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.