SS1000 - First attempt at a verified ride. 5th - 6th September 2021

#1
Ride Report. Saddle Sore 1000 5th - 6th September 2021

Having heard about the Iron Butt association a number years ago, I’ve been intending to attempt a verified ride for a good long while now. I can’t really explain why it has taken me so long to attempt one, but I can procrastinate with the best of them. In fact, I think I could win a gold medal in procrastinating if I could be bothered to find a competition, register to compete, travel to the event... ah forget about it, maybe next year…
Over the years I’ve dipped in and out of the Iron Butt UK website, reading up on ride reports and picked up a copy of Melissa Holbrook Pierson’s brilliant book The Man Who Would Stop at Nothing, and decided that this was to be the year that I would attempt a Saddle Sore 1000. This was, of course 2020. Did I mention the procrastination? Although, in my defence, the ‘rona hasn’t helped matters. So, 2021 it was to be, no ifs not buts, iron or otherwise *roll on snare drum*

When planning my route, I went through a number of iterations. It was important to me to start and finish locally; I didn’t fancy an additional couple of hundred miles to get home after finishing a long day. I did take a look at the RBLR 1000 South Route as the A48 is a stone’s throw from my house, but with an estimated saddle time of over 20hrs I ruled it out for a first attempt. I wanted to make as few necessary stops as possible, so thought it best to factor in my tank range and combine fuel stops with receipts for “corners”.

In the end I settled for a run from my home in Wales, down to Cornwall services at Victoria, then back up the A30, M5, M6 and A74(M) to Abington services, then back home via M6/M5/M4. Google maps put the distance at 1,115 miles with a journey time of 18hrs 10mins.

The next issue was when to travel. Traveling to Cornwall in holiday season? The M6 gridlock at rush hour? Sounds like fun. Of course, being on a bike you can filter, but it’s obviously slower than a nice steady 70 mph (Plus 10% and 2 officer). As I had a couple of days annual leave booked either side of the weekend just gone, Sunday became my departure day.

I wanted to make an early start so set my alarm for 4am. This turned out to be a little optimistic, but by 6:22am I was at my start point with a tank full of fuel, a receipt, and the all-important photo of said receipt and my odometer reading. Hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to Cornwall we go.

I didn’t have any concerns about this first leg. My father lives in Newquay so it’s a journey I’ve made many times. It being Sunday, and relatively early, I didn’t anticipate much in the way of holiday traffic. There was the usual frustration at the 50mph average speed cameras through Port Talbot, because “Air Pollution Kills”, (we won’t mention all the heavy industry in that part of the country).

It got a little chilly on the climb up past Bodmin, but nothing that wasn’t combatted by putting on my heated grips on their lowest setting. I was wearing my riding jeans, vented summer gloves and boots and my vented leather jacket with a denim vest over the top.

I got down to the services at Victoria in good time after a nice clear run, no traffic in the usual hotspots around Bristol or Exeter and the A30 was clear all the way down, although I was passed by a couple of Police riders but as I was at a steady 70mph (plus 10% and 2) they left me alone. 230 miles and no fuel reserve light on the Pan European, which gave me confidence for my planned stops. On my day to day commute it usually comes on at around 200. Fuel in the bike, a Mars bar and a bottle of water into me and a quick whizz out and I was ready for the next leg.

As I anticipated this was to be the most frustrating leg, the dreaded M6. The run north started well, traffic on the A30 was a bit heavier than on the way down, but still moving at a good 70mph. Exeter was still clear but it was starting to build up around Bristol- it eased quite quickly after the M5/M4 interchange. Then everything slowed right down going into Birmingham, nose to tail 35/40 mph. Then it would ease for a bit and speed up, then slow down again then ease again. It was like this to my next stop at Hilton Park North services. 240 miles and again no reserve light, happy days. Once again fuel for the bike, fuel for me (a bottle of water and a Mars bar), and a slight change of outfit. The sun had come out and it was getting quite warm so my denim vest went into the top box to let some air through the jacket to keep me cool. I was starting to get a bit stiff on the bike so I did some stretching in the garage forecourt, much to the amusement of some old dear who had steam coming out of her bonnet- that’s not some weird euphemism by the way, poor love had obviously overheated. Titter ye not.

Back onto the M6 Gauntlet. Frustrating sums up the first half of the next leg. Miles of tailbacks due to accidents and road works. I must have filtered for a good 20 miles. Fair play as most of the cagers were pretty good at edging over to make a bit of space, but you always get one or two who like to close the space off as the green-eyed monster takes over their brains, No, I’m not going to let you through, If I’ve got to sit in this, then so should you.

I’ve always been a little nervous filtering on motorways. A few years ago, on my way to the World Superbike race at Donnington I was filtering on the M42. A car decided to close off the space to my left as I drew level with him and instinctively, I moved across and clipped the car to my right with my pannier putting a scratch into some poor blokes brand new Tesla. That was a fun weekend, first longer trip on my new to me VFR800, just changed insurers and didn’t have the new details with me, and I couldn’t check my emails as I’d inadvertently left my phone at home. Anyway, those nerves have been cured after this stint on the M6, so thanks for that, I guess. Good decision not to tackle this section on a weekday during rush hour. Can you imagine?

The M6 cleared after the junction for Morecombe and I was able to make good progress again. My reward? That glorious section of motorway that skirts The Lakes, Yorkshire Dales, through Cumbria and into Scotland, just stunning. I’ve only been up this way once before and I was a passenger in a car so was able on that occasion to take in the views more, but if the motorway is this good, I really need to take a biking holiday up here. Keep in mind I’ve got the Brecon Beacons pretty much on my door step, so I would say that’s high praise.

All told the delays added about 45minutes to my journey time from Hilton services to Abington which wasn’t too bad. Again, I went through the routine of petrol, forecourt yoga, water and a Mars bar. 720 miles in the bag, or thereabouts, and technically just under 12 hours to clock up just shy of 400 miles to get home, not such A Long Way Down.

It was starting to chill off so I layered up with a long sleeve t-shirt, thin hoodie and my denim vest, switched on the heated grips and headed south. It was starting to get dark as I left the services, but the light lasted long enough that I could take in those spectacular views again. The run back to Hilton Park South services was blissfully uneventful. Hardly any traffic; where there was roadworks, the traffic was light enough that it didn’t impede my progress. At the services I threw caution to the wind and altered my now familiar routine, petrol, forecourt yoga, coffee and a water. Naturally I’d read on the various advice pages for Iron Butt’s not to rely on caffeine to keep you alert and awake, but what the hell, I fancied a coffee and had made a point of avoiding the stuff up until now. I was feeling fresh and alert so I was happy I didn’t need a coffee.

Heading south again, the M6 became the M5, Birmingham, Worcester, Cheltenham and Gloucester clicked passed all in that strange video game surrealism that one gets riding at high (but legal - officer) speed at night. Red lights in the distance approach at a rate of knots, change into blinding blue hued halogen or LEDs headlights and then fade in the wingmirrors. Catseyes light your way like runway lights bringing a pilot home. The night sky glows orange in the distance from some unseen town or city. Then before I know it Bristol, the city of my birth, approaches. Junction 15, Bristol’s microcosm of Spaghetti junction onto the M4 and into Wales.

A quick stop a Magor services near Caldicot, need a precious receipt to show I’ve come M5/M4 rather than M5/M50/A40/A449/M4, which although would be a similar travel time, is 15/20 miles shorter, and those miles could be precious. A stretch, a pee, a stale cheese sandwich, a bottle of water and a Mars bar and I’m back onto the M4, into Newport through the tiled tunnel that always reminds me of the one in Bladerunner. I have the motorway largely to myself; Cardiff and Swansea pass in the blink of an eye. Junction 49 the motorway ends, and it’s onto the A48 to Cross Hands and my finishing point. Tank of fuel, receipt, photo, then the 7 miles home.

There was a tin of beer in the fridge and a pizza in the freezer, which I considered celebrating with, however I had visions of waking up on the sofa with pizza stuck to my face and beer spilled down my jeans. At 17 that’s a good night out, but at 41 it’s somewhat unbecoming so I settled for a scone and nice cup of tea.

As for the procrastinating? I finished my ride at 01:26 this morning. I’ve spent the day sorting out and emailing the paperwork to hopefully get the ride verified, and writing this report. I had promised my housemate I would mow the lawn and get the washing up done. The grass is that long that I can see it through the kitchen window if I peer over the top of the pile of dirty pots and pans.

Mileage: Odometer = 1090, Google Maps = 1115
Total Time: 19hrs 4mins

Fingers crossed it's enough to get verified.
 
#4
Happy Days

Now you've got a SS1000 under your belt a 260 mile ride to Squires will be a breeze, come join us on the 10th-12th June 2022 for the RBLR 1000
I will not be back from the TT in time for the RBLR, but I'll definitely be looking to attend some other events.

Funny how your sense of distance changes after a ride like this.
 

HACKLE

Well-Known Member
#6
Congratulations on your first SS1000. Your probably start planning another, it seems to be the case. If so, enjoy it as much as you have enjoyed this one. Cheers.
 

Firstpeke

Well-Known Member
#8
Thanks for writing an interesting report on your ride, by all accounts quite uneventful!!!

Clearly a good plan and what sounds like an enjoyable ride on a bike well suited to such things!

I have for years, especially my time in the services, said that driving or riding long distances is easier if you don't consider it as something of a chore, something not to be enjoyed... rather something to be done, a challenge in the same mindset as why people climb mountains, or swim the channel and so on.... it's all in the head and when on a bike, it can also depend on the butt, iron or otherwise...... and on some bikes it is definitely otherwise... Not so much the Pan, I have had two and they just love eating miles....

Looking forward to more ride reports, once you overcome the procrastination hurdle!!!

So many roads, so little time... as my friend in the US says.....
 
#9
Thanks for writing an interesting report on your ride, by all accounts quite uneventful!!!

Clearly a good plan and what sounds like an enjoyable ride on a bike well suited to such things!

I have for years, especially my time in the services, said that driving or riding long distances is easier if you don't consider it as something of a chore, something not to be enjoyed... rather something to be done, a challenge in the same mindset as why people climb mountains, or swim the channel and so on.... it's all in the head and when on a bike, it can also depend on the butt, iron or otherwise...... and on some bikes it is definitely otherwise... Not so much the Pan, I have had two and they just love eating miles....

Looking forward to more ride reports, once you overcome the procrastination hurdle!!!

So many roads, so little time... as my friend in the US says.....
Thanks for the kind words Firstpeke.

The Pan did really well, I had a tiny bit of soreness in the top of my thighs by the end of the day, but not anything too bad. Did make me wonder about the line "all day comfortable" trotted out regularly when reading bike reviews, what do the journalists consider all day?
 
#11
If its not a Russell its not all day,;)

Thanks for sharing your experience.

What's the plan for the next one?
I've read a couple of threads n this forum regarding saddles and the Russell does seem to come top, don't know if I can justify the cost for a 21 year old bike that cost me less than £2K.

As for what's next, I'm not sure. I guess the next step is a SS2000 or a BB1500. Already mulling over different routes.

Of course if I've messed up this one then it'll be another SS1000.

Will be entering the Brit Butt Tour for 2022, looks a good excuse to get out on the bike.