Friday, May 18, 2012

It's 4am and I have a craving for BBQ!

This one isn't very picture heavy due to the fact I was busting out a certification ride, so packing in the miles takes precidence over sightseeing.

10:00 PM - bike is prepped and ready to go, so am I but it's time for bed.

2:45 AM - why is it that when you are excited about something that you know you need sleep for, this is the hardest time to sleep? Ugh, I have to be up in an hour.

3:45 AM - Alarm goes off, I groan and climb out of bed and grab my frappacino I bought for just this moment.. Time to drop some posts to my favorite folks online and get on the bike.

4:00 AM - I roll into the busiest gas station in our little town in hopes of finding a witness to sign my paperwork and give me their personal information. Ugh, not a car in the lot. Maybe the clerk is bored and willing to help out. This is the part of the Iron butt I'm most nervous about because I'm not good at this. Door is locked, oh wait, here comes the clerk. Crap, it's a woman. Yea, like she's going to give her home address and phone number to some strange random guy who walks in at 4am? Oh well, let's try. I explain what's going on and what's required and ask if she'll volunteer. She responds with "Oh yea, sure, where do I put the information?" Hrm, where's the "That was easy" button?

4:12 AM - I am topped off and the receipt with my starting time stamp rolls off the printer. I'm filling out my paperwork and I'm all antsy. You know you have plenty of time but when you are starting out you have this "I'm on the clock" attitude and you need to be eating miles not trying to fill out paperwork on the seat of your motorcycle.

4:13 AM - On the road finally! Cruising through the metroplex, it's in the 60's, a tad chilly in my mesh suit but I know the hotter temps will be coming later today.

4:50 AM - TRAFFIC? Yep, traffic is totally stopped on I30 around Cumby Tx. But as I approach, just behind the traffic is an exit. Thankfully 98% of Texas highways have service roads alongside of them. I roll to the stop sign at the intersection and look up on the highway and see that the incident causing this is right before the entrance ramp. No problem, one traffic problem easily avoided. As I roll along the service road I notice that there's a fire truck and they have massive lights on top of it like you see on a road construction area when they work at night. Bright enough to turn night into day and kill vampires. As I roll up the entrance ramp I glance backwards and my face goes pale. There's a jack-knifed Semi truck blocking both lanes and a mangled piece of metal that I assume was once someone's car. I say a silent prayer for all involved there and work to get that pit out of my throat.

6:20 AM - Time to pull off and exchange my bug encrusted clear shield for my tinted shield that I've prepped with electrical tape along the top. The disadvantage of heading east is that you ride into the rising sun in the morning and into the setting sun in the evening. I'm convinced that iron butt rides are better done to the west. But the prize today is worth it. I've never done the electrical tape thing on the visor but it's a Godsend. Works every bit as advertised.

7:00 AM - I don't know what's going on here, must have been fighting a bit of a headwind but I've had the speeds lower than normal and there's my fuel indicator blinking way early. I just passed through Texarkana and I'm wracking my brain for the next fuel location. No GPS with me (mine is so out of date on gas stations anyway) but I've done this road many times. Sweet, Hope Ar. Pull in and fill up. 39.5mpg. Not my worst ever but certainly worse than I expected to get just cruising. Worse than my normal commuting mileage and the worst of the trip.

From here on out it was pretty uneventful. I had my ipod playing through the Autocom Pro. I can't get good enough volume out of it to play well over my earplugs to crank the tunes and jam and sing along. I have to have my music loud enough to drown out my own voice if I'm going to sing along. Let's just say if I were to try out for American Idol I'd get the full aired tryout, but not for singing well. I did find that the low volume of the autocom and ipod made for a nice non-distracting background music which helped greatly throughout the trip. Nice unexpected find there.

I finally roll across the bridge into Memphis. Thank you Tennessee for putting your "Welcome to Tennessee" sign on an overhead sign deal in the middle of a bridge. One of these days I'll have to enter your state from another direction so I can find a place to stop and get my state sign photo.

My target is Mason Tn. From my town to Mason it's almost 500 miles exactly. I've decided to push on to Stanton so I have some extra miles logged as I don't want the IBA to come back and say "Nope, that looks more like 998 to us, denied!" I need computerized receipts with date and time for all of this. I know there's a gas station actually off the highway in the town of Stanton...or there was when the Google Street View car came through town, but here's a sign saying there's one just off the highway to the right. No name place, unpaved parking lot, not looking good. Oh wow, those pumps look like they were the latest and greatest in technology when people were pumping gas with a hand pump! Turn around and head into Stanton where I encounter some light twisties on the way in. It's a pleasant surprise but my brain is in cruise mode so I actually find it difficult to transition to this mode of riding. I get to Stanton and have to wait in line to get gas at the only gas station in the area but I got my receipt for my turn around point.

I chose Mason Tn as my destination because there's this restaurant "Bozo's Hot Pit Bar-B-Q" there It's been open since 1923 and my wife's grandmother has been going there since she was a little girl. She lives near us in Dallas now and the last trip there last year for her sister's funeral showed that her health cannot take a trip of this nature anymore. Since then she's gotten worse to the point that it's a major undertaking for her to go even to a local restaurant. I got my first taste of Bozo's last year on that trip and I was sold. When plotting out my route choices I noticed that the circle I drew on the map of 500 miles put me in the vicinity of Mason, and after thinking how cool it would be to ride out and have lunch, I realized the greater mission. That mission was to not accept that since my wife's grandmother could no longer eat at her favorite restaurant, I'd bring the restaurant to her!!! Mission accepted!

All my timing worked out well as I rolled up right at lunch time and parked next to a Harley out front. Got my picture of the bike with the sign and went inside. As I was setting my gear down the waitress approached me and asked if I was having a good ride." I smiled and replied....

Me: Good and long!
Her: Where your riding from?
Me: Dallas.
Her: Dallas Texas?
Me: Yup.
Her: Where you headed?
Me: Right here. I'm here for lunch and then going home.
Her: You rode all this way to have lunch here?
Me: Yep!

She gives me double high fives then notices as I remove my jacket that I'm wearing my Bozo's T Shirt my wife got me a couple of years ago on a trip I wasn't able to make. I get another double high five (high ten?) and she yells across the restaurant to the owner that I just rode here from Dallas to have lunch and I've even got a T shirt!

Lunch was great, enjoyed it very much and then I place my to go order. They take my collapsible cooler and freezer bags I brought and arrange everything in it for me ideally. They did a good job of packing it all up for me. I then explain who the food is for and why and she flips out, another double high five. Now she wants a pic of the guy who rode 500 miles to put on Bozo's facebook page. I happily oblige.

1:20 PM - Back on the road, time to roll. I had downloaded a short audio book and figured I'd play this on the way back to give me something to focus on during the more tired part of my ride. I've got this going and am back on the highway headed towards Memphis. Cruising through Memphis I encounter my first dangerous situation of the day. I'm in the left lane as I need to be on the left side of the highway for the split coming up so that I can remain on I40 west. I see a car weaving around in traffic, she's three lanes to my right. Sure enough, she jumps all three lanes at once and I evade to the shoulder. She gets the wtf arm gesture (no finger gestures) and I romp on the gas and go around her. She of course refuses to even look at me to acknowledge me and as soon as she's around the car to her right she zips four lanes back to the right as all this time she needed to be on the right side of the split. Good riddance.

4:10 PM - Bonking. Things are NOT good. I'm a person who has a daily caffeine intake on a normal day. Thus far today my only caffeine has been my chilled coffee this morning when I woke up. Add in the belly full of meat, a long ride and this guy droning on reading a book in my ears and I'm at a dangerous point. Time to pull off NOW! I'm in Carlisle Arkansas. I get some caffeine in me, and for good energy take down a cliff bar I have in my stash for just this moment. On top of everything else I'd run my camelbak dry as well so I filled that with ice and water and changed out the ice in the cooler for the pork as well. I really just sat and moved with small movements trying to just take my time and rest. At this point you have to remove the "I'm on the clock" attitude and realize that you have plenty of time and to take time to take it easy and rest when you need it, so I'm doing just that. After about a 30 minute rest stop I top off the gas tank and get back on the road. Music is back on and the audiobook is long gone. I'm a new man feeling recharged and good. Amazing what a short stop like that can do for you and very important to recognize this and act on it.

At some point I encounter my second dangerous incident of the day. Out in the middle of nowhere there's two cars road raging on one another. I hang back to watch as I don't want to be near them. One car gets in front of another and slows way down. I watch and the back car is determined to continue riding the rear of the car in front through all of this. I see traffic catching up behind me and realize I'm about to be forced into the area of the situation. I decide to drop two gears and leave these two fools behind. Of course, as soon as I drop the gears and get on the gas the back car jumps right and attempts to get the drop on the guy in front so he can run up and cut him off. I manage to brake and dodge this situation and watch them zoom up the road to continue their games now at high speed, yet far away from me. For the first time on my trip I pray that there's a cop up the road.

4:50 PM - Oops. There went my exit for 440 which would take me around the south end of Little Rock. Looks like I'm going right through downtown at rush hour...just what I didn't want to do. I commute daily in Dallas so this isn't a big deal but I've really got to adjust my brain and riding style from touring mode to commute/survival mode. Turns out I'm going the opposite direction of most of the traffic which is good as we are flowing but it increases the craziness of the drivers. I manage to make it through without any incidents and all is well.

At this point I'd like to point out that just about every single motorcyclist who's been paying attention and seen me has returned my wave, in fact many were enthusiastic waves. Even from the HD crowd and groups out riding. Sure put a smile on my face.

Back in Texas!

9:20 PM - I'm back in the Dallas area and now I'm in the friday night crowd on 635 headed through Mesquite. Even though I ride this daily, my condition is not optimal for dealing with this. No incidents but I'm in tour mode and my brain is tired and I can tell I'm not in top form for Dallas survival mode but I manage to make it through all the normal Mesquite speed traps and deal with the traffic to finally roll into the gas station in my town at 9:40 PM. Even though the place is a busy hub of activity I smile as I manage to roll up to the very same gas pump I started my day with. I shakily dismount the bike and try to figure out who I'm going to ask for a witness. Right at that moment a guy pulls in and parks on a Harley. I walk up and strike up a conversation with him, he's never heard of the Iron Butt Association. I explain that it's a group of long distance riders and I'm completing my 1000 miles in 24 hours. He replies "Holeee sheeet! I thought I was doing good to put 600 miles on my bike in a week!" (Direct quote) I explain that I need a witness and explain what I need and what that means and would he be my witness and he replies "Hell yea!" and fills out my form.

And bam, just like that, it's done. Well almost. When I rolled out of my driveway this morning I realized I forgot to grab an envelope to keep my receipts in. I've done a good job of keeping them wrapped up in my paperwork. As I open my paperwork to add my final receipt a gust of wind blows. Ugh, I'm chasing two receipts that got away. I get them and look at them and wow, my start receipt and turn around receipt. The two most important ones in my stack! Ugh, that would have suuuuuucked.

I head home and roll into the garage. The house is quiet because our plan is in motion, my wife and son are at her grandmothers house. I change clothes and head over to their house. After presenting my gifts her grandmother is in a state of shock/disbelief. She's trying to work out how I managed to get this stuff. I explain that I rode to Tennessee for lunch and have an argument over whether or not I really did. Finally everybody gets it that I'm insane and actually did this and I get a big hug.

Mission accomplished!

Final numbers
1048 miles - odometer
1019 miles - google maps
2 state lines
17 hours 28 minutes
High mpg - 46.9
Low mpg - 39.5