The Horkster's Glipizide Ride
Copyright Dale Horstman 1999
Sometimes when you are an aspiring LDrider, the demands of work, marriage, and family can really restrict opportunities for taking nice long rides. In cases like this, you have to *MAKE* opportunities as circumstances dictate. Read on for a classic example.
It is Tuesday evening. I had just gotten home from work, that dismal, hellish, macabre place I go to trade in 8+ hours of more-or-less wakefulness and a little bit of my soul each day for a small hunk of money and free hot chocolate from the office kitchen. After surviving the onrushing full-tilt charge knee height hug attack from my youngest daughter (quite cute, when you are expecting it, BTW), I am pleased to find that my customized license plate has arrived in the mail. Shortly before my first LD ride, a SaddleSore 1000 to Deal's Gap from my home in Virginia, I had christened my new 1998 Kawasaki Concours with the nickname "BugSlayer" due to it's penchant for collecting the remains of small 6-leggers on its copious bodywork and windshield.
So enamored have I become with the nickname, since it fits so well with the bike and how I like to ride, that I finally broke down and ordered up a special license plate for it. With a grin on my face, and new plate in my hand, I quickly headed back out the door (after prying my nearly three-years-old curly redheaded knee hugger from my legs and giving her a proper kiss and hug, of course!) to install the namesake plate on my bike.
Now anyone who has seen my bike in person knows that I am not too particular about keeping it clean. After all, that is what riding in the rain is for, right? But as I removed the old plate, and prepared to install the new one, I actually took the time to carefully clean and preen my official Iron Butt Association License Plate Frame. These frames can not be bought, they have to be earned. Earned the hard way, with a documented ride of not less than 1000 miles in a 24 hour period. It was my most prized accessory on the bike, a very nice but low-key way of saying "yeah, I take this stuff seriously". As I put the new plate in place, I wondered to myself when the next opportunity would be to make another long distance ride - yes, I hadn't had enough of the insanity, I wanted more.
Next up on the food chain after the SaddleSore 1000, previously mentioned as a 1000 mile in 24 hour ride, the IronButt Association has a ride known as the Bun Burner 1500, which is essentially an extra long version at the same pace, 1500 miles in 36 hours. There is an increasing level of difficulty in the IBA rides, and I have always wanted to do them in "order", have one ride of each documented. I have often wondered how to best tackle this BunBurner ride, for the possibilities seem endless. Run it straight through, without planned stops, trying to run max miles for a total 36 hour period? Or plan for a nice layover somewhere, and two shorter 750 mile days back to back? A long straight route? Or a big loop? Hmm, lots of possibilities. But alas, I wasn't sure of when I'd even be able to get free to attempt such a ride, with the days growing shorter and colder, and my lack of electrical riding gear, it seemed that I would have to wait till next Spring, at least. Little did I know at the time, but in a little over two hours, I would be headed down the road, papers in place, attempting the very ride that I thought was months away.
To Be Continued...
As I stood over my Concours, preparing to attach the namesake plate to BugSlayer's tail section, I heard off in the distance the faint strains of a 4 stroke thumper. Recognizing the distinctive sounds of the Wife's Bike, I couldn't help but smile to myself. Tonight I beat her home for a change, she always thinks I'm goofing off taking the long way home from work on my bike, over my protestations of innocence (sometimes they're even true!) and tonight she's gonna find me home early, but still screwing around with the bike. :) Oh well.
I sometimes wonder if she ever regrets getting me hooked on these two-wheeled contraptions. I've certainly gone off the deep end since we both began timidly street riding a couple of years ago. I've recently passed the odometer on her 12 year old secondhand Suzuki Savage with my "new" Concours, and doubled the mileage clicks on our old who-know's-how-many-hand 23 year old Kawasaki KZ400, our first bike.
For those of you who think I am rambling on about this, I probably am, but stay with me here, I'll get back to the "Ride that at this point in time I knew nothing about" soon enough. ;)
Yes, it was my dear wife Tracy's idea to buy the 400, a yard sale special my Dad bought in Pennsylvania for $300, and start riding on the street down here is busy urban northern Virginia. I thought she was nuts. "In *THIS* traffic?" I yelled at her. I couldn't accept the idea of my wife, *MY* wife, riding alone all by herself on a little scary motorcycle, for I knew she would ride alone, I know firsthand just how independent that Lady is. One of the reasons I love her, but it's exasperating at times. But she comes from a motorcycling family.
First of all, her Grandfather Tainton, 86 years and still kicking down in Florida, has a motorcycle. Still rides it, too. I remember back when Tracy and I were dating in Pennsylvania (btw, dating in Pennsylvania has sometimes been described as having a truck, a girl, and a case of beer all at the same time - I was more sophisticated than that, though) her Grandpa would make his annual pilgrimmage north to escape the summer heat in St. Petersburg. He'd load up his camper on the bed of his pickup, and somehow muscle (he's a little wiry guy, I still don't know how he does it himself) his ancient little Yamaha 100 up onto some bumper brackets he made himself, and drive the whole way up to Pennsylvania on backroads (he doesn't like the interstates) with this little motorbike mounted like a bicycle to his front bumper of his big old Ford pickup! He then would tootle around town all summer with the bike.
And Tracy's father and brother also own bikes (they also both claim ownership of a nice 70's Honda 750 Supersport in parts in their basement that I desperately want to buy off of either (both?!) of 'em and restore to its former glory. No sale so far. But that's another story. Her Dad has a Honda something 200 in PA that is still in more or less running shape, and has an 83 Kawasaki 440 LTD parked at our house in Virginia (he sort of hops around from house to house, ahh, retirement sounds sweet, doesn't it!), her brother has a pretty decent 81 or 82 Suzuki 1000 shaftie standard that I really like (and if he'll ever go get his real motorcycle license I'll stop harassing him about it and let him ride my Concours). Every summer he goes out in PA and gets a motorcycle learner's permit, dusts off his bike, and rides around until it gets cold again. One summer he rode down to our house from Pennsylvania on the Suzuki. I thought that was pretty cool. Closest thing to a Long Distance rider I ever met at that point (boy, how things change, now he thinks *I'm* the nutcase!) He never bothers to take the test and get the license. I think he is pretty silly. But I digress.
So it was at my wife Tracy's behest that we get into motorcycling. It's her fault. All of it. Every time she thinks that I'm doing something a little extreme, I make it a point of telling her that. ;) Haha. I've got an airtight case, your Honor. Game, set, match. Tracy is what we would call a normal rider - a 300 mile day is just fine with her, if we take all day to do it. She doesn't like getting cold, or wet, or tired, etc., etc., and she sort of just tolerates, without fully understanding, this recent Long Distance riding affliction that I've developed. She's been pretty good about it, all things considered, but I think she worries that I'll get in over my head on one of these rides, and she's not a good worrier, if you know what I mean. So I always try to approach the topics of long rides gently with her, and keep under wraps images of crazed, throttle whacking, double-bird flipping LD-icon guys like the infamous Warchild Dale Wilson (see him as pictured on his homepage)
(Note to Warchild: I love you man, but you need a better PR director! ;) ;) :)
Tracy rides up and parks her Savage, which is the proverbial ugly duckling amongst the line of Kawasaki's I've owned. But it suits her just fine. She watches me finish up affixing the new plate to BugSlayer. My bike now proudly bears the personalized Virginia motorcyle plate "BGSLYR". (Hey, I only had 6 letters to work with, give me a break!) The new plate gleams brightly from the dim front porch light, and I make some silly comment about how strange that clean plate looks on such a grubby bike, not knowing that in a few minutes my world would be turned upside down, and that new plate shortly would be getting a christening worthy of it's name.
The Phone Call:
It was getting pretty dark outside, and I had just finished up with installing the new license plate, so Tracy and I turned and headed for the house. I had mentioned earlier that I had gotten home before her. I had more or less just wrapped up a big task at work, one that had caused me to put in lots of extra time and work odd hours. Fortunately, the workload had decreased dramatically lately, and I was able to leave at a "regular" time and come home a little earlier than normal. We had overnight guests last night, as Tracy's Dad, and her brother Tom, and Tom's new girlfriend (Andrea?, never did get to meet her, heard she was cute, though) stopped for a layover at our place on their way down for a mini-vacation at Grandpa's in St. Pete, Florida (see, there was a reason I introduced everybody earlier! I don't just ramble for the hell of it! :)
Anyway, they got in late last night, after I went to bed, and I got up and went to work without disturbing them, so I never got to say 'hi!' or anything to our guests. Turns out they had already set out for Florida in their minivan earlier that afternoon. Sheesh. I'm always the last to know. They had to come back once for something (my father-in-law, he's getting really forgetful anymore, it's all the pills he has to take, so he says. Tracy and her Mom say it ain't so, but I'm not going there. :) So as we get inside, and now Tracy is warding off the kneecap assault of our youngest daughter (see, that's why I mentioned her earlier, too!) the phone rings. Tracy answers. Guess who, our recently departed companions. Seems her dad has forgotten his bottle of Glipizide pills, and didn't realize it till they were halfway to Florida (actually, I don't know where they exactly were when they called, just knew where they were headed, more or less.)
Now I don't know much about the medications he takes, but her dad has heart problems, sky-high cholesterol, diabetes, and other ailments. And, typical with guys his age (well, guys in general, I guess) he absolutely *HATES* messing around with doctors, pharmacists, medications, etc. etc. And to top it off, his retirement health plan is a pain to work with. He had just gotten this prescription filled (I found out later that Glipizides are diabetes medication) and he probably could get them re-filled in Florida, but it's a real hassle, at least in his eyes. I knew the chances were he'd say the hell with it, and just not take them for a week. That's the way crotchety old guys are, and the way they'll always be, I suppose. Anyway, Tracy said that she'd overnight them down to Grandpa's address, but that he wouldn't get them until Thursday (doesn't make sense, huh?) since it was getting too late to make the "overnight" delivery places tonight. As she hung up, I snorted derisively and bragged "So much for the overnight places, huh? I bet I could get them there faster."
Famous last words. Much to my surprise and astonishment, instead of some snide comment back, Tracy said "Yeah, you probably could. Go ahead." My jaw still hurts from where it fell on the floor. She knew I wasn't suggesting hopping in the family car (cage) either. I was free! I could go on my ride. I had wifely permission and everything! Work had calmed down some, they could do without me for a few days, and they owed me some time anyway, damnit! This was too good. Something had to screw it up, I feared.
I had driven down to St. Pete once in the car, I thought it was 800 something miles, good enough for a BunBurner 1500 with a little extra thrown in for insurance. My mind was reeling, trying to come up with all the stuff I would need for the trip. I didn't have the time to really prepare the way I would have.
A quick check of the weather online showed clear skies and moderate temps down the eastern seaboard. This was good, since I didn't have electric clothing, I would have to dress warmly and rely on the weather. Hey, I was heading South, it gets warmer down there, right?
A quick check of some mapping programs and a consultation of my US atlas showed the route, but we weren't sure of the exit numbers I needed off the interstates. Well, I'll just have to wing it. St. Pete is lain out in grids, with Avenues running East-West, and Streets running North-South (or is it the other way?) Worst case, I'd just have to fumble around in the 'hood till I found Grandpa's. I hoped it wouldn't come to that. Big cities and I don't get along.
So, before Tracy could change her mind, I started packing. :)
Damn, I'm up to part 4, and haven't even started riding yet? Sheesh. I'll try to shorten these up a bit. No promises, though. It's fun reliving the events in the retelling. Y'all are just gonna have to suffer with my wordiness. :)
So where was I? Oh yeah, started packing before the wife changed her mind (sad to say, but it was already too late - once I get fixated on something...) Everything seemed to be coming together. First off, I placed a call to the friendly neighborhood official IBA witness, Leon Begeman (what, your town doesn't have it's own IBA witness? Tough rocks, pal. Dale City, VA has two of 'em, but I can't witness for myself..) No answer. D'oh! Well, I'll try later, I've got stuff to pack.
I've got a duffel bag that *just* fits inside the right bag of the Concours. Paid $10 for it at Wal-Mart, as opposed to the bajillions of dollars Big K wants for its bag liners. In it I stuff the heavy winter one-finger gloves, wool socks, spare socks, my Chase Harper Breeze Buster neck gaiter thingy (warm, but I don't like the velcro closure that rubs at the back of my neck. On this ride, I might take warm over picky, so it stays. T-shirt (I hear it's warm in Florida this time of year). I also stuffed in my shaving kit which has every known pain killer recommended by veteran long distance riders. Aspirin, Ibuprofen, Excedrin, my favorite non-drowsy allergy pills, and a catchall drug, Tylenol. I should be golden against butt pain, so I think. Little did I know. Speaking of drugs, gotta throw in the bottle of Glipizides for the father-in-law. Whole reason for going, dontchaknow? It would be pretty silly to ride the whole way down there only to say, "hmm, now where did I put those pills?...) ;)
I've got a cb radio for the bike, but I don't have a functioning microphone yet, so it hasn't been mounted in a while. I messed around trying to get it hooked up in the dark, but it isn't working, so instead of blatantly violating IB rule #5. I decided to just leave it at home. I would be travelling "nekkid" - no electric clothing, no cb, no radio, no radar detectors, nuthin. Just me, the bike, and the road, as God intended it. :) Sigh.
I did a quick check of the gear already stashed away on the bike. When I travel "light", this stuff is always with me. My rain gear, two piece w/reflective stripes on the sleeves, light summer gloves, polypropylene glove liners, flashlight, toolkit, flat repair kit, fuel hose w/siphon pump (you never know), disk lock, spare fuses, bungee cords (two of 'em), a bungee net, sunscreen, and a hand towel for wiping down the seat/windshield after rain/bug encounters, etc. Also a couple of crushed beverage cans in case I had to park somewhere squishy. The Concours is top heavy, and I just know it's gonna bury itself kickstand first someday, so I always have 'em onboard. The toolkit was missing one key item, which I would wish for later. A small flat-bladed screwdriver.
The very trick screwdriver kit that came with the bike, a handle and two different double-ended screwdriver bits, failed miserably when I needed it once, I ended up with a jammed bit in the handle, which I couldn't remove without a vice and a blowtorch. So I scrapped it, and have been searching for a suitable replacement. Didn't have one yet. Oops. Oh well. Other than adjusting the throttle lock, what did I need it for, anyway?
As a last thought, I threw in two items, one I didn't think I needed, and one that I didn't think would work. The first was an inflatable air mattress, single sized. Great for camping, I thought that if I had to do the IronButt Motel, I might as well go in style. The second one, however, I suspected would give me problems, the electric air pump with a cigarette lighter plug. I didn't think this would work, because I installed a cigarette lighter accessory outlet on the Concours for the CB radio, and something in that set up wasn't quite right. Well, I'll figure it out later, if I need it, right. Into the saddlebag they go.
While I was scurrying around trying to find stuff I needed/wanted, I had Tracy try phoning Leon again. It's so nice having another official witness nearby, I think I am getting spoiled. Anyway, I couldn't leave without rubbing it in anyway, just like he did with his frequent rides out to Nebraska a few weeks ago. Dirty bastard! He got *paid* for it too. I'm in the wrong line of work. But I digress (yet again!) Tracy gets through, and I warn Leon that I'll be dropping by in a little bit for his signature on the dotted line.
It's about 8:00 pm, and the bike is ready, but I wanna lay down and catch a few winks before I take off. In retrospect, I should have just left. I was too excited to calm down, and essentially wasted 30 minutes trying to rest when all I could think about was going. I finally got all my gear together, and Tracy walked me out to the bike. What a girl! Although she is apprehensive about these rides, she's told me that she won't stand in the way of something that I really want to do. Gotta make it up to her somehow. But not now. I've got places to go, things to do. Vroom, vroom, I'm outta here! Off to Leon's!
To Be Continued...
Off to Leon Begeman's place, to have him witness my starting mileage for the upcoming ride. Leon lives in the same town as me, and is an approved witness for the IBA (see the whole list here: http://home.earthlink.net/~s2rider/witness.html ), so he is handier to use than a local law enforcement official. Besides, I just had to rub it in that I was *finally* going on a IB ride and he wasn't (usually it's the other way around :).
Leon invites me inside for a minute, where I get stuck trying to explain this nonsense to Mrs. Begeman. "Why can't my father- in-law just get his prescription refilled? Why don't you just overnight the pills down to him?" etc. etc. She thinks I am nuts, just like her hubby. Well, I figured if Leon can't make her see the light for his rides, there is no way I'm gonna do it either. As Leon and I walk back outside to look over the bike and the odometer, we chat briefly about my (lack of a) plan. I notice he starts shivering in the cool night air, he asks me pointedly "You don't have electrics, do you?" and shakes his head. I smile, he and I have gone around andaround on this topic before, it's sort of a private joke anymore. I'm fat and I can layer clothes well. I'll survive. We finish up the paperwork, say goodbyes, and I am off.
Now I ride to a gas station about 1 mile from my house, to get the all-important starting gas receipt. Everything is in order (this is one of the few receipts I won't have problems with on the trip), and I *finally* begin my journey.
Miles 0 - 131:
I get onto I-95 at exit 154 in Virginia, and point the bike South. It's 10:00 pm, it's about 50 degrees outside and cooling quickly, the night sky is bright and clear, lots of stars and plenty of moonshine - a great time for a ride! :)
And for the first hour and a half, things go well. Traffic is light this time of the evening, and I make good time. But the initial excitement of starting this long ride has started to fade, and reality sets in. It's getting colder, and my knees are beginning to cramp. This isn't helped by the extra layer of rain pants I'm wearing. I hate these rainpants, althought they block the wind well, and do a fair job when it actually rains, they are really uncomfortable to wear. In addition, my tail section is not feeling too hot already, this isn't a good sign so early in the trip. I try moving around on the bike, but the stepped stock seat of the Concours prevents much moving around. If only this long seat was flatter, I could more easily slide back and relax the extreme bend of my knees a bit. At midnight, after only two hours of travel, it's time to stop and stretch.
I pull into a convenience store in Stony Creek, VA, and stop to assess things a bit. After a trip to the restroom, and a quick purchase of all 6 cereal bars they had on the shelves (gotta have something to munch on), I come back out to the bike. My hands are cold, and my knees are sore, and my butt has felt better. For the hands, I've got warm glove liners that I fish out of a fairing pocket. But what about the knees and seat?
Then a sudden inspiration strikes me. I fish out the rolled up air mattress and a bungee net from the left side bag. The air mattress, when folded in thirds and rolled up, is just about the same width as the bike's seat, and sort of just fits where the step of the seat is. I strap it loosely in place with the bungee net, this looks like it might work! I finish up munching down a cereal bar, followed by a couple of aspirin (aspirin and I become good friends on this trip, even moreso than my older friend ibuprofen). I am also becoming good friends with my Camel-bak drinking system. It's pretty neat being able to drink cool water on the run, and not have to mess around chugging stuff at rest stops. I look like a first-rate dork with this thing on my back, but it functions well. I pack up everything else, and tenatively swing a leg over the new seating arrangement.
Miles 132 - 203:
Hmm. Feels different. The air mattress causes me to sit up higher, high enough that I can sort of slide back onto the ultra comfy passenger part of the seat without falling off the step like before. It feels a bit strange as I navigate out of the parking lot and back onto the highway, but once up to cruising speed, I see the total beauty of this setup. My knees are no longer bent past 90 degrees, and they feel just fine. The very firm support of the rolled up mattress catches me just on the back of the thighs, and it's comfortable. And my butt rests on the nice soft padding of the passenger seat. Ahh, this is wonderful! As an added touch, I can move all the way forward in the seat (where I would normally sit), and I am now wedged in between the gas tank and the rolled up mattress in the back. It doesn't sound comfortable, but it takes the load off of the pressure point at the back of the thighs, and is a welcome change after an hour or two. I've found the solution that will let me ride the rest of the trip in relative comfort.
Having solved that problem, a new one arises shortly. My lack of proper rest is beginning to catch up to me. Sigh. Well, I could probably use some gas anyway. Time to find a good place to stop.
The Zip Mart & Amoco in Battleboro, NC puts the "pit" in pit stop. What a hole. No pay at the pump, so after putting in 4.85 gallons of what I presume is gasoline, I go inside to pay. Without thinking, I pay cash, then belatedly ask for a receipt. Hmm, no address, darnit. The blank stares of the cashier don't offer much hope of success with trying to explain why I need a good receipt for this ride, so I grab a sandwich off the shelf and pay with a credit card. This receipt shows the city and state, but the clock is behind by an hour. Sigh. I figure between the two of them, the receipts will tell my tale.
Miles 204 - 271
It's about 2:00 am as I mount back up and head out to the highway again. It's cold, but I don't know how cold. 40 degrees maybe. I've already got maximum warm gear on. I'm getting tired. It won't be long before I give up for the night. I'm a night owl by nature, I had hoped to be able to ride through the night and rest somewhere outside after the sun comes up. No chance. After about an hour, I'm ready to stop. The Dutch Inn in Benson, NC beckons me. I hear the call, and pull off for a rest. My average speed for the first five hours is not impressive, and it will be less so after I wake up, whenever that will be. Sigh. I'm gonna have to ride like the wind when I get back in the saddle. Good Night!
To Be Continued:
Miles 272 - 384:
The morning dawned clear and bright. Not that I knew it, I was still sound asleep. I had checked into the Dutch Inn in Benson, NC at 0300 hours, put the heater on full blast, stripped off all the riding gear, piled it near the heater, and fell asleep about two seconds after my head hit the pillow. I don't think I moved a muscle until I awakened almost exactly 4 hours later. Now, not being a morning person, I usually roll over and go back to sleep when this happens, but somehow, I was able to force myself out of bed and back into my now toasty warm riding clothes. The promise of a nice ride will do that, I guess. :)
After a few personal details, I had checked out and called home to advise the wife of my (lack of) progress, and was back on the road at 8:00 am. Total down time, 5 hours. Not too bad. Seems like the $25 for the motel was a waste for a stay that brief, but I was refreshed and ready to roll.
Got a good 90 minutes into the trip before I realized some obscure rule of the IBA about needing a gas receipt at least every 400 miles. (Actually, it is every 300 miles - ooops.) I was worried about the crappy receipt I had gotten back in Battleboro, so at mile 384 I pulled over. A quick stretch at a pay at the pump station in Florence, SC, and I was back on the road. This was one of my better stops at only 10 minutes. But I've gotta get those times down if I ever want to be a serious LD rider, though. :)
Miles 385 - 436:
It's a beautiful sun-shiney morning, and I'm having a good time. It's warming up nicely as I head further south, and for the first time, I am really enjoying myself. Not that the earlier part of the trip were bad, just that this part is better. At about 10:15 am, I start to get hungry for breakfast. I munched another one or two cereal bars at my earlier stop, but I needed real food. A twenty minute stop at a Wendy's in Manning, SC (another crap receipt, had to actually ask where I was) for a restroom visit and a sit down breakfast hit the spot.
Miles 437 - 612:
My wife and I had a running joke on our last car trip together that we could cross all of Georgia on I 95 without stopping. Did it, too, both ways. :) I was smiling as I crossed the state line into Georgia this trip remembering that. With the long range of the Concours, I could probably do it again, but decided I would be sucking fumes in Florida, decided to stop for gas before the Concours hit reserve. Stopped in Townsend, GA, called the wife at work, to let her know where I was.
Miles 613 - 746:
Looks like I have to end up stopping every 120 to 150 miles for a break, even with the Jed Clampett seat modifications I made, which is working surprisingly well. After reaching Jacksonville, FL, and hanging a right on I 10W to Lake City, it's time to stop again. I think about all the LD riders who have done the 50CC (that Coast to Coast in 50 hours or less) or the nutcases who have even done the 100 CCC (there and back again) along this corridor from Jax to California (either San Diego or LA). "Maybe someday" I tell myself with a grin.
At the rest stop at I-10W, milepost 318, at about 3:30 pm, I casually pull out my US Atlas and check my progress. I'm feeling pretty good about this ride so far, I've come nearly halfway in under 18 hours, including the 5 hours I was stopped, and I still feel very good. It was then that I realize that Florida is a *VERY* big state. When you look at Florida on a map, it seems so skinny, everybody should have a view of the water, right? :) Imagine my surprise when I realized that I had another 200 miles or so to go before I reached the turn-around point!!! Yep, it's about 950 miles from Dale City, VA to St. Petersburg, FL, not the 800 something I originally thought. I was just getting warmed up on this ride! =:-o
Miles 747 - 877:
Like I said, Florida is a *big* state. It took quite a while to turn the corner at Lake City and grab I-75 S to Tampa/St. Pete. At about 6:00 pm, dinnertime, I was starting to get the hungries. So was the bike. An upcoming Popeyes restaurant sign seduced me. Ahh, Red Beans & Rice. The perfect food for when you are riding a properly vented vehicle (ahem!). :) So I stopped the bike at Wildwood, FL and we both got plenty of gas. :) Another phone call home gave me the *correct* directions to Grandpa's from the interstate. Ahh, life is good.
Miles 878 - 972:
Had no problem finding Grandpa's house with the new directions. Arrived after dark, about 7:20 pm. They had been warned about my arrival, still couldn't believe I made it down this far, had even more trouble believing that I was turning around and going back shortly. I made darned sure that I dropped off the father- in-law's Glipizide pills (I figured the name would make a catchy title for the ride, it would be kind of silly to spoil it and not deliver the goods, huh?), and took a few moments to eat one of Grandpa's fresh grapefruit from the backyard. Not bad, either. I packed a few more for the ride north. Said some quick goodbyes, and off to find a gas station for the all-important turn-around point receipt.
Found a neat pay-at-the-pump Citgo station on the way back to the interstate. Pulled in, took time to actually *clean* (gasp!) the accumulated bugs from the front of the bike. Yep, old BugSlayer with her shiny new plate was certainly doing its job. Lots of dead 6-leggers KIA'd on the way down. It was neat to be *finally* at the half-way point of the ride, I was pretty pleased at myself as I pumped the gas and waited for the receipt. Imagine my surprise, when the little slip of paper came out of the machine, blank side up. No problem, I'll just flip it over and check it out. BUT THE OTHER SIDE WAS BLANK, TOO! D'oh! This is truly funny. I come all this way, and need this receipt to prove I was here, and it comes out blank. Ha, ha, jokes on me, damnit. Luckily, I was able to walk inside the store and get a "duplicate outdoor receipt" as they called it. 2.281 gallons were never so much fun before. :)
It was at this point that the nicest thing happened to me. I was getting everything ready to get back on the bike, earplugs, gloves, helmet, when I realized that my sunglasses were just loose in my pocket. I went to put them back in their case, when I saw a piece of paper inside, neatly folded. It was a love note from Tracy. "I LOVE YOU! XXXXXX - Me :)" (Only the smiley face was right side up, not sideways.) I tenderly folded up the note, and placed it in my wallet along with all my prized receipts from this ride. Had trouble fitting the helmet back on, since my grin was so big. That girl is getting a big hug when I get home. I wasn't doing this ride alone, if she could help it. Thanks, Tracy, I loved it. :) It was 8:00 pm, I had been out for 22 hours, and had logged 972 miles. It was time to go home.
To Be Continued...
Miles 973 - 1066:
I hit the 1000 mile mark as I headed north on I-75 in Florida. Noted with satisfaction that I still did it in under 24 hours in spite of a 5 hour layover at a motel. I marked my first 1000 mile ride with a cigar and a long, happy sleep. This time, I marked it with dinner (again!)
Actually, it was the road signs that seduced me. Steak & Shake was a neat chain restaurant I had first encountered out in Missouri. They've got 'em in Florida, too. The thought of a nice burger and a milkshake was too much to pass up. I stopped in Wildwood (again!), called home to let Tracy know I found her note (I was still smiling about that) and that all was well. Then I headed inside for a nice comfy booth. Here I made my worst mistake of the trip.
I had developed a neat habit of removing my jacket and the Camel-bak bladder all at once. Made it easier to put back on, I thought. Without thinking, I stuffed jacket & camel-bak in the booth, and sat down beside it. After placing my order, I absently noted that these booths had courtesy phones, I could have been sitting down as I called home. Deciding to play with the phone and a few 800 numbers I know, I didn't notice my ass getting wet. Really wet. As in soaking my jeans the whole way across. It seemed the weight of my jacket as enough to push out the water of the camel-bak. In the words of Homer Simpson, "D'oh!" By the time I figured out what was going on, the camel-bak was empty, and I was pretty well embarassed. Oh well. I then thought of the comment one aspiring long distance rider had about himself on the LDrider list, when noting all the "big dawgs" around, he signed himself a "little puppy, pissin' down his leg." Described me to a tee at that point. I couldn't help but smile. I didn't have a change of clothes with me, but it was still about 70 degrees outside, in spite of the late hour (you Florida guys really have it rough in November, don't you?), and I figured that with my spandex shorts on underneath, I would be good and dry by the time it got cold again. Oh well, at least the burger was good. :)
Miles 1067 - 1151:
As I suspected, I dried out rather quickly. It was still warm enough in Northern Florida that I never got cold, in spite of the soaked tail section. I shuddered to think how that same rookie mistake could have ended my ride if I had been somewhere colder. I'm bringing a complete change of clothes next time. Honest. Having dodged that bullet, I was making good time until about 11:00 pm, when I suddenly began feeling tired. So much for me being a night owl. After about half an hour, a rest stop loomed. I had never stayed at the Iron Butt Motel before, so I wasn't quite sure how effective a brief nap on a picnic table with full riding gear (including helmet) could be. Let's just say I was amazed at the difference. My eyes were closed for almost exactly an hour, and when I woke up, I was a bit disoriented, but this quickly wore off. I was ready to rock-n-roll some more. That was pretty cool! I'm gonna make some more reservations there! No one hassled me, or even really noticed I was there. And the price was right. :) Just bring along a towel or something to lay down under your helmet to keep it from getting scuffed, as I learned the hard way. :)
Miles 1152 - 1223:
Still riding east across Florida, I ripped off another 10 minute gas-only stop in Baldwin. If 10 minutes is as fast as I can get, I've really got to practice some more. It's about 2 in the morning, and I am still amazed at how much better I feel after the nap on the picnic table. The exit back onto I-10 is closed (d'oh), so I get to ride some non-interstates for a while. In Florida, it doesn't matter, everthing is still straight and boring. :) I can feel the temp's starting to drop, it's gonna get cold again as I head further north.
Miles 1224 - 1386:
I am able to completely cross Georgia without putting my feet down. Heh! Someday I'm gonna spend some more time down here, I hear the riding is nice a bit further west. I stop at the South Carolina state line welcome center to put on cold weather gear. It's about 4:30 am, and it is getting nippy again.
Miles 1387 - 1436:
Riding in the cold can wear you out quickly, I am finding. I was fortunate on this ride that the bulk of my daytime riding was spent in sunny & warm Florida, where I was able to just cruise along and enjoy the ride. Now that I'm getting close to the magical 1500 mile mark, I feel the need to make another IB motel stop. I pull off in Walterboro, SC at about 5:40 am, and lay down on my rain jacket in the dry grass next to a McDonald's parking lot. I figure by the time I wake up, I can get a nice, hot, tasty (well, ok, hot) breakfast and wrap up this ride.
I am awakened about 30 minutes later by a dump truck noisily emptying the dumpsters on the other side of the parking lot. OK, so I *can* hear stuff with my helmet on and earplugs in. It's just gotta be loud. Still a little drowsy, I stumble inside and order a McBreakfast. I wonder sleepily how much better the McDonalds chain would do if the food actually tasted good...
After a few minutes, I am ready to roll again. I gear up, hop on the bike, fire the motor, jump back on the highway, and start rolling along only to realize that I forgot to get gas. Memo to me: check the darned gas guage occasionally, ok? Man, I'm glad this ride is winding down. I should buy stock in the oil companies next time. Next exit, I stop again. I'm still in Waltersboro, go figure. The town didn't seem that big. Oh well.
Miles 1437 - 1617
About the time I completed my second stop in Waltersboro, SC, the sun was starting to illuminate the morning. It was 6:50 am, and if I was expecting the sun to pop up and gloriously illuminate tbe end to my triumphant ride, I was sadly mistaken. This dawn was the reason I sleep in so late usually. It was ugly. Dark, dreary, cloudy. Ohh, those clouds don't look friendly, either. It started raining before I got very far, a few sprinkles, then splat, cold rain coming down hard. I pulled off on an exit to nowheresville, and donned my rain gear again (have I complained about the rainpants, yet? I hate 'em!) I made 1500 miles somewhere in the downpour, then the rain eased up, and just spit occasionally. By the time an exit for St. Paul's, N.C. drew near, the rain had stopped again, and I was ready for a break. My 36 hours were up at 9:57 am, it was now 9:20, I wasn't sure I could make the next big town before then, and I was pretty sure I had enough miles, including odometer error, to wrap up this ride.
I was smart as I pulled into the pay at the pump Amoco station in St. Paul's, I only pumped a couple of gallons into the bike, and then checked the receipt. Yes! Everything I need. I went ahead and filled up, got a second receipt, then went inside to get directions to a local police station for the all-important final odometer check.
I ended up getting St. Paul's police chief himself, Chief R. Hagens, badge number 501, to sign my witness documents. He seemed slightly amused as I described what I needed him to do, but obliged anyway.
Anyway, unofficially, I ended up with 1617 miles in 35 hours and 26 minutes. I was happy, but was less than excited about the remaining 320 or so miles before I actually got home. I was ready for this ride to be over, but I pressed on. I guess this is why it's called endurance riding, huh.
Anyway, long story short, I took my time, had another IB motel session somewhere in Virginia, and made it home safely. Even stayed up till about 9:00 pm before crashing for the night. Made it to work for Friday, only missed two days due to my "minor family emergency". Didn't even have the bosses yell at me. Had one or two co-workers on Friday try to guess where I had been yesterday. I still don't think they believe me. :)
If you've read all this drivel so far, thanks! I apologize for the length and wordiness, and the cliffhanger-like endings of the previous Parts, and for the lack of any surprise ending. Amazingly, nothing bad happened, no mechanical problems, no traffic, no idiot cagers, no close calls, nothing. But it was still a memorable ride for me. I had a lot of fun, it was nice to pull this off, especially after the distinct lack of preparation beforehand. I only hope you enjoyed the tale as much as I did the riding and the telling.
Until the next one,
Dale Horstman (the Horkster)
Dale City, Virginia
"You know, the scary thing is, there's a whole bunch of people around here who think I am normal!" - Me
1998 Kawasaki Concours "BugSlayer" VA License Plate: BGSLYR
1976 Kawasaki KZ400