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Old 10-06-2014, 07:17 PM   #1
KYMike OP
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Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Elizabethtown, KY
Oddometer: 211
KYMike’s Bun-Burner Ride Home (or how I rode 1,749 miles to snag the KY Photo Tag)

I went on my first long trip last October, heading out West and ending in Phoenix. A new friend was kind enough to offer garage space until I could return in the Spring for a southerly ride home to Kentucky. Instead (while my bike was parked in Phoenix), I was easily talked into a 10-day loop through California. After all, my bike was already close to Cali, and it wasn’t like I’d be riding out this way again anytime soon. In June dave6253 and I went on the California trip, and once again I returned home to Kentucky without my bike.

I started looking at a Spring 2015 return trip from Phoenix through Carlsbad Caverns, Big Bend, the Texas Hill Country, etc…..then realized it wouldn’t fit my schedule. If I left my bike longer, I would miss out on some local rides. I thought about shipping my bike home, but I’m cheap, and that seemed like a lot of money. I could fund a long ride for the same money, so the expense without the benefit of a “life experience” was out. Thanks to a Southwest airlines blunder earlier this year, I had a voucher for free airfare valid until January 2015. I realized I had a low-cost opportunity to retrieve my bike, but not the vacation time to enjoy it. I would have to adopt an Iron Butt strategy. If I couldn’t do all the sight-seeing I wanted, I wouldn’t do any! Texas would have to wait for a future trip (you hear that voodoo child, mbabc, woodly1069).

A couple potential weekends came and went before finding one that would work. I checked with dave6253 to see if his schedule would allow shuttle service from the airport, and luckily my travel date fell between epic rides/photo shoots. I would fly to Phoenix on Friday, October 3rd, and ride 1,741 miles (per Google maps) back home in 36 hours per the IBA’s Bun-Burner rules.

That was the plan…stay tuned if you like, and I’ll try to drag this out!
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Old 10-06-2014, 07:25 PM   #2
bluestar
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Doesn't sound like much fun but I'll follow along.
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Old 10-07-2014, 05:43 AM   #3
KYMike OP
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Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Elizabethtown, KY
Oddometer: 211
Friday, October 3rd

My simple plan was this (everything in MY Time, EST):
Fly to Phoenix on Friday, prepping the bike and getting to bed by 2AM.
Sleep 7 hours, and get on the road by 10AM.
Ride until midnight (14 hours), sleep 6 hours, and continue riding, getting home by 10PM.

I left work a couple hours early on Friday, October 3rd so my Father-in-law could run me up to the Louisville airport. I had checked on my flight at various times during the day, and every time was shown “On Schedule”. My carry-on’s consisted of riding jacket & pants, an empty (un-used) 1-gallon gas can, meal bars, a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, a few extra clothes, and some smaller items. I fully expected the TSA to question my gas can, but it was never brought up. I’ve been on fumes before on major highways, and wanted the peace of mind a gallon of gas can provide. I cleared customs and checked on the flight….”On Schedule” said the display. That’s good. Between the Air Traffic Control fire and recent storms, flights out of Chicago-Midway (my first destination) had been delayed. Since I was now on vacation, I went to Four Bucks (Starbucks) for a pre-flight Frappuccino. Five minutes later I arrive at my gate to find the flight delayed 2 hours. After standing in line for ten minutes to check on my flight options, I get a text from Southwest telling me my flight was delayed two hours. My Chicago flight to Phoenix was delayed as well, so overall I would still be fine. It just meant I would arrive in Phoenix a little later than planned (maybe a little less sleep than planned).

I was able to sleep 2.5 hours on the flight to Phoenix. Arriving at 1:03 AM my time, I text Dave to come pick me up. On the ride to his house I get to hear a little about his trip with Questor to the KTM Rally in Taos, NM. Dave has another trip planned, but I’ll let him talk about it when the time comes. Once at Dave’s, I load my V-Strom with the few items I brought and get to sleep by 3AM. Since I slept on the plane, I decide 6 hours of sleep is OK and stick with my original plan.

Morning comes and I load my remaining gear on the bike. I tell Dave goodbye and head to a gas station. My bike is full, but I need to fill the 1-gallon container for a back-up as well as to document the start of my ride. I also buy my drinks for the trip (water, Gatorade, and a diet Dr. Pepper).




Starting odometer.




I get on 17 North, heading to Flagstaff.




The weather is great, and the traffic light.




I’ve actually been on this route once before. Around 1980 my family took a road trip from St. Louis to Phoenix to visit my grandparents. They had recently moved there from the St. Louis area, and would stay for many years before moving back. I can remember driving up to the Grand Canyon and my surprise at seeing pine trees after spending several days in the desert. I was 11, and didn’t realize how diverse a state could be. Those thoughts came back to me as I neared Flagstaff and saw the trees.

Why is it always a 6x6 male crossing the road……never a female or immature bull?




Getting closer…




…finally my exit to Interstate 40.




I didn’t need much in the way of maps or GPS for this trip. My GPS would be useful for locating gas, and showing actual travel distance and moving/non-moving time. However, I rarely get through a trip without some type of failure from my non-motorcycle friendly automotive designed Garmin Nuvi.

Once I reached Flagstaff, I would head east on Hwy 40, and not turn until Oklahoma City. I had the entire route memorized: 17 to 40 to 44 to 60. Once on 60 I knew my way home.

On 40, I take my one and only selfie of the trip.




Now that I’m heading East, the morning sun is straight ahead.




There’s little to see, but I enjoy a nice train to my left…




…and one of many to come “Indian Trading Post” to my right.




I normally ride the V-Strom around 60mph on back roads and get excellent gas mileage. With the 75mph Arizona speed limit, I’m cruising at 80pmh and burning through gas quicker than usual. I see a sign and make my first gas stop. Before long I’m a standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona. I didn’t see any fine sights. Must have been on the wrong corner.




A gas stop means time to eat and drink as well. These bars will be my meals over the next two days. Total stop time: 9 minutes (gas, food, drink, photo). I’m off to a good start.




With receipt in-hand, and odometer documented…




…I head towards the next major milestone, Albuquerque, NM.

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Old 10-07-2014, 05:02 PM   #4
KYMike OP
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The landscape is pretty barren…




…but I chug along.




Anything that’s not flat gets my attention.






I see a sign for the Petrified Forest National Park…




…and it brings back memories of the family road trip. I can almost picture myself sporting tube socks up to my knees, wearing a “Here Comes Trouble” iron-on t-shirt. My neighbor had the “Happy” t-shirt, but there was no way my parents were going to buy me that.




As the landscape gets interesting and starts to remind me of Utah…





…I come to New Mexico for the first time on a bike.




As I'm riding, I suddenly feel a wet splat on my face. I usually ride with my face shield open, and my windshield and sunglasses protect me. I recall showing Dave how my Madstad bracket worked, allowing me to move the windshield up or down, and change angles. I wonder if it’s not in the normal position, and now a bug has slipped through. I look at my face in the mirror and don’t see anything. Oh well, I continue on.

The big rocks don’t last, but the landscape’s not completely dull.






About 15 minutes after the “bug splat” incident I’m rolling through Gallup, NM and feel a little tickle on my chin. Since I have a modular helmet, I open it ever so slightly and strain my eyes to look sharply downward. What do I see? Well I didn’t take a picture of it, but here is what I saw.




Holy crap! I was trying to raise my modular helmet up enough to get at this thing, but not so high to catch the air flow coming over my windshield. I was able to knock it free, as well as one side of a chin piece snapped into the helmet. I pulled the helmet shut and continued riding.

About an hour later I pull into the Sky City Travel Center in Pueblo of America, NM for gas. After snapping my chin piece back in place, I took my first restroom break, ate a meal bar, and drank.

Odometer reading.

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Old 10-07-2014, 05:16 PM   #5
bluestar
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I remember going to the petrified forest as a kid. I was probably wearing those same socks.
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Old 10-07-2014, 06:00 PM   #6
KYMike OP
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Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Elizabethtown, KY
Oddometer: 211
Quote:
Originally Posted by bluestar View Post
I remember going to the petrified forest as a kid. I was probably wearing those same socks.
Probably nothing, we all wore those socks!
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Old 10-08-2014, 06:50 AM   #7
KYMike OP
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Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Elizabethtown, KY
Oddometer: 211
Back on the road I see this warning sign. Looks like rocks tend to fall from the top, so I stay to the left.




Not much out here.




I occasionally see signs referencing Historic Route 66, and wonder what’s left of it. I read several reports that not much is remaining. Apparently this casino is still standing tall after all those years.





I roll into Albuquerque but don’t see a good sign to capture. They did have some type of art work on this walk-way, but I couldn’t make it out.




I continue heading East on 40. Next reference point: Santa Rosa.




I saw several billboards for Clines Corners, and was a little disappointed when I finally came to it. Maybe the inside was a lot more interesting?




Now I’m heading towards Las Vegas??? I knew I should have taken that left turn at Albuquerque.




Carlsbad Caverns would have to wait for another time.




Having reached Santa Rosa, I now have a new reference point: Tucumcari. I’ll need to stop there for gas.




The sign’s not flashing, but I hadn’t even considered I-40 being closed. Maybe I should have brought a map.




Another train passes, this one carrying only the blades for wind turbines. I had passed a wind farm earlier, but my pictures from the highway were too far away. They looked tiny in the pictures, not worth posting.




I reach Tucumcari and stop for gas. My credit card doesn’t work at the pump, so I go inside. I hope it’s just a pump issue. I forgot to call my credit card company prior to the California trip, and Dave was stuck buying my gas in Death Valley for $5.79 a gallon. This time I had alerted the credit card folks to my plan. I really didn’t have time to call them and work things out.

I left the attendant my credit card and license, and went back outside to pump. While pumping I see K-Bob’s Steakhouse. I had just seen one in Questor and Dave’s KTM Rally RR. After thinking just how far East I was in New Mexico, I realized Questor and Dave wouldn’t have come this far. Must be a chain restaurant I’m not familiar with. Back inside the guy swipes my card and all is well.

I take my odometer reading and continue on.

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Old 10-08-2014, 06:23 PM   #8
KYMike OP
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Location: Elizabethtown, KY
Oddometer: 211
I figured Texas was getting close, and within 30 minutes or so I reach the border.




The terrain seems to change almost instantly, or maybe I didn’t notice the transition.




The sun will soon be setting in the West, as I continue heading East my shadow is getting LONG.




I smell something, and moments later I pass what appears to be EVERY cow in Texas.




Amarillo is the only sizeable town I’ll drive through in Texas. As I enter, I see a sign for the free 72 oz steak (that’s 4 ˝ pounds), offered at The Big Texan restaurant. I believe if you eat the entire steak in one hour it’s free.





Of course this brought back memories from our road trip as well. We spent the night in Amarillo at a Motel 6. I remember this for two reasons. First, it was probably only the second time I had ever stayed in a hotel. We usually camped for our vacations, pulling something like a pop-up from St. Louis down to Branson every other summer. Only on our last trip to Branson did we stay in a motel. This was back in the days when the Plummer Family and the Baldknobbers dominated the entertainment scene. And second, we arrived so late the outdoor pool had already been closed. My dad had driven all day and all we would do here is sleep.

I continue heading East toward Oklahoma City…




…and notice the sun setting behind me.





As the sun sets the temperature drops. I’ve been riding in my mesh jacket with just a t-shirt on underneath. I didn’t need gas yet, but thought I could afford a quick stop to put the liner in my jacket. I pulled over at a picnic area and hit the key fob to open my top case…nothing. I tried again, and once again nothing.

When Dave and I rode through California, our first stop was near Death Valley. I had been up for 22 hours when we finally stopped to camp, and ended up locking my keys in the top case. I ruined the lock, but once I got it open, could use the key fob for the remainder of the trip. Apparently now my key fob battery was dead, and using the key wasn’t an option either.
I had extra clothes in my panniers, so I added a layer and kept going. My next stop for gas was in Shamrock, TX.

Odometer reading.

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Old 10-08-2014, 06:35 PM   #9
wanderer351
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Joined: Oct 2014
Location: Columbus/Newark Ohio
Oddometer: 43
I cant wait to do a bun burner!! Great report and be safe!!!!
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Old 10-08-2014, 09:51 PM   #10
dave6253
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Joined: May 2006
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
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I like where this is going...
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Old 10-09-2014, 09:59 AM   #11
KYMike OP
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Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Elizabethtown, KY
Oddometer: 211
So I’m in Shamrock, TX and all gassed up. Next obstacle, I need to break into my top case. I go inside the gas station and ask the clerk if he has a hammer. He gives me dumb look and says “No”. It’s not a truck stop (those places sell everything), but I look around and sure enough they sell hammers. I ask if I can borrow one outside for one swing and the clerk says “No”. Fine… I decide not to buy any food or drink from this joint and leave. All I really need is a big rock. I literally ride across the street and within two attempts I’ve got the top case open. I eat a meal bar, drink, and put on my jacket liner. I’m back in business. I can ride with the top case lid down, but not latched and everything stays put. In fact, I’ve accidentally done it several times before.

At this point it’s about 10PM KY time. I had ridden over 800 miles, and my planned destination for the night is less than 2 hours away. I had hoped to stop at a rest area at midnight, and sleep for 4-6 hours. So far I was right on schedule.

Around 11:30PM I near the rest area and have one problem – I’m not sleepy. I can’t understand it or explain it, but I know if I pull over now I’ll be lying in my sleeping bag wide awake. Oh well, I’ll just keep going. I can always stop to sleep later.

I continue into Oklahoma City, and enjoy the ride. There’s something special about going through a large city late at night when traffic is almost non-existent. Growing up in St. Louis we had a bicycle ride called the Moonlight Ramble. It began on a Saturday at midnight, and took you through the downtown area for 20-25 miles. Although I had been through the area several times in a car, the slow pace on the bicycle and lack of traffic brought out so much more detail.




Oklahoma City wasn’t quite the same, but I did enjoy the buildings and this feature. It changed from purple to blue as I approached.





It was now time to leave I-40, and I took the I-44 Turner Turnpike toward my home state of Missouri. Once on the Turnpike my gas options were limited, but I was able to gas up at an EZ Go in Chandler, OK right on the Turnpike. There was even a small store there, but it was closed. A handful of semis were parked there for the night. I realize at this point I’ve successfully completed an Iron Butt. I’ve gone over 1,000 miles in well under 24 hours (more like 15 and a half).

Odometer reading.

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Old 10-09-2014, 10:04 AM   #12
Ghostie
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I used to do the Moonlight Ramble in Houston as well (about 10yrs ago). You're absolutely right, riding a bicycle through an urban area at night is an amazing experience. One shop I used to be affiliated with had a weekly Urban Assault ride every weds night...absolutely loved it.

Nice report
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Old 10-09-2014, 08:29 PM   #13
KYMike OP
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Location: Elizabethtown, KY
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostie View Post
I used to do the Moonlight Ramble in Houston as well (about 10yrs ago). You're absolutely right, riding a bicycle through an urban area at night is an amazing experience. One shop I used to be affiliated with had a weekly Urban Assault ride every weds night...absolutely loved it.

Nice report
Thanks Ghostie. My last Ramble was in 1986 (too long ago).
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Old 10-09-2014, 08:39 PM   #14
KYMike OP
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My night pictures on the move aren’t turning out too well, so I don’t bother to take any. I continue on the Turnpike and at 1:24AM KY time I stop to pay my $4 toll. I-44 becomes the Will Rogers Turnpike, and at 2:54AM KY time I get to stop and pay another $4 toll. The toll booth attendant greets me with a stocking cap and gloves. Is it that cold I wonder? I ask the temp and he says either 51 or 54 degrees, I’m not sure.

To be honest, around 2:30AM, I start to yawn. I realize it’s been 3 hours since passing my planned sleeping spot for the night. I yawn several more times between 2:30AM and the toll booth, but there’s not a good place to stop and sleep. I decide to push on to Joplin, MO where I’ll stop and take a little break.

As I near the Missouri border, I realize how dangerously close I am to Kansas. When I rode through Kansas last October on my way out West, the wind nearly blew the bike out from under me. I told myself I would avoid Kansas in the future if at all possible.




I find the Flying J Truck Stop in Joplin, MO and gas up at 3:46AM my time. I’m cold at this point, and go inside to add a layer to my legs. I want to get coffee to warm up (I’m normally NOT a coffee drinker), but know it will make me pee. Not just once, but 15 minutes after I’ve just stopped to pee. We once left the Kickstand Lodge (near the Tail of the Dragon), and I barely made it the 10 miles to Robbinsville, NC where luckily someone needed to stop for gas. Instead I buy a Diet Mountain Dew and a pack of Hostess Cupcakes. It should be noted, I’m a Ho Ho’s man myself, but they were out. Cupcakes would have to do.

Odometer reading.

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Old 10-10-2014, 06:55 AM   #15
KYMike OP
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Location: Elizabethtown, KY
Oddometer: 211
I’m awake at this point (not yawning anymore), but decide I should get to Springfield, MO and on Hwy 60 before looking for a place to stop and sleep. It’s less than an hour away.

Once on Hwy 60 the vibe changes. It’s not a major thoroughfare like I-40, and soon the gas stations I come to are closed. No 24-hour convenient stores around here. I am now thoroughly cold, and just want to pull over at the next rest stop and crawl into my sleeping bag. Not so much for the sleep, but for the warmth. It’s then that I realize the flaw in my plan vs. execution.

I was going to sleep near Oklahoma City, where the low was going to be around 60 degrees. I packed a light down sleeping bag rated to 35 degrees, but in reality comfortable in 45-55 degree weather. Cold weather was supposed to move through Kentucky on Sunday, October 5th, which wouldn’t affect me, as I would be riding behind it. By not stopping to sleep, I was riding right in the middle of it.

The next town came into view, and I saw a fully illuminated McDonald’s sign. I pulled off the highway and did a drive-by. It was only 5:15AM Missouri time, so I wasn’t sure it was open. I saw cars in the drive-thru, and then noticed a few folks inside. PERFECT! I would sleep at McDonalds.




I parked and documented the time on my phone and the odometer.




Inside, I ordered a hot chocolate and an Egg McMuffin (IMHO, McDonald’s greatest invention). The manager said it would be 10 minutes on the hot chocolate due to some equipment issue. I said OK and went to the furthest corner to lie down in a large booth. Ten minutes later I’m awakened as they bring my order to me. After eating and a little to drink, I lie down again. I set an alarm on my phone thinking I would fall into a deep sleep, but I only sleep about 45 minutes. Since I didn’t want the awkwardness of sleeping for hours in a McDonald’s booth (apparently 100% acceptable in California as I learned with dave6253), I hit the road again. The short nap had served me well. Total break time: 1 hour 15 minutes. Thanks McDonald’s!
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