Mark does an Iron Butt ride of 1032 miles in one day!

(Friday July 12, 2013)

I've been listening to George complain about the lack of Sandollar Motorcycle Club mileage as of late. I took his complaints to heart and single handedly tried to raise the mileage tally. As I told you a couple of weeks ago we have moved to Texas to begin our post military life and a second career. Much to my chagrin my 5X8 utility trailer will not hold a 8'9" Cross Country and if you think I'm letting the movers manhandle my baby you've been dabbling in the wacky weed!

Thursday I flew back into ValP. I managed to avoid the rain clouds long enough to recover the bike from my friends house and get back to the hotel before the clouds opened up again. The Regency Inn down on John Simms was reasonably priced, clean AND let me park the bike under the overhang out front.

Not wanting to get to far ahead of myself I started planning the ride that night. At first I thought I'd try to it in 2 days. But then I said hey I'm tough, I'll do it in one. I mean 717 miles, no problem. And exactly one beer later I decided that 717 was mighty close to 1000 and cool pin and a certificate! Decision made, I'm trying the Iron Butt!

Niceville FL to Dothan AL to Birmingham AL to Memphis TN to Little Rock AR to Desoto TX.

http://goo.gl/maps/UMta1

0500 and I'm up! Down the hall to check out and there is a sign at the front desk "if you have your bill and its correct just leave your keys and go". Dang it! I was planning on the clerk to be my witness. Three more stops and an hour latter the clerk at the Tom Thumb by the base agreed to "witness" the start. Its a good thing I'm married, Asking a strange woman for an address and phone number turns out to be a lot harder than it looks. Apparently the goatee is not quit as alluring as I thought. Maybe it was just the deranged helmet hair that was scaring them off?

For some silly reason I had figured it would take me about 16 hours to cover the 1000+ miles. My plan to be home by 2100 had just slipped to 2200. Hmmmm maybe I should have planned this better.

Ok minor delay no bigee. Temps are reasonable but rising quickly and the humidity was off the chart. About 10 miles down I-10 I hit a fog bank so thick I I thought I had been tela-ported to the inside of a ping pong ball. I slowed to about 40 MPH because my windshield was white, my face shield was white and my worthless sun glasses were white. It was about the time that my brain formulated the thought that "Wow this dangerous" that I split the 2 deer standing on the road. The first expletive had not cleared my lips when I hear what sounds like a small explosion. That was the Semi that was in the left lane hitting one of the deer. It was one of those new trucks with the fiberglass/plastic shells. It pretty much destroyed the right front fender. What was left of the deer was not pretty. I don't know who was more distraught me, the truck driver, or the remaining deer. I actually had blood on the BACK of my bike. Oddly enough the fog lifted while we were standing there. OK I'll be there by 2230. Still not too bad.

Following the Sandy rule I had my 1st hundred miles in when I stopped for a quick cup of joe and an oatmeal in Dothan.

About 200 miles in and the yellow light comes on and I start looking for a gas station. There is no reserve on my bike, when the yellow light comes on that means " you idiot you should have found gas 10 miles back". Pikes Road, AL is not a booming metropolis. In fact I think the gas station I found IS Pikes Road AL. In a moment of perfect irony the song from Deliverance comes streaming from my headphones as I coast in to the station. 5.2 gallons is pretty much the most I've ever put in the tank. Note to self, 180 means find gas.

I made pretty good time until just south of Birmingham. According to the radio a semi had dumped a box culvert and all 3 lanes of of I-65 were closed. After sitting in 94 degree weather for about about 30 minutes without moving, with all my gear on, I decided, I needed to detour and quick or I would quickly become a bag of ass soup! 459 to 59 and then back to 65. OK I'll be there by 2330. I'm 300 miles in and I'm already 2.5 hours late........this is getting ugly.

All of this put me in Memphis at 1645 which equals rush hour. Another 30 minute delay.

Things started to smooth out until the sun went down. It just kept getting darker and darker and darker. I began to wonder if my headlight was even working. I couldn't see anything. After hitting the remains of a truck tire I was beginning wonder if this was worth it. I was seriously considering stopping with 200 miles to go. It was time to stop for gas and I began to think about finding a hotel. It just wasn't worth it. ........and then I walked around the front of the bike. Problem solved. I couldn't even see the head light and the windshield was opaque from the bug juice. 20 minutes of wiping and all was right with world. I could see again. I literally had to go in and buy another towel. My white bike was black.

One more gas stop and I arrived 0030 a mere 3.5 hours late. You can add another 1032 miles to the log.

Lessons you can learn from me.

  1. A little more pre-planning might have made this a much smoother trip. Identify who your starting witness will be before you try starting your trip.
  2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate. For a guy that normally pees every 1.5 hours I only went 3 times all day. Oh by the way I drank a liter of water minimum, between each gas stop, usually two. 94 degrees at 75+ MPH will dry you out fast. Did I tell you it was 90 degrees in Desoto when I arrived?
  3. Don't out run your vision. If fog, rain or bugs limit your ability to see, SLOW down. I was very lucky on 2 separate occasions. I should have known better.
  4. I now sport a very raccoon like tan. Perhaps a little sun screen and some chap stick would have saved me a little discomfort.
  5. Don't try new equipment on a long distance ride. I had a new pair of sunglasses for the ride. They had a slight bow in the arms that did not work well with my helmet. It made for some pressure just above my ears. By the time the sun went down that pressure felt like 1000 degree spikes burning a hole through my skull. Never again.
  6. We are privileged to live in a stunningly beautiful country get out and see it.
  7. For those that think the economy has recovered, you are mistaken! 2/3s of the malls and car dealerships I saw were closed. It was a sad sight.

Take care and and order your food wisely. I will be there in spirit to help you eat it!

Mark

 

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Last revised: July 16, 2013
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