|This is at 4:30 am on the morning of June 1st, 1999, as I prepared
to leave my home in Great Falls, /\/\onTana!, in search of a small (Okay,
a very small) bit of fame and glory in my Quest for an Iron
Butt Association SaddleSore 1000! That is a motorcycle endurance
ride of 1000 miles in less than 24 hours. A piece of cake.
I've done many long days before, on much less comfortable bikes...although
I was a bit younger back then. On a Gold Wing Aspencade, even circa
1984, this is easy!
What was hard was finding a day, and then getting my wife out of bed this early to see me off, and to sign the all important Witness Sheet. But I managed to overcome her objections, and sign she did!
It was a bit overcast as I set out for my official starting point.
For a SaddleSore 1000 the clock starts with the first computerized gas
The rest area on I15 south of Helena, MT, Mile 107.
|Right outside of town I knew I had made a mistake. Several
days earlier I had rotated my handlebars slightly down to help overcome
some occassional numbness in my right hand. (IBA
Bit of Wisdom #5, Never Make Changes Right Before A Ride!)
Too much...I had to stop only 40 miles into the trip to correct it.
Then, of course, I over did it. Too high. Well I had
screwed around enough, time was a' wastin'! But as I soon discovered,
the new high position worked quite well.
A few sprinkles, nothing to worry about, even if I don't have one of those hi-tech Aerostitch suits...by about mile 107 I stopped and rainsuited up.
Butte was dry, and after gas I stopped for a brief McD's breakfast*
and some hot coffee*. Then it was on to Livingston!
The rest area on I90 at Park City, Montana,
eastbound, Mile 325.
|While passing Bozeman, /\/\onTana!, it really started to rain.
Once I was on Bozeman Pass, each raindrop felt like a shot from a pellet
gun. It made me wish I had worn my old (1982 vintage) Porsche Romer
full face helmet. I stopped in Livingston to wait for the rain to
let up. And waited. And waited. After an hour or so,
I convinced myself it had, so off I went again. Once I got to Big
Timber, it actually did stop, and by the Park City Rest Area, I had to
peel out of my rain suit...too much sun!!!
As you can see from the chart below, my worst mileage came in the rain between Butte and Livingston.
I hit Billings about 12:34 pm, and I gassed up and got a double mocha, large*. I do love having a large cup holder on the bike!
A quick 140 miles to Miles City, my halfway point at 518 miles (kind of appropriate), a quick stop at the Town Pump, whip out the old Master Card and...nada. Zip. The gas pump doesn't want my card. I gassed up by paying the cashier inside, and the card worked fine in there. But apparently I had used it too many times in one day, and it no longer fit my spending pattern. A cell phone call home allowed me to ask my wife to call the card company, but it contined not to work at Town Pump stations at the pump for the rest of the day.
Another quick 140 miles and I was back at the same place in Billings. Gas and a corn dog* and I was on my way again!
This time I stopped in Big Timber for gas and coffee* (gratis
stop at the Town Pump in Big Timber, they sometimes give coffee to cold,
tired looking bikers). The rain over Livingston was still there,
a solid gray mask over the mountains. I suited up and started out
and just missed it all. For the next 80 miles the highway had standing
water that showed I had just missed a downpour. But the mountains
on either side had very fresh snow, not to far above where I was, and I
rode in sunshine.
This is down the road from I90, westbound,
at Exit 249 just east of Butte, Mile 885.
|As I headed up Pipestone Pass to the East of Butte, it started to
get dark. I found a likely looking exit to pull off on, and put on
most the remaining clothes I had with me. The ride down to Butte
was nice. More coffee and a danish*, and off I went on the last leg
of my journey.
It was really dark in the mountain valleys I had to ride back to Great Falls in. For some reason the cars I kept overtaking had their dim lights on, and they had no one ahead of them. So as I passed I lit up the trees with my two 55 watt driving lights and 60 watt high beam. They aren't as bright as some of the searchlights some of the heavyweight long distance riders have, but it tripled my headlight output!
Trying to keep up with the 75 MPH limit in the dark with no traffic to block the deer, was more than a little hard. After I did see one in the ditch, waiting to jaywalk across in front of me, I quit trying.
I stopped in Great Falls at the same Town Pump station I had been at 19 hours and 15 minutes before. I tried the credit card in the pump, and it worked! I looked at the time stamp, my official stop time, and low and behold, 12:01 am. A new day and my card must have reset.
I rolled into my garage about 6 minutes later, expecting a large
crowd and ovation...I could hardly get my wife out of bed to sign my witness
form...Oh well, so much for the conquering hero. I got my Certificate!
|*The Iron Butt Association recommends against some things while
on the road...heavy meals from McDonald's, caffine products like coffee
and large double mochas, corndog type things...Well, I rode to the edge
and I ate them all! It can be done!
But I will probably avoid them all like the plague when I head out on my Bun Burner 1500 (1500 miles in 36 hours) and Bun Burner Gold (1500 miles in 24 hours).
Except the large double mocha...sometimes you just have to live dangerously!
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