What a difference a day makes… as I type this it is snowing heavily here in Washington DC. Yesterday I was riding back from Daytona Beach, Florida in clear but bone chilling temperatures. Saturday and Sunday I attended the International Bike Show and Daytona 200 and got a suntan. Last Friday had me riding through bone chilling temps to get to Daytona. There is a theme in development here…ride (cold) Florida (warm).
Had I been returning a day later I suspect I would be somewhere in Georgia in a hotel room waiting for the freezing rain to stop. I was lucky… on a couple of different fronts. When Tom Vervaeke, a good friend from Colorado Springs jokingly said I ought to meet him in Daytona for Bike Week I think I surprised him when I said sure. I had been looking for a reason to ride a long distance ride to check my abilities, and do a Saddle Sore 1000, a qualification for membership in the Iron Butt Association. Simply put, it entails riding 1000 miles within 24 hours. The ride to and back from Florida would be a great starting test.
I committed to joining Tom in Daytona in Dec 98, so I had time to prepare for the longest ride of my short motorcycling career. You see…I only have 5900 miles since I started riding in Jul 98; mostly daily commuting to the Pentagon in Wash DC. My longest ride was 570 miles in Dec 98, a circuit of Virginia for training purposes. Keeping with the Tom’s, Bob Ray’s, Louis Caplan, and the LDR lists’ advice, I prepared for my first 1000-mile day with planning and training. I had enough advice…I just needed to execute the plan…
First I planned the route using Street Atlas 6.0 and my Garmin GPS III+. The route to Daytona was straightforward. Go five miles from my house, get on I-95 south and get off 800 miles later in Port Orange where Tom and I were staying.
Time for execution. I left my house at 0200 on March 5th. 2 ½ hours later I am sitting at a truck stop in Emporia, Virginia sipping hot coffee, wondering if my hands will ever get warm. I am used to cold as I climb and hike in the winter routinely, but I am used to being active in that weather. Staying warm on a bike at 65-75 mph in 20 degree temperatures is a whole new challenge. I had all of the right clothes on plus my Widder electric vest, but my hands and feet were suffering. Either Widder gloves or heated grips before next winter! At least I never got sleepy as when the pain that accompanies thawing flesh hits you; it tends to keep you awake as many of you know! J
After that leg, the sun rose and I continued south, making good time and practicing the techniques needed for my try at a SS1000. Gas stops were fast; I used rest stops for breaks, and average speed and time in the saddle were up. Heading south coincided with shedding layers…I got thinner with every mile… 🙂
I-95 was a great road for making time that day and it was not until I hit Florida did the road become dangerous … seemed a lot of people needed to get somewhere quickly on that Friday! I made it safely to Daytona and Port Orange in 13 ½ hours, (782 miles).
Leg Data: Virginia to Florida
13 hours, 30 mins
Overall avg. speed (including stops): 56.4 mph
Rolling avg. speed: 66.0 mph
Max speed: 81.3 mph
Average mpg: 49.13 mpg
I arrived just time to make it to the IBA Pizza Party. It was nice to meet many of the riders but the group was so large, it was difficult to talk with many. I did find it amusing to meet folks such as Dale Horstman and Paul Taylor, both who live near me in VA. Sometimes you just have to ride long distances to meet local folks. It is probably time for a LDR gathering for DC area riders. I bet the veteran riders look around at the crowd and muse what happened over the years to draw these numbers. I suggest one word – the Internet. Tom and I left the event after eating and socializing and headed to the Ducati get-together in Daytona Beach. There, I was able to snag autographed posters from Ben Bostrom and Anthony Gobert of Superbike Team Ducati. They are now hanging in my son’s room.
Saturday was reserved the International Bike Show, where I checked out the BMW K 1200 LT and the 1100 RT. Tom kept me focussed on the R 1100GS; his main mount. My current bike, the Honda Pacific Coast, is not exactly the best bike for LDR. J Thats not hard to forget when Tom reminds you that you ride a scooter, not a motorcycle.
Later that day we went down to Bike week Central — the area near the Boot Hill Saloon. The things we saw…especially those two women being arrested for baring their topside to the crowd. Definitely a “different slice of humanity” as Tom observed.
Sunday was spent at the Speedway where we sat in the Winston Tower Grandstand for the Daytona 200 Superbike Race. Being an avid race fan of anything that goes fast and especially NASCAR, this was nirvana. The feeling of the bikes roaring past at 170 mph + was simply indescribable. I had never seen anything go that fast and not be flying. The race was contested by two riders; Miguel DuHamal (Honda) and Mat Mladin (Suz). Miguel took it by 12 inches at the line after 200 miles!
We caught dinner at a local restaurant and watched the end of the Las Vegas NASCAR race before heading back to pack up the bike for the attempt on Monday. As I was packing I was wishing I had bought the GIVI topcase to supplement my sidebags (read trunk) as I had acquired more things than I had brought with me from home.
The route back included detours over to Columbia, SC and a tour of western Virginia enroute to home to bring the total mileage over 1000.
After a couple of hours of fitful sleep, I got up, dressed and started out to get my time stamp for the beginning time. I had already attained a local firefighter as a witness for my odometer check. By 0145, I was headed north on I-95 making easy and good time on open roads. There were no other bikes on the roads, but I still passed many like they were standing still. Actually they were… I must have passed 20 trailers full of bikes being hauled back to the northern climes. I will not say the predominant brand I passed as I have a few friends that ride Harleys. I had planned this winter SS1000 attempt to start in the warm am temps of Florida and ride north to moderate afternoon temps in SC, NC, and VA. The Weather Channel predicted high 40’s and mid 50’s for these states.
As I crossed the Georgia state line the door closed. No, I take it back…it slammed shut. Balmy mid 50 temps from Florida evaporated and it quickly dropped into the low 30’s. In Brunswick, GA I was stopped for gas and put on a fleece under the Stich. Two hours later as the sun start rising I assumed warmer temps would follow as per the forecast.
Wrong! Just like the weather forecast for DC today. They called for 1-2 “; we got 8” now and it’s still snowing heavy! Anyway…it stayed cold, very cold. Into Columbia, SC for additional mileage and back on to I-95. Coming back to I-95, I see the turn off for Darlington International raceway; the third NASCAR track I have ridden by on my motorcycle in as many months. Still cold. I pulled into rest stop and went into the bathroom, the only warm place I was all day! I put on another layer of socks but the only real warmth I got was from my electric vest. I got gas in Richmond, VA at 2:46pm and used my cell phone to call home. I told my son I would be home after a quick tour of the Blue Ridge Mountains. From that gas station I was less than 90 mins from home, but I would add almost an additional 4 hours to my journey to get the necessary mileage.
As I ascended the Blue Ridge and crossed the Appalachian Trail on I-64, it of course, got colder. By this time, some 15 hours into the ride I had consigned myself to the cold , but I could feel my core temperatures starting to decline. By Strausburg, Virginia and my final gas stop before the finish, I was no longer staying warm, even with the vest on high. There reaches a point when the body with no movement to create heat simply loses it. My calories consumed from nutrition bars, Power Bars, etc were no longer matching my body’s required input to stay warm. I had a clear head however (first hypothermia check) and knew the end was in sight. As I rolled down into Wash DC on I-66, one could say I was “focussed on the finish”. I still had my daytime tinted helmet visor on so as the sun set, my visibility decreased. I knew there was no way I was going to be able to change it with my cold hands so I simply cracked it open as I pulled off the highway to enter the local neighborhood. I headed to the Exxon to get my finish receipt and verify the mileage. I carefully rode over the local fire station and obtained my finishing witness for my odometer. They thought I was a bit touched and a bit hypothermic. I think they were accurate on both counts. I assured them I had about 2 miles to get home and was home before they quit laughing. J
Leg Data: SS1000 FL – VA
1009 miles (odometer) 1019 miles (GPS)
17 hours, 8mins
Overall avg. speed (including stops): 59.4 mph (+3 mph from first leg)
Rolling avg. speed: 67.8 mph (+1.8 mph from first leg)
Max speed: xxx mph
Average mpg: 44.83 mpg (-4 mpg from first leg)
What did I learn from this experience?
Good people sharing good advice allow you to make good decisions
I can live on the Honda PC for 1000+ miles a day. 500-mile trips now seem smaller.
The Platypus Plastic water bag with drinking tube in the stich works great. $14. (Thanks Joe in Seattle) – I drank water every 15 mins all day long. Going to use it on a 50-KM hike in April I am doing.
Using Louis Caplan’s idea about managing documentation, I stapled each receipt on the paper. Nothing blew off under windy conditions at stops.
I used a clipboard with a pen attached on a cord. Clipboard was in a thin pouch in the saddlebag – never lost anything and it worked great.
Bob Ray gave good advice a ways back– move up to a 1000 mile days in steps. For me it was 350,570,800 and 1000 miles. Made yesterday almost like clockwork, both mentally and physically.
Get grip heaters or Widder gloves before next winter. Get boots before next big ride.
Aux fuel increase 4.2-gallon tank is next challenge. High 80/100-headlight bulb did a great job for illumination for now.
Weather (hot or cold) impacts a ride. This would have been an “easier” ride had it not still been winter in the US.
One drives faster after watching their first Superbike race in person
I have assembled the paperwork and will dispatch it in the morning to the IBA. This is the culmination of a six month desire to meet this challenge, and I know look forward to be a license plate carrying member of the IBA. As I sit here and watch the snow piling up I consider the conversations with Tom I had this weekend. You see, he spent a lot of time selling me on the merits of a ST1100 or a BMW 1100GS…. but I just got this bike last summer… And it’s great for commuting…. Did you know it has a trunk…? And…. Where is that BMW and Honda brochure I brought back…?