

As I climbed back into the hills, I kept my pace in check as I spotted a deer run across the road in front of me. I really missed that extra HID light that was packed away in my saddle bag. When I got to the border patrol check point I was happy to see it was closed so I didn’t have to stop. I cleared the hills without issue and dropped down onto the desert where I could wind up my pace a little more.

Feeling rested and refreshed I enjoyed a slightly brisker pace without the sun in my eyes. Before I knew it I had cleared I-8 and was turning onto I-10. I stopped just a few miles down the road in Eloy, AZ. I was a little worried about the Travel America gas station but I got in and out without any problems.

As the miles clicked along I started calculating where I could get my next fuel stops. At first I was thinking Demming, NM which would let me reach Van Horn. But as the ride went along I realized I could make Las Cruses, NM. thus allowing me to reach Ft. Stockton. And when I was just outside of Las Cruses, I realized I could go on to Anthony, TX which put me under 900 miles to the end.

I felt really lucky going across New Mexico as all the construction delays I encountered the day before seemed to disappear. The zones were still there but no lanes were closed and traffic just moved along without delays. Even so, I had still managed to lose some time on the GPS as my ETA was approaching 12:00pm.

When I got to Anthony, TX. I exited one exit too soon and ended up stopping at a Pilot station instead of the Exxon I had planned on. The stop took a little longer than desired but I didn’t need to go inside. I navigated back onto I-10 and joined the masses heading through El Paso.

I’m not sure what it is about El Paso, but people really seem to obey the speed limit in the strictest sense of the word. And with a 60mph limit it seems a little ridiculous. Sure Houston has a 60mph limit in the center of town but the flow of traffic is regularly moving along at 70 or better. Not so with El Paso….

Once I cleared the city limits the speed limit rose to 75mph. At this point I had lost 20 minutes across New Mexico including the gas stop. I wasn’t worried about making it but didn’t want to cut the finish too close either. When the speed limit moved up to 80mph I rolled on a little more and set the cruise to make some time. Even so, I was still getting passed by some who wanted to get somewhere quicker.

When I reached the Border Patrol check point near mile marker 103 my luck with check points continued. While this one was open, they were moving the cars through in an expeditious manner. My time only slipped a few minutes.

Once cleared I resumed my brisk pace across Texas, stopping for fuel in Ft. Stockton. I tried the same Chevron as my last BBG a few weeks ago but used a different pump. Same problem, “Clerk has receipt”. I think the Chevron in Ft. Stockton is definitely on my “Do not stop at” list unless I need to go inside to buy something anyway.

As I passed through Kerrville, I had gained 27 minutes on the clock. And I was thankful to be through the vast area packed with deer. The closer I got to San Antonio the more traffic there was and in my way of thinking more protection from a collision with those pesky deer.

I sailed through San Antonio without any hassle and stopped at the Shell station at I-10 and 410. I knew I could easily make it to Beaumont from this point. A fellow gas station patron took a little interest in my bike while I was filling it. But I wasn’t in the mood to stick around so I wished him a good evening and moved on down the road.

Riding between San Antonio and Houston this evening. I ‘m not sure what it was about the helmet but it really seemed as though I had a narrower field of vision vertically speaking. It was as if I was riding in a tunnel. I could raise the visor and the effect went away, lower the visor and it came back. Weird.

When I got near Houston, the little voice in my head reminded me that I could turn south on any of a number of roads and be asleep in my own bed within the hour. But that would also mean I didn’t complete the second leg of the BBG3000. I wasn’t all that tired, it was more just what my body was used to when I’m in that area. I buckled down and focused on the task at hand, getting through Houston quickly and safely.

The speed limit through Chambers County is 65mph. There’s nothing different about the road compared to any other part of I-10 where the limit is 70, 75 or 80. But this is one of the surrounding Houston counties where some politician decided that slowing traffic by 5mph could reduce green house gases or something. Grrrr.

I make it to exit 848 in Beaumont, that’s my exit! I had to cross under the overpass to return to the same Shell from which I had started previously. Unfortunately someone was using the pump where I had started the clock so I had to pick another one. After a challenge with my primary credit card, I was able to collect a receipt and stop the clock on the BBG3000.

I had done it! 3,126 miles in 46 hours and 44 minutes.

I went back to the Super8, rushed to the Jack in the Box for some grub before they closed and then checked in. It didn’t take long to fall asleep.

Thursday 3/14: The last leg
Last night when I talked to Rex I had said I felt good and that I’d probably get up around 6am to finish the final leg. Well…. It was 7:30 when I finally got out of bed and 7:53 before I topped off my fuel to resume my travels east. Breakfast at the Super 8 sucked so I just decided to find something on the way. I ended up having a Cliff bar.

The ride across Louisiana was uneventful but traffic seemed heavier than the last time. I just kept moving forward. As I crossed the big bridge I was happy to see traffic enforcement was busy on the other side. I passed through the entire state before I knew it and decided a quick break was in order.

As I crossed into Mississippi, I pulled into the rest area to check out the lunar lander they had. While I had passed this rest area many times, it wasn’t until I read about Cletha and Eric stopping there that I even noticed it was there. While I was stopped a couple of guys on Harleys came over and struck up a conversation with me about the bike. There was a lot of finger pointing and asking “is that stock?” Of course the answer to most was “No”. Normally I avoid this sort chatter while I’m on a cert ride. But this time I knew I had more than enough time, and after 3 solid days of riding it was just nice to interact with others face to face.

We concluded our conversation as I could tell the wives were getting bored and I needed to get moving. I stopped a little ways down the road for gas at a Chevron in Ocean Springs, MS. It was an easy stop, in and out.

The ride across Mississippi and Alabama seemed to end in the blink of an eye and then I had the Florida pan handle to deal with. Almost 400 miles of pine tree lined interstate with RVs and tourists galore. What else could a motorcyclist ask for (tongue squarely in cheek).

I stopped in Madison, FL at 7:30pm for my last gas stop during the day’s ride. I knew the sun was setting and while I wasn’t as worried about deer in Florida, I knew they were there and I wanted to minimize the night time riding since I didn’t have my deer cookers working. I only had 126 miles to the end point but it seemed to take forever.

But as I neared Jacksonville, everything was so very familiar as if I had been there just the other day. Oh wait! I had. It was only 5 days ago when I had ridden in on the very same route. When I got to the exit for A1A off of SR202 I was presented with a rare opportunity, the huge exit curve was completely clear of traffic. As I leaned the bike over and powered through the curve I’m sure my laughter could be heard for many blocks.

I pulled into the Shell station which was now opened and got my receipt. It said 3/14/2013 08:54PM.  I had done it, I had ridden the 100CCC in 85 hours and 50 minutes. That also concluded my SS5000 in which I had racked up 5,680 miles in 106 hours and 28 minutes.

I went inside to empty my bladder and buy some beer for my celebration at the hotel room. Then I went over to the beach to get my water sample. Unknown to me at the time but my friend Steve Bracken was following my spotwalla page closely and captured this great image.


The satellite imagery may have been a previous pass but the location was spot on, I drove right up to the sand and parked the bike. Of course when I went to turn around I almost dropped the bike in said sand. Emphasis on Almost.

I pulled up the “Favorites” and selected the Jax Ramada and just followed it back to SR202 then over to I-295 around to the hotel. When I went inside to get my room key lots of LD riders were standing around visiting. All of the conversations just seemed so “noisy” after all the quiet time on the bike. It was going to take a little bit to get readjusted.

As I was unloading my bike I saw a fellow rider tending to his motorcycle and asked him if he would sign my witness form. Great thanks to Don Jones a.k.a. Flash, for checking my mileage and signing the paperwork. We talked for a little bit and I found out that I would see him again when we met for the start of the IBR this summer.

The motorcycle adventure had reached it’s destination but the fun was just beginning.


Steve said...

Watching .... keep up the good work!


Steve said...

You made it!

Congratulations :)

Bob Rippy said...

Great ride, great report Brian!

K9 Gromit said...

Great ride and a great report. Can't imagine going BBG back-to-back. Kudos!

vespalover said...

Great read! Thanks for posting it. I'm not ready for long distance riding (will be attempting a Saddle Sore this May), but oh, I love to read the miles you did!

Thanks again,


Cletha said...

Wow! What a ride! Thanks for taking us along. Congratulations!!