"I got no words to describe this beautiful moment. To all the guys. We ride. We stop. We sleep. We drink. We eat. We shit. We laugh. We smoke. We break. We speed up. We leaned. We care. We listen. We obey. We motivate. We smile. We respect. We compromise. WE SUCCEED." HAMKA...BMW

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Iron Butt Saddlesore 1000: Success! – Jim's Beemer Blog

Iron Butt Saddlesore 1000: Success! – Jim's Beemer Blog
Iron Butt Saddlesore 1000: Success!
Aug 19th, 2007 by Jim.
Let me begin at the end: my buddy Jim Lash and I rode 1,059 miles yesterday in eighteen and a half hours, successfully completing an Iron Butt Association Saddlesore 1000. We have documentation in the form of time stamped receipts from each place we stopped along the route from Hillsboro, Oregon to Bliss, Idaho (just west of Twin Falls) and back.

I met Jim and his Harley Heritage Softail at the Chevron on 185th in Hillsboro, just off of highway 26. This would be our start and end point. We set out just after 5am yesterday and headed east. This was no sightseeing trip–the goal was 1,000 miles in under 24 hours, so we were going to take Interstate 84 to just short of Twin Falls, get our time stamped receipt, turn around, and head home.

Riding through the Columbia Gorge as the sun rose was beautiful, but just before our first gas stop in Arlington it shone right in our eyes and made it very hard to see. Jim’s Harley has a tank about half the size of the one on my GS Adventure, so we planned on stopping every two to three hours for gas and a quick stretch of the legs. After topping off in Arlington we hit 84 again.

It was a little chilly at the summit on I-84 on the Blue Mountains, and both Jim and I were wishing we had put in our jacket liners. We stopped again in La Grande at about 9:30am and I remember thinking “I used to think La Grande was a long way from Portland, but I’m already here and it’s not even 10am!”

Jim Lash and the bikes at our outbound stop in La Grande, Oregon.

Our next leg was from La Grande to Boise. On this segment of the trip Jim’s Harley must have felt this long distance trip was challenging my Harley stereotypes too much (they’re not long distance bikes, they break down all the time, and other myths) because it decided to chuck it’s chrome swingarm cover at me at 80 miles an hour! All kidding aside, it wasn’t anything serious and I’m incredibly impressed with the stamina of both Jim and his Harley. Maybe most Harley riders barely ride their bikes 1,000 miles in a year, but Jim is definitely not one of them.

We had a very quick lunch at a gas stop on the east side of Boise and soldiered on. We were getting close to the turnaround point, which we had originally planned to be in Twin Falls. I did a little calculation with the GPS and realized that, since we’d started in Hillsboro and not at the Shell in Portland on MLK we had originally planned, we had enough margin to turn around sooner. I sped up and passed Jim who had been leading the whole time (since he knew when he would need gas) and signalled to pull off at the Bliss, Idaho exit.

Halfway done. We gassed up at “Stinker’s,” a Sinclair station in Bliss (Sinclairs are the red and green gas stations with the little dinosaur logo you find in some parts of the west, but not Oregon) and shook hands. It was 2pm. Now all we had to do was turn around and ride home. Simple, right? I snapped a few pictures and marvelled at “Bob’s Museum” before we hopped back in our respective saddles and hit the road.

Me relaxing with a bite of homemade beef jerky at our turnaround point in Bliss, Idaho.

“Bob’s” Museum in Bliss, Idaho.

Our next stop was in Fruitland, Idaho, just before the Oregon border. We met a cool BLM agent who chatted with us a bit about the Iron Butt and the dirt bikes his agents used on BLM land (BMW F650s, it turns out) and we were on the road again. Fruitland was where I started downing a Red Bull at each stop to make sure I would stay alert for the last half of the trip. But we were both still feeling pretty good at this point.

As we approached Durkee, Oregon it looked like there was a huge weather system ahead of us. But when we finally got to where we were expecting rain we found it was the smoke from a huge wildfire. It was so thick you could look directly at the sun, which was blood red. It was like driving on another planet for about 30 miles. The fire hadn’t been there this morning at 10am when we passed through. When we finally stopped for 5 minutes at a rest stop just east of La Grande to get the smoke out of our eyes we saw that about half the streaks on our windscreens weren’t bugs, they were ashes.

We were making good time so we decided our return stop in La Grande at 6:30pm would be a full hour so we could have the luxury of a sit down dinner. We’d had enough home made jerky and power bars and needed something more substantial. With bellies full and more Red Bull coursing through our veins we were on the road again. It was starting to get dark. We were settled into a groove, just munching away at the miles trying to get home. According to my GPS we would arrive back at the Chevron in Hillsboro at 11:45 at the pace we were on.

Endurance riding is a very solitary endeavor, and even though I was doing this with my friend Jim we only really were able to talk briefly at our short stops. As the sun finally faded away the sense of isolation only grew. I concentrated on watching Jim’s tail light and the upcoming curves while we ran for Arlington and our last stop before the finish.

We arrived at Arlington at 9:21pm. I topped off the tank, noted the time for my log, and downed another Red Bull. My neighbor Eric called me (good timing!) on my cell phone to check on our progress. Eric was our start and finish witness so he wanted to know how we were doing and about what time we thought we’d make it back.

It was pitch black now riding through the Gorge on our last leg. There wasn’t too much traffic so we only had the headlights from my Beemer and Jim’s Harley to illuminate the way. I normally kind of like riding at night and find it sort of peaceful, but the combination of wind, darkness, and fatigue was making this night’s ride an ordeal to get through.

Traffic started picking up once we got to Troutdale, and as we headed for the finish line through downtown Portland and onto highway 26 to Hillsboro it started sprinkling. It was raining just enough to slicken the roads but not enough to wash off the oils and other goo deposited by cars. In any motorcycle safety class they’ll tell you to wait out this kind of rain until the slippery mixture of water and oil has had a chance to dissipate, but we were on a deadline. I backed way off my speed and was very careful as I headed up the offramp to 185th street. The last thing I needed to do was drop my bike on the slick asphalt this close to being done.

We made it! It was 11:46pm when I pulled into the Chevron. Jim had arrived slightly before me. We had planned on celebrating a little and reveling in our achievement, but it was late, dark, and wet and we each still had to get home safely. I topped off the tank on my Beemer, getting the all important time stamped final receipt, and gingerly headed back out onto the slick streets for home. It was a nerve-wracking 45 miles back to Molalla since it never really did rain hard enough to get the gunk off the roads. It was very slippery everywhere right up to my own driveway and I was pretty tired at this point. I eased the bike into my garage and called it a night.

So my first Iron Butt endurance ride is complete. Now Jim and I just have to send in our forms, logs, and receipts for official verification and we’ll soon receive our certificates and the coveted “World’s Toughest Motorcyclists” license plate frame. I don’t really feel tough right now though, just sore and tired…

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