My first and possibly Last Insanity ride

Tim Harkins

Premier Member
#1
I’ve done enough certified rides to be in the Mile Eater program but nothing like this, the RAT, All Around Texas. Rules are, you have to start and finish in one of 17 predetermined locations, ride either clock or counter clockwise, never ever leave the state and ride to predetermined sites in order. You may take any route between sites so long as you stay within the state’s borders. The estimated distance is 3150 miles. There are 2 categories of the ride, Insanity 85 hours or Insanity Gold 70 hours. As anybody who has done a saddlesore or bun burner or combination of them knows this is more than enough time. Piece of Cake!

The closest starting point for me was Victoria, Tx. Just at a 2 hour ride for me to get my start receipt. Because of issues at home I can't leave the ranch till 09:00 Tuesday, June 18, 2019. So my 2 hour ride turns into 3.5 hours do to road construction everywhere. My official start time was about 12:30. First stop, South Padre Island, where it is a balmy 107 heat index upon my arrival. Next I’m off to Del Rio for my next checkpoint. At about 23:00 I have to put my rain gear on, still about a hour to Del Rio, it sure is dark. My radar shows I’m in for several hours of rain and dark. After a 40 minute break in Del Rio it’s time to press on to Big Bend National Park. For the next 125 miles the only sign of life is a Border Patrol Check Point, where they decide to run their dog around my Wing. Somewhere between Sanderson and Marathon the rain ends, still dark but doesn’t seem as dark. South I run to Panther Junction, the next check point, life is good. The Park roads are dry and in great shape, however they strictly enforce a 45 mph limit. Next checkpoint is Lafita’s, west of the Park on Texas 170, a famously dangerous road that is never more than a few hundred yards from the Rio Grande River.

I get a receipt from the Lajita’s General Store for coffee and a Mexican vanilla pecan fudge bar. It’s now 08:15 Wednesday. The shop keepers warn me of hazardous road conditions ahead. They were so right! Almost every arroyo was running water. They also had a nice layer of west Texas clay. Most were no more than 2 or 3 inches deep but slick. First 3 went well, number 4, not so much. Down we go, a outstanding mud bath. I understand there are folks who actually pay to be covered in mud,lol. Houston, we have a problem. Every time I’m about get the wing upright so I can get the stand down I slip in the mud and down we go again. Me and the old girl are feeling pretty alone at this point. At some point my fortunes turned, Jose and Paco come over the hill with their burros and are nice enough to give me the help I needed to get her up. I’m off again and only another 13 crossings. GREAT FUN !

Next check point is Presidio, then on to Anthony Tx, on the northwest side of El Paso. I’m rolling, I 10 speed limit is 80 and if you run that slow you are liable to get run over. About 40 miles out of El Paso I see a bike gaining on me. It only takes 5 or 6 miles for the rider to catch me, we give each other “the look”, and he or she are gone. When I got home, I checked the Big Dance map, pretty sure that was one of the participants.

From Anthony I’m headed to Guadalupe Mountains National Park and another check point. One bird strike and an eighty mile per hour dead dog centered up hit of a jackrabbit, which apparently exploded upon impact, judging by the amount of blood and fur on the front of the bike and windshield, I’m there. Next checkpoint, Kermit, TX. Right in the middle of the west Texas oil patch. The roads are horrible from all the oilfield traffic and road dust is atrocious. Kermit is a planned rest stop, no rooms, oil boom. I ride on finally getting a bed in Seminole. For those keeping score I’ve collected 8 of the 17 locations and including saddle time from home to my starting point in Victoria to my bed in Seminole, 39 hours. It’s 00:15 Thursday.

I’m up and rolling 7 hours later. Next location, Texline, pretty much a straight shot north up the west side of the panhandle, nice roads. Now I’m headed east to Follet, its the most northeasterly community in the panhandle, got it. I was fortunate, notes say if the one little store is closed a DBR can be obtained 24 hours a day at the local bank branch ATM. There’s no bank or ATM. The only ATM is inside the little store that’s run by grandma and two granddaughters and they close at 20:00. They were great, asked what the **** I was doing by myself on a bike in the middle of nowhere. I decided I needed more than a routine stop so I sat and had a coffee, replenished my ice supply and visited awhile. When it was time to go, they absolutely refused to take my money but I explained I needed that receipt. They would not let me out the door till they said a small prayer on my behalf and gave me the store’s number and made me promise to call them when I got home safely.

Now south to Childress, another bird strike, this one is a roadrunner and off the top of my helmet. I continue to Paris, further east to Texarkana. It’s now sunrise on Friday morning. As I head south to another checkpoint in Port Arthur the urge to sleep becomes unbearable, it’s been about 24 hours since my 7 hour rest. What I discovered is I’m way to old and fat to sleep on a concrete picnic table. I do take a sizable break, break out the toiletries and wash up and brush the bugs out of my teeth.

Away we go, Port Arthur bound for another checkpoint. Done. Next, High Island and the ferry ride to Galveston. Horrible roads, lots of construction. In fact during my official time period I would endure right at 3 hours of sitting and waiting on pilot cars to lead me through construction zones. Photo taken on the ferry while underway, another checkpoint completed. Fuel in Galveston, the last checkpoint until my finishing receipt back in Victoria. GPS gives me a choice to Victoria. Both within minutes of each other, I choose the larger road running west of Houston to I 69 then clear sailing to the finish line. I was just not in the mood to deal with what appeared to be more tertiary roads with lots of small communities. WRONG CHOICE! Should have taken the road less traveled as I’ve heard recently. The major road skirting west Houston had a stop light about every 2 miles and about 10,000,000 Houstonites trying to get the _____ out of town for the weekend. Did I mentioned it was 17:30 on Friday AND the signs said DANGER HEAT INDEX 117. Once I reached I69 I was burnt up and needing to roll some easy miles. What? More road construction. Why, yes I answer. About 30 miles of abrupt lane changes with elevation changes thrown in to boot.

Finally, Victoria, and my last receipt. I’m officially insane. 80 hours, with two GPS’s showing 3175 miles. It’s 20:00 hours Friday evening.

To think, when I started this adventure after doing the math, I figured with my past moving averages on other certified rides I could get the 70 hour Insanity Gold Ride. Well friends, get out the crayolas and color me arrogant. In the future when I speak of this Iron Butt Ride, I will refer to it as the Ride that Kicked my Butt. Out of the 80 hours I took one 7 hour sleep break and did take 4 breaks longer than normal fueling stops. I don’t know how I could ridden harder or longer. The point being, I’m in awe of the folks who earned the Gold. So different from other rides. So many secondary and tertiary roads. Small many towns and small communities to pass through, all with their law enforcement representatives at the ready to discuss why I didn’t get my speed down from 75 to 35 in the 200 yards between signs. I did not have any discussions.

I spent 2 hours resting and cooling off in Victoria that evening then made the 2:15 hour ride home to sleep in my own bed.

Tex Harkins
 

kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#2
I do recall quite a long time ago, reading the ride report of the individual(s) who actually conceived that ride...a similar storyline, but a great ending!

Congrats!
 

JAORE

Premier Member
#3
Note to self: Take the RAT off the "Maybe, someday" list.
Loved the report. And congratulations on the completion of such a grueling ride.
 

cacomly

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#5
Great report and congrats on the finish. There were no significant bonus locations in Texas during the first leg of the IBR which was June 17-20, but there were during Leg 2 and I rode from Presidio to Big Bend and then to South Padre as did a few others. It was a bit warm
 

Tim Harkins

Premier Member
#6
Thanks, everybody for the kind words. Now I have to submit everything and get it approved.

Chris, I hope you made it through that stretch from Presidio back to Marathon in the daylight. That road can be tough in the light, I wouldn’t want to ride it tired and in dark. Also, congratulations on being a finisher in the big dance. That accomplishment makes my ride seem like child’s play.
 

cacomly

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#7
Thanks, everybody for the kind words. Now I have to submit everything and get it approved.

Chris, I hope you made it through that stretch from Presidio back to Marathon in the daylight. That road can be tough in the light, I wouldn’t want to ride it tired and in dark. Also, congratulations on being a finisher in the big dance. That accomplishment makes my ride seem like child’s play.
I'm glad I made it in the daylight as well :)

And thanks, this year certainly was a challenge

As a side note, when I pulled into Lajitas I saw the bike of one of the other rider's being loaded onto a tow truck with a flat rear tire. He said it went flat as they were getting gas. Not sure if he hit something in the lot or the road, but he probably found the best place to have a flat because there was cell service and the store to wait in. He did finish, but it was close
 

Tim Harkins

Premier Member
#8
I'm glad I made it in the daylight as well :)

And thanks, this year certainly was a challenge

As a side note, when I pulled into Lajitas I saw the bike of one of the other rider's being loaded onto a tow truck with a flat rear tire. He said it went flat as they were getting gas. Not sure if he hit something in the lot or the road, but he probably found the best place to have a flat because there was cell service and the store to wait in. He did finish, but it was close
He must’ve hit a rock if the tire couldn’t be plugged . The morning I went through there just after the rain not only was every arroyo running muddy water but the there were sharp rocks from itty bitty to probably 6 inches in size. The folks at the Lajitas store warned me about the numerous rock slides.

I have a question, when the bike was hauled, did it have to go back to Presidio or was it allowed to advance on the truck?
 

cacomly

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#9
He must’ve hit a rock if the tire couldn’t be plugged . The morning I went through there just after the rain not only was every arroyo running muddy water but the there were sharp rocks from itty bitty to probably 6 inches in size. The folks at the Lajitas store warned me about the numerous rock slides.

I have a question, when the bike was hauled, did it have to go back to Presidio or was it allowed to advance on the truck?
It went back to Lajitas where it was loaded on the tow truck. It then could go on to the next bonus
 

cacomly

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#11
Man, I would hate to pay that tow charge. But I suppose you do what you need to do at that point of the rally.
I wouldn't want to pay for it either!

The bike can be ridden back to the point of the flat, it need not be towed.

As far as the tow charge from Lajitas to Alpine, it's not necessarily to get back in the rally as you would need to do it to get home too.