A Long Day's Ride: 1000 Miles Around Texas

This is the general Discussion area used for....General Discussions. Talk anything here just keep it clean and no spam.
Post Reply
User avatar
sckego
Honorary Club Member
Honorary Club Member
Posts: 3227
Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:27 am
Riding Style: Licensed Racer - Novice
Achievement count: 49
Location: San Jose, CA

A Long Day's Ride: 1000 Miles Around Texas

Post by sckego » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:03 pm

Image

I-20 near Abilene, TX
Your brain is equipped with a fantastic image-stabilization ability that can take the shaky, jittery visual inputs from your eyes and interpret them as a stable picture. If it didn't have this ability, every step, bump, or head movement would be accompanied with a blurry jump in the picture, leaving you disoriented until you were able to refocus. It's 10:15 PM, I've been riding for 16 hours, and mine has stopped working.

It's not a constant blurriness. I'm able to force myself into bouts of concentration where all of my brainpower is going towards decoding these signals coming in from my eyes, so that I'm able to pick the road ahead out of the darkness and weave around the constant stream of tractor-trailers that inhabit it. Fatigue has taken its toll, though, and these snatches of lucidity are becoming both shorter and spaced more widely apart. I'm riding on autopilot, and that is being affected too: maintaining a constant speed is becoming difficult, and I find myself coming out of bends doing 15 mph faster then I entered them at. I remember seeing a sign for a rest area just ahead, and I'm grateful for it. I definitely need a break.


Earlier that day - Euless, TX

The Chevron station is deserted save for the lone clerk behind the big glass windows, eying me as I pull the VFR into an empty parking space to wait for the Georges. It's 6:00 Friday morning, and though the predawn darkness is a bit chilly, the day promises to be a great one for riding. As I open my tankbag to recheck my paperwork--log sheet, witness forms, map, all sealed in a gallon ziplock bag--I wonder what the clerk must be thinking of this weirdo who's just standing around in the parking lot in his neon yellow onesie, helmet still on, not bothering to refuel or come into the store. He was probably even more confused when the Georges showed up a few minutes later: G2 (George Jr) in his Campagna T-Rex, and G3 (George III) on his ZX-10R, the latter of whom was also attired in a day-glo one-piece. Greetings are exchanged as we fuel up, get our timestamped receipts, and log the stop. A police cruiser pulls up just as we're ready to head out, and a few minutes are lost as G2 answers the same set of questions about the T-Rex for the millionth time. Soon enough, though, we join the early-morning commuters on the freeway, heading southwest for Fort Worth. We're headed a bit farther than them, though.

I'm still not sure why I wanted to ride a thousand miles in one day. The simplest answer is probably something akin to Mallory's reason for climbing Everest: "Because it's there." I've read others ride reports of long-distance attempts, and followed along as people far nuttier then me criss-crossed the continent during the IronButt Rally, and found one theme that seems to run through everything: long-distance riding isn't fun. Sure, the planning and imagining is fun, and the memories and stories are fun, but the actual doing? Not so much. It's a challenge, plain and simple, whose main attraction seems to be that after it's done, you can say, "I did it."

The other reason I came up with, the impetus to do this ride this weekend, is odometer-based. I’ve done a lot of riding since acquiring the VFR three years ago, and have averaged about twenty thousand miles per year, through a combination of commuting, sport-touring, trackdays, and just random riding around. However, a pair of blown stators this year has led to a lot of time sitting in the garage, bringing that average down and leaving her odometer sitting at 58,xxx. With just a few days to go before her three-year birthday, I had an irrational urge to see her through to 60k. It’s a silly excuse for a long ride, I know…

I was originally going to go at it solo, but Vic (aka Mrs. “I have my 500-mile-day Tin Can and see no reason for an Iron Butt”) hated the thought of me going on such a ride by myself, so I asked my coworker and riding buddy G3 if he wanted to come along. He said he would, and a day later his dad was added as well, which is how the three of us found ourselves riding out of Fort Worth in the morning darkness, ready for the long day ahead.

10:15 AM – Fredericksburg, TX
I pull off my helmet after refueling at a small gas station just north of town, and admire the beautiful day that has developed. It’s still in the 60s, but sunny, with light clouds and moderate breezes. Earlier in the morning, near our first gas stop at Hamilton, the temperatures had dropped all the way to the mid-30s, but now the sun is full in the sky and it’s getting warmer. I decide to shuck the heated vest and gloves, but leave my suit liner in. A few handfuls of Cheerios are consumed as a quick snack while G3 and I analyze our progress over the first 250 miles.


We had made good time through the Farm Roads and State Highways of the Hill Country, and were sticking almost exactly to what I called the “20 hour plan,” a timetable that would put us back in DFW at about 2 AM. It’s very possible to plan out a thousand-mile route that would take less time, but there were a few things conspiring against that. First was the range on G3’s bike, which he told me was in the 130 mile range, which meant somewhat frequent gas stops. Also, G3 is a cash-only kind of guy, which means that at each stop, it’s gloves and helmet off, walk into the store to pay cash, fuel bike, back to the store for change, gear up… no NASCAR- style stops on this trip. Finally, there was my own inclination to try and ride as many fun roads as we could, which meant a slightly zig-zag route through the hills, which meant even more stops to acquire the receipts we needed to prove that we were at each point.

The first of those fun roads lay before us as we left Fredericksburg: TX-16 to Kerrville, then on down to the intersection with RR-337. I’m in the lead, followed by G3, with G2 in the T-Rex bringing up the rear, and we’re keeping up a spirited pace through the twisties, enjoying the roads and the weather. Traffic is very light, as it has been all day, and people tend to be very courteous in pulling off to the shoulder to let us pass when they see us coming up behind them. We cover that stretch of highway fairly quickly, and are soon at one of the highlights of the ride.

Ranch Road 337 is one of the “Three Sisters” of Texas Hill Country (RR-335, 336, and 337) that make up some of the best riding in Texas. Each of the three has its own characteristics, and 337’s defining characteristic is its tight, windy, mountainside twisties. These come in short collections as the road winds up and over a ridge, then back down to the valley floor, across the valley, then up and over again. There are several stretches with a wall on one side of the road, a cliff on the other, and a sequence of turns ahead signed at 20 mph. That might not sound like anything special to people from California or North Carolina, but in Texas, that’s a rare treat indeed.

Of course, it would be our luck to encounter a train of caravans just as we’re heading up the best of the ridge crossings, a few miles east of Leakey. Seeing as how there is nowhere for them to pull over, even if they wanted to, and since it would take so long to pass all of them that we’d be back down to the next valley before we succeeded, we just stay put at the back of the line and bemoan our poor luck. A few minutes later, we cruise into Leakey at a sedate pace, having covered 330 miles in six hours. We are one third of the way to a thousand, and having fun getting there.

US-285, between Sanderson and Fort Stockton, TX
Crap.
I had noticed the Georges getting gradually smaller in my mirrors as we rolled northward along the deserted length of US-285. I didn’t really think anything of it, as there are many minor reasons for a person to slow their pace for a while, and they had always caught back up in short order whenever a gap opened up between us. Besides, they were still moving at a decent pace, so it wasn’t a mechanical issue or anything that would cause them to pull over, but they still kept falling back, until they were no more than specks of light in my mirrors. I stretched and turned around, wondering what was keeping them, when I saw another light that I hadn’t noticed in my mirrors: a red one. A flashing red one. Crap.


The previous few hours on our westward run from Leakey, through Rocksprings and Del Rio, and across the Chihuahuan Desert to Sanderson, were for the most part fast and uneventful. The run up TX-55 to Rocksprings was one of the highlights of the ride; though a bit rough, it’s a fantastic road, four lanes of fast, open sweepers (if you’ve ever been to MSR-Cresson, imagine a few miles worth of Big Bend, over and over). We took a short break for some breakfast tacos at the gas station at the US-277 / US-90 junction near Del Rio. There were a few delays on US-90 due to construction, and a funny scene at a border patrol checkpoint when an officer asked G3 if he was a US citizen, and G3 yelled back, “I can’t hear you!” and had to remove his helmet and custom earplugs to answer the question.

The wind was still coming in stiff gusts, having never died down since it started around Fredericksburg, though at least it was at our backs for the Del Rio to Sanderson leg. While stopped in Sanderson, several people warned us of storms moving in from the west, and a check of the weather radar on my phone showed that while they weren’t over our route yet, they would be soon. If we could make it to I-20 at Monahans ahead of the storm, we could then turn east on the freeway and outdistance it. Also, it was close to 5 PM by the time we left Sanderson, sunset was at 6:15, and I really wanted to be at the freeway, 115 miles away, before dark. These considerations might have led me to picking up the pace a bit as we rode north, which may have then led to that flashing red light behind me. Crap.

As it turns out, the officer really wanted nothing more than to check out the T-Rex for a bit. I suppose the Georges managed to slow down when they saw him, while I, unawares, continued on at my steady 90 mph indicated pace. He apparently sat behind the T-Rex for some time, checking it out (which explains why the Georges were dropping back from me), then came around them to chase me down (which is when I saw his lights), figuring that if he pulled me over, the T-Rex would stop too. Sneaky. After he issues me the briefest verbal warning ever—“Hey buddy, limit is 75 out here, got you at 82, gotta slow it down a bit, say, you with these guys coming up? That’s one cool bike!”—and not waiting for a response, he jumps back in his truck and cruises up to where G2 pulled off up ahead, and proceeds to check out the T-Rex some more.

I-20 Rest Area just east of Abilene, TX
Thirty minutes never passes so quickly as it does when you’re asleep on the grass, helmet and gloves still on, at a busy interstate rest area. G2 said he was feeling fine and wasn’t going to sleep, so I asked him to wake G3 and I in half an hour so we could get back on the road. G3’s words to describe the Olympia Phantom suits we were both dressed in—“It’s like wearing a sleeping bag”—flashed through my head for an instant as I lay down, warm and comfortable on the cold ground, and closed my eyes. They open again as G2 nudges my shoulder and offers a hand to help me up. “Already?” I ask. “Time flies when you’re fast asleep, doesn’t it?” he replies with a smile. We log the stop before getting back on the freeway, and I calculate how far we are from home. 160 miles. I can do this.


We had made it to Monahans just as dusk was transitioning into night, at about 6:45 PM. Our encounter with the law hadn’t taken that long, and we were still ahead of schedule with the 20-hour plan. The winds were still whipping around, and the temperature had dropped back to around 50F, but we had beaten the storms to the interstate, and now we could start heading away from them, back to DFW. We were 375 miles from our destination, and feeling pretty good. My butt and shoulders were getting a bit achy, and G3 mentioned that his throttle hand was a bit sore, but we were in good spirits, and looking forward to the straight shot home.

It wasn’t until after our next fuel stop in Colorado City that I began to notice how tired I was. It started with difficulty concentrating on the road, maintaining my lane position, and keeping a steady speed. It was still pretty easy to snap myself into alertness whenever there were other vehicles, or turns in the road, but on those long, straight stretches with nothing but asphalt in front of us, I could feel my mind starting to drift. Finally, when the fatigue started affecting my vision, I knew it was time to pull off and take a nap. Luckily, I remembered seeing signs for the rest stop just ahead, and pulled off there when we came to it.

Back on the road after our rest stop, I’ve realized that once the symptoms of fatigue appear, it takes more than just a thirty-minute nap to get rid of them. On the plus side, the rest made it much easier to force myself into and maintain that concentration mindset that limits those symptoms. Our next stop is only fifty miles distant, and I’m able to maintain a good state of alertness until we pull off at Eastland for our penultimate fuel stop. It’s close to midnight, and we’ve covered 950 miles, with just over a hundred to go. I’m debating with myself whether or not I want a cup of coffee, but decide against it. I’ve subsisted so far today on water, cheerios, fruit, a breakfast burrito, and a few Tylenol, and there’s no sense in changing that formula now, so I instead opt for a few chicken strips. I decide to ask G3 to take the lead for the final leg into DFW; I’m hoping it will be an easier ride with him in front of me to follow.

That hope does turn out to be the case; simply following G3’s taillight into and through the metroplex freeway system is far easier than having to ride lead. Even so, there are several occasions where I feel the tiredness creeping in from the edges, and sense my vision getting blurry, that my image-stabilization isn’t working as well as it should, but each time I’m able to shift position, shake my head, and bring myself back to what’s happening in front of me. Riding through the middle of downtown Fort Worth at 1:30 on a Saturday morning probably isn’t the brightest idea—I realize this after seeing several cars whose drivers I doubt were sober—but we make it through without incident, and pull into our final fuel stop in Euless at 1:45 AM.

We were back where we started, 1062 miles and nineteen and a half hours later. I will say that while not the whole thing was fun—in fact, some of those final few hundred miles flat out sucked—most of the ride was very enjoyable, particularly those great roads between Fredericksburg and Del Rio, which we don’t get to ride much since they’re not within a day-ride range of DFW. Well, actually, I guess they are, as long as you stretch your definition of a day-ride! In any case, it was certainly an experience, and while I’m not sure if I’ll attempt to do any more certified long-distance rides, at least I can do this: Oh, the Saddlesore1000? Yeah, I did it.
Kegan "Glowstick"
'12 MTS1200ST - '15 CB500F - AFM #895 - AMA #3283468 - IBA #41999

Bird
Posts: 3697
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 10:13 pm
Achievement count: 0
Location: Burleson

Post by Bird » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:17 pm

Congratulations, Guys, and my hat's off to you all! :D I'm glad that you made it back in one piece and can finally say 'I did it'. I'm glad that I didn't know about it ... I would have worried too much to enjoy the weekend. I fell asleep on the Beemer once ... NOT something I ever want to experience again.
Mike
It SUCKS to get old ... it sucks even MORE to realize it! Live for the moment every chance you get.

User avatar
R-Sen
Posts: 82
Joined: Sun Jan 24, 2010 2:09 am
Achievement count: 0
Location: Fort Worth

Thumbs up.

Post by R-Sen » Sun Jan 24, 2010 9:20 pm

Nice Write up, I could never write like that. I had a similiar adventure except mine was from Vista, California to Midland, TX before I stopped for sleep. Then continued 12hrs later to finish the trip into Ft. WOrth on my R1 which I didnt plan out to well and was completely soaked for a good 3hrs as I passed Abilene all the way into Ft. Worth. Great story brought back memories. Thanks

User avatar
Blizzard_1708
Posts: 6738
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:38 pm

Post by Blizzard_1708 » Sun Jan 24, 2010 10:52 pm

Awesome write up Kegan. Your stories get better each time you have a new adventure. Keep 'em comming, but I miss the photos that are normally imbedded in your writeups.

User avatar
Firewa11
Posts: 13026
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:22 am
Achievement count: 49
Location: The Tempest

Post by Firewa11 » Mon Jan 25, 2010 9:40 am

Excellent write-up!
"Life may begin at 30, but it doesn't get real interesting until about 150."
ImageImageImage

User avatar
Grinner
Posts: 3885
Joined: Mon Dec 25, 2006 1:06 pm
Riding Style: Intermediate Track Rider
Achievement count: 25
Location: MSR-C
Contact:

Post by Grinner » Mon Jan 25, 2010 12:38 pm

Bird wrote:Congratulations, Guys, and my hat's off to you all! :D I'm glad that you made it back in one piece and can finally say 'I did it'. I'm glad that I didn't know about it ... I would have worried too much to enjoy the weekend. I fell asleep on the Beemer once ... NOT something I ever want to experience again.
Once she told me what the boys were up to, I was a little...jealous shall we say...and then remembered how out of shape I am right now and said, "Phuc that!" I'll save that for another spot on my bucket list. :-) :-)
Trust me Bird...I had an eye on em and told Blizz to TXT me when they got home.
Thanks again Blizz!!
:D
Copper K3SV650S & K3SV1000S
Enjoy your Life...Don't Die Young Feeling Old When You Can Die Old Feeling Young!!
"Grinner is carrying the Black man-card, aka he has aquired enough man points his card is upgraded to the top teir." - fixxervi6

User avatar
Blizzard_1708
Posts: 6738
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:38 pm

Post by Blizzard_1708 » Mon Jan 25, 2010 2:17 pm

Dont worry Bird, they had plenty of sets of eyes watching their progress.

User avatar
WillK675
Posts: 8511
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 2:08 pm
Riding Style: Intermediate Track Rider
Achievement count: 35
Location: Fort Worth

Post by WillK675 » Mon Jan 25, 2010 4:51 pm

Excellent write up. Glad you guys had fun, and made it back safe. I'll also admit that I was a little jealous, and would have liked to have joined you guys over working. But like Grinner I'm a little out of shape right now for a ride like that.

And yeah, I had my eye on them also.
-Will
- '07 Triumph Daytona 675 -
- '09 Kawasaki Versys -
When it comes to addiction Motorcycles are worse than crack.
"Brake fade is God's way of telling you to quit squeezing the coward lever and carry more corner speed, you pussy." - Rhino

User avatar
dufremle
Club Staff/Treasurer
Club Staff/Treasurer
Posts: 12386
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:57 am
Riding Style: Novice Track Rider
Achievement count: 0
Location: NW Fort Worth
Contact:

Post by dufremle » Tue Jan 26, 2010 3:54 pm

Maybe one day I will be able to do something like this. I may need a cruiser though. :D
Jim

2015 Yamaha YZF-R1
2015 RAM 1500 EcoDiesel

User avatar
Blizzard_1708
Posts: 6738
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:38 pm

Post by Blizzard_1708 » Tue Jan 26, 2010 4:11 pm

I still want to do it, but maybe I need to get some more long but not this long rides under my belt first.

User avatar
rubber
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:17 am
Achievement count: 0
Location: keene, tx
Contact:

Post by rubber » Sat Jan 30, 2010 8:59 am

awesome story. PRD, KrazyCuban, and I did something similar a few years back. we rode down to galveston on a saturday afternoon then back up to tomball and spent the night at my cousins house. around 7 am sunday morning we continued down south to goliad and watched a texasmile.com event. we made it back to the metroplex around 8 pm sunday night. tiring: yes, was it worth it: yes, would i do it again: hell yes! hit me up next time you do a long ride. we have a 2 month old now but luckily edna didnt make me sell the bike so with some preplanning i might be able to get away for a day or so.
Image
01 ZX6R

if you're not messing up, you're not learning.
if you aint brakin' shit, it don't have enough horsepower.

User avatar
CrazyKuban
Posts: 1053
Joined: Wed Apr 18, 2007 1:25 pm
Riding Style: Advanced Track Rider
Achievement count: 0
Location: Funky Town

Post by CrazyKuban » Sat Jan 30, 2010 9:02 am

Yeah that was a hell of a ride, and most of the way back was under constant rain. Can't forget that.
A brother is a friend given by Nature. Legouve.

User avatar
Blizzard_1708
Posts: 6738
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:38 pm

Post by Blizzard_1708 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:01 pm

Congrats Ruben, she's a cutie. What did you name her?

User avatar
Firewa11
Posts: 13026
Joined: Thu Aug 24, 2006 7:22 am
Achievement count: 49
Location: The Tempest

Post by Firewa11 » Sat Jan 30, 2010 12:44 pm

Awww, she looks just like me! :-)
"Life may begin at 30, but it doesn't get real interesting until about 150."
ImageImageImage

User avatar
rubber
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Apr 16, 2007 11:17 am
Achievement count: 0
Location: keene, tx
Contact:

Post by rubber » Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:14 pm

i had a feeling she wasnt mine. i still got to name her though. Evelyn Alexandra
01 ZX6R

if you're not messing up, you're not learning.
if you aint brakin' shit, it don't have enough horsepower.

User avatar
DemonDuck
Honorary Club Member
Honorary Club Member
Posts: 7619
Joined: Sat Apr 03, 2010 6:21 am
Riding Style: Intermediate Track Rider
Achievement count: 40
Location: Litchfield, Il

Re: A Long Day's Ride: 1000 Miles Around Texas

Post by DemonDuck » Mon Apr 05, 2010 8:09 am

Very nice writeup sckego. Wish I was there. :))
~Jeremiah~ AKA DemonDuck
Live your life that the fear of death can never enter your heart.

2012 BMW S1000RR Red/White
2000 SV650 Track bike
2008 Kawasaki ZX-14 - Sold
1982 Honda CB750K - Sold

User avatar
double_d
Posts: 12
Joined: Sun Mar 07, 2010 6:20 pm
Achievement count: 0
Location: Arlington

Re: A Long Day's Ride: 1000 Miles Around Texas

Post by double_d » Mon Apr 05, 2010 6:15 pm

Awesome write up. I cant wait until I have one similar one day. But the longest ride I have had so far is 500 miles.
David
2004 Suzuki Hayabusa[size=150][/size]

User avatar
sckego
Honorary Club Member
Honorary Club Member
Posts: 3227
Joined: Fri Jan 26, 2007 8:27 am
Riding Style: Licensed Racer - Novice
Achievement count: 49
Location: San Jose, CA

Re: A Long Day's Ride: 1000 Miles Around Texas

Post by sckego » Thu May 20, 2010 7:42 pm

Image
Kegan "Glowstick"
'12 MTS1200ST - '15 CB500F - AFM #895 - AMA #3283468 - IBA #41999

User avatar
GRex
Posts: 775
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2008 6:55 pm
Achievement count: 0
Location: Waxahachie, TX
Contact:

Re: A Long Day's Ride: 1000 Miles Around Texas

Post by GRex » Thu May 20, 2010 7:59 pm

That was a long days ride!
2009 Piaggio MP3 500
2010 White/Silver 14RR T-Rex
2005 Pearl White T-Rex (Sold)
IBA# 41997
Image Image

User avatar
dufremle
Club Staff/Treasurer
Club Staff/Treasurer
Posts: 12386
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:57 am
Riding Style: Novice Track Rider
Achievement count: 0
Location: NW Fort Worth
Contact:

Re: A Long Day's Ride: 1000 Miles Around Texas

Post by dufremle » Thu May 20, 2010 8:24 pm

Nice!
Jim

2015 Yamaha YZF-R1
2015 RAM 1500 EcoDiesel

User avatar
Blizzard_1708
Posts: 6738
Joined: Fri Sep 29, 2006 1:38 pm

Re: A Long Day's Ride: 1000 Miles Around Texas

Post by Blizzard_1708 » Fri May 21, 2010 8:30 am

with all that grime on your bike it looks like you just finished it!

User avatar
dufremle
Club Staff/Treasurer
Club Staff/Treasurer
Posts: 12386
Joined: Fri Aug 25, 2006 7:57 am
Riding Style: Novice Track Rider
Achievement count: 0
Location: NW Fort Worth
Contact:

Re: A Long Day's Ride: 1000 Miles Around Texas

Post by dufremle » Fri May 21, 2010 8:51 am

Blizzard_1708 wrote:with all that grime on your bike it looks like you just finished it!
:IAgree:

Wash that thing before the track day. :D
Jim

2015 Yamaha YZF-R1
2015 RAM 1500 EcoDiesel

User avatar
WillK675
Posts: 8511
Joined: Tue Mar 24, 2009 2:08 pm
Riding Style: Intermediate Track Rider
Achievement count: 35
Location: Fort Worth

Re: A Long Day's Ride: 1000 Miles Around Texas

Post by WillK675 » Fri May 21, 2010 4:02 pm

Dufremle wrote:
Blizzard_1708 wrote:with all that grime on your bike it looks like you just finished it!
:IAgree:

Wash that thing before the track day. :D

He's already given it his yearly wash. It's not getting washed again this year unless there are :boobs2:
-Will
- '07 Triumph Daytona 675 -
- '09 Kawasaki Versys -
When it comes to addiction Motorcycles are worse than crack.
"Brake fade is God's way of telling you to quit squeezing the coward lever and carry more corner speed, you pussy." - Rhino