I sold my last bike about 7 or 8 months ago. It was a 1984 Venture Royal touring bike that my wife had bought me when we got married. She and I used to ride everywhere and she decided the back of a "crotch rocket" was just not the way to travel in style. I was not riding it much anymore, it needed a lot of work, had way too many miles on it, and it just didn't motivate me any more. Since the kids, we rode less and less. I had given Nicole a few rides, but Erik was never tall enough to touch the foot pegs. So when I sold it, he had never ridden with dad.
When I decided I was really not happy about something "sporty" to drive/ride I started looking at cars. I could take anyone with me in a sports car and go anywhere any time. But how does one justify a $40k car that only holds 2 people and an over night bag? It slowly dawned on me that I was just trying to replace what I was missing in a motorcycle. You don't just stop riding after 30+ years cold turkey. Plus the racing background and the genetic fact that my grandfather, grandmother, and father were all bikers reached up like the dark side of the force. It culminated when I took a new job and found several other bikers there … I came home and said, "Mary, I'm buying a new bike." And to my surprise, she was not surprised.
I planned to buy a Royal Star Venture. When Mary saw it, she told me that I really didn't need a bike that big, she would ride with me some … maybe, but never like we used too. I had also been looking at Road Stars, but wanted one with spokes, most had mag wheels. I liked the retro cruiser look. Smaller bike, 200ccs bigger motor. But it was a pretty color and Mary approved. It was a 2003, and the 2005s were just ready to come out so I got a great deal and lots of free goodies.
Erik got his first ride very shortly after I got it. It was clear pretty much from the start that the biker gene had transferred to him as well. He was a bike ridin' fool. After several good rides, we were looking at various web sites and I showed him the Iron Butt web site. The Iron Butt Association is an organization that verifies motorcycle rides ridden in accordance with rules that ensures the full mileage is ridden and that people that get certified really did accomplish the task. They also put on an annual IRON BUTT Rally … 11,000 miles in 11 days … and you have no idea where you are going or the route until you get to the starting line. He thought that a Saddle Sore 1000 ride - 1,000 miles in 24 hours - would be a cool thing to do. Not long after that decision, his grand aunt passed away from a disease known as Corticobasal Degeneration. UCSF had taken care of her for many years for free and used their experience with her in their research. Erik and I thought it may be a neat idea to take our idea to ride 1,000 miles in 24 hours and turn it into a fund raiser. We even decided that we would try to plan it so we could ride even further to raise even more money if we were up to it. When I was young, dumb and ... well, young and dumb, I rode many days 1,000 miles or more. Never documented to get recognized, but I was riding long, hard and fast every weekend. I spent a lot of time with Erik making sure he really understood what he was really getting into. This is no trivial ride for lunch, this was a grueling and tiring endurance challenge. He seemed to be hell bent to do it and was ready and able. I hoped he was really ready.
We made a trip plan, we talked about what we would take and how we should dress. We got his rear seat modified with a gel pad for more comfort and bought me a new seat. We went out and shopped for new thermal underwear and we got Erik his own chaps. We made a trial run the week before to make sure our clothing plans were effective. We went out shopping for snacks and last minute necessities. We were ready … we were going to be IRON BUTTS!
By the trip date, we had changed our route 3 times. North to Eugene, OR and back down to Wheeler Ridge, CA for 1,500 miles. The trip plan gave us an out. By the time we hit Stockton, CA coming home, if we decided that we could not do more than 1000 miles, we could head home and just finish up the Saddle Sore 1000 ride. If we wanted, we could head on for the Bun Burner 1500 (1,500 miles in 36 hours - not to be confused with the Bun Burner Gold - 1,500 miles in 24 hours) as well. Then the early, unseasonable rains came which made us decide to head south through the desert to Flagstaff, Arizona. With the proper planning, we could hit 3 states in the ride. Unfortunately, it left our ability for an out at 1,000 miles out of the picture. The southern route would force us to do 1,500 miles no matter what. We were trying to avoid heading north, and this made the route pretty impossible to do. But then the rain changed again the week we were planning to ride and we decided to head back to our original plan. Maybe a colder ride, but based on the weather forecast - a dryer one.
We left early on Saturday since the intent was to try and get back down south of the Stockton area by about 10:00PM so we could get a good nights sleep and then finish up Sunday for the Bun Burner 1500. At "official cable box time" Mary stamped us out at 4:06 AM and we were off. About a mile away is the Shell station right next to the freeway so we gassed up there, got our first time stamped receipt, cranked on the MP3 player and were off.
We planned to head north over the Antioch Bridge on HWY 160, head east on HWY 12 and pick up HWY 5 to head north to Willows, our first gas stop - Willows, CA 133 miles away.
Once over the Antioch Bridge, there was some light fog, which I expected. The fog can get really bad through the delta, but it had not been for the past week or so … I felt good about our chances. HWY 12 was not so cooperative. The windshield fogged up and got so wet that I could not see through it with in about 2 miles. Since I am using my new seat, it sits me lower and I cannot pop my head up enough to see over the windshield so I was forced to ride the bike sort of like Apache warriors of old that hung off of their horses necks. It was not fun, it was slow going and I was not happy about the situation especially considering the reputation HWY 12 has for head ons … I just watched close and hoped that the array of landing lights on the front of the bike would clue on coming traffic in.
Once we were to HWY 5 it was much clearer … for a while. After Sacramento it fogged up real bad again and we had to slow down. But I had enough for a while and needed to see how Erik was doing. We had done a trial early morning run the weekend before … we were fine then. Apparently temperatures dropped A LOT since a week ago and we are both a bit chilled.
Erik: The ride from home was really foggy. It was not really cold but it was weird. It was hard to see because it was dark and because of all of the fog. I couldn't tell where we were.
We eventually made it to Williams, about 30 miles short of Willows. The gas warning light was on, but we were not on reserve yet. We stopped at a Shell station at 6:10 AM, gassed up and got our time stamped and dated receipt. They had a mini-mart there and we decided to get some hot chocolate to warm us up. Erik was so anxious that during my routine phone call to Mary to check in, he gulped down a bunch and promptly spit it back in his cup. Apparently the steam was not a clue how hot it was. We decided to wait a little longer till the sun came up and would help burn off the fog and warm things up. It would put us behind, but we figured the toll the cold and fog would take on us would be worse. A few guys coming in for early morning coffee admired the bike and asked about the sign on the back about the Carole Murphy Memorial Ride. We talked a little, everyone said make sure you are safe and have fun. While Erik made the customary "make sure you don't have to stop to pee" trip, I went outside to get ready to go. There were apparently about 100+ large pigeons on the roof of the awning that when the sun rose decided it was time to take off. I have never been beneath so many large birds taking off at once. The sound of the beating of the wings in the air was pretty cool. Of course I had no time to grab the camera.
Back on the road again we headed north. Little to no fog, much warmer … remember warm is a relative term, and a full tank of gas. Not quite Jake and Elwood Blues, but we were rollin'. As the sun came up we drove up a pretty dull part of HWY 5. As we get further north and pass the Indian Casino, I think of Mary and how that would be the end of the trip right there. The scenery is getting prettier with trees changing colors and more green and rivers.
Erik: The first gas stop seemed pretty close. It did not seem that far from home so I thought all of the gas stops would be that close. I thought that we would just stop for gas and some beef jerky. When my dad decided to stop for a while, I was glad because I got to be out of the fog for a while and got some hot chocolate.
We stop in Lakehead, CA (which we call Antler since that what the receipt said) at about 8:30 AM. Again we are about 30 miles shy of our planned stop in Dunsmuir. Had we stopped in Willows in the first place, we may have been okay. Here we have a snack of granola fruit bars and beef jerky. A woman from Lancaster on her way to a wedding in Oregon asks us to take her picture in front of the trees that are in the middle of changing color. In turn she takes some of us. We probably spend too much time at this stop, but after riding over 4 hours, I think Erik deserves to walk around a bit.
Nothing eventful happened on the way from Lakehead to Medford except that Erik has decided he wants to cat nap. I know he needs it … I have something to keep me awake and attentive … he has just the scenery and the droning of the engine. I realized it is a lot like flying in an older prop airplane … the sound of the engines can lull you to sleep. I decide that it is better to let him sleep as long as he keeps his head in the middle of my back. The agreement we come to is if he slides at all to one side or the other, I wake him up. We already have hand and tap signals to make sure he is okay, awake or whatever. As much as he and I have been riding, I think it may be time to invest in a good communication system.
The sun is coming up so it at least isn't getting colder. We pass through Dunsmuir, the planned stop and on up into Oregon. I try to point out the big WELCOME TO OREGON sign to Erik, but he misses it. We do get treated to what looks like a Burma Shave sign ad campaign of laws in Oregon. It seems like they expect Californians to come up and start breaking laws immediately - I say to myself as I pass their speed limit signs at well over 80 MPH.
Erik: It took a long time to get to the next gas stop. I was not cold and the scenery was nice to look at as we got up closer to Lakehead. I liked the stop. It wasn't really fast. We had some jerky and a snack and got to go to the bathroom. This is what I thought all of the stops would be like.
Stop 3 is Medford, Oregon. Was supposed to be Grants Pass, but there is no way with the gas mileage we are seeing that we will make it. It is 10:36 AM and it is getting colder, but at least it isn't fog. The exit is a freakin' MESS and getting into the gas station is less than simple. It may be that I am a little tired and maneuvering 900 pounds of motorcycle and about 500 pounds of humans, stuffed monkeys and gear, is just a bit much for me and I need to rest. I pull up to the pump and immediately the station attendant is there admiring the bike and commenting on it. I think he is just friendly and bored … until he tries to pump my gas ... WOAH THERE! "Yeah, that is the first reaction we get from every Californian." Well, I thank him and say ... you can pump anyone else's gas, but I want to put my own gas in my bike. He says sure, he hears it all the time, no problem. We take another jerky break and comment to each other how cold it is as we look at each others breath. Erik says his thighs are the only thing bothering him. My hands are getting a beating in the wind, but I'm fine other wise. When we call Mary to check in, Erik uses one of her favorite colloquialisms - "It's Colder 'n a witches tit!" he yells while I am trying to give her the update. 381 miles into the ride … we are running behind, but we are still doing okay.
Erik: The scenery was not as nice as before. But I did get to see the snow covered mountain on the way up (Mount Shasta) and it was really cool. Once we got off of the bike, it was REALLY cold. I thought it was odd the guy came out to pump our gas for us.
Stops Four and Five
We can't make it to Eugene on the gas we have. Well, we might be able too, but I am not going to risk it. Erik is paying attention to things that are going on and can tell me about when we hit reserve and we talk about why the bike surges and when I flip the tank lever. Things important for a future riding partner to know. We stop in Cottage Grove, Oregon at 1:10 PM for a quick fill up and then head up the road 14 miles to Eugene. We pass the city limits sign, pull off the freeway and find a place to eat. If you are ever in Eugene, stop by a little diner called Debs Family Restaurant. Friendly people, good food, nice place to just sit. We had about 3 more people check out the bike and comment on it and/or the ride sign. We gave the waitress as part of her tip a WHERES GEORGE dollar we had gotten. http://www.wheresgeorge.com is a site that tracks money by the serial number. We thought that the bill we had that started in Woodland, CA could use a boost. I explained to her what she should do with it. She thought the ride was neat, the fund raiser was very nice and the dollar thing was just cool … now I know what Mary must see in me.
We spend entirely too much time flirting with girls young enough to be my daughter or Erik's mom and decide to get back on the road. It is 2:30 now and I explain to Erik I would REALLY like to get out of Oregon before it gets dark. Even in northern California HWY 5 is curvaceous and all the road work and GROOVED PAVEMENT can be treacherous. Let me digress for just a second … what ever IDIOT decided that grooving the pavement for prepping ANYTHING was not a motorcyclist at all. What a friggin' STUPID thing to do to pavement that a vehicle with a front wheel that will track in any silly little crack may ride over. If they were straight and followed the road … but noooo ... they have to be wavy and whacky and big and little and just a pain in the butt. Okay, I will get off my soapbox now.
So south we head. I am certain we will not make the planned Grants Pass gas stop, so we just play it by ear and head south.
It is cold … and it is not as much fun as it could be but Erik is having a good time. He decides the MP3 player is more trouble than it is worth so we leave it off after lunch and just have wind noise and engine noise to listen too. I am actually liking that better.
Erik: This part of the ride was really long and really boring. My dad said we were pretty close to Eugene, so I expected it to be a short ride. But it was a lot longer than I thought. Lunch was good. It was cold here. It was hard to hear the music so I didn't want to listen to the MP3 player any more.
Canyonville, OR. Time? Who knows, their receipt machine was not working right and I did not notice the manual receipt did not have a time on it until I got home. Another friendly gas attendant that was sharper than the first one … he hands me the pump and says no way he will risk pouring gas on a bike that nice. Another ego point for my wheeled carrier of chrome. We check in with Mary and we are cold ... damn cold. It is getting harder for Erik to stay awake and we are woefully behind if we ever hope to get 1500 miles done by 4 PM Sunday. We make the smart choice and agree we WILL do the 1000 miles in 24 hours, but not attempt to go further. There is no reason to risk our safety pushing ourselves. I also tell Erik that once we hit California, we will find a motel and catch some sleep. How much depends on where we are when we stop and what time it is then.
It's getting darker and I know we will not make it to California before the sun goes down. HWY 5 in Oregon is a beautiful drive. The leaves are changing, you are in mountain passes that curve and sweep. But when the sun goes down low enough so there are areas of no sun, it is COLD. Wait, I am not sure you understood ... IT IS COLD! Toss in the brain dead grooved pavement BS and it gets exhausting. We motor on … traffic gets thinner and thinner and eventually it is just us and the occasional semi - oh yeah, Erik got to see his first set of Triples on a tractor trailer too … something disturbing about passing a truck that long - even with two lanes in the same direction.
Erik: I don't think I was awake for most of this part of the ride. When we stopped for gas, it was really cold. I also saw a truck pulling three trailers.
By the time we reach Yreka it is 6:15 PM and I don't think I have ever seen it that dark that early. I ask Erik if he knows what time it is - 9? No, but I bet we both feel that way. We gas up and the odometer says we are about 200 miles short of 1000 miles. But I know we are closer to 300 miles from home. I ask Erik if he wants to stop for a nap, and he says no, lets keep riding. He has been nodding off a lot. I don't mind so much in the straight sections, but he seems to do it when it is windy, or rough, or any bad situation of some sort. I recommend we stop, sleep till 10:00 and then press on. He asks a very sharp question … won't it be colder then? Yeah, but it is cold as hell now and we are standing here in thermals, jeans, several shirts and sweat shirts, leather jackets with linings, leather chaps, full face helmets, bandanas over our faces and we are COLD. We need to warm up. He agrees and we drive across the street to the Best Western and check in. Between the time we check in and I get the required goodies off the bike I have been stopped by 4 people asking about my "Harley" - "Never seen one like that before" - No, probably not unless you went to a YAMAHA shop. All very nice folks, we talk about the ride, the cold … and insanity in general. Erik and I get in bed (fully dressed except leathers and boots - Erik's idea and it did get us warm in a hurry) and get about 3 and a half hours sleep before Mary calls to wake us up. Good thing because my alarm clock on my PDA didn't want to cooperate even though I thought it was set right ... but I was in no real mood to mess with it anyway. We suit up and hit the road.
This was the most exciting leg of our journey. 10:30 at night … I am cruising about 75 MPH. We come over a rise about 50 miles out of Yreka and start down … we pick up speed. I roll back a bit, but not enough to keep from picking up some speed. Well, lets say that the radar gun said I was going 83, but the sign on the back of the bike inspired him to only write me up for only 80. Gee … thanks. The ex-professional road racer gets to listen to the obligatory "motorcycles are dangerous, you shouldn't drive them fast - yadda yadda yadda" for 20 minutes before we can go. He was a very nice man and was just doing his job. And yes we were speeding. Thank you … now can someone just invent the automatic ticket writer so we get home and can log on and find out how much we owe?
So there is 20 minutes of the time I calculated how long we could sleep and still make it home … eaten way. Still running around 75MPHs we are going to have to do PIT STOP speed gas stops. About 20 minutes further down I notice I have a large animal not on the side of the road, but in the middle ... staring at all 170 watts of head lights. He is close enough that I have to brake hard and begin to evade when I realize we are both evading the same direction. An old biker once taught me "Do what you think is right, not what your brain tells you to do" so I held my line that would have ended up in a ugly deer smack but the deer changed direction again. They like to do that as I recall. I tap Erik and ask if he is okay. "Uh?" Yep, he's fine.
About 15 minutes later I encounter something I have not had to contend with for YEARS. Thank god. They call it BLACK ICE. And by the time I knew I had hit it, it was over. Front end/handle bars almost went back and forth lock to lock. Before they straightened out and the back end was allowed to slide out about a lane width. It regained traction and hooked back up violently enough to shake my feet off the floorboards. I have no idea what my right hand was doing other than maintaining some semblance of direction since my left hand instinctively reached around and grabbed Erik … still asleep. We were solid, I grabbed the bars again and regained control. Off we went ... one patch of black ice behind us, lord knows how many more ahead. The lecture from the CHP didn't phase me, The black ice … THAT phased me. We slowed down a bit. Calculations were flying through my head. Yes, we could still do it if all goes well. I have enough fudge factor included - I think. Then it happened. More Fog. At least it was not as thick as in the morning, but it was enough to slow us down even more. At some point I was just going to recheck into a motel and say forget it, we didn't make it this time.
Erik: My head was REALLY itchy. Even though I told my dad I wanted to keep going, it was really nice to get some sleep. At the motel a guy asked me if the ride was hard or not. I told him it was pretty hard. Later when we got stopped for the speeding ticket I thought the CHP officer was mean to us and talked mean to us. He said that I was too young to be on a motorcycle or to do the ride. When he saw our sign about the memorial ride, he didn't care. I didn't see the deer and I didn't realize what the black ice was until my dad told me later. This was the coldest we had been on the ride so far. I was having a hard time staying awake.
Our next gas stop was 3 and a half hours after we left the motel. This was both a good thing and a bad thing. MPG was AWESOME. A lot of the trip this way was down hill (I tried to get Erik to believe it was because we were going south, thus DOWN the world … he wouldn't by it). We were in Orland, California. It was 1:04 AM on the 7th. We had to try two exits to find a gas station that would give me a stamped receipt without having to go inside. We needed to move fast. 3 hours to go and still about 180 miles to go. This station was in the middle of no where. Few people around, none that spoke English. As long as things went well and we had no issues we were okay. I was a bit nervous if I had to ask a question … my Spanish is about as good as Steve Martins "Donde esta la casa de pee pee".
Back on the road. We are leather covered popsicles now - Erik is holding up way better than I could have hoped and has not once the entire trip complained or whined. He did ask when we were getting the ticket if we could take a break - we had been on the road for less than an hour and I explained ... we can, but that means we will never make it in time. He said, lets keep going … if I really need to stop I will tell you. We had talked a lot before about how hard this would be and why few have done it, especially 10 year olds. I think now he understood and that he was as dedicated to making it as I was.
The big thing now was … we CAN make it. We will probably have to make one last stop for gas, but we can do it. HWY 5 has a 70 MPH limit almost all the way to HWY 12. As long as nothing goes wrong. Oh did I mention we have to go back through the delta to get home … remember that place with all the fog? The fog that when we left was thick as pea soup but was NOTHING compared to what we encountered around Stockton heading home? I was heart broken. I had put Erik through all this and we are SO close only to have the fog kill any hope for us. My windshield was completely covered … there was nothing to do but hang over the side. But Erik seemed to think this was a great time to sleep. I finally got him to realize he could not and HAD to remain awake for another hour and a half. This was very dangerous and I needed to concentrate on driving not him sleeping. Back I was to the Apache Warrior position. Some times down to 30 MPH … always watching for cars behind me. There are some nasty rear ends on HWY 5 in the fog, but almost always during commute time. And I had not gotten to HWY 12 yet, one of the worst roads for head ons in the area.
Erik: Here is where my dad told me about the deer and the black ice. It seemed weird that I didn't even know or see these things. My dad says it was because I was half asleep most of the time. I was getting really tired. I thought the ride was getting bad. It was getting cold, it was late, I was tired, my butt was hurting. We had to make a really fast gas stop and even though my head was itchy, I could not itch it because I didn't have time to take my helmet off.
Lodi … 2:56 AM and I am wiped. The stress of driving through fog this thick is wearing on me. We stop for gas and I tell Erik we are only at the most 45 minutes from home and he seems to get a bit excited. I don't have the heart to tell him as foggy as it is, we may not make it in the two hours we have left. Plus I have concerns about HWY 12 in this type of fog. We gas up and I get my receipt and write the mileage on it. We hop on the bike in less than 5 minutes from stopping and we are off west on HWY 12 and into some of the worst fog I have seen in my life.
I consider pulling off the road several times and just saying enough is enough, this is just too dangerous on this road. HWY 12 is notorious for ugly head ons and rear ends in the fog. But after we are on the road a few minutes, it is clear we really have no place TO pull off. I can see the tail lights of a truck up ahead on and off. I figure he must be a whole 50 yards in front of me if that and I can still barely see his lights. Imagine what someone would see behind a motorcycle with only one tail light low to the ground where you wouldn't normally be looking for one … I did and didn't like it. We scoot up behind the semi and I decide now I only have to watch the rear … the semi will block the front for us and we motor on slowly. I still have to hang off the bike pretty far and Erik is really struggling to stay awake. We encounter a few light areas of fog … each time I figure we are going to get a break only to have those hopes dashed with more fog a few hundred yards further. I keep watching the clock on the bike … this is crazy, we will never make it at this rate. We can't even maintain 45 MPHs in this fog … the minimum we need to make it. This may be one of the most stressful times of my life on a bike. Maybe the time I got caught in a snow storm in Tahoe on my CB1100F in the early 80s was worse, but if it was, not by much.
As we approach HWY 160, where we turn south to head home - the 17 mile mark to our exit - the fog completely lifts. It is NEVER not foggy here but this morning it is clear. The semi turns left in front of us, I can only hope he will at least pick up the pace some since I really do not want to try and pass him on this road either. Windy levee roads in the dark are just not the best place for risky passes, especially with a sleepy 10 year old on the back. To my surprise the trucker must have wanted to get back on track too and took off driving even faster than I wanted too. Rock on dude … thanks for the help down HWY 12. I look at the clock and do the math … we are going to make it … close but we will … as long as the fog stays away. I ride this road home from work every day … I know it well. Things are looking up.
Erik: It was really foggy and my dad had to keep looking above/around the windshield. When we got to the gas stop, it was weird because the gas pump played a radio commercial. Over all I felt pretty happy because we were almost home.
We pull off the freeway at Hillcrest and get stopped at the light to turn into the gas station. What the hell is up? We go through 3 cycles with no left turn signal. I NEVER have trouble with my bike tripping this turn sensor. I am just about ready to say the heck with it … there is NO ONE here … and turn anyway and it changes. We pull into the gas station and up to the first pump. Erik hops off and I tell him to go ahead and pull his helmet off for a minute while I get gas. I fill it up, and get the receipt … grab the first receipt that was from this same gas station as our first stop and calculate … "We got 19 minutes to spare dude … WE DID IT!" Erik had a great grin on his face and gave a pretty pathetic "woo hoo" and then a "Can we go home now?" We call Mary and tell her to have the garage door open, we are 2 minutes away. We put our helmets back on and pull out of the gas station. The day has taken its toll and the bike feels like it weighs a million pounds. We get out and up the road and pull into the garage. As we are pulling in Mary runs in side and then suddenly re-appears. She says her "official cable box clock" she used when we left says 4:04 … 2 minutes to spare!
I think the first thing that we both said is "I'm going to bed." Mary wanted to hear about the ride, but we were just too beat.
Erik: This felt like the second to shortest leg we have had so far. It was still really foggy and I was most relieved when we got home to see mommy waiting in the garage. I think I have almost had my fill of motorcycle riding for this month. It might be fun to do the Bun Burner 1500 when it is warmer.
VERIFICATION AND LESSONS LEARNED
We both woke up at 9. Actually Erik was a bit earlier and I heard him turn on the video games in the other room. I took a shower and went down to calculate the trip in the Iron Butts officially recognized software Microsoft Streets and Trips. With the stops, the actual route taken and such all calculated, we actually rode 1087.6 miles in the 23 hours and 58 minutes we were out. I put all the paper work together, made copies of the gas receipts, filled out the application for the Saddle Sore 1000 certification and packaged it up to send out.
I also calculated the money we earned from pledges for UCSF and sent e-mails out to everyone. A little over $1100 total. A successful ride in every aspect.
In retrospect, there are several lessons that we learned and Erik was very astute to many of them and brought them up to me.
No matter how much you try to prepare a 10 year old for a ride like this … they just don't get it until they are into it. Erik had done a 300 mile ride as his longest ride before this trip. When we hit 250 miles and I told him at the best we are only ¼ of the way done with it, he started to understand. When we stopped for lunch and we discussed making this the half way point instead of the 1/3 way point, I think he was getting it. He was in the groove by Yreka and willing to push on, but was fragged only a half an hour after our 4 hour nap. But to his credit, he never said he wanted to quit, he never wanted to stop, he never complained, whined or pouted. He understood we were in the ride and we would do it or not … we were the deciding factors. So if you do something like this with your child, understand no matter how much you talk to them and explain to them, it will only become clear when they get back home and even then it may not be fully understood. Be patient, take your time with them, explain everything you do as you do it on the trip - where you are, where you need to be, time schedules and the reality of what is going on. When I calculated how long we could sleep I did it out loud and asked Erik if it made sense to him and helped him learn the math. He was a 50% partner in the team and was included in all decisions.
Have hand signals to make sure you are both awake and okay. This goes for any passenger. Erik and I have a long standing agreement that I will tap his leg, if he does not tap me back, I will stop. I have tried to get him to repeat a rhythm to me so I know it is not reflex. This ride solidified that need since several times while he was asleep he tapped me back but I could tell he was not awake and stopped to check on him anyway. I have been considering a new intercom system and this may have been the trip to inspire me to go ahead and do it.
Realize that even in one week, temperatures can drop significantly - especially during the late fall and early winter months. We were fine on our test ride one week earlier, but we both could have used more clothes on our ride. You can never take too many clothes.
When you plan your route, take into account your gas mileage at the speed you intend to drive. Our gas stops were planned for a 70 MPH average, but I discovered during the ride, since I rarely ride at 85, that my MPG drops significantly at 75 to 80 MPH. I figured a drop, but not almost 20%. I calculate that I probably gained nothing driving that fast due to the extra stops which included a stop by the CHP for a short lecture and an autograph to prove he gave it too me. Those lectures can be expensive too. Also, the chill factor is exponential and it is much warmer riding at 70 than at 85, even behind a huge windshield.
When you plan your trip, plan for ample but short stops, then stick to it. Stops can get drawn out rather quickly with gas, a quick snack and potty break. Sometimes you have to draw them out and it is out of your control. Figure on a couple of those stops per trip. Also make sure you do not feel rushed. Those short breaks are butt savers too.
Leave later in the day. This was one that Erik talked about a couple of times during our breaks. I have to agree. Get up at a normal time and be refreshed. We lost time due to the early morning fog and cold. The windshield fogging up, the slower speeds due to that, the stress on me as the driver having to deal with it. We would probably have faired better and made better time had we left at 8 AM instead of 4 AM. I was concerned about traffic in the Sacramento area, but could have avoided it and it probably would still not have been bad at the 9 AM time frame we would have hit it. But again, we were planning to have the Bun Burner 1500 option and that prompted us for an early start so we could be home at a reasonable time on Sunday to recoup for school/work the next day. We are already talking about a Bun Burner 1500 trip, 750 miles a day, leave at 8 AM and be home by 8 PM the next day. We think that will be much better planning ... now for the warm weather to come back.
Even the Iron Butt site has tips about eating for the ride. I read another after report that put it best … stressing your body out with some crazed health kick and lean eating habits while you are trying to do an endurance run is insane. I NEED my coffee every morning. I am a junky and I admit it. Plus the light snack foods we ate were great and protein filled, but no where near filling enough to keep our growling stomachs at bay. When Erik said "I want something greasy to eat for lunch" I almost got on my knees and thanked him. We were still a little careful on what we ate (only realizing too late Erik ate a tryptophan filled turkey and grilled cheese sandwich and it immediately showed its effects) and avoided anything too heavy. Eat normal, but a bit conservative. Avoid things that you know are heavy and will make you feel tired or queezy. But eat fairly normal whatever you do
Erik: Overall I thought the ride was pretty easy, but I was not in the drivers seat. I think it was much harder for my dad. I enjoyed spending the time with daddy. It was really fun. I think this was the greatest thing I have ever done with my dad. If you are planning on doing this with your child, get arm rests so they can't fall off the bike.
All in all, it was a great trip, a wonderful experience that we will both talk about for years, and some great bonding time with my son. My wife was a great supporter and having her to talk to every couple of hours and knowing someone was paying attention and concerned about the time schedule, our check ins and safety was comforting. If you haven't done something like this … do it. Plan it right, and don't be in a rush and remember, if you don't/can't make it, you can always try again another time. Stop and rest and enjoy a more leisurely ride later.
The trip updates made from the phone call check ins during the ride.
Entry 1: November 6th, 4:06 AM
Dan and Erik pulled out of the garage at 4:00 AM. Their first stop will be for gas and a time stamped and dated receipt just before they get on the freeway. The weather changed their plans AGAIN and with rain pending to the south, and none planned for the north, they have decided on their original route up to Eugene, Oregon - back down to Wheeler Ridge, California - then back up to Antioch.
Entry 2: November 6th, 6:19 AM
First pit stop in Williams, and the word for this leg is FOG!! The fog has slowed them down a bit, so they are a little behind schedule. They are also taking a longer pit stop than planned to warm up. Erik got a little too excited about his hot chocolate and burned his mouth. But so far so good for the boys on their excursion.
Entry 3: November 6th, 8:38 AM
The boys took their second pit stop in Antler to partake of some beef jerky (a staple of the Crenshaw male's diet). This is about 30 miles earlier than expected, but they didn't have enough gas to make it to Dunsmuir. Everything is fine - it's much warmer and the fog has cleared. They are enjoying the scenery along the way and it's helping them to stay awake.
Entry 4: November 6th, 10:45 AM
They made it to Oregon! They are in Medford, about 120 miles from Eugene. Erik is very excited that they are in Oregon as the only 2 states he had been in before were California and Nevada. Dan says that it is surprisingly warm there ... NOT! It's about 40ºF. As Erik puts it, "It's colder'n a witches tit! (where does he get that stuff from??) Apparently Erik has learned to take a cat nap while riding by burying his head into the middle of Dan's back. If Dan feels him drift to one side, he taps him to wake him up so that he can reposition himself. They have traveled about 381 miles so far. They are having to stop for gas more often than they thought as their gas mileage is lower than expected (due to the speed that they are traveling). Next stop will be the turnaround point.
Entry 5: November 6th, 1:50 PM
The boys are in Eugene having lunch. They are way behind schedule and at this point they have decided that Erik probably won't make it past 1000 miles so that is their new goal. This leg saw the return of the fog at Grant's Pass. The weather there was "cold and yucky" as Dan puts it (still about 40ºF), but they are still having a great time.
Entry 6: November 6th, 4:25 PM
They have arrived in Canyonville, Oregon. They say that it is still colder than hell. Dan is struggling to keep Erik awake. The plan now is to get back into California and find somewhere to get some sleep. Then they will get up refreshed and finish the 1000 miles.
Entry 7: November 6th, 6:30 PM
They've made it back to California. They are in Yreka, and they have checked into a motel for a few hours of sleep. They plan on sleeping for about 4 hours, and then they will continue on their way. They have about 300 miles to go to make the 1000 miles, and they have to do it by 4:00 AM tomorrow. Sweet dreams guys and good luck!
Entry 8: November 7th, 1:00 AM
The boys got a wake up call at 10:00 PM, they got dressed and were on their way. They experienced 4 things they were hoping not to on this leg: more fog, deer, black ice, and a speeding ticket. But thankfully they made it to about 100 miles north of Sacramento (they are not sure what city they're in). They're pretty beat and ready to come home.
Entry 9: November 7th, 4:04 AM
They made it! They traveled almost 1100 miles in just less than 24 hours! They are officially Iron Butts! Both got out of their gear and went directly to bed. All the details to follow.
- CRASH -
Star Touring and Riding Group - Chapter 186