"awesome rider skills and mental endurance"
I don't know the speaker, perhaps he's a riding god, perhaps an L-plated moped jockey. When I first read that comment, on the MCN #ride5000miles forum, about my SS1000 on Easter Sunday, my immediate thought was "awesome's a bit strong" and I started to compose a reply:
- "Not awesome just attention to simple things: plan the ride, ... including all the stops, ... and the weather, ... and sunrise/sunset, ... and roadworks, and ..."
- Right, "attention to a lot of things, including rather better than average understanding of my body's needs, and what sort of things might make me want to abandon the ride, and how to dress for both the ride and the crash, and how to ride very defensively ..."
- Then I tried a completely different approach: "it certainly didn't feel like I had awesome etc at 2am in the middle of nowhere when I was undergoing a rapid refresher in offroad riding and "
In Iron Butt terms my ride was nothing special, a relatively slow SS1000, but all things are relative aren't they? On this forum I am or should be preaching to the converted but I thought it might give us all a boost to detail the skills I employed (and the rules I broke) in order to make the ride possible. If you prefer to carry on regarding yourselves as having "ordinary" levels of skill skip down to the ride summary at the end.
The aim of this particular ride was to satisfy myself that I can still ride the big miles if I was so minded and to check that the bike was properly setup ready for Russia. I hadn't ridden any thousand mile days for a while and maybe I'm past it (I'm quite old now you know), that wouldn't do.
I retrieved a route I'd planned so long ago that it started & finished at Fleet services on the M3 - yes THAT long ago, before the 50 limit! I spent a while adapting the route for current conditions and identifying essential receipt points. I should mention that this "planning" occurred on Saturday evening in anticipation of an 8am start. I looked at the weather forecast and realized that, if I headed for Cornwall first as planned, I'd probably meet up with the rain spreading from the northwest around lunchtime and would then be enjoying the rain for the rest of the ride. I decided to head for Great Yarmouth first and reconfigured the route for an anticlockwise loop, ensuring that I picked receipt points on the left.
First awesome skill: route planning.
On Sunday morning I loaded the route data into my new Zumo 395 (ignoring AoW rule 5. I'd also just fitted new pegs and altered the suspension) and told it to follow the entire route - rather than merely giving it the next waypoint as I've always done before. Learning new tricks on the go always helps with avoiding boredom (AoW rule 9).
Second awesome skill: adapting the bike to exactly fit me.
I filled up in Farnham, got the starting receipt (and actually checked it before leaving the shop) and used the 43 miles to Clackett Lane to confirm that the bike wasn't going to fall apart after my farkling efforts. On the outskirts of Great Yarmouth I decided to ignore the satnav and go find the seafront for a photo. Having done that I let the Garmin lead me to the Tesco Express complex for a receipt. When checking that the receipt points would actually be open when I got there, Great Yarmouth didn't look promising and I planned to use an ATM. There's a row of three and I picked the middle one, asked for £50 and a receipt. The computer said 'no'. Well 'yes' to the £50 but no receipt. I switched to the one on the left and asked for a mini-statement. Yes, out it popped! Useless as a receipt though as it had neither the location nor a timestamp. As it happened, the petrol station was also open so I bought a Mars bar, job done.
Third awesome skill: adaptability.
When I reached Corley services on the M6 (no this wasn't a boring motorway trip, only 288 miles were on motorways, the rest were on A & B roads, and some offroading) I stopped for some healthy (AoW rule 14) sustenance, actually a Whopper meal, and noticed that my phone had not been chatting to SpotWalla or FaceBook. The delayed snap of Great Yarmouth pier later led one FB user to conclude that I'd gone from the North sea to Wales in only two hours. I checked a load of phone app settings, should be ok now, and aimed for sunny Wales.
I reached Haverfordwest in daylight, chatted to the young lad in Morrisons about the weather and bike riding and headed for petrol in Cardiff. Haverfordwest to Roche, Cornwall is 270 miles. In "ordinary" riding my tank's good for that distance but Iron Butt rides are different and (AoW rule 19) I wanted to keep well within my tank range.
Halfway down the A30 I recognized the signs of "it's time to stop" (AoW rule 12) and I pulled off another first: power nap without actually sleeping (as far as I can tell). I pulled into a layby, dismounted and walked around for a few minutes, removed my helmet, put on my winter-weight IBA beanie, lay on the ground, eyes closed and immediately felt refreshed. Lay still for a moment to check - yes refreshed; got up and walked around - yep, let's go. ETA pushed back by 10 minutes.
Fourth awesome skill: resource management.
They're different in Cornwall, roadworks with a 40, yes 40mph limit, pretty irritating but (AoW rule 13) at least I was moving. Reaching Roche around 1:30am I emerged from the darkness into the huge floodlit Cornwall Services and pulled up to one of the dozen or so pumps. That's odd, it's got packing tape round the pump handles. I moved to another pump, tied off; next row, tied off; they're all tied off. That's awkward!
I went into the shop and asked "have you really got no fuel?" Technical issue apparently. "Can I buy a Mars bar and get a receipt?" no, technical issue. So 200 miles from home, only 4 litres in the tank and no receipt. Never mind, another petrol station half mile away was open so I filled up AND got a receipt. Last leg now, just a little while longer - well 200 miles but you know what I mean.
Then I missed the left turn in the backstreets of Roche. Started to do a U-turn but the Zumo offered me a straight road ahead so … country road, national speed limit - until the sharp left bend followed by narrowing lane starting to slow me down. Then the proportion of tarmac to grass/gravel/horseshit dropped off dramatically and the hills started. I considered turning back but assessed the risk of dropping the bike as "huge". Standing on my newly lowered, wider, pegs meant going a bit faster than the 2mph I'd dropped to. The Zumo told me I only had two more miles of this. By the time I rejoined the A30 ETA had dropped back by 11 minutes.
Fifth awesome skill: persistence in the face of adversity.
The ten miles of roadworks provided a useful resting pace before finally getting up to speed for the last leg. I maintained home-run pace until just past Andover when I noticed that the road surface was now wet, very wet, and I decided to back off. Shortly after that I was overtaken by a car who wasn't backing off - until the brow of the hill when his brake lights came on, a lot. I eased off even more and coming over the hill I immediately saw the problem: one car spun off into central barrier, another in the nearside hedge; lots of civilians in hi-vis using torches to slow us and channel us through the remaining gap. I thought about stopping to assist but there seemed to be enough helpers and I pressed on.
Leaving the M3 at Hook meant readjusting to cross-country, proper tarmac, roads for the last few miles, potholes and wet ironworks obviously as well as increasing early morning traffic.
Sixth awesome skill: completing what I planned to do, on time, on budget.
THINGS I DID WRONG (That I know about)
- At one point approaching Wales I misjudged pulling in front of a car, not dangerously but, closely enough for him to beep his horn. My hand went up at the same time as his beep.
- Eastbound on the A303 I didn't notice a car overtaking me until he was by my side.
- I made a mess of several gear changes, mostly caused by the different pegs.
- I stupidly failed to get fuel in Great Yarmouth despite the petrol station being unexpectedly open.
- When I left home in summer gloves I put a pair of silk liners in my pocket "in case it's cold". Obviously I should have just put them on my hands.
Total mileage (ODO) - 1,098
Total mileage (GPS) - 1,059
Motorway mileage (GPS) - 288
Total time - 22h 39m
Moving time (GPS) - 18h 14m
Move avg speed (GPS) - 58mph
Air temp: 6-14c
Does all that add up to IBA riders have "awesome rider skills and mental endurance"?
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