Pride goeth before the fall (equinox ride)

JAORE

Premier Member
#1
OR

The Hubris 1000

The four season ride should be a piece of cake, right? I've already have the certification for the Summer Solstice. This next one is just (just!) a SS 1000. And I have four (count 'em!) certificates on my wall including a BBG. I've learned from mistakes along the way and have honed my <ahem> considerable long distance riding skills and perfected my <cough> expert techniques.

OK, maybe not. But I can honestly say I've made so many mistakes on my other rides I ought to be well up that old learning curve.

Plus I have a easy out and back route. Virtually all Interstate. No challenging route changes are involved. No major construction along the route. There is even an almost full moon. Heck I can knock this off in under 17 hours easily!

Now, to be honest, I really don't think like that. A SS1000 is still something I plan for and get nervous about. I read about the guys with the 48 States plus, the guys with so many BBG certificates they could paper a wall and more. I won't even mention the guys in the Iron Butt Rally. I'm in awe of these supermen. But, still an out and back Interstate run should be doable barring the unforeseen.

And the Fall Equinox ride adds a kicker. Most SS1000s are any road, any bike any time..... Hold on there Francis, it's not any time, it's a very specific date.

With a typical SS 1000 where I see a strong weather front becomes for me, “Oh well, next weekend.” Not so the four season rides. This one had to be September 22. So topic one became checking the weather. From our home near Montgomery, Alabama I've have thought out and plotted routes that go south then west, south then east, north, north west.... heck all over the place. It seemed every route I looked at had some possibility of rain for 9-22.

But one looked promising. If I head south on I-65 then west on I-10/12/10 I can hit a station near Orange, Texas and have well over 1,000 miles. There was, per multiple weather sites, a chance of afternoon thunderstorms, but only near the turn around point. But if I leave at a really early hour it minimizes the time I ride in the dark while fatigued. Plus I could get to the turn around point before noon. So I may miss the afternoon storms altogether.

The plot thickens. The next item to consider is fuel stops. The first is easy. About ten miles from my house is the one I always use for start and ending receipts. Easy on and off fronting US 231, never out of premium, always has receipts at the pumps.... You know that expression, “Never say never”? Well, it has a cousin, “Never say always”. More on that later.

The other stops are found. National/Regional chains serving large trucks. I like them. Typically easy access from the Interstate. Open 24/7. So I found three. Each about 175 to 185 miles apart. My bike can go well over 200 miles per tank so I have a cushion. Plus a 1.25 gallon insurance policy gas container I carry on my top box rack for these rides. I've checked and all three stations are currently operating and open 24 hours. Plus there are fall back stations nearby if something changes. I've looked at the connections to and from the Interstate. All nicely located. Done and done. I put these on the little cheat sheet I tape on my dash.

This is part of my KISS program. It's to combat fatigue and uncertainty. Both drain critical (and in my case short supply) IQ points.

Basically my cheat sheet says something like:

I-65 => I-10 =>1-12 => I-10

Gas stop 1, I-65, exit XX, turn left, XYZ Brand

Gas stop 2, I-10, etc, etc, etc

At the bottom I put, !!BUBBLER!!

This last is to remind me to make sure Bubbler pings the gas station location specifically. I use Bubbler tied to Spotwalla and figure it helps the reviewer. It also helps me piece together the ride when the Google Maps address may not match the address on the receipt. It happens.

On my BBG a few months ago I planned the stops but then deviated from them. It did NOT work well and resulted in the final time being uncomfortably close to 24 hours. Lesson learned. I'm not going to do THAT again. Another more on that later.

The bike is ready. Recently serviced. Tires have some miles on them, but they have plenty of tread and are not cupped. Inflated to specs. Air shock checked. My clothing gear, snacks and water are laid out or already loaded on the bike. So no food stops needed, I'll snack on the fly or at fuel stops. I'll drink while at fuel stops. Ready to roll.

At least the bike was. I have trouble sleeping, well, always. But especially before a ride. So I made sure I had a good night's sleep Thursday night. I planned to do the same Friday by going to bed very early then leaving at Zero-dark-thirty Saturday morning.

Snag number one. Friday was a birthday celebration for best buddy and riding partner Mike. Can't, wouldn't, skip something that important. Hmmm, Mexican restaurant. I like the food, but let's see what they have that I want sloshing around in my innards for 1,000+ miles. Enchiladas it is! Don't bother looking up enchilada recipes in the Archives of Wisdom on the IBA site. They are not there.

We left the restaurant fairly early and I was home at 9. I'd planned to be asleep by then, but I had only lost an hour of sleep. Not so bad. Set the alarm for 1 am. Kiss my bride good night and promise to wake her before I leave for another kiss (Life is good).

Down I go, quickly and easily. And I slept right up until 10:30. Acid reflux.... My doctor has instructed me to avoid spicy foods, but he did not give me a specific list. I guess enchiladas are now on that list. At least on the list of foods to avoid before an IBA ride. OK, add Tums to the ride pack.

So I'm up and I stay up. In hind sight I should have left at 11 pm. But the plan called for 2 am. So I lay around and fail to doze back off until I call it quits and slowly start gearing up at 1 am. At least I have no rush to get ready by 2.
 

JAORE

Premier Member
#2
At the designated time I back the bike out of the garage. Then I'm off, like a herd of turtles, as Dad used to say.

In an ominous note there's a large, dead deer on the side of the road out of my neighborhood. That's one of the reasons I try for Interstate routes especially at night. I fear the deer! Oh well, on we go.

First gas stop, my old favorite. Pull right in, pump the gas. A message on the pump asks, “Do you want a receipt?” I push the, “Why yes I do, thank you for asking” button. Whirling noise. No receipt. Double dang. In I go and ask for a receipt on my pump. She stares out to the fuel area as if to ascertain if that pump is in use. It takes longer than I thought since I have the only vehicle in the whole station at near 2 am. In a few seconds I toss out the helpful hint, “It's the motorcycle”. This must have helped because she says,”OK” and turns to her register. She stares at it a bit. She pokes at it a bit. Then she stares at it some more. “Sorry.” she states, “It's my first day on the job”.

Hoo boy.

My mind begins to consider alternate gas stops to buy that $0.05 in fuel, or an ATM, or.... when she leaves to go in a back room. I hear, “Mumble, mumble, mumble”. Oh good, I thought, there's help. There's hope.

The first clerk reemerges. She pokes at her screen some more. She disappears again. Back she comes. Pokes, stares, pokes, stares. She finally calls out, “I can't find that button!” A not-very-happy person appears from the back and voila, a receipt.

I tell my self, “no big deal” there is a lot of cushion in my schedule. But the goal of sub-ten minute stops dies an early death.

I pull out onto US 231 when it dawns on me, BUBBLER! Despite my cheat sheet, I'd failed to trigger my first bubbler spot. I pull onto the shoulder and blip it. Only 1.2 miles off. If that's the biggest issue I face.... (cue ominous background music).

Things begin going well from that point. Almost cloudless skies and a bright, nearly full moon. I hit I-65, clear Montgomery and set the cruise control for 75 mph. Nicely cool out, just the way I like it. And the miles roll by.

My next fuel stop is in the Mobile area. Laid out just like Google Maps told me. I roll in and notice two local cops hanging out in the lot. Could be they are just on a break. But, as our oldest, the LEO says, “This place looks sketchy”. No biggy. Pull up to a pump. It won't read my card. Try card #2. No dice. I walk into store and tell the clerk the card won't read. “Some do, some don't”, is his response. I ask, “Do you know which ones do work?” “Now don't go making me a liar telling you about them pumps”. This was not helpful, but it was what I got. So I tried one more time, “If you had to guess which pump to use.....?” He offeed, “Try number four”. And so I did. Number four read my card AND provided me gas. VICTORY! Pump the gas..... no receipt. OK, not a great victory. Sigh... in I go. No time stamp. This time the clerk is a woman. She writes a time on the receipt and her initials and off I go.

I take the pic of the receipt. “Hey dummy”, that's me, talking to me, “Put your odometer reading on the receipt.” I'm beginning to consider what 30 minute gas stops will do to my schedule.

Oh yeah. New pic taken and I'm off.

Later, looking at my times and miles I realize the efforts to get the two receipts is KILLING my average speed. But, hey, plenty of time, right?

Another uneventful leg. No construction zones of note. No accidents. Rolling right along. The third fuel stop is in Denham Springs, Louisiana. It is remarkable only because I got a receipt at the pump. It is just after 7:30 am and my turn around point is 182 miles away. At 75 mph that is under 2 and a half hours riding time. So I'll be there not long after 10 am or so, right? Heck, even 10:30 should be OK. That should assure those afternoon thunderstorms are not an issue.

Of course that is when the rains start. Not a thunderstorm, but a fairly hard, steady rain. Oh well, if you ride you learn to ride in the rain. I pull over and put on my rain gear. My tires have plenty of tread to shed water. The road here is smooth and I tell myself to keep things steady and smooth. Not too wet, not too cold, no problem. Speed was down for every vehicle, way down, but I'm making progress.

Cursing the weather men of the world did little to help the situation so I concentrated on piloting my new water craft.

Except.... the rain is increasing. To the point I can't wipe the visor enough to see well enough to feel safe. I exit and find a gas station at Who-the-heck-knows, Louisiana. I THINK it was Roanoke, LA, but I was concentrating on my rainy path rather than locator signs and I didn't buy anything for a DBR. No need for gas. Nothing to do but watch the rain. And watch, and watch. Thirty minutes or so rolls slowly by.

I finally convince myself that the rain was lessening. Must have, because I could see just well enough to convince myself it was safe at a reduced speed.

Here is where I realize why stupid and stubborn are near each other in the dictionary. My planned route is almost 1,100 miles. I could have gone a few miles down the road, buy gas and get home earlier and with less rain. Stubborn AND stupid is a bad combination. Hey, plan your ride, ride your plan. I'd forgotten that on my BBG ride and it almost bit me in the arse. So THIS time it's stick to the plan come hell or high water. (“High water”is probably the wrong expression to use considering the rain on this ride.) The foolishness of the decision to press on all the way to the Orange, Texas station reoccurs to me every time I pass a visible, easily accessed gas station or hit some world class bumps in the construction zones that awaited. A couple of them had my bike doing a great imitation of a hobby horse.

As a side note, I want to applaud the Texas DOT for their obvious commitment to water fowl. By that I mean there were duck ponds of water standing on the pavement through out the work zones. The sudden sprays that erupted as a car hit the puddles made it look like I was riding through a pod of Gray Whales spouting all around. But the whale spouts did give me advanced warning to miss the worst of the puddles.

As a second side note, I'm 66 now and feel my youth slipping away rapidly. One area of concern is my reflexes. But I'm delighted to say that I hit one deep puddle directly proving that, at least, my sphincter muscle is still cat quick!
 
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JAORE

Premier Member
#3
But I pressed on, until....

I finally reach the planned turn around spot in Orange, Texas. I pull up to a pump and see a screen message about the computer re-loading. It's raining hard here and I have to ride back into it to get to another pump. Same message. Many bad words followed. I knew some of the pumps worked because there were cars using them. It took several minutes to locate the working pumps and wait for one to be available. I use part of the time talking to a local rider on a Road Glide Special. The look on his face when I responded to the “Where you coming from and going to?” question was the highlight of the day so far.

I've finally got a working pump, but the rain is pouring off the overhead cover in a large stream right onto my top box. Of course this resulted in rain splashing on the receipt, me and the dash. I quickly snapped a pic or two and hoped the resolution would be OK. Time 11:45. What? Man did I ever lose ground in the rain.

But at least I was headed home now.... like an old, plug rental horse. Slow and on rough pavement in the rain, but I was moving.

On I go to Jennings, Louisiana. By now I was tired from the effort to concentrate in the rain. Plus I was a bit cold and a bit hungry. The rain was mostly behind me, at least for the moment.

Beef jerky, almonds and (sugar free) candy wasn't cutting it. The golden glow of a Waffle House beckoned. One cup of coffee and a Patty Melt should do it. I usually go for a triple hash browns, “All the Way”, splattered, scattered, covered and sh*t upon. But I don't need Doc Spoilsport to tell me that load in my gut may not be the best idea with the miles remaining. Another 45 minutes or so gone. But the get home by dark plan went the way of the Dodo many miles ago.

MyRadar said the rain was catching up fast. Remount the bike and roll. MyRadar was right.

After being stubborn and stupid about just HAVING to use Orange, Texas I decide to shorten my distance between gas stops. So much for the use the same stops as on the way out. Out goes the ride plan, but it helps with the fatigue.

Garner, Louisiana is coming up. It's almost 3pm. And I'm only 150 miles into this leg. But it's an easy access truck stop. Fuel and go. No problems, what a refreshing change!

As I ride my new Sena 2.0 feeds a message to my Infotainment screen. Incoming call. Of course I accept. Of course it doesn't work. Worse, I'm tapping and poking the Sena and instead of music I get,”Bzzz.... intercom..... bzzz..... intercom”. I liked the music more. It was many miles before I get the music back. Operator error, no doubt.

Anyone with a wife and children knows I can not ignore this call. So I find a safe spot and pull over. All's well. My wife is just checking up on me. She'll check up on me three more times. Each time I dutifully pull over, call her, listen for a few minutes then tell her, “I've got to go”. My fault, I'd texted her on my first break from the rain that this ride was rough. She began to worry and didn't stop until I got home.

FWIW, she does like following me on Spotwalla. She, not unreasonably, equates the moving points with “still alive”. Thanks Spotwalla, it helped.

Next up Biloxi, Mississippi. That's about 155 miles. I'd initially planned 175-190 or so between stops. Using a couple of stops in the 150 mile range would add another gas stop. But the only key now was getting home safely.

Once north of Mobile I started looking for a gas stop. I saw a likely spot at Saraland, Alabama. Easy peasy, I got gas then headed north knowing the next gas stop would be the final DBR. Another call from Judy, I combined a stop at a rest area.

And then the final receipt. Same gas stop I used for the start. And, though I used a different pump, this one also failed to print a receipt. Fortunately the store was open and the clerk was NOT on her first day on the job.

Time was 10:02 pm. That is 20 hours and 20 minutes. Dismally slow thanks to horrible fuel stop times and the rain. But I now have two of the four seasons covered.

Life is good!
 
#4
As a second side note, I'm 66 now and feel my youth slipping away rapidly. One area of concern is my reflexes. But I'm delighted to say that I hit one deep puddle directly proving that, at least, my sphincter muscle is still cat quick!
Hooray! for cat quick sphincter muscles! :D
 

kwthom

Rider
Premier Member
IBA Member
#5
<...> That is 20 hours and 20 minutes. Dismally slow thanks to horrible fuel stop times and the rain. But I now have two of the four seasons covered.

Life is good!
Yes - yes it is! :) Congrats!

So, your 17 hour ride turned into a 20 hour ride because you were smart about it. When you make the call to tossed aside the ride plan, you do it because the plan was for an optimum ride, not the sub-optimum you were battling to complete.

Nice recovery!
 

Scott Parish

Premier Member
#6
Well done. It is funny; but the best riding advice I have received was from my wife. We were on a SS and I was fidgety and not happy about losing some time during the ride because I had everything mapped out to the minute. She asked what the hurry was for? I answered we were behind schedule and I wanted to get home at a decent time to relax. She replied if you wanted to relax at home then maybe we shouldn't have gone on the ride. She went on to remind me we had 24 hours to complete the ride and it made more sense to her to use as many minutes/hours necessary to relax and enjoy the ride. Admittedly; after 33 years of marriage - I am still a work in progress.
 

DarkoDanny

Premier Member
#7
nice pic, looks familiar ;) Good ride and sticking out to complete even when things don't go your way. I did my fall equinox with very little planning as well. picked a good few anchor points and just headed out. Now that I've done a few, the preparation for just the ride is not that much. Hardest part is picking a direction to head to that you haven't been before. My trip had lots of rain in the morning dark hours and the evening dark hours, the in between was sunny and 70 degrees, so I guess it evens out a bit. 3 out of 4 down this year. hoping Dec 21 is favorable for closing out the 4 seasons!
 

JAORE

Premier Member
#9
LOL. Let's see, TWICE as many documented rides as I've completed in my 67 years of life. One year to do that..... hmmmm. Hard pass!
I am on the only slightly insane side of that bell curve. My hat is off to the level of insanity you have achieved.
 
#10
LOL. Let's see, TWICE as many documented rides as I've completed in my 67 years of life. One year to do that..... hmmmm. Hard pass!
I am on the only slightly insane side of that bell curve. My hat is off to the level of insanity you have achieved.
Ahh, don't let the number of rides completed throw you off. My first ride was in 2017 during the Eclipse. I didn't do another one until March of 2018, which is when I began the 12 Ides 1000 Insanity series. I did my third a few weeks later for the Fool's Gold.

Speaking of which, I'll be doing that one Monday and I am working on the 4 Seasons series.