Joined: 29 September 2005 Location: United States
Online Status: Offline Posts: 65
Posted: 25 April 2006 at 6:08pm | IP Logged
So, as it turns out, I rode a BunBurner Gold
I'd like to tell you about it, but my attitude about the whole LD riding thing
is a little bit different. I should probably start with that.
Anybody who isn't interested in a meandering preface feel free to scroll down
to "THE BBG:"
I like to ride. But going from "liking to ride" to purposefully
pursuing an LD riding goal is hardly a logical progression.
Mostly I like fun and adventurous paved routes. Twisty roads, extreme
environments (minus snow or ice call me a puss), dramatically changing habitats
and climates, interesting destinations, fantastic scenery, and, if possible,
But not slab. Not straitflat.
To that end I took trips in 2004
(3000 miles) and 2005 (7,300 miles)
that were just thrilling. Each was carefully planned to spend as much time as
possible on my favorite type of roads. I averaged maybe 350 miles a day - 450
on a real long one. This is exactly my kind of riding.
So, how did the LD thing come up?
Well, one day in my youth I rode a CB750K a long way, 700 miles or so. Bullhead
City AZ to Newark CA via Hoover Dam, Vegas, Death Valley & Yosemite.
700 miles isn't squat in LD terms, but at the time it was a long way to
me. It was the final day of a long trip, my first real motorcycle
trip. Something about that day has stuck in my head for all these years.
A couple of years ago, somehow, "Against the Wind" by Ron Ayres came
to my attention. From him I learned what LD riding is and how it is done. As I
read, I found the whole thing fascinating, if not necessarily
So one evening last summer I rolled south out of BadlandsNational
after a full day of riding my kind of roads through the Black Hills
and Badlands. On paper, my plan was to ride until I found a motel.
There were 900 miles of straitflat between me and home.
Let's do this thing, I thought. The plan was crumpled and tossed. I rode on through the night.
This wasn't a sudden decision. It had been a slowly evolving idea at the back of
my brain back when I planned the whole 7,000 mile trip. But I didn't
decide to pull the trigger until the last moment.
In the end I covered 1,079 miles in 24 hours. I had a blast. I didn't do
any paperwork, so it was not a real SS1000, but I felt good about the whole
I was confident I could do an "official" SS1K, but I thought
"what's the point?". Honestly, with a normally prepared bike, and a
normal rider, it should not be much trouble to traverse a simple 1000 mile
route in 24 hours, the very lowest bar required to qualify for the IBA. As
demonstrated in my summer ride, you can even throw in big chunks of twisty road
and still clear the 1000 mile barrier with ease.
Of course there are all manner of intentional and unintentional variables that
can make a SS1K a true challenge and a significant accomplishment.
But my twisted brain focused on the more extreme IBA rides, how to make them
even more challenging, and the route itself more interesting. I decided to turn
that focus into a plan for a BBG1500 that included significant portions of
twisty road. A route as interesting as I could make it. A route that would be
all but impossible to complete as a BBG1500, at least for me.
After some marathon sessions with Microsoft Streets and Trips, I came up with a
big loop from my home town of Sullivan Missouri. The route included a pass through the famed
"Tail of the Dragon" and "Cherohala Skyway" roads in the
Smoky Mountains, and (as a respectful nod to the IBR) crossing the Hickman
Ferry between Kentucky and Missouri - this ferry being one of the bonus
locations on the 2005 IBR. Plus I just like ferries. [note added much later - that eventually led here]
I suspected that it was not possible to complete a BBG on this route without
being more "frisky" on the slab portions than I am willing. I haven't
had a speeding ticket in nearly a quarter of a century, despite traversing over
a million miles in that time span, and hope to keep my record alive. But I
decided to give it a try anyway. Though the BBG was a long shot, I was sure I
could at least complete a BB1500.
I planned my departure for ,
because that would get me to the SmokyMountains after sunrise, with good enough light to enjoy the
Dragon. I also needed to get to the Hickman Ferry before , which is when their last ferry of the day would run. Leaving earlier
could put me in the twisties before daylight. Leaving later could make me miss the ferry.
I tried to sleep until ,
but only made it till about 10. I was concerned about sleep. Starting in the
evening had me just a little spooked.
I spent the day puttering and confirming that everything was in order. At about
I rode to the Sullivan police department and asked
the dispatcher if there was an officer available to sign my start witness form.
I had to explain what I was talking about several times before the "wary
caution" look gave way to the "whatever" look, and she hooked me
up with an officer who signed my form without further drama.
I guess I allowed too much time for this step, and I was at my starting point
25 minutes early. That was a long 25 minutes, just sitting there in the gas
station parking lot watching the clock slowly inch towards .
With about 5 minutes to go, I went to the pump, filled up and got my starting
So with route planned into my GPS, fresh witness signatures on my start form
and a full tank of gas, I and my ST1300A rolled out of the FasTrip in Sullivan
Missouri on Monday October 10th 2005 at . I
had a date with this same FasTrip, hopefully 23 hours and 59 minutes later.
Mistake number 1: I did not verify that that receipt data was correct. Their
computers were not adjusted to daylight savings time, so the time read
instead of . This is one of the flaws that made me question
whether this BBG would be certified.
So there I was on I-44 Eastbound, a route I have commuted on about a bazillion
times. My thoughts were on how to keep up a reasonable speed, without getting
ridiculous. I had about an hour of daylight left, the setting sun at my back.
The weather was nice, mid 60's and clear.
For the first 10 miles or so I found myself in a hellish coven of dawdling
semi-trucks that seemed bent on holding me back. Getting past them required
some squidly maneuvers. I don't like doing that but the alternative would have
lost me too much time. I gritted my teeth and got through. Those first 10 miles
were the most radical riding I had to perform in the entire trip.
I made the first of several "posts" to my audio blog. [note: the audio service I used went defunct, and the posts are lost] My cell phone
is set up for hands-free voice controlled operation and is connected to my
helmet speaker/mike system via my Starcom1. I had my audio blog programmed in
to speed dial, so posting to the blog was seamless and simple. My plan was to
leave a post about every hour or so, to allow my wife to check on my safety and
progress at her leisure, without me waking her up. I had some other friends
following my progress as well. I found out later my brother in law actually stayed
up all night, checking the blog - fascinated by what he saw as a ridiculous
stunt. The blog is at http://stevejonesmo.blogspot.com/.
I carried beef jerky, some bottled water and Gatorade, and made sure I had
drunk plenty of water before setting out.
Almost right away I realized I
probably overdid my pre-hydration. Left over paranoia from my July trip I guess. I
really needed to stop for, uh, relief - but pressed on for another
uncomfortable 200 miles to my first fuel stop in Marshall IL.
That was a
loooonng leg of the trip. I am not sure if that is what distracted me, but I
nearly missed my exit onto I 70 from I 55.
Warning: GPS talk here - Luddites skip to the next paragraph. I used a
Garmin GPS, which had each turn of the trip programmed into it. I had three
screwups related to the GPS: The external power was not working (corrected at
my first fuel stop - a loose plug), I had f'd up some arcane setting, requiring
me to power-cycle the GPS every time I got to a turning point so it would
correctly tell me how many miles until the next turn (corrected AFTER the
trip), and I had mistakenly configured the trip log to fire on distance rather
than time. In order to be sure it could hold the whole 1500 miles of log (limited
to 9,999 points) I had set it up for .2 mile increments. I should have been thinking time, not distance, and set it
up for 10 second increments instead. This would make it much more accurate in
the twisties, and also would more accurately reflect stop location and duration (corrected AFTER the
trip). I also learned AFTER the trip that I could give the turns a name
meaningful to me if I started in Streets and Trips by marking them with
pushpins (name length set to 10 characters or less, because Garmin truncates
them to 10), then making the pushpin a stop. This will be a great improvement
for my next trip. Having constant feedback about how many miles to my next turn
was a great help. It prevented my needing to waste much attention on the map.
What can you say about I 70. I will leave it to the poets and minstrels.
I crossed into the Eastern time zone. I fueled up in South ViennaOhio. This was about 1 in the morning. Getting chilly, I added a layer of sweat pants and a sweatshirt under my
riding gear. Other than that I felt fresh and fine. So far no drowsiness. BBG
be damned, I would stop and sleep if I got drowsy. One mistake I never plan to
make is to try to force my way past fatigue.
The next exit up the freeway was the northeastern-most point on my trip. I
turned south, through LondonOhio on 56. Almost immediately it started to drizzle
slightly, which continued for a couple of hours. It was half light drizzle,
half heavy mist, but never actually rain. I didn't need to stop and put on rain
gear. With the extra layer I had just put on, I stayed dry and warm.
In order to clearly document the northeastern corner of my route, I needed to
stop in Mt. SterlingOH, 26 miles after South Vienna, to get a receipt. It is really too bad that the gas
stations at the Mt. Sterling exit are closed at night. I had to ride all the way
into town which probably cost me 15 minutes or so. Bummer.
On into the night south on I 71 through Cincinnati (WOW are they proud of their radar guns in Cincy),
then south on I 75 through Lexington. Being too paranoid about "painting" my
route with receipts, I fueled up in Florence and LexingtonKentucky. I could have gotten away with 1 stop.
As I crossed into Tennessee about 5 in the morning, it got foggy and I
had to ease up. Continuing south, the sky brightened and I started to
make out the dim shapes of hills around me. As the light in this fog shrouded
dawn slowly increased, so did the Knoxville rush hour traffic. Not too bad, but a distraction.
Coming into Knoxville I screwed up, missing the I 275 exit and taking a 4
mile detour. I quickly realized my error and backtracked. Only after I was back
on track did I realize there was a gas station at the point I turned around,
and I could have documented my error and legitimized the miles by getting a
receipt. Certainly not worth bothering with for a 4 mile error (would have cost
me too much time to stop) but a good lesson for the future. Too bad I didn't
take it to heart - this would not be my last wrong turn.
I took the Highway 129 exit and headed south towards the first real interesting
bit of the trip, the "Tail of the Dragon". Twenty miles or so of
morning traffic separated me from where 129 peels off of 411 and into the
I fueled up near Knoxville at about 7AM eastern time, but for some reason
the receipt read . I didn't notice that until after the trip. I
think it is finally burned into my brain that I need to CHECK THE RECEIPT for
correct data before I leave a stop.
Being early in the morning on a weekday I had no competition from the massive
squidly contingent drawn to the Dragon, and thus the LEO presence was
missing as well.
Unfortunately it was intermittently foggy and misty, with a damp road surface,
so I had to experience the Dragon under the caution flag. This was the first
time I had been there.
I can see the attraction, but I have to say that I found
better, longer examples of this type of ride in California last year, such as 190 east out of Springville, and
245 south of KingsCanyonNational
as well as much of the Pacific
Coast Highway. And 36 from Red Bluff to Eureka.
I fueled up in Robbinsville, the southeastern-most point on my trip, and headed
west on 143 onto the Cherohala Skyway. The fog had lifted and the road started to dry, but there were still damp patches. This is an exceptionally
well designed and entertaining road, much more to my taste than the Dragon.
It's a faster road.
The day warmed, and with the spirited riding on the Cherohala, so did I. I
pulled over to remove the layers I had added in the night. I still felt fine.
Not drowsy, not fuzzy.
143 gives way to 165 at the North Carolina/Tennessee border. I carried on
through the CherokeeNational
and through back roads and small towns working my way back to I 75 south out of
I took I 24 through Chattanooga, a brief dip into Georgia, a fuel stop in Jasper Tennessee, and north towards Nashville.
I thought I felt fine, but I wonder if I was getting fuzzy - because
negotiating my way through Nashville without making a wrong turn seemed surprisingly
difficult. The secret, I learned, is follow the "Clarksville" signs. I struggled in vain to keep the Monkee's
song "Last Train to Clarksville" out of my head. Arghh.
Speaking of songs (sort of) I should mention that my iPod was a key part of the
trip. It feeds into my helmet speakers via my Starcom1 along with my radar
detector and cell phone. But not for music. I use it to play digital files of
unabridged recorded books which I get from audible.com.
I have found that long rides or drives are greatly enhanced by listening to
light mysteries or thrillers, something with enough pace to keep you engaged,
but not so heavy that it takes concentration to follow. I have never found them
to be distracting from the things you need to do to be safe on the road. Quite
the opposite, I find they keep you alert, and prevent the sort of daydreaming
and drifting that sometimes comes along with long miles on the road.
I peeled off I-24 at CadizKentucky, west on 80 toward the "Land Between the
Lakes" area. I was back in the central time zone, and fueled up in Cadiz at about 1 in the afternoon. I felt great.
At this point I started to get excited that the trip had gone so well there was
a real chance to qualify for the BBG. I had gone about 1225 miles, and had 5 hours to
go the last 275. Should be a snap until you realize that I had a ferry to
cross, and that 225 of those miles were back country roads and secondary
But it really was the first time I seriously thought I had a chance. The
adrenaline started to kick in.
I greatly enjoyed the ride west towards Hickman, along 68 and 94. Nice country.
Something about back roads like this just feels good compared to the slab, even
though they weren't twisty.
One thing I was worried about was how long it takes the Hickman Ferry to run.
If I just missed it, how long would I need to wait? Looking at my GPS log after
the fact, it appears it is about 15-20 minutes each way, so if you just missed
it you could be cooling your heels for over half an hour. That would suck!
I swear my heart was pounding as I rolled into Hickman, hoping that I timed the
ferry well. That was the key to keeping my hopes of making the BBG alive.
I pulled up to the ramp, seeing the ferry in position, either just arriving or
just leaving. There was one car sitting there and I asked the fellow if I was
just in time or just too late. I was thrilled when he answered that I was just
in time. I was pumped! Things were going my way!
We crossed the mighty Mississippi, and I was back in Missouri.
Where everything went to hell.
After the ferry I made some great time on the back roads heading towards I 55,
but then I ran into a little town called "East Prairie". A small
town, but apparently my arrival coincided with shift change at the sphagnum
mine or whatever. Plus, I assumed the place of honor behind the sole school bus
in the burg, which stopped once every 100 yards or so to disgorge a fresh wad
of pink-cheeked youthful EastPrarians. I don't mean to sound bitter, but they
obviously were insensitive to my Iron Butt needs. Churls.
This debacle should have been a minor footnote in my BBG attempt, but as it
happened it was a harbinger of things to come.
Once I slipped the cloying fingers of East Prairie and was delivered into the
rarified air of I 55 north, I ran into construction, with the
freeway necked down to one lane over and over again. There were backups, but
they weren't too bad, still moving about 45 or 50, but it sure was frustrating.
I could hear the clock ticking. I watched the "ETA at final
destination" field on my GPS swing wildly from "Yeah baby!" to
"Fagedaboudit" over and over, as I went back and forth from normal
speed to construction speed.
I fueled up at the St. Genevieve exit, 1448 miles at 22 hours and 40 minutes.
Only 52 miles to go in 1 hour and 20 minutes in order to qualify for a BBG1500.
Home free, right?
No. Oh no.
In one of my own personal best stupid moments, it simply did not occur to me
that I could carry on north on I 55 and make the necessary remaining miles
easily, oh no. I had planned my ride, and was riding my plan.
That time honored saying should be amended to add "but don't be an idiot
I left I 55, taking the MO hwy 32 exit at St. Genevieve and heading west
through Farmington, Potosi and Steelville, towards Cuba.
Here is where I learned another sharp lesson. Just because the towns are small,
it doesn't mean they don't have rush hour traffic. Getting through Farmington
was torture. I started to feel the nauseating sensation of doom. Even
outside the towns, there was too much traffic to make good time.
Then, icing on the cake, I got flustered and took a wrong turn at Flat River,
resulting in an unintentional detour to Bismarck, a ten mile error. No, I did
not think to get a receipt in Bismarck.
Only after the attempt did I learn that sometimes a ride will be certified even
if the final receipt was gotten after the 24 hour mark, so long as sufficient
miles were made that a successful completion can be extrapolated backwards from
the final stop.
I simply did not know that, so as got back on track on Highway 8, I knew
there was no way to get to Cuba by 5:58, where I could get a
receipt and would have covered 1,550 miles. Believing I had failed, I felt as
if someone had let the air out of me.
To add insult to injury, 3 miles west of Potosi I hit a construction stop,
where I had to wait 6 minutes for the guy to flip the "stop" sign to
"slow". It was now 5:57.
A minute later, I crossed the 24 hour mark. Later, evaluating my GPS log and
plugging my actual route into Streets and Trips, I found that at 5:58PM I had
gone 1,510.2 miles according to Streets and Trips. But believing my BBG attempt
was toast, I relaxed and cruised into Cuba for a (I thought) now meaningless
Then I got my final receipt at the FasTrip in Sullivan at 6:59. I had gone
Of course I was disappointed, thinking the BBG was out of the question. But I
was really thrilled to have covered the miles, and proved to myself that the
route can probably be done for a BBG. It was a great and interesting ride.
I went home, told my wife I never wanted to do anything like that again (she
just grinned), and slept for 13 hours.
When I woke up, my first non-biological act was to open up Streets & Trips
and figure out how I could improve the route.
Later, it was explained to me how the certification works, and I was encouraged
to send my paperwork in for the BBG. So I did, hoping they would extrapolate my
miles backwards from the Cuba receipt. If they rejected the BBG, it would
still be a BB1500.
I kept tweaking the route over the winter, trying (in vain) different things to
make it seem less of a longshot, fully expecting to try it again. I waited for news, hoping for the best
but expecting the worst.
It took just shy of 6 months, but an email hit my inbox that had my wife
running to see what all the whooping was about. I made it, but Mike
Kneebone said "You were cutting this one at the very edge!" The ride was certified at 1502 miles. Holy cow, that WAS close.
My next "twisted" take on IBA rides will be a Missouri SS1000.
The twist is that I will try it on my wife's 250 Ninja. [edit: I did it.... click here for the story] And I plan to
perform the ride entirely in daylight, starting half an hour before sunrise and
hopefully finishing by half an hour after sunset.
I'm excited to finally get that "IBA Member" thing under my name. This is going to be fun!
Joined: 03 February 2005 Location: United States
Online Status: Offline Posts: 560
Posted: 26 April 2006 at 4:14am | IP Logged
Outstanding! Excellent write up! I like the honesty and your ability to analyze the victories and the defeats within this ride. What's the ol saying...If it doesn't kill ya (not literally), it only serves to make you stronger. Well Done.
__________________ Tom Atkinson
Decker Prairie, TX
Congratulations on your BBG. Are you excited about the 2007 IBR starting from your location? Hope you filled out your application form or at least submitted your name to act as a volunteer. Safe riding to you.
__________________ Want it, plan for it, then make it happen!
Joined: 29 September 2005 Location: United States
Online Status: Offline Posts: 65
Posted: 26 April 2006 at 10:29am | IP Logged
Congratulations on your BBG. Are you excited about the 2007 IBR starting from your location? Hope you filled out your application form or at least submitted your name to act as a volunteer.
Thanks! Yes, I am excited to see the IBR coming to St. Louis. As soon as I saw that I volunteered. I don't think I have an IBR in my future, as a participant, but who knows. Certainly not 2007. I don't have the disease that bad yet. Nor the experience.
You cannot post new topics in this forum You cannot reply to topics in this forum You cannot delete your posts in this forum You cannot edit your posts in this forum You cannot create polls in this forum You cannot vote in polls in this forum