|09-08-2013, 12:48 AM||#1|
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Southeastern Idaho
Saddlesore 1000, Preston style
The Iron Butt Association's rides have been calling my name for some time now, but until recently I haven't had a bike that I felt was up to the task.
About a month ago, I bought a Yamaha FJR 1300, and that changed everything....a couple of day rides on that bike and I knew it was time to go long.
For anyone not familiar, you can see what the IBA is all about here:
I decided to do what is arguably the easiest of the rides, the Saddlesore 1000, which is 1000 miles in under 24 hours. I like this ride because its within reach of a first timer, but still requires planning and a bit of grit to get it done.
After much research and reading up on the subject, I planned out a route. What one wants for this sort of thing, where time is of the essence, is to use the slab wherever possible. It can be done on smaller roads but would be quite a bit more difficult. However, I wanted to do a loop, so that at the end of the day I would end up back home. After looking around a bit I came up with this route:
I figured this would do the trick - enough freeway to make good time with a bit of brisk two lane thrown in to make an interesting loop of it. Also, I wanted to go west in the morning and east in the evening so as not to have the sun in my face for hours on end.
Now, say what you will about the desert, this time of year the high west desert has a charm all its own, with reasonable temperatures, good weather and the tang of sagebrush in the air.
With the route decided upon, all I needed was a free day and good weather. I havent been working Fridays lately, so I watched for one with a good forecast. About a week out, Friday Sept 6 2013 looked like a pretty good day. The only fly in the ointment was a forecast for a 20% chance of evening thunderstorms in Idaho and Utah. I would prefer one of those "not a chance in hell of a thunderstorm" days, but if you wait for "perfect" you may never go. And, in my mind at least, as hardy adventurous souls we should be able to accept a little bit of weather. Fair weather only riders we strive not to be. Anyway -
Thursday afternoon was spent with the bike - I changed the oil and differential fluid, made sure the tires contained the perfect amount of air, and gave her a good wash so she could at least start off clean and beautiful. I knew it wouldn't last, but what then hell.
After that, I packed what I thought I might need. This amounted to 5 PB and J sandwiches, some Underarmor in case I found myself chilly, a couple of big bottles of water, my Camelbak, some Gatorade and jerky, a flashlight, a pocketknife, a basic first aid kit, ibuprofen, sunscreen, chargers for my iphone and GPS watch, headphones and ear plugs. This was my idea of traveling light. The bike has its own tool kit and a CO2 tire repair kit under the seat.
Here is the result of all the packing, lubing and washing:
Oh, I threw on a gallon gas can, to help me not stress fuel between Winnemucca and Nampa, ID. That stretch of road looked pretty lonely, and I had heard horror stories of gas stations out there being out of gas, or closed at odd hours, or whatever. I didn't want to paint myself into that particular corner. That leg planned out at about 240 miles, which should be in easy reach of the FJR's range. But what if I had to buck a head wind or something? That extra 40-50 miles worth on the back shelf would save a lot of stress and a lot of walking, so on it went.
I had just bought a new indestructo case for my iphone, so that it could withstand rain a maybe even a moderate drop or two - more about that later. It is mighty inconvenient in today's world to break your phone or have it go dead - mostly because one's loved ones will freak right the hell out when you suddenly go off grid on a long motorcycle ride. I did NOT want that to happen - to be listed as MIA by loved ones whilst motoring placidly down the road.
Depart at 4am and arrive back home ~ 8pm, just before dark. I did not want to ride that last stretch from Pocatello, through Downey, ID and home in the dark, as that road is littered with deer corpses, and I did not feel like contributing any more. Feejers and deer don't mix. Also, I knew I would be tired by then, and wouldn't be in the mood for bonus challenge deer dodging.
Part of the deal with an IBA ride, is that is must be meticulously documented with fuel receipts that have date, time and address stamps. It is also important, on a loop route like mine, that you have fuel receipts at the four "corners" of the loop, so that you can show that you didn't take any shortcuts.
My planned fuel stops were Bountiful, UT - Elko, NV - Winnemucca, NV - Nampa, ID - Burley, ID - Pocatello, ID. The fuel stop in Burley was irksome, because I really needed to stop in Pocatello further down the road, it being a corner, but didn't think I had the range to make it in one shot. By the map, it was ~280 miles from Nampa to Poky. I was going to end up fueling in Burley and then again in Pocatello barely 100 miles later. lame.
A word here about the Saddlesore 1000 in terms of fuel stops and time. 24 hours is plenty of time to do the ride - if you take 1000 miles and divide it by 24, you only have to make about 42 miles per hour to make it. Piece of cake, right? Well, the insidious clock, the one you don't see, is the fatigue clock. I don't know about you, but after about 18 hours of being awake, I'm pretty well whupped and have no business doing anything but sleeping. That's six hours before the end of the time limit. Ugh. There is also the daylight clock to consider, the less riding at night the better for multiple obvious reasons.
The object of the game, then, is to finish in under 18 hours without rest, and if you have to bail out and take a nap or a long break, finish in under 24. If one goes out toward the 24 hour mark, you're pretty much going to have to get some rest, so I figured 18 hours was the point of rapidly diminishing returns. Well, my goal was to finish in under 18, before serious scary fatigue set in and before I had to roam the west with all the other nocturnal creatures.
That being the goal, fuel stops become an issue. If you figure 15 minutes per fuel stop, I was looking at 1.5 hours, just getting gas. Of course you have to consider the extra time required for biological necessities and chow. Throw that in and now you're closer to 2 hours, not moving. Now, we need to do the ride in 16 hours moving, which comes to 62 mph average. Now its getting interesting...and now you can see why freeway time makes it so much easier, and why that two lane between Winnemucca and Nampa was a cause for concern.
So the saddlesore 1000 - plenty of time to come dragging in at 23.5 hours if things go south in a big way, but that is not the desired outcome. I wanted to crisply and cleanly come in at 18 or less.
To that effect, my plan was to keep all stops to 15 minutes or less, less if possible, to eat and drink while moving, and maximize my range and avoid stopping wherever possible.
To drink while moving, easy. I would have my camelbak inside my tank bag, with the hose hanging out. All food was also in the tank bag, easily accessible.
A stop was to look essentially like this, roll up, hop off, tank bag on the seat, pump gas, replace tank bag, refill camelback from bottles in the panniers, throw away garbage, stow receipt, pee if you have to, roll out. Do not lose wallet, sunglasses or phone in the process. MAKE SURE THE RECEIPT SHOWS DATE AND ADDRESS. Easy right?
Here's how it went:
Leg 1: Preston to Bountiful.
Woke up at 3:30am, chugged some coffee and ate a fried egg sandwich, kissed my lovely wife who got up with me to see me off and cook me a sammich whilst I dressed, goodbye, and we're off. Cruised to the local gas station and topped off, pulled the receipt and looked at it. Damn, the time code is off, says 3:37 and its now closer to 4:05. I need a more accurate departure time than that. They mentioned ATM receipts will work, so I haul ass to my bank, and pull out some money, there we go. Time stamp and address are accurate, and I'm on the clock at 4:10 AM. I'm exilerated and a little nervous about being timed now, there is this odd sense of urgency, and I have at least 17 hours to go, and 1000 miles. Okay its dark, don't rush, don't speed, don't hit a deer. Alert, scanning for threats, steady and easy. After a few miles I start to relax, and enjoy the ride. It's early and dark, but quite warm. I can see stars up above the lights of the town with a few clouds scudding along up there. The FJR sings its song, and its superb brights light both lanes, the warm wind washes over my visor and suddenly, I'm really glad to be on this trip. I feel like I'm wrapped in a bubble of warm wind and engine purr, with the stars and me the only ones to know. I'm headed south, and I pass a northbound skunk in the other lane, waddling along. I say him way way early, no chance of hitting him even if he WAS in my lane. As it should be.
Rolling into Logan, I hit the first stop light red, and I wonder if this 3 minutes of waiting would be significant later on. Odd that it might. With that, I carefully watch my speed to as to hit the synced green lights on main street as I pass through town, my mission is to make miles, and I'm single minded about it. Just outside of Logan, a light rain starts hissing on the windshield - strange, I can still see stars. The rain isn't even enough to wet the road, just enough to make it smell good. I have one pass to go through before I hit I-15 southbound. Just as Im headed up the first hill, I come up behind a guy on a victory, with that nutty big V tail light. Hes going about the right speed, and were in deer country, so I move into stagger formation a short distance behind him and follow him through the canyon, adding my headlight to his. Between the two of us we light the place up pretty well, no chance of Bambi surprising us, and less chance of a cager not seeing us as well. At the downhill end of the canyon in Brigham City he's turning left so its time to part, we give each other the wave - see ya later canyon buddy.
I merge onto I-15, roll on some throttle and instantly I'm doing 80. There are cars on the road with me now, so in addition to animal survival mode I have to switch to cagers who cant see me very well in the dark and want to kill me mode. Eyes peeled forward, and scanning the mirrors for the asshole in the diesel pickup coming up from behind at 90. Don't see him yet, but hes on his way. Ahh yes here he comes, right on cue. Slide right, let him by, back left. Don't ride in the blind spot of the Honda, don't let the semi mask your view ahead, there's road alligators lurking in the dark. Wouldn't do to follow the work truck with all the dubiously secured shovels and shit in the back, best get around him. And so it goes, until before I know it, my exit is coming up for my "corner receipt" fuel stop. It goes like clockwork, whip in, fuel whip out. 9 minutes total, and i have a receipt and a full tank of gas. Hell yes I do.
Leg 2: Salt Lake City to Wells, NV
Not much SLC traffic to deal with this morning, its still too early. Its still dark, maybe just a touch of gray starting up at 6:00 AM. As I head out of town westbound toward the salt flats traffic is getting thinner and thinner. Over there, on the inbound to the city lanes, the headlights are bumper to bumper with all the poor bastards going to work. See ya suckas. I suddenly feel fortunate. Fortunate that I'm not working today, and fortunate that Ill get to see the sun rise in the mirror of a marvel of Yamaha engineering. I pass the big stacks in Magna with its strobe lights, it too is beautiful in the early morning. Out past Toole, the barrow pit on both sides of the road is filled with salty, marshy water from the great salt lake...you can see the salt crusting and crystallizing on the fenceposts in the now lighter than gray morning light - there are also piles of what look like foam around the edges. Foam? What the....I dunno. The air becomes thicker with the smell of the salt marsh, until I'm literally wondering if it could possibly smell any nastier. I mean, If it were to smell some increment worse, would I even be able to discern it? I doubt it. I think my stench o meter is pegged. The air is also thick with bugs, little fly size bugs, by the thousands. I toggle the windshield higher to keep them off of my so far clean helmet visor, and marvel at how I can actually hear them splatting, uninterrupted on the windshield, like rain.
Presently, though, Im away from the lake and the stench and the bugs, and out onto the salt flats. Here, the freeway is straight as an arrow, and mostly empty. It is almost tempting beyond withstanding to not whack the throttle WFO and let the feejer run, but the last thing I need is a ticket and the 30 minutes wasted it would take to get it. I settle for something less than 95 and more than 80. More or less.
And, gloriously, I notice the landscape turning orange with the rising sun as I near the Bonneville speedway.
The Lone Biker of the Apocalypse
I want to wheel in and give it a go -
Here I learned a valuable lesson that would pay off huge later in the day. At speeds above 70, the FJR's fuel mileage drops off precipitously. Its perfectly happy to go as fast as you want, but it starts to gulp fuel. But at speeds around 60, it sips daintily. Good to know. West of Wendover I start to watch my fuel computer and gas gauge like a hawk. I don't think im going to make Elko, even if I put in my reserve gallon. Hmm. Oh well, If I can make Wells, I should be able to make Winnemucca from there, so it doesnt matter.
I make Wells just starting into reserve fuel, so I zip in for some fuel. Gas up, and damn, no receipt. I dash inside, wait in line, and get a receipt from the attendant who thinks Im an idiot, wanting a receipt for 6 gallons of gas. Oh well, as long as Im here might as well hit the restroom. By the time Wells is done with me 20 minutes has elapsed. Crapola. Oh well, onward.
Leg 3: Wells NV to Winnemucca NV
Not much to report here, more freeway, the Ruby mountains are Blazing orange in the morning sunlight, it gets surprisingly cold and Im glad I didnt take my jacket liner out in Wells. I thought about it. The tunnel outside Carlin is closed, and there is a 45mph detour around it. Slows me down, but I did see a nice marsh with ducks tucked up in that little valley there. Whoda thunkit? I'm not worried about fuel because its only 150 miles or so to Winnemucca. On a quiet stretch of road I eat some jerky and a PB and J. Damn delicious a PB and J whilst cruising. Also, who needs a tray table when you've got a tank bag behind a nice windshield. Cranked on the heated grips for awhile. Starting to feel the first hint of my back and neck starting to feel the ride, I start stretching and moving about on the bike finding different positions. I roll into Winnemucca about 10:30 PDT. I gained an hour on the time zone change but I know its really 11:30 back home. Hard to believe ive been on the road 7 hours already.
Leg 4: Winnemucca to Nampa, ID
In Winnemucca, at least, the receipt was acceptable, but a guy came up and wanted to talk motorcycles and ask questions - "where ya been, where ya going, why the hell would you do that" and so forth. I finally pretty much had to just get on and ride away from him. See ya dude, I have an agenda here. I got out in about 20 minutes there too. My last two fuel stops had been too long, I begin to realize that my fantasy about 10 minute fuel stops just isn't in the cards. It takes a few minutes to get the kinks out and get it done. Oh well. Ill do my best.
This leg is the one ive been worried about, a long lonely two lane, and 260 miles before I want to stop for fuel again. I have 6.6 gallons on board, I need to average close to 50 mpg so as not to have to stop and use my gallon or god forbid run out. As I get on the road, I realize that that 55-60 mph nets me the mileage I need. Its pretty dull at that speed, on that road, in the sagebrush middle of nowhere, so I break out my audiobook and jerky and settle in for the 4 hour haul. A guy in a red Dodge pickup comes up behind me and passes, but then doesn't seem to want to go any faster. He settles in at about 58 mph and I follow along happily. He seems to make a point to not leave me, I wonder if hes a rider also and is kind of keeping an eye on me. Sure seems that way. I follow him all the way to Nampa, by the time we get there after 4 hours were like old buddies. We wave as I turn in to get gas. The feejer got well over 50 MPG at that speed and I still have 1/8 tank. I am pleased. Its 3:30 pm MDT now, coming down the home stretch, and I'm starting to feel the burn, but I feel a whole lot better than I thought I would, things are going well.
Leg 5: Nampa to Pocatello, ID
I top off with fuel, and squeeze in every single drop I can get in there, and I even use premium this time, hoping to get all the mileage I can out of this tank. Id really like to go nonstop to Pocatello and save the 20 minutes in Burley. If so, I think I can get home well before dark. With my newfound knowledge about fuel economy and my FJR, I think I can do it, plus Im on a road with lots of gas stations and I have my rescue gallon. I determine to push through to poky.
When I pick up my receipt, I notice, no address on it. Shit. This is a corner receipt too, I NEED this one to say Nampa, ID on it. I dash inside, and buy a redbull. Surely, the inside receipt will have the address. No dice! Back out to the bike, chug the redbull, wash down a handful of ibuprofen because me knees are aching a little and hit the road. Ill need to find another receipt before I leave town. I hop on the freeway, and seeing gas signs, hop off again, whip into the first station I see and buy a damn snickers bar. Success! I really need to not stop in Burley now, Im 5 hours from home and its 4:11pm. Ive wasted nearly 45 minutes in Nampa. Im going to have to resist the urge to go fast, go slow and steady, and make it to pocatello. Youd have to go pretty fast to make up for a 20 minute stop. The math was now beyond me but....
Down the freeway we went, watching the av MPG computer...looking good 55mpg, 58mpg - by golly, I think were gonna do it just fine. Okay, there goes Burley, next services 38 miles, and Ive got plenty. All this time, I'm watching the sky ahead of me, and I'm not liking what I'm seeing. Not at all. Over towards Pocatello im seeing big, black clouds, what looks like a wall of weather. Not good. Oh well, stick to the plan, see what happens. The closer to the weather we get, the windier it becomes, and now im bucking a good 20 knot headwind, and the MPG goes in the toilet. Well, not in the toilet exactly, but I'm operating to fine tolerances here. It becomes apparent to me that Im not going to make Pocatello without stopping, and im not even sure I want to. Its black up there, and there is lightning, and daylight is fading. I begin to have visions of having to throw the towel in 50 miles from home. Sonofabitch! Im down to one bar on the fuel gauge now, so its time to put in the reserve gallon. I see a rest area and take the exit. Its time for a NASCAR style pit stop. Off with the tank bag, off with the tie down, mess around with the safety dammit on the fuel can until i figure it out, dump in the fuel, secure the can, tank bag back on and bam, back on the road. There was a family there, resting on the picnic table, looking at me like I was insane. Dont worry folks, everything A-OK here, nothing to see here, just a tired looking dude on a motorcycle doing the fastest fuel transfer from a jerry can you've ever seen, for no good apparent reason, so he can ride into the obvious tempest you can see just over there. We're having fun now! I took a second to look at the radar on my Iphone, and there IS a glimmer of hope. The worst of the storm is over Pocatello right now, and is moving away from me, If I dawdle a bit, I think, Ill be fine. However, its going to be dark, and I WILL have some rain between me and home. It wont be deadly lightning and thunder drowning rain, but it'll be damp. Oh well. Onward. I ride ride up to where it begins to pelt rain drops and take the first exit that has a gas station. And here, I see the most amazing sight, the most beautiful sight of the day, and I took a moment to capture it:
Wow and what a rainbow. Made dealing with the storm worth it, just getting those shots.
Last Leg: Pocatello to HOME
Im tired now, and Ive not got far to go, but its going to be the hardest of all the riding Ive done. Its raining, its a lot of freeway, and its getting dark.
Im lucky though, the worst of it has moved through, the rain isnt heavy, the lightning has moved off to the east. The roads are very very wet though, with puddles in the right lane from the semis leaving ruts in the freeway, and the left lane, while less puddly, is full of pissed off cagers who feel like 80 is the only speed for them, rain or shine. I try the left lane for awhile but soon give it up when car after car tries to crawl up my staintune pipes. Thanks, ill take the puddles. They arent too bad if you stay close to the white line. Thankfully though, as I moved out of Pocatello, the traffic got thinner and the road got drier, and all dangers remained potential, until before I knew it, I was off the freeway and on to two lane with only 30 miles to go. It was dark, and deery (not dreary, deery) so I crept along at 40mph with eyes peeled. Before long, I was riding into town - glad I was to see my ATM and get that receipt at 9:21pm, 17 hours and change after Id left. Not too shabby :). I called all the worried people and told em I was home and moseyed at no particular speed the last few blocks home.
|09-08-2013, 09:05 AM||#2|
Joined: Jun 2013
Location: South East Idaho
Awesome and congrats!
I have been contemplating a saddle sore and the more I think about its crazy its more about the logistics than just riding a 1000 miles. Riding in the dark is my biggest worry, to many critters to hit around here.
|09-08-2013, 11:33 AM||#3|
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Southeastern Idaho
It was actually a lot of fun, I'd do it again, I really would. I think good planning and preparation makes it a lot easier, but it also requires an equal dose of brute force. Now I'm thinking about the 50cc....this could get addicting.
|09-08-2013, 11:50 AM||#4|
Joined: Jun 2012
Now that you've done it, and know what you ab the bike are capable of, would you think it's possible to plan for a nap or two? I've wanted to do an Iron butt run for a while, but I find myself fading after about 12 hours of riding. I'm still physically able to ride, but my mind just starts to go dark.
|09-08-2013, 12:28 PM||#5|
Joined: Dec 2007
Location: Southeastern Idaho
yeah, I think for sure there is time for a nap, in fact, there really is time to check into a hotel and get 5 hours of sleep. If everything goes well you can really get it done in 18 hours or less. I just wanted to do it all in one shot as a personal challenge thing, but there are lots of ways to do it. Ive heard of people leaving in the evening, doing half, sleeping, and then doing the rest in the morning.
|09-12-2013, 12:32 PM||#7|
Joined: Oct 2008
Location: Fairfield, CA, USA
Nice writing - thanks for sharing! I did one of those from Fairfield, CA to Polson, MT almost 2 weeks ago.
|09-16-2013, 01:45 PM||#8|
GET out of the way
Joined: Feb 2011
Location: Beautiful downtown Roy, WA
rest breaks were allowed???? now i learn that. 1099 miles in 16 hrs. i love Montana can you say speed in big letters... SPEED. The only cop I talked to pointed out i had parked in a handicap spot in the rest area. they need to repaint that sign.
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