Summer in December -a Jaunt Around Virginia – Dec 6,1998

I had been looking at this weekend on the calendar since early November… mainly because there was a full moon on Dec 3rd which would make riding easier at night. I was thinking about riding 1000 miles in 24 hours… my route was changed from a jaunt to Knoxville TN and back to straight down I-95 from the Wash DC area to Walterboro, SC and back. This route change was caused by the weather; it was warmer on the east coast then on the backbone of the Blue Ridge Mountains and usually less fog.

As it got closer I began to think about a piece of advice Bob Ray gave me off the LDR list. He suggested progressive rides of 300-500-700 miles before attempting a 1000 mile day. My experience is fresh, starting to commute daily on a motorcycle in July after completing the MSC at the age of 40. I ride in Wash DC traffic on my 1998 Honda Pacific Coast; the ultimate LDR mount… J

Anyway as it came closer to this weekend, business twice took me away from home. I knew I could do the 1000, but the question of cramming in a free weekend between work started to look undesirable. I went back to Bob Ray’s advice — the longest I had ever ridden was only 342 miles. Why not try a training ride over 500 miles to see how I do over time, and take some practice at gas stops, etc. I could get up early Sun and be back by early afternoon. Would not the 1000 mile ride be much more fun in the Spring with more daylight? I was still undecided…

On Saturday I went for a bicycle ride (one of my other sports) to clear my head and decided whether to go for the 1000 or wait until spring. The weather was hitting all-time highs on the east coast with high 70’s in VA and low 80’s in NC and SC where the route was laid out. Nighttime lows were in the 50’s; balmy compared to the 30’s we had previously in Nov. As I was riding I decided to take a shorter training ride rather than do the 1000. Better to take small steps rather than one large one and over the cliff…My mountaineering background has always given me a pretty good sense of “risk management” and this played into my decision.

I left the house at 4:10am this morning and my computer gas receipt put me “on the clock” at 4:28am with a full tank of gas. I took off straight south on I-95 through Fredericksburg, and through Richmond VA where I picked up I-85 south. I had two bouts on being sleepy and I stopped at rest stops to wake up for about 3-5 mins. I am usually quite alert when I wake up so I think this was my body telling me it was a bit worn down and that I had made a wise choice on this ride.

Right as my gas needle was nearing E, I turned off onto VA Route 1 at Southhill VA after 175 miles and gassed up. My first gas stop was 6 mins at the pump and back to the road. I then turned west on VA Route 58 where dense fog greeted me immediately. I was able to keep up about a 60 mph pace on a two lane highway with road construction since it was only 8:00am on a Sunday.

I followed this state highway all across the bottom of VA through Danville, VA and around Martinsville where I got see my 2nd NASCAR track of the day! (I had saw Richmond’s earlier). Before Rocky Mount, VA I stopped and had a snack (bananas) stretched and stripped off layers under the stich… it was finally warming up. (As soon as I left I-95, I had to turn my Widder vest on to keep warm in the damp and chilling fog) I took more gas at the next Exxon station and while I was there a guy came over and asked what kind of motorcycle I was riding as his teenagers in the mini van wanted to know. I told him the model and he said the teenagers thought it was “pretty”… Hey, a compliment is a compliment! I hooked up with I-581 in Roanoke, VA out to I-81 north. Back on restricted access interstate again, I cruised north at 75 mph with the throttle lock on firm. The traffic was light with a moderate cross wind.

The only excitement of the trip came when a cage with his back windows blocked with stuffed animals came left into my lane to avoid merging traffic. Even with the air horn blowing him awake, he was intent on being in my lane, so I rolled off the throttle and momentarily got in behind until I passed him a mile farther up the road. The traffic pace stayed high onto I-66 and all the way into Wash DC. I passed the 500 mile point at 8 hours, 52 minutes so it seemed like I was on a pretty good pace to do 1000 miles in 19-20 hours as the morning had been slower due to fog and the roads I traveled.

I arrived back home at 9 hours, 55 minutes covering a total of 570 miles for the day. A nice summer day jaunt in December! Aftermath: Good advice Bob Ray. Thank you. I am ready to the 1000 miles now and my first rally in 99. I will look for a balmy day in Jan-Feb or just do it comfortably in Apr after daylight savings time kick in. Thanks to all on the LDR list for the tips. They work!

Beta: 570 miles 9 hours, 55 minutes, avg. speed (including stops) 57 mph (did not commute rolling avg.) avg. mpg: 50.1 mpg.