Monday, June 28, 2010

Ultimate Coast to Coast Challenge

Cross North America from Key West, FL to Deadhorse, AK by motorcycle.

(Web navigation tip:  press CTRL key then mouse over the orange links to open in a separate window.)

The goal of this ride is to be recognized by the Iron Butt Association  for successfully completing the Ultimate Coast to Coast Challenge.  The rules for the event allows 30 days to complete the ride.  Unlike other IBA Rides the UCC is designed for a more relaxed pace.   Check out the bike (video) and route.

Scroll down this panel for the Adventure outline and latest updates:

This adventure will span 2 countries, 25 states and provinces at over 12,500 miles.  I will be traveling by myself but "SPOT"ing along the way.    During the day I will send a SPOT Check In/OK  message that are posted to the SPOT Tim and Live Feed pages to show key route point, routine gas or rest stops.  At the end of the riding day I will send a SPOT Custom msg that tells friends and loved ones I have stopped for the day at a motel or campground (also posted to SPOT Tim and Live Feed pages).  Using my NetBook computer I will update this blog with route, stop points and how the ride went that day.

Day X - Start-Finish point, Miles this day, Weather, High/Low temp

(Days/Dates are approximate and used for planning purposes)

Mon 6/28 - Wimberley TX to near Lake City FL 94/72, 985.8 miles
Day 1 went off as planned.  Scattered showers all along the way but temps were warm.  Stopped twice for gas, check the bike out, and eat a sandwich.  No pictures today.  Too busy riding.  Besides, seen one Interstate, seen them all.  Pulled over about dusk to put the sun glasses away and clean the face and wind shields.  Turned off of I-10 east to I-75 south to the Lake City exit.  The brand new Comfort Inn/Suites looked inviting so I SPOT'd my  Custom msg  in thier parking lot.  Too expensive, so the Econo Lodge next door got my business.  Hey, how much different can the shower, bed and WiFi be?

Tue 6/29 - Near Lake City FL to Key West FL 95/72 Showers 556.2 miles.
Great riding today.  Weather was hazy, hot and humid.  Rode through several showers, didn't even bother with gearing up.  Stopped a couple of times for gas and stopped to take some pictures at the Big Cypress national preserve.  It's part of the Everglades and I was hoping to get a picture of a Florida gator.  Alas, the closest thing I got to a gator was a big snapping turtle.  Arrived in Key West about 4:30 local time.  Pulled into the  Sigsbee RV Park on the Naval Air Station and setp camp.  The weather was great, with nice tropical breezes so I set up my hammock between two trees instead of a tent.  It works well and I use my GI poncho as the rain cover in case of sprinkles.  Had several visitors to see the bike and to remark about my spartan and primitive camping style.  One retired Army guy and his friend wanted to know all about my adventure.  I was more than happy to tell them all about it.  Wasn't too long before the invited me over for BBQ and a couple of cold ones.....Life is good!

Wed 6/30 - Key West FL North of Atlanta GA, 99/78 T-storms, 848.3 miles
Depart campsite about 5:30 heading to the Key West PD for witness certification.  There I picked up the wall phone and tried to explain to the young lady on the other end my need to have an Officer come out and do the deed.  I wasn't making much headway when a man in civilian cloths came out of the offices.  As luck would have it he was an IBA member and recognized the patch on my jacket.  He knew exactly what I was doing the at "O-Dark-Thirty" so he went back in and fetched an Officer. Then I rode over to Southern most point monument for picture of me and the bike.  Top off gas tank and secure the dated business receipt (DBR) to substantiate my official departure time for the Ultimate Coast to Coast Challenge.

Thur 7/1 - Kennesaw GA to Rock Port MO, 86/72, Clear  902.3 miles
Yesterday, after enduring oppressive heat and humidity up the full length of Florida and negotiating over 200 miles of sprinkles, showers and down-pours through the center of Georgia, I'm reminded why this kind of riding is not for everyone.  Yet, as I was emerging out of the last thunderstorm north of Macon my spirits were lifted by the sight of clearing skies and drying roads.  The setting sun cast a pinkish glow on the lingering clouds against a baby blue sky rewarded me with the promise of better riding.  Today that promise came true with near ideal riding weather.   Riding through the scenic mountains of TN and KY was a great change from the sprawl of FL and the sign cluttered I-75 in GA. Stopped in St Louis for a foto-op at the Great Arch.  I'll be thinking of this great weather when I'm riding through Atigun Pass along the north slope haul road.

Fri 7/2 - Rock Port MO to Portal ND, 94/68, Clear and windy 841.7 miles
Why Not Minot?  Because the border was just a bit farther.  Interstates are useful tools for the long distance rider.  They extend the riding horizon in a way that reduces risk.  The consistency of speed, route information, service availability are all designed for long distance.  Today I turned off of I-94 just west of Fargo ND and away from riding on Interstates until after the return trip as I enter Washington. The roads from now on will be much more interesting than Interstates.  Travel times and daily distances will shorten considerably.  And, I expect I'll be doing more sight-seeing along the way.  Not sure what the Canadian highways will be like but don't expect much of a difference from US roads.  Tomorrow, I cross the US-Canadian border into the great north.

Sat 7/3 - Portal ND to near Edmonton AB Canada, 59/75, Partly cloudy, 637.9 miles
Motorcycling is an outdoor sport.  Had to layer up today.  Woke up to showers and temps in the high 50's.  The riding was easy with only a couple of stops.  In Regina I zipped on the outer shell to my hot weather riding jacket and made it a chilly weather jacket.  Upgraded to mid-weight gloves and I was set.  Having the right gear sure makes a difference and takes stress out of the ride.  Riding across the great Canadian plains is just like riding across Nebraska....only bigger.  When I entered Alberta the the landscape got more interesting, with rolling hills and pastorial vistas.  Tomorrow I head north to Fort Nelson and a check of the weather shows more showers likely.  Like I said.....motorcycling is an outdoor sport.

Sun 7/4 - Edmonton AB to Fort Nelson BC, 46/67, Overcast and wet, 653.2 miles
Plan your Ride...Ride your Plan.  Today was a plug in and Gore-Tex up day.  The ride plan took me into the mountains of British Columbia.  Mountains mean elevation and weather changes.   Weather radar showed scattered rain most all the way to Fort Nelson.  So, I put on my electric jacket liner under my leather jacket.  It plugs into the motorcycle and is like an electric blanket.  Keeps me very toasty.  Also have gloves that plug into the sleeve wires for that all over warm feeling. I am so spoiled.   Approaching the mountains the weather turned wet.  Even with Gore-Tex from neck to toes the water still manages to find places to enter the protective barrier.  Riding is slow when it's wet and when you finally get to the destination for the day you need time to clean the gear, check out the bike and get ready for the next riding day.  The relatively short riding distances on these last few legs were designed to provide for these contingencies.   Stopped at Dawson Creek for a foto-op at "Mile Zero" of the World Famous Alaska Highway.

Critter Watch:  Saw a black bear foraging on the side of the road.   I didn't stop for a picture.

Mon 7/5 - Fort Nelson BC to Whitehorse YT, 45/68, Clear to partly cloudy, 594.2 miles
Hat tip to the Canadian highway dept.  Riding the Alaska Highway is a hoot.  Very well maintained and as good as any road I've ridden in the States.  Lots of RV traffic and motorcycles this time of year.  Has a few rough spots and some loose gravel at repair sites.  There is a lot of wild life on the road too.  I was going to keep "critter watch" list but there were too many sightings.  I saw (videos) black bear, moose, mountain goat, roaming buffalo and grazing buffalo.  Got to Whitehorse early afternoon, about 4pm local time.  After checking into a hotel in downtown I had to go find a car wash to hose the bike off.  Tomorrow is another easy day up to Fairbanks.  Going to get there early afternoon, set up the campsite on Ft Wainwright and pop over to the BMW dealership to check it out.  Got to get everything ready for my final ride up to Deadhorse.  Not sure I am going to have access to WiFi to post tomorrow's blog.  When I make the final ride to Deadhorse I will SPOT more often than just when I get gas so follow my progress on the SPOT Tim live feed page.  (See the top paragraph for the link)

Tue 7/6 - Whitehorse YT to Fairbank AK, 35,67, Clear, 588. 9 miles
Timing is everything.  Whenever I ride on a multi time zone trip I always keep the motorcycle and GPS clocks set to home (CDT) time.  This way I can take advantage of my circadian rhythm to manage fatigue. I model my riding time in the saddle as sunup to sundown.  If I want to extend the mileage then I start about 4am and ride to no longer than shortly after midnight. I avoid riding past 2am.

The ride up from  White horse was great.  Stopped at Delta Jucntion, AK, at the end of the Alaska Highway to photo-document my transit.  I arrived in Fairbanks about 2pm and headed straight to the Lands End BMW dealership to check out the bike.  That way if I found anything that need fixing I was in the right spot.  Just needed to add air to the tires.  Remember that bike time thing?  Well I also use it to plan my riding time instead of adapting to the local time I make riding decisions base on the bike/GPS time.   After gasing up I headed to Ft Wainwright to use their camp/RV park for a stay in the Iron Butt Motel.  Got something to eat, checked the Wx up north then headed back to the camping park to settle in for the sleep.....not
much "night" up here as it doesn't get dark this time of year.   I was about 8pm my time and 5pm local tme. 

Wed 7/7 - Fairbanks AK to Deadhorse AK to Fairbanks AK, 41/44, drizzle and windy, 1,040.2 miles
At 4am my time I departed the campground, headed over to Denny's for a hearty breakfast then left for Deadhorse.  Got to the entrance of the Dalton Highway   See the map and Alaska Jack's mile post pictures .  I'm writing a separate Spot Adventure on the ride up and back to give more detail so look for it in my Spot Adventure portfolio.

Decided not spend the night in Deadhorse and opted to head south.  Got to Coldfoot Camp, it was still a muddy mess, and checked on the price of a room in the modular units they call a motel.  $175 including taxes.   Fairbanks was only about 5 hours away and I was feeling pretty good.  Remember that fatigue management strategy gives me options.  Even though I had ridden all day I opted to ride to Fairbanks, hose off the bike in the car wash I spotted the previous day and get me a good hotel room....$126 including breakfast.  Check out the "Haul Road 1,000" Spot Adventure for details, videos and pictures.

Thur 7/8 - Fairbanks AK to Beaver Creek YT, about 250 miles
Enroute stop at Fort Greely AK near Delta Junction.  I spent almost 4 years stationed there in the late 70's  Going to take some pictures.  I was going to do some more camping starting tonight but just as I'm getting ready to stop for the day a huge line of thunderstorms lay just ahead of, another $100 Canadian and $18 for a hamburger and Diet Coke.  It was a good hamburger though.

Fri 7/9 - Beaver Creek YK to Deese Lake BC, 42/85, Clear, 682 miles
Had a great ride today.  Stopped in Haines Junction for coffee and hearty Canadian breakfast.  Stopped in Whitehorse and hosed off the bike again.  Still dirty from the Haul Road.  Headed south towards the Canada-Washington border and stopped in Deese Lake at a very nice hotel and very
reasonable price with WiFi.  Guess I won't stop at a hotel/motel unless it has internet access anymore.

Sat 7/10 - Deese Lake BC to Williams Lake BC, 54/84 Partly Cloudy, 748.9 miles
The ride down BC 37 was very scenic through the mountains and river valleys.  Saw a wolf cross the road in front of me and two black bears along the side of the road.  When I got to Williams Lake, checked into the hotel, got the laundry going I checked out the bike.  I need a new rear tire!  Dang, just put the current one on at 53,500 miles.  I'm now at 62,500....guess the Haul Road did a number on it.  The wear is almost down to the bars but there is a wear indication down the center of the case.  No casing is showing but I'll have to take it easy the next two riding days.  As I'm writing this it's Saturday evening and none of the BMW Cycle dealers within a 1,000 miles is open on Monday.  So the plan is to head to Seattle, then down I-5 to Portalnd then Eugene OR before heading to Reno.  Each of these cities have BMW Dealers so i"ll monitor the tire at each location and hold up if I don't feel it's safe to continue.  The Ideal situation would be to make it to Reno were my Sister lives arriving on Monday.  Then be at the dealership first thing Tuesday morning.  Stay tuned

Sun 7/11 - Williams Lake BC to Centralia WA, 55/88, Clear, 571.1miles
I had to deal with the tire issue today.  My plan was to head south towards Vancouver, Seattle, Eugene, check the tire about every 50-75 miles to see how much wear was taking place.  After the first check I didn't notice much change.  After about 150 miles cord started to show. At first it was only about 3 inches.  At the next stop about 6 inches of cord was showing.  I had reduced my speed to around 55 mph, the roads were smooth asphalt and mostly down hill.  I was committed to going to the BMW Dealership in Vancouver.  Last night I checked their website and it said they were closed on Sunday, today, but open on Monday, sales only.  So, the plan was to get to the dealership, spot a hotel near by and wait till Monday and hope the could sell me a tire.  Had to call my girlfriend back in Wimberley to get the address.  I had written down the phone number but didn't bother noting the address.

As I was approaching the address on Grandview Highway for John Valk BMW I saw lots of bikes parked outside!!!!!   That means the were OPEN.  Walked in and explained the problem and the guys got on the phone and called in Dave, one of their highly trained tech.  The sold me a new tire, mounted it and I was out of there inside of an hour and a half.  Now that's SERVICE at its best.  I highly recommend if you are in the area that you stop and spend some money at John Valk BMW in Vancouver BC.  They really helped me when I needed it.  Here's their website

Got back on the road and got into position for tomorrows ride to the IBA spiritual spot near Gerlach NV.  Then on to Reno to visit my sister and bro-inlaw. 

Mon 7/12 - Centralia WA to Gerlach NV, 56/98 Clear,  634.7 miles
On the way from Centralia WA to Reno NV I went right by Crater Lake National Park.  Had to stop and take some picture.  I always wanted to get to that picturesque location and now I have the chance.  Check out the pix.  So, instead of ending the day at my sister's place in Reno I decided to spend the night in the Iron Butt Hotel at the Iron Butt monument/memorial/spiritual spot.  Was a cool experience and I very much enjoy sleeping under the bright dessert night sky.  The wind was blowing very hard as the sun was setting....and usual condition for the dessert.  It stopped blowing around 10pm just as I was getting sleepy.  Cell phone connection was great so I checked in at home.  Popped my sleeping bag and pad on the picnic table and slept....ok.  Whenever I camp I revert back to that cat-nap mode like when I was in the Army.  Just barely slipping into REM sleep every 40 minutes or so.  Got up before sunrise, rode to Sparks, had a hearty breakfast, found a car wash to hose the bike off for the 4th time then rode to my sister's place.  Will remain there until Wednesday morning.

Wed 7/14 - Reno NV to Phoenix AZ, 66,118, Clear, 788 miles
Did a "French Leave" while everyone was still asleep and departed Reno just at the sun was rising.  Great riding in the high dessert with lots of visibility, good roads and little traffic.  Riding through Hawthorne NV I passed the huge Army ammunition depot.  Row after row of large one story buildings resembling German concentration camps.  Still heading south I took a cut-off from the main route to Phoenix and rode down NV 375.  The State of Nevada has officially designated this stretch of highway the "Extraterrestrial Highway".This road leads you around the east side of the center of NV where the US government has tested everything from atom bombs, U2 spy plan the F-117 stealth fighter and as some would tell you "Alien" space craft.  The entrance road to the east gate of the famous Area 51 turns off of the ET Hwy at the mysterious black mail box.  I stopped at the "Little A'Le'Inn" cafe and motel for lunch.  Bought some alien tourist junk and continued on my way.  By this time the temperatures were rising and it was near 100 degrees.  Riding trough Las Vegas and heading over Hover Dam into Arizona the temperature reach 118 degrees, yes, one hundred and eighteen degrees.  I didn't cool off until I was south of I-40 and then the temperature dropped to the 108 range.  It was a noticeable difference.  I was well protected from the sun with my full face helmet, mesh jacket and summer weight breathable gloves.  The wind screen and full face helmet makes a big difference when riding in heat above about 105.  It's like standing in front of a hair dryer on high heat.  Put the face shield down and you don't get the heat blast.  Staying hydrated is very important when riding in heat.  So I drink from my water bottle about every 15 minutes to keep my water level up.  Arrive in Surprise AZ about 7pm local time. 

Fri 7/16-Sat 7/17 -- Phoenix AZ to Wimberley TX
Just 1,018 miles to home and the end of a great motorcycle adventure.  The memories will last a lifetime....or what's left of mine anyway.  Spent the last night on the road in Stockton, TX.  Arrived back home about 11:30am on Saturday morning, July 17. 

EPILOG:  12,360 total trip miles.  No mechanical issues the entire trip.  Wore out one rear tire because of the added weight of gear and roughness of the Dalton Highway.  Total coast just shy of $3,000 for gas, hotels, meals, tolls and other things, including the new tire at $387.40 parts, labor and taxes.....the Adventure.....PRICELESS!

Adventure Tips
SPOT Messages
Check In/OK:  Key route point, routine gas or rest stop.  All is well.
   Parked for the night.  Check my Spot Adventure page for updates, location and photos.
Help:   Broke down.  Contact roadside assist and give them map location and grid coordinates.

So, you want to ride a long distance? 
Check the "Archive of Wisdom"