Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Big As Texas Bun Burner GOLD

They say, "never volunteer."  But that's just what I did when my long-distance comrade, Danny Dossman asked me to test ride the instructions for the Big As Texas Party Bun Burner GOLD (BBG).  Danny is the 'Ride Master' for this year's BAT SaddleSore 1,000 and Bun Burner GOLD challenge rides. The BBG is 1,500+ miles in under 24 hours.

We rendezvoused at Buc-ee's in Temple on a Tuesday and rode together to the host hotel in Denison to stage for our 6 am Wednesday start of the BBG.  Danny had provided me with the BAT BBG route instructions and data file for my GPS.  This year's theme for the Big As Texas intense challenge rides is, well..."Big"!  There is something "Big" about each of the stops along the routes.

BAT "Big" BBG


We departed the Hilton Garden Inn - Denison right at 6:00 am, September 11th.  I would prove my total mileage with a picture of the starting and finishing odometer reading on my 2016 BMW R1200 GS Adventure.  And, since the "Big" BBG rally flags have not yet been printed, I will be using a rally sized Texas flag.

It is customary in long-distance riding events to award the first numbered rally flag, usually the '00' or '100' flag to the Route/Ride Master.  In this case Danny Dossman.  Since I am the first rider to complete the Big As Texas BBG, I hope to score the next numbered rally flag as a souvenir for having volunteered. 


I was in the lead, setting the ride pace.  The roads along this segment were great, four lane, posted at 75 HPH 95% of the way.  After a sub 4 minute pit stop along the way we arrived at the first bonus picture stop 0:24 ahead of BaseCamp prediction.  The  Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, 325 miles from the start.  In 1960, R.J. “Bob” Lee opened The Big Texan Steak Ranch on Route 66 in Amarillo, Texas.  The Big Texan is best known for its 72 oz. (4.5lbs) steak.  The steak is free to anyone who, can eat the entire meal, consisting of the steak itself, a bread roll with butter, a baked potato, shrimp cocktail, and a salad; otherwise, the meal cost $72.  Since I was on the BBG clock, there was no time to stop for any samples.

Turning south from Amarillo, the next required stop is 23 miles to the Big Tex Randall statue in Canyon TX.  Standing 47 feet tall and weighing 7 tons, Tex Randall is the second tallest cowboy in the state.  He is 8 feet shorter than his counter-part at the Texas State Fair.  Created and built in 1959 by local business owner, William “Harry” Wheeler in hopes of drawing tourist and locals to his Corral Curio Shop.  He wears a size 75 boot and underwent a major restoration in 2016.   The entrance to the beautiful parking lot is accessible along the ONE WAY frontage road that runs west to east.

Departing Canyon we continued south through the big Texas panhandle, and the, dare I say, big oil fields of the Permian Basin to Big Bend National Park.  This segment of the BBG is just under 430 miles.

A check of the radar shows a big cell of thunderstorms south of Fort Stockton all the way to Marathon.  We stopped in Fort Stockton to top off our fuel.  The thunderstorms were daring us to continue with big flashes of lightning and big booming roars of thunder.  Both Danny and I are experienced long-distance riders and recognize the risks of riding into thunderstorms.  So, after Danny finished his big corn dog from the Pilot/FlyingJ Travel Center, we buttoned up and headed for Big Bend.  The radar showed gap in the thunderstorm cell along our route and it was moving from west to east.  The heavy downpour slowed our pace some but we reached the other side of the cell just before Marathon.  It was dry from there all the way to the Visitor's Center just past the park entrance.  As you can see there is nothing "big" about the Persimmon Gap Visitor's Center.  Danny would change the photo location to the Big Bend National Park sign at the north entrance to the park.


Back to Marathon, we turned east for the next mandatory stop at Langtry TX.  Langtry is the site of the "Jersey Lilly Saloon" made famous by the infamous Judge Roy Bean, Law West of the Pecos!  But, we were after a bigger prize.  A picture at the Rio Grande (Spanish for Big River), just southeast of the Langtry Visitor's Center. The Rio Grande begins in South-Central Colorado and flows to the gulf.  Its total length is 1896 miles (1254 of which form the border between Texas and Mexico).  The river provided life giving water for those who first settled in the area.  A nest of Golden Eagles across the river led to the city’s name before it was changed to Langtry. At the end of a dirt road is Eagle's Nest historical marker, the required photo at this location.

I was so excited to arrive this mandatory stop before dark, I didn't read the instructions for this bonus.  I was about to take a picture of the wrong sign when Danny hollered at me, "Hey, read the instructions!"  Thank you, comrade. I wouldn't want this hard riding adventure ruined by a rookie mistake taking the picture of the wrong object at the bonus location.  There are two historical markers at this bonus location.  Clearly stated in the BBG instruction are:

"Take a photo of the Eagle’s Nest marker with the river and cliff in the background."

Four stop down and two to go.  By the time we rode through Del Rio is was dusk.  We were headed to Bigfoot TX, 202 miles from Langtry.  The arrival time at Bigfoot was calculated by BaseCamp to be 23:00 (11:00 pm.)  We got there 22:16, almost 0:45 minutes ahead of schedule. Bigfoot was first settled in the 1860’s and was called Connally’s Store until the post office was established in 1863.  The present name is in honor of Texas Ranger William A. A. “Bigfoot” Wallace, a former resident of the town.  So, the likelihood of seeing any large hairy creatures is pretty slim.  But, since you will most likely be arriving after dark keep your eyes open just in case!

As you can see from the BAT "Big" BBG map above, its a pretty straight route from Bigfoot all the way back to the Hilton in Denison.  Once we were on Interstate 35 we established a great BBG ride pace.   We stopped for our last fuel stop before the finish and Danny asked if I'd like him to lead the rest of the way.  At a 75 MPH moving average so far, we were maintaining a good BBG ride pace.  Our ride pace from the start was consistent, with little wasted time at bonus or pit stops.  That had us gaining about an hour under the BaseCamp calculated time.  From past BBG rides, I learned to adjusted the top two speeds on BaseCamp to more accurately predict total moving time and overall time.

So, with just one more mandatory stop in Waco to make, our time back to Denison was looking good.  The traffic through San Antonio around midnight was negligible.  The same through Austin.  Our last mandatory stop was to take a picture of the "Big Red Soda" sign at Health Camp Drive-In, Waco TX.  Big Red is a soft drink created in 1937 by Grover C. Thomsen and R.H. Roark in Waco, Texas and originally known as Sun Tang Red Cream Soda. It is generally classified as an American variety of cream soda and it is the original "red cream soda". The name was changed to Tang Big Red Cream Soda in 1959 and to "Big Red" in 1969 by Harold Jansing, then president of the San Antonio bottling plant, after hearing a golf caddy say, “Give me one of those BIG RED SODAWATERS”.  Additionally, the Health Camp Drive opened in 1949 and is a long-standing icon in Waco.

It was great riding this time of the morning and time just seemed to fly by.  The transit through the Dallas metroplex was smooth and at a good pace.  From there, it was about an hour back to the QT QuickStop station across the street from the Hilton Garden Inn - Denison.  The dated business receipts were accurate and had all required items.  Below are my ride statistics for the Big As Texas "Big" Bun Burner GOLD.

  • Start: 6:00 am, Sep 11, 2019
  • Finish: 3:27 am, Sep 12, 2019
  • Total Miles:1,525.2 GPS, 1,515 MC Odometer
  • Total Time: 21:27, 71.1 Ovg (Overall Average MPH)
  • Moving Time:  20:21, 75 Mvg (Moving Average MPH)
  • Stopped Time: 1:06

Planned vs Actual Arrivals
BaseCamp vs BubblerGPS 
  1. Big Texan Steak:  10:59 vs 10:35
  2. Big Tex Randall:  11:26 vs 11:02
  3. Big Bend:  17:43 vs 16:57
  4. Rio Grande:  19:54 vs 19:12
  5. Bigfoot:  23:00 vs 22:16
  6. Big Red Soda:  02:05 vs 01:12
  7. Finish:  04:25 vs 03:27







Monday, July 15, 2019

Earth to Moon to Earth - Apollo 11, doh, 13 Remembrance

"The Eagle Has Landed"
"Houston, we have a problem!"
Shortly after 7 hours into the mission, the GSA experienced a thrust failure.   The universal joint of the main drive shaft failed.  See below...
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Tuesday, July 16, 2019 is the 50th anniversary of the launching of the Apollo 11 mission to land on the Moon.  To pay tribute to this great event in history and in the spirit of  making every journey a "Hard Riding Adventure!"  I will ride from Earth, TX to Moon, PA, and back to Earth, TX.

Iron Butt Magazine, Spring 2015
This is my second Apollo 11 tribute ride, having earned my "IBAnaut" bragging rights back in July of 2014:  "From the Earth to the Moon"

That was a fun trip, but doing just a Bun Burner Gold (BBG) from Earth to Moon kinda left me dangling out there in space.  So, the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 launch is a great opportunity to complete the journey.

MISSION OBJECTIVE (Options)
Objective number 1 is the goal.  If there a mission anomaly cause a delay, objective number 2 is operative, etc. Having options for completing the Earth to Moon to Earth round trip gives me a strategy to get the most out of the event.   I have been monitoring the enroute weather potentials then Hurricane Barry that blew in from the Gulf of Mexico. Most of the delay causing issues associated with this storm are well south of my intended route.
  1. Bun Burner Gold X 2 - 3,000+ miles under 48 hours
  2. Bun Burner Silver X 2 - 3,000+ miles under 60 hours
  3. SaddleSore 3K - 3,000+ miles under 72 hours
it ain't rocket science...it's BaseCamp
MISSION PROFILE
Ride Pace:  The Bun Burner Gold, 1,500+ miles requires an overall average of 62.5 MPH over the entire 24 hour period.  I will ride straight through from Earth to Moon, stopping only for fuel.  As you can see from the BaseCamp routing data above the Earth to Moon leg takes 20:59 hours of moving time and 0:35 minutes spread among 5 pit stops.  I have calibrated the BaseCamp speeds for Interstates and major highways to match my actual moving average derived from my Dezl GPS moving average.  That way, when I use BaseCamp to calculated a route it produces a moving time that is more realistic to my actual ride pace:  71.8 MPH.  The return leg from Moon to Earth is over the same route with similar moving average speeds and pit stop times.  I have only 0:46 minutes of 'slack time' for the entire 3,000 mile, 48 hour BBGx2 event.

I have elected not to plot out each pit stop along the way as in past BBGs.  I'm using advanced navigational aids (snicker) that enable me to optimize refueling locations along my route. I am able to select optimal fuel stop locations with great precision using the Garmin Dezl 770 'Trucker' GPS, Android Auto app running on my IP68 rated Samsung Galaxy S9+ smartphone location data and the extremely accurate fuel range data provided by the on-board computer of the BMW R1200GS Adventure.  An optimal pit stop location is one located on the right side of the Interstate next to the off ramp and has ample services available.  My favorites are Pilot, Flying-J, Petro and Love's travel centers.  The Dezl GPS is programmed to seek out these 'truck stops'

The table below combines the BaseCamp riding time for each segment adding time for each calculated fuel stop.  I'm using a 7 minute standard pit stop for each calculated pit stop.  I easily get 300 miles of fuel range at sustained Interstate speeds but am using a 275 miles planning range for this event.  I reliably run the on-board fuel endurance 'Range' to zero before stopping at a designated fuel stop.  When the low fuel icon illuminates I search for an optimal pit stop location within the remaining predicted range.  (The 2016 BMW R1200GS Adventure has a rated fuel capacity of 7.9 gallons, but only 7.7 gallons are usable before fuel exhaustion.)

Earth to Moon to Earth Enroute Data (click to enlarge)


BubblerGPS Pro map via SpotWalla Tracking Central  (Tuesday - Thursday, July 16-18)


I want to receive Iron Butt Association certification for the event and will be keeping the required documentation.  That means obtaining a start dated business receipt (DBR), fuel stop DBRs along the way, DBR in Moon, and finishing DBR when I return to Earth.  In addition to retaining the printed DBR documents I will be PicDoc'ing each DBR with the GSA odometer reading.  Being a Iron Butt Association Premier Program member, I can receive fast tracked certification of this ride.  I highly recommend you join the IBA Premier Program and enjoy the many benefits the program has to offer.

Nutrition/Hydration - I use a Mil-Spec Camelbak Antidote 100 oz. hydration pack, mounted to the pannier with insulated supply tube equipped with a bite valve, for my main water supply.  I also have a Under Armour 24 oz insulated steel drink bottle for tasty beverages. I practice intermittent fasting and one meal a day so there will be no breakfast, lunch or dinner stops.  I will be carrying custom trail mix and will pick up two Taco Bell Veggie Power Menu Burritos during the pit stop around my normal meal window, 4 to 6 pm.  I will eat these items will riding...carefully of course.

I am breaking-in my brand new Klim Kodiak "Touring" jacket. The Kodiak is billed as the Klim 'touring' jacket with comfort improvements over the Badlands.  Having ridden with the Badlands for three years I'm anxious to test out this new jacket. Check out the excellent and detailed review by RevZilla


MISSION CHRONOLOGY 
  • Mon 7/15:  Ride to Muleshoe.  Earth launch site recon.
I arrived in Muleshoe, the pre-launch staging location and checked into hotel.  Tony Osborne's FJR was parked at the hotel already.  He is doing the month long multi 1,000+ miles per day event.  I found out he did a BBG to Muleshoe from someplace up north.   Kenneth Andrews arrived shortly after I did so we all decided to ride to Earth for our pre launch recon.  There we met three other IBAnauts.  It wasn't long before Anthony Osborne arrived to complete the gathering.

Steve & Brian  McLaughlin, Robert Long, Kenneth Andrews, Tim Masterson and Anthony Osborne
TexMex dinner together
  • Tue 7/16:  Launch to Moon
I departed my hotel room in Muleshoe at 3:00 am heading for the launch site at the Alon station in Earth.  Got a cup of coffee and prepared to top of my tank, took a picture of the start dated business receipt and launched on my trek to Moon.

Pitstop #1:  East of Clinton, OK

Mission Status Report:  515 miles, 7 hours elapsed time, on ride pace, on flight path, on schedule

"Houston, we have a problem!"
Just past Vinita, OK, My foot pegs started to buzz. I immediately looked for a tire pressure monitor indication. Noting none, I knew exactly what this was...a drive train issue. My speed was 75+ along the Will Rogers Turnpike as I started to look for a place to pull over. I was approaching a river overpass where the highway narrows so I was committed to stopping on the other side of the bridge. Time between the first buzz of the foot pegs to complete stop was less than 1 minute. I stopped the motorcycle as quickly as possible. By the time I had stopped the shaft was clunking, confirming my suspicions. I put the bike on the center stand. Inspected the final drive case for oil, noting none. I felt the final drive case and it was not hot. Then I rotated the rear wheel, feeling the shaft bind up confirming my suspicions. I was disappointed since I had the drive shaft inspected during my last 12K service, some 10,000 miles before this failure, with no issues noted.

I contacted Progressive Insurance who dispatched a wrecker to take me to the nearest BMW motorcycle dealer in Bentonville, AR.  Arriving there, they quickly determined it was the universal joint that failed.  
Gary, the dealership general manager, did a parts availability scan and informed me there were no drive shafts available in North America, Germany had on but it was not available, and the BMW OEM parts distribution center was expecting a shipment of 70 drive shafts by the end of the month.  It was clear I was not going to be back on the road so, I began to formulate a recovery plan.  My good comrade and sometimes riding companion, Danny had called me on the phone to offer to drive up from Benton TX to Bentonville with his truck and trailer and take me back home.  I accepted his offer.  

Gary at Bentonville BMW offered me the use of a 2008 GSA to use while I waited overnight for Danny to arrive.  I rode into town and got a room for the night.  Changed into street clothes and walked next door to the cheap Chinese buffet for my one meal of the day.  I contacted my BMW dealer in Austin to get the ball rolling on ordering a new drive shaft.  I have an extended unlimited mileage warranty on this motorcycle that covers mechanical failures till May 17, 2021.  
  • Wed 7/17:  Danny arrived at the dealership, we loaded up the disabled motorcycle and drove all the way back to his home where we spent the night. 
  • Thu 7/18:  I and the motorcycle arrived home.  End of adventure.
  • Epilogue - I am disappointed I did not get to finish the Earth to Moon to Earth BBG adventure.  My Apollo 11 tribute ride turned into an Apollo 13 DNF.  Given the availability of other Apollo mission dates, I'm sure I will be back in the saddle soon and ready for another...
"Hard Riding Adventure"

Make your own Earth/Moon/Earth hard riding adventure

Do any IBA SaddleSore or BunBurnner ride between Earth, TX and Moon, PA and lay claim to a "IBAnaut" designation.  Ideally, starting on an anniversary date of any Apollo Mission.  All rides should start from Earth, TX of course, unless you are an eastern extraterrestrial.  Just think of the fun combinations:
  • Bun Burner 1,500 -- One way from Earth to Moon in less than 36 hours
  • SaddleSore 3,000 -- Round trip from Earth to Moon back to Earth in less than 72 hours
  • Bun Burner Gold --  1,500 Miles one way from Earth to Moon in less than 24 hours
  • Bun Burner Gold 3,000 --  Round trip from Earth to Moon back to Earth in less than 48 hours
  • Other interesting combinations....

NASA Apollo Missions

Apollo 11 -- 16 July 69 Launch date
Apollo 12 -- 14 November 69 Launch date
Apollo 13 -- 11 April 70 Launch date, DNF
Apollo 14 -- 31 January 71 Launch date
Apollo 15 -- 26 July 71 Launch date
Apollo 16 -- 16 April 72 Launch date
Apollo 17 -- 7 December 72 Launch date
No other manned Earth to Moon missions

Disclaimer:  The designation "IBAnaut" is not an official Iron Butt Association label for any ride.  Just my attempt to add a little fun to the event.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Pink's RTE - Bite the Wieeenie!



The Pink's Hollywood annual "Bite the Wieeenie" is a classic 'Ride to Eat' in the long-distance motorcycle community.  The 2018 Pink's RTE is being held on Saturday evening, November 17th.   And, I'm going!

Full SpotWalla Map


Tue, 11/13:  Rendezvous with a riding comrade in Sweetwater, TX.  Then on to Clovis NM to pay visit another LD comrade before spending the night up near Santa Rosa, NM.

Comrades tie on the feed bag


Wed, 11/14:  West bound along I-40 till we feel like stopping for the night.

Overnight in Santa Rosa


Thu, 11/15:  Hold up in Las Vegas for a couple of days and enjoy the entertainment.


Check-in Bellagio
Morning Coffee
Grand Spaces
Dang, my pants
are getting baggie













Sat, 11/17:  On to Los Angles to stage for the Pink's Hollywood feast.  Check out the Pink's Menu!


Pink's Full Menu


A couple of 'Wieeenies'

Over 50 LD riders this year

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Truckee'in to the Salt Flats

I'm attending the Motor-Assisted Bicycle Bonneville Salt Flats speed trials on Sunday, September 16th.  The George A. Wyman Project was designated honorary sponsor of the MAB teams entry in the Utah Salt Flats Racing Association - 130 MPH Class.  I'm taking advantage of this ride to conduct some Project business along the Wyman Trail.

So, my good comrade and esteemed Texas Gentleman, Danny Dossman and I are taking the Alien Adventure Tour route to Truckee CA.  We have an appointment with the Truckee historical officials to install the Wyman Memorial plaque sponsored by IBA ledgend Dave McQueeney, #29.

Click here for the SpotWalla Map


Wed 9/12:  Our route to Truckee will take us through locations famous for their significance to the UFO and Alien Encounter subculture.  After rendezvousing in Big Springs TX, Danny and I are riding to UFO Central in Roswell NM. From there it's through the Valley of Fires, to the Trinity Site sign marking the roadside spot closest to the actual detonation site of the first atomic bomb in July, 1945.  We'll spend the night in scenic (LOL) Socorro NM.

Thur 9/13:  First stop the location of first 'Contact' of an alien intelligence, the Very Large Array of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.  From there it's to the Extraterrestrial Highway, NV 375, past Area 51's mysterious 'Black Mailbox' all the way to the Little A'Le'Inn in Rachael NV.  I need a new 'Area 51' tee shirt...wore mine out.  Then it's to Tonopah to stay the night.  We here beer and gambling is available at the hotels there.

Fri 9/14:  Business in Truckee California Information Center housed at the old Central Pacific RR Depot. 

Sat 9/15:  First waypoint will be the Iron Butt Association's Circle of Honor on  the edge Black Rock Desert just northwest of Gerlach NV.  This will be Danny's first trip to the IBA COH to pay his respects to the legends of the long-distance riding community.  From there, we will make our way to Elko, stopping at a few Wyman waypoints.

Sun 9/16:  On to the Bonneville Salt Flats to check out 'Speed Week' activities.

Mon 9/17:  We will be resting up at the hotel and casino, maybe go for a ride in the neighborhood to check things out.

Tue 9/18:  Ride to Eat at the Union Grill and meet up with the Pit Crew of the MAB Racing team.  From them, Danny and I have lots of touring to do all over the west.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

The Mighty Mississippi - Gold

Headwaters Marker
Lake Itasca, MN
The Mississippi River flows from its headwaters at Lake Itasca, MN south to the Gulf of Mexico at Venice, LA.  And, you guessed it, the Iron Butt Association has a certified ride to celebrate the geography of the Mighty Mississippi.

The Mighty Mississippi has been on my ride list for some time. So, now that the spring floods have subsided, I'm going to scratch the Mighty Mississippi off my ride list.  I'll be going for the GOLD of course.

Mighty Mississippi - Time limit 36 hours
Mighty Mississippi GOLD - Time limit 24 hours



SpotWalla Map (click on link to see the full SpotWalla map)


I planned a 4am Tuesday, 7/17 departure from Lake Itasca to take full advantage of my circadian rhythm.  Garmin Basecamp calculates 1,520 miles and riding time of about 22 hours along the route I selected.



Staging for the Ride:  I arrived at Itasca State Park on Monday, 7/16, to visit the headwaters location and scout out the various items on my planning list.  Approaching the park from the south along MN 200 both my GPSs wanted to route me through the south entrance to the park.  The Mary Gibbs Visitor's Center is at the north end of the park so I ignored the GPSs suggested and entered from the north.  The visitor's center is very nice complete with a great cafe and free wifi.  It's just a short walk to the headwaters from there.  After getting my picture taken at the headwaters monument I had a lunch in the cafe and did some blogging.

There are two gas stations/convenience stores near the park.  One at the north entrance and the other at the intersection of US 71 and MN 200, neither are open at my 4 am start time.  The station at the north end does not have pay at the pump gas.  My intended start point is at the station on the west side of the park at the intersection of US 71 and MN 200.  It does have pay at the pump.  It was a good thing I scouted this out before arriving at the wee hours of the morning.  Their credit card pay at the pump system had been down for three days and was not working.  The next closest place to get a dated business receipt (DBR) at 4am was the small community of Park Rapids, some 25 miles south of my start point.

Clean & Comfortable
Since I was starting the ride at 4am I needed a place to stay.  My options were Mississippi Headwaters Hostel inside the park or the Lake George Pines Motel on US 71.  The hostel is deep inside the park and the Pines is 7 miles from my intended start point.  I chose the clean and cozy Pines Motel at $58.  The motel was recently acquired by Jeremy and Mel and they have been busy fixing it up.  The have 7 units that can accommodate up to 8 persons in the largest cabin.  There is a general store and cafe within walking distance from the Pines.  Since I had a 3 am wake up I got all my electronic gear on chargers, prepped my hydration and food stores and was in bed by 7pm.

Segment 1 - Start to St. Louis:  I departed the Pines Motel at 3:20 am and headed to the start point at the gas station on US 71 & MN 200.  The pumps still have tape on the credit card slots so no DBR here.  I am a IBA Premier Member so I a not required to get a starting witness form.  But I do have to prove I was at the start point by means of a photo of the DBR and motorcycle odometer.  The next best thing to a DBR is a satellite tracking marker, photo of GPS showing time/location and the starting odometer reading.  I stopped at the first gas station in Park Rapids, 25 miles south on US71, to get a supporting DBR.

Starting GPS & Odometer

US 71 is a wide and well maintained US Highway.  The brush is cleared well off the sides of the highway which was a good thing in the wee hours of the morning.  I was using my FLIR PathFindIR camera with display to the Garmin Dezl 770, but did not see a single warm blooded critter anywhere near the highway.  US 71 is two lane all the way to US 10 where it opens up to four lanes.  Both US 71 and US 10 have BBG friendly speed limits with the exceptions of transiting the small villages and towns.

By the time I got to the limited access stretches of US 10 it was well after sunrise.  Temperatures were still on the cool side but I was enjoy them as I knew soon enough I would be in the middle of July heat.  I hit the Minneapolis outskirts just in time for morning rush hour.  The Garmin Dezl is great with traffic notices as it updates ever 30 seconds.  Also, it displays the traffic delays in a side bar on the screen with very accurate depiction of the issues.  The Dezl would get me out of several traffic delays down the road.  Out of Minneapolis I was routed south along I-35 to near Clear Lake where I headed east along 4 lane US highways all the way to St. Louis, MO.  The many slowdowns through communities along these highways tended to reduce my ride pace.  My moving average during this segment was 70 mph.

Segment 2 - St. Louis to Memphis:  It was mid afternoon by the time I reach St. Louis.  From here I was on I-55, the primary route all the way to just north of New Orleans.  The ride pace would pick up to normal interstate speeds without the periodic community slowdowns and traffic lights.  The temperatures with in the low 90s.  I was hydrating from my insulated 24oz. Under Armor stainless steel drink bottle filled with Powerade Zero sports drink and water from my milspec CamelBak 3 litre short bladder insulated backpack mounted to the motorcycle.  I left home with 4 bottles of Zero that I picked up at my local Walmart for $0.68 a bottle.  They typically sell for $1.89 or more on the road.  This would sever me several minutes along the road as it is quicker to get gas than it is to get drinks at stops.  Thanks for that tip, Will Barkley!

The temperatures were still in the mid 90s and the humidity was on the rise.  About half way between St. Louis and Memphis I could see showers along my route.  I scanned the weather radar on my Zumo 665 and is showed light showers but no thunderstorms.  I welcomed riding through these refreshing showers.  There were two of them, each about 5 miles long.  By the time I reached Memphis around 6:30 pm I had reached cooler air.  Seemed to me like a I was on the cool side of a weather front.  That and the showers were a refreshing change from the hot riding.  The ride pace had improved after reaching I-55.  My GPS indicated moving average was 74 mph.

I want to give a shout-out to LDComfort.  Not only does the system work as advertised, but I have honed the function of the cooling technique.  During my Death Valley 1,000 Insanity ride last year I was able to ride with relative comfort in 110f+ temperatures all day long.  On the Mighty Mississippi BBG I was wearing a pair of LDComfort's new men's shorts on this ride.  WOW!  What a difference the new front panel design has made.  LDComfort enhanced the shorts by adding what I call the 'Zohan' pouch in the front.  No more 'equipment' adjustments necessary.  Everything stays put.  The results is less comfort distractions in the crotch.  I'm scrapping all my old shorts and replace them with the new design. 

Segment 3 - Memphis to Venice:  Just prior to Memphis the Dezl 770 warned me that the section of I-55 along the south west side of Memphis was at a dead stop.  It routed me to I-40 then I-240 south to avoid the closure.  By 6;30 in the evening traffic was flowing very nicely.  It wasn't too long and I was at BBG friendly ride pace all the way to New Orleans.  The stretch of I-55 between Jackson and just north of New Orleans was like riding through a tunnel of trees.  I had turned on my FLIR PathFindIR camera and was monitoring it for heat signatures of warm blooded animals.  I saw none.

I arrived in the New Orleans metro area at midnight.  The Dezl did a great job of routeing me through to the Belle Chase highway leading down the delta to Venice.  After leaving the city, LA 23 opens up to 4 lanes and speed limits of 55 and 65 mph.  It was 1:29 when I arrived at my stopping destination in Venice.  I chose the Venice Inn motel as at that time of night it and the other hotel are the only places where I was assured of getting a finishing dated business receipt.  I had called ahead to inquire about availability.

Finish GPS & Odometer
Ride Summary & Statistics:  I had achieved my goal of riding from the headwaters of the Mississippi River to the delta in under 24 hours.  This hard riding adventure was sweetened by the Mighty Mississippi themed certification opportunity.  Accomplishing the ride under the Bun Burner Gold certification standards was especially rewarding given it had been 4 years since my last BBG during the 'Earth to Moon' ride in July, 2014.  Also, I did not have any 'close calls' during this BBG.  I was able to keep non moving time to a minimum.  The total time 21:44 from start to finish was as 0:17 minutes shorter than the BaseCamp projected riding time of 22:01.

Statistics
  • Start Time:  3:45, 7/17/18
  • Finish Time:  1:29, 7/18/18
  • Total Time:  21:44
  • Total Stop Time: 0:38 for 5 fuel stops
  • Total Moving Time:  21:06
  • Total Miles:  1,523 GPS, 1,508 MC Odometer
  • Moving Average:  72 MPH
  • Overall Average:  70 MPH
  • Fuel Used:  38.8 Gallons, 39.35 MPG