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Funny thing happened on the way to my annual getaway. About a month before I was to depart on the biggest endeavor I had ever decided to undertake, I was surprised with the news that if I was going through with the trip, I was doing it alone!
My preparations needed just a little adjustment. I still needed to replace a set of tires ( I had 15,000 miles on these, just giving you an idea of how I drive), but now I had to ruin the looks of my Custom with engine guards because of all the remote locations I was headed for (while I was pretty sure I still couldn't pick up the bike by myself, I thought the engine guards would help). I also made reservations at nice hotels (so I could lock the door behind me at night, and because I couldn't just run home from across the country, if something went wrong) instead of the camping trip I originally planned. And probably the most significant step I took was reading "Against the Wind" by Ron Ayres.
His book was so interesting to me-I sat down and read it cover to cover. It was amazing to me that anyone could put on that many miles in that short of time under the conditions that just_.happen. It was exciting, it was beyond sane peoples understanding, it was to me, inspirational!
I had to have more. My son was always on the Internet so I knew he could help me find the IronButt Homepage (listed in the book). I found the name of my first motorcycle safety instructor listed under different categories of records for long distance. I also found a way to reach her on the Internet. I told her that while I was not interested in participating in such an event, I had questions. A Safety Instructor and endurance riding-the two seem to be at opposite ends. She told me that not only did the MSF know about her activities, she had also given seminars on the subject. UNBELIEVABLE!
I read article after article. I printed out the 25 tips for endurance riding. I took them to work and discussed them with friends. I checked and rechecked the Rand McNally TripMaker for the nearest town 1,000 miles from my home and then with AAA for the motel closest to that town with a whirlpool!
I printed out the forms needed to complete the Saddlesore 1000 and then I revamped them and made them personal. I played with the computer, I played with the mileage, I played with the idea. And I discussed with my friends the possibilities of jump-starting my vacation!
1000 miles from home would put me in Circle, Montana., but 1,115 miles would put me at the Cottonwood Inn in Glasgow, Montana with a swimming pool, whirlpool, a dry warm bed, qualify me for membership in the Ironbutt Association and giving me one hell of a start to my three week vacation! You gotta love it, It just doesn't get better then this.
I planned on leaving about five in the afternoon. I work third shift so I am use to being awake all night. Then when I would start to get tired it would already be daylight giving me the burst of energy I would need till I got close enough to my goal so adrenaline could take over. Heading West I would hit a time change giving me an extra hour of daylight. It just keeps getting better!!! YEAH!!!
I left work at 6:30 am , went to bed to sleep a full 8 hours unlike a normal weekend when I try cutting my sleep short to switch over to other peoples hours. Getting up at 3pm , I woke to pouring rain. Surprise, Surprise- somehow all my trips include a great deal of rain. I don't mind the rain when I'm packed and on the road, but somehow leaving in the rain is a practice I just don't want to start. I packed the bike and made excuses not to leave just yet. I re-figured my itinerary and justified postponing my departure time until 3 in the morning. And I crossed my fingers.
Sure, I can go back to sleep. I waited for the magic moment until I couldn't wait any longer. Put the finishing touches on the bike and myself. Walked into my garage filled with my son and his friends who couldn't understand my traveling to Oregon, much less putting on 1,100 miles my first night out. Had a nice good-bye! I had a chance to discuss with them one last time to stay out of trouble and they all wished me well! Off to the police station for my witness, something I hadn't thought of when adjusting my departure time. Actually it went well considering, I was walking into the station at 3 in the morning with a crazy story about riding 1000 miles in 24 hours on a Harley. Yeah, Right. He wasn't sure if he should believe me or not, but he signed it and I was on my way to the initial gas station.
Filled up my bike, wrote down the necessary information and down the road I went. Three in the morning, riding through town, just hooting and howling. I'm on my way!
I have participated in a great deal of poker runs lately and my riding has taken me 50 miles in any one direction. Then stopping for a coke and a card and back on the bike for another 35 miles or so. You know the drill. My riding style had gotten use to this and the most I had ever put on my bike in any one day was just under 5oo miles. Now I would have to go gas stop to gas stop and pick up my pace a tad. I also hadn't experienced much night driving either. Wildlife has always shied me away from this.
I found myself wishing I had a smaller gas tank. And calculating, always calculating to make sure I was on schedule, to make sure it could be done, to make sure I could do it.
I drove by familiar places without stopping. I followed semis to slowly up my pace and get use to traveling at a faster speed then I was use to while the interstate was not crowded, for I was heading west and the speed limits are much faster then we have in Wisconsin. When I needed to get gas for the first time, I also made a quick stop at MickyDs and had breakfast and put another layer of clothes on. Heading North-West, it seemed to be getting a bit colder.
The weather was nice though, no rain in sight. And calculating for the umpteenth time I seemed to be doing OK. Another gas stop out of the way and I was through Minnesota. On to the three story buffalo in Jamestown, North Dakota. I wanted to get a picture for the new HOG club I just joined. They have a special pin for everyone bringing back that picture, so why not?
My bike has always gotten 50 miles to the gallon, almost like clockwork . But I was definitely running low and gas mileage has a tendency to drop when traveling at faster speeds. I'd have to get gas before Jamestown, but the question is-WHERE? Each exit went by-No service, No service, I hit reserve and knew I only had about 10 miles left in the tank, No service_ putt..putt_putt_.NOTHING. Started up, went a few feet, then nothing. One more time, same thing. Then nothing!! I got off the bike, knew I had approximately 4 and one half miles to town (with all the constant calculating, one pretty much knows where they are at all times). Someone would stop. Right? I just passed all those cars and now I was hoping one would stop and help. OK maybe not. I realized now that when your standing still, it's much warmer outside then when I had the wind in my face. I took off my chaps, took off my jacket, took off my vest, took off my insulated top and looked around helplessly_. No one stopped. OK, I can do this, it's only 4-1/2 miles to town. I can walk in these boots, really I can. I locked up the bike and started_ walking. Then God looked upon me and sent me a man on a Motto Guzzi from Seattle, Washington WITH a two gallon gas tank bungeed onto the back of his bike. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!! I drove into town, filled up and went in search of my buffalo picture. Thank you!
One more gas stop in North Dakota, a few pictures at Theodore Roosevelt National Park (visitors center was closed for my first park in the National park Iron Butt run) then into Montana. The sky is just always so dramatic in Montana. I love it! I feel like I can just reach out and touch it, like when I drive over the next hill, I will be in it! It just seems so close.
Another gas stop. Once you run out of gas, you have a tendency to fill up more often.
I reached Circle, Montana!! I had reached 1000 miles according to AAA, and according to Rand McNally. Only another 115 miles and I could soak, relax and smile very ,very big. When I reached Wolf Point the sky went black except for the streaks of lightning coming down all around me! I had my thousand in, I could call it quits. There was even a motel in town conveniently located . I talked with a few people in town and discussed the weather. I had only another 49 miles to go to reach my original destination. I set a record for myself just being on the bike this long without getting rained on, and riding basically gas stop to gas stop (and even trying to extend that one just a bit). I started this, I can finish this_ Onto Glasgow!
I picked up the pace on that highway. I prayed a lot on that highway. And I didn't have even one drop of rain fall on my head on that highway. It threatened and I'm sure it rained somewhere, but it wasn't on me. I got my gas and my receipt. I checked into the hotel and unloaded my bike. I stopped by the police station and verified my destination. According to my odometer, I had traveled 1,105.8 miles!!! And I had done it in 19 hours and 35 minutes!!! I didn't need the whirlpool!!! I felt great!!
Back at the hotel once again, just after 11, talking to the desk clerk she was so amazed at the distance I had traveled that day, she opened up the whirlpool and swimming pool just for my private use. Who was I to refuse.
YES!! I had 23 more days left of my vacation!!! Think of the possibilities!!
I ended the story I sent to you with the completion of the first 24 hours. My ride however went on for the next three weeks and ended on the same day as The Iron Butt Run, September 5th. I had hoped running into some of the riders but untill riding home from Sturgis, SD my last night out I hadn't been so lucky. Then on I-90 coming East a little 175, with foreign plates, loaded to the hilt with a man swinging his feet in the wind, past me by. Not thinking too much about it, I kept on driving. Upon hitting Minnesota, once again I ran into this man and I thought, Who in there right mind would be traveling those miles on that little bike? He was deffinately ready for some kind of road trip the way he was packed. Pulling into Wisconsin, I met up with him one last time and knew he had to be part on the Iron Butt on his way to the final check-point in Illinois.
Checking your website when I got home, I found that it was indeed,Martin Hildebrandt's Zundapp. The interstate does not make for a good conversation pit, so I never did get a chance to talk with him or wish him luck. I knew he would finish though just getting as far as he did on that bike. If you get the chance, tell him the Harley he encounter several times on I-90 congradulates him on his remarkable 41 finishing place!
Debra A. Forbes
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