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!
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!
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!
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.
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!
- 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!