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TheRoss 01-24-2013 06:27 AM

Coast to Coast in January
SS1000 / 50cc / SS4000
January 12-20, 2013

So my wife Kristin is a Mary Kay Sales Director, and she goes to a national leadership conference once a year. She has gone for years, and until now I had never been available to go with her. I would ride out there rather than fly. The conference was in Los Angeles and would run Sunday-Wednesday. I took the entire week off, made an Iron Butt ride from Lubbock to LA on Saturday. Then at the close of the conference I spent 4 days on the road completing a Coast to Coast along with a SaddleSore 4000. Hereís the story.

I left Lubbock at 4:00 AM on Saturday and headed to Carlsbad and then El Paso. Being January, it was a cold morning. Riding through the Guadalupe Mountains I had the road to myself. My electric vest and chaps kept me comfortable in the low 20 degree temperatures. Once I stopped in El Paso though, and the electrics were shut off, I got chilled very quickly. I had a good breakfast at a Village Inn, and then worked on through El Paso on I-10. I had really wanted to ride out on I-40, but the previous few days had seen blowing snow and ice in northern Arizona, so I-10 was really the only option. Getting through El Paso was easy so early on a Saturday morning, and I made it to Arizona by lunchtime. Every time I ride through Texas Canyon I want to stop and hike around a bit, but I always seem to be riding on the clock, so I never do.

I continued on Interstates 10 & 8 to El Centro, CA, where I turned north. I rode through the Imperial Valley and around the Salton Sea. The area is all agricultural, and in spring the air is thick with smells of citrus and other fresh fruits. In January the fields are bare, but there were still a lot of trailers and trucks on the road. Along with a lot of Border Patrol activity. The weather warmed up to the 50ís once I reached California, which was nice.

In Indio I jumped back on I-10 and rode into Los Angeles. For the conference we were staying at the LA Live JW Marriott ($$$$), which is downtown next to the Staples Center and Convention Center. I pulled over when it got dark and turned on my LED map light so I could find the hotel. Traffic moved much faster than I am used to, and the ride into downtown was easily the most intense riding of the day. But I did find the hotel, and I arrived hours before those flying out. Parking at the hotel for my bike was $40 per night. Since the room was arranged on my wifeís credit card, and that card was with her, I could not check in. So I checked my bag, tank bag, helmet, and riding jacket and headed to the hotel bar. They had Sam Adams on draft, so everything would be okay.

It was 9:00 on a Saturday night, and I was sitting in a very trendy and packed hotel bar in downtown LA. I was dirty and tired, and was wearing reflective motorcycle gear. I am sure I provided plenty of conversation fodder for the others in the bar. When my wife texted to say they had made it to the hotel, I realized I couldnít pay for my beer. I didnít have a room number to charge it to and had accidentally left my credit cards in the sleeve pocket of my Aerostitch jacket. I waited for my wife to come rescue me once she had our room number. It had been a good day of riding. Total was 1166 miles.

prince_ruben 01-24-2013 06:31 AM

That's allot of miles in one day. In...:lurk

TheRoss 01-24-2013 06:33 AM

I attended much of the conference, along with the other 25 or so husbands, surrounded by 5000 Mary Kay ladies. It was quite interesting and fun, but by Wednesday I was ready to trade my button downs back for my motorcycle gear.

I rode out of LA midday Wednesday, and headed for San Diego and a new rear tire. I had caught a nail in the tire the day before leaving and had plugged it. The plug was allowing the tire to go down slowly and I didn’t want to ride another 4000 miles on it. The guys at San Diego BMW were fast and professional. They charge full price for tires, but do the mount and balance for free, so I guess it works out. They had me out in no time and I headed to the Premier Inn ($39 per night) on I-8 for some sleep before a midnight departure. It was a decent motel, and there was a pretty good steak place 1 block away. I ate a prime rib and was in bed by 7:00.

TheRoss 01-24-2013 06:58 AM

I had completed a Coast to Coast in 2009 following I-20 through Atlanta and ending in Tybee Island. This time I would stick to the more southerly, and more commonly done I-10 route.

I left San Diego Thursday morning at midnight and headed east over the mountains. This windy mountainous leg was very enjoyable back in ’09, but this time the winds were horrible. Living in West Texas, I am used to riding in strong winds, but these were different. My speed dropped to below 60 as I fought to keep the bike on the road. The winds came from all different directions, and I was glad I only had to pass one or two big trucks. Once out of the mountains things calmed down and I was able to kick my speed up and enjoy the ride.

At one point, after passing a couple of Border Patrol pick ups that had some sort of radar scanner equipment in the truck beds, something weird happened with my speedometer. The thing went dead. The light stayed on but the needle dropped to nothing. I believe the odometer stopped as well, but I’m not sure because I may not have covered a tenth of a mile before pulling over. The speedometer and odometer are critical on Iron Butt rides. I shut the bike off, pulled the key out, and waited for my radar detector to go off (it’s hardwired in and the circuit stays hot for maybe a minute after shutting the bike off). This was a very long minute in the pitch black desert right on the Mexican border, and I was relieved when the bike started right up, and even more relieved when I pulled away and the speedometer was again working. This incident caused me to worry a little, but the speedometer never did it again.

I was in New Mexico when the sun came up and I warmed up in Lordsburg with a McDonald’s sausage biscuit and coffee. I made El Paso around noon and to my surprise moved through with almost no delay at all. The ride through the Texas hill country went smoothly and I thought about my gear selection. I have tried different clothing combinations for years, and was very pleased with what I had worn for this long winter ride. It was dark by the time I made San Antonio, but I grew up there and was familiar with the highways. I took the north loop around and continued on I-10 to my stop for the day. I like to cover more miles on day 1, thus the super early departure. I chose Columbus, TX for it’s location (1400 miles from SD, 1000 miles from Jax). I also liked its proximity to Houston. It is about an hour west of Houston, and a 5:00 AM departure would put me through Houston around 6:00, before the morning commuter traffic got real bad. The plan worked well, and I was happily having a Waffle House breakfast another hour later.

This was the first time I had ridden all the way east on I-10, and I enjoyed all the bridges through the marshes and swamps. At one point I looked over at the west-bound bridge and noticed how high the water line was on the concrete pillars, probably from Katrina.

TheRoss 01-24-2013 07:09 AM

I took I-12 to bypass New Orleans, and was in Florida by mid-afternoon. I know as ride reports go, my Iron Butt’s are not the greatest reads, and the pictures are all from the super slab. It is what it is. The Coast to Coast is not difficult, but it is long and does require you to keep the wheels turning. So here’s Florida:

I had planned a gas stop in Tallahassee, but ended up skipping it as I was nowhere close to being empty. I rode into Jacksonville just after dark, and started down the 15 mile stretch of Beach Blvd to the water. It was then that my bike’s mileage range hit 0. As many of you may know, those computerized projections are not to be believed. But I was also aware that I had lots of time and that I was not in a really great neighborhood. A police car screamed by me lights and siren on, and I pulled into a station and pumped about a gallon of gas, just to make sure I made it.

I got to the beach 42 hours after leaving San Diego, beating my 2009 ride time by 3 hours. Holiday Inn Express and dinner at Carrabba’s and I went right to sleep. Got a picture the next morning:

TheRoss 01-24-2013 07:21 AM

I was still on the clock for a SaddleSore 4000, but Saturday would be a shorter day. I planned to visit the Barber Motorsports Park in Leeds, AL. I headed north to Atlanta and got on I-20. I made the museum by 2:30 and had a couple of hours to see the bikes. It is an amazing collection, and I plan to visit it again when I have more time.

They had on display Gary Eagan's record setting Ducati. Gary is a bit of a superstar in the long distance world and it was cool seeing his bike.

The museum closed at 5:00 and I continued west to Meridian, MS for the night.

The next morning I made another Waffle House stop. These restaurants seem to be everywhere in the southeast and they are a fast stop for those on a schedule.

I rode through Dallas without trouble and continued on home. If I stopped at home I would be a little short on mileage for the 4000 mile ride, so I went right through Lubbock and up to Amarillo, where I turned around and made one more short leg home. I got home about 8:00 and my wife had dinner ready.

It was a great 5 days in the saddle. Clothing and gear options worked well for temperatures that ranged from low 20’s all the way up to 70 degrees. Other than the speedometer weirdness, the GSA ran flawlessly. The new-to-me Sargent seat was a huge improvement over the stock seat. So that’s about it. Not the best RR ever, but if you made it this far, thanks for reading.

marcjlmd 01-24-2013 10:09 AM

Well Done!
Thanks for a great ride report. Lots of miles, not lots of days! You are the man! Wish I could have gone with you. Maybe next time.


vintagespeed 01-24-2013 03:25 PM

wow, i bet you are sore for sure! that's a helluva run man. good job!

hanksmybuddy 01-24-2013 06:26 PM

To each his own but I've never understood the iron butt thing and not really sure what has been accomplished. All the cool stuff you just end blowing by?

Congratulations.....I guess.

roberts 01-24-2013 06:45 PM

Wow! That is alot of riding. Congratulations! I once rode my Adventure from Leadville, CO to Houston and that completely wore me out, and I know that I couldn't have ridden across the country after that like you did. Thanks for the report. :clap

TheRoss 01-25-2013 06:00 AM


Originally Posted by hanksmybuddy (Post 20568580)
To each his own but I've never understood the iron butt thing and not really sure what has been accomplished. All the cool stuff you just end blowing by?

Congratulations.....I guess.

I really enjoy this kind of riding. While I sometimes post a little ride report, I do the rides for my own satisfaction. The certificates just go in a drawer in my desk. I wasn't really looking for a pat on the back... just sharing the story and a few pictures.

You bring up a good point. I try to balance my riding by alternating between IBA rides and fun site-seeing rides. I pretty much never ride interstates when I'm not doing Iron Butt rides. I think if all I did was the long distance type of riding I would get burned out on it, and wouldn't enjoy riding as much as I do.

Thanks for the comments.

Ol Man 01-25-2013 07:22 AM

You talk about being happy with your clothing selection; can you elaborate.

TheRoss 01-25-2013 02:09 PM


Originally Posted by Ol Man (Post 20571694)
You talk about being happy with your clothing selection; can you elaborate.

Sure! Here's what I wore, in order.

Top layer:
LD Comfort, electric vest without collar, light fleece pullover, Aerostitch Darien jacket

Bottom layer:
LD Comfort, Aerostitch Darien pants

On the first 2 legs, when the temps were tipping below 20 here and there, I wore electric chaps. They kept my legs warm, but I didn't wear them the rest of the trip after that. I don't usually have trouble with legs or feet getting cold. Anyway, I wore those over the LD Comfort, and under the riding pants.

During the coldest legs I wore the "Aerostitch Ultrasuade Triangle" to cover my neck and chin. I am a big fan of this product.

I recently bought new boots, and this was the first real trip with them. They were great. Alpinestars Waterproof Scout boots. I have a large collection of gloves, but wore one of two pairs the entire trip. Lined leather. Not waterproof, but that wasn't necessary this trip.

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