Long Distance Endurance Motorcycling - Atomic 1000 Saddlesore


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This introduction was originally written for my blog - link in my sig.


The premise of this long-distance (LD) ride is rather interesting. The originator of the ride (Brian)...I've done a little bit of riding with. He is another one of the LD motorcycle-riding members of the Iron Butt Association. I'm going to take a bit of liberty and extract a few words from a post he made on a motorcycle forum a while back about the ride that describes it well:

"You may remember that [October 2017] my wife and I established the Atomic 1000 SaddleSore. This was an SS1K that we rode to the site of the very first nuclear detonation in New Mexico. This ride is unique in that it is only available to you twice a year; the first Saturday in April and the first Saturday in October, and you only have a SIX HOUR window in which to be there. In order to qualify for the certificate you must ride at least 1000 miles within 24 hours and your ride must include the Trinity Test Site parking lot as either the starting or ending point, or as a waypoint during your ride."

A brief history of the immediate area can be found at the links below:

White Sands Missile Range Trinity

Trinity New Mexico Nat'l Historic Landmark

Now, when they did the ride that year, it started near their home in the suburbs of the Phoenix metropolitan area. This easily gave them the necessary miles to accomplish the Saddlesore.

After a bit of research and routing effort, I have a good, solid route that actually pads the ride in New Mexico - and keeps me out of Texas. Since the initial ride done by Brian & Brenda, a handful of others have done the ride. I had things interfering with the two opportunities available in 2018, so here's hoping I can do it in 2019.

April 6, 2019

I had done a very quick-and-dirty assessment of what time I wanted to be there at the gate over the last couple of days, then backed into when we should leave. Early...

QT Ina Rd 0306
[location, time ride started]

The first part of the morning will be a blur...like this picture.

Here's hoping it's just because she's still not quite awake...

I'm up early - earlier than normal - and ready to hit the road. With my wife coming along, it's now important that I help her be as comfortable as possible as long as possible. She's only done a single Saddlesore with me; today is the day to take care of her, no matter what.

The weather folks (and me...) figured temps would be in the low 40's to the 80's for the duration of the ride. My wife experiences cold a little quicker than I do, so a couple of minutes spent in packing a bit of heated gear...just in case.

I-10 / I-19 junction - hope to see this again in a bit less than a day!

As soon as we'd gotten east of town, and into the hills, temperatures began to drop. I possibly could have toughed it out...but knew my wife was going to be miserable; time for a gear update...a good stopping point is right here, one I've used in the past.

Shell - Benson 0359 0410 0:11
[location, time stopped, time resumed, stopped time]

First stop...unplanned.

My wife needed a bio-break - and a layer of heated gear. I put my jacket liner on myself, after a few minutes, we're back under way - and a lot warmer than we were. I believe the lowest temperature I saw was about 41 degrees. Another rider from Tucson reported on another motorcycle forum he had a similar stop as the thermometer showed 38 degrees. Normal for early April, I suppose.

Love's - Lordsburg MDT 0635 0641 0:06

Slight error in routing, but I'd totally forgot about the convienence store on the eastbound exit; and had routed to the truck stop located across the highway. Fortunately, no bio-break needed, so a short fuel stop was accomplished.

Hey, I know I can't do every stop like I would if I was by myself. This is one of the things that riders who want to do Iron Butt style rides as a group may not take into consideration. You're only as fast as your slowest person in the group at fuel stop opportunities.

Back to the road...and sunrise in the desert.

Further down the road...I have a bit of a head-ache, since I'd passed on having dinner last night. I need a bite, and my wife is letting me know she's got a small headache to contend with. Okay, we can solve this problem - it's time to eat.

McDonald's - Deming 0732 0759 0:27

This place had quite the crowd of 'old guys', staring at both my wife and I as we walked in, fully geared up. I ordered breakfast for both of us, then took the few minutes after this to disrobe. Yeah, two helmets on the table, along with jackets and heated gear piled into the booth. Quite a load of clothing needed to have fun, now isn't it?

With breakfast consumed, I'm feeling better, and so is my wife. It's time to get moving. We'd left early, but we've consumed a bit of time at both of these unplanned stops. Now, as I wrote at the beginning, I did make an assessment, but I purposely didn't bring it along. I still think I'm doing okay on time. The first corner is ahead, planned to take a moment to tour thru ther northern end of Las Cruces, NM.

PQ Gas - Las Cruces 0849 0858 0:09

A corner, so a gas stop here. Pump didn't give me a receipt (I need this one to be good...), so inside I went. That messed up my head, I pulled away, and hadn't hit the marker for Spotwalla. Once I got that done, another minute was spent in getting the tunes to play. About two hours of riding to go before we're 'there'



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Gas/Corner - San Antonio 1040 1047 0:07

According to Brian, this is a required receipt. I go in, hand them some money, and fill the bike. It took a couple of dollars more, so I go back into the store and settle up the bill - and get that required receipt.

Rural America at it's finest!

Eleven miles to the turn-off. As we approach, there were a couple dozen people. Some were protesting, some were prostelizing, some were peddling (food, rocks).

The highway goes a few miles to the Stallion Gate. The wait here was around 20 minutes. Fortunately, with the temperature still not at 70 degrees, it was comfortable to creep along until our turn at the gate.

Show ID, answer the question regarding firearms (no, left at home), then the "No photography of any kind until you get to the area."

"You got it!"

...and then, we were on the range.

From the gate, it was a simple matter of following the line of cars that seemed to stretch across the valley.

A left turn, and another few miles, then we come to a fence with a radioactivity sign on it. "We must be here!"

Law enforcement was guiding the four-wheelers to the right - one officer pointed at us, and waved us straight to the designated motorcycle parking area.

Once we got under control and parked, I grabbed this image:

The "Trinity" sign in the background, along with our bike in the foreground - another sign we were here.

Another bio-break, and while walking back, the Army Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) team was selling food & drinks. I snagged the receipt from the drinks - location?? Nope. Not a good IBA-level receipt. Date and time were good...but without a location, it's not useable.

So, for about an hour, we wandered around the area, got our photo taken at the obelisk, and looked at the story of the test. The people in this picture are reading placards hung on the fence - thought provoking area, indeed.

In reading about this, I'd learned about a material that was created as a result of the explosion itself. The material is called trinitite. I'd also read that it's expressly forbidden to remove any of this material found on the site. After just a few minutes, it was easy to kick up a small chunk of this material. I looked, I moved on.

The primary trip objective has been made; we've been here, done that. It's now time to exit. The road leads to a remote location (wait - EVERYTHING out here is a remote location!) called the McDonald Ranch House. This is where the assembly of the world's first nuclear weapon occured. Since the road leading there was dirt, I passed on the opportunity to view the facility.

I'd figured a good two and a half hours to get in, see the place, and leave. My estimate was pretty accurate.

We'd chatted with these two as they prepped to leave the parking lot. They were from northern Arizona, but were overnighting in Alamagordo before heading home.

Once we got back onto the highway, it was now time to consider eating. We'd packed a small 'lunch', knowing that we were going to be in the middle of nowhere.

Yes - yes we were. Half a ham sandwich a small bag of chips, and a cheese stick. My wife had a sandwich without the bread. Nice day, not too warm, but now, we need to get moving. There's still another ~500 miles of riding to do - today!



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As I wrote earlier, I needed to pad some length this ride a bit; I really didn't know by how much. Additionally, I thought why not see something I've not been to before. East along US-380 will eventually run into US-70, and a big oversized loop around the White Sands Missile Range. Simple and foolproof is always good.

Smokey Bear - Capitan, NM

We ride thru a couple of towns, and we come across signs that featured Smokey Bear. Well, I did not know that in 1950, in this very region of New Mexico, a real-live bear cub was rescued from a forest fire, and given the name Smokey. Just a few years earlier, the ad campaign for promoting forest fire prevention had been created. Smokey the Bear is actually buried at the State Historical Park in Capitan, NM. Seems like a good reason to make a trip and explore out this way on another ride.

Lincoln, NM

Lincoln, NM

Lincoln, New Mexico had a large historical district. Many of the building along the highway were at least 100 years old. Some were maintained, some weren't.

Allsups - Hondo - 1445 1455 0:10

The easternmost point of our trip is here. A good mark needed to set a corner, and three more stops to get home.

US-70 is a wide, four-lane highway, which twists and turns thru the mountains. Big, wide, sweepers, but a bit too much traffic to push the limits out here.

A lot of horse farms...oh, yeah!

Ruidoso Downs is the name of a community and a horse track that has been here since the 1940's. Seems to be some impressive money around these parts.

Once out of the mountains, it's back to the desert, next to the White Sands National Monument and the community of Alamogordo.

This road seems to be dead straight for 50 miles - because it is!

El Paso - and especially the area on the west side of the city, is home to Fort Bliss. Staying out of Texas, we turn onto State Line Rd and head for the next-to-last "corner" for our loop, Chapparal, NM

Chapparral - 1725 1732 0:07

Quickly, the beginning of the end is near. Getting onto I-10, with the "Welcome to Texas" sign in the rear-view mirror means this ride is...still going on.

Approaching Las Cruces...that food I had a few hours ago...yeah, I could use a bit more.

"Wanna eat something?"

"It doesn't matter..."

"Still have your headache?"

"A bit..."

I *know* this place, I've been here before, and it's easy-off, easy-on to the Interstate.

Las Cruces - 1803 1832 0:29

Sometimes, it *is* nice to -not- move, even if it's only for a half an hour. A bite to eat, a quick check of social media (for both of us...), and now it's time for the last...320-odd miles.

On the way out, I put on a podcast for us to listen to. My wife seemed to enjoy it, as she asked if I had another one to listen to. Well, those that have read along on this blog may remember the last time I did this, I had to solve my flat tire problem. I'm truly wanting no drama.

Yeah, it's bright...ugh!

We listen to the podcast, and I'm adjusting the next-to-last fuel stop needed to make it home.

Only a few miles outside of Lordsburg, eastbound traffic is very, very slow. It was difficult to see, but there had been a fairly substantial accident here. I thought there was at least two semi's involved. I have no idea about injuries.

Lordsburg - 2001 2012 0:11

Gas...and the pump fails to provide a receipt. My wife says she needs another bio-break, so she will retrieve it. From here, there's only a couple more hours of riding in order to make it home.

As sunlight fully escapes the horizon, a nearly new moon is also on the horizon.

My wife and I are both watching this - it was hard to tell if the sliver of light (called "earthshine") still shining on the moon was able to be detected as it was fading. (NOTE: nope...the new moon happened a couple of nights earlier; the earthshine is actually getting larger - I didn't know that! )

The final stretch across the desert was remarkably uneventful.

AMPM - 2120

The last receipt from here - and home in six minutes!

Thanks for being a good sport - love ya!!
Slightly over 18 hours to cover 1045 miles. About 3 1/2 of those hours were to get fuel, food, wait in line to get in - and to see Trinity.


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Congrats to the both of you. She is now part of a very exclusive club with a membership of two. ;)
At one of the gas stops, we had a quick snack, and I mentioned that...

Her reply was "Oh, wow, that'll be cool!". Of course, having 400+ miles at that point to achieve that...it may have been a bit of motivation - for both of us.

Brian Thorn

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There's only 8 names on the list thus far so you have a good chance to be 9 or 10. I don't know how many others made the attempt this time around.


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The first rider that has done the ride more than once is from the Tucson area...they received their cert over the weekend.

Mine showed up as well.


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Nice write up @kwthom - Glad you two had a good ride and enjoyed the process. April is a nice time to go there.

There are actually quite a few more people that have done a Trinity 1000, but neglected to ask for that specific cert and have an In State NM 1000 cert instead. Many of the Land of Enchantment 1000, (LOE), Rally riders went to the Trinity site during their rally and rode over 1000 miles. I'm one of them.