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Old 01-17-2006, 11:20 PM   #1
Jackhole OP
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San Francisco to Providence in 49 Hours

So back in October this year Team Blitzed (well the dizave and jackhole contingent anyway) were kicking it in California, enjoying the canyons of Malibu, the Pacific Coast Highway, San Francisco, etc., but time was running short for me. It was Wednesday and I had family obligations back on the other side of the country on Friday. I could either buy a plane ticket or ride. Lessee, wore out front tire, hydraulic fluid leaking all over the place, lost license, spastic back, 20 inches of new snow in Denver, rising flood waters on the east coast. Ride 3000 miles home in three days? Be stupid not to.

Better yet, why not make it challenging and try to do it in under 50 hours like an IBA 50CC. Yup, BSNT.

I apologize in advance for double whammy of wordiness and lack of pictures in this ride report. What're you gonna do?

Leaving the hotel just south of SF at about 7am, I asked the lump in dizave's bed if it was officially witnessing my departure. Taking the fart and groan as a yes, I headed up towards the Golden Gate bridge in heavy rush hour traffic (no sense making this easy).

If you squint really hard at this picture you still won't be able to see the bridge, but I'm pretty sure it was there. I've seen it there before. Who knew there'd be fog in SF?



I reset the GPS and went a coupla blocks to the gas station to get my offical unofficial start point and time. 1045 EST.

Rode through the city on 101 (sorry, "The 101" for you californicators) looking for route 80. Found 80 and went across the Bay Bridge. With any luck, this would be the last time I would have to do any navigating on this ride. Route 80 all the way to NY. 3,000 miles. What could possibly go wrong? Virtually nothing.

I had only a vague plan that basically involved trying to ride more than half of the route, hitting a hotel for a nap and then finishing the second half. Nice and simple.

Jackhole screwed with this post 01-18-2006 at 09:05 AM Reason: stupid firefox...
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Old 01-17-2006, 11:24 PM   #2
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I headed out of the city towards Sacremento and on to Reno in light traffic. To get to out of California and into Nevada on route 80 one has to cross the Sierra Nevada mountains through the infamous Donner pass at about 7500 feet. Luckily, it wasn't snowing and I didn't have to eat anyone.



The air was crisp, clean and cold. Feeling great. Down out of the mountains and into Reno. As an easterner, I was struck once again by the contrast of a bustling city surrounded by nothing but big empty spaces.

I was a little apprehensive about crossing Nevada and Utah on 80 because I'd heard that it was so mind-numbingly dull that you will want to claw your eyes out by the time you get across. Nothing could be further from the truth. For me it was so refreshing and invigorating to be out in the wide open spaces where you can from horizon to horizon without any evidence of civilization. Tremendous! I loved every minute of it.

Of course the downside to the lack of civilization is the lack of civilization. You gotta be careful with your fuel planning, or you'll really be in a fix. Me, I usually like to play "gas gauge roulette" so there was a good chance that the day wouldn't end well. The 5 gallon fuel cell gave me a total of about 10 usable gallons, and normally I get about 35 mpg for a range of about 350 miles. However, today I was trying to put miles behind me, and was regularly well into the 3 digit speeds.

Made my first gas stop in Lovelock, NV at about 314 miles. Was mildly surprised to take on 10 gallons, good thing I didn't try for the next town 40 miles down the road!
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Old 01-17-2006, 11:29 PM   #3
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With nothing but open road ahead of me, I set out across Nevada at a good clip. I knew that I needed to bank some high average speeds in the western open roads, against the slow averages I expected back east. Despite the extremely sparse traffic, I saw 5-6 cruisers on that stretch of 80. Luckily, I saw them before they saw me.

I managed to coast into the Utah border town of Wendover on fumes again. Gassed up, bought a couple of candy bars, and loitered talking on the phone with a friend. I was informed that Denver had received 20 inches of snow overnight. Hmmm. Wonder if 80 goes through Denver. Well, I guess I'll find out soon enough.

Heading out of Wendover, route 80 immediately drops down onto the Bonneville salt flats. Sweet! Flat as far as the eye can see. Muddy, too. I see lots of deep ruts where people have tried excursions off the highway onto the salt flats. So much for that plan.

I saw recently that the K1200s set a new land speed record here. 179 mph or something? Would've been really tempting to get out there and try it for myself if it weren't for the fact that I'd sink up to my eyeballs in the mud...



Had to slow down once, but otherwise made great time.

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Old 01-17-2006, 11:31 PM   #4
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Before I knew it I was rolling into Salt Lake City at around 6pm. Gave my brother Sanchez a call on the off chance that he needed to get a burrito or something. No dice, as he was taking the slow way home from California himself (airlines, pffft).

To my surprise, route 80 climbs up into the Wasatch Mountains and right through Park City. Passed within a coupla miles of the Sanchez Lair. Well whaddaya know about that. It's kind of fun not having to know where the road is going exactly. But in the back of my mind I'm still wondering how that whole Rocky Mountain/snow thing is going to play out.

I cross into Wyoming as the sun is starting to set. 800 miles behind me, and feeling great. I'm guessing the next 800 won't be so easy, but I'm hoping I can do 1600 miles before stopping.

I don't know what the altitude is but I definitely had the feeling I was in the high plains. Still wide open empty spaces, but colder and more rocky than the deserts of Nevada and Utah. And lots of critters. Deer mostly. Made for some tense riding as I tried to strike a balance between maintaining a good speed and a longer life. Tough spotting the buggers in the twilight.
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Old 01-17-2006, 11:35 PM   #5
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I have an autocomm system installed on the bike with all the usual electronics farkle: XM radio, FRS radio, CB radio, cell phone patch, and radar detector. For some reason, if I have the cell and the radar detector plugged in at the same time, the cell phone won't work well. If I really need to make a call, I'll carefully open the tank bag, and rummage around for the wires, and re-wire things by feel so that I can use the cell. When I'm done, I reconnect the radar detector. Takes a while, but I've got nothing better to do anyway. .

But since I'm moving along briskly during this phase of the ride, I don't like to disconnect the radar detector much. To pass the time, I've taken to text messaging with friends. It takes time to do it (somewhat) safely, but I'm getting good at touch typing.

It's through this means that dizave informs me that the record for distance in 24 hours is 1932 miles, set by Gary Eagan. Turns out this wasn't true, several people have broken the 2000 mile barrier since then, but we didn't know it at the time. Hmmm, this could add some much needed challenge and motivation to get me through the long upcoming night ride.

It would only be for a personal challenge, not a record since I wasn't documenting the ride, but still...

I start running the calculations in my head and on the GPS. You'd need an average speed of 84 mph over 24 hours to break 2000 miles. I forget what my average was at the time, but it wasn't too far off. I can do this! I start to regret all the time wasted loitering at fuel stops now, and resolve to be the model of efficiency for the rest of the night.

Only problem is, it's dark, getting cold, and I know that I am going to have to cross the Rockies at some point. I'm wondering if I'm going to hit snow and/or ice along the way.
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Old 01-17-2006, 11:38 PM   #6
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Lights in the distance eventually blossom into Cruel Jacks truck stop in Rock Springs, an oasis of food, fuel, and heat. The temps have dropped into the 30s, I'm getting tired and hungry and am in no mood for making a record-fast pit stop. I'm also almost totally deaf. I haven't been able to find earplugs, and have resorted to using techniques learned on rides through non-english speaking countries. Smile, nod, don't buy anything that requires communication. I get two shrink-wrapped ham and cheese sandwiches from the cooler, and three cans of Amp energy drink.

Back outside, I'm shaking too much to even open the cans. I put on the Gerbing and plug it in. Ahhh, heat. Shaking subsides enough to down the sandwiches and drinks. I yap on the phone (but can't really hear), loiter in the bathroom, generally anything to avoid getting back on the bike.

But this record isn't going to set itself. I mount up and head out. We're climbing. Definitely climbing. Getting colder, but I can still see occasional stars, so I guess it's not going to snow right away. I start to see snow on the side of the road. Hmmm, how high am I going to go, and how far away is the high point? I text dizave "where is continental divide"?

Shortly thereafter I pass an innocuous little sign that says "Continental Divide, altitude 7000ft" (or something like that). Never mind, dizave. I guess this is as bad as it's going to get. Sweet! Turns out 80 passes well north of Denver, and in fact doesn't even go through Colorado at all.

Coming down out of the Rockies towards Nebraska, I get back to work on boosting my average speed to 84. I'd only lost 1-2 mph with all the loitering at Cruel Jacks, but I still had a ways to go to pull it up. I was running the numbers. I'd hit the 1000 mile mark at 12.5 hours, so I just needed to make up an extra hour over the next 1000 miles. Piece of cake.

Another fuel stop a few miles short of the border. Pounded another Amp and a big cup of hot chocolate. I hit Nebraska running.
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Old 01-17-2006, 11:40 PM   #7
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Nebraska is another one of those states I'd been told to dread. dizave says the only way he can do it is to go at night and pretend it's actually Colorado. I don't remember much about it. I was focused on my numbers. Did a real nice Iron Butt style fuel stop up about halfway through in Lexington, and just kept my eye on the goal. 2000 miles would be right around the Iowa/Illinois border, so all I had to do was finish Nebraska and get through Iowa. At about 2:30am (18 hours) I passed the 1500 mile mark. I was feeling a little tired, but alert. The mental gymnastics really help. I also like to buy snacks to chew on. The act of carefully fishing out the snack, unwrapping it, disposing of the wrapper in a pocket, getting it into my mouth and then chewing it, all of that is good for at least 15 minutes of renewed alertness when I'm feeling a little out of it.

I got through Omaha and hit the Iowa border around 3:30-4am as I recall. That record was as good as in the bag as far as I was concerned. All the numbers were working out, I was still relatively alert and the bike was running fine (I think by that time the fork had finally run dry and stopped spraying oil all over my helmet and Darien).
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Old 01-17-2006, 11:44 PM   #8
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That's when I encountered the fog. Not just any fog, but a thick, cold, icy "can't see your hand in front of your face" fog. I slowed waaay down. Trucks were moving at a walking pace. I got a glimpse of a deer in someone's headlight. This Sucks. I persevered until my planned fuel stop. I rolled up to a virtually deserted Kum & Go at about 5am. Didn't realize how cold I was until almost dropping the bike at the pump. No strength left. Lots of shaking.

Must. Have. Hot. Chocolate. Mmmmm... much better.

Loiter a while inside, get another Amp. Back outside I start shaking again. I had noticed a really dodgey looking hotel across the street when I rode up. I start squinting towards it in the fog. 1735 miles so far. Only 265 to go for my record. But the fog shows no sign of relenting, and I really, really don't want to put this cold, wet helmet back on. A glimmer of common sense struggles though the mental fog. I shakily ride across the street, and roust the surly manager from a sound sleep. $25 for a room. I gladly pay cash, so as not to have to deal with the whole issue of not having an ID.

The room is what you'd expect. Cinder blocks, rock hard mattress, and electric heat. I peel off the soaked riding gear, arrange it on and near the heater and turn it up full blast. Set the alarm for 10am and hit the sack. By 11am, I'm showered and refreshed, rolling through warm and sunny Iowa with nice dry gear on. What a difference!
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Old 01-17-2006, 11:46 PM   #9
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ride

sweet
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Old 01-17-2006, 11:48 PM   #10
Jackhole OP
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I'm starting to wonder about my front tire. It was pretty well shot when I left California, and I wonder if it really has another 1500 miles in it. I've never experienced a blowout at speed on a bike, but I'm guessing it could jeopardize my 50 hour attempt. I call dizave for info on the nearest BMW dealer because I know he's partial to one here in Iowa. He comes through with directions and coordinates. I turn off the highway and start heading towards it. But first I need a toothbrush. And a snack. And a drink. I realize I'm wasting time, procrastinating. I also realize that best case, even if the dealer has the tire in stock, and can give me a service slot, I'm probably looking at a good 2-3 hour total delay. F-that. Besides, it'll be fun to see how many miles I can wring out of the tire. Be stupid not to. After all, it doesn't look anywhere near as bad as the rear one did when I replaced it.



I get back on the highway. Mile after mile of America's Heartland farms slip by. Impressive in their scale, but nothing compared to the sights I'd seen just hours ago in the wild west. I cross the Mississipi and into Illinois around 2:30pm. 2000 miles. Lunch and gas in Peru, IL, about 100 miles outside of Chicago. Looks like I'll be able to get the full Chicago rush-hour experience.

I had made the mistake of grabbing my lunch at the convenient Burger King at the last gas stop. Already feeling fatigued, that greasy burger pretty much finished me. I just could not keep the eyes open. Stopped several times for rests and energy drinks. Chicago traffic was a bear as expected. Struggled through it and headed towards Toledo.

Near Toledo, OH, I pulled into a huge Pilot truckstop. This thing appeared to be to trucks what Chicago's O'Hare is to airplanes: Busy. It was about 8pm, and I tried desperately not to get squished. Rewarded my success with a microwaved pizza and a huge energy drink. Loitered for a good half hour before pressing on.
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Old 01-17-2006, 11:52 PM   #11
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I don't know if I explained yet about the wallet, but suffice it to say that I'd lost it about a week or so earlier. I had with me only a backup ATM and credit card. No form of ID. So when I blew by the Ohio State Trooper hidden in the median at about 95, I had a feeling that this was something that could end badly. He threw on the lights and sprang out of his hidey hole. The radar detector never said nuthin.

Over the years I've developed a simple and effective system of dealing with this situation. It's basically:

1. Pull over immediately. Don't make him chase you.
2. Get the helmet and gloves off before he gets to you.
3. Be friendly, look him (or her) in the eye, and don't deny.
4. Fess up, be contrite, but offer some explanation other than hooliganism.

This systems effectiveness was definitely about to be tested.

"Sir, do you know why I stopped you?"
"Yes sir, I was going along at a pretty good clip."
"I clocked you at 95. Any particular reason for going that fast?"
"Well I didn't realize it was that fast, but traffic is light and I wanted to make up some lost time."
"Where you headed?"
"Rhode Island"
"Where you coming from?"
"San Francisco"
"Wha.. What's wrong with you?"
"Sorry?"
"Why do you do something like that?"
"Well, I have to pick up my kids tomorrow..."
"What is this, extra fuel?"
"Yessir. 5 extra gallons"
"what kinda range to you get with that?"
"About 350 or so"
"Alright, let me have your license and registration"
"Ah, here's the registration, but I don't have a license with me"
"What! You don't have a license?!"
"No, no, my wallet blew out of my pocket while riding through the desert"
"What are you doing for money and gas?"
"I've got a spare credit card"
"You ever get a ticket in Ohio before?"
"No sir"
"Alright, just slow it down. This section of road is heavily patrolled for the next 20 miles or so. Have a good ride."
"Thanks, appreciate that."

Nice guy.
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Old 01-17-2006, 11:55 PM   #12
buzzardair
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Wow, I rarely have that luck.

Great post, keep it coming.
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Old 01-17-2006, 11:56 PM   #13
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As I rode on through Ohio and into Pennsylvania, my mind turned to thoughts of weather. I'd heard reports of record rain and flooding in the northeast, and I must admit to not being to keen on the idea of being very wet and very cold. I called my Dad, and he gave me a fairly grim weather report. Sections of major highways in and around NYC were closed due to flooding. Even though I really wanted to ride the full length of route 80, bridge to bridge, I decided to forgo the George Washington Bridge picture in NYC.

As I stopped for gas at a Flying J in Brookville, PA, the rain was just starting. Just a light rain, and not really that cold. I felt a little foolish for being so apprehensive about it for the last several hours. What kind of advrider is afraid of a little rain? I guess I was still just a little traumatized by the cold death-fog from the night before. Did I mention how much that sucked? Anyway, this rain only sucked a little. About halfway through PA, the rain started getting heavier. Visibility was really limited with the spray off the many, many trucks. The road seemed to get narrower, and the curves sharper, as we headed into the Appalachian mountains. I was doing 80-90mph and getting passed by trucks on the downhills. It was a little unnerving.

But in spite of the adrenaline, I was crashing. Couldn't keep the eyes open. It was probably around 3-4am, and the energy drinks weren't cutting it anymore. I pulled into a small, closed gas station and parked next to the dark pumps under the canopy. With my fuel cell installed, I can't kick back and sleep on the bike like I normally would. The ground was too wet for sleeping, so I put the bike on the center stand and just slumped over the tank bag, helment and all. I woke up about an hour later to see a car parked next to me with several curious faces staring at me. They jumped with surprise and drove off when I sat up. Guess they thought I put the bike up on the center stand and then died.
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Old 01-18-2006, 12:00 AM   #14
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Next gas stop was Middletown, NY. I was still struggling, but it was morning and even a wet, overcast morning is better than the dark pre-dawn hours. From this point I had only about 180 miles to go, and it was only 7am. I was going to be home in well under 48 hours. Time to relax and have a big breakfast. I found the local McBreakfast joint and feasted. Even drank coffee. Made lots of phone calls. Read the paper. Mosied on over to the gas station and filled up. 8am, 180 miles to go. Piece of cake.

Wrong! Those last 180 miles were the hardest of the entire ride. I hadn't gone 20 miles when I almost fell completely asleep on the bike. That big greasy breakfast was my (almost) fatal mistake. I pulled off and bought an Amp, even though at this point I never wanted to see another energy drink as long as I lived. Headed back out on the highway, and made it another 10 miles before having to pull over. And so it went. A few miles, a rest. A few more miles, a snack or a drink.

It started to rain in earnest. This was Ark weather. The only good thing was that it wasn't cold. I think it was probably in the upper 50s. The heated grips turned my gloves into hot water baths for my hands. I finally made Hartford. Halfway there, only 90 more miles to go. I could see route 295 (goes right by the Lair) on the GPS, but the stinking thing wasn't routing right. It had me going 40 miles past my house. Oh well, I know where I live, and I'm almost there. I just like to see the distance tick down on the GPS. Stupid thing, why does it choose now to break?
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Old 01-18-2006, 12:03 AM   #15
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Then I realized, that's not 295, that's 395, and I'm not almost home. I've got 40 more miles I didn't know about. I'd just come more than 3000 miles in less than 48 hours, and yet that 40 miles seemed insurmountable. I just wanted stop. I was falling asleep at traffic lights. I fell asleep when a traffic cop stopped traffic for a road construction crew. I was done. More than done. Well done. Somehow I held it together and arrived at the Lair at about 11:45. According to Garmin, it was 49 hours and 3 minutes after leaving the Golden Gate. 3102 miles total.



You'd think I'd want to sleep. But I didn't. I unpacked the bike, browsed advrider, answered emails, f-ed around and then finally took a 2 hour nap before going to pick up the kids.

It was several days before I really got caught up on my sleep, and more than a week before my hearing was back to normal. It was a great experience, learned a lot, saw a lot, and would definitely do it again.

Here's what the route ended up looking like:



Thanks for reading.

Jackhole screwed with this post 01-18-2006 at 09:06 AM Reason: I'm really starting to dislike firefox...
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