First SS1000 and BB1500 Ride Report

#1
I just sent off my paperwork and I am so excited! I wanted to post this to contribute my perspective as a female rider (haven't seen too many in the forum)!

I recently bought a "big girl bike," a 2022 BMW k1600B and immediately wanted to ride it literally everywhere, so naturally I planned an Iron Butt. I went from two Vulcans without windshields or saddlebags to this bike so it was a serious upgrade. Heated grips are the best thing ever invented for motorcycles, btw. I put 1500 miles on the bike before my planned ride to make sure I was a bit used to it and that it was serviced well before I left.

My route was from Colorado Springs, CO to Plainfield, IN to Waterfall, PA. After my 1500 miles, I rode another 200 home to NJ. I didn't want to take the risk of not getting home with the 1700 miles in time, so I made my official end at the Sideling Hill Service area. I planned for what felt like weeks! When I found out my fiance wasn't able to take off work at the time of my summer vacation, I figured I would head out to see my brother in Colorado. Looking at plane tickets gave me sticker shock, so I decided to get going on some long distance rides. I took four days to ride out to CO, spending one day in KS with a friend of mine. Of course, because I was visiting, there was an F2 tornado that touched down two miles away while we were eating dinner in KS. Fortunately, the bike was 100% fine. I was nervous it would be knocked over at best or totaled at worst but I got back to a completely upright and wet bike. :) From where I live in NJ to my friend's house in KS wasn't quite 1500 miles so I decided to do the ride on the way back where I would have a better spread. Also on the ride out, I was able to check out some places to stop and make note of them for my return trip. On my way out, my first day was over 700 miles and it felt pretty good! It was kind of a test to see how I felt and if I thought I could actually complete the SS1000. It was then that I fully committed.

I felt like I had a lot of doubters and I believe my gender contributed heavily to that. That was really frustrating to me whenever I talked about my trip and that I was going to attempt IB on the way back. I also had a lot of people upset that I was doing it alone. I found myself having to explain and justify myself way more than I would have wanted. My go-to counter was that as a solo rider I am 100% in control of stopping and giving up. That would typically calm them down a bit but it was still pretty annoying. My dad also gave me a lecture about not telling him I was going (I did) and not updating anyone on where I was (I had an entire group text). He can be kind of oblivious though so he gets a free pass.

On to the ride! I got on the bike at about 0530 MST in Colorado Springs and headed straight for I-70. It was a little chilly in the morning but the sunrise was absolutely beautiful. I was making pretty good time and keeping stops down to minimum times until the temps got out of control in Kansas. The peak temp registered by my bike was 108F. I believe that was a little inflated and the real peak temp was 105F but they feel the same: dreadful. I knew about the heat warning in advance, but I had no choice to wait especially since it was supposed to get worse over the weekend. I was wearing riding jeans which were super super hot. I tried to get riding pants that were ventilated before I left but absolutely nothing fits tall women in the riding department (not even a lot of men's gear, which is still typically too short or have armor that doesn't adjust). I had to go with literally the ONLY option that worked out, so I was completely melting in the heat. I also had on an unlined riding jacket, not ventilated, but not warm either, and I definitely felt like I was going to dissolve in those temps. On one hand, I had nowhere to put my jacket if I took it off, and on the other hand I needed it for sun protection. I am super pale and had sunscreen on my wrists where they get exposed that I reapplied at every stop and I still got burned there. This was when I was regretting having a backpack. Because I was spending a week away, I didn't have a lot of saddlebag space for snacks or drinks. But, it was also when I was really glad I brought a 3L water bladder with a tube that I could drink out of while riding. Over the course of this day, I had a cumulative total of 90 minutes of stop time just focused on cooling off. I was able to time them well with food and gas stops. I also drank a gallon of water and a liter of juice and gatorade. The shower that night was *amazing* because I was literally soaked in sweat the entire day. I was so happy when the sun went down just after I passed St. Louis. The sunset on the arch was gorgeous to see! I loved St. Louis on my ride out too. The bridge over the Mississippi River there has a really cool design and I was looking forward to riding over it again. I reached Plainfield, IN at about 0045 EST, showered, and went to bed.

I probably could have slept more but I got out of the hotel and on the road again at 0830 EST. Temps were MUCH better this day, in the 70s the entire day. Ohio is absolutely beautiful to ride into because it's the return of the trees! I felt really good about this ride because I felt like I had so much time to get that last 460 miles in and the weather was so much more tolerable. The mountains of Pennsylvania are awesome and familiar but so windy. I struggled a bit on my ride out because high winds are not really too much of a concern here in Jersey but the mountains and the plains of KS/CO had a lot of crosswinds that were exhausting. On my way back I was a little more prepared and didn't have so much anxiety riding through the mountains where the winds were the highest. I also took my time because I-70 in that area is twisty and fun :) The tunnels on I-70 in PA are also super fun. It was a bit colder in the mountains so when I got to the toll booth I took a second to put on my rain jacket even though I already had on a sweater. I was really really nervous to ride over the Susquehanna River because the wind on my ride out was *serious* and I had trouble getting over the bridge. I was pushed out of my lane several times and really struggled there. It is also a long bridge. For my BB, I took my time and I knew when it was coming up, so I got into the right lane, slowed down and dropped a gear, and got over the bridge with minimal issues with the wind. Once over the river, the wind becomes a non-issue in PA. However, don't underestimate how tiring windy conditions can be. They wiped me out in both directions in all the areas where it was an issue. It takes a lot more rider input to stay in control in windy conditions and it can really suck the life out of you. I ended up following an empty semi for about 70 miles because I could see when it got pushed and be more prepared for crosswinds. After the river, it was smooooooth sailing to my end point! I reached the Sideling Hill Service area with about 3 hours to spare.

I was pretty tired at the end of the 1500 and wasn't really sure if I was going to make it home to NJ that day or if I needed to hit a hotel and go home the next day. But I ate a bit, helped an old lady that fell down in the cafeteria, recharged my headset, and talked to my fiance for a bit on the phone. I figured I would at least try, and I was able to get home that night with no problems. In fact, as soon as I crossed into NJ, I got a third wind and started to get really excited about being home. I was able to go from the service area directly back to my house without another gas stop as well, which I think helped a lot.

Also, I had about a billion guardian angels. You know how drunk girls always become best friends in the bathroom for whatever reason? Well, in all the bathrooms I was in on my ride, I had a woman comment on my helmet and tell me to be safe. I know we weren't drunk, but little old ladies have become my new bathroom besties. I appreciated each and every one of them. I also often got stories about how they used to ride or be passengers, which was really cool.

Overall, I'm really glad I put myself through this. I learned A LOT about riding in windy conditions and also about myself and my level of endurance. I feel really accomplished and I'm excited for my ride to eventually get certified so I can be official! I'm already thinking about what I want to do next!

Things that worked:
  • Mentos and sweet tarts in the paper rolls.
  • 3L water bag on my back.
  • RAIN GEAR. I wore the jacket for most of my second day because it was chilly in the mountains. I also had wool base layers that I use for camping and motorcycling.
  • Audiobooks and podcasts
  • Music changes and SiruisXM stations
  • Foam ear plugs. I have the no noise plugs but they let in too much wind noise for amount of riding I did.
  • I took a portable jumper with me that could also charge my headset at stops. This also became useful as a flashlight and charger when we had no power after the tornado.
  • Wearing a silicone wedding ring to keep the creeps from trying to talk to me (works about 90% of the time)
  • Spending a little more money to stay in a nicer hotel. There is nothing better than a great shower and a comfy bed after 1000+ miles in one day.
  • I had a long chat with another female Iron Butt finisher who has multiple certified rides and that helped so much. She gave me a lot of tips and encouragement and that is what ultimately got me started on serious planning. If you know a certified finisher, definitely spend time talking to them if you can. It was worth it!

Things that didn't work:
  • Jolly ranchers :( they were too hard to open
  • Wearing a backpack got uncomfortable after a while. I want to find a new way to rig my water to the bike.
  • Not bringing the clear face shield for my helmet so I had to do some night riding with my helmet open.
  • Waiting too long to eat and getting cranky/tired. Next time I will more deliberately plan my lunch stop.
  • My handlebar bag did not arrive before I left so I had to keep everything in my pockets.
  • I could NOT sleep the night before I left.

Things I will do again:
  • Bring a gas bottle (I didn't end up needing it but I got VERY close)
  • Bring cash. I had no idea that I-70 is a toll road in part of Kansas so I'm glad I had cash on me already for that.
  • Ensure there are enough 24 hour gas stations along my route that are well traveled and appear safe from photos and reviews. I recognize most men don't think about this aspect of riding alone, but I was always concerned for my personal safety stopping in unfamiliar areas. I never felt threatened or unsafe at any of the stops I chose, which is great. I got hit on exactly once but the guy was pretty benign and wasn't persistent. I also ALWAYS bring my helmet inside if I'm riding alone in case I need to hit someone with it.
Things that I believe are generally more women centric:
  • You will get cold before a male rider would. I was glad I was prepared for the cooler areas with my baselayers and rain gear. I really appreciated having heated grips and a heated seat for some of this ride.
  • I wanted to stop to use the bathroom way more often than I actually stopped. I didn't realize I could have rest area stops without DBRs until I was putting my ride packet together. (Even though I read the rules and instructions about 100 times.)
  • Consider the safety of the areas you plan to stop in. I was prepared to turn around and move on to another location if I thought a gas station looked shady every single time.
  • Be prepared for your uterus to do whatever it wants, as usual.
  • Do NOT give a singular fuck about what anyone else thinks.
 

EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#2
@blu_rider - Welcome to the forum and congrats on your ride. Thank you very much for sharing the experience here and your lists. This really does help others. For every question asked, there are a dozen not asked and people will get lots from your post, so keep it up! :)

Check out LDComfort base layers and read the articles they have on their website about how to use their gear for evaporative cooling. It's a life saver in the heat and their gear lasts for a very, very long time. Highest quality stuff.

Use the search function here for Hydration Jugs and you should find lots of ideas. This doesn't need to be an expensive or purchased kit to be effective. Many, if not most, LD riders just roll their own. I've mounted jugs on the passenger footpeg using everything from a dog dish to a Walmart pot that was on sale. Whatever fits your jug. You can remove the rubber on the peg, drill one more hole, use the existing hole and bolt either a piece of aluminum plate or sometimes the pot/pan/dish that fits your jug directly to the plate. After that, it's some food grade feezer/fridge tubing from Home Depot/Lowes, etc, a bite valve and I like one or two quick disconnects which can be found on Amazon, ebay or some hiking/biking stores. The posibilities are endless. Many use a card or key retractable leash to keep it at the handlebars. You take a sip and can just let go and it's back at the bars for your next sit, and no dragging danger.

Don't be shy about asking questions. We have an awesome community of riders here and people will toss out ideas and share pictures of what they have done or what worked for them. Thanks again for sharing what worked for YOU. :p
 
#3
Congratulations on completing the ride.

100+ degrees can be a challenge. Recently rode in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas in that temperature. I was wearing an Aerostich Darien suit. How I managed was having air enter at the wrist and exit via the neck. I was comfortable while riding. Stopping for gas was hot though.

-Mark
 

EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#4
I forgot to add, for keeping others happy about your travels, take a look at Spot Tracker or InReach satellite units. Very popular in this group. You can create a trip and limit what info your people see, as well as create canned messages that make it one button push to tell people watching your progress that you're just stopped for a break, or done for the day. Works as secondary documentation on IBA rides as well, especially using Spotwalla in concert with your pictures.
 

rneal55555

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#5
Congrats, Great Report Imagine what the naysayer will say when you sign up for the Iron Butt Rally :)

After a few years of farting around I finally got some good waterproof riding gear Jacket & Pant's on LD rides that and base layer with a heated jacket liner handles just about anything.
 
#6
@blu_rider - Welcome to the forum and congrats on your ride. Thank you very much for sharing the experience here and your lists. This really does help others. For every question asked, there are a dozen not asked and people will get lots from your post, so keep it up! :)

Check out LDComfort base layers and read the articles they have on their website about how to use their gear for evaporative cooling. It's a life saver in the heat and their gear lasts for a very, very long time. Highest quality stuff.

Use the search function here for Hydration Jugs and you should find lots of ideas. This doesn't need to be an expensive or purchased kit to be effective. Many, if not most, LD riders just roll their own. I've mounted jugs on the passenger footpeg using everything from a dog dish to a Walmart pot that was on sale. Whatever fits your jug. You can remove the rubber on the peg, drill one more hole, use the existing hole and bolt either a piece of aluminum plate or sometimes the pot/pan/dish that fits your jug directly to the plate. After that, it's some food grade feezer/fridge tubing from Home Depot/Lowes, etc, a bite valve and I like one or two quick disconnects which can be found on Amazon, ebay or some hiking/biking stores. The posibilities are endless. Many use a card or key retractable leash to keep it at the handlebars. You take a sip and can just let go and it's back at the bars for your next sit, and no dragging danger.

Don't be shy about asking questions. We have an awesome community of riders here and people will toss out ideas and share pictures of what they have done or what worked for them. Thanks again for sharing what worked for YOU. :p
A hydration jug rig sounds like an excellent idea and I'm definitely going to look into it! I'm probably going to wait for my certification before I attempt another ride, plus this summer is supposed to be ridiculous in terms of heat index, so I should have something going for me by the fall. Those base layers also look awesome. I am a little concerned about their dual function, as fabrics that have a lot of spandex in them don't typically keep me warm when I need them to. But they are a great idea to pick up for the evaporative cooling.

As for your point about spotwalla, I used it for my return trip and everyone had the link. I think that helped a lot because they could just look at the map and see where I was on the road. I used bubbler GPS on my phone. I'm getting married later this year so unfortunately expensive stuff like a GPS monitor and a riding suit are out of the budget until next year. A riding suit has been on my list for a long time. The only issue I would run into there is fit, so I haven't picked out one in particular yet.
 
#7
Congrats, Great Report Imagine what the naysayer will say when you sign up for the Iron Butt Rally :)

After a few years of farting around I finally got some good waterproof riding gear Jacket & Pant's on LD rides that and base layer with a heated jacket liner handles just about anything.
I feel like the Rally is the ultimate goal ;) I do like the idea of the rides involving the lower 48 and the national parks. I could probably do at least one of the national park rides, however there aren't that many on the east coast. But, if I start this October when we go to Hawaii for our honeymoon (we are renting bikes on Oahu), I can probably pop up to Alaska next year.

I bought a full set of tourmaster rain gear, and double gauntlet gloves that are both waterproof and warm so they serve a double purpose. I have boot covers as well but for light rains my boots are waterproof. I would really only need those in a true downpour. I've needed the rain gear for a while since my old set was a hand me down that didn't quite fit. I'm glad I invested because I needed it several times on the way out. I would love to get a set of heated liners. I have it on my list for purchasing next year!
 
#11
A hydration jug rig sounds like an excellent idea and I'm definitely going to look into it!.
I still use a camelbak for shorter rides; it will hold ice only for a little while. Also, it reduces ventilation while wearing as a backpack and makes the ride even hotter. On a recent ride across TX, it was unbearably hot. I was refilling the camelbak with ice at every gas stop. I have three upcoming SS100 rides in the works. I am now going with a Motojug system with a ONE GALLON stainless RTIC jug. https://www.motojug.com/shop/p/stainlessstealmotojug . https://rticoutdoors.com/Jug?size=One-Gallon&color=Stainless&material=Matte . Yes, 1 gal. of blessed ice cold water/electrolyte mix to cool down internally. CONGRATS on your awesome ride!