My first RBLR1000 / SS1000

Gimpymoo

Well-Known Member
#1
8th to 9th June 2024
North Clockwise.
Honda CBF1000 '08

WARNING. WAFFLE AND LONG FORM CONTENT AHEAD.

I came across this crazy world while simply browsing the internet and I think specifically on a Reddit sub and someone mentioned "IronButt" in an "off the cuff" remark.

That took me down the proverbial "rabbit hole", to which I eventually came about the IronButt rides in America and after some deeper digging, I find they are in the UK too.

This was in Autumn of 2023. I had only sat on a bike for the first time in Spring 2022 and got my full licence in November 2022 and got my first "big bike" in January 2023.

So, with little to no experience, I decide doing an IronButt would be a "fun" ride. I then discover the RBLR1000 and that ticked all the boxes as first it was for a great cause and secondly, I had always wanted to see the far North of Scotland.

My longest single ride upto this point was when I purchased my first big bike and rode home from Colwyn bay, North Wales to Nottingham, in a Snow storm, well, the North Wales Expressway part anyway. Put it this way, when I arrived to pick up the bike, I asked if they could park it on the road for me as I did not fancy riding it down the snow covered hill which was their "car park".

I decided would camp at Squires on the Friday and Saturday night. This led to another question, how do I pack my motorbike for camping? Lots of "firsts" which I really enjoy.

Plumped for some ROK straps and to be fair, they were amazing. With the top box, panniers and ROK straps, everything was loaded and I was ready to go.

I say ready, one piece of advise I read on this site was "NEVER MAKE CHANGES TO YOUR KIT OR RIDE JUST BEFORE AN IRONBUTT RIDE". This is excellent advice, a shame I did not heed it.

I did not have any waterproof boots and knew at some point, it would rain at some moment in time around the 1000 miles so I ordered some nice waterproof boots but left it late. Had never ridden with these boots before, reluctant to wear them outside as then would be unable to return them if they were not right.

The bike is loaded, I get on, ignition, start engine and GO... WAIT, NOT GO. My new boots toe box was too big to fit under the gear selector. Oh well, never mind I thought, will figure it out on the way from home to Squires. First traffic lights I come to, I changed gear with my heel, it worked, not perfect and felt rubbish, but it worked.

Arrived at Squires, checked in, collected my shirt and patch had ordered and signed to confirm "Yes, this is all my own doing, own free will, etc etc".

Have a bright idea of taking motorbike to the pitch so could unload, pitch then move the bike to the hardstanding area. Side stand down, begin to get off, the bike is going down, the camping ground was great, very soft, albeit too soft to hold the bike. I quickly reconsider and am able to get the motorbike onto the hardstanding area to then unload and carry my kit a few steps to the camping field.

Pitch up and feeling very calm, the weather is good, a great vibe around the campsite which is starting to get busier from the 4pm when I arrived. Chatted with some very nice people and went to the riders brief at 8pm. It all seems very "real" now. I just look around the room at all these people who know what they are doing. There is a show of hands for "first timers" and to my surprise, a VERY large number of hands go up, which settles me a little bit.

The brief finishes and I get some food from the bar and goto sleep early, I think I was asleep by 9.30pm.

4AM, I wake up before my 4.15AM alarm, can hear other people getting ready, daylight was up, no way was I going back to sleep.

Get myself with my bike to the start position. All rather exciting really but thinking about coming back in 24 hours all feels rather daunting.

Odometer checked by marshall, all feels very real now. Sit waiting a few minutes and riders start moving off, my turn arrives and out of Squires we go, on our way to Rivington on the M61 for the first "checkpoint" with the weather initially being rather OK at the 5AM start.

Mentally, all I could think about on this section was "The Finish" and I quickly realised that was a mistake as it was making me rather anxious thinking "How am I going to do this". I quickly learned to forget the destination and enjoy the journey, just focusing on the next fuel stop, next coffee etc.

On this stretch, the weather was a very mixed bag, did not feel cold but went through some rain.

On arrival at the services, abut an hour after leaving Squires, it was a mass of motorbikes, orderly queues were formed and one by one, riders filled up and peeled away with their place at the pump quickly being taken up. Some took this stop to get required sustenance. I got some fuel and a fruit pot, Sandwich and a bottle of pop. Quickly gobbled the fruit and off I went. Lesson learned myself here, make sure my tank is full the night before and when stopping at Rivington, some food and drink or something and your invaluable receipt and quickly move on and fill up at another station ahead without the hoards of bikers slowing you down at the pumps. Was here for about 24 minutes which in the scheme of things, was too long but lesson learned.

Back on the M61, the weather started off awful, torrential downpour but seemed to quickly clear up.

I remember tucking in with a group of riders and this I somehow found "relaxing" (weird to say, I know). You would encounter riders who would then disappear ahead or drop behind you but you would encounter them again, this kept my brain ticking over somehow but was an indication of progress or lack thereof.

Now on the M6 near Carslile, the weather by this point had cleared up but was going through rain and sun constantly.

Stopped at the Moto Southwaite Northbound services,, this was about 1hr 15 minutes after leaving Rivington, had one half of my sandwich and a swig of pop and ready to go again. Total stop time, 20 minutes. Looking back, that was a long stop but had made good progress from Rivington so no harm done.

After about 74 miles, had departed the M6 and was now near the M74, Douglas. Stopped at the Shell services, just off the M74, on the B7078. This was a fuel stop and a chance to get my first Coffee of the day, it was just gone 9am so I thought it was long overdue, worked wonders too getting me through the next leg. Got chatting to another biker there, thus this stop ended up being about 30 minutes according to my Google timeline, did not seem that long but goes to show how quickly time can pass you by. Time now was about 9:40AM

From this moment on, I really started to enjoy my ride a lot more than earlier in the morning.

The next leg was 139 miles in 3 hours to Fort William, this leg flew by for me, really did enjoy the ride, traffic was light, bar a few coaches and motorhomes and the roads were fun. The weather was abysmal at times though up in the hills but did not prevent from having a good time.

When started to come down the hills, the scenery was amazing, the roads were great and the sun came out on the way to Fort William, was glorious riding.

Arrived at Fort William Esso at around midday, maybe just after (Do not have receipts with me at present) but getting there was a BIG thing for me mentally. I know it was not half way but mentally, it was the next best thing, feeling extremely positive at this point. Was there for 14 minutes. Plenty of other riders around coming and going but no waiting for Fuel. The shop was busy though with what I assume was people getting receipts.

The weather was still good at this point with great riding through woodland areas. Stopped at Glengarry filling station to pickup a chocolate bar and drink some pop and away to Wick.

The next 137 miles and just over 3 hours was a calm journey, infact, I cannot honestly remember much of it from there to near Inverness. Nice roads, very scenic although not as nice as coming upto Fort William and compared to the M61/M6 earlier in the morning, progress was relatively slower and it was noticeable, Wick was my aim at this point and that is all I could think of. Weather was mostly good, albeit with it become a little more patchy approaching Inverness. Some nice bridges around Inverness.

I was looking forward to getting to Wick, another mental tickbox, unofficial "half way" point for me and I was looking forward to getting there as never been that far north before and also getting some relatively substantial food, some nice pasta or something and a laid back rest.

However, the drag up to Wick took me by surprise, it seemed to take forever and it seemed somehow cruel that that I was having to do it all again on the way back. It was very scenic though, a special place indeed with the road hugging the coastline.

I was surprised how big Wick actually was, expected a small town but the place is much bigger than I thought it would be.

Pulled into the petrol station feeling rather pleased with myself having made it there, pulled up by the side of the petrol pump. Now, I am not sure exactly what happened next so will detail it as I remember it.

Lent over with the bike so could kick the side stand out, now, either a gust of wind came along at the wrong time (It was a little gusty, honest) or my leg gave way, maybe a combination of the two, but at this moment, down I went in slow motion really :D

I was more confused more than anything. Some guys kindly came along and helped me back up. Other than my pride and my brake lever which had gone from a full length to a shortie, I was happy was able to continue the ride. Did not fancy a "recovery" from Wick to Nottingham :eek:

The plan was to get some pasta or something from the Tesco but in the stupidity, I lost my appetite, got my fuel and receipt and had a chocolate bar instead. Needed a bit of time to compose myself and after half an hour, was back on the long road towards Inverness.

Stopped at a petrol station in Dornoch which was about an hour away from Inverness. Remembered now that I was indeed hungry so got another Sandwich and ate half, got a coffee and went on my way. Back on the road towards Inverness, the time now was around 7pm.

The weather at this point had turned, no longer sunny but cloudy, windy and rainy, Scotland at its best.

Saw another group of riders who followed for a little while who turned off away from Inverness so I assume they were going a different way or were on their way to Fort William.

One of the group did turn off towards Inverness. Slotted in with them for a little while then with desire to make progress, went past. Poor guy looked tired by their riding style or was catching a breath. I cannot imagine hitting the wall so far away from home. The weather at this point was completely awful so if the rider was struggling, nothing was going to be easy at this point.

The next 100 ish miles (+/-) 2 hours on the A9 were hard miles, the weather was atrocious and the average speed cameras were a nightmare, not that I intended to break any speed limit, just that am soo paranoid about going over the average, spend more time looking my GPS to ensure my "average" is within the limit but that combined with the weather and prior travel to this point did not help. Positively, the road was almost empty.

Was feeling OK still at this point. Towards the end of the A9 which I felt had been a slog, I just wanted to get off that road and get into Edinburgh, Edinburgh was my goal.

Off the A9, heading over a bridge near Perth to then join the M90 towards Edinburgh, MY ENGINE CUTS OUT, engine light comes on, disaster. All I could think was having got this far, to fail now would be awful.

On the hard shoulder at this point. Take a breath, try starting the engine, still not firing, panic a little more but I do realise the problem, I am out of Petrol, oops.

Try an Uber, am in the back end of nowhere, no Ubers. Ring a couple of local taxi companies, they say nothing till 1am. Tried to hitch a ride to a petrol station, nobody stopping, fair enough. Thinking at this point my ride is over, so close but so far, entirely my own doing though so no complaints.

Should have got more petrol when I stopped after Wick I thought, not helping me now though - lol.

Ring the none emergency number for the police as a last resort, advising them I am on the hard shoulder. At this point, I am getting cold and miserable and just want to get off the motorway. Police van turns up after maybe 10 minutes, maybe less with two policeman inside. Really nice guys, offer to take me to a petrol station so I can get some fuel and be on my way.

First petrol station we get to has no jerry cans, nevermind they say, we know somewhere else. Goto another petrol station, get a can and some fuel and they take me back to the bike which was thankfully still there. Top up with the jerry can and the bike starts first time, needing a little persuasion. Surprised the battery has not gave up at this point but am relieved has started.

Time now is 11.50pm, I rejoin the Motorway, look at my arrival time and see about 5 hours to go. At this point, I am just happy to be back on the road and am going for it, feeling positive.

Need more petrol before Edinburgh Dreghorn but luckily see a sign on the Gantry "Services, 11 miles". At this point my nerves were shot, was having images of running out of petrol again. Topped up and away I went again towards Edinburgh Dreghorn.

Arrived at Dreghorn services, relieved and see another rider there. At this point, I am thinking I have blew it even though my GPS says am on track to get to Squires on time. I ask the chap if it can still be done, he seems extremely positive and that spurred me on. Got a Mars bar from Dreghorn and off I went towards Berwick.

With a new belief and feeling a lot more positive than I was after the shenanigans of the last hour, the ride to Berwick-upon-tweed flew by.

Got some fuel and receipt from Berwick and off I went with the smell of Squires in my nostrils.

What came next was the hardest part of the whole journey, the A1. Single carriageway, no road lighting, it was worse than a lullaby. I had maybe another 2 hours of riding ahead of me, but I was ready to tap out.

Was going through in my mind, pulling over at a warm service station with a McDonalds or something, ringing the number of the organisers and saying am stopping for some rest and will be back later in the morning, but would then have this bizarre internal argument with myself saying "Why quit now"? Service stations would be spotted, but I could not bring myself to pull into them as I knew that would mean the end of my ride. All I could think was the rider I saw near Inverness.

Then, the rider I met at Dreghorn overtakes me and it somehow kicks me into gear, I cannot explain but it was as though the moment he went past, I was revitalised. The game was well and truely on at this point.

My GPS then decided to send me through the Tyne Tunnel, I did question if I should ignore it but I did think "Maybe it knows something I dont", I did not have time to stop and look at alternate routes so I took it.

I then made a very quick 7 minute fuel stop on the A19 and hit the road again. Two of those minutes was faffing around with my gloves.

From that point on, quitting was not an option. Then, I saw daylight breaking and I cannot explain what that did to me but I felt like I did at 5AM the previous day, just ready to ride, the roads were soo clear.

As I arrived at Squires, so did the rider I met at Edinburgh, he was right.

I woke up Sunday morning feeling very proud but very broken. I did not leave Squires till around 2pm.

Lots of mistakes made, lots of lessons learnt but most importantly, memories made which I could never have imagined.

Apologies for the length of this post, have just tried to put into words as accurately as I could recall them to describe my day.

Had an amazing time and definitely doing more IBA rides in the future.

PS - Yes, I did the whole ride shifting gear with my heel :D
 
Last edited:

HACKLE

Well-Known Member
#4
Gimpymoo, congratulations. Now that you have officially become converted to the "club" of stupid long distance riders what's next. Read all you can from the useful tips on the Iron Butt site, bike preparation, body prep., fatigue and ride planning. And always remember that the next fuel stop mightn't have fuel, always fill up when you can or carry a small container of fuel with you.
Never forget to "plan the ride and ride the plan". Looking forward to reading about your next exploits. Cheers.
 

XYZZY

Premier Member
#5
Nice write-up, and Congrats! A ride like that opens new opportunities, and changes your perceptions and resets your self-imposed limitations.