Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013: A Year of Adventures

I knew 2013 was going to be a high mileage year.  I had lots riding goals to accomplish.  I started the year with 3,507 miles on my 2013 BMW R1200GS Adventure on January first.  On December 31st the odometer read 57,987 for a 2013 grand total of 54,480 miles.  I went through some tires during the year.  I have been running Michelin Anakee 3 tires since the first tire change after taking delivery of the GSA in October 2012.  The Anakee's are supposed to be high mileage adventure touring tires.  I'm still doing the evaluation of their performance and will post updates as I make them.

Risk management is something I work at while riding.  Riding many miles, on all types of highways, in all types of traffic conditions and in all types of weather I'm happy to report I had no "close calls" while riding during the year.  I define a close call by an instance of emergency maneuvering to avoid a crash after being surprised by a road or traffic condition. And, as far as riding and risk management goes acquiring, installing and using the FLIR PathFindIR thermal imaging system was one of my most important and innovative 'farkles'.  It was invaluable for riding dusk, night and before dawn.  Especially useful during the 10,000 Miles in 10 Days ride in Texas and on the  IBR.  Using the FLIR while riding helped me to detect and identify warm blooded critters way out of the reach of my driving lights.  I can't imagine riding between dusk and dawn without it.

Of course, my primary riding objective was achieving my goal for the 2013 Iron Butt Rally.  I had many training rides leading up to the IBR during the first half of the year and some therapeutic  P.I.S.S rides afterwards.  Listed below are some of the highlights of the riding adventures during the year.

Using Proximity Point Alerts on the GPS
Big Bend Video Shoot
The Clock Is Running

100ccc Gold Ride Plan
Ride Report -- 100ccc Gold

LD Riding on the Clock -- An Organizing Framework
ROG -- Run Out of Gas Testing
Cape Fear 1,000 Rally

Texas 10,000 Miles in 10 Days

The Iron Butt Rally -- 11,000 Miles in 11 Days

The Colorado 1,000 -- 2013

Round Trip to Salt Lake City

Big Tex Rally -- Posse Ride
IBA Big As Texas Party -- Republic of Texas 1,000

Fun with Bubbler GPS Pro

2014 Is already shaping up to be a fun year.  I have applied for a position on the 2015 Iron Butt Rally.  If I am drawn for a slot I'll be doing several focused training events and rides to keep my riding skills sharp.  I am in the preliminary stages of planning a trans Canada ride with a comrade during August.  I want to ride my motorcycle from The farthest eastern city, St. John's NS to Vancouver BC.  That should be fun.  And, if drawn for a IBR slot, good Canada ride training.  The IBA International Meeting is taking place in Denver in August.  So, the plan is to head there at the end of the trans Canada adventure.  I'll keep my schedule open for more Hard Riding Adventures!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Sunday Ride

The weather is beautiful here in the Texas Hill Country.  So, I'm going out for a ride.  Nothing special, just turning recycled hydrocarbons to greenhouse gasses.  Should be fun.  I'll be using BubblerGPS for tracking and spotting things along the way. 

Luckenbach is a biker magnet on the weekends.  I may swing by there to hang out some.  Then maybe pop over to Javelina HD to watch the Riders Edge class.   Wait, never mind, this is starting to sound like I have a ride plan or something.

ShopRiderOn the way into the village of Wimberley I saw this....thing.... at the local biker shop.

Check out the SpotWalla map above for pictures at some of my stops.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Using FLIR While Riding

11/16/13:  I like technology.  What "guy" doesn't?  So, the idea of HUD (Head Up Display) for a motorcycle helmet is high on my cool list.

Check out this article in c/net about the Skully P1 motorcycle helmet.
And, the Nuviz Motorcycle Heads Up Display.
And, the LiveMap Motorcycle HMD

I want to tether my FLIR PathFindIR and rear view camera to a micro display affixed to the inside of my helmet.  Of course, having the feed from navigation would also be way cool.  But, right now I'd settle for using the display for rear view camera during the bright time of the day and the PathFindIR dusk till dawn.

Technology is getting closer. 

This post is about using the FLIR PathFindIR thermal imaging camera to enhance and extend perception distance while riding on a motorcycle.  See: The FLIR Project posting regarding the acquisition and installation on my BMW R1200GS Adventure.  

Rider view:  Using the FLIR in daylight, at dusk, slight overcast.  From this prospective you can see the FLIR display clearly.  Although, not captured by the video camera the resolution of the display is good enough to see the thermal signature of warm blooded critters on the sides of the road 8-12 seconds ahead.  Through practice and experimentation I have found the FLIR most useful by doing a quick glance at the display to a point that represents 6-12 seconds ahead.

(Select Full Screen and HD Quality)

FLIR Field Testing:   The objective of this phase is integrate the FLIR under long distance riding conditions.  How best to employ the system, exploit its capabilities, and identify limitations under day and night operational conditions.

Operational Environments:  Videos in both thermal and visible light spectra. (click on YouTube link when available)

Video Capture Methodology 
Listed above are or will be several videos showing how the FLIR can increase perception distance to gain advance notice of possible hazards on the path of travel.  Some demonstration videos will be a mix of both day and night riding conditions.  There are two types of videos, 1; showing how the road ahead looks from the rider's view and 2; of the thermal image captured by an in-line DVR.  Edited into the DVR recordings will be using visible light rider view, provided by the motorcycle's OEM lighting, captured by GoPro Hero3 action camera using low light settings.  The Hero3 is mounted on top of the FLIR housing to match the prospective views.  This technique provides both visible light and thermal spectrum.

Using the FLIR PathFindIR thermal imagery while riding works differently than using just axillary lighting.  The primary advantage of using FLIR over axillary lighting is thermal contrast. The FLIR system does not detect the "temperature" difference the way a thermometer registers degrees.  Rather, the PathFindIR camera captures the differences in the frequency of the electromagnetic spectrum in the infrared ranges

To detect objects the human visual system looks for object signatures which differentiates it from the background.  The term visual salience is used in cognitive science to describe the features that make objects detectable.

The size of the “difference” with the background must become higher than a “threshold value” before the object becomes salient, or in other words, draws attention.  In terms of naturally camouflage animals, consider the following attributes that have traditionally been mentioned that help one to detect an animal hazard in the riding environment.

Visual Salience

  1. Movement – shapes moving in a static environment or not moving in a dynamic environment will draw attention. 
  2. Shine from reflective surfaces – Eye reflection of animals at night..
  3. Shape – humanoid and animal shapes draw attention
  4. Silhouette – a contrasting blob against the background.
  5. Color and texture – natural camouflage and animal surface textures are hard to detect especially at night.
  6. Shadow – the mind can calculate probable shapes from the shadows cast – especially human and to a lesser degree animal shapes.
  7. Spacing – regular spaced objects form a pattern that will draw attention.
Thermal imagery facilitates detection by inducing readily detectable contrast into the natural background.  By highlighting the infrared signature of animals against the neutral background detection of hazards is significantly enhanced.
Night Riding Basics:
Riding at night poses a special problem for motorcyclists.  Reduced visibility ahead increases the possibility of striking something in the intended path of travel.   Debris on the road, or worse, an animal if struck can result in severe injury, possible death.

It takes training and purposeful practice to reduce the risks of riding at night or under less than ideal visual conditions like fog, heavy rain, smoke or dust.   Using the MSF Rider Radar concept helps to prioritize one's attention while riding.  The table below is how I prioritize the threat for hazards ahead:

  Threat Zone                                           Threat Level
Distance Ahead                 Path of Travel                       Shoulder Margins

      2 Seconds                         Extreme                                High
      4 Seconds                         High                                      Medium
      6 Seconds                         Medium                                 Low
     12 Seconds                        Low                                       Low

Anything in the 4 second immediate path of travel must be dealt with.  A moving hazard anywhere in the 4 second range can quickly become a High threat.  The maneuver choices are reduce speed and/or swerving around the hazard.  The objective is to see hazards before it gets within the total stopping distance of the motorcycle.  Specifically, perception distance, reaction distance and braking distance.  Purposeful practice can reduce reaction distance and a well maintained motorcycle can reduce braking distance.  The FLIR PathFindIR is designed to enhance and extend the perception distance.

Perception distance is how many seconds ahead a potential hazard is recognized.  Under ideal conditions during the day it is possible to see 10 to 12 seconds ahead.  At 60 MPH 15 seconds ahead is one quarter mile.  At night or under less than ideal conditions seeing only 4-6 seconds ahead is the norm.  Sometimes using auxiliary lighting may extend this to 8 seconds.  But these bright lights, like the high beam, must be turned off for approaching traffic. The FLIR PathFindIR can extend this perception distance out to as much as 15 seconds.  And, provides a white hot thermal image of warm blooded hazards within 4-8 seconds ahead.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Fun with Bubbler GPS Pro

11/15/13:  The developer of BubblerGPS Pro has made a change to the "Fuel" text option.  Users can now select a format for text they put into the SMS bar.  This effectively and simply solves the "Fuelly" issue.  Thanks JoelT, well done!

11/14/13:  On of my riding comrades brought to my attention that a quirk in Bubbler SMS texting function makes updating Fuelly -- MPG posting unusable. Fuelly is a great app and I've been using it for a year with over 165 fill ups.

Normal updates to a rider's MPG log happen when the rider sends a SMS text message the Fuelly telephone number in the following format:  Odometer Price Per and Gallons.  Example 57500 3.599 8.700  After receiving the text message Fuelly updates and returns the last tank MPG and running average MPG. 

I was excited about combining recording my fuel stops with Bubbler and updating Fuelly at the same time.  I tried it three times since the SMS function was added to Bubbler.  The first time I tried it worked as expected.  The second and third times not so good.

Eric sent me an email when he found out the Bubbler is adding the word "Fuel" to the SMS text string when one presses the Fuel button.  This extra text ("Fuel") in front of the expected Fuelly string give Fuelly heartburn and it rejects it.

So, JoelT, if you're listening, maybe you could help us out by removing the word from the Fuel button SMS string.  Or, add it to the end of the user text.  Using Fuelly's SMS FAQ, anything after the first three numbers is treated as notes and can be free form text.

I'm still liking Bubbler and want to work to make it more useful for the LD community and beyond.  I have made the Bubbler tracks and waypoint postings primary for my blog maps with a link to my SPOT track/msgs secondary.  Using the Bubbler makes posting sight seeing pics to the blog map a snap. 

Original Posting on 10/5/13:
I was reading Iron Butt Magazine, Fall 2013, and came across on an article about Bubbler GPS.  It's an Android app that works seamlessly with SpotWalla.  I embed Spotwalla map in a lot of my blog posts.  Bubbler GPS comes in two flavors; Bubbler GPS Lite which is free and BubblerGPS Pro for $9.99.  Check out the website for the differences.  I bought the Bubbler GPS Pro version.  Since I already had a Spotwalla account getting Bubbler GPS activated as a new Spotwalla device was incredibly easy. 

Bubbler GPS Pro allows one to attach icons, user text and pictures to the message markers that end up on the SpotWalla map. Below are the six different message categories the one can choose.  As an example to record a bonus location using Bubbler GPS Pro follow this procedure:
Bubbler GPS
  1. Type the Bonus Location and Odometer reading in the text box
  2. Click on the camera icon to activate the smartphone camera.  
  3. Frame and snap the picture.  Accept or Retake as desired
  4. Press the Bonus Location (Finish Flag) button.

The app then sends all that information along with the picture to the current SpotWalla map.  Below is a Spotwalla map I created to test Bubbler GPS Pro out.  It gives you a taste of how the program works.  I still need to do more experiments to get the procedures down.  But I'm very pleased with the way it works.

I used a Casio GZ'One Commander, 3G, with Verizon.  I kept the phone in the upper left pocket of my Klim Lattitude jacket and had no reception issues.  I started with a fully charged battery and ended 4 hours later with about 60% juice left.  The battery consumption rate while not an issue on short trips would require plugging the phone in to the bikes 12v charging while on extended trips.  I ran my regular Spot II along with the Bubbler GPS Pro app.  You can compare the Bubbler GPS map below with the Spot II SpotWalla Map

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

IBA Big As Texas Party -- Republic of Texas 1,000

Iron Butt LogoI'm attending the Iron Butt Association's first, and maybe annual, Big As Texas Party in Irving TX.

This is billed as the fall event to gather together IBA members and those desiring to join the Association for some long distance camaraderie.   Held at the completion of the annual IBA Memorial Ride period, the BAT also is the host venue for the new Republic of Texas 1,000 Saddle Sore.  Open to all IBA members and those wishing to get immediate IBA certification, the 1,000 miles in 24 hours will start on Friday morning at 6am.  Riders will have mandatory check points along the 1,000 + mile course which ends back at the Marriott hotel in Irving.

"No job too small nor task too difficult."  I'm on the volunteer staff for the event and will be helping out the event organizers Cliff Wall and Dr. Howard Entman.  I'll post a bunch of pictures here on the blog and also provide a link to a Flickr gallery.  Below is the SpotWalla Bubbler GPS map and below that is the link to my regular Spot tracker.

Regular SPOT tracker SpotWalla Map

Saturday 11/2:  Riders started to arrive a little before midnight.   And, immediately began to assemble in the hotel lobby for all the after ride reports.  The bar closed at 2am but the party was still going strong as more riders arrived back at the hotel.  Many went retired to their rooms as 1,000 plus on a motorcycle in less than 24 hours is a grueling experience. 

At 0700 as day was breaking breakfast was being served in the scoring area.  Even though scoring wasn't officially open till 1000 the event staff started the process to keep things moving.  By the early afternoon most riders were scored and checked in.  The party will start at 1700 (5pm) till....whenever. 

Friday 11/1:  Riders are available to start the ROT 1,000 at 0545.  I was up at 0400 to report for rider flag distribution.  Of the 130 riders who signed up for the ride we distributed 98 flags.  Not a bad turn out.  After a full breakfast, at 0530, IBA President Mike Kneebone, Rally/Route Master Cliff Wall and event organizer Dr. Howard Entman conducted the pre ride briefing.  The Irving PD was providing departure cover to make the transition out of the hotel parking area safe.  Not much traffic at that time of the day but it was nice that they volunteered to help the IBA.  Rider departed right at 0545 in an orderly and safe manner. 

                           More Pictures of the BATp

Many of the riders are using SPOT or other personal locator/trackers.  The signed up to ROT 1,000 SpotWalla location page.  You can follow their progress as the do the ride by clicking the highlighted link. 

Thursday 10/31:   I'm meeting Carl Huss at I-35 Exit 202 for the ride up to the Dallas area.  Carl is the Riders Edge Program Manager at Javelina Harley-Davidson located in Boerne, TX.  He is participating in the Republic of Texas 1,000 to earn his Iron Butt certification.  We are going to swing by Lone Star BMW/Triumph on the way north.  I need an inspection sticker renewal and also want to do some final coordination while there.  The BMW motorcycle dealership is the first stop on the ROT 1,000.

Arrived at the hotel around 2pm.  Got changed and reported for sign in duties in the lobby.  Many riders were already at the hotel.  The parking lot was filling by the hour.  Sign went well.  Had dinner with friends in the hotel bistro.  I met up with Carl who was sharing the room with me.  He is getting excited about the ROT 1,000.  We went over some GPS tips.  Carl is new to using a GPS on a motorcycle for navigation.  This ROT 1,000 is a hybrid between a standard IBA SaddleSore 1,000 and a regular motorcycle rally.  Riders are required to ride to predetermined check points, or bonus location, take a picture of their rally flag and the location object.  If they arrive back at the hotel with all the required pictures and a dated business receipt showing the finish time/date then they are considered to have covered the required distance.  Makes it simple for the riders compared to the normal starting/ending witness sign off, required fuel log, and dated business receipts for each fuel stop.  The organizers idea was to make it fun while maintaining IBA standards.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

57,000 Miles of Hard Riding Adventures

It's been one year since I took delivery on the 2013 BMW R1200GS Adventure.  What a year of riding adventures it has been.

Besides accumulating a bunch of miles I managed to accomplish many of my ride goals this year.  The over arching goal I had for this rider year was to successfully complete my second Iron Butt Rally.  This goal tended to focus my riding efforts and activities.  Since the IBR I have been working on the ride report.  Instead of rushing to publish my musings about the Rally I thought I'd take my time over the winter months to do a more thorough job.

Listed below, in reverse order, are the Hard Riding Adventures for the last 57,000 miles.

October 2013:
September 2013:
August 2013:

July 2013:

May 2013:

April 2013:

March 2013:

January 2013:

December 2012:

November 2012:

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Big Tex Rally -- Posse Ride

As a member of the Big Tex Rally Posse (volunteer staff) I'll be riding out to west Texas for some fun.  What a great opportunity to do field testing of the Bubbler GPS Pro Android app on my smart phone.  See the Bubbler GPS SpotWalla map below.

Regular  SPOT Tracker SpotWalla Map

The BTR starts in several different locations throughout The Great State of Texas on Friday, 10/18 at 6 AM.  The riders all have been given the rally book with the rules, 100+ bonus location listing and other particulars of the rally.  So, they have been busy selecting a route to "score" as many bonus locations as possible before the clock runs out at 6 PM on Saturday, 10/19, some 36 hours after the start.  The finish is at the La Quinta in Cedar Hill, TX.

Riders choose which bonus locations to include on their rally leg plan.  All rally riders approach this process differently but there are rally leg planning fundamentals many riders use.  Once a route has been planned it is entered into the rider's on-board navigation GPS equipment, tablet or smart phone.  When the rally clock starts riders navigate the route, stopping at the bonus locations to document, take a picture of their rally flag and/or secure a bonus items spelled out in the rally book.  It's like a scavenger hunt on a motorcycle.  It's great fun. Like most rallies over 24 hours the BTR has a rest bonus where riders can earn 15 points per minute while on the documented rest stop.

The Rally Master also encourages safe riding by awarding a huge bonus point value for riders who never have to produce their drivers license and proof of insurance to LEO (law enforcement officer) while on the rally.  At the start meeting the rider's DL and Ins documents are sealed in a envelope with a BTR sticker.  If the DL/Ins envelope has not been opened when the rider arrives at the finish 5,000 bonus points are awarded.  That is 1/5 of the total 25,000 necessary points to be considered a finisher.

My duties as a member of the BTR Posse is to conduct the rider meeting at the Fort Stockton start, be the Range Safety Officer at the "Pete's Pasture" bonus location where riders shoot their BTR rally flag and to score riders at the rally finish point.  Check out the embedded pictures in the Bubbler GPS map above for shots taken at key points I'll be at during the rally.  I'll also post items about my daily activities in the listing below.  I customarily do the days in bottom up order.

Saturday, 10/19:  Next task, range safety officer, at the 44M "Pete's Pasture" bonus location.  Available from 1100 to 1400 (10am to 2pm) for riders to score 2,000 bonus points by shooting their rally flag with a 9mm pistol.  Check for the photo on the map near Belton. 

Rider, choose your weapon!
A popular bonus stop!
After the Pete's Pasture event I rode to the rally finish motel in Cedar Hills.  There, I was immediately put to work scoring riders who had finished the rally.  We scored riders till about 10 PM.  I got a bit to eat and had a few Shiners before the awards presentation around 11PM.  It was a long night but I had loads of fun.  I signed up for the Big Tex Rally Posse next year.

Friday, 10/18:  Got up early, 0450, to make it to the BTR Fort Stockton start location.  The Exxon station on the far east side of town.  All five riders showed up in plenty of time to get checked in and ready to go.  Just before the 0600 start of the rally clock I had all riders pose for a start photo.  You can check it out by clicking on the picture icon next to the bonus flag on the map above. 

After the riders left I went back to my motel room to photo and send the rally master the rider sheet showing their rally flag number and odometer reading at the start.  I did this in case I crashed and burned on the way to the finish.  So far, things are working just fine.  I did some easy riding across the middle of Texas to do more field testing of the Bubbler GPS Pro app on my smart phone.  Got checked into a room in Belton, something to eat and settled in for the night. 

Thursday, 10/17:  Left the hotel heading to Anthony for a cup of decent coffee. The La Quinta's breakfast bar was low rent.  I scouted out Exit 0 for a future event.  Then over the Trans Mountain Highway and  on to Guadalupe National Park.  Again, I wanted to scout out some locations for a riding event for 2014.  Pulled into Fort Stockton late afternoon.  I had a few messages from a couple of the riders for tomorrows BTR start. 

Wednesday, 10/16:  Nice and easy ride out to the El Paso area on a scouting mission.   It was raining when I left the house a little after 8am.  I could see by the radar on my GPS that I would be riding out of the bad weather just past Junction.  Sure enough,  the skies got better the farther west I rode.  I stopped to help a biker on the side of the road.  He had a problem with the front sprocket cover.  Seems the cover bolt on the bottom broke and the cover was rattling around.  I gave him a couple of zip ties and he was back on the road. 

Got into El Paso around 5:30 to spend the night.  I'm going to scout out some this for a project.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Round Trip to Salt Lake City

US 163
September 8, 2013:  On the way home I swung through Monument Valley.  It's always a treat for me.  Every time I ride south on US 163 I am reminded of that Harley-Davidson poster with the same view.  Its caption was, "Somewhere, high above, a man is opening a small bag of peanuts."  I am so fortunate to unemployed on a fixed income! 

I road into the Navaho Nation park and reserve to check out the expansion to the visitor center.  The View Hotel is a fabulous place.  Unique in all the world, cause there's only one Monument Valley, of course.  The architecture of the hotel looks very much like the remote bad guy hideout in the "007" movie Quantum of Solace. 

I spent the night in Moriarty NM on the east side of Albuquerque.  The next day down though Roswell then southeast to the Hill Country and home. 

September 6, 2013:  Riding through eastern Utah is a spectacular.  The sandstone formations and unique geology is truly awesomeIf you haven't been to the Arches National Park I highly recommend it.

The weather was somewhat overcast but the temperatures were very pleasant.  Had a few sprinkles and some showers.  But here in the high desert any moisture quickly dries up.  

US 6 from Price to Provo UT is also very scenic. UT is famous for it mining of natural resources.  This area famous for it's dinosaur deposits, large scale mining and railroad attractions. 

September 5, 2013:  Departed home near Wimberley for a ride to Salt Lake City, UT, to visit my daughter on her birthday.  Spent the night just north of Albuquerque, NM at the turn off to US 550.  I had been this way many times over the years but it's always interesting riding through the Four Corners area.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Colorado 1,000 -- 2013

The Colorado Free Wheelers host the 1000-in-24 ride through the beautiful Colorado countryside.  It starts between 2am and 4am on Saturday, August 17 from Aurora CO. See the map will show my progress on the ride starting around 4am on Saturday the 17th.  You can also view the Spotwalla map showing the complete trip: TX-CO-TX.

Start:  03:40 AM, Odometer 49,941  Finish:  22:21 PM, Odometer 50,964
Total Time:  18:41 Total Miles:  1,023 Overall Avg:  54.8 MPH

Aug 17:  My plan was to depart before the 4am window close.  I arrived at the start location around 3:20 or so.  The event is well organized with check in quick and efficient.  I grabbed a cup of fresh coffee and a donut to eat while I did the sign in document check.  I was on the road by 3:40.   I know it would be chilly through the valleys along the way so I started with my electric gear on and plugged in.  Of course, I fired up the FLIR and adjusted the contract/brightness for the conditions.  Good thing, as I was on CO 115 from Colorado Springs I spotted several heat signatures up a head and was able to spot the elk as my headlights got closer.   The FLIR PathFindIR is a very useful piece of equipment during pre-dawn riding.  Most of the heat of the natural environment had dissipated over night which makes heat generators, i.e. critters, really stand out. 

The route was slightly different than the event I rode in 2011.  But, non the less spectacular.  Got to ride over Independence Pass again this time.  The first time was when I rode the IBA Heaven to Hell -- Pikes Peak to Death Valley ride back in 2012.  I used my GoPro 3 helmet mounted camera to capture several great shots of riding through the Rockies.  It will take me some time to piece the video together so check back.

The last segment of the ride was I-70 back to the finish point.  I reached the Glenwood Springs intersection just around dusk.  This make the last bit of riding back to the finish more relaxing than the twisty country roads of the Rockies.  Still, that part of I-70 is beautiful with the terraced west bound lanes, tunnels and gently curving meandering along the white water rivers.  Arriving back at the finish I checked in, turned in my fuel log with its 3 entries then helped myself to a fresh sandwich provide by the organizers.  I highly recommend the Colorado 1,000 in 24 for anyone who wants to experience the beautiful Colorado Rockies on the clock, LD rider style. 

Aug 16:  Woke in in Childress TX to a sever thunderstorm right over town.  It was a training type running north to south.  I would be heading due west.  So, I check the radar and saw a thinning patch between two cells.  After a quick breakfast at the La Quinta I headed out.  Twenty miles later I was out of the bad weather and on my way.

I rode through Boise City OK just to check it out.  Not much there.  Continuing through the western part of Colorado I eventually intersected I-70 for the last segment to my hotel near the start point for the Colorado 1,000 in 24.  Had a good TexMex dinner then turned in early as I was going to get up about 3am.

Aug 15:  Departing home around noon heading for Aurora Colorado.  I plan on taking it easy for a change with a leisurely ride through Texas then New Mexico to Colorado.  I recently watched Ken Burn's "The Dust Bowl" and may ride through Boise City, which was pretty much the epicenter of the 1930s event.

I'm taking my GoPro camera to capture some video while riding the Rockies.  I recently had to purchase a new travel camera as my trustworthy Canon PowerShot A495 finally gave out.  I upgraded to a Nikon Coolpix AW100 rugged outdoor camera.  Of course I got it in Camo.  Can't wait to try it out while on the road.  I'll post the videos and camera shots here when I get back in town.

I'm also field testing a new (to me) tire pressure monitoring system.  I purchased TireGard as a replacement for the TireWatch system I had been using for a couple of years.  That system failed on me just prior to the IBR.  I just mounted a set of new Anakee 3 tires on the bike to have fresh rubber for the Colorado 1,000. 

Monday, July 29, 2013


Post IBR Stress Syndrome:  A milder form of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) where the rider experiences continued stress related to performing in the Iron Butt Rally.  There are four symptoms:

Reliving the event

Memories of the event can come back at any time. You may feel the same anxiety and tension you did when the event took place. You may feel like you're going through the event again. This is called a flashback. Sometimes there is a trigger: a sound or sight that causes you to relive the event. Triggers might include:
  • Seeing a motorcycle on the highway
  • Getting gas in your car or truck
  • Instantly look at your speedometer at the sight of LEO, even when you know you're not speeding
  • Waking up in the middle of the night feeling like you must dash out and ride to some vague destination
Avoiding situations that remind you of the event

You may try to avoid situations or people that trigger memories of the IBR. You may even avoid talking or thinking about it.
  • When asked about your participation in the IBR you may minimize the exciting or uncomfortable details
  • You are reluctant to bring up the IBR in conversations with friends and family
  • You procrastinate dealing with post IBR issues regarding your motorcycle
  • You dread looking at the leg routes you did while on the clock for fear of seeing what you missed.
  • The sight of a Cliff bar makes you want to rush out and get a double Whooper with cheese, super-sized fries and a large shake
Feeling Numb

You may find it hard to express your feelings about the IBR. This is another way to avoid memories.
  • You may not have positive or loving feelings towards your motorcycle, other peoples motorcycles  and may stay away from the bike dealership
  • You may not be interested in riding, planning a trip or anything to do with routing
  • You may forget about parts of the IBR that hold valuable lessons or not be able to talk about them.
  • You haven't touched your rally flag, plaque or opened your rally book since getting home
Feeling Keyed Up

You may be alert and on the lookout for things that might cause you a delay. This is known as increased emotional arousal. It can cause you to:
  • Suddenly become excited or irritable.
  • Have a hard time sleeping.
  • Have trouble concentrating.
  • Fear your actions are not optimal or experience efficiency anxiety.
  • Have racing thoughts (but not at excessive speed)

Other symptoms?

Treatments may include but are not limited to:
  • Exposure therapy -- Go for a ride, no plan, no schedule, no route
  • Equipment recovery -- Detail your motorcycle, riding gear and equipment
  • After Action Report -- Do a thorough ride report detailing all lessons learned on the IBR (Working on it)
  • Physical training -- Start or continue a physical training program (IBR 2015 is just 750 days away)
  • Accumulate fund$ -- Open a IBR15 savings account

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Iron Butt Rally -- 11,000 Miles in 11 Days

IBR Full View Spotwalla Map    See:  IBR Daily Report

Mission Accomplished! -- Gold Medal Finish, 16th PlaceThe result are in and I achieved my goals. I rode 10,484 miles and scored 77,051 bonus points.  See the official 2013 IBR Final Results.  I'll post all the details after I arrive back home. 

The Current IBR Weather  (hat tip to Travel_Man)   FUN ALERT:  Drag the Orange Man icon, above the map scale ruler, to my location to see the Google Street View.   

Rally Leg Profiles:  There are 3 legs for a total of 242:00 hours on the rally clock.  The table contains my preliminary planning numbers for each leg.  The initial planning estimates will probably change once I receive the Rally book with the actual bonus locations and other requirements.  These estimates are based my known ride pace and moving average MPH experience.  Compare to an analysis I did of several past IBRs using the OA and MA MPH applied to the 2013 IBR clock hours.  See:  2013 Ride Pace Analysis 

Leg 1:  82:00  Start July 1 1000 EDT in Pittsburgh.  Checkpoint 4 July 2000 EDT in Pittsburgh
Leg 2:  65:00  Start July 5 0600 EDT in Pittsburgh.  Checkpoint 7 July 2000 PDT in Sacramento CA
Leg 3:  95:00  Start July 8 0600 PDT in Sacramento.  Finish 12 July 0800 EDT in Pittsburgh

GiddyUp!  1000 EDT Monday, July 1 -- I will not have time to blog during the rally.  Only private, password protected, maps allowed during the rally.  But you can find my last known location by looking for rider 415 (my IBA number) on the Spotwalla map above.  You can also check out the IBR Daily Reports blog for the latest on the progress of the Rally. 

Rally Check In: 
  • Thursday - Friday -- Rider comradery and general hanging out
  • Saturday -- Document check, waiver video, technical inspection of MC
  • Sunday -- Banquet and Rally theme announcement

Deploy to Pittsburgh:  Thursday, 6/27 -- Left Memphis this morning around 6am for the final leg into Pittsburgh.  Weather was good with just a couple of wet spots from recent showers.  The bike is running great and NO audio issues with my zumo 665.  Reinforcing the RAM mount seemed to solve the problem.  Arrived at the Marriott in Cranberry Township just north of Pittsburgh.  Great hotel with all the amenities. The fun begins tomorrow....or maybe Saturday.  I forget....

Tuesday, 6/25 -- Departing for Pittsburgh.  Going to make an enroute stop in Memphis for an overnight stay.  It's about 1,450 miles from my home near Wimberley, TX to the start hotel just north of Pittsburgh.  This will be a final shake-out ride with hopefully no MC or gear issues.  

Prologue:  I'm riding in the 2013 Iron Butt Rally which is being held starting at 10:00 am, Monday, July 1 and finishing 8:00 am Friday, July 12.  The start and finish are in Pittsburgh, PA.  I'll be one of around 100 long distance riders from around the world.  The IBR is the premier long distance riding event held every other year.  More individuals have gone into space than have finished the Iron Butt Rally.  

My goal for the IBR is to reach the finishing check point in one piece, on time and with enough points to finish better than 23rd place.  But, I will consider a safe finish a worthy accomplishment, even without exceeding my 2011 23rd place Gold Medal IBR finish.  Having said that I'm planning on doing my best in "The World's Toughest Motorcycle Rally."

While I'm planning for a trouble free ride things just seem to happen.  The worst case would be a crash.  Followed by a DNF, or Did Not Finish, status.  This can happen if I'm over 2 hours late to a mandatory check point or do not accumulate enough bonus points to be considered a finisher.  Mechanical breakdowns are a common DNF reason.  I've been riding my GSA hard, without abusing it, since acquiring the bike in October 2012.  So, hopefully any mechanical issues would have exposed themselves by now.   The IBR rules spell out in detail how riders earn points or are penalized points for not following the rules and specifications.  Riders compete for finishing positions:

Finish Position
  1. Podium -- Top 10 riders
  2. Gold Medal -- Top 20-25 riders which includes the Podium finishers
  3. Silver Medal -- Next group to about 35th place
  4. Bronze Medal -- Next group to about 45th place
  5. Finisher -- All remaining riders who secured enough points
  6. DNF -- Did Not Finish

There are no magic formulas, no perfect rally bikes, and no jealously guarded secrets to being successful in the IBR.  Each rider is challenged to apply their skills, knowledge and abilities, using the tools of the long distance motorcycling sport, in a balanced way among several interacting and interdependent performance categories.  See:  Long Distance Riding on the Clock

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Texas 10,000 Miles in 10 Days

Starting around 0600 on Saturday, May 4, I'm riding 10,000 miles in 10 days all in Texas.Xtreme! Iron Butt Association certification event challenges a riders' ability to manage risks, resources, problems and stresses of repeated long distance rides over a 240:00 hour period.  I'm doing this ride as an on the clock training exercise for the Iron Butt Rally (IBR) coming up in July.  You can follow along with me on the big Spotwalla Map below or zero in on the day by day tracks.

Spotwalla day maps  Click for current Texas Weather Radar
  1. Sat, 5/4:  Wimberley - Orange - Harlingen - Del Rio, 1,074 - 1,074 leg - total miles
  2. Sun, 5/5:  Del Rio - Big Bend - El Paso - Vega, 1,104 - 2,178 miles
  3. Mon, 5/6:  Vega - Texline - Follett - Texarkana - Orange, 1,069 - 3,247 miles
  4. Tue, 5/7:  Orange - El Paso - Van Horn, 1,016 - 4,263 miles
  5. Wed, 5/8: Van Horn - Waskom - Wimberley, 1,020 - 5,283 miles
  6. Thu, 5/9:  Wimberley - Laredo - Texline - Dalhart, 901/ - 6,185 miles
  7. Fri, 5/10:  Dalhart - Ft Worth - Beaumont - Houston - Buffalo, 1,016 - 7,201 miles
  8. Sat, 5/11:  Buffalo - Shamrock - Vega - Alpine, 1,012 - 8,212 miles
  9. Sun, 5/12:  Alpine - Harlingen - Burleson, 1,069 - 9,272 miles
  10. Mon, 5/13:  Burleson - Junction - Big Springs - Ozona - Abilene - Austin - Wimberley, 958 - 10,230 miles

Ride Report -- I write my ride reports around an organizing framework that captures the performance categories of long distance riding while under time requirements, or, "on the clock."

Riding and Risk Management:  There were no "close calls" while on this ride.  Unless, you consider a tornado warning a close call.  I define a "close call" as a surprise requiring an emergency action like a swerve, quick stop or evasive maneuver. Weather for the most part was good with some isolated patches of thunderstorm activity.  My rest management strategy helped keep me alert while riding.  I actively worked at managing risks.  Especially, in congested area, small towns, and while on open stretches of highway.  Anytime you can get back home in one piece after so many hours and miles in the saddle is a good thing.

The FLIR PathFindIR thermal imaging system I have installed on the GSA was invaluable.  It really helped me starting at dusk, through the night riding and early morning pre and post dawn riding.  The most dramatic plus is the reduced stress level riding at night.  I saw lots of warm blooded, heat generating, critters using the FLIR while riding.  In each instance I was better able to assess the threat and adjust the riding accordingly. 

Planning and Navigation:  The basic plan was ten legs of about 1,000 miles, +/- 100.  Riding time would start by 6 am and end before midnight.   I planned all 10 routes before the ride (see "Planning" below).   I purposely routed legs through large cities, small towns and over various types of highways and roads.  All the segment waypoints and the initial routes were loaded into by the zumo 665 and backup zumo 220.  I also had the MapSource/BaseCamp files on my computer which I carried with me on the ride to do mid ride re plans.  While navigating through small towns and congested areas paid special attention to how the zumo would route me through.  On several occasions I would over-ride the generated route in favor of a more effective path after zooming out the map.   I used the zumo 220 to do "what ifs" along the routes.  As the days progressed and the Spot track painted the paths on the map I wanted to avoid going over previous routes.  I changed several of the later leg routes to fill in the gaps on the map.

Ride Pace and Resource Management:  This was a major objective of this field training exercise.  I wanted to maintain a riding pace, over varying types of highways, through whatever weather, day and night.  This ride was about 80% op tempo of the Iron Butt Rally.  I also wanted to practice pit stop (refuel, refresh, repair) and rest stop procedures.  I spent each rest stop in a motel and got pretty good at down/up loading once parked at the motel.  During the IBR I will be spending most rest stops at motels so getting the routine down helped.  I kept an accurate log and documented each rest stop to IBR standards getting start and ending dated business receipts.  Because I'm using a Spot track I may not have to maintain a fuel log during the IBR but I plan to verify fuel DBRs and document the odometer reading on the DBR just in case. 

I hydrated while riding and most of my mid day meals were consumed while riding.  I use a 100 oz. CamelBak hydration system with insulated hose as well as a one litre drink bottle for tasty good no sugar drinks with electrolytes.  Morning meals consist of a high protein, low glycemic index bar with a cup of coffee.  Mid day meals are high protein bar, my own trail mix recipe with water or sugar free sports drinks.  I would eat another bar and some trail mix around sunset.  Upon arriving at the rest stop location I would pick a gas station/convenience store near the motel, get a pint of 2% or non fat milk, hearty sandwich, some fruit, chips and other goodies.  This purchase would establish the beginning of the rest stop.  I would return to the same location to get a cup of coffee, fill up and get an ending DBR. 

Ride Pace Stats:
  • Total miles -- 10,230.2 GPS
  • Total time -- 231:49
  • Total moving time -- 147:28
  • Total stopped time --  84:21
  • Moving average MPH -- 69.4
  • Overall average MPH -- 44.1

Fuel Consumption Stats:
  • Total fuel stops -- 40
  • Total fuel consumed --  271.05 Gallons
  • Most fuel pumped  -- 9.147 Gallons
  • Lowest/Average/Highest MPG --  30.2 / 37.5 / 42.8
  • Total fuel cost -- $987.80
  • Lowest/Average/Highest PPG -- $3.16 / $3.64 / $4.05
Lodging, Meals and Incidental Expenses:
  • Lodging -- $582.29
  • Pocket cash - $218.54
  • Repair parts -- $69.55
Grand Total -- $1,858.18
Problem and Stress Management:  I was plagued by GPS audio problems starting on the first day.  This is an issue I have been experiencing with the zumo 665.  I am currently on my 3rd refurbished unit after the original failed before the 2011 Iron Butt Rally.  All the usual remedies seemed not to solve the issue.  While on the road I ordered a new wiring harness (cradle assembly) and had it over-nighted to my home near Wimberley.  At the end of day 5 I stopped at home to install the new cradle.  It seemed to work for some time, about 12 hours.  But, the issue came back.  I suspect the cradle is not stable at speeds over 70 MPH as the unit osculates somewhat in the Touratech mount.  So, doing the ride without audio is an inconvenience but not a critical issue.  It did cause some stress, as one might expect, until I resolved to ride without the audio for turn by turn or XM radio.  Navigation and WX radar were working just fine.

I was spending each night in a motel and getting quality sleep.  On the road I had several instances of bladder stress, 'cause I'm old, and I enjoy a couple cups of coffee in the morning.  I usually get about 2 hours down the road before I have to pay the 2 minute price of a comfort pit stop. 

I also experience a engine performance issue with the GSA which required a stop at Alamo BMW on day 4 to resolve.  They quickly identified the issue and applied their considerable expertise to correct the problem.  Kudos to Alamo BMW!!!  Thanks Comrades.

Personal Courage and Commitment:  This event has been on my bucket list for some time.  According to the IBA records no rider has ever done an "in state" 10,000 miles in 10 day or a SaddleSore 5,000 in Texas for the matter.  So, I figured with a little planning, some time and money I'd give it a shot.  My goal was to complete the ride and get home safe and sound.  I was prepared to stop the ride if pushing meant I'd have to exceed my skill abilities, the capabilities of the motorcycle or the limitation of the environment.  Also, I would not employ excessive speeds to make up for problems and delays encountered during the ride. Since I planned in more than 6 hours each night I would use that cushion to spend on delays.  During the IBR I will maintain rest discipline while striking a balance between task and pit stops to compensated for delays.  I plan on dialing back my planning OA/MA numbers to build in more slack time.  This will require me to plan better routes and riding the route more efficiently for all three legs.  My individual goals the IBR are better than 23rd position and another Gold Medal finish status.

On The Road Musings:  Around the edges...side to side...up one way...down another...and a whole lot of in between!

Monday - End of the ride -- 10,230.2 miles.  Ok, back at home safe and sound.  Stopped in Austin to get a picture of me and the GSA in front of the state capital.  Over the next couple of days I'll be doing up the IBA certification paperwork then update this posting with all the details about the ride.  So, check back if you like.

Friday -- End of Day 7, the GPS is showing 7,200.4 total miles.  At the end of day 5 when I stopped at home I was at 5,283.  So, lost a few miles over the last couple of days.  The GPS audio is working fine after I installed the new wiring harness while doing a pit stop at home on Wednesday.  I've noticed a couple more things I want to modify when I get back home.  On Thursday it was raining like crazy, huge thunderstorms, hail and even a tornado warning.  Most of the bad stuff was east of me as I was heading north.  Weather was good on Friday.

Tomorrow, Saturday, I work my way back through Dallas up towards the Red River then do a chunk of I-14 before heading to Alpine.  Tomorrow is scheduled to be an easy day with just over 925 miles.  I'll plan to pad my total miles with the wrap up rides on Sunday and Monday. 

Tuesday -- Day 4, over 4,200 miles and all is well.  Day 1-3 was all round the edges of the state.  Today was I-10, east to west.  Tomorrow will be I-20 from it's end just east of Van Horn all the way to the border town of Waskom, where I'll head towards Wimberley for a pit stop.  The riding has been great with lots of good weather.  I have had a few problems with gear and equipment.  First, the rear tire pressure sensor conked out.  Lost all the audio on my zumo 665 GPS.  No turn by turn, no XM radio, no MP3 player.  And if that wasn't irritating enough the wiring harness of the GPS is shorting out causing the unit to go wacko from time to time.  Called ahead for a new harness which is at home already.  Will got it changed out tomorrow.  The issue caused me to cut 100 miles off tomorrows' route to get home a little earlier to do the repairs.  Still, riding 1008 miles tomorrow so no sweat.

The GSA was acting up starting on Sunday.  I stopped at Alamo BMW and got it tended too.  The dealership was great and took care of the issue without delay. I was there about 1:20 minutes.  I go the owner to do a IBA witness sign off form.  All is good.

Planning -- See the Multi Route Leg Plan for details

Texas is a big state with lots of interstates and good highways. The planning strategy is 10 1,000 mile route segments each ending at a location with available motels.  The routes will crisscross the state using all available highways and roads.  I am on a 240:00 clock and  must keep an accurate fuel log, rest stop start/end receipts and account for time not riding due to delays.  I will be using Spot to mark key route points and for tracking as supplemental support information.  The Spotwalla day-by-day map links will be submitted to IBA as supplemental route documentation.  Start, enroute and finish witness forms are required for this IBA challenge ride. 

IBR Activities -- See An Organizing Framework for context
  • Planning and Navigation -- Plan the ride and ride the plan
  • Riding and Risk Management -- Ride within my skill limits, capabilities of the motorcycle and limitations of the riding environment
  • Ride Pace and Resource Management -- Maintain a steady ride pace while managing fuel, hydration, food and rest
  • Problem and Stress Management -- Apply critical thinking, understand the operational environment, solve the right problem, adapt to the dynamic conditions
  • Personal Courage and Commitment -- Push through the tough situations while doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason
  • Motorcycle, Riding Gear and Equipment -- Exercise the all the gear to discover opportunities for improvements

IBR Tasks Exercised
  • Select a Leg Route
  • Navigate Leg Route Segments
  • Conduct a Pit Stop
  • Document Activities
  • Conduct a Call-In 
  • Conduct a Rest Stop
  • Conduct Enroute Repairs
  • Prepare for Check Point Scoring