How I Failed My Way into 2 Iron Butt Awards

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Slippy Chips, Nov 22, 2016.

  1. Slippy Chips

    Slippy Chips Been here awhile

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    The Iron Butt Association should probably change their name to "World's Toughest Riders... and that guy Dustin."

    I am not tough. Not as a motorcycle rider. Not as a dude in general. In fact, I'm kind of a cupcake even though I can look like a big, tough guy. I'm generally useless and I learned that early on in life. Because of that I went to school, more school, and even more school. I got some letters to go after my name simply because I knew I couldn't make a living doing anything with my hands like most people. So when the zombie apocalypse comes I'll probably be the first to go.

    I'm not an especially talented rider either. I rode my GS off road once on a forestry service road. I dropped it in the mud, got passed by a guy on a KTM, and decided my off-roading career was over then and there.

    Here I am ridging more in my element: Notice all the pavement
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    I got into motorcycle riding because of my dad. He was in the Air Force during Vietnam and was stationed in Europe afterwards. I grew up listening to stories and seeing the pictures of him and my Mom riding all over the continent. They met when he pulled up beside her on his Kawasaki Z1 and asked her to go for a ride. She did and I am personally quite grateful for that. They were in some sort of "gang" where he rode his 900cc Kawasaki all over Europe in all types of weather. They were in parades and even rode their bike to get married in Switzerland.

    Dad and Mum doing their thing: Not ATGATT
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    Later on in life my dad got back into motorcycles and collected quite a few. He had Yamaha Royal Star's, Harleys, Gold Wings, scooters, FJ 1300's, and more. I got to play around with whatever he wasn't riding at the time. There was very little coaching. It was more of a "go figure it out but don't scratch my bike."

    My dad passed away young in 2008. As time goes on I forget more and more about him, but when I ride I remember him and am reminded of many of the little things that have been slipping away.

    One of the reasons I ride is because it's the only place I can really isolate myself. I just get alone in my helmet and just think about the road ahead, the next corner, the teen in the Camry next to me texting. I don't listen to music, certainly don't talk on the phone and generally I go out alone. Now that I have 3 kids (4th on the way) I don't get to ride much, so when I do go I like to go FAR. It just seems like it takes me that long to really disconnect and get into "riding" mode.

    I got my first Iron Butt in 2013 by doing the Saddle Sore 1000. While certainly not a cakewalk it was not too difficult for me. It was right up my alley. The planning and documenting it was new to me, but the going... and going... and going is what I do.
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    There is still one Iron Butt that truly gets me going. Before I had even purchased my first bike I heard about the 50cc (coast to coast in 50 hours) and was immediately enthralled. The absoluteness of going from coast to coast in the most efficient manner simply amazed me. Sure, it's cool to take a month and hop from town to town and explore the country. But I don't ride to explore. I ride to disconnect and to remember... to tribute.

    So with baby number 4 on the way it became a now or never opportunity. I don't get to ride much anymore and with 4 kids I probably wont get to really ride for several more years. Especially not a ride where I would be gone for a week or so. My amazing wife encouraged me to book it. I blocked off my calendar and started the planning process.

    Coast to coast in 50 hours? Am I crazy? Well, yes, of course I am.

    Obligatory cheesy family picture and the reason for my upcoming motorcycle hiatus:
    ihopne backup 091914 273.JPG
    #1
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  2. dustin2

    dustin2 VFR800

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    From one Dustin to another: Thanks for sharing your story!
    #2
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  3. Slippy Chips

    Slippy Chips Been here awhile

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    My lovely bride gave me 7 days. That meant 1 day to get to Jacksonville, 2 days to go coast-to-coast, a day to rest, and a couple of days to explore out west before flying back home.

    That was the general plan anyway.

    I realize now that I set myself up for failure in a couple of key ways.
    1) November is not the best time to attempt this. It's cold and there is a lot less daylight than you really should have.
    2) I tried it on a rental bike (I sold my bike earlier this year). Even though the rental was a GS like my old bike - even though I'd rented this exact same bike before - and, even though the rental company did a great job setting up the bike, there a still subtle nuances that you have to learn about each bike. A 3,000 mile ride is not the time to learn these nuances.
    3) I used some new gear and equipment without trying it out first
    4) I really haven't been able to ride that much this year.
    None of these are insurmountable but they were challenges that were mostly avoidable.

    This Fall has been unusually warm. I was especially excited about this as time drew close. Even a week before I left the temps were well in the high 70's all across the South. Out West it was as high as 85. So even though November is typically cold I thought things were shaping up well.

    Then the week I was getting ready to go the temperatures started to drop. The morning I was scheduled to leave Atlanta it was going to be 37 degrees. I've actually ridden in mid-30 degree weather before. It wasn't fun but as long as I kept moving I was ok. It was when I'd stop that I would sweat (I'm kind of a fatty) and the sweat was cold. I knew that on an Iron Butt I wouldn't be stopping much so I assumed I could make it ok. Besides, it was going to warm up quickly to the 70's as it does in the South.

    So the time came to go pick up my rental. I got it a little early but it was still the night before I was scheduled to leave. When I got it home I realized the "universal" tank bag I'd purchased wasn't quite so "universal." I spent an hour or so trying to figure out how to rig it with straps and bungees. That was an hour or so I should have been sleeping. Eventually I got it in place but I knew it would be a hassle unhooking it every time I needed to fill up.

    Fortunately the forecasts for 37 degree weather were overblown. It was 45. Still quite chilly but much better. It warmed up quickly and I was able to make good time getting to Jacksonville. It gave me about 5-6 hours to get settled (read: burn off some of the adrenaline). I was also borrowing an Air Hawk from a fellow inmate (Tex76) and that gave me some time to experiment with it some. The rental company had put a brand new set of tires on the bike just for me and they settled in just fine. A new(ish) Shinko on the front and a brand new TKC70 on the rear.

    Jacksonville was an adventure. The patchwork pavement, incessant construction, bridges to get on to bridges, and so many crazy drivers got me on edge a little bit. After riding around Atlanta for years it takes a lot to get me on edge but Jacksonville managed to do just that. The wind complicated things further. The gusts were strong. It never rained but it felt like it was about to storm any minute. Add that to my anxiety about riding from coast to coast and it made getting some good rest difficult.

    I did a trial run of my start. I went by the police station to make sure someone would be there in the morning. I went by the gas station to make sure they were open and the receipts were acceptable. Then I went to the beach and got my picture collecting sand. I would go back the next morning but not take time to collect a sample.

    Then I managed to go get some rest before taking off the next morning.
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    #3
  4. toy4fun

    toy4fun GET out of the way

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    DUDE....u jus got me ramped up, never heard of this and now I want to try it! Way to instigate!
    #4
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  5. WYO George

    WYO George Long timer

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    This is on my to-do list, has been for a while now, but life gets in the way and living way up in Wyoming makes it an even longer ordeal. I'll be reading along, cheering for you.
    #5
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  6. Nixels

    Nixels Face fears - live life

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    :jkam I like the foreshadowing! :uhoh

    IN! :lurk
    #6
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  7. rodr

    rodr Been here awhile

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    3000 miles in 50 hours?

    :nah

    Pretty sure I would die.
    #7
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  8. Slippy Chips

    Slippy Chips Been here awhile

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    When I woke up I reminded myself that no one was making me leave right then. I could go back to bed if I needed to and start later. But that wasn't my style and I'd been playing this ride out in my mind for years, so you know I got up. I made sure that I was alert and fully ready to go even tough my alarm had me up at 1:30am. I took a shot of hotel-room-brewed coffee and downed a couple of hard-boiled eggs then set off for the police station.

    Most of the reports I'd read people were leaving anywhere from 3 to 6 am. I also knew that the hardest part of the trip for most was West Texas. It comes at the end of the first day when you are most tired. It's boring. Since it's dark there is nothing to look at. So I thought getting up a little earlier would get me to West Texas with a little more daylight and, perhaps, make it a little more enjoyable. Maybe a little less challenging at least. That was the plan anyway...

    The guys at the Jacksonville Beach PD apparently sign off on IBA forms all the time. One of the officers was telling me how to fill out the Iron Butt Form and making sure I knew which gas station to go to to get the correct receipt at 2am. One of the officers spotted a wolf running through an adjoining parking lot so we watched it do it's thing for a while. I was a little too ready to get on the road to fully engage the officers but they were good guys.

    I only kind of remember going by the beach and getting my first gas station receipt. I was ready to go and it was 2:49am. A little later than planned but that wouldn't be that last time I was late. I got out of town quickly. The traffic, of course, was gone but the bridges and that gusty wind was there. As I straitened out on to I-10 I bid farewell to the East coast and Jacksonville. The wind died down and it got really dark. It was that wet kind of dark where your headlights seem to get sucked into the blackness.

    As I pulled away from the coast the temperature started to drop. It was close to 60 when I left Jax but quickly dropped to 50 when I got inland. It wasn't long before it got down to 45 and my teeth began to chatter a little. I cranked up the hand grips but they weren't helping much. My liner wasn't doing much either.

    The deer were out too. Not that I could see that far ahead in the darkness but every couple of miles I passed by a group standing on the shoulder. Clearly, in my mind, they were contemplating trotting right out into my path. There were plenty of carcasses along the way that should have reminded them not to. They certainly reminded me what deer are capable of doing. I was not making good time with the cold, the dark, and the deer. I was plugging along at 70ish.

    My first stop was west of Tallahassee. I only remember being cold - shivering cold - and not being able to do the simple math of calculating how far to the exit. The sun was starting to come up and I knew (hoped) it would start getting warmer. I may have stalled a bit to give the sun a few more minutes to do it's job but I was already behind schedule (at least in my mind).

    Back on the road with the sun up and I was finally able to get into a groove. The deer were back in hiding. It was early on a Sunday morning so I had the road to myself as I passed through Pensacola and through the tunnel heading into Mobile. My feet didn't hit the ground again until I was past Biloxi, MS at a gas station where I was able to find a $30 wind breaker to go over my liner but under my jacket. Since it had warmed up I halfway hoped I wouldn't need it but also knew I probably would the next night.

    Starting this ride on the East coast is a clear advantage for me. You naturally get a little extra sun since you are heading in the same direction. Also the exit numbers are a nice countdown to state lines. It's not much but hitting each milestone is important for morale and I would need all I could get.

    Driving through Louisiana was sheer madness! The New Orleans bypass I-12 is just 2 lanes full of tractor trailers, pickups, and RVs doing 85-90. They were driving 6 feet from the car in front of them and cutting off anyone leaving an inch more than that. There were miles of construction and accidents. The pace of traffic was relentless and I got caught up in the madness. I found myself pushing my way though the clusters only to find myself in the middle of another cluster of traffic. Nearly 4 hours later I found myself in Iowa, LA clearly on edge. I had let the madness get to me and, even though I was driving 85-90 for hours on end I was still behind schedule.

    Pushing on I found myself in Houston late that afternoon. It was my first time seeing Houston and I thought it was a beautiful skyline. The impossibly thin and tall buildings of glass reminded me of Dubai for some reason, especially with the flat landscape seen from the perspective of broad, flat interstates. That comparison may be completely wrong but that's what came to mind at the time.

    15 hours in - somewhere east of San Antonio - I stopped to eat for the first time (at least more than beef jerky and trail mix). It was already getting dark but I had planned on being far west of San Antonio when the dark settled in. I stretched out on the pavement outside a gas station that sells fried chicken to contemplate where I went wrong. Laying there I couldn't understand where I had fallen so far behind. I hadn't hardly stopped. I hit about 15 minutes of traffic outside of Lafayette but that was about it.

    I was exhausted

    My wife had been stalking me on that "find my phone" app on her iPhone. She noticed I hadn't moved in a while and called to make sure I wasn't stuck under a tractor trailer. I told her I was laying on the sidewalk outside a gas station and she started to laugh at me. I told her how I'd ridden so hard but found myself so far behind. I began to realize how far away I was but how impossibly far I had left to go. I was roughly 1,000 miles into the 2,300 stretch and I was exhausted. It was getting dark. It was getting cold again. I knew the easy stuff was behind me and I hadn't done that well on it.

    My wife never stopped believing in me (even though I had) and helped me get my perspective right. I was looking at the at the ride in it's entirety and it was wearing me out. I needed to ask myself "Can I ride to San Antonio?" then when I get to San Antonio ask myself "Can I get to Boerne?" Whatever phsycho mojo my wife was throwing at me was working.

    I decided to get back on my (rental) bike and ride off into the night.

    But first I took this picture of the "Super-Moon" coming up
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    #8
  9. goodquest

    goodquest Adventurer

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    This makes me want to take some time off work and enjoy a nice long ride.
    #9
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  10. Slippy Chips

    Slippy Chips Been here awhile

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    I took off with my renewed strategy of going one segment at a time. I knew that the next few hours were most likely going to be really hard for a lot of reasons. It was really dark even though it was only a little after 6pm. The "Super-moon" was starting out low in the sky but as it got higher I knew it would allow me to see further, especially after I got past San Antonio.

    Everything really is bigger in Texas, especially the trucks. It seemed like every truck that flew by me was a quad-cab dually pulling a 20 foot long trailer with a tractor or two loaded on it. They threw off a lot of wake. I got used to getting halfway blown off the road every minute or two as they passed going 80-90. Even though the ride was easy I could feel my anxiety rising as I was re-adjusting to riding in the dark with all those giant vehicles buzzing by. The temperature was starting to drop again but the $30 windbreaker I purchased at a gas station earlier that morning was doing a good job of taking the edge off.

    I mentioned earlier that I had some new gear I was trying out and that was one of my many mistakes. I had to get some new gloves. My old ones simply fell apart the last time I rode. My new ones were great but they weren't perfect and imperfections cause pain after 15-18 hours of riding. My hands were starting to cramp from the gloves and from being in grip mode for so long. The other problem is that my hands wouldn't un-grip/un-cramp easily when I was coming to a stop. A throttle lock would have been nice about that time.

    At one time I was trying to turn on my left turn indicator but apparently my brain just told my left hand "do something" so my hand had to select one of the numerous tasks it was responsible for. So instead of hitting the turn signal it pulled the clutch in. The sudden slow down was enough to jar me back into the moment and fully awake.

    Another new piece of equipment was the Klim Fuel Pack I had purchased. It's a hydration backpack that was equally helpful and harmful. What I hadn't thought out is that it would sit right where my duffle bag was situated on the passenger seat. What that meant is I had been sitting in a slightly more forward position than was natural for me and I could not really lay back at all. When I did lean back my duffle would push my backpack up and into the bottom of the back of my helmet. That would push the front of my helmet down over my eyes. Not ideal. Also the backpack was pulling back on my shoulders just so slightly. None of this was a big deal for the first 5 hours - even 10 hours - but 16+ hours in it was beginning to wear on me. The Hydration pack did come in really handy though as I would be heading into dryer and dryer climates.

    I stopped just passed San Antonio to rest and assess my current mental state. It was clear I wasn't going to make it to Van Horn that night like I had hoped. Making it to Van Horn would have given me 1512 miles for the day which would have qualified me for the Bum Burner Gold. If I did make it to Van Horn it would be much later than I wanted to be on the road. I decided I would go to Junction, TX and sleep.

    It was good to be past San Antonio's traffic and heading out on my own. The traffic was light heading West and the Super-moon was beginning to light up the countryside. West Texas had clearly been undersold to me. It was beautiful even in the dark. The road wound through hills lined with rocky cliffs.

    At the last gas stop I heard on the news that it was the brightest super-moon since November 1948. It just so happens that my dad was born in November 1948. That little nugget brought back all sorts of memories about my dad that kept me company for the next section of the ride. There was probably some greater meaning there but I was too foggy and cold to really get too deep.

    So I was back to being cold and in the dark. What also came back from the night before was the deer. But this was unlike anything I had ever seen before. Apparently deer are much more active during a full moon. So during a "super" moon the deer really go nuts. I just so happened to be driving through deer Mecca (West Texas) during the worst possible time. The night before I would see groups of 5-8 deer on the side of the road and it would cause me to slow down. But now I was seeing groups/herds of 40 or more mile after mile. It was like I was the main show in town as hundreds of glowing eyeballs stared me down as I passed. There were entire stretches of road covered in deer smear. These were stretches of 100's of yards where more of the road was covered in deer remains than there was road without some kind of blood stain. I guess that's why the Texans drive such big trucks. The deer just bounce off as they plow on down the road. I didn't like my chances as much on 2 wheels.

    I puttered along towards Junction. Sometimes I was going as slow as 55 as I passed by my hooved "friends" on the shoulder. Meanwhile the Texas trucks blasted by at 80+. The bike I sold earlier this year had massive PIAA lights that would have flooded the roadway but the rental was sorely lacking in lighting power. Just another way I had set myself up for failure.

    I limped in to Junction around 9:45: 20 hours and 1,200 miles after I had pulled away from Jax Beach. I was completely spent. Very little of the riding had been easy for me, physically or emotionally. I pulled a muscle in my back putting my bike up on the center-stand. I collapsed on the bed and set an alarm for 4am. I was disappointed I hadn't qualified for a Bum Burner GOLD and equally disappointed that I was exactly half-way to the coast, so in order for me to make it to San Diego on time I was going to have to do the exact same thing again in a few hours

    At 4 am I woke up shivering. I had come down with some kind of fever. Maybe my body was just rebelling but at 4am I couldn't be sure. My back was killing me from pulling that muscle the night before. On top of that I hadn't regained feeling "down below" even though I'd been off the bike for 5 hours. I peeked outside and the fog had rolled in and I couldn't even see out of the parking lot. It was 40 degrees outside and 38 degrees in Van Horn where I was headed. I was standing there shivering and I knew I had to get some more rest.

    That is where I quit. At least the first time...
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    #10
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  11. Motormom

    Motormom Been here awhile

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    Great story! Don't know how you do it. I'd want to stay on back roads, away from the trucks.
    Keep it up!
    #11
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  12. Slippy Chips

    Slippy Chips Been here awhile

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    Thank you! Hopefully I haven't poisoned our food name too badly here!
    #12
  13. Slippy Chips

    Slippy Chips Been here awhile

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    By 5 am I was back fast asleep. Fully medicated to help with the fever. When I woke up at 8am I waddled down to the hotel's breakfast buffet and downed enough instant eggs and waffles for 3-4 grown men. As I sat there and contemplated my failure I took little solace in having achieved another Saddle Sore 1,000. I was feeling too sorry for myself for having failed the 50cc. I felt like I was as "soft" as I thought I was and felt like I'd let my wife down.

    I decided to turn the ride into a casual coast to coast ride. I would take a few days to get to San Diego and enjoy the scenery. It would be no Iron Butt but still a really cool experience for my last hoorah on a motorcycle for a few years.

    So I got my things together, loaded up the bike and started heading towards El Paso where I planned on doing "touristy" things for the evening and along the way.

    It had turned into a glorious day! The sun had burned off all the fog. The Texas countryside was so much more impressive than I had imagined in broad daylight. As I sat there is the saddle I felt comfortable and confident for the first time in a long time. I truly was enjoying the ride.

    The GPS on my rental bike had decided not to charge through the cradle, so I decided to turn it off and save the battery for when I got truely lost later. Before I did turn it off I decided to -for the heck of it- see what time I would arrive at the beach if I were to still be after it. As it turned out the GPS said I could still make it with an hour to spare. 49 hours is as good as 45 hours. I sat there and stewed on that new revelation for a while. That was the point of the trip right? Maybe I wasn't a complete failure after all? Even with a solid 10 hour, fever-induced stop I was still technically in this thing. So I turned the GPS off to save battery and thought about things.

    So I un-quit.

    Later when I stopped for gas I text my wife to let her know I was still going to go for it. Then, when I finally did arrive in Van Horn, she had shot back that she was in full support.

    So the game was still on, but with over 1,100 miles to cover and only an hour cushion for stops I knew it had to be on my "A Game."
    #13
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  14. Nixels

    Nixels Face fears - live life

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    :scratch You must be an accountant. :nod

    Your story is so uninflected and linear, like a simple equation. :dunno


    :zilla

    Great story! :clap
    #14
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  15. Slippy Chips

    Slippy Chips Been here awhile

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    Awesome! I hope you give it a try. Make sure you avoid my pitfalls. Also, start with a shorter ride like the Saddle Sore 1,000 (1,000 miles in 24 hours) to get a taste of it. It's not everyone's cup of tea.
    #15
  16. Slippy Chips

    Slippy Chips Been here awhile

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    I hope you give it a shot some time! Maybe you could just go ahead and do the 10-48 (48 states in 10 days) since you're so central.
    #16
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  17. Slippy Chips

    Slippy Chips Been here awhile

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    Thanks! I wish I was useful enough to be an accountant. I work in pharmaceuticals. Even the people I work with don't really know what I do.

    I've been getting a little too bogged down in the details. I hope you enjoy!
    #17
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  18. Nixels

    Nixels Face fears - live life

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    :nono The details are essential. How are we gonna identify with (or be envious of) you when you describe being the deer clan's favorite show? :dunno

    It's not as if you're going on a 5 year RTW trip and writing about it. For my money(!) this is an engaging RR because you aren't glossing over details.
    #18
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  19. rascalman

    rascalman GhostRider, the clock is ticking

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    I'm in. Enjoying the details and all the emotions that go along with the ride.
    #19
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  20. Slippy Chips

    Slippy Chips Been here awhile

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    I had set expectations for West Texas remarkably low. I expected flat and boring. I was pleasantly suprised to see so many mountains and a beautiful, endless sky. I also expected to be going through 12 hours earlier in the middle of the night but it was what it was.

    I couldn't have picked a better day to ride. The cold night had become a wonderful sunny day. Visibility was limited only to the curvature of the Earth and the rocks jutting out of it. It was Monday but it could have been any day. Everything I saw was new to me and the time passed easily.

    I hadn't gained any time crossing West Texas, but I didn't lose any either. I stopped twice for gas but made up those minutes. I was still due at the beach with an hour to spare (12:49am to be exact). That was, until I got to El Paso.

    I hit El Paso right as the Monday evening rush hour was filing out. It was easy getting into town but hard getting out. On a number of occasions I came to complete stop and had to test that those two long things on the end of my body still worked and could hold up the bike. As I finally broke free from traffic I fired up the GPS to find that the traffic had cost me half of my remaining time. With 10 hours and over 700 miles remaining I had very little room for error.

    When I crossed into New Mexico at dusk I peeked back over my shoulder and saw that the Super-moon was going to be back lighting the way. I hoped that the suicidal deer would not be.

    I had to stop twice for border patrol. I'm not really sure what that's all about. All the traffic gets channeled in through a checkpoint. When it's your turn they just ask if you're a US citizen and then they wave you on through. I ever had to pull out an I.D. of any kind. I'm glad the honor's system is alive and well but those stops cost me another 15 minutes.

    Things began to look bleak again. I was beginning to wear down after having gone strong for 9 hours strait. There just wasn't anything in the tank when I went there. I went from being really high to really low relatively quickly but didn't have the reserves to pull myself out of it.

    I was going on my 3rd day of being alone and disconnected. That's enough to test the surest of introverts. I think a little madness had begun to set in as I found myself falling down the same spiral I had the night before. It was getting cold again. I became afraid of things coming from out of the immense dark. I doubted my riding ability (what little I had to begin with). I would get anxious about corners which would lead to poor form. The poor form would lead to poor cornering - which would lead to more anxiety -and so on. I had been going so long but still. So. Far. To. Go.

    In my left mirror I saw another motorcycle coming up beside me. Since I'd left Jax I might have encountered 2 other bikes riding in the same direction so this was somewhat unusual. A crotch rocket in New Orleans and a Gold Wing in Houston. Both came and went quickly. 1,500 miles and this was just the 3rd other bike.

    At what may have been my lowest point this guy (I'm assuming it was a guy) pulled up beside me, waved, and then pulled out in front of me to lead the way. As he passed on his cruiser with an impossibly large duffle bag on the passenger seat It looked like he had some kind of ski mask on. I think it had a skull on it but it was quick and dark. I didn't care if he had real vampire fangs, he was my new best friend. I turned the throttle and got into formation with him like I'd been waiting for him to show up.

    I decided his name was Carter. I have no idea why. It was just the first name that came to me that wasn't taken by someone I knew. Maybe he wasn't even real but a creation of my madness and desperation. So, in that case it was my right to name him what I wanted.

    Carter set a good pace across the darkened desert -at least 5mph faster than I would have been going alone- but it wasn't rushed. He had brilliant headlights that put the sun to shame. I easily could have turned my headlights off entirely and ridden behind the glow of his.

    Following his pace and line I gradually emerged from my funk. I began to notice the beauty of the desert night and the flow of the road. I-kid-you-not there were shooting stars. Maybe they were there the night before but I was too stressed to notice. We passed a house fully engulfed in flames that I could smell long before and after it was visible. Riding along for those miles was the closest thing to peace I had felt... probably since I'd left home.

    I don't know how long we rode together. Maybe it was a couple of hours. Maybe it was a couple of hundred miles. Eventually "Carter" peeled off towards a well lit exit and we waved farewell. I was alone again but I wasn't afraid. Following him had re-taught me how to ride in the night and I was confident as I went.

    Passing into Arizona the temperature would go from 70 to 48 and then back to 70 in no time.

    I didnt bother to check the GPS because knew the 15 minute "cushion" I had to get to Ocean Beach, CA had to have grown. I thought I had to have grown to at least a half hour. Maybe it was a full hour. Maybe I had time for a good, looong stop to stretch and a chance to really "use the bathroom" for the first time in days.

    At this point the pain and discomfort was all one big confused mess. I couldn't tell if I had to pee or my tailbone was dislocated. Everything cramped. Everything was sore.

    As I passed through Tucson I set my sights on exit 208 where I knew there was a good gas station. It would be right before I-8 peels off and would take me the rest of the way to the coast. I would have to stop there and at least one more time - probably in Yuma. If I'd made up enough time maybe I could stop twice and make sure I was ready for the climb up and over the mountains outside of San Diego.

    I pulled into the gas station and eagerly fired up the GPS like it was Christmas to see how much time I'd gained. The screen came on, I blinked...

    I was going to be 5 minutes late.
    #20
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