Let’s go back in time a few years, to my first truly long ride. In the past I’ve shared with you a story of going border to border – from Canada to Mexico – in less than 24 hours. But before I did that, I had to join the Iron Butt Association, and that required an entry ride of 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours.
Actually, let’s back up even further to start this story. My first bike in California was a Yamaha Seca II that I bought for $600. It was what you’d expect for $600, though in a few months and 8,000 miles it only left me stranded once, thanks to a snapped clutch cable. All in all, it was a fine bike that had endured a tough life:
At the time, one of my bosses was also a rider – he had a ’98 BMW K1200RS that he bought new, it’s now got over 100k on it. Here’s a photo of his bike from a trip we once took to New Mexico – that K75 in the back is about to become very relevant:
Long story short, he is the reason I’m now such a BMW homer. After I tried his bike a couple of times, I was intrigued by the possibility of getting a BMW as my next bike, and he ended up finding me a ’88 K75C on Craigslist. Impressively, it was a single owner bike with about 88,000 miles and a folder an inch thick with maintenance records. I ended up acquiring it for $1,500…and that bike introduced me to the concept of motorcycle touring.
I no longer remember how I first heard of the Iron Butt Association, but once I knew about it, I wanted to join. To do so, you have to complete the SaddleSore 1000, which entails riding 1,000 miles in 24 hours.
The first step is to figure out a route. Your options on a compass are limited from Los Angeles if you’re staying in the US – I was either going north or east. Because it was February, I decided to keep it warm and head east, which led to a relatively obvious route: LA to Phoenix to Vegas, then back to LA. That’s a 940 mile trip, so I added a couple of detours to get over the 1,000 mile barrier:
This was back when I used to go to Valdi’s Motozone in Torrance for work. I don’t go to Valdi any more, but it has nothing to do with him – I just found someone I like more that was closer to my place. I’ll still wholeheartedly recommend Valdi if you’re looking for a BMW guy in the South Bay.
After prep, it was just a matter of riding.
1,000 miles may seem like a lot at first (and it’s not a small amount), but to complete the ride you have to average just under 42 miles per hour. So as long as you have a bike you’re comfortable on, you can easily complete it in 16-20 hours – the key is just to keep moving. The IBA says that for every hour you ride, you can bank 20 minutes of rest. I kept the speedo around 80 miles per hour while I was on the bike and took breaks whenever I felt it was appropriate, and I finished with 4-5 hours to spare.
I was on the road around a quarter past 5 am and made my first gas stop at 5:17 – this is is important because you have to get a receipt with the time on it. I also took this opportunity to get a witness signature from the gas station attendant – Iron Butt Association rules require a witness at the beginning and end of your ride.
In hindsight, I had plenty of time to stop and take photos whenever I wanted to. But during the ride itself, I was focused on eating up as many miles as possible, so I barely stopped for photos.
I stopped for a break near ASU and ended up getting a 30 minute phone call from my family. I decided it was a better long term strategy to just wait out the phone call than to explain the 1000 miles in 24 hours concept!
Release the Fear is a non-profit organization focused on ‘instilling positive life changes for disadvantaged and at-risk youth.’ In 2005, they erected a statue with artist Robert John Miley in the shape of the organization’s logo:
The statue is made up of 8.5 tons of metal. Of that, 8,000 pounds is from weapons used in violent acts in Arizona, and it took over 10 year for Miley to get the funding and materials to make this happen. For more, check out this article in the Phoenix New Times.
From Phoenix, it was time to head up to Vegas. Along the 93 is a town called Wikieup, Arizona where some winter visitors from Michigan apparently created a rocket out of a telephone pole:
Woodstock’s on the nose cone, and there’s three different versions of Snoopy in the middle. I apparently don’t know Peanuts well enough, because for years I’ve though the guy in the back was supposed to be Spike, Snoopy’s cousin, and I thought that was a mistake because Spike lives in Needles, California. Turns out it’s just another Snoopy. Oops.
It’s been a while since I took this trip, but I didn’t feel it until I saw this photo. On my way back to Los Angeles for the last leg of this ride, I remember being disappointed with the state of the thermometer in Baker – the tallest thermometer in the world. It was renovated in 2014 to the tune of $150,000, and it now works and looks much better.
Once it started raining I stopped taking photos, but there’s nothing exciting to show about slab at night. I ended up back at the same gas station, got a witness signature, and went to bed with the surreal feeling of knowing that I had just covered 1,000 miles only to end up right where I started. Now I feel lazy when I end up in front of my computer all day, writing posts on Bike-urious instead of riding! C’est la vie.
Enjoy ride reports? Check out the Travel page, where you can read about trips up to Alaska, down to Baja, and more!