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Evolution of a Rider

Evolution of a Rider ….
The education continues

Copyright 2005, All rights reserved. By: Larry Buck, COG 3491 – SEAD; IBA 8581 – SS1K, BB-1500, BB-Gold, CCC-Gold, SS-5K; SFRC

It has been awhile since I’ve updated my “Evolution of a Rider” series. Not that I have not been riding or touring in the recent past, but I have not done any Big Rides to add to my long distance or endurance riding experience. Some of you may be interested in how I became “certifiable” by visiting my website (http://www.bucksporttouring.com/) to read the original installment of how I came into motorcycling and long distance riding.

I had planned to enter the 2005 Iron Butt Rally (IBR) after the IBA banquet, held during Bikeweek, in 2003. Yes, the IBR requires a tremendous amount of long-range planning and commitment. Although I had done reasonably well in several 12 and 24 hour IBA style rallies, had done several Saddlesore 1000’s, a Bun Burner 1500, and a Bun Burner Gold; I had not done any multi-day, long distance rides or rallies. Several friends, who were IBR veterans (big dogs), suggested I try to work with the IBR staff at the Lake City,FL, checkpoint during the 2003 Rally to improve my chances of my entry being drawn for the ’05 Rally, and to enter the Butt Lite Rally in 2004, which amounts to one-half of an IBR in time and distance. I did work the Lake City checkpoint, but the Butt Lite was not held in 2004. I was back to square one.

Two good friends, Ron McNary and Wally Nichols participated in the Motorcycle Tourers Forum’s group 50-CC/100-CCC ride in 2004. I downloaded Wally’s story of their ride and was fascinated by their effort, and success, in this difficult ride.

The riders who accomplished the MTF, CCC-Gold (Coast to Coast to Coast in less than 100 hours) ride that year set a record for the number of finishers in this ride. Still, there were less than 250 or so IBA riders that had done this ride. I did, however, prepare another rider’s ST-1300 for the 2004 ride, using my endurance riding experience, to make this rider’s machine the best it could be. I didn’t give much thought about entering the 2005 ride because of pressing business issues and other commitments. But during January and February of this year, I was able to get things straightened out, and a visit to the MTF website reminded me about their group 50-CC/100-CCC ride to be held in April. Should I or shouldn’t I? I’m not getting any younger, this endurance-riding thing is finite, I can see the other side of the hill.

Jason Jonas was to be in charge of managing this ride. The entry form was to include a rider’s experience (riding resume) so he could determine if the requirements of the IBA were met for the CCC-Gold. Jason promptly returned my email, welcoming me to the Group and providing further information for me to digest.

I live in South Florida, which is about 290 miles from Jacksonville Beach, FL. I wanted to do a Saddlesore 5000 along with the CCC-Gold, so I selected a route that would be about 340 miles to get to Jacksonville, in order to qualify for the SS-5K (5,000 miles in 5 days) too.

A fellow Concours rider, Gary Norton, had contacted me about the ride, and in his persistent fashion, suggested we ride the CCC-Gold together. Gary and I have ridden several IBA rides together along with a rally. Our riding styles and body clocks are quite similar as well as the range of our Kawasaki Concours, which is about 250+ miles. Gary would be a great partner for the ride, as long as I didn’t let him lead us into a wrong direction. Please don’t ask me to explain the previous statement, it’s an inside thing for which Gary will forgive me…I hope.

That being settled, it was time to prep the Concours for the ride. I can’t offer a list of the things I did to get the bike ready because my Concours is pretty much ready to go at anytime. An oil/filter change, a thorough checkout, and the bike was good to go. Incidentally, upon the finish of the CCC my Concours would be just shy of the 100,000 mile mark. Aren’t today’s motorcycles really reliable compared to just a couple of decades ago?

The purpose of this story is not to document a blow-by-blow account of our successful ride, but rather to give the reader who may aspire to try this ride, or other long distance ride, a feel for what is involved in undertaking a ride of this scope. Other riders have done a great job of outlining the details of going coast-to-coast-to-coast in less than 100 hours.

First, one has to decide how the trip will be divided into two parts in order to get from Jacksonville to San Diego without expending so much energy that the return trip cannot be done safely. As many riders did, we chose Junction, TX as the midpoint of the first and second legs of the ride. Some riders choose to go to the Ft. Stockton, TX area, particularly if they are trying for an IBA, Bunburner Gold (1,500 miles in less than 24 hours) as part of the ride. We planned on arriving in Junction around midnight (EDT) to get 5-6 hours of sleep before continuing to San Diego. Not quite. We arrived in Junction after 1:00 AM (EDT), leaving us about 4-1/2 hours of sleep before the Screaming Meanie went off.

Because we were keyed up to get to San Diego, we were fresh in the morning, and droned on westward. The winds across the desert were surely an education for us easterners. I’ve never ridden a motorcycle leaned over for miles on end, and the resulting 200+ mile tankfulls caused us to stop for fuel a few more times than planned, causing us to be off plan arriving in San Diego. A few riders on motorcycles with a normal 150 mile range ran out of gas on this stretch but were aided by passing motorists. Wally Nichols had sent me an email before leaving, wishing me a successful ride, and to look for him among the saguaro cactus in the desert. He would be the one with the red hair and wearing glasses, rooting us on. That Wally is something; he must have had a thousand others rooting just for us when we passed through the area. Thanks Wally!

We rode into San Diego and on to the Shell station to get our finishing gas slip and then to Dog Beach for the sand and water that Ron Major established as a memento of his ride.

Dog Beach is an “interesting” place to say the least. It’s not the debris that one has to look out for, but the local, young folks that populate it in the evening hours. Gary and I parked the bikes in a “no zone” across from the entrance to the beach and proceeded to walk to the water’s edge, going past several groups that were sitting on the beach. The aroma reminded me of the Three Dog Night song; “Momma Told Me Not To Come”.….good thing our ride was over for the day. A guy and girl asked what we were up to. Gary lost no time explaining what we were doing there. They were in utter disbelief and asked non-stop questions of us. They took our picture, and bid us farewell, saying they hoped they could do what we were doing when they were our……….you get the picture.

Wednesday morning came too soon, after about 4 hours of rest. Jason suggested we could sleep longer because we had extra time on the other end to get to Jacksonville, but I was up to get our paperwork done when the other riders were preparing to leave. I noticed several of the witnesses were busy signing out other riders, but noticed another one who was obviously waiting to sign riders out. I went over to a figure in the darkness and, yikes! It was Lisa Landry, IBA rally-mistress. I had worked for her at the Lake City, FL, IBR checkpoint in ‘03. We chatted for awhile and she asked if I needed to be signed out for the next leg. “I sure do, and I would be grateful if you would sign my paperwork for me” I replied. I asked Lisa to say “hello” to Lord Kneebone for me; she then wished me a safe ride. I was off to get my starting gas slip to begin the ride to the East.

If you have been keeping track of the math from the previous paragraphs, you know that we had about 8-1/2 hours of rest so far. Please don’t lecture us on what we should have had in the way of rest. We surely would have liked to have more, but I can assure the reader that we felt very good at this point and were not dulled in the least. We are not supermen; just reasonably experienced LD riders, who know our limits.

The ride to the Shell station and out of town was busy but uneventful. We continued into the mountains and were treated to the awesome beauty of this area that we could not see the night before. Despite the warning signs, the winds were calm and we continued on to breakfast in Yuma, AZ.

The day droned on and we stayed with it until reaching Ft. Stockton, TX around midnight. Ft. Stockton is 230 miles short of Junction, our original planned stop. Gary and I decided to stay here as we were now quite tired and needed rest. I called Jason to let him know about the change in plans, just in case other riders might be looking for us in Junction, as well as the Days Inn to cancel our reservation. This is a decision that a rider must make, and not fool him or herself. When it’s time, it’s time. Yes, we would have a longer day tomorrow, but getting rest was more important. We would deal with the additional mileage to get back to Jacksonville Beach tomorrow.

We were on the road around 7:00 in the morning fully realizing that we had to almost do a short “BBG” (1,500 miles) to get back in time. The day went well, and we made good time through San Antonio, Houston, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, Mississippi, and on into Alabama. We stopped in the Mobile, AL area to don some warmer clothing for the night ride. I took a few minutes to call Ron McNary and Bruce Barge (B2) to let them know we were doing fine, and heading into the home stretch. Both remarked that I sounded “fresh”. I really appreciated them saying this, as I respect their judgement. My friend, Chuck Ginther, also had left a voice mail wishing us a great ride too.

Somewhere West of Tallahassee, we stopped to get a snack and regroup for the final miles to Jacksonville. We had a couple of tanks to go to the finish….we had come to measure our progress in “tanks” because it sounded better to us than “x” hundreds of miles.

The sun was nearing its rise as we approached Jacksonville on I-10. The morning rush of traffic had already begun. Gary was feeling great, and got about a mile ahead of me. I was tired, but I did not have the dreaded “nods”, which would have caused me to take a break. I continued on to I-95 and South to Route 202 to ride east to Jacksonville Beach. My gas slip read 6:30 AM….the ride was over.

Shortly afterward, Kevin Healey (Wizard) arrived on his Triumph and we all decided to go to the beach together for our sand/water and pictures. Kevin and Gary got their vials filled and it was my turn. I followed Kevin’s directions and dug a hole in the sand for the water to fill. While bending down for the water, a “rogue” wave came out of nowhere. I tried to jump to my feet but only succeeded in tripping on my boots and fell backward. Thoroughly embarrassed, I tried to get up quickly, like nothing happened, but only succeeded in falling again, this time face down! Hey, you guys. Promise you won’t tell anyone? Thanks. LOL

That’s my story and I’m stickin to it!

P.S. I’d like to thank Jason Jonas for organizing a great ride for all of us. You are a real professional at this sort of thing. I’m a newbie to the MTF, and I appreciate all your efforts on behalf of your members and motorcycling in general. Thanks too to Juli Davis, Alan LeDuc, and many others whose names escape me, for making me feel welcome. I look forward to seeing some of you down the road……ride far.

Dawn in Jacksonville Beach, FL
April 8th, 2005

This ride is over……

 


Contact:
Ph: 561-417-3601 ~
Fax: 561-417-3621
LBuck@BuckSportTouring.com

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