Lap of Florida

#1
After completing my first two IBA rides, my company relocated me to South Florida. Once here, I kept eyeing the Lap of Florida ride I have some early planning and research going back to 2015, although serious planning really started around spring 2019. Planned out a route, made a horribly complicated spreadsheet of timings to try to pick an ‘ideal’ time for me, and direction around to go. And then it was time to wait for a good weekend that fit weather, health, and work needs.
Finally all the stars started to align for MLK weekend this year. Unfortunately as I got closer than closer to go time, the weather started looking more questionable… so did shift my timing forward to try to minimize the rain based on the forecast. I’ve ridden many hundreds of miles in pouring rain, but prefer to avoid it if I can (at least when temperatures are expected to be moderately low). So 4 AM was the decided start time.

As seems typical for me, the ride to work the day before decided to expose some of the loved last-minute gremlins. I have a SPOT Trace inside the fairing of the motorcycle, both for security purposes and for tracking my riding. As much as I love it, the last year it has started to occasionally decided not to start tracking on movement (the Trace is activated by any movement, and then pings every 5 minutes until stopped). Anyhow, it had stopped, which requires pulling the fairing, pulling the device out, removing back-up batteries, putting the back-up batteries back in, going outside and verifying its sending signals again, then buying it back in the back. Naturally this also made me doubt it being consistent, so I made a rope sling and attached my older SPOT Connect (why did I ever get it instead of more traditional units… it turns out I can’t talk to it with my phone while my phone is connected to the bike’s infotainment system). And of course for some reason, it was acting like I had a left-turn signal burnt out. So lost 2 hours fussing with the bike. The other unknown was the GoPro. I’ve been fighting with GoPros for years trying to get them to record a full ride. GoPro 7’s issue had been over-heating, so I had made a bizarre heat-sync mount for it.

Got some sleep and climbed out of bed a bit late, right at 4AM. Rolled over to the Snapper Creek Service Plaza on the Florida Turnpike extension. Did one last look-over, and then filled up. 4:19AM. And off~

Get to Melbourne, FL just as sun started to rise. Sadly the GoPro had died, but luckily it was fully charged, so just restarted it. (Reviewing after the ride died while still in Miami.) Stop was a little longer than I wanted, but off again.

Arrived at Amelia Island right around 10AM. And trouble. “Always double check your receipt for date and time” as they say. Finished my gas up, got the receipt from the machine, and yup, no address. Mrgh, if it were just an enroute receipt would not be a big deal, but this is of course one of the 4 required corners. No big deal, I saw some fast food coming in, so I thought I’d get breakfast. So to Burger King I go. Get my receipt, and… WHAT IS THIS PLACE? … do they just not print the location of Ferdinand Beach on receipts? So I ate quick and popped over to McDonalds (one shop over). Lets say there was a domestic dispute in progress. Fine, so I go to kioski, order a drink I had no intention of picking up, and … no receipt prints (I have had HORRIBLE luck with getting receipts for any McDonalods Kiosk unit. It is obvious the kioski doesn’t check, and I guess most people don’t care for their receipt). So fine, Taco Bell we go. Finally a real receipt with an actual LOCATION. But in that, I think I lost 30-35 minutes not on my plan (I had intended to eat in Tallahassee, and of course not make 4 stops in the span of 2 miles).

GoPro died again on the way to Tallahassee. My designed gas station was closed (yellow barricade tape). Anyhow, plenty of other gas in area. GoPro was in hard crash mode… had to take it out of the mount, disconnect from external power, pull battery, put back in battery, put back in charge cord, let charge for a few seconds then it would start up. Took far too much time, but let it charge while I looked at my phone to see that at that ime mostly spotty showers between Mobile and Pensacola. So Put on rain-pants (since that was the harder to apply, since they are under my main gear (Tourmaster pants that have zip in cold weather liners and zip-in rain things). And so some more time wasted, but no food stop, so closer to back on plan, and off we go. (GoPro dies before even making it back to interstate.) At this point, I’m passing the 600ish mile mark. In both my prior SS1000s, it was this 600-700 range that I hit a ‘brick wall’ so to say, where I had to stop, get off the bike, and rest for a bit. Not sleep, but just I was in that fear of microsleep or something phase. But amazingly, other than the whole mess in Amelia, actually I was in super spirits and felt awesome.
Get to around Mile-Marker 60 and pretty heavy rainfall. Also, the estimate range to empty was just at the distance to next stop, and falling, so unplanned gas stop in Crestview. Saw the gopro was once again in hard crash mode, decide not to mess with it again for the first part of the trip, which sucks, as I prefer ride videos and probably helps a little with the verification. Anyhow, stop was fairly brief (takes little time to put on a raincoat), but did have a bewildered driver express how it must “suck” out there. Honestly, somehow, I hadn’t minded it much at all.

Rain was pretty hard, but not horrible, all the way to Pensacola. There was some annoying street flooding and that did suck dealing with through downtown. Rain subsided just as I got to the Tom Thumb gas station on Perdido Key, the second required corner. Thankfully this gas stations seems to know its stuff and even the name Perdido Key shows in the receipt, which is very nice. Reset my Connect tracker, took a little video, and turned for the burn back up I-10.
Rain resumed around mile marker 66, and again bike’s range to empty estimate and the distance to target was getting into the “no go zone”. Go to near 10 miles to empty, and pulled into Greensboro / Quincy Historic District, after a very long and heavy rain traveling with me.
At this point, in reality, I should I just burned to Lake City (you’ll see why), but decided to continue to my Tallahassee destination: Whataburger. Yeah yeah, it is not the ‘best’ out there, or anything along those lines, but having grown up in Texas, and having lived out of Texas for the last 10 years, where, ironically, the nearest Whataburger is almost always 500ish miles away, it still is a draw of ‘home’ that I love. Anyhow, turned exactly 16,000 miles on my ODO of my new bike, and comfortable 1031 miles by google map’s standards in 16ish hours elapsed. Felt good.

I know I spent far longer there then I should have, it was again pouring as I departed to Lake City. But started doing the milage to 1500 miles, time remaining, and such non-sense game in my head as I trekked east and to the south. “Yes,” I thought to myself, “just need to keep 6x mph to get BBG” etc. Looking at my spreadsheet, by odometer miles, I was 22 miles ahead of BBG pace (although -11 by google afterwards) as I turned and picked up gas in Lake City to start run down I-75. Also there pulled off the rain jacket and put on my electric under-jacket as was starting to be a bit chilly.

Get down to Tampa, and first miss the turn into the gas station (it didn’t look like it was a driveway until I passed. Then had to fight two uncooperative red lights, and then a pan handler wanting cigarettes from me while filling gas). Got on the road again; “Totally got this, or do i?” go through my head. Spread sheet showed me 38 miles ahead of BBG pace by ODO, later 1 mile behind pace by Google. Of course I knew that I was going to have to deal with normal streets to get to Marco Island. But I found a cooperative pacing car, and went for the home stretch. Constantly back and forth I went. I knew that from my spreadsheet work before the trip I needed to go beyond the Marco Gas Station to get 1500 miles, but I couldn’t remember by how much. Sadly I also knew that gas along the US-41 stretch through the Everglades is minimal. I also knew that my plan had intended to make the whole 100ish mile jaunt non-stop. So I didn’t know in my head what the end might be, but was in that mixed world. Honestly wish I could replay more accurately the back in forth in my head of ticking off each hour, comparing my elapsed distance, figuring the pace needed, etc, while traveling down the road. Seemed far more entertaining in my head, not as much so in text.

Arrive on a very dead Marco Island at around 3:45am in the morning. Odometer reading a happy 1523.8 miles elapsed on the trip, but I knew it wasn’t really over 1500. The gas station lights were completely dark. I couldn’t remember at that moment exact starting time, also worried about gas clocks, etc. But pretty much was convinced I was out of luck. Looking at the sheet afterwards, I was 13 miles ahead of pace, but obviously 20 miles short of 1500 at that point. I even was 86 miles ahead of Lap of Florida Gold pace at that point (by google).

So across the Glades I went. Sadly I still have a very bad phobia about such roads in the middle to the night with poor lighting. I had a dear jump out in front of my more than 10 years ago (it was on the side, it was fine, I was slowing, and just as I passed it, it jumped in front of me… I remember hitting it and continuing to move forward…. But then I was sliding on my side…. With a few seconds never recoverable in my head)… and I still have a hard time with certain types of roads. So I was well under the speed limit here. Why I probably will never be able to do IBR, even though I think the general idea would be fun. Anyhow by the time I got to the “mid point” gas station, which is really close to Marco Island, time already felt too late, so just trucked on. Eventually wound up at a local gas station to where I live. Spreadsheet shows I averaged around 44 mph for that stretch. (That of course does include the stopped time to gas, and clock issues at either end, for right at 95 miles or so). It was an interesting experience riding into Miami from the Glades right as astronomical twilight had passed and nautical twilight was about to pass. I couldn’t tell if the sky coloration was from the light pollution of Miami, or the sun just starting to play tricks with the sky. Obviously no camera can ever capture that right, but it really is a very weird thing to see. Especially on a fairly moonless night.

Even at that point I was ahead on the Lap of Florida Gold, but really that wasn’t my intention, the BBG was, since I think you are supposed to have the BBG before trying to the LOFG… anyhow, I wasn’t really tired, but decided I had plenty of time banked, and of course being home, slipped in for a 5ish hour ‘nap’. It could be said that going to the keys would probably have been better right away there at 6ish Am… but I have done the keys time and time again, and had a good idea on the turn around time through it.

So around noon picked up another receipt from the local gas station and had a fairly uneventful ride down to the keys. Of course for those who don’t know the keys, this doesn’t mean fast by any stretch. Took an hour and a half to go the 45ish miles from my house to Key Largo. But as I had planned for 45 mph travel times for the whole jaunt, was no big deal. Honestly, though, there were no accidents, no parades, no bridges closed for filming, or anything like that this trip. That IS odd. I don’t think I’ve ever made it from Key Largo to Key West, and back, without some sort of “the road stops for 30 minutes” type event. Honestly after passing Key Largo, had good flow all the way down (and back).

Key West is Key West. Crazy people. But had a good late lunch, and talked with another Road Glide rider that was lamenting not riding down (he was in a rented car from Miami, after flying in from some northern state that will go nameless).

Cruise back up pretty uneventful as well. I’ve never been through the keys as it gets dark. There is one key that, for the sake of sea turtles, all it’s street lights are red. It is such a weird thing. At first I was like “is that a red traffic light ahead?.. but there is no traffic lights here…” I wish I had pictures of it, very unique.

And then the final push up Turnpike Extension. Speed limit sub 65… but as always, that section seems to pull out exotic cars that are doing…. Maybe twice that. And pull off at the service plaza, a nice round trip. So I chose the service plaza, thinking, of course, that the State of Florida would mostly keep its service gas stations open and etc. Well, of course, get to pump. Put in first card. Declined. Put in second credit card, declined, put in last credit card, declined. (okay, you know I had two other declines the whole trip, and had approved both by text, wtf?)… try the debit card, declined. Okay, so I walk into service station. “We’re having a pump problem, we’ve called it in. They don’t know could be 10 minutes could be an hour.” Fine. So I go get a drink, bring it back up. “Credit card processing seems not to be working.” Fine, pull out emergency cash (does anyone even use it anymore?) and pay for the drink. Got a … non-gas.. receipt but still at the same service plaza. Mission elapsed time 40 hours 6 minutes. Almost 4 hours to spare. Google Mission Elapse distance, 1862 miles, with first 1479 done in 23 hours 30 minutes (sighs).

And so it was done. Except for the auditing of course. All in all felt good, except for the fighting with the GoPro (which I think I’ve narrowed down to an intermittent open). I never felt fatigued or really tired on this, compared to my other IBA attempts. A little bummed about the miss on the BBG1500. I knew it was a long shot, but the extra wasted time in Amelia Island and the failure to make the 213ish mile segments between Tallahasse and Periddo key, leading to extra gas stops……. What was that? Most of the other main segments were almost as long, with no question on not making it. Guess the rain added that much drag? Or was the wind blowing more than I think it was? Obviously I didn’t chance it, maybe I could have made it, but still. And what was 3 failed receipts in a row? And I had a lot of other minor receipt issues (missing zip code, one Central Time station was still on Daylight time it seems, etc).

Anyhow… now the 6.. month?... wait? .. it seems. (Last SS1000s I see approved are from July of last year). And further planning on maybe BBG1500 attempt 2, and of course 50CC. California, Oregon, Washington…. The only states (in the 48) that I haven’t visited by 2 wheels.

 
#3
Good ride report. Congratulations on the ride! I did this back in 2018 starting near Jacksonville, avoiding the toll roads and riding clockwise. It's a great ride - though at the time, wife and friends couldn't quite understand why...
 

IBA ZX-9R

Active Member
#4
Enjoyed the video, because I can appreciate the effort it takes to video document a ride. Too bad about all the GoPro fails. Thanks for sharing your ride experience!
 
#5
And finally in the books. ^_^ And see the other LoF along with me completed the same day. Looks like premiere membership got him his in a month less. ^_^ Also got my FL-1000... now just need this virus to abate so I can get that BBG1500.... I was sooo close. I can feel it.
 

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#7
Congrats, and thanks for sharing your experience. It's a good video, too. You seem to enjoy and not get tired in the ride. I feel happy while watching it.