Ironbutt Association

A couple weeks ago my sister sent me a text that she had found a couple old savings bonds with my name on them! I got really excited over nothing, they were only $50 each and only one had matured. Just over $200. Better then nothing!

What does that have to do with the Ironbutt Association? My sister lives in Charlotte, NC and I live in Cleveland, OH. Guess how far apart our houses are? Just a tick over 500 miles! I could ride down, then turn around and head home and grab myself a Saddle Sore 1000!

ibalogo2

 

 

 

 

 

 

After thinking a bit about it, I thought why not do 1000 miles on the way down there, then stay the night. Then, if I felt up to it, that would open me up to grab a Bun Burner 1,500 on the way home! So I set out to build a route.

My wife and I have chatted about places we might someday like to live, and Nashville and Chattanooga are both cities we have looked at. But we had never been there. I jumped on google maps, and sure enough…Cleveland to Nashville to Chattanooga to Charlotte is just a hair over 1,000 miles!

SS1000

 

A bit about my set-up is in order for gear nerds. 2012 V-Strom 650, stock seat, madstad bracket and tall screen, unknown sized topbox, and a garmin nuvi with a plastic bag (waterproofing!) over it. That’s about it. I did make one cardinal sin for the trip. The day before I left, I bought a new modular helmet. It’s a cardinal rule for a reason, read on.

I left the house at just after 4:30am. Grabbed my first gas receipt about a mile from my house and was on my way by 4:45.  I commute around this time every morning, so this wasn’t a big deal. At least it wasn’t until I got out of the city. About half way between Cleveland and Columbus it gets a bit rural. The stock headlight on the V-Strom is fantastic…on the low beam. The high beam sucks so bad, that I don’t even bother using it. Cruising in the pitch black at 70mph when you can only see about 100 feet ahead of you is unnerving. Gladly, there were enough cars on the road that I was able to steal some of their light! On that note…

The best way to not get a speeding ticket is to go the speed limit! The next best is to keep your speed to around 9mph or less, over the limit. The next best is to find a rabbit. A rabbit is someone going better then 9 over, and you just tuck in a little ways behind. The theory is that the cop will pull him over before you!

Just outside of Cleveland, I found a rabbit. We were cruising along nicely for a good 150 miles before I had to stop for gas. I waved goodbye to my speedy wabbit and grabbed an exit. Still too early to text my wife my location, it was just a ‘gas and go’.

Back on the freeway I was tooling along at 9 over waiting to find the next rabbit. After about 10 minutes I see my original rabbit….as he’s pulling away from a police car! My rabbit got a ticket! After about a mile, he was back to his original speed. (Tickets seem to work don’t they? Political rant for another time!) I followed him all the way to Cincinnati. Ohio temps hovered in the mid to upper 60’s. Lowest I saw was 64. Beautiful riding temps! Remember this for later!

Kentucky went by quickly. Only one gas stop in KY in a town called La Grange (any ZZ Top fans?). Freeway speeds have dropped my mileage from mid 50’s to mid 40’s. Louisville is a very nice looking city. Clean anyway. Well, at least it looked like it was clean as I rode past!

On to TN. One stop in a town called Goodletsville, right outside Nashville, and the next in Chattanooga. Nashville looks a lot like Cleveland, I wasn’t impressed. Chattanooga reminded me of Charleston WV. The city is nice, it kind of sits in a valley. But who knows. When you spend all of 30 minutes driving through a place, you don’t get to know it very well!

Into GA. But a quick aside first. I was a 20 minute detour from hitting Alabama. Here is a picture of my route at the TN, AL, and GA borders. TN,AL,GA

 

I should have gone for it. But being a total novice at long distance riding I was afraid to take a chance. Oh well. What good is it to say you’ve been to a state, if you were only there for 10 minutes?

Just shy of Atlanta I saw signs that said there was an accident blocking two lanes on I-285. Great, I need to go on 285. I thought about bailing, and trying to take side streets because traffic in Atlanta is the stuff of legend. Again, my noviceness (its a word now damn it!) got the better of me and I stayed the course. Did I mention that it had been 95 degrees since just south of Nashville? Sure enough, as soon as I take the exit to 285 its dead stop. Ok, up goes the face shield, down goes the zipper on the jacket and I wait. 5 minutes turns into 15. I’m watching the thermometer readout on my dash climb. 97…99…100…101..102. I’m sweating bad…look at all that room between those cars….Why do I not live in California where lane splitting is legal? After 30 minutes and the temp reading 103 I say screw it, and start picking my way through traffic. Not more then about 10mph, but damn if the breeze doesn’t feel awesome! A short time of this and I’m at the accident. Minor vehicle damage from what I can see. Doubt anyone was hurt. This close to the front, the traffic is moving a bit. I slip back into line and make it though without incident. That should be legal everywhere.

At this point I have a minor dilemma. Ironbutt rules say that you need a receipt at every corner of your route. I need one on this road. But I only have a few more exits and I really want out of the traffic. Oh well, next time I will avoid Atlanta. I’m doing great on time so I stop at the next exit and get gas in a town called Norcross.

Onto SC. Man, the roads here are shit! Every so often, one of the white lines between the lanes is replaced with a hole. A hole about 5 inches wide, 4 inches deep, and about 3 feet long. No big deal in a car. Try hitting something like that going 70 mph on a motorcycle! Yeah, I didn’t do a lot of lane changes in South Carolina!

Made it to North Carolina just before dark. Got my last gas receipt just after dark, and made it to my sisters house about 20 minutes later.

End of SS1000 Ironbutt

 

Right at about 16 hours. Not bad. I still felt great. My ears were a bit sore from the plugs, and my forehead was slightly bruised, but I was loving it…read on.

After an hour or so of chatting, I was ready for bed. Set my alarm for 6:00am. I was gunna make the 1,500!

Morning rituals took a little longer then planned, but I made it on the road by 7:00. Stopped just shy of VA for gas. This is where that cardinal rule I broke really comes in. I put the helmet on in the morning before I left my house, and didn’t take it off until I arrived at my sisters house. Modular helmets are awesome for that. Just flip up the front, eat and drink to your hearts content. Most of the day I was feeling a bit of pressure on my forehead. The helmet was just a hair too small front to back. Now some 18 hours later, it was crushing. I even considered not wearing it! What the heck was I gunna do? I’m not going to go buy another helmet, I really like this one. Maybe I could remove a little padding? So right there in the gas station parking lot I tore the helmet apart. Great, the padding is maybe 1/16 thick, there is nothing to remove. The next option was to cut away some of the Styrofoam. Good thing my knife is sharp! After some light shaving, and one test fit, I got it perfect. I probably removed a little less then 1/8 of an inch. I doubt I compromised the helmets integrity. But I was now ready to ride!

Feeling much more comfortable, I was actually enjoying this part of I-77. I’ve driven this road a few dozen times. But never ridden on it. That really makes a difference. Driving is boring most of the time. Driving a boring car on a twisty road is boring. Riding on I-77 from Charlotte, NC all the way to Marietta, OH is actually really fun! North of Marietta its pretty boring again. And by this time I started to realize why they call it a Bun Burner. My ass was killing me. It’s ok, only 3 hours to go. I had plenty of time. I could make it in one tank.

Every mile started to hurt worse then the last. It felt something like rug burn on my ass. Or maybe a full ass tattoo all at one time. Maybe it feels like getting waxed? I don’t know, but it sucked.

I spent a lot of that last 175 miles standing up, sitting on the pillion seat, laying on the gas tank or dragging my feet on the road. I wanted to stop. I made constant deals with myself. “Couple more miles then we can stop” I didn’t stop. I made it home with an hour and 10 minutes to spare!

Bun Burner 1,500 Ironbutt

 

Lessons learned:

  • Cardinal rules are there for a reason dumbass.
  • Remember the charger for your Scala. I only had tunes for the first 5 hours. About 20 hours with just my thoughts. My thoughts are scary sometimes!
  • Get custom earplugs. My ears have just now stopped aching a week later!
  • The bigtime Iron Butt riders are some tough sons of bitches! There is a 10k miles in 10 days ride!!! Madness!
  • Avoid Atlanta.
  • Avoid South Carolina.
  • Proper motorcycle GPS might be worth the money.
  • Cruise control and highway pegs would be nice!

I got rained on, I was hot, and my ass still hasn’t fully recovered, but I had a great time.

Couple complaints though. For whatever reason, motorcycle manufacturers have gotten away with selling bikes that have very inaccurate speedometers. The V-Strom is no exception. When you are going 35, it’s spot on. But by 45 its reading fast. By 55 you are only doing 50mph. When it says 70, you are only going about 64mph. The constant game of add 9mph for desired speed, then add another 4-6mph to account for the speedo error was very annoying. I know there is a device that you can buy (speedohealer) to fix the error, but I just wanted to vent.

Next, I really don’t think IronButt rides are for me. It wasn’t the distance that bothered me (at least not the first 1,000) but the constant rush. I really would have liked to stop in Louisville. It looked like a nice place. I passed within 5 miles of the Mazak factory. I run a Mazak Mill at work and would like to see that place. I was a short stint from Alabama, but couldn’t stop. I would have avoided Atlanta, I would have turned around and left South Carolina (I shit you not, the roads in Iraq were less nerve wracking!). I applaud the guys that do it, they are tough dudes. But I like to stop and smell the roses. I think they might take the “It’s the journey, not the destination” saying a little to seriously!

I-77N Ironbutt

Somewhere on I-77

New bike! V-Strom 650

A few weeks ago I picked up a new (to me) bike! I wasn’t really looking, but on a whim I poked my head into the Stromtrooper Forums and found a bike that would suit me at a steal of a price.

It was a 2012 V-Strom 650. It had 9,044 miles on it and was lightly farkled. There were only two issues with the bike. First, it had a lien, second, it was about 5 hours away from me.

Five hours isn’t a huge deal, and the seller was willing to meet me half way! The real issue was the lien. There were a couple options, and I was uncomfortable with both. First, and worst, I could pay off the bike, then when he got the title we could do the deal then. I didn’t like that idea. I didn’t know the seller, and he didn’t have a huge presence on Stromtrooper, so to pay off his bike for him, and hope he made good on the deal, was not my idea of sound business practice.

Next option, the one we ended up doing, was I give him a certified check for the bike, we both sign a bill of sale, and then he pays off the bike and mails me the notarized title and the bike is then legally mine. This worked well, but only because the seller is a stand up guy! In reality a shady person could steal a bike, have the same story about having a lien, then take my money and run. Leaving me with a stolen bike. Scary, but the seller seemed very legit, we had at least some protection with the certified check, and the bill of sale. All the paperwork matched, and there was nothing shady at all about him or his friends. They were all really cool and nice guys. Sure, I suppose they could have been great actors and I could have lost my money. Oh well, it ended up working out perfectly!

My new V-Strom!

My new V-Strom!

 

On to the funny/slightly more interesting parts of the story…

On the way home I couldn’t figure out a good spot for the windshield, so my head was bobbing around like a bobble head doll! So that’s what they mean by buffeting. Only a 3 hour ride!

It was a torrential downpour most of the ride home. I’ve never ridden in rain that hard. It was raining UP!!! I still had a shit eating grin on my face the whole time.

After finally getting the title in the mail, I brought it to the Title Bureau…

Me: I need to transfer this title into my name.

Counter Lady: This is a PA title. You need a PA inspection.

Me: Uhhh, Why do I need a PA inspection if I want to title the bike in Ohio?

Counter Lady: You need an out of state inspection.

Me: Uhhh, so I have to ride the bike back to PA and have them inspect it? I have a current PA inspection sticker on the bike.

Counter Lady: No, you need an inspection of the vin number to make sure it matches the title.

Me: Great! The bike is right outside!

Counter Lady: We don’t do that here. You need to go a couple doors down to the used car place, they can do it there.

Me: Uggg, ok fine, I’ll be back in a few minutes.

So then I ride a couple doors down to the used car place. Weird place. They share the building with some kind of printing outfit. I strut in the door only to find a large, empty room with some offices along the perimeter. Odd…where are the sales people? After poking my head in a few offices I find (startled) a lady that seems to work there.

Me: Are you part of the used car lot here?

Old Lady: I am, but there are no salesmen here.

Me: Uhhh, ok. I’m here to get an out of state vin inspection. Can you help me?

Old Lady: No, there is nobody here that can do that. Who told you to come here?

Me: Uhhh, the lady at the title bureau.

Old Lady: I thought that they did the inspections. Did you try the License Bureau?

Me:  Ugg, thanks. I’ll head over there.

So off I go… Now, in a perfect world, the Title Bureau and the Licence Bureau would be in the same building. Maybe in the same room of the same building. Hell, maybe just freaking combine the two damn things into one SUPER BUREAU!!! Just send them half your paycheck every week. They seem to get it anyway. (Nevermind, that’s a rant of a different color)

Our License Bureau is on the other side of town. 10 minutes of afternoon traffic later and I’m in line at the license bureau. I get to the counter…

Me: Dear God, can you please help me?

11 year old kid working the counter: With what?

Me: I need an out of state vehicle inspection.

Kid: We don’t do that here. You need to go to the Title Bureau.

Me: They told me to come here (I say through gritted teeth)

Kid: Let me see. (kid runs off to get his diaper changed or something)

Good looking counter broad: Can I help you?

Me: I need an out of state vin inspection. Can you please help me?

Her: I can do that. Have a seat and I’ll be right with you.

Me:  Ok.

“a few eons later”

Her: Do you have the title and the bike with you?

Me: Yes!!!

Her: Ok, let’s go look at it.

She follows me out to the bike, looks very confused, then asks where the vin number is on the bike. I really wanted to scribble some numbers on the seat with the blood that was shooting out of my eyes, but scaring an already confused license bureau worker (one that would need to give me a plate as soon as I got the title worked out) is a bad idea. So I just pointed to the side of the frame. Then she asks what the model is. Rather that go off on a twenty minute rant about how fucking dumb an inspection is, when I could be lying my ass off at every turn…breathe in, breath out….I pointed at the seat where it says “V-Strom”.

 

Back to the Title Bureau…

New counter lady: Can I help you? (picture the counter lady from the Monsters Inc. movie, voice too!)

Me: Yes, I need this title transferred.

New Counter Lady: *confused look*

Fortunately the previous counter lady sees me and comes to her aid…

Original counter lady: What took so long?

Me:  The used car place couldn’t do it, I had to go to the License Bureau. Why don’t you have someone here that can do it?

Her: **confused look**

Me:  Since you are the agency that requires the inspection….and it only takes a minute to perform…wouldn’t it make sense for you to do them here?

Her: **A little drool starts forming at the corner of her mouth. I think she goes cross-eyed at this point** “We don’t have anyone that is authorized to do the inspection”

Me:  Really? It didn’t seem that hard. Maybe someone here should become authorized.

Her: **more drool**

Me:  Never mind, can we get this title transferred? The License Bureau closes soon and I would like to make it there today.

Her: Ok, have a seat.

*One point five eternitys later*

Her: It’s ready.

 

I race back over to the License Bureau.

Infant working the counter: Can I help you?

Me: I don’t know, can you?

**zit pops on the kids forehead**

Kid: *laughs nervously* what can I help you with?

Me: I need to get plates for my bike.

Kid: Ok, have a seat.

(Quick Aside: I have no idea what this is going to cost me. I have $60 in my wallet, and this place only takes cash or check. Great! I’m stuck in the 1990’s without a checkbook. Oh look, an ATM with a $5 surcharge. Awesome.)

**14 episodes of Top Gear UK on Netflix later**

Broad from before: Sir…

Me: *wipes sleep from my eyes, and drool from my face* Yes?

Broad: Did you want a special plate?

Me: (normally I get Veteran plates, but I’m wondering if she can handle the added stress) *Tentatively* Can I get Vet Plates?’

Broad: Do you have your DD214? (military paperwork)

Me: “Nope, but all of my other plates are Vet.” I say with trepidation.

Broad: Ok that should be fine. Here is your temp plate, your real one will come in the mail in 5-10 business days. $50.93

YAY!

 

MotoNomad

MotoNomad is a film about a motorcycle journey from Austria to Egypt. But it’s not like any other adventure motorcycle movie…

These guys can ride! Actually, they are both KTM factory riders, so you know they can ride hard. On to an actual review…

 

This movie sucked. Yes, the videography was freaking epic, yes the riders could really shred, yes they went to some awesome places, but for $25 I wanted more. This movie was basically a really long motorcycle commercial. You know, the ones with all the roosting and cool riding.


Yeah, watch that for an hour and a half. In fairness, the music was better in MotoNomad!

These guys picked up their KTM 500exc’s from the KTM factory in Austria then went on a pretty awesome adventure. The problem is that I personally would have liked to learn a bit more about the riders. There was very little interaction between them, and I never got the sense that this was any more then a thinly veiled KTM ad. Another thing that drove me nuts is they blurred out all the people they met. Something about “protecting privacy and religious beliefs.” Really? Like some Egyptian Bedouin is gunna sue. They never talked much about their gear either. They both wore backpacks, the big kind like you would wear hiking the Appalachian Trail. How did that work out? Would they change their gear setup? Did they sleep in the same tent? How many nights did they camp vs stay in a hotel? Did they enjoy the local food? How did they find so many awesome off-road riding places? Did either of them take that belly dancer home!?

There was one part when they were camped up on the top of a mountain in Romania when I thought they were going to start chatting, but it never panned out. Too bad really, it ruined an otherwise awesome movie for me. Maybe they will re-release it in the future and include more of that stuff.

motonomad

The New “On Any Sunday”

If you live under a rock and haven’t seen “On Any Sunday” then I suggest you go find it now. Stop whatever it is you are doing….it can wait. What’s that? Your wife is in labor with your first kid? She’ll understand, after all, she can’t believe she married someone that hasn’t seen On Any Sunday. I’ll wait till your done…

 

Done? Great! Now when you see this video, you can clap your hands and get giddy like I did…

Now we have to wait until September to pre-order. But you can get yer ass over to “on any sunday film” and sign up for the pre-order and the screenings too!

And just because I need a good pic to go with the FB post, here is the director Dana Brown (son of the original movie’s director btw) with Travis Pastrana. Photo ruthlessly stolen from RedBull’s website pre-review of the movie.

On Any Sunday

On Any Sunday

Are you Road Ready?

Are you Road Ready?

 

I’m sure each of you wonderful folks reading this would agree that there’s something extremely special about embarking on a long distance motorcycling trip. Whether we’re just glad to be out of the loop of things for a little while or genuinely intrigued at the prospect of exploring some previously un-chartered territory (atop our beloved hog, no less)- there’s generally a great deal of excitement in the run up to a ride out or journey.

As time passes, most would expect that the thrill of picking out our favorite outerwear jackets and hard saddlebags in preparation for an extended period on the road would subside somewhat, but in truth it never really does.

Of course, planning for a long motorcycle trip takes a little more thinking ahead than a simple road trip or vacation by four-wheeler might take. Why is that? I hear you ask; well the answers very simple: motorcycles have far less capacity when it comes to storing the possessions necessary for your slog on the highways and byways.

While it’s true that a rider with the latest touring bike/trailer combination will be able to take more out on the road than the speed freak touring our nations beautiful and limitless routes on the back of dirt bike, the tips I’m about to bestow remain highly relevant nonetheless.

One of the biggest issues faced by motorcyclists hitting the road (particularly first timers), and one which only becomes apparent once you’ve left the boundaries of your hometown, is over-packing. You really don’t need as much to survive out there as you think you do.

Outerwear

Getting soaked through to the bone, regardless of the circumstances, is more times than not at the very least an inconvenience. Getting soaked through to the bone when you’re tired from a long days ride and hurtling along unshielded at 70mph, certainly poses the potential to cross the border into ‘annoying’. Perhaps the worst thing about getting wet on a ride is the involvement of moistures inseparable and equally detrimental ally; cold.

When you’re preparing for a motorcycle journey it is absolutely essential that you take a suitable range of outerwear. Though it’s nice to plan for extreme sunshine (good for you, positive thinker!), and vests are immensely awesome, to pack no further than lightweight road-clothing is beyond a faux pas.

If, for the rest of my time as a rider, I was only allowed to pack a single item into my trusty hard saddlebags- you can mark my words it would be a weather repellent riding suit.

While we’re on the subject of saddlebags…

Trustworthy Saddlebags

Backpacks simply won’t cut it! They’re great for little day trips/going about your business/buzzing off to your better halves residence for an evening of shenanigans, but will not do much for your storage needs/personal sanity if you wish to hit the road for an extended period.

Sure, when you’re just starting out in the motorcycle game a backpack seems like the obvious option for your storage needs: compact, discrete and to an extent even fashionable (I guess, for some reason…). However, once you inevitably decide: ‘hey, motorcycling is just so awesome that I think I’ll base more and more of my life around the practice, sell the hatchback and trade off the annual summer vacation in Florida for a 2,000 mile slog around California/Washington/Montana/pretty much anywhere’, you will soon discover that the backpack has forsaken you. As secure feeling and multi-colored as it may be, it’s JUST NOT BIG ENOUGH. And, more-so- IT COST JUST AS MUCH MONEY AS A TOP-END SADDLEBAG OF FOUR TIMES THE CAPACITY WOULD!

There are many options when it comes to motorcycle saddlebags, whether you’re a rider who favours hard saddlebags or stretch bags, scramblers or roadsters- finding the bag that’s right for your set-up and style remains totally paramount. You needn’t be duped into spending a small fortune on your saddlebags either, though as is typical- the more you spend the higher the quality you are likely to receive. Tip: look for bags that come ready for use straight of the box with their own mounts.

To Round Up:

Extended motorcycle trips seem like the unreachable pinnacle of the pursuit to many modern day riders, though remembering the roots of our passion (as an extremely influential cultural movement, no less) will unlock an essence sure to gift you with the courage and commitment necessary to simply get out there and do it.

In this writers humble opinion, a journey undertaken just you, your motorbike, the open road and perhaps some likeminded individuals is one of the last true humanistic experiences left available to us, certainly to motorcycle owners. A fixation on the less vital components of our modern society (technology, careers, you name it) should not hold anyone back. Providing you’re ready to open your mind to it, an unsure and lightly planned ramble through the US, or anywhere for that matter, could be the best thing you’ve ever done.

Some final tips for you as you prepare to head out:

  • Create a packing inventory list and cut out all non-essential items, including all of those which can’t be easily replaced on the road.
  • Don’t pack outfits, pack layers.
  • Don’t overthink things.
  • Get off the internet and go out there and DO IT!

 

Kevin Parker enjoys reading and writing about motorcycles, safety, and motorcycle tours. Furthermore Kevin Parker has been riding for over 6 years

 

 

 

Special thanks to Kevin for his contributions to AdventureTouringMotorcycle.com! Got a story or review you want to share? Use the contact page and let us know what you’ve got!