BBG 1500 Success


Premier Member
Note.. this was written originally to be posted elsewhere, ignore the simplistic explanations of the IBA rides etc.

2 years ago, I earned my Iron Butt Association number by doing the standard beginner ride, the Saddle Sore 1000, which requires documenting a 1000 mile ride in under 24 hours. My wife rode her bike on the same ride and earned the same SS1000 as well. I truly enjoyed the experience and wanted to do more but life has been really busy, and it just didn't happen, I've done plenty of long rides since then but none of them were documented to the standards to submit to the IBA. I kept trying to plan one but either I was busy, or the weather was foul, or the bike was taken apart, or I had family stuff to do, or work, or... you know how it goes. I finally decided enough was enough, the weather looked good, I cleared the last gripe from my bike (new headlights), I told my boss he would have to actually work for 2 days because I wasn't going to be there, :), I threw together a simple plan and away I went on 9/16/19.

I decided to go for the gold, taking it up a notch and trying .a much harder ride, the Bun Burner Gold 1500. The BBG is a 1500 mile ride, done in less than 24 hours, and documented with receipts etc. according to the rules of the IBA. It's much more difficult than the 1000, it takes a lot more focus, much better management of the stopped time for refueling etc., and a bit of luck since ANY delay on the road can kill the ride, there really isn't much room for error. Ponder the fact that in order to complete the ride one must maintain a 62.5 mile per hour average for 24 hours, and that includes the time for getting on and off the highway, refueling, bathroom breaks, eating and drinking, traffic delays, changing clothing as conditions change, etc. Failure to complete this ride in the 24 hours is common, often by painfully small amounts. The more I thought about it the more I worried, but plenty of people do succeed, I decided to test my mettle and find out if I was up to the task. This was to be my first solo attempt too, Candy's recently rebuilt knee is not up to long distance riding yet, so she stayed home and cheered me over the phone. I was wondering how lonely it would be out there on the road but it turned out that I was so focused that I never even thought about it.

My plan was simple, around here the best roads with the least traffic tie ups are I78 and I81, so just like on my SS1000 they formed the backbone of my ride, I just went further. This time I started in Phillipsburg, NJ, across the river from where I live in PA but the most convenient spot with a 24-hour gas station right by the i78 entrance. Starting early is the best way to beat local traffic here, so I loaded the bike with extra layers of clothing (I got cold last time on the first leg of my ride so I dressed warmly and brought extra) , a dozen 1/2 liter bottles of water, some snacks, a few simple tools, raingear, a plastic bag to hold receipts (I forgot that last time) and went to bed. I woke up before the chickens at 0100, had one small cup of coffee and sandwich, then left and rode a couple of miles to my starting point. I pulled into the gas station, and behind the building I immediately had to swerve to avoid running over a black cat that ran across my path! Hoping that this and the full moon shining down on me were not an omen of impending doom I gassed up, documented the time, and rolled out at 0201 AM, the clock was running.

The temp was about 65F, it was dry and cloudy, no stars but the moon was peeking through so the clouds were not solid. The miles went smoothly, i78 west back across into PA, continue west on i78 till it ends near Harrisburg at i81, then south on i81 through Pennsylvania, across the Mason/Dixon line into Maryland, then into West Virginia for about 30 miles, then finally into Virginia near Winchester. That was my first fuel stop, 220 miles or so, my range is about 250 but that's as close as I wanted to push it. On this stretch was he usual one near incident that always seems to happen on a long ride, mine wasn't a big thing, just while I was passing a truck (2 lanes, I’m in the left, he's in the other, no one else on the road for miles, it was dark and my 3 headlights are as bright as a supernova, there is no way to not see them) the driver decides to change lanes on top of me! I have no idea why...weird things happen at 0415. I avoided him at 80 mph using the thankfully smoothly paved shoulder and powered past, I admit that I made a nasty gesture as I rode away. I was thinking OK, got that out of the way for the ride, should be smooth sailing from here on out.

The temperature dropped as I headed up into the mountains, it got as low as 54, it was cool but this time I was dressed correctly and with my heated seat and grips I was comfortable. The miles flew by, my ride strategy is to ride the same speed or a bit faster as the left lane/ passing traffic, so I can maximize my speed without standing out as a target. VA is known for vigorous speed enforcement, it's funny, the average speed in VA is probably 79, in the rest of the states on the same road it's about 85-90, the consensus is in VA "9 over is fine, 10 over and your mine" is the rule troopers go by. I kept the speed in check, but I stayed focused, keep the miles going, don't waste any precious time, it's always on your mind that the clock is running.

I made a fuel stop every 200 miles, drank a bottle of water at each stop, not rushing but not wasting time, the sun came up as I was in beginning of the Virginia stretch and the sky was clear blue. The temps warmed but stayed around 70 as long as I was in the mountains, I was feeling good. I had an unplanned 'bio break' at a rest stop, OK, it had to happen at some point of the day, 10 minutes lost but the human machine needs to be serviced too, it's all part of the equation of an IBA ride. I kept going, stayed focused on speed, on time, on the odometer and on the riding, continuing on into Tennessee, where speeds rose along with the temperatures, to the end of i81 then onto i40 then i75, but then as I left the mountains behind nearing Georgia the temperatures started to really rise, it was getting hot as I passed through Knoxville and eventually even with everything unzipped I was VERY hot, in fact I felt like I was riding in a convection oven. Knoxville was very busy, 3-4 lanes of high speed mayhem and around the exits for Gatlinburg it was even worse, I can see why people say this area is tough to ride in but I’m used to commuting in NJ so I handled it with ease, always mindful of the time, hoping the busy traffic didn’t turn into a backup, it didn’t.

My turn around point came, I rolled into Dalton, GA, 770 miles under my belt, sweat running in my eyes, planning on stopping at a BP that I had seen on the google maps while planning the ride. I spotted BP, right where I imagined it, pulled in, and then I noticed a bag on the pump, on ALL the pumps, DAMN it, the gas station was closed, it still was painted BP green, but it was now a cigarette store! The only other gas in town was the ironically named "Victory Fuel" which seemed like a good choice for my bike anyway :) so there I went, dripping in the 97F heat. I got my gas, and the darn receipt didn't print, and I needed this critical receipt to document my ride! I went inside, got a duplicate receipt, and it didn't have the info I needed on it, I tried buying something, another bad receipt! I tried the ATM, got cash, and the receipt printer on that didn't include the location either! CRAP! Time was fleeting, I had to do something so I took a few pictures to attempt to prove I was there, changed to my mesh jacket, drank 2 bottles of water and rode away worried that I was going to have to find another town, I really felt my documentation of this critical turnaround was lacking...then on the way out of town spotted my salvation! Wendy's! They always give good receipts, with the address and number of the store on them, so I invested another 5 minutes of my precious time and got a great receipt, and the unplanned burger that I scarfed down in 3 bites was good too!

OK, rolled out and got on the highway headed north, I've been watching the time vs the odometer and I was doing well until the 24-minute boondoggle in Dalton, but I was still ahead of my deadline, I started to think I was going to do this barring any unforeseen problems. Heat was my enemy now, the dash of my bike stayed between 96-102F for over 4 hours, I drank 2 or 3 bottles of water at each stop and didn't pee, which is NOT a good sign. I was a bit woozy but OK, so pressed on, watching myself for signs of heat stroke, I was well into the heat stress phase but with all the water I drank I staved it off. My eventual total for the ride was 11 1/2 liter bottles of water consumed, along with a 6 pack of peanut butter crackers, a piece of jerky, and a Kind bar, plus that all important Wendy's small burger. I passed 1000 miles at Bristol, VA, where I had turned around on my SS1000, with 500 still to go I was a bit daunted but felt good physically other than a few aches and pains, one hip being a bit sore. I do stretch often and stand up for a minute or two while riding every 50-100 miles, that seems to help a lot.

Darkness fell as I filled my tank on 81 in Virginia, it was still 78F so I continued on with the mesh, knowing I'd get cold soon but it felt GREAT after cooking for 8 hours. I was doing well, but not as well as I did in the first half of the ride, the evening traffic was slower and I was a bit worn down, I was holding my own against the clock but not gaining time like I was in the morning, I was almost 2 hours ahead at one point, now each stop whittled that down, I was down to 1 hour and 20 minutes at this point. Still OK, but something to watch. I was worried that I’d be sleepy on this last few hours through the witching hours but I was excited that finishing now seemed to be quite a very good possibility and I was running on adrenaline, I was physically a little tired but not in the slightest bit sleepy.

Last stop was in Scotland, PA, at a Sheetz gas that I know well, and I was planning myself a treat there, instead of warm water from the last bottle in the trunk my treat was an ice cold, delicious, sugary and caffeine filled iced tea, just what I needed as a pick me up to power through the last 150 miles. I was picturing it as I approached, i swear I could taste it for the last 20 miles or so! I downed that drink, rolled out of the station fired up and ready for action, and promptly misread the sign for i81N (I’ve only been in that gas station a few times, but still..) and headed down the road into a business campus! The 'No Outlet' sign was a dead giveaway, fortunatly. CRAP! I realized what I did quickly, turned around, looped around the gas station again, waved to a biker pulling in on an LED covered chopper that sounded louder than a jet, and got back on the highway.

I was in the home stretch, some heavy truck traffic as usual but moving fast by Carlisle, then turned onto i78 east near Harrisburg for the last 90 miles. I was by now juggling time and distance and was anticipating arriving at 0100 at the same gas station I started at with about 1530 miles completed, plenty for a cushion. I was getting very optimistic, but still cautious, with one hurdle left, for at least a year there has been a few mile area of major construction on i78, and there really is no option around it, unless I didn’t intend to finish up near home. I thought about diverting but checked traffic reports, it showed some slowdowns in the single lane area but no tie ups, so I went that way and was committed. I still had a bail out plan, the most important thing was finishing up the 1500 miles, I could end the ride anyplace after that, by getting a receipt, so I was watching the odometer closely as I neared the area of concern. As luck has it, I was at 1496 as I hit the construction area! Murphy is alive and well, as I imagined being trapped for an hour as the clock ticked down, 4 miles short of my goal with no place to get off, ride 4 miles then and get a receipt to stop the clock. Funny how your imagination can run wild when your stressed! It turned out to be fine, the traffic consisted of 3 miles of 40 mph riding and that was no big deal, I hit 1500 just as I got free of it. Time check, and I was on track to get to my original planned stopping point right around 0100 as I had calculated about 8 hours before, an hour ahead of my deadline of 0200.

I rode on, watching my cushion miles accumulate, feeling great but still being very careful, acutely aware that I may not feel it but I had to be tired and not performing at my best. My mind wandered, if I crashed and died now but my receipts and odometer survived would they award the BBG posthumously? Strange thoughts do indeed happen during the witching hour.

I cautiously rode through the busy even at midnight Lehigh Valley area, did like George Washington and crossed the Delaware, and pulled into the gas station at 0102, with 1536 miles showing on the odometer. I filled the tank, took a picture of the receipt next to the odometer as I did on all the other stops, and took a minute to quietly celebrate inside my head! I rode the 4 miles home, crossed the river again and parked in the garage, went inside and talked about the ride to my dogs and celebrated with a sandwich and a big cup of black coffee, then tried to crawl into bed without waking my wife, I failed at that, but the rest of the ride was a success.

Bun Burner Gold 1500, 1536 miles in 23 hours and 2 minutes completed.
Certificate received.
On to the next adventure.

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IBA Member

Started practicing my gas stops. When ever I stop for gas, I pretend this is a SS1000 or BBG, timing my stops and going through the motions of taking pictures and storing receipts, learning each time.


Premier Member
Again my congratulations, and reiteratingthe need to hydrate even though you don't immediately feel the need. While we don't have the same heat in the north one still does need to hydrate properly. Well written report all around.