Heading for the IBR Start
I was in southern California. I had to go to Moxee, WA to drop off and pick up some gear. From there I had to cross almost the entire country to get to the start point of the Iron Butt Rally in Spartansburg, SC.
In SoCal, Ken Meese had graciously spent a few days working on the modifications to my bike. He had fitted the 1200GS-Adventure 33lt tank to give me a greater range. We'd also fitted the 4th gen HIDs from Future Vision. Oh, and don't those babies throw out some decent light! And we twiddled around with a few other little mods to make things better and easier for me during the rally.
Now, what was it that Warchild, IBR Chief Technical Officer, said about "having all your shit in one sock" and "the bike should be ready weeks before the rally" ? Poor Gus, nekkid, stripped down, no tank, no nuffin' ! Ken, hard at work on the wiring.
The new Aeroflow windscreen - barn door!
All done! Looking more like a rally bike now.
But time was flying, and Ken needed to get to work on his bike, although it was basically in full rally trim already. But he wanted to fiddle with things, and install his 4th gen HIDs! And I needed to hit the road for Moxee WA to sort out my gear, taking only what was absolutely necessary for the rally, rather than lugging all my camping gear all over the country for no reason. I couldn't see me having time to pitch the tent each night during the rally. Hahahaha!
A quick visit over to Victorville, to Lee Parks Designs, to pick up some in-ear speaker plugs, then up through the horrendous heat of the Mojave desert towards the I-5. My new temp gauge was giving a reading of 49.5C !!! But I think that was a little bit out, possibly exacerbated by the heat blowing up from the engine, so I later moved the sensor to the outside of the windscreen, into the airflow, where it cooled off greatly - to 45.8C/114F! Sheesh, it's difficult trying to concentrate on the road and traffic with perspiration pouring down into my eyes, stinging like all hell, making them water continually. Not good. The heat finally got to me, so I called it a night in Visalia.
Hit the road quite early next morning and it was far more pleasant riding through the cool dawn and with far less traffic aroumd. Eventually, just near Sacramento, I joined onto the I-5 and headed north at a nice brisk pace. Although lots of people hate the interstates, I, being a *white line junkie*, rather like them, especially for covering distance in a hurry. Before I knew it, I'd passed through the lovely green forests around Shasta Lake and arrived in Seattle in decent time to get a motel in close proximity to the mechanic's workshop, where the bike was to be serviced and have a new front tire fitted the next day.
On completion of the service, after chatting with some of Seattle PD's finest (whose bikes were in the workshop also) about the IBR, I headed for Moxee in the cool of the evening. The gear was sorted, the camping gear deposited in the shed - I was ready to go.
Coming up from SoCal, I'd been in a fair amount of pain, at the midpoint of my spine (where there had been two breaks in 2006), particularly when down south in the intense heat. I'd done about 800km one day, and really suffered. How was I going to handle 11,000 miles in 11 days? Gulp! But there's only one way to find out, isn't there?
Early Saturday, I set off from Moxee, and managed to make it to Green River, WY, before calling it a night. It was a clear day climbing the mountains just east of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, so I remembered to stop at the viewing point and take some photos of the amazing colours of the plains below.
The beautiful colours and patterns down on the plains of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, OR
I was pretty shattered, having ridden 1320km/820miles for the day, and collapsed into bed about 9.30pm. I kept telling myself I had to do better than this. I must be stronger, mentally and physically, or I'd never manage to do the IBR.
Sunday saw good riding weather out across the plains of Wyoming and then across Nebraska on I-80, and I made relatively good time apart from having to stop for a few rest breaks from the heat and back pain, although eventually I was late arriving at Evan and Ashley's place in Omaha, NE,, so missed out on going out for dinner with them. But I'd ridden another 1220km/758miles, and actually felt a little better than the previous day's end.
Unfortunately, I couldn't stay and socialise with Evan and Ashley, so headed out about 6am on the Monday morning, as I was booked into Atlanta BMW for a rear tyre and an oil change the next day - Tuesday. As it happened, I got lost in Omaha, must have missed a turning somewhere, so did a couple loops around and about till I found my way out to where I wanted to be. The earplugs had started hurting not long after I first used them, so I had gone back to the helmet speakers, through the Autocom. But this system was playing up, and often I couldn't hear a damn thing from the GPS, which makes it difficult to navigate while trying to watch the traffic. To make matters worse it started absolutely teeming while I was stopped getting fuel, not too far south of Omaha, so that was a good enough reason to have breakfast, for a change.
I guess the Maccas patrons thought I was pretty crazy, with my riding gear off and spread all over everywhere to dry while I ate and checked the map. Lord knows what they thought when I geared up and got back onto the bike while it was still teeming. I know I got some strange looks and funny comments as I walked out. Oh well, these things have to be done, so I did it. Actually, I don't mind riding in the rain, as I always stay dry and snug in my gear. The rain came and went periodically almost all the way down to Atlanta, although the heat was constantly increasing, unfortunately. But after a few longer-than-normal fuel stops to rest, I finally made it to Marietta, where Bob Wooldridge (of BMW Atlanta) had kindly offered me a bed for the night. I was getting better - with the extra mileage wasted tootling around lost in Omaha, I'd managed to ride just over 1610kms/1000miles, for the first time since my pelvis had been broken on Good Friday, 4 months before. Things were definitely looking up!
The rear tyre fitted, the oil change done, adjustments made to the fuel pickup system of the new tank, and the bike was all ready for the IBR, which starts in just 7 days! I again stayed at Bob's that night, before heading off north-east to visit the Iron Horse Lodge and camping park at Stecoah, in North Carolina, at the southern end of the Deal's Gap road (Hwy 28). It was good to catch up with Charmaine and John, theLodge owners, again and to present them with an Australian flag which I'd promised them when last there in September 2008, to grace the lodge wall along with the other national and US state flags..
So close - it was only 280kms/175miles to Spartanburg, SC, so it was a pleasant ride through the mountainous country to the city of Spartanburg. Found the hotel and parked the bike. I was here, at the start!
Checked in, and eventually got to catching up with some riders and volunteers I knew, as well as fellow rookies. A busy weekend was ahead for us all. The clock was ticking, ticking ....