2 Wheels To Adventure

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Alaska/Canada Trip--2006
Two "Adventure" Bikes

Ride boldly, Lad,  fear not the spills! (From "The Man From Snowy River," by Banjo Paterson) 
I'm not the man I used to think I was. (RBW)
"Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!"
(William Butler Yeats)

For a looong discussion on motorcyling in general and Adventure riding in particular, see the archives (or scroll down) for the first post on September 28, 2006.
It gives some opinions and ideas, along with a bit of philosophy; one (old) man's view of the world of 2 wheels.

New Scooter---2014 R1200RT
Cap'n Ron in the Straits of Georgia
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Friday, August 31, 2007

Some Final Thoughts

This ride is not exactly a world attention-getting achievement. In the Big Picture, it ain’t no big deal (in the BIG Picture, what is?).  It is something that appeals to a few people, while a good many look at us and this as completely loony. I have no problem with that. Different strokes...so, if you ride and this kind of ride turns you on, give it a go.

But this little adventure should be attempted by someone who is, in addition to experienced, attracted by the different challenges, the anticipation, the planning, and the execution. It is not just about the ride. It is not about the destination, nor about the pin, the bragging rights, nor the feeling of accomplishment. It is about the challenge met, and the refusal to sit around and watch other people do things, silly or otherwise. This is but another trip down that winding road we all call “life.” We are all on the same road, but traveling in different conveyances at different speeds with different stopovers and side roads. We make our way alone, even though we continually encounter traveling companions, family, and strangers along the way. We come into the world alone, and we leave it the same way. It is our trip, this road of life, and no one else can take it for us.

We are born, then we die. It's the in between stuff that counts. On that much people of every stripe, religion, and philosophy can agree. Neither what might have come before nor what comes after are known. We each have a life, and we live it in the manner of our own choosing. The lucky ones contemplate, plan, dream, and wonder. They do not stumble through their alloted years blindly, just taking things as they come. They wonder, and they reflect on just what life is really all about. In the end, who knows? We make, it seems to me, of life what we will. The meaning of life, that cliched and eternal question comes down to this: It is up to the individual to derive and define meaning in his own existence. Life is there, it is given to us unsolicited, a freeby. We make of it what we will.

On this Iron Butt trip, I tried to remember, as I did on the SA trip, that it will seem so much different when it is all over. Even the “bad” things can be savored, in a sense, because we will never travel this piece of road again in exactly the same way. It is like the philosopher’s river. You never put your foot into the same river twice, and the road of a trip as banal as this 48 PLUS 1 is the same as that river. Everything will be different should we traverse this particular pathway again, and it is that way in life. Each experience can be cherished as a unique event, a circumstance that has never happened in exactly the same way before, and will never happen again. How much more exciting could it get?

I admit this is something of a pollyanna approach. Dr. Pangloss lives in me, perhaps, but, failing serious injury or death, what  can happen that is “bad?” * S#%& happens, and I am irked, baffled, frustrated, and sometimes even miserable because of it, but in reflection, I know that it does not make much difference.

 Life is good, and I am very pleased to be here.

* And, one has to question. Is death really “bad?” I guess that is topic for another time and place, but I wonder, since each of us has one death coming to us, can it be evaluated as a completely negative event? It seems as natural to me as birth. And, should something short of death occur such as injury, even severe injury, who is to say that is “bad?” Could it be that the injury, compared to death, is actually  “good?” And then, what are “good” and “bad?”

Who wants to live forever anyway? They predict the earth wil burn up in about 4.5 billion years, and then where would I stand?

That’s what happens in philosophical thought. One uncertainty leads to another, and pretty soon one begins to question everything, like some guy once said, “it all depends on what “is” is.

Mo Latuh 

11:53 am mdt 

Thursday, August 30, 2007

More Observations From One Who Has "Been There, Done That"

 Picking up from yesterday...

9) EMERGENCY FUEL AND OIL. I carry a two liter plastic bottle of gas, and start out with a quart of good  motor oil. I haven’t had to use the gas, but it  is a nice little insurance package.

10) GOOD TIRE GAUGE AND PLUG-IN ELECTRIC PUMP. I have one direct-marketed through the manufacturer in Seattle (also available at Aerostich, among others). The gauge reads the pressure and can be put in between the pump and the valve stem, so you can read it  directly as you apply air to the tire.  Check your tires every morning, when they are cold. Under inflation causes excessive wear and reduces mileage.

11) WINDSHIELD CLEANER. Do you look through your W/S? If so, clean glass is essential. Carry an easy-to-reach spray bottle, washing rag, and clean wiping rag. Gas station squeegies in dirty water and paper towels are a  sure way to scratch that pristine plastic or lexan or whatever it is they make bike W/Ss out of these days. and those hair-line and worse scratches are murder when riding into the sun or bright headlights. Need I mention how dangerous that is? That large buck mule deer standing on the shoulder or just out of sight in the trees may lunge onto the road, and those scratches, or the accumulated bugs you neglected to clean off at the last gas stop may reduce visibility just be enough to kill both of you.

12) FLOODLIGHTS. I happen to have the same floods on both my bikes, and I run with them on, day and night. I want those cage drivers to see me, and if my lights annoy them (as long as they don’t blind them), too bad. At least they see me. Mine happen to be PIAA diochroic lights, which are a halogen bulb, visible for as far as you can see the bike itself even in bright daylight. These particular little guys are very nice, but quite pricey, and the bulbs, which do not last all that long, are around $40 to $50 apiece, so I recommend something just as bright, cheaper, and with cheaper replacement bulbs, but do consider getting something in addition to those standard headlights. I also run with my headlight on high beam during the daylight. It is much more visible to  traffic ahead than are the lows.

While on the subject of visibility, I know the leathers and stylish black and dark colored riding gear are nifty, but I am not interested in fashion, but in being seen. I wear an Aerostich Darien jacket in the cooler climes that is that hideous lime green---highly visible. I also prefer a white helmet, although my current bonnets are colored. They say the single most visibility enhancing thing you can do is wear a white helmet. My hot weather jacket is black, sorry to admit, but often I wear a lime green high visibility vest on over it. OK, I look pretty nerdy, but being “cool” (visual cool, that is, not temperature col) is no longer of much interest to me, and all the cool gear in the world would not make me look like a stud. I want that they see, not what they see.

13) GOOD RAIN GEAR. Whatever you choose, get gear that is easily donned, and keep it readily accessible. I carry mine in an Ortlieb bag strapped onto the luggage rack on top of the tail bag. It is held on with quick release buckles, and I can have it open and be donning the gear within just a couple of minutes of stopping. If I am not in  extremely warm temps, I wear the Darien coat and trou, and they are waterproof, negating the need to stop and pull on rain gear. The only thing I need in the case of heavy or prolonged rain, is to put on the three-finger Goretex overmitts I carry, and, should it get cold, maybe the electric vest and gloves.

Remember, if you think it might rain and stop to put on the gear, it will likely stay dry. No stop---rain. Whatever you do, try to get the gear on before it gets wet. If your gear does get soaking wet, your short overnights on this Iron Butt adventure will probably not be long enough to dry things, especially leather items, and donning wet, clammy gear in the morning when you face another day of 50 degree weather and more rain is not pleasant. It is but another aggravation to avoid, helping reach golden success at the end of your rainbow.

Along with rainwear, some anti-fogging cloths and some kind of stuff  like RainX that breaks the raindrops into sheeted water can be valuable should you get into wet conditions. Nothing can be more aggravating or dangerous than fog forming on the inside of your face visor (one small mark against full face helmets). There you are, hurtling along at 110 feet per second, and you cannot see because a combination of raindrops, fog, and wet pavement cut down your vision. Not a good deal, especially if Bambi takes a notion to get to the other side...

14) HELMET HANGER. If your bike doesn’t have a good hanger, contrive something, and then use it. If you persist on putting your brain bucket on the seat it is going to roll off and hit the ground, scratching that $200 paint job. Put it on the hanger or carry it with you.

15) QUICK-DRY CLOTHING. Consider wearing microfiber shirt and pants rather than cotton. Cotton is not good when wet, and takes too long to dry. No jeans or Levis on this trip for me! I can wash my shirt, and in a pinch, my trousers in the shower at night, and they will be dry in the morning (on a normal R.O.N.). On the short nights, I forego cleanliness of clothing, and soldier on with the same reeking gear I rode in with. For that reason, I carried a couple of  shirts on this ride (OK, I took three button shirts,  plus two T-shirts, and a long-sleeved T---too much!), and only used the long sleeved button microfiber shirts, washing all after ending the ride in Hyder.

I also wore quick-dry skivvies. They sell some pretty good ones at REI, and they will dry in a couple of hours. I also bought a pair of bicycle shorts, the kind the bikers wear as outer gear. Let’s face it, guys, skivvies tend to creep up during a ride, and, well, I don’t need to get too specific here, do I? It gets downright uncomfortable in the nether regions, as too much “stuff” begins to be packed into too little space. These bike shorts minimize the crushing effect, and also have no seams directly in contact between your riding parts and the seat surface. It is much more comfortable. The downside is that these bike shorts are thicker and somewhat padded, so they are hotter, and they won’t dry well on a short R.O.N.

16) HOT GRIPS AND OTHER “EXTRAS.”  My scooter has not only hot grips but heated rider and passenger seats. I used both a couple of times on this trip on cool mornings and during a couple of rain storms. I also recommend an electric vest. I have a Widder with a rheostat that I can regulate the temperature on. It is pretty nifty---definitely not a required item---but it is nice and toasty when the temps get uncomfortably cool, and once you use one, you won’t want to leave home without it. I also have an attachment set of wires for hot gloves, and although I did not use them on this trip (I found a broken wire when I pulled them out of the bag), they are nice on a cold day. As a general rule, I find that normal coat and gloves work well down to the mid 60s, and after that, at highway speeds on an average bike, I need more insulation. I have gauntlet gloves for the cooler riding, and wear short  gloves when temps allow.

17) A GOOD TIRE PATCH AND/OR PLUG KIT. Depending upon whether you run tubeless or tubed tires, get a good, appropriate mending kit in addition to the gauge and pump I mentioned in the narration. Then, learn how to use it before you have a flat out on the road. The plugging kit is not quite as simple as demonstrations might have you believe, and it is worth your while to know how to use it before you are stuck along side a freeway in driving rain or blistering heat. While I am thinking of it, ride the bike to a safe place before attempting to work on it, and the shoulder of a busy turnpike, expressway, or freeway is not the place. Find an exit or a pull-out, and get well off  the highway. Of the tire is only flat, and is not off the rim, or the bead hasn’t been broken, you can limp along slowly to the next exit without damaging the tire.

18) RADAR DETECTOR. This is not essential, and of questionable value, but it can be helpful, especially if you have a tendency to creep up beyond the magic 9 over. It can be a helpful tool when the overpowering urge to exceed 5 over on two lanes strikes, as it did me in Vermont on those wonderful hilly, curvy, beautiful Green Mountain roads there. Tickets cost time and $$.

19) CUSTOM SEAT. I have yet to get one for the LT, the stock seat being pretty comfortable, but I have one on the GS, a Rick Myer seat (Anderson, CA). There are several good seat customizers, such as Russell, the other Myer, Corbin, and they all are good. I hear good things about Russell, but am quite happy with my Rick Myer seat. They say a sheepskin cover helps to convey away the heat and make for a less sizzling posterior, but I haven’t tried it, and It gets pretty soggy in rain.

20) I recommend that a rider on this type of attempt keep things as simple as possible, and that includes time and time zones. I rode this trip keeping all times, clocks, and entries in the time zone of the zone in which I departed. For example, I left Needles in Pacific Daylight Time, but rode through Mountain Time (further potential confusion is Arizona, which anachronistically refuses to go on Daylight time) and into Central Daylight Time on that first day. I kept all references to PDT, than changed clocks and went to the new time zone when starting out the next day. Otherwise, in the befuddlement of a) not being too bright in the first place; b) suffering from fatigue; and c) falling into the trap of hurrying, hence exacerbating a), I may have become befuddled and pretty soon have constructed a pattern that defied unravelling. KISS usually is well-founded advice.

10:56 am mdt 

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Looking Back: The Voice Of Experience

What follows is not the advice or suggestions of an expert. Rather it is observations from one rider who has been there. As the disclaimers say, “Results may vary.” And, for those cage drivers reading this far, what follows may be more boring than what has come before. Proceed at your own risk.

This ride is challenging, and I echo what Iron Butt says. It is not a ride for inexperienced riders. I also add that it is not a ride that should be undertaken without some detailed planning. The prospective Iron Butt should know where he is going to go, and have a plan for each day. Make those plans achievable, because failure to meet a particular stopover point can be psychologically detremental. To make this trip safely, the rider needs to do whatever he/she can to minimize aggravations and ease the passage. I suggest several  long trips, with long days, over a period of several months or years to inure one to the rigors of this kind of ride.

 Failure to heed these “rules” does not mean failure, for it is doable even under less than favorable circumstances, but to preclude a trip that is miserable torture, make it easy on yourself, and get your s@#$ together before you make an attempt. Everything you can do to smooth the ride will pay off in more enjoyment and less agony.

I can say that at no time on this ride did I wish I had not begun it. There were some instances when I was pretty tired and dragging,  but it never got to the point of being a chore I hated. I enjoyed pretty much the whole thing, and did take time to look at some of the sights along the way, even though they were “on the fly.” I regret not taking pictures (I didn’t even bring a camera), but pictures take time, and if you don’t keep on the move, things begin to fall apart quickly. Were I to do this again, I would take a cell phone with camera, and get off a few shots along the way.

Here are some things to consider before taking the challenge, none of them critical, but they make your ride easier. Some of them I have mentioned as I narrated this tale, but include them here:

1) CHOOSE THE RIGHT BIKE. Give yourself, your fanny (now there's a word that dates me!) and the rest of your anatomy a break, and get a bike made for long tours. Comfort becomes near-necessity. A good rider, in good condition, could probably make this trip on just about anything worthy of the name motorcycle or motorbike, but bikes are made for specific purposes, and it is unwise to try to force it into an unfamiliar and undesigned-for role. A dirt bike is not the bike for this trip (it isn’t street legal, usually), nor, in my opinion is a dual purpose, like a KLR 650. This is a good bike, and it is capable of making this trip, but I repeat that whatever you can do to make less aggravation increases your chances of success without undue suffering.

2) FLIP-UP HELMET. This affords good the good protection of a full-face bonnet, along with the ability to talk to people without looking and sounding like a motorcycle Darth Vader. It also allows you to snack and to take on water without having to stop (see #5 below), and we all know that dehydration is a real threat on a bike. If you don’t know it, you should, and you do now. Also, it  goes on and off nicely over glasses. Harley riders seem to value their heads less, but I will not throw a leg over the saddle without a helmet---a FULL FACE HELMET. Open helmets are better than nothing, and, as far as I am concerned, tin-pot helmets are a bad joke. IF YOU WON’T WEAR A GOOD HELMET, AT LEAST DO THE NEXT BEST “RIGHT” THING, AND FILL OUT AN ORGAN DONOR CARD, BECAUSE YOU ARE DEFINITELY A GOOD CANDIDATE.

3) A GOOD CRUISE CONTROL. This allows you to select a speed and hold it, making for better control of average speeds. DO NOT USE in traffic or on wet pavement. Without C/C or at least a good throttle friction lock, the wrist gets mighty tired on an 18 hour day. I speak from experience.

4) SOME KIND OF SUN VISOR. As noted in the narrative, I prefer the SuperVisor, made and marketed in Sedona, Arizona, but any good visor will do. It takes the squint out of the day, and when into the setting or rising sun, glare can be dangerous as well as uncomfortable. With the deer menace what it is, you need the best visibility you can muster, mister.

5) SOME KIND OF DRINKING DEVICE (NO, NO, NOT ALCOHOL!). With it  you can have an occasional sip while enroute. You need those liquids, and stopping always erodes your mileage and average.

6) GPS. A good navigator is without peer, and these devices nowdays are good. They not only navigate you, but they can give you gas, food, and motel locations without hassle. Mine was several years out of date on this trip, but I used it on several occasions to find one of these places. I used it several times when I was running toward the bottom of the tank and there were no recent road signs telling how far to the next town. I could go to Search, and select services, and often times find that a gas station was XX miles away, within my remaining range. It was also invaluable to my poor sense of direction in guiding me back onto the route when I left it to find gas or other services. But---a cautionary note---do not follow it blindly. Keep alert as to road signs and other landmarks, because the computer logic in these things sometimes leads one roundabout, and can take you where you do not wish to go. In other words, they can get you “temporarily disoriented” (lost!).

7) ON BOARD COMPUTER. These are hard to come by if not standard equipment, but there are after market units available that may work. I used mine to great advantage to preclude getting gas too soon, yet not running the risk of running out (well, I came close once, as noted). If your ride does not have one as original edquipment it is worth investigating, as the use of one is just another of those things that makes it a little easier.

8) PAPER MAPS. Reference # 7) above:Carry at the least an atlas. Several publishers sell relatively small ones with enough detail  to get you down the road should your GPS go T/U. If I had not carried the GPS, I would have had 50 maps, one for each of the 48, Alaska, and British Columbia, and they would have been regular road maps in lieu of an atlas, which doesn’t show the detail I want for primary navigation. In additon, I would have outlined my primary route in yellow highlight on each map, making it easier to follow while on the fly.

More tomorrow. 

Hmm, the ability to make paragraph breaks has mysteriously reappeared. Hence, no more dashed lines. I don't get it, but, I humbly accept it...

9:50 am mdt 

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Iron Butt 48 PLUS 1, Day 10, July 27, 2007, Smithers, BC to Hyder, AK and SUCCESS, 219 MILES
I lazed in bed until 0700, then leisurely got up, loaded Mein Schatz, and went over to the restaurant for breakfast, tarrying there until 0800. It was a bit overcast, with strong suggestion of rain, but I elected not to don rain gear just yet. Putting the gear on before it rains usually quiets the rain gods, but I tempted fate and rode out of Smithers at 0809, looking at an easy 219 mile run into Stewart/Hyder.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------About the time I reached Kitwanga, where you leave the Yellowhead to head north on Hiway 37, better known perhaps as “The Cassiar,” it was misting a bit, and I stopped and put on my Aerostich Darien coat along with the zip-in liner, and pulled my three finger mitts on over my riding gloves. This was as much because of the chill as the wet, as the temperature was down around 60, and I guessed it would probably drop some more in the next hundred miles. And it did, a bit. It was around 55 degrees, and the rain  was just letting up as I entered Stewart, BC at about 1120. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------My trusty GPS was a bit lost again, but I let it lead the way, and soon found myself on a dead end road on a spit that stuck out  into the bay. I knew from previous trips into Stewart that the turn the GPS ordered was not the usual way into town, but thought maybe it had calculated something shorter or faster. It was not to be, and I back-tracked, then took the route I knew, all the while the lady in the machine telling me, “Off Route. Recalculate?” These things get downright nagging if you don’t conform to the route prescribed, and I have described it to sympathetic (men) people that it is a lot like a wife---nag, nag, nag.Just a little joke there, Sweetie, I don’t really mean it. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I arrived at the Sealaska Hotel in Hyder at 1140, dismounted, and went in to the  bar/reception area. I  asked the lady bartender if they had any rooms, and told her that I had just finished a 48 Plus 1.  “I’ll call Gary,” she said. I said I guessed she was familiar with the term, and she allowed as to how yes, yes she was, and yes they had rooms. $39.00 with community bath, $49.00 with private bath. I took the latter, gave her my credit card, and received my last required receipt:  Sealaska Hotel, Hyder, AK, July 27, 2007 1143 AM.  Gary soon arrived, checked my odometer reading, and he and Robin kindly signed as witnesses to my actual arrival. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------It was a done deal.There it was. Nine days, 7 hours, 19 minutes. Dang! I coulda done it quicker!-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------All that was left to be done was make copies of everything, including the receipts collected over the ten days, put the trip logs into legible form, include a picture of self and scooter, and, oh yes, write a check, send it all in to the Iron Butt Association, and await my rewards---a license plate bracket proclaiming Iron Butt as the "Toughest Riders In The World," my 48 PLUS 1 pin, and a certificate of authentication---all to bolster my bragging rights. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Ah, achievement! And, achievement, however small or insignificant, is still achievement, and coats one with a nice, warm, fuzzy feeling. Ain't life grand?
11:15 am mdt 

Monday, August 27, 2007

Iron Butt 48 PLUS 1, Day 9, July 26, 2007, Oroville, WA to Smithers, BC, 718 miles (1156 KM, to you decimal-directed people)
With less than 1000 miles to go, I slacked off, and got up at a reasonable hour, 0600. I  gassed up leisurely, then popped into a local restaurant for a ham and egg breakfast. I didn’t get out of town until after 0730. The border was as I had suspected and remembered from another crossing there coming back from Alaska in 2000. There was no one there ahead of me, and after a couple of perfunctory questions about firearms, place of birth, previous arrests, and the like, the young lady waved me on, wishing me a nice safe trip in her country.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Canada has fewer expressway/freeway types of highways, but what they do have are fine roads, and one can make pretty good time despite the slow maximum posted speeds. The highest I have seen is 110 KPH, or, in our terms, a bit over 68 MPH. Usually, roads are posted at 100 KPH or less, and I only recall the 110 on divided highways, and few of those. I have asked Canadians, and they tell me to be careful, as 10 over may get you a citation, but I have risked higher than that, and the worst I have had in considerable riding up there is having an oncoming Mountie wag his finger at me as he breezes by in the opposite direction. Maybe I am just lucky...-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------My first day in Canada wound up in Smithers, BC, about 150 miles west of Prince George, on the Yellowhead Highway that ends a couple of hundred miles farther to the west in Prince Rupert. Smithers has lots of motels, but I had to try a couple before I found a room. I arrived there at 2010, 13 1/4 hours after Oroville. That was a comfortable 718 miles, for a respectable 54 MPH average for the day.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I was way ahead by now, having gained another time zone the day before, now being in the Pacific Zone. I had only a smidge over 200 miles to go. Only a flat, breakdown, deer, or disaster could defeat me now. I had ridden this 9th day more sedately, not wishing to queer things because I was in a hurry. I kept deer in my mind, constantly reminding myself, "Watch for deer, watch for deer." The goal here was to finish, not to make any kind of record, which was out  of my reach in any case.
12:11 pm mdt 

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Iron Butt 48 PLUS 1, Day 8, July 25, 2007, Pocatello, ID to Oroville, WA, 974 miles
Another early start, my last one, as it turned out. I hit the road at 0447. I had approximately 1900 miles to go, and three full, 24 hour days to do it. That would be a mere 633 miles a day, but I determined that I should make as much distance this day as I could as a cushion against some black event jumping up down the road.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I stopped at a nice little cafe in Lima (like the bean), Montana, not far across the Idaho State Line, and waited for 20 or so minutes for them to open, while one of the local mountain men, a full-bearded guy of about 65 regaled me with tales of his colorful life and how he chopped off most  of his left hand in a diesel truck fan blade. The surgeons had stitched a good part of it back on, but it was not a pretty sight. Still, it worked pretty well, although, being a lefty, he had taught himself to write with the other hand while all the cutting, sewing, and healing went on.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Breakfast was good, with a huge sausage patty steaming on the plate beside the gawking yellow-eyed sunny-side up eggs. Thankfully, the bearded one moved away when my plate came, mumbling that he would leave me to eat in peace.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------As I got up from the counter and went to pay, there were two couples at a table to one side. They had come in a few minutes after I first sat down. Now, one of the men asked me, “Is that your Beemer out there?” It seems they had ridden in the previous evening, and were at a small motel just across the street. They had come in for an early breakfast, and were headed south, riding two up. They said they were on Harleys, and were interested in my ride. One of them knew what  Iron Butt is, having done a Saddle Sore 1000 a year or so earlier. His wife knew too, and she laughingly said it ought to be called “Dumb Butt.” I agreed that maybe that was a much better name.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Outside, I bumped into another pair of riders and a small boy. They were two men, father and son, riding Wings, with the 8 year-old grandson riding two up behind his dad. They were from Idaho Falls, and this was their first day out. They were headed to Yellowstone. The boy was all excited, and I thought it was pretty nifty that they were on a trip together. They were only going to do a couple of hundred miles a day, and were enjoying the sights.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I hit Missoula before noon, and turned onto US 12 over Lolo Pass to  Lewiston. This is an off-freeway road, a two lane, but a beautiful road, with lots of nice, sweeping turns, good pavement, little traffic during the week, and gorgeous scenery. I  have ridden it before, and looked forward to this ride. I made good time, and pulled into Lewiston, Idaho around 1500. On the way out of town, my trusty GPS somehow led me astray, and I got lost in Clarkston, Washington! How do you get lost in a one-horse town? I dunno, but I did. I finally quit watching the danged GPS screen, and paid attention to the road signs, finding my way to the proper road. This is what happens with electronic devices such as the GPS and its moving map. You fall into the trap of relying on it, failing to take note of landmarks, street names, and  lose “situational awareness,” and soon you are "lost" and completely dependent on the magic box. It happens in airplanes as well, and has led to more than one disastrous crash. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Next it was on to Walla Walla, then a short jog south across the Oregon border to Milton-Freewater and my next to last receipt for the 48. From there it would probably be faster to the Canadian Border via Seattle, but experience told me that the border at Blaine, Washington into the Vancouver ‘burbs is a bottleneck. Last summer, Bob and I hit it on a weekday, and it was at least two hours getting through due to backed up traffic. I had planned a crossing at Oroville, Washington, where crossing traffic is light, so I plugged in that waypoint, and let my GPS lead me, as it had for most of the trip. This time it took me on the most direct route, as I specified “Fastest Route,” which is not always the shortest. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I pulled into a motel in Oroville at 2240, in pitch black, again grateful not to have encountered any horned (or horny!) critters. Just short of 18 hours by less than 10 minutes, I had logged 974 miles, and ticked off the 48th state. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Speed is surely a factor on one of these endurance rides. You have to counter the traffic slowdowns, the stops, and other diversions with a good highway speed, but, as the Iron Butt AOW (Archive of Wisdom) says, speeding is not the way to go. You eat up more fuel, requiring more stops, and a speeding ticket can affect the average speed seriously, as well as other things. Then too, if you are unfortunate enough to be cited for reckless driving, Iron Butt will disqualify you if they find out about it. So, I rode at no more than 9 MPH over speed limits on freeways/expressways/turnpikes, and strove to keep it a bit slower on the two lane roads, around 5 to 7 over. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I had an excellent radar detector along, mounted with heavy duty velcro on the moulding just behind the windshield, and it was useful, although I do not think it at all vital. On one segment of turnpike in Virginia, I was cruising at 77 on a 70 MPH Maximum divided highway. Traffic in general was at about that speed, some faster, some slower, but the general flow was 75-ish. My Valentine chirped (I cannot hear the aural warning, but have a LED that kicks off, and is hard to miss). The arrow (it has directional arrows: fore and aft, as well as to the  left and right. If the latter, it is a freebie, because it is most likely a door opener or burglar alarm, but even if it is the fuzz, they cannot get your speed unless head or tail on) showed radar behind, and I decided it was time to put it to the test, this theory about less than 10 over. I dropped my speed a couple of MPH, but maintained it at least five over.Pretty soon, here came a sheriff’s patrol car, slipping by on the inside lane. The officer and I exchanged nods and waves, and he drifted on ahead and eventually out of sight in front of me. Well, it worked with that one, at least. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I was not stopped on the whole trip, so I think my theory is fairly sound. By the way, radar detectors are illegal in Virginia and Washington, DC, as well as all of  Canada. They can be confiscated if you are caught with one in VA or DC, I am told.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Average speed for day eight: 54.4 MPH.
10:39 am mdt 

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Iron Butt 48 PLUS 1, Day 7, July 24, 2007, Sioux City, IA to Pocatello, ID 1105 miles
This was another long  and hot day, but one in which I finally reached and even exceeded my planned stopover point. I had planned to R.O.N. in Garden City, Utah, up in the northeast corner just south of Bear Lake, but things were going so well, I pressed on to Pocatello, Idaho. I got into a pretty severe T-storm approaching the Utah border, and soon was in the midst of heavy rain, lightning, and thunder. I suppose the best course in a storm like this is to stop and seek shelter, but there was none to be had, and I decided that standing along side the road was just as dangerous as continuing the ride, so that is what I did, slowing way down, and threading my way along in greatly reduced visibility. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------It didn’t last more than 30 minutes, at least the heavy part, and, cooled off and refreshed, I pressed on and pulled into a nice little family motel in Poky at 2100, still just enough light to see to put the cover over Mein Schatz. It was my best day distance-wise, having made 1103 miles by the Odo, 1103 by the GPS.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I met a young (about 35, tops) fellow eastbound at a gas stop in Green River. He was riding a Honda ST, I believe he said. He had been on a long ride out west, up or down the coast, here and there, and he was having a grand time,  despite hitting a deer on Highway 1 in California, and dumping the bike on gravel somewhere out there. His bike had lost the  W/S, and had a few nasty abrasions, but he was pretty much untouched, and was riding on, undaunted.He was on his way home to Denver, and I hope he made it without further incident.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I had another receipt crisis in Julesburg, CO. It is just off I-80 a couple miles, and my only Colorado point of contact. This place also had no card reader at the pump, so I again used my credit card, and once again, there was no place name on the receipt. Had I known, I could have gone to the other gas station in town, that did have a card reader, but  there I was, tank full and I figured that once again, if the clerk’s written name, address, telephone number, and the name of the town were not sufficient, I could always submit my credit card statement when it came for verification of my presence in the state. I thanked him for his assistance, and rode back onto I-80 and into Wyoming. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On this stretch, I got a bit of a scare. I rode through Cheyenne, then Laramie not stopping for gas. My Bord Computer showed I had about 70 miles to go to empty, and I guessed that Rawlins was within range. Then, just 10 or 15 miles past the last Laramie exit, a sign said “Rawlins, 90 miles.” My BC now showed, due to my 80 MPH freeway speed, 60 miles. What to do? Turn back, and lose 20 to 30 miles, or continue, hoping for a gas pump before empty? I dropped the speed back, and the BC started recomputing, based on the new burn rates. It began to look like I might make it, then, there at a remote exit out in the middle of the Wyoming Prairie, was a sign: GAS AT NEXT EXIT. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I pulled off, made the curve around and under the highway, and rode the mile or so to the station, sitting out there all by itself. “CLOSED” proclaimed a handwritten sign in the window. Drat! I pulled back onto the freeway, dropping my speed down to 50 MPH, and watching the BC recalculating miles to go. 70 miles. The next road sign told me: Rawlins, 79 miles. Now I was pretty sure I was going to make it, as I had that 2 liter bottle of gas in my right saddle bag, but I hated to suck the tank dry and have to stop on a busy freeway to use it.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Then, another ten miles or so, and there was a sign: Arlington, 10 miles. Would they have gas? Yup. Crisis over, I  pulled in with my BC showing enough miles to get me into Rawlins. Slowing down seemed to make gas, and I could have made it at the slower speeds after all.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------It was pitch dark by the time I got into Poky, and I thanked the gods for keeping the deer off the road. That wet black pavement, along with light rain made it pretty hard to see, and I could easily have whacked a meandering venison had one ventured into my path. Luck held.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The slow-down phenomena mentioned by Iron Butt "Wisdom of The Archives" had failed to strike, and I was actually increasing distance and time in the saddle as the days went by. I was beginning to smell Hyder Alaska and success.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------SEVEN DAYS AND 45 STATES DOWN, WITH THREE PLUS ONE TO GO.
2:26 pm mdt 

Friday, August 24, 2007

Iron Butt 48 PLUS 1, Day 6, July 23, 2007, Sturgis, MI to Sioux City, IA 1061 Miles
I rolled out onto the Expressway at 0435, trying to make it to Chicago before the morning rush. I had originally planned to stop on the Indiana-Illinois border in Portage, Indiana, but still had not caught up enough to make any of those R.O.N. (remain overnight) points. The Sturgis stop was a good two hours short of Portage, so by the time I got into Chicago, the rush was on, and I was stuck in some moderately bad traffic for awhile, but made good progress, and soon was moving down the highway in open country, headed up and out of Illinois and into the rolling hills and greenery of Wisconsin.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I stopped to call old friend and fellow motorcyclist, Doug Malin in Woodbury, MN, just east of Minneapolis-St. Paul, but he wasn’t home. I reached him on his cell phone, but he was in San Diego on a stopover. Doug is a 757 Captain for a Northwest Airlines, and a former working compatriot of mine while I was still a wage-earner. Eat your heart out, Doug! Retirement beckons...-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Sorry to have missed Doug, I plunged on, circling the traffic in MPS-St P via the northern freeway loop, and headed northwest toward my turning off point to Hankinson, North Dakota. It was getting warm, and I stripped down to my minimal riding wear: Aerostich Darien riding trousers, mesh jacket, gloves, boots, and of course, helmet. People often ask, “aren’t you  hot with all that gear on?”  Yes, it is hot, and even moreso behind the acre of windshield on Mein Schatz because there isn ‘t much airflow there (quiet, but warm), but, my Number One Maxim of bike riding is:-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------If you ride long enough, you are going to fall off.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Maxim Number Two is:You never know when Maxim Number One is going to stike, so you had better wear protective gear ALL the time, EVERY time.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------It is a trade-off, and I am not sure my wearing of the gear is always the best policy, but I did have a nasty spill one time, wearing Levis (brand new Levis, instantly “used”), and a long-sleeved cotton work shirt. I skinned myself up a bit, nothing serious, but both forearms got it, along with a right knee that still has some California Highway Department macadam imbedded in it. Road rash seldom is fatal, but it really hurts, and bad road rash can make you wish you were dead. I’ll take the sweat and heat instead. You can make up your own mind, but pain can be a harsh teacher.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The weather heated up considerably in ND and SD. It was probably 97 in Hankinson, and at least that in Sioux Falls, but I made good time, and pulled into Sioux City, Iowa at 2120---a 16 hour 45 minute day that produced 1061 miles. I still had not made my planned day six stop, Lincoln, Nebraska, but I was inching closer. I had gained a time zone, hence more daylight, and Hyder was looking reachable. Today’s speed averaged 63 MPH.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Another gimmick that proved very useful on the trip was the BMW on-board computer. I think the Germans call it Bord Computer. It gives average speed, but that is apparently computed on total miles traveled on the odometer, or maybe on one of the two trip meters, but it has little utility in that mode. It also gives average MPG, also predicated on cumulative mileage, not much help on a trip like this. But the best feature other than the ambient temperature gauge is the miles to go to empty computation. I have not tested this to the limits, but have run it down to less than twenty miles to go, and not run out of gas, so I trust it. Its main usefulness is to tell you when you really need gas. On a trip like this, you want to minimize stops, so you do not like to stop if you do not have to. In areas where you just clip through a state, perhaps just over a state line, or in a narrow part of a state you are traversing, of course, you must stop to get that computer place-date readout, but you don’t want to stop unless it is a must. The Bord Computer tells you without you having to practice your arithmetic on the fly, computing from your odometer how far you have gone since the last fill up and comparing that to the distance to the next settlement where they might have a gas pump. It came in handy on the next day’s trek. More on that later. But the point here is that the computer can allow you to get lower on fuel without dire fear of running out that when you are doing your own figuring. On the trip I carried a two liter (approved) bottle of gasoline, just in case my figures and calculations went awry.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Speaking of the ambient temperature gauge, it is not by any means vital, but nice to have, because it gives you information on how hot (or cold) you are! Feeling a bit steamy? A glance at the gauge confirms it: 100 degrees.  Aggh! I knew I was hot! Chilly? 52 degrees? Ah, I knew it! Time to break out the electric vest.
12:43 pm mdt 

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Iron Butt 48 PLUS 1, Day 5, August 22, 2007 Woburn, MA to Sturgis, MI, 941 miles
The clock went off at 0400, and I was on the road by 0434, headed to Kittery, Maine, and the furthermost point on the trip. From here, everything was going to come nearer, and things were looking good. I gassed in Kittery, logging my 29th state, and headed for New Hampshire, Vermont, and Albany, New York.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I had to leave the freeway/turnpike traffic after Manchester in order to get Vermont, another slow-down on two lane roads, but the ride through the Green Mountain State was a delight. The countryside and woods were green and cool, and the roads curved in and out and up and down nicely, making for a very agreeable time, despite knocking a lot off my average speed for the day. I stopped in Wilmington at a nice little eatery for an excellent breakfast of sausage and eggs, thus staving off my morning “sinker spell.”-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------It was another long day. I stopped for the night in Sturgis, Michigan at 2130, making it 16 hours, 56 minutes since riding out of the motel in Woburn, MA. Distance traveled: 941 miles.On these long days, you have to play little psychological tricks on yourself. You tell yourself, “OK, just look at the next hour,” or, “Just thirty more miles,  then I’ll take a break.” You force yourself not to dwell on how many hours are left, how many  miles, or how much your back hurts. A couple of Advil are, by the way, a nice enhancer for these later riding hours. You certainly do not make the mistake of looking ahead to the next day or the day after that, or on down the road. Concentrate on the moment, and try to remember that it won’t seem nearly so bad after it is finished. You try to take some enjoyment out of the ride, and that is not at all hard to do if you put your mind to it. After all, no one forced you to take this ride. You did it on your own, you are responsible for being there, and you might as well see the positive side of it. I know I have mentioned this before, but it becomes very important when these days become long and tiring. You have to focus, focus, focus on the now. The future will take care of itself if you take care of the now.The minutes, miles, and hours pass, and you ride through the fatigue and the little aches and pains, and before you know it, you are there!  The day is done, and shower, meal (MRE) and bed await. A nice feeling in itself.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------There was a little incident at a gas pump in Erie, PA. I pulled off the expressway and into a station that was full of other people pumping gas. I spotted one pump free, inaccessible to cars because of cars at other pumps blocking it. But I could get around and through on the bike, and I pulled into the free pump, head to head with an SUV, where a young woman was filling up. Behind her was a car waiting to use her pump. She finished, and the car behind had to back up a couple of car lengths to let her back out, then he pulled in to her pump.I had by then dismounted, and was reaching into the tailbag to get my log book. I still had my helmet on, with my wax earplugs firmly in place, as this was not going to be a pee or drink stop. As I reached for my credit card, I heard the driver at the other pump muttering and gesticulating. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------“Sorry?” I said, as I fumbled to get the helmet off and the earplugs out of my ears.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------“...blocked that woman and she had to back up.” I heard him say.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------“Sorry, but I didn’t think it was a big deal,” I said.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------“It was a big deal,” he responded. “I had to move to let her out.”-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------“Gosh, I’m really sorry if it upset you,” I said.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------“It did upset me.  You pulled in and blocked her from leaving, and I had to back up to let her out.” He was repeating himself. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------At this point, I shut up,a state to which I am unaccustomed. Nothing more was said, but I chewed on it for the next 50 miles or so (another good way to amuse oneself and forget the fatigue). What I should have said came to me in several forms, and I regret not being a quick enough thinker to have thrown one or two at this guy when I had the chance.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1) Well Pal, if that is all it takes to upset you, you have my deep sympathy.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------1A) If that upsets you, Bud, your life must be real Hell.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------2) Oh My God! Call the gas station police! I’ll turn myself in quietly.  I just hope I don’t get jail time for this.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------3) I see by your plates you are from New York. I’m betting New York City, by your crabby attitude.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------4) It sure has been nice chatting with you like this. Have a nice day.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------5) Gee, Buddy, I’m really sorry, but I am in a big hurry, because I just got word my dear old Mum died, and I am trying to get to (San Francisco, Anchorage, Honolulu, Tokyo, whatever) in time for the funeral. I hope you understand--- (A-hole!).-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------And the good old American end-all, recently espoused by our dear vice president:-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------6) Go #%&@ yourself! -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I used the latter on a really big guy a year or so ago up at the Little Bighorn Battleground Monument (formerly, The Custer Monument) and came close to getting severely thrashed for it, so I have ruled that one out, now and forever.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------So the day ended, much as it started, in the dark, but tranquilly, and with some sense of accomplishment. Average speed for the day: 55.6 MPH-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------HALF-WAY “HOME.”
3:20 pm mdt 

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

48 PLUS 1, Day 4, July 21, 2007 Pound, VA to Woburn, MA, 909 miles
The Iron Butt Association puts out some tips for would-be IB riders called “Iron Butt Association’s ‘Archive of Wisdom’” which states in Tip # 1: -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------"Discounting weather or other problems; after an initial mileage peak on days one and two, daily average mileage will steadily drop during trip days three to seven. On day seven of a trip, the typical long distance rider will comfortably ride about 65% of the average daily mileage that they would book on a two day trip. If the pros have this type of mileage attrition rate, would you plan on any less?"----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- This came under the heading “Know your limits and plan your trip around them.” I am accustomed to heeding the advice of those who have gone before, and this bit of news struck me as tantamount to saying that the trip is impossible, because if you ride even 1100 miles the first couple of days, your days three through seven will only be around 700 miles, woefully short of my required 870 mile average. I ran the numbers several times, but each time it came out as nearly impossible, unless I was seriously in error as to the shortest and fastest route. It was getting too late to re-route the whole thing, so I sucked it up  and off I went, but I was keenly aware of the expected drop in mileage after day two. By day three, it still hadn’t happened. I kept up the dailly average, and I figured that I would just have to wait and see if and when the slump hit, and try to recoup later on if I fell too far behind. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Day four was the one I anticipated would be the toughest, because it comprised a large part of the high density Eastern Seaboard. I had planned to make Wytheville, Virginia, just 80 or so miles SW of Roanoke on the third night, then ride all the way into New Hampshire on day four. But, I had consistently fallen short of my nightly target stopovers, and Pound was about 150 miles or so short of Wytheville, so day four promised to be a struggle, and I would be lucky to make it into northern Massachusetts.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------After a short night of 4 hours, due to the late arrival in Pound, I set out, on the road at 0515. It was Saturday, the 21st, and I hoped to make it through the most congested areas when traffic was lowest, but didn’t really know when that might be. I had thought about starting the trip on a Monday so as to arrive in the New Jersey-New York City regions on a week day, but as I had already delayed almost to the point of calling the whole thing off, I launched on Wednesday, the 18th, putting me in NYC on Saturday late in the afternoon.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The day was very long, and progress was slow. The turnpikes in the East are pretty nice once you get through the toll gates, but there is the rub. There are usually eight or more booths at either end of the turnpike, but four lanes of traffic try to squeeze through, causing massive pile-ups on the approaches. You have these very long parking lots, four lanes wide and three to five miles long. Traffic inches along, creeping with damnably slow pace. I had encountered some pretty trying tie-ups the day before in Atlanta, in the middle of a corker of a thunderstorm to boot, but at least that was cool. Here, on the Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and New Jersey turnpikes, it was boiling hot, in the 90s, and the creep was interminable. Once through the gates, you fight for an entrance to the four lanes, and then traffic thins out and the race is on to the exit gate, 40, 50, 100 miles up the road, where the entire scene replays itself, as you queue up to pay on exiting. Then, the next turnpike looms, and the entire scene replays. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------On the Approach to Fort Lee, NJ, the lead-in to the George Washington Bridge across the Hudson River to NYC, it took me almost 40 minutes, and then another 40 to get onto and across the bridge. Oh, how I wished for the courage and/or legality to lane split. You can get away with it some places, most notably in California, where it is not strictly legal as I understand it, but an accepted practice, and as long as you do not have a collision, you are OK. Of course in Central and South America, it is practically mandatory to wend your way between stopped cars, scrambling from lane to lane and making your way through the pack with no problem, and occasional shouts of encouragement from the poor souls stuck in their cages.I saw a group of four or five young  bucks on Ninja bikes do it in NYC, stuck as the rest of us were, inching forward a foot at a time, but these guys threw caution aside and plunged into the melee, breezing between cars scarcely a handle-bar width apart with the abandon so characteristic of youth everywhere. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I had no courage, and only wished...I stood there on my cycle, my loins burning, sweat stinging my eyes, inhaling deeply of the carbon monoxide being pumped into my lungs by the several million cars that seemed to have all their tailpipes aimed directly at my nostrils. I  guess these Ninja bikers figured, and rightly so, that the fuzz couldn’t catch them even if they were around to see the transgession and weren’t fighting some more serious form of crime at the time. Also known as “whitelining,” it works great most of the time where it is accepted practice, but risky elsewhere. There is no telling when some jealous driver might throw open his car door just as you are passing, or swerve suddenly in front of you to teach you a lesson. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------The day ended in Woburn, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston, at 2320. That was 18 hours, 5 minutes in the saddle, with approximately eight stops for gas, toll booths, and the occasional pee break. Distance traveled, 909 miles for a daily MPH average of 50.3, the poorest of the entire trip. But, even though I was not yet half-way to the goal, the worst was behind me. The only real traffic ahead to worry about was in the Chicago and Minneapolis areas, and after NYC, it would be easy. Incidentally, Boston was a breeze, (as was Providence) as I got there in late evening, and traffic was light everywhere. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------So, I kissed day four goodbye. Six to go. Things were looking pretty good. What could befall this old geezer to foul things up? One takes a deep breath, places his bet, and then holds that breath---and holds it---and holds it.
9:24 am mdt 

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

48 PLUS 1, Day 3, July 20, 2007 Richland, MS to Pound, VA, 887 miles
After 5 hours of sleep, I was off on day three at 0505, headed toward Mobile, Alabama. I made my first gas stop in Wilmer, on the NW edge of the bigger city, then turned up I-85 toward Montgomery, with a short detour to the Florida border town of Century, getting my treasured gas receipt safely filed before sailing off toward the day’s goal of Jenkins, Kentucky. The route took me through Atlanta, Greenville, South Carolina, Flat Rock, NC, Elwin, TN, and Big Stone Gap, VA.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jenkins turned out to be without visible motels, so I reversed course and stopped for the night in Pound, Virginia, climbing out of the saddle at 2115. That was a 16 hour, 10 minute day, and I made 885 miles, a good deal of it on two-lane roads, with a goodly amount of traffic, keeping my MPH average down to 55 for the leg. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I tried to check over my receipts each night and re-copy my log onto another book, just in case I somehow made the stupid mistake of losing the original. That would not do for the receipts, of course, but I carefully placed the day’s Ziploc containing them in the compartment BMW so thoughtfully placed in the center aft part of my gas tank fairing. On the second night in Richland, I had discovered that my one stop in Arkansas I had failed to read over the receipt I got there for gas. The gas station didn’t have a card reader at the pump, and I went inside and left my credit card as a pre-pay, then signed the receipt after gassing, put it into the Ziploc, and rode off. When I checked that night, there was no place printed on it. It showed the store number, but no town, or more importantly, state, was noted. Oops! It was too late to get back to Arkansas for another chit, and I decided that there were two solutions. One, I could always write and find out the gas station corporation address and ask them to verify that Superstop # 668 was in fact in West Little Rock, Arkansas, or rely on my Visa statement, which should list every stop and show the exact location by city/state. I am still waiting to see if Iron Butt and Motorcycle Touring Foundation will accept that. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------My MRE evening meal plan was working pretty well. I would arrive in the room, start filling out my duplicate log, open the MRE of the day, and then, while the catalytic heater was doing its work, hop into the shower and rid myself of the day’s accumulated dirt, sweat, and other detritus of the road. While in the shower, I soaped up and washed my REI quick-dry skivvies, and every few nights did the same to my helmet liner skull cap, bandana, and even my microfiber long-sleeved shirt. They were always quite dry by morning, even on the 4 hour nights. Socks were a bit different, but I had several pair, enough to carry me  to Hyder and a laundromat. Since I only had one pair of trousers, I held off washing them until Hyder. Once there, I donned the bicycle shorts while my lonely pair of trousers washed and dried.
11:36 am mdt 

Monday, August 20, 2007

48 PLUS 1, Day 2, July 19, 2007 Erick, OK to Richland, MS, 907 miles
I was up at 0430, feeling pretty well-rested after almost 7 hours sleep, and was on the rubber by  half past 5. By 1045, Oklahoma City and Tulsa were behind me, and I was on my way into the edge of Kansas and Baxter Springs. I got my chit there, and by 1130 had Missouri in my pocket, followed by Arkansas in mid-afternoon.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I swung back onto an Interstate in Tallulah, Louisiana at just before 1900, and pulled into Richland, Mississippi, just SE of Jackson at 2003, still in some daylight. 14 hours, 30 minutes on the road for 907 miles, but still short of my planned stopover in Lucedale by over 100 miles. Not making these planned stopovers was a bit of a psychological set-back, but I told myself not to sweat it, because I was making my daily average and then some.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------These long days were not as bad as one might imagine, but mental attitude has a lot to do with it. It can be discouraging when you have only made 500 miles by 1500, and realize that to keep the average daily miles up you have to make another 470 miles, or  nearly 8 more  hours. Here is where, once again, as mentioned during the South America ramble, the Big Picture is much, much too big, and has to be switched off.  You have to concentrate on the moment. You tell yourself that it is just a matter of hanging in there, and the time will pass. You strive to keep the speed at your required level, and the minutes tick off, adding up, and then, by some near miracle, it is over. You have reached your 870 miles, and it  rest is at hand. -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I found that I get sinking spells in the morning, anywhere from 2 to 5 hours after starting the day, and I do anything to keep moving, moving down the highway, moving around on the bike, moving the head, moving the arms, flexing all the muscles, shifting positions, and eventually the moment passes, and the sinker falls behind. I do not pretend this is the best judgment. The MTF/Iron Butt Riding Tips (called the “Archive of Wisdom”) admonishes people on these long hauls to pull over and nap if the drowsies strike. It is the only safe and sane thing to do. But I do have some experience on long hauls, having stayed awake across the Pacific many times, and I know how to shake the droops and keep moving. On this trip I did have one moment when I might have blown the whole thing. One morning, on the third or fourth day, I was struggling with the sleep demon and it almost won. I kept  up my usual  ploys, but let my guard down for just a brief micro-second, and closed my eyes. It couldn’t have been more than a fraction of a second, but I very nearly dozed off at 70 miles per hour. It did have the salutory effect of waking me up sharply. The drowsies were gone for that time, at least.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I do not recommend trying to tough it out. One must stop and take that nap. It won’t cost all that much time, and the price for dropping off to sleep is too high to risk it. Stop! Nap! Rest! Then continue.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Another thing that helps fight off sleep is nourishment. I mentioned that I only ate once or twice a day on this ride. I am not accustomed to eating  three meals every day, and usually get by on two, so this trip was not a sacrifice in that respect, but when these occasions arose, I did beat them with a bit of food. Sometimes a full breakfast or other meal, but often it only took a nutrition bar or bit of sweet to restore the blood sugar level, and the droopy eyes and sleepy demeanor vanished like magic.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I regret all of these dashed lines, but at present that seems to be the only way I can make paragraph breaks. There is some glitch somewhere, and so far, the technicians at Web.com have only been able to suggest that I use another browser, which I have done, to no avail...
1:07 pm mdt 

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Toad's Wild Ride-Iron Butt 48 PLUS 1, Day 1, July 18, 2007, Needles, CA to Erick, OK, 928 miles
Hmm. For some strange reason, known only to the denizons of the computer programmer world, the previous two blogs refused to accept paragraphing. I repeatedly made paragraphs in the original copy as well as in the blog entry, but it kept coming out in one long blurb when published, and I gave up. Sorry about that, but on to the Rest of The Story, as Paul What's His Name (Harvey) would say.------------------------------------------------------Dang! That is annoying! Where there's a will...let's try this dashed line as a paragraph break--------There has been too much detail to date in this account, and I promise to try to reduce it in coming entries, but it may be of interest to motorcyclists, and could give someone some information of use. Enough of that...-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------When I arrived in Needles, on the afternoon of July 17, the temperature was simmering at 116 degrees (46.6 Celsius for you decimal (and sanity) based people). It was brutal, and, having ridden there via Las Vegas, where I had an appointment, I was sapped. The air felt like I was standing in an oven, making me wonder if I might spontaneously combust.I checked into a small motel run by one of the ubiquitous East Indians who seem to run every motel in the nation these days. I asked the desk gentleman if he would be available at 0430 in the morning, explaining that I needed two witnesses for this Iron Butt ride. He said I should just ring the bell, and he and his wife would come out and sign the forms. I told him I did not want to awaken him, and that if he would not be up yet, I would find someone else. He assured me there would be no problem. Just ring the bell.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Something told me to have a backup plan. I was unsure from the IB rules whether the witness had to witness on the day of departure, or was it acceptable to do it the evening before, but to be safe, I wanted someone to sign on the date I left. I sought out the local Sheriff’s office, and found the jail facility, which the deputy assured me was open 24 hours. She said I could come around in the morning, and there would be someone there who would most likely agree to be witnesses.I put Mein Schatz to bed, and followed soon after, at around  2100. Sleep came quickly, and my tinnitus was muted by the whir of the valiant window A/C, pumping its little heart out.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------IRON BUTT 48 PLUS 1, DAY 1, JULY 18, 2007  Needles, CA to Erick, OK-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I awoke on my own at 0330, got up, uncovered Mein Schatz, loaded up, suited up, and scurried over to the motel office for my receipt and the critical witnessing. A small, dark woman  answered the bell. She spoke to me through the cashier-type window that was on the side of the office. “My husband is asleep,” she said. I asked her if she would awaken him so he could sign my witness form.“No, I cannot awaken him,” she replied. “But he told me to call him this morning, and he would be glad to sign my form.”“No, I cannot awaken him.”“Will you sign the form as a witness?”“No.”"And you will not waken him?""No. I cannot awaken him."-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Hell, what do I know, maybe he was dead and that is why she could not awaken him.But, that was that. It was abundantly clear that I would get nowhere with this lady, so I climbed on the bike and rode to the sheriff’s office, where two very cordial deputies allowed as to how they would be happy to be my witnesses.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------With that, and a stop to gas up and obtain my place/date/time stamp, I was off on Toad’s wild ride. Time: 0424.I rode straight north to Laughlin, NV, arriving at 0507, gassed up quickly, filed away my second receipt, and was off toward Kingman, AZ at 0511.My next stop was at Winslow for gas, followed by a lunch break at Gallup, NM. One more gas stop, this time in Adrian, Texas, and I was through for the day in Erick, Oklahoma, arriving at 1850PDT (2050CDT). I did not make my planned stop in Clinton, having lost 2 hours of daylight because of the time zone changes, but I did beat the required daily mileage average by 60 miles. It was a pretty good day, a bit warm, but not sizzling like back there in Needles, and the traffic on I-40 allowed for a pretty good pace, a bit over 64 MPH, stops included. There were a couple of brief showers in western Oklahoma, but not enough to merit donning raingear.-----------------------------------------ONE DOWN. 
11:54 am mdt 

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Final Plans
There were but a couple more loose ends to tie up (down?) before the launch. I packed minimally. Well, OK, I over-packed as usual. Too many shirts and socks, and not enough trousers (only one pair, the ones I wore, forgetting to pack the extras). I also took minimal tools, as this is a nearly new scooter and should not need any roadside repairs. Besides, along with the remaining new bike warranty,  I had BMW Roadside Assistance, just a phone call away. I did take a tire plugging kit, a good tire gauge, and an electric tire pump that plugs into my bike power supply. I previously mentioned the Ziploc plastic bags, labeled from day one through day 10, in which to keep each day’s receipts, separate from any others, minimizing mixups, losses, and other idiotic confusions perpetrated by a muddled and worn-out rider (me). -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I had my bike remote electronic lock, as well as an extra ignition key on a lanyard around my neck, minimizing the possibility of losing them. I picked up a CamelPak water pack at the Clothing Sales at Luke AFB, and planned to fill it with ice from the motel ice machines each morning before departure, or put in the freezer if the motel provided an in room refrigerator. With my flip-up helmet and the long hose from the pack, I can partake of water while on the fly, and the ice would give acceptably cool water for most of a riding day. I briefly considered one of the latest “water jackets.” These are vests that you soak with water and then don, giving some evaporative cooling for several hours between soakings, according to the sales pitch. They contain material akin to rice, which absorbs water, swelling up to accumulate it, then allows for cooling as it evaporates. I decided it was gimmicky, as I had previously experienced the neckties of the same material, and in anything but the driest atmosphere, feel rather clammy to me and don’t seem to help a lot.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Another little device that was of enormous aid during the trip was the “SuperVisor,” an opaque visor that you affix to the clear plastic face plate on your helmet. It makes a very nice shade over about half of the visor, and really helps block the sun and even reduces glare when not in direct sunlight. It is invaluable when riding into the rising or setting sun, and I will never again take a trip without one of these. My other Nolan helmet has a dark blue second visor over the clear one that can be raised or lowered to cover half the clear plate, and it is very useful, but the Supervisor is better, once you accustom yourself to the claustrophobic feeling you have at first wearing. It looks like you are hemmed in, looking down a tunnel, but the feeling passes soon after you put it on. This visor is hooked to your helmet with hook and eye (Velcro) material, but I find it stays on much better with the “industrial strength” stuff you can buy at Home Depot than the normal strength that comes with the visor.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------My 1200 miles and then some were on the clock, and I got an oil and filter change and 1200 mile check. I decided not to put on new tires, as a friend who had owned an LT told  me he got 14K on a set. I figured mine would definitely get me through the 48 Plus 1, and maybe even bring me back home. I could always change them somewhere along the route home after ending the Iron Butt.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I was just about out of reasons not to go, so on July 17 I saddled up Mein Schatz, bade my spouse “Ta ta,” and rode off into the west, headed for Needles, five hours away.
11:55 am mdt 

Friday, August 17, 2007

Getting Serious
I did my own riding around the flagpole here in the Phoenix area for a couple of weeks, adding the miles toward the 1200 mile break-in, while refining plans for the trip. I used Mapquest mileages for laying out the trip, and backed those numbers up with my GPS. They checked pretty close, and although I made a couple of attempts at alternate route plans, I was convinced that my original route had merit. It was largely freeways, with a few hundred miles of necessity on two-lane roads while acquiring states that were off the main line. Maybe I should have consulted others who had made the trip successfully, but I stubbornly (this is not unusual!) persisted with this plan. I practiced fuel stops, trying to do them exactly the same each time. I pulled in to the left side of a pump, which makes it easier to reach the tank filler, which is located on the right side on this bike, rather then in the middle, put down the side stand, shut off the bike, unplugged helmet, got off, walked around to the rear, retrieving the notebook from the tail trunk, preparatory to logging the stop, then undid the fuel cap, placing it carefully in the same place alongside the tank each time, then retrieved my credit card from the upper left hand pocket of my shirt, and wiped it through the card reader. Then, fill the tank, logging in time, Odo and GPS readings, top off the tank (usually I can stuff another half gallon or so after auto shutoff), replace the cap, retrieve the receipt and place it in the ziploc bag specifically labeled for the numbered day of the ride (day 1, day 2, etc.), placing that in the tank compartment on the top of the gas tank. Then I logged the departure time and replaced the notebook in the tail bag and remounted the bike, plugging in the helmet, etc., etc.. All of the above certainly seems entirely too detailed I suppose, but it is important to do it in the exact same sequence every time, because it is crucial that one not miss any items, such as failing to log the odometer reading, failing to retrieve the gas pump receipt, misplacing the credit card, or other vital steps. Late in a long day, when one is hot, sweaty, tired, and perhaps running behind schedule, these things are easily messed up. One of my fears on the ride was that I would somehow miss a state entirely or fail to get proper documentation somewhere to prove I had hit that state. As it was, I had a couple of close calls. More on that later. I got my fuel stop times down to around 5 or 6 minutes if I didn’t have to take a water or latrine break. In those cases, I added the helmet removal step, wherein I hooked the chin strap of the helmet to a bandana loop I had tied to the luggage rack on top of the tail bag on the left side of the bike. One should never put one’s helmet on the seat or perch it elsewhere on the bike unless you like the look of a scuffed bonnet, because they are sure to fall off and roll across the tarmac at some point. Better to securely hang it on a helmet hanger. My bike does not have one readily handy, hence the bandana contrivance. If a latrine break was necessary, my stops ran around 10 minutes, and if I took on food or water, they eased up to 15 or 20 minutes. Speaking of food, this can be a problem on a ride like this, because eating, vital as it is, takes time. I am not one who needs breakfast (yes, yes, I know. Breakfast is the most important meal. I have been hearing that for nearly my entire life). So I can skip that without penalty. Often I start out with only coffee (no more fighter pilots’ breakfasts for this old man) or maybe not even that, then after a couple of hours, stop for a bite of something. This is not always the case, but I have discovered that that mid-morning “sinker” can be dispelled with some nourishment. I planned this trip for two meals a day. I figured I would either have a breakfast after the first couple of hours on the road, or have something just before or just after the noon rush hour, making for less time wasted waiting for service and for the check, or in line paying the bill. For the evening meal, I decided I could save beaucoup time by relying on MREs (Meals-Ready-To-Eat). My son, an Air Guard M/Sgt has a cache of them, and I requisitioned 10 of them for the trip. They are not bad at all, and there is quite a wide variety of entrees, such as beef stew, beef stroganoff, spaghetti and meat balls, pasta in spicy sauce, ravioli, veggie stew, beans and franks, and other delights. These MREs come in sealed pouch with entree, crackers and some kind of spread, such as cheese, cheese with Jalapena, peanut butter, jelly, a dessert like pound cake, brownies, cookies, crumb cake (usually crumbled no matter what the dessert), a drink of mix of some kind, like orangeade, grapeade, coffee mocha, chocolate, energy drink, and napkins, plastic utensils, hot sauce (minis of Tabasco), maybe a candy of some kind, and, a catalytic heater to heat the entree. You open the catalytic heater envelope, place the entree inside, on top of the heater, add a couple of tablespoons of water, re-seal, and in ten or fifteen minutes you have a piping hot meal. I planned these meals to save time otherwise “wasted” in a restaurant. I could heat the meal while I was in the shower, eat, and be in bed in less than an hour after arriving at the motel office. Since I figured on arriving not earlier than 2000 each night, I could be in bed by as early as 2100, making for more rest before the O’Dark 0’Clock departures. I had wanted to make this trip as close to the summer equinox as possible, taking advantage of the longest days of the year. Ideally, I hoped to depart on the 21st of June, giving more daylight in the southerly portions, since the northerly areas have more daylight anyway. But, one thing led to another, and I kept delaying for this or for that. It got to the point that I began to doubt whether I would actually get off the dime and get it on. I had babbled on so much about it that I could scarcely back out, but time was passing, the days were now getting shorter, and if I didn’t act soon, it would be too late, and I would have to wait for next year, and who knew what that would bring? I did know that I would not be any more capable with another year added to my advancing age, so I had better get ‘er done while I could. Riding in the dark has two disadvantages, and one advantage. The advantage is that if you go late enough, the traffic thins out, but that is in my opinion, outweighed by the major disadvantage that there are more people DUI or otherwise impaired by the sauce at night, and the later you ride, the riskier it becomes. The other disadvantage of nighttime is the deer menace. Having made contact with one of these critters up in North Dakota three years ago, I am not interested in testing my luck on that score again. Dusk and dawn are the most dangerous times, but anytime in the dark is dangerous. Deer are nocturnal creatures, generally bedding down during the height of the day, but I always remember that there are deer out there who have not read that fact, and could be up and about, leaping into one’s path at high noon. Care is always required, but the darker times moreso. Hence, I ride as little as possible in those hours. Unfortunately, there are only about 14 or so hours of broad daylight in the southern latitudes at the equinox, and some dark/dusk riding is required in order to keep up the daily average. From the beginning of a riding day to the end, stops included, it is difficult to keep an average of 60 MPH. A bike like mine has a comfortable range of 250 miles at highway speeds, so a 860 mile day requires at least four fuel stops, more if you fill up at the end of the ride, and when you have to make extra stops to obtain a date/place stamped receipt for a specific state. You go through some states in just a few miles, and you have to be careful that you make that required stop to get the documentation. So, a steady speed of 75 MPH on a beautiful turnpike or freeway does not mean you have that or close to that as an average speed. Experience shows me that you have to press every advantage to maintain an average of 55 MPH, day start to day finish. Do the math. If the route is a distance of 8700 miles, and you plan a 14 hour day, you must maintain an average of 62.14 MPH just to make it in exactly 10 full days. That leaves no margin for slippage. It only takes a couple of 30 minute stops in addition to the others, and your average is in the dumper. I figured this trip for 17 hour days, for a required average of 51.17 MPH. That left seven hours for check-in, eat, shower, sleep, and check-out each day. Figure one hour for the check-in, shower, eat, and,check-out, and you get six hours for sleep, assuming you drop right off (should not be a problem after 17 hours in the saddle). Hmm. Now you may see why this began to loom, and perhaps why this old man began to wonder if he could summon enough confidence to get going, let alone complete the ride. My sporting blood began to turn to horse piss, if you will pardon the crudity. But, if I could spueeze a 60 MPH average, have enough luck to avoid a flat tire or other maintenance pitfall, hit the Eastern Seaboard traffic right, I could make it. Could is the operative word here, as in “might” or “maybe.”
11:13 am mdt 

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Getting Committed (to the trip, not to the asylum, as some think fitting)


About a year ago I started trying to figure out the best route for this attempt. One of the volunteers who had officiated on the weekend I did my 1000 mile run had done a 48 Plus, and he offered to show me his route. He had ridden with another guy, older even than I, and they had less than wonderful circumstances. There was a flat tire on the first day, and then they coped with rain, rain, rain, for 7 1/2 days, finishing with only 3 hours to spare.

I decided to do it on my own, planning my own route. My geography is not bad, but a quick study of the map makes it plain that there is only one logical site for the Alaska stop. Hyder, AK is the southernmost point that can be driven to from Canada, and is at least 500 miles closer than any other point in the state. Hyder is only a couple of miles from Stewart, BC, located just at the border between the two countries, comprised of a couple of dirt streets and an odd assortment of bars, shops, hostels, and sundry stores catering to the tourist. Its main attraction is that it is just a few miles downstream from Fish Creek, a Mecca for Grizzly bears during the salmon spawn. They come down to the creek for some good eats, catching the chum as they move upstream, and the tourists are six deep during the run, watching the bears.

Further up the gravel road, about 20 miles or more, is Salmon Glacier, one of the largest glaciers in North America, rated at 5th in size,  and a gorgeous sight on a clear day. It is well worth the drive, and even on a bike, it is not difficult to reach.

The other geographical fact I hit upon is that the most logical place for the start, if one does not opt to begin in Hyder, is to start in easternmost California. I laid out a route beginning in Needles, then north to Laughlin, Nevada, crossing the bridge into Arizona and toward Kingman. From there it is straight east across Arizona, New Mexico, the panhandle of Texas, and Oklahoma. Here one must make a decision on how to proceed, and I chose swinging up through Tulsa toward the NE corner of that state, then jumping into the southeast corner of Kansas at Baxter Springs, then into the SW corner of Missouri at Joplin. From there straight south into Arkansas toward Fort Smith, cutting east to Little Rock, then southeast to Lake City and down the east border of Louisiana to Tallulah. From there take the Interstate into Vicksburg and Jackson. Leaving Jackson go SE toward Hattiesburg, exiting Mississippi near Mobile, Alabama. From there NE toward Montgomery, Alabama, with a short detour just across the border into Florida at the town of Century. Transversing GA via Atlanta, I proceed into South Carolina at Greenville, then cut straight north into North Carolina at Asheville. From there north into Tennessee, Virginia, and tick into the southernmost part of Kentucky at Jenkins. From there retrace the steps into Virginia, and pick up the interstate toward Roanoke and beyond to Martinsburg, West Virginia. From M-burg, up around Washington DC, avoiding that traffic snarl, into the Baltimore, Maryland area. From there cross into Delaware at Newark (DE, not NJ), and up the NJ turnpike into Fort Lee, crossing the George Washington Bridge over the Potomac into NYC. After that, it is Connecticut, on to Rhode Island at Pawtucket and Providence, then into Boston. From Boston it is but a short jump through New Hampshire into Kittery, Maine, tucked away there in the southeast corner of the state, less than a mile across the border.
Leaving Maine, the route returns to New Hampshire, then treks across the southern reaches of Vermont into New York State once again, this time via Albany, Buffalo, and the shores of Lake Erie. It crosses Pennsylvania and  Erie, then into Ohio, Indiana, and a short jaunt across the border into Michigan at Sturgis (no, not that Sturgis).
Then it is around Gary, Indiana, and up into Illinois via Chicago, Rockford, and into Wisconsin at Madison, Eau Claire, and the Minnesota border at Minneapolis-Saint Paul. Traveling northwest for about 150 miles, the route takes a left turn into the southeast corner of North Dakota at Hankinson, then straight south along the eastern borders of ND and South Dakota, making stops in Sioux Falls, and then Sioux City, Iowa. After that it is south to Omaha, a slight right turn to LIncoln, and straight across the  southern reaches of the state until a small jog takes us into Julesburg, Colorado. From there we return to Nebraska, and journey into Wyoming, traversing the state until Green River, where we cut northwest into the northeast corner of Utah at Garden City, near Bear Lake. Straight north from there takes us into Idaho at Pocatello, then Idaho Falls and the Montana Border at Lima (pronounced like the bean), on the Interstate. We continue northwest to Missoula, and head west southwest into Idaho via Lolo Pass into Lewiston, on the banks of the Snake River where it joins the Clearwater. From there we go to Walla Walla, Washington, and jog briefly across the border to Milton-Freewater, Oregon. Leaving there,  we go  almost straight north to Oroville, on the Canadian Border.

That covers all 48 of the contiguous states, and it is only 900 or so miles through British Columbia via Kamloops, Cache Creek, 100 Mile House, Quesnel, and Prince George, then west to Smithers and Kitwanga where the route picks up Highway 37, also known at the Cassiar Highway to intercept the Alaska Highway just west of  Watkins Lake, B.C.

We only stay on the Cassiar for 100 miles or so, to Mediazin Junction, where we  take a left turn for the final 42 clicks to Stewart, then end the ride just a couple more Km in Hyder, Alaska. BTW, there no US customs/immigration at the border there, but the Canadians do man a post for re-entry into their country.

The trip as outlined, is 8,640 miles. I will do the math for you. It requires a daily average of 864 miles, no mean feat for any rider. The best route clearly is the shortest route that incorporates the most travel on freeways and turnpikes, because that is where the speed limits are the highest and where it is possible to make the most distance in the shortest time. I think my route is, if not the best possible one, at least one that is definitely achievable.

Now, for the excuse. It might be possible to make this trip on a Honda 125, but I would hate to try it. I love der Klunkenschiffter, but it is not a touring bike, and is not designed to go long distances day after day. The bike will hold up very well, but the rider is subjected to wind and noise, and the creature comforts are minimal. I was reasonably sure I could make the ride, but not at all certain I could do it on the GS, and rationalized that it might be a lot more comfortable as well as easier with a bike made for long hauls. The LT has the above mentioned features, but it also has an excellent cruise control. This may seem like a minor thing, but holding a throttle for 14, 16, or 18 hours can be quite a strain. My GS has a throttle friction that can be cinched down to hold a given throttle position, but that does nothing to hold a selected speed. On a long trip, a speed control can make the ride much more comfortable as well as safer, because the rider does not have to constantly watch the speedo to make sure he is holding a set speed. This takes away worry about exceeding speed limits while maintaining a speed high enough to keep up an acceptable average speed. A difference of 5 miles per hour can make a difference of 80 miles at the end of a 16 hour day.

My Dear Wife encouraged me to get a new ride for the trip. She is a jewel. I allowed myself to be convinced, and started searching. I demo rode a new LT, and liked it. I looked at the Goldwing, but had pretty well made up my mind when I spotted a new ad for a 2005 K1200LT in the Phoenix paper. I called the owner, went over in the afternoon, and looked at the bike. It was bright and shiny, and had only 408 miles on the clock instead of the 500 advertised. It came with a Garmin Streetpilot 2610 GPS, PIAA floodlights, brand new bag liners (3), an interphone system (not much appeal here, as I will never ride two-up), a satellite radio, and the stock items; heated grips and seat, ABS and fully integrated brakes, on-board computer, custom passenger footpegs, and hydraulic center stand. The seller also had a Nolan flip-up helmet, brand new, with headphones and mike.

I took it at his asking price. Why buy a new bike, when there are deals like this out there? This bike cost me $3400 less than a new bike off the showroom floor, without the cited extras, which added up to nearly $2000. There is little reason to ever buy a new machine these days especially. Motorcycles are becoming faddish, and many people get into them without understanding all that goes into riding. They apparently have unlimited discretionary income, so they run out and buy the biggest, fanciest motorcycle they can find, relying on advertizing come-ons instead of acquired experience. They ride on weekends around the flag pole, but it soon becomes clear to them that motorcycles as a primary means of transportation are more than they bargained for. You see it during Sturgis week. A great many people trailer their bikes up to the big blowout, then ride around in circles with the rest of the crowd, wear all their leathers, bandanas, and other “in” gear, and proclaim themselves “bikers.”

It soon wears off, and their bikes are put on the market. If you know values and know what you want, you can pick up one of these machines for a reasonable price. A quality motorcycle with 10 or 20 thousand miles is still nearly new.

I had my new ride, and now I had to put some miles on it before the big trip, as it was not even broken in yet. The seller had already done the 600 mile check, but it needed at least 1200 miles before it was ready for long, steady riding.

12:30 pm mdt 

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Back In The Saddle Again
    48 PLUS 1
Toad’s Wild Ride

It has been a long hiatus since the end of the South American Ride. In the intervening time, I have been taking care of neglected items and people (my Dear Wife being the main one of these latter). The last two grandchildren have now successfully graduated from  high school, my Dear Son has returned from his 90 day deployment to Iraq, unscathed, I am happy to report, and I have acquired a new ride.

The excuse for the new bike has been the Iron Butt 48 Plus Ride, more about which later. I still have Der Klunkenschiffter, and will keep it for the occasional trip that might encounter gravel and other unpaved surfaces, perhaps another trip or two to Baja, another jaunt to Guatemala, or possibly more riding in  Alaska and Canada.
But, the bug to get a touring bike bit, and bit hard during the last few weeks of South America. I have been known to scoff at the Goldwing and its riders, tagging the bike an “old man’s ride.” Well, I qualify for that! I had always denigrated these behemoths as too big and unwieldy for the kind of riding I favor; twisty roads, two lane blacktops,  and more “muscular” riding. The idea of a touring machine took hold over several thousand miles on the various roads of Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela. I had never experienced touring riding, and as the idea took hold, it became something of an obsession.
I narrowed the search down to two bikes: The Goldwing GL1800, and the Beemer K1200LT. I briefly considered the BMW R1200RT, but discarded it in favor of the 4 cylinder engine in the LT. I know what the R engine is like, and decided that the K engine was something more akin to that in the Wing, which is 1800 cc and six cylinders.
I finally decided I liked the LT better for a couple of reasons: It has a hydraulic center stand. Press a button while in neutral, and it magically lifts itself onto the stand, negating the gut-busting effort a manual lift requires. It also has an electric windshield, while the Wing is equipped with a manual one. I do not favor looking through the windshield, but a test ride on an LT convinced me that the resulting quiet is well worth peeking between the bugs that accumulate on the W/S. Other features on the Beemer also appealed: it comes with fully integral brakes and ABS as standard, opposed to Honda’s upgrade ($1000 add-on). The Beem has better ground clearance, yet is low enough for my short legs to reach the ground without being on tiptoe. I have heard that the GL 1800 rides the twisties well, but think the Beemer is more of a mountain road bike, so these things tipped the balance toward the German’s answer to Honda.
Having decided on a bike, all I needed was a justification. My Dear and long-suffering wife told me to buy the bike, but my inclination was to search about for some excuse, obviating the guilt I inevitably feel over these selfish indulgences.
The Iron Butt Riders is a group who label themselves “Toughest Riders In The World.” They offer many levels of qualification, perhaps the most common being the 1000 mile ride. Called the “Saddle Sore 1000,” it basically comprises a ride of 1000 statute miles in 24 hours or less. The organization holds official rides occasionally, where riders can sign up and go off in groups, usually over a weekend. The association provides volunteers who see the riders off and greet them when they return. These rides are over a course that has been approved as meeting the minimum 1000 miles.

I did mine in May, 2006, on a Saddle Sore 1000 from Twin Falls Idaho, to Great Falls, Montana and return. I think the distance was about 1,050 miles or so. Six of us launched at around 0500 on a Saturday morning, riding toward Pocatello, then north to Great Falls, and return. The only required stops were at Pocatello (actually Chubbuck, ID, a suburb) and Great Falls. We gassed up at the start, and the receipt from the pump gave the place, date, and time, making that the official start. Chubbuck was required because there is a dog leg in that route, and a Chubbuck receipt precludes anyone cutting the corner and going directly toward Montana from Twin Falls. Then, of course, they required another receipt in Great Falls to prove that the rider had actually made the far end. A final gas-up and receipt back in Twin proclaimed the finish time, and the volunteers were the official witnesses for start and finish.

These rides do not have to be done in a group or on an official Saddlesore 1000 weekend ride. Any rider can do one at any time. All that is required is a witness for departure and arrival, gas chits to prove the stops, and the entry fee. Be sure you double check the distance, as an odometer reading is not acceptable. Most people use recognized distances from mapping publications or other reliable sources that are recognized by Iron Butt. You send it all in and receive your pin, your license plate bracket (Iron Butt, Toughest Riders In The World), and bragging rights.

Oh yeah, I finished my ride, on my R1150GS in about 15 hours, 30 minutes.

All of this piqued my interest in the 48 PLUS 1. There are various other rides that prove one’s endurance, such as 1500 miles in 24 hours; 2000 miles in 24 hours; the “Ultimate Iron Butt” (Key West, Florida to Prudhoe Bay, Alaska in 30 days (not sure about the time here), and so forth. But I think the 48 PLUS 1 may be up near the top for toughness. You lay out your own route, and must ride into each of the lower 48 states, then to Alaska---in 10 days.

Why would anyone want to do this kind of silliness? Look, if you have to ask the question, you can never understand an answer of any kind. Suffice it to say, it is something like the answer to why people climb mountains: Because they are there.
The challenge is the thing, and I am not so old that I can resist a challenge that has the promise of success. I am not so foolish to answer any and every challenge. Only the ones that I think are actually doable are the ones that appeal, and the 48 PLUS 1 has seemed possible from the first time I heard of it. The years are racing by though, and time is not kind to us. I knew that if I was ever going to make this run, it had better be soon.

10:20 am mdt 

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For future use

Our New Best Friend, TRES

My Hero, Uncle Pete, two days short of his 90th birthday.

Meet Mort--- Mortem "mors me cum equitat"
The view from 50 feet up the mast
The Old Guy At The Helm Of "OH MISS"
Adventure Bound
The Old Guy, Back Home Unscathed
2005 BMW K1200LT, long gone to bike heaven
"Der Klunkenschiffter" at age 4, 102,000 miles