Ah spring, when a (not-so) young man's thoughts turn to a SS1000

JAORE

Premier Member
#1
Spring Equinox, 2019

IBA certificate number 6 if approved (as Han Solo said, ”Don't get cocky, kid”.)

I rode both the summer solstice and the fall equinox in 2018. The fall ride was brutal with torrential rain especially through rough construction zones. Of course I'd planned to ride a winter solstice SS1000 as well. Long story short.... weather. I had potential routes going in every direction. Rain and more rain all around. Long story even shorter.... I wimped out. Ah well, I'll still be three weeks short of 68 at the next winter solstice.

But, because I missed the winter ride I really wanted to get the spring equinox under my belt. I figured two “must” rides next on fixed dates year would be tempting Karma just a bit too much. Plus the spring equinox SS 1000 gets me four IBA rides, one of them a BBG, since May 20, 2018. If I can add another gold/extreme ride before May of this year, I'd get a Mile Eater Silver.

I could not have asked for better weather. Clear with an almost full moon. (Trivia time: this full moon is known as theWorm Moon by Native Americans, Sleepy Moon by the Chinese, Moon of Winds by the Celts. All I care about is it's a big, bright moon). The temperatures at night will be a bit cool, but an electric vest will surely take care of that.

I made sure I got a good night's sleep the day before the ride. And I plan a nap from 6 pm to midnight with a 1 am start on March 20. A 1 am start and the route used for the Fall Equinox lets me sail through Mobile well before rush hour. It did place me at Baton Rouge early in their rush hour, but I'd live with that. Plus it maximized the daylight riding hours. My night vision is NOT improving with age and (as I always say) I fear the deer!

I try to spend the day with my wife before a ride. It seems to help with those kitchen passes. So up comes lunch time. She reminds me our daughter-in-law recommended a new Indian Buffet in town. Uhhhh... Indian food? From a buffet? NOT in the hall of IBA wisdom, I'm sure. So, instead I make the brilliant choice of a Cajun place. Also not in the wisdom category. But at least it was a place I'd eaten at many times. No issue there. Or so I thought.

I can't definitively blame the food, but an hour after eating I got an “off” feeling. By the time my 6 pm nap rolled around I was feeling pretty weak and sore. Chills were a nice touch. I woke at midnight, feeling almost as badly as I had when I went to bed. I got up and.... just could not bring myself to make my final preps. Wisdom or weakness, I bailed. Back to bed for me.

I slept until just past 10 am. That's 16 hours from the 6pm nap time from the day before! I never sleep like that.

I woke feeling great, but mentally cursing myself. Damn, now I've missed the Spring Equinox and …. well, have I? Double checking the IBA rules I can still start today, March 20 and end March 21. Of course my timing is out the window. But 24 hours allows for a LOT of unexpected issues. So into the garage and closet go I. All my LDR gear is in two areas, so time to pack consists largely of snacks. Ahh, beef jerky. A few mints. Water, of course. Almonds are always good.... Now for the easy stuff. Easy because it's pre-positioned in a storage tub. Yep, yep, all here except. Where the bippity-bop* are my LDComfort shorts? I have the long-sleeve shirt at hand. But where are the SHORTS?

*(Language changed to protect the innocent, if any there be on this forum)

I use over 30 minutes, and a lot of stress points finding them in an unexpected spot. It's the little things that kill you.

My wife asks my to set her up to view my progress on Bubbler/Spotwalla. It relieves anxiety. She also asks my to wear a brilliant yellow vest with retro-reflective stripes. Yes, dear, I shall. Banking these points towards the next kitchen pass was pretty easy.

To be honest, Judy worries about me on solo trips. Apparently she would prefer any bike accidents happen to us both. Go figure. But she has her own IBA number and is supportive of me occasionally scratching this LDR itch.

Error one. I had planned on using the same gas stops as the fall equinox ride. But a couple of them had issues with pumps and receipts. But there were a ton of truck stop gas places along the way, so I thought, no need for detailed planning on this SS 1000. Not a good idea, fortunately not a deal breaker THIS time.

In any event, I'm off to the gas stop I always use just after noon (3620 US 231, odometer 16220, 32.44599, -86.21344 ). I fill up, take a pic of the DBR and I'm off. Sunny and only mild winds, things are going well. I fill up next at Satsuma, Alabama (6109 US 43S, odometer 16385, 30.87242, -88.04632 ) at a station I used coming home from the Fall Equinox ride. Coming from the south it's an easy right turn to the station, visible from the ramp. Coming from the north I find myself on a long, looping off ramp that terminates onto a highway with no services, heck no ANYTHING in sight. And no gas that-a-way marker either. I pick left. I pick wrong. U-turn and shortly there it is. No real harm, but I know better.

Of course as I proceed up the on-ramp the dude behind me ignores the lane drop signs and the pavement markings and starts over into my lane about 3 feet past my rear tire. I accelerate and give him the universal sign for, “I'd really rather you paid a bit more attention to motorcyclists old chum”. In the 10 or so miles he followed me he stayed well behind me. I think it's the basis for a budding friendship, don't you?

Be careful out there. They really ARE trying to kill you.

Non-error number 1. When I take the pictures of my receipts I take at least 3. The pics could be blurry, wind could fold them over or my thumb could obscure important date. I wear distance lenses when riding and reading glasses to, well, read. I can't really judge the quality of the pics I take without taking the riding glasses off and putting on readers or blowing up the pic. (Yes, I know Ben Franklin invented the bifocal , I was there – now get off my lawn!) . So I take multiple pics. It paid off at this stop. I took three pictures. Only one was legible.

Off into Mobile, there is a fair amount of traffic, but no real slow down. Shortly I'm on I-10 heading west and doing mental calculations on whether I'm on a BBG pace. On through Mississippi, no issues. I contemplate the planned trip to the casinos here that riding friends have tentatively penciled in for this spring. Life is good.

Into Louisiana and life is still good. Right up until Baton Rouge. Let me tell you, Red Stick has some congestion issue. Specially since they have substantial construction going on. I get through OK. But I no longer concern myself with the question of BBG pace. Heading west I was delayed. Heading east I could see a back up that lasted for MILES. Oh well,I thought. It will probably be cleared by the time I return. I also think I'm going to hit the lottery any day now.

I fuel in Livingston, Louisiana (28901 South Frost Road, odometer 16575, 30.47056, -90.74787), no issues. Had to go in for a receipt, but I don't really care.

Then I began to experience the good works of the Louisiana Department of Transportation. Yikes. Construction zones were everywhere. Milled pavements abounded. But not long runs of milled pavements. Oh no, we had milled pavement, SHARP bump, lane switches with angled old joints, an unexpected short milled section, SHARP bump. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Oh yeah, there are evenly spaced smaller bumps along several sections. They are perfectly spaced to set up a rhythm with the suspension on my Road Glide Ultra. At a certain speed this begins to amplify the bumps so that, I kid you not, I thought the bike would become airborne. Slowing helped. But it was not fun to be in a long sweeper when the bike begins to feel like it is going to bunny hop across the lanes.

Error number 2, (3 or ?) I failed to check my rear air shocks before the ride because I'd done that just a few days earlier. But I doubt if it would have helped. These bumps at the ends of the milled sections were rough! A few slow downs, and my time was falling behind. No issue on an SS 1000, but a late arrival home was definitely in the cards. Oh well, my next stop will be my turn around point. Except it wasn't.

It was getting dark and getting colder. So I stopped short of the turn around point to put on my electric vest. Wait, where is the lower connector. Did I fail to pack it. No, no, I distinctly recall adding it to the zip lock bag.... ah, fell out into the side bag when I pulled the controller out. Thank goodness I pack a flashlight. A few more minutes, a few more brain cells die of stress. But I charge back onto the LA Interstate. (30.23155, -92.4628 )

Oops. Exiting I add to my collection of errors. I had pulled off to the station with no problem. But a semi truck was blocking the path I used to enter. Off to the other side of the station I go. Spot an I-10 sign and scoot. Wait, what, this is the ramp to I-10 EAST. Fiddle-faddle, or something like that crosses my mind. Oh well, there's an exit about 4-5 miles away. Make the exit and head back west.

As a side note, I'm wearing my highlighter yellow vest with reflective stripes. At every stop there were multiple worker bees similarly attired that stared at me as I got on and off my bike. Likely wondering how they could work off a bike rather than the trucks they were using.

Oh yeah, side note 2 and error number whatever. I see a message from my wife. She can't track me on Spotwalla. I try to diagnose via phone, but no luck. She really likes tracking me. Peace of mind and all that. Pro-tip, turn OFF the private setting on Spotwalla! D'oh. Now do I tell her I failed to do that, or just go with the “glitch” excuse?

Now I message or call her at every stop. Well spent minutes.

One thing on this ride just amazed me. The only time I'd ridden I-10 in west Louisiana was my fall Equinox ride. As noted it was in a hard rain. So I really did not see any of the area. This time, on a clear night I rode though Lake Charles, LA. Ho Lee Katz! What a huge, brightly lit place. The petro-chemical industry appears to be doing quite well, thank you very much.

On my Fall Equinox run I crossed over into Texas. But there had been some really rough construction zones the last few miles. And, per Google Maps the route was 1,077 miles. So I thought I could catch one of the last exits in Louisiana where I knew there was a truck stop handy. Exit 7, should be plenty close to Texas. I pull into the Loves in Vinton, LA. Fill up, no receipt at the pump. Well my timeline is busted to pieces, I can use the men's room and a few minutes off the bike would not be a bad idea. (2024A West Street, Vinton, LA, odometer 16763, 30.17298, -93.58763)

I end up at the counter maned by a young lady. And by young lady I mean a kid. Looks 12 to me, but I'm 67. They all look 12 to me until they sport a few crow's feet. “I need a receipt. pump number 2, $13.67,” She touches her computer screen, looks puzzled and announces, ”I have $20, $21 and $42 on pump number 2.” “Nope”, sez I, helpfully, “$13.67”. She repeats, less than helpfully, “I have $20, $21 and $42 on pump number 2”. Miss I state, with perhaps a little less, let-me-help-you in my voice, “That's my motorcycle at pump number 2. I has a 6 gallon tank and can not hold that much gas.”

She speaks into her microphone and asks for help because there is a motorcycle at pump 2. I wonder how that came across. But then she noted a co-worker standing beside me. She enlisted his help. For the record, this dude could have been te mascot for Notre Dame. All of 5'3” with a bucket strap beard and a lantern jaw. But he proved helpful by uttering, “Huh.” when she explained the situation.

I'd be there still but she looked back at her screen and said,”Oh, there it is, $13.67 on pump number 2”.

Because my mother raised me right, I thanked her with a fair degree of sincerity.

Back on the road. Back into the bike hopping, bump bashing construction zones. Plus I made error number too-high-to count. I have electric gloves. But I consider them a bit of a pain to run cords through the jacket. So, with temperatures only into the 40s I opt for some heavy, winter gloves I own but have never worn riding. Ah, I can tell the more clever among you have spotted the error. Now, mind you, I've worn the gloves to make sure they fit and don't, for example, have a seam that will irritate me down the road. All well and good. But that is NOT the same as riding with them. Suddenly these bulky gloves change my finger spacing due to thick insulation between fingers. And they really change the tactile feedback of what control I'm touching. I spend several miles learning to distinguish the horn, light switch and turn signals again.

Did I say Baton Rough has congestion? I did, right? And I did say I hoped it would clear up, right? Well one out of two is... terrible. Traffic was OK. Like all cities you have to be aware of multiple exit strategies when cagers do dumb things. And constant, strategic scanning might be stressful, but it's just part of the game. No harm, no foul.

And then we stopped. Three lanes all doing the creep a few feet, stop, ride a few feet then stop. Construction of course. Plus, where the construction narrowed the road to two lanes, an eighteen wheeler had crapped out leaving us with a single lane. Frustrating, time consuming and a real pump-you-up workout for my clutch hand.

But all bad things pass eventually and it was clear sailing again. Gas once more in Hammond, Louisiana (2111 South Railroad Ave., Hammond, LA, odometer 16959, 30.47745, -90.45659 ).

I was feeling fatigue so I added a couple of very brief stops to drink water and eat a bite. I even added a stop at a Waffle House (10435 Hwy 49, Gulfport, MS, odometer 17047, 30.43482, -89.09568) . Couple of cups of coffee, my only caffeine for the trip. A sandwich, a receipt and I'm warm and ready. (I know caffeine is an IBA no-no. But these two cups all day, for me may be a record LOW caffeine consumption record.)

There was only one more item of note on the ride. A fireball, biggest I can remember, flew by me in) the night sky split into multiple parts then burned out. Lovely.

Gas again again in Satsuma, Alabama (6109 US 43S, odometer 17133, 30.87242, -88.04632 ) and finally at the same station I started at (3620 US 231, odometer 17298, 32.44599, -86.21344) . No worries. Time at end was just before 7:30 pm. So 19 hour end to end. No wrecks, no break downs and home to the arms of a lovely woman.

I'm thinking I LIKE this Spring Equinox.

MILES PER ODOMETER: 1,078

Lessons learned/relearned:
Don't take a SS1000 lightly. Plan the gas stops including access and egress.
Take lots of pics of receipts.
Use the notification functions on Bubbler (I was hit and miss on this).
Avoid Baton Rouge.
Take the privacy setting off Spotwalla.
And try out your gear on short runs.
 
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lnelson

Premier Member
#5
Great report, thanks for the insight...many would not have shared and we would not understand how complex a simple SS1000 is. Congratulations
 

kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#6
I glad to read I'm not the only one that can still succeed at an IBA ride with many errors and omissions made along the way.

Congrats!
 

HACKLE

Well-Known Member
#7
And the most important thing you learned, was, keep the cook/wife happy. Have the spot working properly on the computer. Apart from that "little" glitch I'd say it was a fairly normal SS. Congratulations JAORE.
 
#9
Great narration. Planning gas stops has never worked for me...I've learned to stop based on miles, convienience. And I started carrying an extra gallon as well.....lol