Coast to Coast Ride (50cc) Trip Report - K-Bikes.com - Excellence in Motion
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2010, 9:18 am Thread Starter
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Coast to Coast Ride (50cc) Trip Report

Coast to Coast Ride Trip Report

I live in Orange County, California, and had a two-day meeting scheduled near Washington, DC in early April 2010. It was the perfect opportunity to try an Iron Butt Association “50cc Quest”: Coast to Coast in under fifty hours.

See: http://www.ironbutt.com/ridecerts/ge...nt.cfm?DocID=4

Summary: I completed the 50cc ride in forty-five hours and thirty-five minutes. After that, I rode to the meeting and then came home, stopping to visit family and friends along the way. Overall, the trip was delightful, but uneventful, and I was fortunate to have nearly perfect riding weather. Immediately after my ride, my route was devastated with disasters – several clusters of tornadoes, major flooding, and of course, the BP oil spill.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2010, 9:26 am Thread Starter
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Route Planning

Route Planning

Where I live in Orange County, the best starting point is Newport Beach, because of its proximity to the CA-55 (Costa Mesa) Freeway. I looked at that route and compared it with the traditional Ocean Beach (San Diego) start point. The 50cc ride is seventy miles farther if you start at Newport Beach than if you start in San Diego. Since it is only ninety miles to San Diego, I decided to ride there “off the clock” to give myself every possible advantage for success.

Another tough decision was whether to leave in the morning or leave in the evening. By doing so, I would have to ride the West Texas deer country at night, limiting me to 65 mph (if not slower due to deer concerns). During the day, the speed limit is 80 mph. I decided that starting out after a good night’s rest, and riding carefully through the deer country at night outweighed the advantages of an afternoon or early evening start with no rest the first night.

I arranged for a witness in San Diego and one in Jacksonville Beach. I gave them my SPOT tracking information. My Jacksonville Beach witness asked me to email him when I got to Tallahassee.
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2010, 9:27 am Thread Starter
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Preparation and Packing

Preparation and Packing

Most of the preparation revolved around getting my BMW K1200GT motorcycle ready. It was overdue for a valve check and other 24,000 mile maintenance activities. A good friend helped me change the oil, final drive oil, air filter, install fresh brake pads, and most important, perform that overdue valve and radiator coolant replacement. (You know who you are – THANK YOU!) The work gave me a new confidence to perform those maintenance functions on my own, too. A few days before the ride, I changed the tires from Avon Storms to fresh Michelin PR2s. The Storms had a lot of tread left, but I knew that they would not last the entire trip.

Some Optimoly TA paste arrived a few days before I left, so I made sure to lube the splines on the final drive. In addition to the maintenance, I installed a Verholen footpeg lowering set. They added a tremendous comfort factor, and it is hard to imagine very long rides without them.

I also went to a nearby medical lab. They generously gave me small plastic urine containers for my sand and water samples (souvenirs) at each coast.

My wife is a packing genius. She helped me organize and pack. She knows how to fold clothes so they aren’t crumpled and wrinkled when you take them out.

The left side case held business attire for the meetings, plus some selected hand tools. (I steamed the jacket and ironed the pants and shirts and ties when I got to the hotel where the meeting took place.)

The right side case held a pair of jeans, sneakers, underwear, and a few casual/riding clothes along with an air compressor and a tire repair kit.

The 49-liter top case held a 17-inch laptop computer in a thin padded sleeve, an extension cord, and computer accessories in a small pouch. On top of those, I kept miscellaneous on-the-road items for different riding conditions - assorted gloves, glasses, sunglasses, a Warm and Safe heated jacket liner, long/short LD Comfort shirts (I wore one or the other), and the two liners for my Rev’It Dragon jacket when not in use. I left enough space in the top case to hold small gifts for friends and family that I purchased along the way.

I bought a cheap “ProStar” expandable cordura pillion bag. It came with a flimsy rain cover. I put Froggs Toggs raingear and a Geza cover in the main compartment. Food and snacks went in the outer pockets: beef jerky, breakfast bars, mints, and fruit.

The Engage tank bag is small, but it has a large flat map pocket. I put a Camelbak liner with ice water in the large compartment, plus my camera, cellphone, earplugs, and miscellaneous small items. I looped the camera strap to the tank bag so that I wouldn’t lose the camera if I dropped it. It wasn’t easy, but I managed to take a few photos while riding.

In the Engage map pocket, I put a small spiral notebook that I used for my 50cc log, a heavy duty Ziploc bag for receipts, a small canister of pepper spray, and a 10 mm wrench in case I wanted to adjust the shift lever. There was enough room in the map pocket for the Garmin Zumo during restroom breaks.

I printed a homemade “I.C.E. – Emergency Card” with emergency medical information, contacts, and more. I put one in my wallet and one in my jacket pocket. I put another one in a neckstrap badge holder, which I wore throughout the ride. In the badge holder zipper pocket, I added a credit card, some cash, a blank check, and a spare key to the motorcycle.

The night before the ride, everything was packed and ready, and I managed to get to bed at a reasonable time. My riding gear was laid out, ready for the next morning. Sleep wasn’t easy due to the excitement of the pending ride, but I got much more rest than the previous year’s Border-to-Border ride. Being packed and ready early made a huge difference.
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2010, 9:30 am Thread Starter
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Riding the 50cc – First Day

Riding the 50cc – First Day

On Thursday, 8 April 2010, I got up, showered and dressed, and rode down I-5 to San Diego, arriving just before 7:00 AM. My witness, Craig, was waiting for me in the parking lot at Ocean Beach.

Craig took photos while I collected my Pacific Ocean sand and water sample. I ran back and forth as the waves rushed in. I didn’t want to get my boots and pants wet, but I wanted to collect a good mix of sand and water. Craig laughed about it as he signed my witness form.

After that, we rode to the nearby Ocean Beach Shell gas station, the traditional starting point. I filled up my tank and collected the precious time-stamped receipt that records the official start of the ride: 7:20 AM PDT, Thursday, 8 April. To earn the Iron Butt Association 50cc certificate, I had to ride to Jacksonville Beach by 12:20 PM local time on Saturday.

I donned my helmet and gear, shook hands with Craig, and headed east on I-8. Craig escorted me for a few miles.

The trick to any Iron Butt ride is to keep stops as short as possible. I had arranged my gear so that I could put the bike key in my pocket, the GPS in the tank bag map pocket, and my gloves in the helmet. By carrying the tank bag and helmet with me for restroom breaks, the rest my gear was locked and safe. I made a quick gas stop in Yuma AZ, joined I-10 west of the gas stop in Tucson, AZ, crossed the Continental Divide, and made another gas stop in Deming, NM. I got between 200 and 250 miles of riding per tank on my K1200GT – about 3 hours between stops. As I rode, I knew I was very close to the border with Mexico, and got occasional glimpses of it along the way. There were several Immigration checkpoints along the way. The officers all asked the same question, “Citizenship?” I responded with “US.”

The sun went down as I passed through El Paso. An eerie, red twilight illuminated the hills across the Rio Grande river, showing the stark contrast between El Paso and Ciudad Juarez. I wondered how close I was to the drug wars, but the thought evaporated as I concentrated on riding safely along the freeway.

I had been warned to watch my fuel in west Texas, so I filled up in Ft. Hancock and also in Ft. Stockton, to make sure I wouldn’t run out along the way. My goal was to reach Junction, TX, close to the halfway point, before stopping.

I had also been warned about deer in West Texas. They come out at night, and represent a real danger to motorcyclists. I stayed awake and alert, from Ft. Hancock all the way to Junction. It was stressful, especially because I don’t have auxiliary lights like my Iron Butt friends, only the factory HID headlight. It lit up the road and the right shoulder fairly well. I saw only two deer, both in the median. I imagined seeing lots more deer (Darn those bug spots on the faceshield!) and I know there were many more deer very close to me that I didn’t see.

I reached Junction, TX at 4:20 AM, which is 2:20 AM Pacific time. I headed straight for the Motel 6. Every minute of wasted time means less sleep, so the night attendant tortured me with a painfully slow and methodical check-in process. The man moved like molasses, and nothing seemed to be easy or ready. Everything had to be done through a bank-style safety glass window with a small slot underneath. Argh!

As soon as I got to the room, I carried a few things in for safekeeping, covered the bike, set the alarm clock, and went straight to bed. The next morning came too soon, of course, but I packed my gear and was out by 9:20. I went to fill my camelbak from the ice machine, but after meeting many new friends, I decided to fill it with water from the tap instead.
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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2010, 9:33 am Thread Starter
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Riding the 50cc – Second Day

Riding the 50cc – Second Day

The bike was fueled and I was on the road again by 9:30 AM, Friday morning. I made a fuel stop in Weimar, TX. In Houston, I reached the KATY lanes just after the 2:00 PM start of the “free” period, so I used them. Nobody else was using them, and the feeling was liberating – like I was in one of those car commercials where the road is magically open for only one driver.

In Louisiana, I-10 is a long, elevated causeway that runs high above the swamps on either side. The view is spectacular, and in my mind I could hear strains of “Dueling Banjos.” I took I-12 to bypass New Orleans and filled up near Biloxi, MS.

Trouble started when I got near Mobile, AL. There is a high two-lane causeway that crosses Mobile Bay. When I got to the water’s edge, the traffic stopped high on that causeway. It was like a parking lot, and they don’t let you split lanes there. In the far distance, I could see lots of flashing police and fire rescue lights ahead. A man in the car next to me was listening to the radio. He told me that a bad accident had blocked the entire highway, and it would take hours to clear, maybe not until morning. There was nowhere to go. I thought my ride was lost.

I looked around, and realized that the final exit before the Mobile Bay crossing was to my right. With hand signs and some duck walking, I managed to squeeze from the left lane between two cars, wheel around, and take the exit. When I reached the bottom of the exit, on the edge of Mobile Bay, there was a policeman who had set up a roadblock and was directing traffic. I got off my bike and yelled to him, “I am from far away and I’m completely lost, can you please help?” He yelled at me, “I’m busy, wait there!” I waited while he did his job, and after some time, he blocked traffic in a certain direction and signaled me to walk over. I explained the situation, and that I had to get to Jacksonville. He was very friendly, and told me how to route around the blockage. Once I got going, the GPS picked up on the detour. I-10 Eastbound was empty for the rest of the night.

I stopped at a truck stop in Marianna, FL, and had a two-hour nap at a back corner table in the attached Arby’s. After the nap, I felt very refreshed, and all I wanted was to finish the ride. I sent an email to my witness as he requested. I reached Lake City, FL in the early morning hours, had a hot fast-food breakfast, and completed the ride, arriving at the Jacksonville Beach Shell at 8:00 AM Saturday morning, with four hours and 20 minutes to spare.

The witness was nowhere to be found. Instead, I found a 7:45 email message saying that he wasn’t expecting me so early, and couldn’t make my SPOT link work. I sent a reply telling him that I would find another witness, and not to worry about it. Inside, I was a bit angry – I had ridden all the way across the country, and was on my own. Oh well.

I rode the two blocks to the beach, and met a nice man who was out walking his dog. I gave him my camera, and asked him to take photos while I collected my Atlantic Ocean sand and water sample. I learned later that the area is called “Dog Beach”. The beach’s namesakes had left many small obstacles to avoid on my way to collect the sample.

I had heard that Jacksonville Honda was “Iron Butt friendly”, so I rode there with my witness form. Two employees signed the form, and they gave me a quiet back room to nap for a couple hours. I laid down on the carpet, put my head on my bundled jacket, and had an excellent rest.
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2010, 9:37 am Thread Starter
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North to Delaware and Washington, DC

North to Delaware and Washington, DC

There was a bluegrass music festival at the beach in Jacksonville, but I chose to head north, so I could get an early start to visit my niece and her husband in Fayetteville NC. It might have been better to stay in Jacksonville, because I was stuck in parking lot traffic on I-95 for hours due to road construction. I tried routing around the traffic using rural roads, but it didn’t help. I finally gave up and stopped for the night in Savannah, GA.

The next day, I rode up to Fayetteville NC. I took my niece and her husband to lunch, and we spent the afternoon together. I left before supper and rode north, stopping in Roanoke Rapids, NC.

Another goal of the trip was to ride across the famous Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnel. The 24-mile span is one of the “Seven Engineering Wonders of the Modern World,” and includes long causeways, four manmade islands with two one-mile tunnels between them, and a pair of large trestle bridges on the Peninsula side.

I had someone to meet in Dover, DE, but I didn’t realize how long it would take to ride up the Delmarva Peninsula. The highway had 25 mph zones every couple miles, and lots of traffic signals. Despite the early start, I didn’t get to Dover until 3:30 in the afternoon.

From Dover, I rode to a cousin’s home in Annapolis MD, and spent the evening and next morning with her. It was a delight to see her and we shared lots of stories about our family and my father.

Late that morning, I rode to a hotel near Washington DC, for a two-day meeting. It poured rain the whole way. The cheap rain cover for the pillion case was completely shredded. Obviously the manufacturer had not bothered to test it, and it had been protected from most of the wind by my body, too.

The meeting was very productive. I was surprised at the amount of attention I received because I had ridden there rather than flying. I learned that several attendees were also riders, and one is planning a similar ride (more twisties, but not a 50cc) soon. The meeting broke up in the late afternoon on the second day.
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2010, 9:40 am Thread Starter
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Washington, DC to Conroe, Texas

Washington, DC to Conroe, Texas

I headed over to Owings Mills, near Baltimore, to visit another cousin. We spent the evening visiting, and I rode out that night to Frederick, MD.

Frederick, MD, is the home of Hood College, my mother’s alma mater. The motel was only two miles away, so I rode over, took lots of photos for her, and met Ronald Volpe, the President of the College.

I rode as far as Athens, TN that day. One reason progress was slow is that I took the time to ride a fifty mile segment of the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is a rider’s road, to be sure, with excellent twisties and stunning views in all directions. I would have liked to ride more of it, but I was still many days from home.

It was nearly 900 miles from Athens TN to Conroe TX, but I rode it in one day, arriving at midnight. The GPS took me on a tour of one lane rural Louisiana and Texas roads through Alexandria, Leesville, and Jasper. My Conroe friend, Mark, was concerned as he watch my SPOT tracks – apparently I had ridden through the heart of Klan Kountry, but I didn’t know better, and there were no problems. There was some light rain, but no other issues.

I had not seen Mark in at least a decade but he is still the same. He introduced his lovely wife, and I took a day off from riding to spend with them. It was a good choice, because it rained the entire day. Mark and his wife live in a park-like setting with a forest all around their home. Mark showed me some crawdad (crayfish) burrows around his year. I thought that crawdads lived in streams and creeks, and was surprised to learn that they burrow underground like moles and gophers.

Mark feeds a large herd of deer that come to visit every day. He and I have vastly different views of deer. His view of them is Bambi; mine is an unpredictable, lethal threat to motorcyclists.
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2010, 9:43 am Thread Starter
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Conroe to Phoenix

Conroe to Phoenix

I took off the following morning for Phoenix, my next destination. I took time to visit Johnson City TX to see the Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) Visitor Center and the nearby LBJ Ranch. Once I got on I-20, l enjoyed an 80 mph ride through the West Texas deer country in the daylight hours, stopping at dusk in Van Horn, TX.

The next day was an uneventful ride to Chandler AZ to meet a good friend for dinner. I arrived in mid-afternoon, so I stopped at Victory BMW Motorcycle to relax and visit. After dinner we visited the Heart Attack Grill, which was interesting, but didn’t live up to its hype.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2010, 9:44 am Thread Starter
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Last Day – Homeward Bound

Last Day – Homeward Bound

I rode from Phoenix to Scottsdale the next morning to meet Mark Kincart of GoAZ Motorcycles. We had an interesting and wide ranging conversation, and he told me about his plans for GoAZ.

The ride home was challenging, but not dangerous. There were high wind, dust storm, and low visibility warnings throughout the desert. I was pounded all the way home by the gusts, but visibility was good. After filling up for the last time in Palm Springs, I hit a heavy squall. I could see the squall line ahead of me, but neglected to take the wind into account, which was clearly blowing the heavy rain into my path. By the time I rode got to the next exit, I had taken on a good amount of water. I put on my rain gear, and rode the rest of the way home in a heavy downpour. It didn’t dampen my spirits to be on familiar roads again, and it was wonderful to hug my wife and kids again.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old Jun 21st, 2010, 9:45 am Thread Starter
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Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned

Experience Counts.
I have ridden several Iron Butt SaddleSore 1000s and a Border-to-Border ride. Those rides taught me what works. There is no substitute for experience. This was the smoothest Iron Butt ride to date, and I believe it is due to lessons learned from previous rides.

Have a Fuel Stop Plan.
I set things up so that I could put the bike key in my pants pocket, the GPS in the map pocket, and my gloves in the helmet. The tank bag and helmet were the only two items to carry for washroom breaks at fuel stops. The fuel stops were brief and consistent. I could do much better if I could eat while riding, but that would entail replacing my full-face helmet with a flip-up one, and I am not ready for that step yet.

No Changes of Clothing below the Waist.
I learned this lesson on a previous Iron Butt ride. You do not have time to change boots, socks, pants, or undershorts while on the road. Choose wisely before you start. Limit yourself to shirt and jacket liner changes only.

No Loose Papers and No Separate Logs.
A medium-size spiral notebook is much better than carrying loose printed sheets of the “official” Iron Butt log form. I clipped a Fisher Space Pen inside the spiral, and kept them in the tank bag map pocket. I also entered my gas mileage info in the same notebook.

The notebook made entries fast and easy. It was heavy enough that it would not blow away, and there were no printer-size pages to flap around in the wind. When I got home, I transcribed the Iron Butt log to the official form and the gas mileage info to my usual gas mileage/maintenance notebook.

I kept a snack-size Ziploc bag in the map pocket for receipts, putting each new receipt in back of the stack so that they would be in order when it was time to complete the Iron Butt form.
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