Google+ Two-Wheeled Tourist: Iron Butt BunBurner 1500/SaddleSore 2000 Report

7.03.2011

Iron Butt BunBurner 1500/SaddleSore 2000 Report

"To be insane, you must have discipline." - Hudson Leick

This report has been completed in between my two stays in Elko, NV and Oakland, CA after an Iron Butt adventure that involved four time zones, 45 hours of travel, and nearly 3000 miles on the motorcycle. Here's a little recap of my travels.

Eleanor's all geared up and ready to ride!
Departure from Columbus: 12:30AM EST, 6/30
Final Stop for BB1500: Rawlins, WY, 9:30AM MST, 7/1
Final Stop for SS2000: Elko, NV, 7:30PM PST, 7/1

The route was very basic: I-70 to I-80 via I-29 from Columbus, OH to Green River, WY. According to Google Maps, the total came to 1520 miles, enough for the BunBurner ride (1500 miles in 36 hours). I originally planned for this route to be a shot for the more extreme BunBurner Gold (1500 miles in 24 hours), but due to severe closures on I-29 in Iowa due to flooding in that part of the state that I didn't know about in advance, my connection from I-70 was delayed so badly mid-day that I was trapped in the state for nearly two hours, eliminating the possibility for Gold. However, the extra 200 miles I covered trying to find an alternate route brought my final destination for the BunBurner a lot closer.

And I ride, and I ride, and I ride...

So after a broiling run through most of 100+ degree Nebraska and 285 miles to go on the BunBurner 1500 attempt, I had to call it a day after getting caught in the middle of a severe storm that had winds nearing 50MPH and throwing me around on Eleanor near to Big Springs, NE. The tradeoff? A nice dinner with steak and second round with a regional favorite, Rocky Mountain Oysters.

Yup, it's genuine fried bull junk. If you've seen some of the other stuff I've eaten, this would probably be quite benign.
By the morning it cleared beautifully and it was easy to get to WY to finish off the final leg. I was glad that I waited for that sunrise because that portion of I-80 was some of the most scenic portions of interstate I've ever ridden. I had missed the pretty part of I-80 in Wyoming when Matt and I moved to Ohio in 2009 because we connected from I-25 from Fort Collins, CO instead of from Reno, NV.

Crossing the WY border during the final stretch of the BB1500. Yahoo.
After completing those final 285 miles for the first certification, I had over 12 hours to ride 500 miles to earn the SaddleSore 2000. That was completed quite casually with a stop for ice cream and a rest stop in Utah. I ended up in Elko, NV with a total of 2050 miles and three hours to spare.

This is gorgeous, and it was only the rest stop!
A member of the local wildlife. It saw my camera and took a stand.
Some additional notes...
My two biggest challenges were boredom during the long stretches of road and the heat wave I experienced in Nebraska. While I rode through the night, there wasn't much to see, so staying alert really involved a lot of good music and comedy routine selections. The same thing applied during the day; lots of songs and switching between channels on my XM radio. Also, with hours and hours on the saddle, I had to use several methods of keeping myself from getting too sore. Some methods included standing on the pegs while moving a crawl in work zones, engaging my BrakeAway cruise control mechanism, dangling the legs, and perching my feet onto the passenger pegs. As for the heat, my evaporative cooling vest saved the day, but the dry heat (100-105 degrees with crosswinds) made the last stretch of road a bit fatiguing. Keeping my CamelBak filled with ice water was a lifesaver as well.

I was lucky that the weather on the second day was relatively mild. Riding through the last portion of Nebraska into Wyoming was actually quite chilly with temps in the 50s and a crosswind. I had to use my Gerbings heated jacket liner and gloves for the first three hours of travel until it warmed up enough to just ride with my thicker Aerostitch Roadcrafter jacket. By midday I was back with the mesh jacket and didn't even need the cooling vest at all.

Contrary to popular belief, I did NOT drink any coffee or have any energy drinks during this entire journey. I had long days but I was able to sleep 6-7 hours a night which was sufficient and just enough to keep me from waking up groggy. The big key was keeping hydrated with lots of water and stopping at regular intervals.

The ability to ride through those miles comes with time. If you're thinking of doing these kinds of rides, work up to them and practice, practice, practice!

I think my vacation can start now...!