Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: My first [documented] Iron Butt SaddleSore 1000

9.03.2010

My first [documented] Iron Butt SaddleSore 1000

On August 21 I completed my first [documented] Iron Butt SaddleSore 1000. By definition this is a journey of 1000 miles in 24 hours or less. The first time I rode a thousand miles in under 24 hours was from Roswell, NM to LAX. However, this 17-hour ride was not officially documented per the requirements of the Iron Butt Association, the governing body that sanctions these long-distance motorcycle rides. I figured I might as well make it "official" and go for it.

The route I took is below. I took a circular route starting and ending in Lewis Center, OH by way of Spartanburg, SC (Matt suggested this city because it's where the BMW Z3 roadster was manufactured - he used to have one). As with any long distance ride this one had a few obstacles to deal with, the most annoying being rain. I was in the middle of a constant downpour for three of the seven states I cross (NC, SC, WV) and as I rode into the evening hours the deluges affected my visibility to the point that getting down the highway required every ounce of willpower and concentration I could muster.


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Now my route for this SaddleSore 1000 was not the easiest one to ride by far. However, it was very scenic and, when combined with the light misty rains that dotted North Carolina and a couple other places, hauntingly beautiful. Of course, one easy way out was "slabbing" I-70 West toward St. Louis, MO, turning right back around and heading straight to Columbus. But I couldn't pass up the opportunity to finally add North and South Carolina to my list of crossed states, now bringing the total to 39. I look forward to the day I can return and enjoy more of these states and not be on such a severe time crunch.

But then regular riders ask, "How do you do a thousand miles in a day?" It's a lot of miles but it's not so bad with some proper riding conditioning. If you're considering attempting one of these Iron Butt runs, here are some pointers I'd suggest.

Prepping Yourself
1. Learn to manage the miles. Building up the tolerance to do those distances takes practice and time. Ride. Ride everywhere. Ride in adverse conditions and to different destinations. Did I mention ride?

2. Hydrate. Drinks lots of water before, during, and after your ride. Get a Camelback or other hydration system that's easy to access while you're tooling down the road.

3. Snack a lot, big meal later. You won't have much time to eat, but get something in you. Energy bars and bananas are great. Increase protein intake and decrease carbs - those will only make you drowsier.

4. Wear the proper riding gear. Develop a system of equipment to combat any weather or temperature situation. Try accessories such as heated gear, soakable cooling vests, and packable rain suits.

Prepping Your Bike
1. As you practice doing the miles, reflect on your personal comfort needs. Do I need a new seat, sheepskin, gel pad? Would a cruise control aid/device come in handy? Are my handlebars, foot controls, etc. ergonomically sound? Do I need to change/remove/upgrade my windshield? The list goes on and on. Multitudes of motorcycle accessories are available to adjust your motorcycle to suit your style. A little research goes a long way.

2. Complete essential and major services before you take off. Do that oil change. Lube that chain. Perform that major service interval. Change the tires if they're almost worn out. Your bike will perform at its best when it gets its necessary TLC.

3. Learn your bike's quirks. That two wheeled machine between your legs is a friend you'll learn to know intimately. Take time to do research and learn its special needs. The less you learn the hard way the better.

And finally...what kind of motorcycle should I use?
The "best" motorcycle for an Iron Butt depends on the rider and the type of roads to be crossed. For riding interstates for prolonged periods of time, a larger engine displacement bike would be ideal because of the lower revs the bike needs to maintain those higher speeds. Additionally, a heavier bike with a fairing and windshield would cut down on the fatigue caused by wind blast. Larger bikes also equate to larger gas tanks so you'll be minimizing the amount of stops to get from point to point.

In this case, my FJR1300 has been my weapon of choice as well as that of many an Iron Butt participant because of its smoothness at higher speeds, generous wind protection, luggage room, and versatility to accommodate many types of riders. There are many bikes out there that are designed to do the miles; the challenge is to find the one that's right for you.

For more tips and tricks on surviving the long haul, Iron Butt Association has a wonderful "Archive of Wisdom" @ http://www.ironbutt.com/tech/aowprintout.cfm.