My SS1000

Medford, OR to Los Angeles, CA - the long way

A thousand miles... in one day... on a motorcycle. The SS - for Saddle Sore - 1000. For a couple of years I had been watching the Ironbutt Association web page and the LDRiders maillist. I could what they do! Well, some of it, anyway. Take a look at the web page, you'll see what I mean!

After much planning and anticipation, the eve of my SS1000 attempt finally arrived. I went over the route with a friend of mine who was returning from the 3 Flags, and was going to accompany me part way. He looked at my route and proposed another one, which I ultimately decided to adopt. By 10:00 pm I was able to get to bed and go to sleep, with a wakeup time of 4:00 AM and a departure time of 5. The wakeup went smoothly, but I managed to goof around, and my official start time was 5:35:30 AM Friday, 9/11/98.

Heading south on I-5, I was glad that I had the down vest under my jacket and the poly-prop bottoms on below that; the temperatures at night have been dipping into the low 50's, and, at 52, this morning is no exception. On top of that, we're heading for higher elevation. The temperature drops to the mid-40's as the eastern sky begins to brighten. Not too far south of the California line we turn east onto SR89, just, naturally, as the sun begins to come up. I had showed my friend, Carroll, how the GPSIII could be loaded with a route set up in SA5, and proceeded to count down the distance to the waypoint, which was supposed to be on the intersection of I-5 and SR89. Zero occured just as I crossed from the overpass to the approach. Most impressive. The GPS was to prove to be extremely accurate throughout the trip. The reason for this may have been that every time I checked I had 8-10 sats with almost maximum signal strength, but it seemed even better than that would totally account for.

We spent the next hour or so heading into the very bright sun, and even considered taking a break while it rose higher. I was able to see that the highway swung south fairly quickly, so we decided to press on. As we swung around one curve and met a semi, the driver called on the CB to warn us about some cows near the road a short distance ahead. Extra watchful, we saw the cows, but, fortunately, they were well off the road by the time we got to them.

As we closed in on Reno, the road got a bit wider and straighter, and we ran accross the first mentally deficent cager of the day. Coming up behind slower traffic, we waited for our chance to pass. I watched, thinking that the car in front of us would be passing when the opportunity presented itself, but, after seeing several chances come and go, I finally turned on my signal and pulled out. Just at that time, the car in front of us decides to pass. We back off to wait for the next opening. Sometime later, we come up behind the same car again, and again we watch as openings are ignored. Okay, if this driver can't make up their own mind, I'll help. Waiting for an opening, I turn on my turn signal and pull out, but do not attempt to overtake the car. Sure enough, as soon as I'm in passing position in the left lane, over comes the car, and around they go. It got to be kind of fun - sort of driving by remote control. I could make the car pass when I was ready, and I found that I could also vary its speed from about 60-80 mph; I'd drop back, the car would slow down; I'd close up, the car would speed up.

When we pulled into Reno, where Carroll was going to drop off, I took my second fuel stop, and first and only break of the trip. Thirty minutes later I was headed east on I-80 with a tank full of gas and a belly full of McMuffin, all from the same store. The temperature is about 70, the speed limit is 70, and, I've been told, the Wing's cruise control will only operate up to 78 mph. I quickly verify this, and interstate begins to flow under the wheels at said 78 mph, just about the minimum speed that I will travel at for the next 800 or so miles. I continued east on I-80 to US95, bypassing the US50 short cut. I need the added miles, and I figure that 80 will be faster than 50. Arriving at the junction of 80/95, I find one (closed) gas station. Well-l-l,,, no receipt on this corner. Maybe if I gas up in Fallon, time and fuel/mileage will be sufficent - time will tell.

South on US95 it doesn't take long for 78 mph to seem s-l-o-w. I start helping the cruise control, and am soon seeing 95 on the speedometer, 90+ on the GPS. Hey, this puppy has never had the Wing at 100 mph... Twist the wrist a bit more, and, yep, 105 on the speedo, 101 on the GPS. Still climbing, but I've seen what I wanted, and, although I can see down the straight, flat highway a long ways, radar can see farther, so back to 90-95. (I figured the award would be MUCH smaller below the century mark than above it. Fortunately, I never put the theory to the test.) I begin to see a few buildings, and then speed limit signs, and we're back down to 45 mph, the Wing and I, just creeping along, as we glide into Fallon. Where does everybody get gas in Fallon? I only saw 2 gas stations, only one of which had pay-at-the-pump. Finding that took an extra 10 minutes or so, then back on the road "east bound and down." Or, actually, up; back up to 85-90. I ride east and south through Nevada. Don Moses, I saw the highway where you took the picture on your web page, I'm sure of it. Oh, yes. Pretty scenery, temperature maintaining 70-75, good road... and, I keep thinking, I should feel tired, butt I don't. Not that I'm complaining, you understand... I search for radio stations for something to do, finding weak AM stations here and there. They are often interupted by... lightning static. I keep a constant vigil, but never see any flashes or hear any thunder. (I could hear thunder if it was there - I'm on a Wing, remember? <G>)

The miles keep adding up, the gas gauge keeps dropping down. Where's that next gas stop? I check the next waypoint on the GPS. STILL 158 miles?!?!? I look on the GPS's map for the next town. None are shown in that 158 miles. Well, it's still not a big concern; the towns are probably small enough that they don't show when I expand the map scale. The miles continue to roll by. Just as I'm becoming concerned enough to consider slowing down to conserve fuel - I'm at 150 miles on the last fill - I see a road sign: Tonopah - 21 miles. I look some more on the GPS. Nope, still can't find it, but, with 20 miles to go, and the gauge still above E, it's no sweat on fuel; the throttle stays turned up. It turns out that none of the small towns in SE Nevada are on the GIII map. Wonder how that happened? I begin to come accross more traffic, as in I see 2-3 cars, then I see buildings in the distance, and an approaching school bus. I drop the speed back to 70, a wise move as it turns out, because a few minutes later I have my closest call of the trip. Up ahead I see a white vehicle approaching, then a tour bus pulls out to pass. The distance decreases, and the bus is still in my lane, and it becomes obvious that it is nowhere near past the car. My brakes come on, the nose of the car drops; I'm down to 30, and the bus pulls back into its lane. Not that close, really, but closer that I want to see it for a while.

With 187 miles on the tank, the low fuel light on for the past 10 miles, I pull into the station, and, since it's a pay-before-pumping, not a pay-at-the-pump. I still don't feel especially tired or sore, but I wobble just a little as I walk in to give the attendant my credit card. As I fuel, I glance around to see a Volvo being fuel by a lady whose appearance and bearing matched the Volvo perfectly. Topping off, I head back in and grab a couple of bottles of water, which delays me just long enough to let Ms. Volvo get in front of me at the register. The clerk is telling her that she's let the pump run past the money. What? Ms. Volvo has no more money. Miss Clerk doesn't know how to handle that. I stand there, trying not to look too, impatient, while Ms. Manager walks - slowly - up from the back of the store. 15 wasted minutes later, the pavement is disappearing under me once more.

90 mph. Not a car in sight, coming or going. Finally, a car appears in my mirrors, slowly overtaking me. Doesn't look like a cop, so the speed holds. After a while, I can see that it is a Mercedes, which, without pausing, pulls out around and passes. As it goes by, the driver stares at me for a long time, swiveling his head back over his shoulder. His license plate reads something like "PV LAW." A lawyer that's never seen a motorcycle? Who knows? He contines on, without changing speed - - Until, what's that big, orange sign? Road construction? Up to THIRTY minute delays? Well, there's nothing else to do so I continue on. A couple of miles later, more signs. Prepare to Stop. Flagger Ahead. There's the flagger, uh-huh, in front of a couple or three stopped vehicles. Looks like I get to wait the whole time. I pull up behind a minivan, put her on the side stand, shut the motor down and climb off. It's up to about 85 degrees, so off comes the jacket. The guy in the minivan in front of me gets out, and says "Hi." There's a BMW in front of him, one of those with the great big gas tank. As we converse, it's rider gets off. He's an older fellow; he's checking his stop light flashers - one is working, one isn't. I inform him of this, but he doesn't hear me. He's either still got his ear plugs in, or he shoulda had 'em in before. <G> The van driver is a local salesman, and gives me some helpful hints about road conditions and landmarks ahead.

Hey! The pilot car's approaching. It's almost time to go again. What's the construction? Resurfacing, complete with "bumps" on bridge approaches, and grooved pavement. More miles. More little "towns." My head snaps to the right. There, in the middle of the desert, is what's left of a twin engine airplane. It's been there a while - all of the paint has been sand-blasted down to shiny aluminum, and the empty engine nacelles stare at me like dark eyes, the wing past the right engine twisted, battered, and crumpled. It's a stripped shell, with everything of value gone, but no one's bothered to remove the hulk. Ah, well. Maybe they'll mount the Rio Rancho city limit sign on it.

Then, it's south to Pahrump - Indian, do ya think? <G> - and west, into the late afternoon sun. Not as bad as this morning, but, what kind of planning is this?!? But, what a minor complaint! The weather has been SUPER, and, even in the Nevada/California desert the temperature is only 95. Soon, it's time to hang a left turn and head south. It's not long before I notice a semi coming up behind me, even though I'm not exactly going slow. I holler at him on the CB - he wants to go faster, so I invite him to run point for a while. He tells me that he'll be slowing down for a hill in a few miles, and I tell him that when that occurs, he'll have to take drag. We chat for a few minutes, then we come to the hill, and, shortly after that I'm out of range. The highway flows along the floor of a narrow valley, and, even though the sun hasn't set, it's below the mountains, creating a most beautiful effect, and a cool-feeling 95 degrees.

It's dark by the time I get to I-15 and head west. Traffic picks up rapidly on my side, and is bumper to bumper on the other side - a constant stream of headlights coming at me. Closing in on Barstow, the road gets really rough and chopped up. It feels like I'm in a construction zone, but there are no signs or cones. Or lights. I have trouble seeing the road surface to prepare for it. Other than more lanes and more traffic, the rest of the ride is uneventful, and I pull into the station for my stop time, getting a reading of 10:01 PM. Paperwork has been submitted to Mr. Kneebone for approval.

Final statistics: 1028 miles in 16 hours and 26 minutes, 63 mph. According to my GIII, my travel time is 15 hours 5 minutes, 69 mph. 29.4 gallons of gas - 35 mpg.

Garmin GIII displays of trip time (left) and travel time (right)

P.S. - Time to head home Sunday. I-5 all the way. 744 miles, 11 hours 14 minutes - 66 mph - total time, 10 hours 23 minutes - 72 mph - travel time. BB(G?) training? Saw several CHP north of Redding, all coming south, until Yreka. I've always made it a point to come off mach to within 2-3 mph of the speed limit. As I was cruising along at +2-3, a CHP came onto the freeway beside me, paced me to the next ramp, and exited. Hmmm....

Garmin GIII displays of trip time (left) and travel time (right)

I found that I began to notice being tired around 8:00 pm on both rides, even though I started at 5:30 Friday morning and 9:15 Sunday. Guess I'll just have to start earlier next time. <G> I was talking to my wife about the rides, and, after thinking about it, we've concluded that I started getting tired because I knew that the end of the ride was near. I'm sure that this conclusion will be tested when I attempt a BB1500 (1500 miles in 36 hours) or a BBG1500 (1500 miles in 24 hours!

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Last Updated on March 8, 2002.