Starting Time: 6:06 am (CT)
Starting Location: Paducah, KY
Ending Date: Monday 11/02/09
Ending Location: Paducah, KY
Ending Time: 4:01 am (CT)
Total Elapsed Time - 21 Hours 55 Minutes
Total Mileage - 1558 (Garmin/MapSource)
Total Stops - 11
After completing an Iron Butt Saddle Sore 2000 ride in late August, I came away with a much better understanding of my riding/endurance capabilities. Back-to-back 1,000 plus mile days left me reasonably sure I could have ridden much farther each day. With that in mind, I began planning the next step, the Iron Butt Bun Burner Gold. I promised myself I would closely evaluate the BBG throughout the ride for fatigue. If, at anytime, I felt rest was needed, I was fully prepared to stretch the ride to 36 hours (Bun Burner1500).
Sunday, November 1st, 2009 proved to be a perfect day. The temps started out cool (mid 40’s) but warmed quickly under a bright, clear sky. I left Paducah, KY at 6:06 am CT, headed north to Marion, IL via 1-24 and I-57. After a quick turn around gas stop (7:53 am CT), I turned south on I-57, crossing the Mississippi River at Cairo, IL and continuing on to the next turn at Matthews, MO on I-55. (8:59 am CT)
The temps had warmed enough to switch to a lighter jacket and gloves. I gassed up to mark the corner and then turned south on I-55, skirting around West Memphis, AR and Memphis, TN. Two planned gas stops and a few hundred miles later, I made the next turn east on I-12, complete with a gas stop, near Hammond, LA. (02:56 pm CT). By then the temps were in the low 70’s (f) with little wind. It was a beautiful day for a ride!
Interstate 12 quickly turned into I-10 and I crossed the LA/MS state line, passing near Biloxi, MS and on to Mobile, AL. I turned north on I-65 at Mobile and marked the turn with another gas stop (4:49 pm CT). Daylight was fading fast, along with the warmer temps. I changed back to my heavier First Gear Kilimanjaro Jacket and Gloves before continuing north to Montgomery and on to Birmingham, AL. (6:56 pm CT)
Following the by-pass around the east side of Birmingham, I eventually turned northeast on I-59, passing near Gadsden and Fort Payne, AL and continuing on to I-24 at Chattanooga, TN. After losing an hour to the Eastern Time Zone, and yet another corner gas stop (11:47 pm ET), I continued north on I-75 to the junction of I-40 where, after marking the corner with a gas receipt (01:01 am ET), I turned west, toward Nashville, TN. Not far west on I-40 I returned to the Central Time Zone and regained the hour lost.
By now it was late and my concerns for forest rats (deer) were foremost in my mind. I could not decide if the bright, full, harvest moon and clear skies were, overall, a plus or a minus. I could see much better with the additional moon light, but I also thought the deer might be on the move as well. After all, this late night ride was in the middle of the deer rut (mating season), through prime deer country, in the mountains of northeast AL and eastern TN. Luckily, I never saw the first deer.
I stopped again on the north side of Nashville, at a seemingly deserted gas station, to mark the I-24 corner (2:09 am CT). I continued northwest about 45 miles to the rest stop at the KY/TN state line, where I made a quick pull-over (5 min) to evaluate how tired I was, and to find a stick of gum. I have found chewing gun helps me stay alert. The rest stop was chocked full of people sleeping in their cars with their motors running. In tough economic times many find motels an all too expensive luxury.
Throughout the night the temps had averaged in the mid to high 30's (f) but now dropped to a chilly 32 (f) degrees, insuring a brisk ride at Interstate speeds. Fortunately, I was wearing a warm electric jacket liner and was tucked in behind a fully faired Gold Wing.
About eighty-five miles later, I arrived back in Paducah, KY at the gas station where I started. After collecting an ending gas receipt (4:01 am CT) and completing the ending witness form, I rode the last four miles home, somewhat tired but, strangely, wired and wide awake.
I made a total of eleven stops on this ride, not counting the starting and ending receipts. Without the use of an auxilary fuel system, my gas stops came at the required corner marks or between 180 and 200 miles. All but one was a planned gas stop, saved as "Waypoints" in my GPS. None of the stops were longer than eight minutes, with most in the six to seven and a half minute ranges. I encountered two gas stations with pay-at-the-pump receipt problems. I was fortunate neither caused a delay. Overall, I was very pleased with the quality of my receipts.
Borrowing a good idea from LD Riders Steve Short and Greg Rice, I used Aerostitch Pannier Bags, which enabled me to eat (sparingly) entirely on my Wing while riding. I normally avoid caffine a few days before and during long rides, limiting my liquid intake to nothing but water. I have yet to find a suitable hydration system I find practical. Until I do, I continue to use a Butler Cup and bottled water during LD rides.
After a few days of reflection, I would make one major change to this ride. Considering the inherent danger of riding at night during the deer rut, it would have been more prudent to reverse the route. Riding the dangerous mountain, deer infested portions during the daylight hours and deferring the flat, open ground of Mississippi and Arkansas for the night riding. I will certainly incorporate this lesson into any future Iron Butt ride I plan.
Although the ride was tough, I thoroughly enjoyed it. For me, the real fatigue showed up after the ride, over the next couple of days, as the adrenalin rush wore off.
Once again, I gained valuable insight into my long distance endurance capabilities. I eagerly look forward to the KY In-State SS1000 and the Ironbutt 50cc, planned for the spring of 2010.