The long and not so winding road...

Mike721

Premier Member
#1
It's been a tough year for a lot of reasons, and one thing that was bothering me was that I just haven't been riding all that much. I had plans to make 2020 a great year for riding, with some long touring rides and also I wanted to continue to work on my Iron Butt Association rides. I had some ideas... I wanted to try some tougher rides, finally get in a coast to coast challenge, and set and achieve some goals in the Mile Eater program to test myself. Of course the world has had other plans and none of this happened, I had not done a long ride since March 15.

I was watching weather and making plans, I really wanted to do a coast to coast now that I could take a week off but the weather kept tripping me up, stormy and it's Hurricane season and that's not good for most of the routes for that, those rides are better done in Spring when I'm more likely to have a week of good weather for an out and back trip like that. So I kept looking, I wanted another gold ride for the Mile Eater program, but not another BBG1500. I hit on the Saddle Sore Gold 2000, which is a ride I didn't even know existed.

The SS2000 Gold is a 2000 mile ride, with a time limit of 36 hours. This makes it a little less challenging in terms of time management vs the 1500 in 24 hours, the average speed needed to qualify is somewhat lower, but on the other hand the duration being longer than a day makes for another aspect that I haven't faced before, the decision to take a rest break and then make up for lost time or try to tough it out being up for a very long time. Basically this was my first big boy multi day ride, and should be great training for the CCC100 hour east coast-west coast-east coast ride that's on my bucket list.

Now I needed a route... too many times I have gone south and I wanted to try something different, and this actually worked out for me, there was a hurricane headed for the south but the weather north of the Mason-Dixon line looked just fine so I looked to the Midwest. I did a little mapping, and found that the simplest route made the most sense, ride a short way on Rt 33 to Route 80, go west, and keep going....

My route was Easton, Pennsylvania, to a town called Altoona, on the outskirts of Des Moines, Iowa. This should be 1050 miles, then I turn around and return, for a planned total of 2100 miles. It sure looked like a long way, but the numbers worked out and so did the weather, so with all boxes checked I took off 2 days from work, and at 0600 on Wednesday it was go time!

I hit the gas station at 06:18, got my receipt to start the clock and it was game on!

The ride out went pretty well, I know RT 80 in Pennsylvania well. It's a busy interstate but a lot of it is scenic and hilly and quite rural and actually pretty. Once I left the NE corner of the state it was less busy, the riding got easier and the miles went by, soon I was in Ohio.

Ohio is flatter, not too busy, not as scenic, still making good time, averaging about 80 mph, and with the fact that RT 80 in Ohio is a toll road (bad) comes the fact that on a toll road the service plazas make for fast and easy gas stops (good), and almost before I knew it I was in Indiana.

Indiana is the beginning of the flatland, hills seem to be few and far between, and you had better like corn or get used to it, you'll see plenty. I was still making good time since its a toll road there too but now I had some concerns, in the western end of Indiana the area around Rt 80 becomes busy as you approach Gary, IN, and come close to Chicago, IL. About 4 major highways interchange there, in places it's about 7 lanes of merging, high speed truck traffic with poor pavement to worry about too. You definitely need to be on your toes to ride though this mess, but luckily I'm used to riding in urban NJ so I negotiated it just fine. and then I was in Illinois.

Illinois is not bad for riding as long as you stay out of the Chicago area, on Rt 80 I grazed past it, there was a lot of delays on the other side of the road but nothing much headed west, and soon I was in the flattest state of them all, Iowa.

Iowa was corn, corn, corn, windmills, corn, corn, darkness over the corn fields with the flashing lights of windmills all around, and some combine harvesters working in the dark with lights blazing harvesting, you guessed it, more corn. I passed Iowa-80, the worlds largest truck stop, which was a glowing neon mega plaza full of trucks, surrounded by fields of, yup, corn. I finally reached my planned destination, a Kum & Go gas station in Altoona, IA, where filled my tank, got my turnaround receipt, and cleaned my windshield from the million bugs that flew out of the corn fields to commit suicide as darkness fell over the corn fields. 1050 miles down..time to head back! Time check showed I had plenty of cushion, I had about 4 hours leeway if I made it back at the same pace.

I headed back on 80 east, through the corn, and the miles unrolled, and my mind wandered over an interesting detail...I had made such good time that I could, if I played my cards right, nest a BunBurner 1500 Gold ride inside the SaddleSore 2000 Gold, if I could get in 1500+ miles in less than 24, and my mental gears started spinning!
I've never done it before but nesting is allowed under IBA rules, and I decided to give it a shot and get 2 certificates from the effort of completing the BBG and gas and tolls. This meant that I now had to do 500 miles at a pretty fast pace, when I had originally planned on taking it easy at this stage and maybe taking a nap on a rest stop picnic table somewhere. This was a long, dark, night, but as dawn was breaking and my BBG window was closing at just after 6:15 I had the miles, but I had a BIG problem, I was near the end of the Indiana toll road, nearing the start of the Ohio Turnpike, and there were no service plazas around to get a receipt to mark that event. I was going to lose the ride..but then at the junction of the two roads there was a great big heart, with the word LOVES on it, next to the road.. a Love's truck stop! I jumped off the road, grabbed a receipt for the gas and stopped the BBG clock with minutes to spare!

Now my mission was the last 500 miles, through Ohio, then on into Pennsylvania, and then the last weary miles as I neared home seemed to get longer and longer, I was wearing down and it seemed to take forever to get that last 100 miles in. I got off the highway, with 5 miles to go on side roads I made sure that each time I stopped i carefully planted my feet, don't get lax now and do something silly. I got my gas 5 blocks from home, got my receipt at 2091 miles with 3 hours to spare, nailing my SaddleSore 2000 Gold ride. I literally was 5 blocks from home, I parked in the garage, had a nice cup of coffee and then fell asleep on the couch for 3 hours, I think I earned that nap :cool:

So pending submission and verification, SaddleSore 2000 Gold, 2091 miles in 32 hours and 50 minutes , with a nested BunBurner 1500 Gold, 1540 miles in 23 hours and 40 minutes.
 

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#2
It's been a tough year for a lot of reasons, and one thing that was bothering me was that I just haven't been riding all that much. I had plans to make 2020 a great year for riding, with some long touring rides and also I wanted to continue to work on my Iron Butt Association rides. I had some ideas... I wanted to try some tougher rides, finally get in a coast to coast challenge, and set and achieve some goals in the Mile Eater program to test myself. Of course the world has had other plans and none of this happened, I had not done a long ride since March 15.

I was watching weather and making plans, I really wanted to do a coast to coast now that I could take a week off but the weather kept tripping me up, stormy and it's Hurricane season and that's not good for most of the routes for that, those rides are better done in Spring when I'm more likely to have a week of good weather for an out and back trip like that. So I kept looking, I wanted another gold ride for the Mile Eater program, but not another BBG1500. I hit on the Saddle Sore Gold 2000, which is a ride I didn't even know existed.

The SS2000 Gold is a 2000 mile ride, with a time limit of 36 hours. This makes it a little less challenging in terms of time management vs the 1500 in 24 hours, the average speed needed to qualify is somewhat lower, but on the other hand the duration being longer than a day makes for another aspect that I haven't faced before, the decision to take a rest break and then make up for lost time or try to tough it out being up for a very long time. Basically this was my first big boy multi day ride, and should be great training for the CCC100 hour east coast-west coast-east coast ride that's on my bucket list.

Now I needed a route... too many times I have gone south and I wanted to try something different, and this actually worked out for me, there was a hurricane headed for the south but the weather north of the Mason-Dixon line looked just fine so I looked to the Midwest. I did a little mapping, and found that the simplest route made the most sense, ride a short way on Rt 33 to Route 80, go west, and keep going....

My route was Easton, Pennsylvania, to a town called Altoona, on the outskirts of Des Moines, Iowa. This should be 1050 miles, then I turn around and return, for a planned total of 2100 miles. It sure looked like a long way, but the numbers worked out and so did the weather, so with all boxes checked I took off 2 days from work, and at 0600 on Wednesday it was go time!

I hit the gas station at 06:18, got my receipt to start the clock and it was game on!

The ride out went pretty well, I know RT 80 in Pennsylvania well. It's a busy interstate but a lot of it is scenic and hilly and quite rural and actually pretty. Once I left the NE corner of the state it was less busy, the riding got easier and the miles went by, soon I was in Ohio.

Ohio is flatter, not too busy, not as scenic, still making good time, averaging about 80 mph, and with the fact that RT 80 in Ohio is a toll road (bad) comes the fact that on a toll road the service plazas make for fast and easy gas stops (good), and almost before I knew it I was in Indiana.

Indiana is the beginning of the flatland, hills seem to be few and far between, and you had better like corn or get used to it, you'll see plenty. I was still making good time since its a toll road there too but now I had some concerns, in the western end of Indiana the area around Rt 80 becomes busy as you approach Gary, IN, and come close to Chicago, IL. About 4 major highways interchange there, in places it's about 7 lanes of merging, high speed truck traffic with poor pavement to worry about too. You definitely need to be on your toes to ride though this mess, but luckily I'm used to riding in urban NJ so I negotiated it just fine. and then I was in Illinois.

Illinois is not bad for riding as long as you stay out of the Chicago area, on Rt 80 I grazed past it, there was a lot of delays on the other side of the road but nothing much headed west, and soon I was in the flattest state of them all, Iowa.

Iowa was corn, corn, corn, windmills, corn, corn, darkness over the corn fields with the flashing lights of windmills all around, and some combine harvesters working in the dark with lights blazing harvesting, you guessed it, more corn. I passed Iowa-80, the worlds largest truck stop, which was a glowing neon mega plaza full of trucks, surrounded by fields of, yup, corn. I finally reached my planned destination, a Kum & Go gas station in Altoona, IA, where filled my tank, got my turnaround receipt, and cleaned my windshield from the million bugs that flew out of the corn fields to commit suicide as darkness fell over the corn fields. 1050 miles down..time to head back! Time check showed I had plenty of cushion, I had about 4 hours leeway if I made it back at the same pace.

I headed back on 80 east, through the corn, and the miles unrolled, and my mind wandered over an interesting detail...I had made such good time that I could, if I played my cards right, nest a BunBurner 1500 Gold ride inside the SaddleSore 2000 Gold, if I could get in 1500+ miles in less than 24, and my mental gears started spinning!
I've never done it before but nesting is allowed under IBA rules, and I decided to give it a shot and get 2 certificates from the effort of completing the BBG and gas and tolls. This meant that I now had to do 500 miles at a pretty fast pace, when I had originally planned on taking it easy at this stage and maybe taking a nap on a rest stop picnic table somewhere. This was a long, dark, night, but as dawn was breaking and my BBG window was closing at just after 6:15 I had the miles, but I had a BIG problem, I was near the end of the Indiana toll road, nearing the start of the Ohio Turnpike, and there were no service plazas around to get a receipt to mark that event. I was going to lose the ride..but then at the junction of the two roads there was a great big heart, with the word LOVES on it, next to the road.. a Love's truck stop! I jumped off the road, grabbed a receipt for the gas and stopped the BBG clock with minutes to spare!

Now my mission was the last 500 miles, through Ohio, then on into Pennsylvania, and then the last weary miles as I neared home seemed to get longer and longer, I was wearing down and it seemed to take forever to get that last 100 miles in. I got off the highway, with 5 miles to go on side roads I made sure that each time I stopped i carefully planted my feet, don't get lax now and do something silly. I got my gas 5 blocks from home, got my receipt at 2091 miles with 3 hours to spare, nailing my SaddleSore 2000 Gold ride. I literally was 5 blocks from home, I parked in the garage, had a nice cup of coffee and then fell asleep on the couch for 3 hours, I think I earned that nap :cool:

So pending submission and verification, SaddleSore 2000 Gold, 2091 miles in 32 hours and 50 minutes , with a nested BunBurner 1500 Gold, 1540 miles in 23 hours and 40 minutes.

Thanks for the write up. Sounds like you ride a charmed life in PA and OH given their past history.

-Mark
 

EricV

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#4
Nice write up @Mike721 A BBG is always a challenge and good on you for taking a challenging ride like the SS2K Gold and adding another dimension to it. You certainly earned both those certs. I'm sure there will be a certain satisfaction when the certs show up in the mail.
 

Baxter

Active Member
#8
Great story and great effort! I've been in many of the places you mentioned. Yep, corn & bugs. ;)

The highway congestion in the Gary, Indiana and Chicago metro can get interesting or frustrating. I was once riding from West Virginia to Milwaukee, and was caught up with semis before, after, and to each side. It was like there was a big wall in each direction. Never had I felt so tiny on my bike. But the drivers were all pros, and seemed to be affirmatively looking after my safety. I really appreciate conscientious big rig drivers. :) I also don't cut them off or do other stupid things around them.