In March 2014 I knocked off one of a major riding goal and probably opened to door to several more. I rode my sporty from Jacksonville Florida to San Diego California and back to Jacksonville in less than 100 hours. This ride is actually two 50 CC rides back to back, so each leg must be completed in 50 hours and any extra hours from leg one could not be used for leg two. The distance is 2365 miles each way. Here is the story:
Why would I do such a crazy thing? I like a challenge and I found a big one. I belong to the Iron Butt Association who had a list of certified ride challenges one can do. Entry is simple, complete a Saddle Sore 1000 which is riding 1000 miles in 24 hours. Once that is complete and verified, you are a member. There are no ID cards or business meetings. You get a license plate frame which is the closest thing to a membership card, and they have a gathering including a banquet each March in Jacksonville during Daytona Bike week. They also have a conference every other year where long distance riders gather to learn from others. My ride was considered a “ride in” for the gathering in Jacksonville. The ride is simple, complete it in less than 100 hours. To document the ride you need a witness form signed at each end by either 1 police officer or fireman, or 2 people. You also need a dated and time stamped receipt at each end to document the start and end times, and a fuel receipt every 300 miles to document your route. My other reason for doing the ride is because I was selected for the 2015 Iron Butt Rally and this was to be a training ride to prep me for the rally.
To prep for the ride, I added a 5 gallon auxiliary fuel tank to the sporty which extends my range to almost 400 miles which will reduce my fuel stops and in turn save time. It also helps since fuel in western Texas and some parts of I-8 going into San Diego can be a little hard to find late at night. I also acquired a Cardo Systems Scala Qz Bluetooth headset so I could listen to music and call my wife to let her know I was ok without having to stop.
I left home on Saturday, March 8 and rode 900 miles straight down to Jacksonville FL. I had planned on a 7am departure, however I simply could not get out of the house until around 8am or so. Along the way I has having issues with my headset so I stopped south of Washington DC to play with it. The battery in the headset was low so I got the charging cable out of my saddle bag and plugged it in to charge. Got on the road and had this feeling I forgot something. I reached my hand back and sure enough, the saddle bag was not latched and the top was flapping around. I pulled over to latch it and realized the bag with the rest of my cables was missing. I could no longer charge my phone, no longer had a cigarette lighter adapter, and did not have my back up cables to plug my heated gear into my battery tender cable. Not a good way to start. Made my first fuel stop at 346 miles and was really happy with the range. Back on the road and as I was droning along I realized that daylight savings time kicks in that night meaning I would lose another hour of sleep. Got into my hotel around 10:30 pm and they could not find my reservation. I pulled out the confirm number to show her and noticed I was at the wrong hotel. OOPS! Got to the correct hotel and checked in around 11pm. Set my alarm for 5am, which would give me 5 hours sleep before the big ride, again not how I wanted this to go. I had originally hoped for a 5am departure, but with getting in later than planned and day light savings time I was shooting for 6am.
5am came all too quickly, and I drug myself out of bed, showered, shaved, and got dressed. With the heated gear and all it took an hour to get out of the hotel. Rode to my start point which was the Jacksonville Beach police department so I could get my witness form signed and when I got there it was closed! I am used to the local police stations having a window during off hours where you can speak to someone. I guess I should have called … Headed to the closest station and along the way saw a police officer at an ATM , so I stopped and asked him to sign my form. He filled it out, wished me good luck, I said thanks, and he left. I then noticed he did not write his badge number down or identify himself as a police officer, and he did not sign it. OOPS!!! I figured to make up for it I would simply have someone at the gas station sign the form and I included a note explaining the issue. He did leave his phone number so I figured they could always call him if the wished.
After I grabbed a few bottles of water, a diet coke, and a hotdog I had the attendant sign my form. Downed the diet coke and the hot dog, topped off the tanks and got my gas with the dated and time stamped receipt. It said 7:10, 2 hours later than I had hoped to leave. Pointed myself west and headed toward I-10. Winding through Jacksonville I eventually found I-10 after making a few wrong turns which of course cost me about 30 minutes. Once on I-10 the fact that I had not done any distance riding for 6 months due to the weather became apparent because I could not stabilize my speed on the highway. Plus I had forgotten that when one drinks a full bottle of soda and half a bottle of water that it wants to come out. 30 minutes into the ride I was stopping for a bathroom. As I got back on the road I remembered that I did not charge my phone so I had to find a charging cable for it. Found a Walmart and decided to top off since I was already stopped. Walmart cost me another 30 minutes.
Back on the road and after a while I got into a groove and was on my way. Passed through Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana without issue. Was stopping for fuel about every 250 miles or so and maybe once in the middle for a short break. Got into Texas around 8:45 and noticed my auxiliary lights were flickering on and off. Checked the ground wire and sure enough it was broken. That would be an easy fix once I picked up some electrical tape and wire. I did not realize how big Texas really is until I saw the mile marker being over 800. Passing through Houston I realized the city was much bigger than I thought. Came up towards San Antonio and started looking for a place to stay. Decided on Junction TX which was about half way to San Diego and was about another 100 miles. Both of my GPS’ had me getting off I-10 onto a local road which I was reluctant to do, so I stayed on I-10. Missed a turn and got on I-610 and lost 30 minutes trying to get back to I-10. Noticed the road was wet and I had obviously just missed some rain. I was getting really tired and with the road wet I decided to pack it in about 80 miles east of Junction in Boerne TX at 2am. Got into a room, set the alarm for 7am and went to bed around 3am. Total distance traveled was 1100, leaving 1260 miles for day 2.
7am came too quickly but I got up, showered, shaved, called my wife, ate breakfast, and got on the road by 8am. Got into a groove pretty quickly and all as going smoothly. I found a light socket for $2 and bought it for the wire and fixed my lights. Back on the road and when I went to stop for gas I realized that my rear brakes were all but non-existent. At the fuel stop I looked at the rear pads and they were shot. I knew they were good the last time I worked on the rear brakes which was in October and I did not have many miles on them. I thought maybe they were dragging or I had been resting my foot on the brake pedal. Brakes on a Sporty are a 15 minute job so I figured I’d pick up a set of pads at the next dealer which was in El Paso TX. Stopped in and they are HUGE! Had to grab a shirt while I was there, got my pads, and got out after about 30 minutes. The parking lot was a busy place so I opted to change them at the next fuel stop which was 15 miles up the road. Stopped at the pump, topped off the tanks, and pulled off to the side to change the pads. Pulled the saddle bag and saw the problem, the rear pads were now completely gone. Somehow the pin and keeper had backed out letting the pads fall out. I looked over my tool kit to see what would work. Selected an appropriately sized allen wrench along with some safety wire to hold it in place. Put everything together and checked the brakes and they worked fine but were spongy. Having nothing to bleed them with they would have to do for now. Got back on the road and 5 minutes later the bike started sputtering. Now what!!! Flipped the main tank on and all was well. Why on earth would my auxiliary tank act up after 2,000 miles of being flawless?
Stopped at the next dealer in Las Cruces, NM to pick up the brake pad pin I also lost. They didn’t have one, but suggested I call the dealer in Tucson AZ to see if I could buy one over the phone and have them leave it somewhere since they’d be closed when I got there. Gave them a call and the parts guy had the pin in stock, but when I asked if I could pay over the phone he was clueless. He spoke to a manager and told me they could not do that. I said a few choice words and hung up. I wanted to throw something but all I had was my helmet and phone, neither of which would do well if I threw them. Took a minute to check my tank out and realized I had pinched the vent hose closed when I put the bag on. At least that was a small issue. I thought for a minute and decided to call the dealer back and ask for a manager. Was told the parts manager was not in and I explained what I wanted. The person who answered said she would have someone call me back. Since I could answer calls while riding now that I had a blue tooth headset I got back on the road after losing another hour. 10 minutes later I realized my headset was not synced to the phone and I had missed a call. Pulled over and called them back. Waited on hold for 10 minutes and when she came back she explained they do not take credit cards over the phone due to the risk of credit card fraud. I explained the part was only $5, and surely we could work something out. She placed me on hold for 10 more minutes and they must have agreed to allow me to charge the part since the phone rang twice and then the parts guy answered. Gave them my info and he told me where to find the part. Another 30 minutes spent on the side of the road.
Back on the road and things clicked on. Pulled into Tucson around 8pm, grabbed my part, and opted not to install it since it was dark and my temp fix was working fine. The brake was also no longer spongy so the air must have worked its way back into the fluid reservoir. The miles clicked by and I picked up I-8 and crossed into California. Realized I was climbing up into the mountains and had an interesting ride through the mountains in the dark. Came upon a border crossing check point and after answering yes that I was a US citizen I was allowed to move on without delay. Got into San Diego without incident and at the end of I-8 I got my ending gas receipt for that leg at 2am, 4 hours before my deadline of 50 hours. Got the attendant to sign the form, however she wrote and signed the company name and not hers. Went in search of a police station and sure enough, it was dark. Went to the next and same thing, it was completely dark. Decided to call it a night and went to the closest hotel. Checked in at 3am and had the desk person sign my form. I crashed and slept through my alarm and woke at 7:30. Showered, shaved, packed, and packed the bike. Asked the morning clerk sign my form and after getting through some reluctance she did. Got on the road at 9am PDT, 3 hours after my clock started for leg two.
Topped off the tank to get a start receipt of San Diego and pointed my way east. Heavy traffic was going the opposite way but minimal going my way. Climbing through the mountains I just had to stop and take some pics. The view was great. Back on the road and had a great ride through the mountains. Stopped to identify myself as a citizen again and continued on. Once out of the mountains the temps rose and had I had a place to put my leather I would have taken it off. Since I didn’t, I opened all the vents and kept going. Checked the distance to my midpoint of Junction TX and for some reason my GPS said I would get in around 5 am. Could not figure out why so late, until I remembered the 2 hour time change going the other way. Everything was clicking along and I decided to see how I felt and if I could make it to Junction I would, otherwise I would go as far as I could. All was well until I got gas in El Paso just as it was getting dark. Decided to put on my heated pants and got back on the road. At some point a few hours down the road I was riding with my face shield flipped up and was drinking from a soda bottle when all of a sudden the wind kicked up and ripped the bottle out of my hand, tried to rip my helmet off with my head in it, and I immediately and unwillingly changed lanes. Flipped the face shield down and pushed on hoping I would pass through it. I have no idea how long it took, but I eventually decided fighting this wind was foolish as I was constantly at a right lean and dealing with big gusts still trying to rip my helmet off. Did a search on my GPS and the closest hotel was 50 miles away in Fort Stockton TX. I was down to 50 mph on a road with an 80 mph speed limit, and there was so much dust in the air everything was brown. At some point I saw some type of animal pass in front of my bike and have no idea what it was. It too small to be a deer so I suspect it may have been a coyote. I considered stopping at a rest stop but realized if I did I would not get back on the road again. Finally got into Fort Stockton and went into the hotel I had picked. Unfortunately, it was sold out and there was some event nearby that had all rooms full! She suggested a small mom and pop hotel which I stopped at and after waking someone up got a room. It had no wifi, no remote for the TV, but was far better than nothing. Time was 3am and I had traveled only 935 miles leaving 1430 for my final leg. I checked the weather and realized that the winds were 35+ mph gusting to over 50 mph. No wonder riding was so difficult.
Woke at 7:30 am, and went outside to temps in the 30’s, maybe. I knew I had a huge ride of 1430 miles ahead of me, by far the most I have ever done in one shot. I did have some time to spare so if I got tired I could grab a room for a few hours or sleep on a picnic table if I had to. I also realized that I was close to doing one of the IBA’s extreme rides, the Bun Burner Gold (BBG) which is 1500 miles in 24 hours. I decided that I would see how I felt when I ended my ride and if I felt up to it I would head south for 50 miles and get my BBG also. Got on the road around 9am and pointed myself west. Realized my mistake and turned around to go east and was on my way. Wind was much better but was still there. Was in a constant lean to the right, but it was steady. Speed limits in west Texas are 80 mph so the miles were clicking away and I was in a groove again. I planned my fuel stops at 290 or so miles and rarely stopped in between. At some point west of San Antonio I-10 was closed for an accident so I had to get off and run a local road for about 10 miles before I could get back on. In San Antonio I saw the signs for a bypass and realized that was the local road my GPS wanted me to use. Picked that and was moving along just fine. Passed through San Antonio without much delay, and hit Houston at rush hour. Had some delays but nothing too bad, and continued on. Picked up I-12 since it is a bypass of New Orleans and everything was going just fine. My eta for Jacksonville was 5am and I was feeling fine. All of a sudden I saw brake lights and traffic stopped. I saw a sign saying there were lane closures and fortunately there was an exit so I got off and worked my way south to US 190. Took that for 15 or so miles and got back on I-12 around 10pm. Soldiered on and the miles clicked by and I was feeling great. I was on target for a 5:30 arrival and had one more fuel stop left. Crossed into Mississippi and Alabama, and then Florida. Made my last fuel stop and had 200 miles to go. At 100 miles I was suddenly getting tired. I pulled off and rested my eyes for 5 minutes or so and that did the trick for 30 minutes. Repeated the process at each rest stop and was doing fine even though I was getting tired. Then, as I was approaching Jacksonville I started hitting traffic and ran out of rest stops. Pure adrenalin kept me going and I fought my way to my start point. Arrived and got my gas receipt at 7:20 am, about 3 ½ hours early. I had just ridden 1430 miles in 22 hours. While it was tempting to try for my BBG, I decided not to do so because I was just too tired to fight rush hour traffic. I did a quick stop at the police station and they were still closed, so I grabbed a photo at the beach with the sunrise and headed back to my hotel figuring I could get anyone to sign my form. Ate breakfast, talked with a few friends I had not seen since the previous year, took care of the signatures, organized my paperwork, and finally went to bed at a 2 pm for a few hours.
When I finally got home I had added 6,666 miles in one week. Not a bad week of riding …
Here are a few photos. Not many from day 4 since I just had no time
Aux tank added
View on I-10 near Sonora TX
Met a rider coming from NC along the way and we both stopped for a pic of the Arizona sign
Saw this at a rest stop in New Mexico
Sunset in Arizona on day 2
Mountains east of San Diego on day 3
This is what I imagine when I think of Arizona
Entering New Mexico on the way home
Sunrise on day 3 just east of Fort Stockton TX
Somewhere I hit a bird and never saw it
Sunrise on Neptune Beach on Thursday when I finished
Celebratory lunch with a friend at Hooters on Friday
View from Hooters (well, one of them …)