My First SS-1000
July 17, 2004
Someone on the LDRiders list started their SS1K ride report by saying something like "I took a really long trip, I went a long, long way, I had a lot of fun.". Well, thatís sort of the way my first documented ride went. It was a day of super fun riding, although I normally eschew interstate highways. The documentation below is for my own future use, as I donít want to forget this ride; but feel free to enjoy it, learn a (very) little from it, orÖ you could ignore it and move on now. I realize itís a "nothing ride" in the big scheme of things. But as my entry ride into LDRiding, I loved it. The dark side has me firmly in its grip now.
Leave home at 5:00 AM, ride all interstate highways from Mahomet, IL to Davenport IA, Omaha, Kansas City, St. Louis, Effingham IL, and back home. Total time was 19 hours and 48 minutes and total miles were 1113 miles per the GPS. Counting the beginning and endÖ there were 19 stops!
Long Story: (10 pages worth!)
The Background: My normal riding style is 500 to 700 mile days, usually a little shorter if riding my wife Pillion. Although Iíve ridden the miles before a few times, Iím more of a flower sniffer than a mile-eater, and itís been decades since I put 1000 miles on a bike in a day. I wasÖ wellÖ 30 years younger then. But, I wanted the IBA membership because of the IBA riders I respect, and I wanted to know that I could make the long trips when wanted. Since Iím living in the central US prairie, I have to ride hundreds of miles to find "motorcycle" roads. Well, it all boils down to "I just wanted the ride."
The Scenerio:Iíve been planning to ride a documented SS1K for a while now, and played with several route plans. My wife had a busy weekend planned with a house guest, and suggested that this be the weekend to give it a try. I still donít know if she was simply baiting me or encouraging it J . The routes I considered were all one-way trips. From central Illinois, itís about 1K miles to Denver, Rapid City, Jacksonville (FL), Dallas, and other wonderful destinations. Of course, Iíd then have to come homeÖ making it too long for a first time ride on a two day weekend. The only loop I really investigated was the one I took. Iíd driven large parts of it in the past in a cage; and a recent trip to IA took me over about 1/3 of this path. As a loop, Iíd have that "homing instinct" to help with the final few hours and Iíd also be home when it was done.
I also wanted to grab a couple of pictures for the roadkill safari (http://www.roadkillsafari.com). My goal is to make a top 10 finish in that rally, and Iím almost staying in the top 10 so far. On this trip, Iíll pass within a couple miles of two towns (Coralville and Lambs Grove) that will help the effort. Hopefully, I can grab the needed city limit sign or post office pictures without a great loss of time.(I did).
(Click on the photos for larger images)
Lessons I should Have Learned(and probably should have already known):
(For some of us, it simply takes experience to learn a lot of these)
The Details(start reading only if you have lots of time to waste).
Before leaving work Friday, I did two more prep steps. I checked the weather at all corners of the trip, and it was the sameÖ perfect! No rain, nights in the low 60s, highs in the mid 80s. Partly cloudy to sunny and very light winds. And just in case, I called VISA and had a fraud check notice added to my account for 3 days. After dinner, I started packing and getting the bike ready in earnest. Over the previous few days, Iíd gotten everything I could think of ready. The new ME-880s had only a couple thousand miles on them, I changed the oil thursday night with fresh Mobile 1 (all this bike has ever known), checked tire pressure and coolant. With a full once-over, I was certain the bike was ready. One side bag had my tools and spare parts (including a stripped down air pump and stop-n-go kit and pint of oil, along with rain gear. The other carries some personal stuff, food and water, and my Roadkill safari flag. Friday night I packed the mesh jacket into a backpack that straps to the sissy bar, and my wife made some ham sandwiches, which along with trail mix, bottled water, and a couple of sodas(gotta have it), made up my lunch. Into the tank bag went the camera, clipboard with the riderís log, cell phone, extra batteries for the GPS, pens, and maps. I used S&T to make lots of mapsÖ LOTS of maps. Iíd poured over S&T and felt that I could ride this route with no maps, but I had the strip maps printed out, and looked over all the "turn" maps. I also had maps of the two roadkill towns I might bag. My GPS is a Garmin III. I did not put a route into it, but I did download as many detailed maps as I could (mostly the larger cities).
So, the bike is ready, everything (but food) packed, and Iím ready to hit the bed about 11:00. Several hours later, I finally went to sleep. The alarm woke me at 4:30. I shaved and ate a breakfast of toast, eggs, and ham. My wife asked if I heard that downpour and storm last night. I honestly didnít hear a thing. She had me check the weather report, and all looked the sameÖ no rain, 60ís to 80ís. I loaded up lunch and cold water then hit the road just before 5:00 AM.
Starting at Home Portrait at Beginning Fueling
I rode down to the local fuel station. Snapped a picture of the GPS and odometer, then took a deep breath, made a log entry and started the clock by fueling up.
7/17/2004 04:59 19631 odo; 0 GPS
Naturally, things started to go wrong right off. The pump said "SEE ATTENDANT FOR RECEIPT". I ran inside only to wait while he finished making a pot of coffee. Iím already irritated because I know the receipt has the time from when the credit was authorized, yet Iím standing there waiting 3 or 4 minutes for him to print it. Iíd used that pump 3 days earlier and it worked fineÖ probably ran out of paper just for me. Even then, I knew that a few minutes didnít really matter, but I was trying to use this SS as a learning tool for some future rally participation. I had even planned to "touch" Omaha and Kansas City properly within the city limits instead of grabbing receipts in the vicinityÖ just as a rallymaster would force me to do. He finally finished making TWO pots of coffee and printed my receipt. I stuffed it into the tank bag pocket and was off.
About 30 minutes into the ride, it got light enough for me to see the clouds. REAL CLOUDS that looked like a thunderstorm coming my way. I couldnít believe it. After watching the weather all week, with NO rain forecast, it looked like there would be downpour. Well, as the sun came up, the clouds dissipated. It was wonderful. Watching the sunrise in the mirror, very little traffic, and I was into the long anticipated ride. But, wondering what will go wrong.
The first thing to hit me was the turbulence. In IL, the semiís have a 55 mph limit, bikes are 65. I was running 65 at the time, so overtook a number of trucks. Being a non-too-dumb rider, I want to get around the trucks asap and minimize my exposure to whatever they run over and fling back at me. Iím normally not in the wind wake of a truck very long; but, for some reason this day the truck wind wake was terrible. I couldnít figure out why. Iíd put a bit more air than usual in the Mezzís, but not much. Then it hit me. I donít normally ride in the still, moist air of early morning. What trucks there were tore up the air for a long way. Plus, I had the backpack (tail bag) on the bike to help catch the wind. The wind would buffet me this entire trip. Never really figured out why it seemed so bad this day.
It was a nice segment. Little traffic, Temperature was fine since I had two layers of tee shirts and the Granite jacket. It was a good start for a great day. Breezed through the construction area in Bloomington/Normal, IL and took the direct route through Peoria on I-74 thinking Iíd save some time. It was about 5 miles shorter than the loop, but the speed limit dropped down to 55, and there was a long construction area with PEOPLE WORKING AT 7:00 on a Saturday where I was down to 45.
My first fuel stop was scheduled for Galesburg, IL. That was 127 miles from my start, and I made it just fine. My Tourer normally has a range before reserve of about 125 miles or so. I scheduled fuel stops at intervals of from about 100 to the max of 135. I was worried about the 135 mile leg, and figured that Iíd watch for a station and stop if I hit reserve along the way. As it turned out, that leg was a problem for another reason.
6:55 AM. Galesburg, IL. 19762 odo; 127 GPS
Pulled into the gas station with 127 miles showing on the GPS. I had several methods to minimize station time that I wanted to try, so I hit the ground running here. Pulled up the helmet chinbar so I could get a little air, jumped off the bike, extracted the credit card from my jacket, pulled the tank bag, picked up a paper towel (I always hold one to catch the fuel splatters), and started pumping. All went well, and the stop was just a few minutes longÖ except. I got that famous "SEE ATTENDANT FOR RECEIPT" message on the pump AGAIN. I ran inside to ask for a receipt, saying something like "I need a receipt for pump 2.". And he answered me with another question. I couldnít hear him. I had to remove the helmet, pull an earplug only to hear him repeat "Was that $7.02?". I said yep, whatever, I just need the receipt. While he printed it, I messed with the ear plug and got the helmet back on. Checked the date and ran back to the bike. Remember, I was treating this as rally training as well as a fun ride. So what would have been 7 minutes from Interstate exit-ramp to the on-ramp wound up being more like 12 minutes. Not bad for my first fueling and I was sure that this would be the last pump that didnít have paper.
Back on the road and running nicely. Traffic picked up through the Quad Cities and I was into Iowa. Hereís where I experienced I-80. Iíve driven this stretch of I-80 in a cage, and expected it to be a rutted, rotten highway. Well it was, but not as bad as I remembered. Instead, my main perception was the traffic. Lots of traffic. Lots of trucks. Big trucks. Big trucks with strong wakes. And, everyone was moving faster than Iíd planned to ride. Right off, I started to worry about fuel. My tourer really sips fuel at 45 or 50, has passable mileage up to about 65 or 70, but at 70.1 or above it gulps fuel big time. Run it at 80 for any time, and that 140 mile range drops to around 100 miles. I was getting passed by lots of trucks but I had to make it to Coralville IA, about 115 miles away by my planning. I wanted to get a picture before fueling, but I didnít know how far Iíd have to go to find the post office or city limit sign. Fuel could be a problem if I cranked the throttle up to stay with traffic. As it was, I ran some of I-80 at traffic speed, some a little slower (my planned 60 to 70), and had no problems with fuel on that leg.
8:34 Coralville, IA. Post Office 19876 odo; I followed my map to the post office with no problem. Noted a new, modern fuel station along the way that Iíd hit on the way back to the interstate. Parked in the no-parking space right in front of the door, hung my rally flag on their sign and snapped my picture. One down, and it probably added less than 15 minutes to the ride. Headed back towards Interstate and stopped at that gas station.
8:51 Coralville, IA 19877 odo; 238 GPS
By now, I needed to unload some fluid too, so I parked at the pump, and ran into the station to use their restroom. No problem, returned and performed my now-routine fuel dance with precision. That is, until I got the same darn "SEE ATTENDANT" message instead of a receipt. Ran back inside and asked for a receipt, and this one also asked me to verify the amount. I donít understand why they do that. This time, I made a point to check the pump, and told him it was $6.07 on the end pump". Got the receipt and on the road west again. Next stop was to grab a photo of a Lambs Grove city limit sign. Research shows that they have no post office so Iíll have to find a sign.
10:05 Lambs Grove, IA 19960 odo; 318 GPS
Ö. and again, S&T was incorrect on the streets. The one I expected
wasnít there. Fortunately, as I was about to turn around, there was a state
sign directing me to the town. I made a left turn that direction, and could
see a city limit sign from the highway. Nice. Now I had two roadkill
pictures and could forget about that portion of the trip. Even if I didnít
make the SS for some reason, Iíd have something to show for the dayís riding
besides a grin. While out for the picture, I took about 5 minutes of
"stand-up" time and ate a bit of trail mix, washed down with a liter of
water. Iíd planned to down a 1-liter water bottle at each fuel stop, and
take a few extras for other rest breaks. Temperatures were supposed to be in
the 80s, and I didnít want to worry about dehydration. Back on the road to
Des Moines. Enjoyed the scenery. I like anything better than the flat
Illinois prairie, and this was gentle rolling hills that were still
productive agriculturally yet offered some eye relief. Nice scenery.
10:51 Des Moines, IA 19996 odo 353 GPS
Pulled off for a fuel stop after 115 miles. Easy fuel stop, and by now I have the routine down. But the pump threw me a loop. When authorizing, it asked if I wanted a car wash (no) and then asked if I wanted a receipt. I pressed "yes" and continued, thinking that this would be niceÖ no trip to the attendant this time. I pumped the gas, put the tank bag back on the bike and downed a bottle of water. There was a bus full of students across the lot, and several of them were intent on waving at me. I waved several times to big happy smiles, and hit the road. It was after I got on interstate and down the road a few miles that it dawned upon me that I didnít grab the receipt. While fretting over it, I got trapped in the inside lane (where I like to ride when on city interstates) by a train of semi trucks. Missed the I-80 cutoff from I-35 where the two split. At this point, I started wondering what else Iíd screw up, and if Iíd have enough documentation to make the SS rules by the time it was all over. I went south a few miles, made a U-turn at the next exit (which had no fuel available), and started back north. This time, I caught the 80-west split and headed the correct way again. After "getting over it" mentally, I played rally training again and stopped at the first station to top off the tank and get a receipt that showed that I was there.
11:29 Waukee, IA 20027 odo GPS 383
This one was at Waukee, IA and I bought a whopping 0.687 gallons of gas. Figured that this is what Iíd have to do in a rally, and followed through. Made a mental note if I ever do enter a rally to ask if this was acceptable or if Iíd have to back-track to the original station. Then itís off to Omaha. This was the segment where I was worried about fuel. I wanted to touch Omaha and fuel up in the city limits, but would be stretching my range. That extra top off in Waukee helped that situation! With my "detour" in Des Moines, Iíd gone about 10 or 15 miles closer to Omaha when I topped off in Waukee. The detour cost me about 30 miles driving time, but now I had no fuel worries. Of course, after the ride, I discovered that "forgotten" receipt in my tank bag. Still wondering how it got there.
1:15 PM Omaha NE. 20150 odo 502 GPS (Yep, half way.)
When crossing the river into Omaha, I saw a sign that said the zoo was at the first exit. That was the exit Iíd planned to fuel at. Perhaps, could I pick up another roadkill picture? A FREE bonus? At the exit, I saw a station to the left, and the zoo sign pointed left. Luck was finally upon me. Stopped at the first station, fueled up, and yep, it was 502 miles from the start. I was half way! After only 8 and a quarter hours.. and that included getting two pictures along the way. Ran to the restroom, and back on the bike in a flash to find the zoo. I figured Iíd go as far as 5 miles looking for it before giving up and returning to my SS quest. Only had to go to the next traffic signal and turn left. Here I did find two lanes of bumber to bumper stop and go traffic. I merged in and followed along, standing up when they paused to rest my, ummm, riding platform. It was a nice rest as this took about 5 minutes to go less than a mile. At the zoo, I pulled off onto a walkway, spread the rally flag over their handrail and grabbed my "bonus" picture. Life was good!
Jumped back on the bike and followed the signs back to Interstate. Then it was back east across the river and south on I-29 towards Kansas City. Now, I was getting hungry, and decided to stop at a rest area for a break and lunch. Iíd planned a 30 minute lunch and to call home on the cell phone. The first rest area came up rather quickly, and the sign said the next one was only 30 minutes further. I opted for the second one. In addition to hunger, it had been warm for a while now, and I wanted to shed my long sleeved tee shirt and switch from the granite jacket to the mesh one to cool off a bit.
2:30 PM Rest Area break. 20221 odo; 571 GPS
I stopped at the rest area planning on a 30 minute lunch break. Started by pulling out a couple of sandwiches, crackers, and trail mix. I also pulled a can of soda and bottle of gatorade for some liquid. Iím not normally a gatorade consumer; and now I know why. I hate that stuff. Drank very little of it, replaced it with another liter of water instead. Took a couple of ibuprofen, and tried to phone home. No one answered, so I left a message with my location. This is where I got trapped talking to strangers. Nothing like being a lone motorcyclist with an out-of-state plate to get strangers talking to you. Even after the obligatory discussions about my "non-harley harley" (I think every older gentleman Iíve ever met "used to own" a Harley. Wonder why none of these guys still have it?). 3:04, after 34 minutes, Iím back on the road feeling really good and stripped of my warm long-sleeved tee shirt and too-warm jacket.
Next scheduled fuel stop is at St. Joseph. This was THE long segment, and I was a bit worried about making it. Plus, the traffic was running a bit quicker, speed limit was up to 70, and I was eating up the miles quicklyÖ as well as going through the fuel quickly. I thought Iíd make it up Ďtill the last minute when the engine started sputtering. Iíd gone past the Oregon exit, and knew that Oregon was a ways off the Interstate. A mile or so beyond the exit, it sputtered and I had to switch to reserve. The shocking part was that the odometer only showed 112 miles (and itís optimistic). At that rate, my reserve Ĺ gallon (or so) would only get me 15 actual miles or so, and I figured I slightly more than that to get to St. Joseph. I pulled off at the next exit. Darn, the sign shows only Oregon, which Iíd passed at the last exit. Iíd have to backtrack on the two-lane to get to Oregon, and I wasnít even sure there was fuel there. I decided to stay on the interstate and take my chances, but I was really worried. I couldnít push the bike in this hilly area so if I ran out, itíd be dependent upon the generosity of a stranger to let me siphon fuel from his car. I did have a siphon hose and empty 1liter water bottle. Not to worry! Ran into the next exit about 5 miles down the road and it had services.
3:48 PM Savannah, MO 20267 odo; 616 GPS (incorrect time on gas ticket)
This was the only really close call (at least in my mind). Filled up, and hit the road for Kansas City again.
Went through KC with no problems. Traffic was fairly light and I caught a fuel station just across from the Raidersí station for a receipt at that corner of the ride.
5:03 PM Kansas City 20348 odo; 693 GPS
Took a few minutes to drink a bit of water and clean off my face shield. This was a no-problem fuel stop, and I was glad to see things starting to go well again. Hit the road east towards St. Louis.
I hit construction and restricted lanes immediately. S&T lied to me about it. Worse yet, this was marked at 45 mph and there were lots of newly-washed patrol cars there to slow the traffic down to 45. Quite a change from I-80 across Iowa. I just trucked onÖ trying to be consistent. Between KC and St. Louis, it became obvious that there was a little rain storm moving along ahead of me. Damp pavement and some light puddles worried me because itíd been dry for a while, and it didnít look like it rained enough to really wash the oil off the road. Just slowed down a little in the damp areas..
6:47 PM Boonville, MO 20453 odo; 796 GPS
Stopped as scheduled outside of Boonville, MO for fuel. Starting to cool off a little, and was really nice riding. I took time here for another sandwich and a few minutes rest. Tried to call home, and had to leave a message on the machine. Changed to my Granite jacket to warm up a little.
8:36 PM St. Peters, MO. 20566 odo; 905 GPS Gas and 23 minute rest
Fuel stop west of St. Louis. And a 23 minute rest. Misc purchase recieeipto verify 8:59 PM start time.
By now, traffic is picking up as I enter St. Louis. Itís also starting to sprinkle a little, but not enough to really wet the windshield. Going around STL on Loop 270, I pass two wrecks where cars slid around and hit the jersey barrier. The pavement felt a little slippery in a few places, and I backed off the throttle again. Didnít get my courage (and speed) back up until I crossed the Mississippi into Illinois.
10:17 PM Greenville, IL 20643 odo; 979 GPS
Stopped for fuel at Greenville, IL. Another concession to the small gas tank. I couldnít make it quite all the way to Effingham (the last corner of the ride) without worry, so I went ahead and grabbed fuel at the scheduled stop. I use a chatterbox on the helmet, and a small MP3 player hanging from my neck for tunes. At this stop, I connected the chatterbox to bike power as its internal battery finally died. Then itís off towards home, but I didnít get out of here until 10:32
11:28 PM: Effingham, IL 20698 odo; 1032 GPS (!!! Looks like I made the 1K miles)
This fuel stop confirmed the final corner of my ride loop. Fast fill-up, and back on the road. This was probably my fastest fuel stop. Iím really invigorated nowÖ on the home stretch and feeling really good. No fatigue evident, and I donít feel physically tired at all.
12:47 AM, 7/18/04 Mahomet, IL 20781 odo; 1113 GPS COMPLETE!
Stopped at the beginning fuel station to get a receipt and 2.5 gallons of gas to fill up. Odometer shows 20781.. the GPS shows 1113 miles, and the bike hits (20781-19631 ) 1150 miles. I made it, 19 hours and 48 minutes and Iím feeling GOOD!
Back the few miles home to wake up my wife. Sheís happy for me (and glad she didnít go along). It finally hits me as Iím winding down and trying to go to sleepÖ I have 16 hours left to do 400 miles and I can get the BB1500 today. Why didnít I consider running this too? I donít feel tired, but my mind tells me that I should sleep. So I decide to have her wake me at 7:00, and run east on I-74 for 200 miles, get a receipt, and come home for a 2-in-1 IBA ride. Finally drift off to sleep after about an hour.
I wake up about 11:00. That only leaves 6 hours for that 400 miles... plus I have to get out of bed, dressed and start moving again. No way. I asked her why she didnít wake me at 7:00 as Iíd asked. The answer was simpleÖ "I DID!" . She claims that I woke up and told her that I was going to sleep a few more hours and not to bother me. I donít remember it at all.
1113 GPS miles (1150 by the odometer), 19 hours 48 minutes. No problems. A few lessons learned. A GREAT experience. Now Iím ready for that BB1500. Iíll be ridiní that before winter. Think Iíll make that one a linear ride instead of a loop though. I feel that having a destination (other than the one I just left) will make these even better.