|04-13-2012, 01:43 AM||#1|
Lurking in SoCal
Joined: Oct 2004
Location: Westminster, CA
Hot, Cold, Fog, Wind, Rain, It had it all -- a Saddlesore 1000 story
A few months ago I mentioned to a co-worker, John, that I was planning to ride my V-Strom on my first Ironbutt ride and mentioned a possible route. He rides a Yamaha FJR1300 daily and said that he’d always wanted to do that, too, and asked if he could ride with me. I initially wanted to head north on the 15 freeway and do the turnaround at a gas station north of Beaver, UT. Watching the weather, though, the route left too great a chance for cold weather and snow, so I looked further south into Arizona. We decided to run a Southern route through Phoenix and Tucson and start heading back after hitting the mid-way point in Benson, AZ.
We both had some prep work to do on our bikes but by last Tuesday morning, both bikes were prepped and good to go.
We live in different cities but planned on meeting on the first stop for both of us -- near John’s house, but only thirty miles away from mine, and on the route. I left my house on time at 0400 and started the clock by getting cash from an ATM right around the corner. I zeroed out my odometers and GPS and activated my route and was rolling. I entered the 22 freeway at 0407 and was on schedule to meet John off the 91 freeway in Corona at 0430.
I exited the freeway on time. John was already fueled and ready to go. I put a splash of fuel in my bike to ensure I’d make it to our first stop in Blythe, CA on a single tank and to generate a receipt for my log.
Corona. 0430. Clock’s rolling:
We were heading east and making really good time. Traffic going to the West was beginning to get heavy despite it still being dark, and I was glad I was off work and on my way. We didn’t hit any traffic and maintained a steady high cruise through Riverside and Beaumont and it was still dark when we got to Banning. David Gilmour had been playing on my Ipod since we left Corona and his first album ended and “On An Island” just began when the sky first changed from black to violet.
Ahead, through the Banning Pass I could see the red marker lights from hundreds of wind generators twinkling in sequence. One would come on, then a split second later a hundred others would come on, followed almost immediately by a hundred more. Then, they’d all turn off in the same sequence -- one off, followed by groups of the rest until the horizon was dark and featureless. It was intoxicating to watch but as the sky continued to lighten, the effect was smaller and smaller. When we got closer and the sky had become dark blue, I could pick up the silhouette from the props spinning in the wind. They were being rotated by the wind and we were buffeted lightly by the same morning breeze.
The trip through the desert went very quickly. My low fuel light began blinking outside of Blythe, and I lost my last bar as we approached the city limits. The ramp I had planned to take was closed, so we continued on to the next one and rolled into the gas station with 217 miles completed. We had just started the ride but it was already 20% done.
Blythe. 0730. The Corner Store:
We filled the bikes and calculated fuel mileage. I had earned just over 40 miles per gallon. It was about what I expected, but was still a little disappointed. I had programmed the stock fuel injection map into the bike and had hoped for a little more, but in hindsight, I’m a big man, I had panniers on both sides, I have a large shield on the bike and I was loaded really heavy with food, water and ice, tools, a fuel cell and other extras. It was almost the highest I’d get the entire trip.
David Gilmour was giving way to his mates in Pink Floyd and I would go through “Dark Side,” “Wish You Were Here” and “Animals” on the next leg.
We ate a few bites of food, took some Advil, hydrated, and got back on Interstate 10 and almost immediately entered Arizona. I had planned on riding hard during the first half of the trip so we could take it easy in the afternoon and I led a fast pace between Blythe and our next stop south of Phoenix. Three hours and 180 miles later my fuel light warned me I was getting low again, and I knew we wouldn’t make it to Eloy, our next planned stop, so I exited the 10 freeway in Bapchule, AZ.
Bapchule. 1029. Shell Gas Station:
We stopped at the pumps and compared fuel mileage again. 34.65 mpg. My fast pace hurt our mileage and explained why we didn’t make it to Eloy. John had lost several miles per gallon as well and I told him I’d try a slower pace during the next leg and see how we’d do. John had better mileage and range than me, but I was carrying an extra gallon and a half of fuel in case I ran out between stops.
Pink Floyd was done for the day and I switched to a mix of 120 Steely Dan tunes.
A few more bites of food, 16 ounces of water, down to thin gloves and a solo t-shirt under my jacket and we were on the 10 again. It was only 130 miles to our turnaround point and we were still ahead of schedule. The trip through Tucson was easy. I had slowed down some and only lost a single bar on my fuel gauge when Benson, AZ was in sight. I exited and we stopped for our first long break of the day. Our total mileage was showing 527 miles and we were still ahead of schedule.
Benson. 1311. Wendy’s:
The weather was in the 90s but we both agreed that we’d rather deal with warm weather than cold and stripped off some of our riding gear to cool off while we had lunch. I got a lemonade that was ¾ sugar from Wendy’s to get a receipt and we both took care of some bookkeeping inside in the air conditioning. I notified my family of our progress via Facebook.
John mentioned the seat on his FJR. I couldn’t believe he’d ridden this far on his stock seat. I’ve ridden his bike and it’s an awesome machine. Tons of power, smooth, refined, effortless cruising, but I’d last maybe an hour on that seat. He was starting to hurt, but was determined to keep moving. After 40 minutes or so, we geared up and started the trip home.
Neither of us needed gas but we knew we couldn’t make it to Gila Bend, so we agreed to go as far as we could before stopping again. We made it as far as North Tucson before I pulled us off the freeway. We missed a signal light at the bottom of the ramp and waited for the light to change. And waited. And waited. My temp gauge started to climb and my cooling fan came on for the first time in months. I looked over at John. He gave me a confused look. Neither of us could believe how long it took. After what seemed like ten minutes, the light changed and a growing line of waiting traffic started to move.
The gas station was busy but we still found pumps near each other. We’d gone 585 miles.
Tucson. 1440. Circle K:
On the last leg the wind had picked up to a level that was noticeable but not uncomfortable. It did move us around a little, though. I managed to get 40.65 miles per gallon on the last leg. Speeds below 80 had really helped. My mileage wasn’t being helped by my gearing choice. I have run 17/45 sprockets for some time and love the responsiveness and driveability. At 80, though, my rpms were up around 5000 rpms and while the engine seemed to be running great, there was a price to pay in extra fuel.
We ate a little more, hydrated, and got back on the road. The run to Gila Bend wouldn’t be long, only about 113 miles, but we couldn’t make it to Yuma, so we had scheduled another stop. The short leg with no concerns for fuel mileage had me picking up the pace again. We went 80 to 85 mph the entire time and were passed by a number of cars and the occasional truck. We did fight an ever-increasing wind, however. Gusts came from the south and on our nose, pushing us across the lane at times. John backed off a little and we both just rode it out.
Gila Bend. 1646. Love’s Travel Stop:
Gila Bend came quickly. At the stop I figured out fuel mileage -- a disappointing 35.65. John had suffered, too, but was still several miles per gallon higher than me. John’s seat pain had increased and was joined by throttle hand fatigue. We were beginning to tire, but motivated to push on. We’d gone 698 miles.
I went into the station to see if they had any fruit and was greeted with green bananas and mushy apples. That wasn’t happening. I bought a granola bar, downed another 16 ounces of water and took some more Advil.
While I was in line, I noticed a young mother in front of me. She had 6 or 7 kids with her -- I couldn’t get a good count. They kept bouncing around all over the place. She was at the counter paying for two full grocery bags full of junk food. She had chips, she had soda, she had Hostess cakes, she had candy bars. She even had a Fun Dip. There’s no way I’d spend the next three hours with her and the hyperactive brood she’d dragged along. They were piling into a minivan as I walked out. The kids misbehaved. The mom yelled. An older teenage daughter was smoking a cigarette outside the minivan arguing with a boyfriend. “Well,” she told him. “You didn’t have f--- her, too, you dick!”
She looked about thirteen.
The next leg would be long. The wind continued to pick up, and the sky west of us was brown with blowing dirt and sand. F-something-or-others were in sequence doing touch-and-gos at the strip across Interstate 8.
The wind didn’t let up. We got pushed around quite a bit during the next leg. John kept his distance and we willed ourselves straight for the next two hours and forty-five minutes. It was uncomfortable but not bad enough to have to stop and wait it out. We both just got used to using up more lane than usual.
At the Love’s Travel Stop I took my first ever Five Hour Energy drink (dose?). With only a few hundred miles to go, I didn’t want to get so fatigued that I couldn’t come back from it, so I tried one. Holy smokes! That stuff works. About 30 minutes into this leg it just hit me. “I’m not tired,” I thought. “I feel alert. I feel good. I don’t feel hyper. I feel in control. This stuff’s okay.” It wasn’t the Monster or Red Bull buzz that makes you feel like Beavis with his shirt pulled over his head. This was good. Other than a little neck pain from supporting the helmet for over twelve hours and fighting the wind, I was feeling great. No fatigue, no real pain, and no doubt that we could make it.
Yuma came and went and we saw the signs for shifting sands across the freeway as we approached Glamis. Small waves of fine, powdery sand moved sideways across the freeway as the sun set. By the time we pulled into El Centro, it was dark. We had 129 miles to go to reach 1000, just under 200 miles from home.
El Centro. 1936. Carl’s Jr.:
Your author, feeling good. Ready to ride:
We fueled up. Both of us were really low. Still under 40 at 38.6 miles per gallon, but respectable under the circumstances.
We went inside Carl’s to grab a burger and we were stared at by two old men and an older woman in a booth. They all looked us over pretty good. We were used to getting stared at by now. John’s 6’7” and I’m 6’3”. All geared up in riding attire and hi-viz, we really stand out. After ordering our food, the trio got up to leave as I was filling my drink cup with more lemonade -- this time light, no sugar. One of the older men walked up to me and said, “Who are you guys, a couple ‘a football players?”
“No sir,” I said. “We’re motorcycle riders.”
“Well, you’re sure a couple of big fellas.”
“Yes, sir. We’re just out for a ride.”
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“Well, we’re trying to ride 1000 miles in 24 hours. We left LA at about four this morning. We’re on our way home.”
“1000 miles you say?”
“In a day?”
“You guys are nuts. Ya hear that Clarence, these guys are riding a thousand miles today. How far ya gone so far?”
“871 miles, sir.”
“871 miles. My gosh! You guys be safe now. Ride safe.”
He and his friends continued talking about us as they left the restaurant. We ate our burgers quickly and looked forward to getting back on the bikes. The wind had died down and I hoped it would stay that way.
Steely Dan was done. 140 80s songs in the shuffle would finish our trip.
One of my friends posted on Facebook that it was supposed to rain shortly in Oceanside, right on our route. It hadn’t started yet, but was supposed to any time.
“Great,” I thought. “Heat, wind and now rain.”
We pushed on.
Five miles out of El Centro the wind was back. It was harder this time and the gusts were much, much stronger. I could see the mountains looming in front of us. They were framed in the sky by thousands of stars. We were being pushed around a lot when we approached and passed a sign that read something like “Extremely High Winds Likely Next 63 Miles.”
As Interstate 8 climbed out of the Imperial Valley the winds in the area just blew up. I slowed my pace down considerably and was laying against the tank trying to make my size as small as possible. One minute I’d be hanging off the side of the bike, leaning into the wind at a 30 degree angle and then a gust would push me the other way. I’d muscle the bike back straight using my arms, my legs, my abdomen just in time to have to make another adjustment. It was terrifying. I kept dropping the speed down just to try to remain in control. Several cars passed us. John said he’d use me as a reference to the wind’s velocity and direction. He’d see me get blown across the lane and a few seconds later he was doing the same thing.
I considered stopping for a while, but there was no safe place to stop. We were still doing great on time, so we didn’t feel a need to push on to make it. This went on for forty-five minutes or so.
As we approached the summit I noticed some stringy clouds clinging to lighted antenna towers above us. I knew that those types of clouds couldn’t be hanging there in fifty mile per hour winds and hoped that meant that the winds were slowing down.
They did. As we crested the summit on the coastal side we ran into the fog. It was patchy. Thick at times, other times thin, the fog kept our speed down, but it was so much better than the gusts we had been in ten minutes before. With the fog brought cold weather. The temperature dropped about thirty degrees. I was so unnerved by the wind that when my hands started to get numb from the cold, I forgot I had grip heaters.
Eventually we rode out of the fog and into urban San Diego County. We made it to the 5 freeway and headed north. I missed the first turn off on the 5 and had to go further up the road to get gas for the last time. As we approached Del Mar, the GPS went from 999 miles to 1000. The gas station was less than a mile away and it was still displayed as I stopped for fuel.
We made 1000 miles, but still had to make it home:
Del Mar. 2229. Chevron Gas Station:
The last leg netted less than 36 miles per gallon. I prepped the bike for rain by putting away all electronics except for the GPS. I put on my last layer under my jacket and my warmest gloves. I covered my seat and hoped we didn’t run into too much rain.
We didn’t for a while. Once into Orange County we ran through a few light showers but didn’t get soaked. It wasn’t until after we’d split up at the 5/405 intersection that I got any steady rain. I exited the freeway at Beach Boulevard in a steady downpour but only had a few miles to home. I needed to stop and get one last receipt to officially end my ride and I’d planned on using the same bank ATM as I had almost twenty hours earlier. Wells Fargo had other plans.
Because of the odd spending pattern they saw across Arizona and the Imperial Valley, Wells Fargo fraud detection caught up with me. After several attempts at accessing my accounts were unsuccessful, I figured out what happened and went across the street to a drug store and bought some mints with cash. My GPS read 1078 miles. I’d been gone about 19 hours, 45 minutes, an hour more than I’d planned.
It was a great ride. My bike got worked and never complained. All my gear worked as I’d hoped. Two things I’ll take with me. One, Five Hour Energy works. Two, a Russell seat would be a bargain at twice the price. My Strom has gone through several seats including the stock 1000, a gel, and a Sargent. All of them were good for about 90 minutes. The Russell seat is incredible, absolutely incredible. My butt never hurt during the entire ride -- not once, not even a little.
The day after I got out of bed and wasn’t sore and wasn’t tired. I was ready to go another 1000. John and I just have to get him a seat and pick a new destination. We’re ready for another.
There's a certain charm in rudeness.
DRconvertible screwed with this post 04-13-2012 at 12:54 PM
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