Wednesday, November 27, 2019

The 40-40 Insanity - Ride Report

The Iron Butt Association 40-40 Insanity is an outstanding long-distance challenge.  I thank Dave McQueeney for the opportunity to be the first to attempt this soon to be IBA certificate event.

My successful 40-40 Insanity was a tough ride.  Combine the usual Interstate traffic, construction, crash delays with bad weather and it become a slog.  But hey, that sometimes happens on long-distance events. Its what makes hard riding adventures...hard.

Planning for this ride began back in September at the end of the IBA Senior Butt Rally & Big As Texas Party. Dave and I talked about his 40-40 brain child and I volunteered to ride it.  I decided to try the 40-40 in conjunction with the annual Pink's RTE event in Hollywood on Saturday 23, November. Depending on the weather, I would either do the 40-40 as a ride in before or ride out after Pink's.  I wasn't concerned about bad weather, just known or forecast icing. The Thursday and Friday before Pink's worked good for me.  See the 40-40 'Insanity' to Bite the Weenie page for the details.

BaseCamp 40-40 Insanity (all times CST)
I left home near Wimberley TX for Wilmington NC.  On the way I stopped in Charlotte NC for new tires.  The BMW dealership did not have my usual Michelin Anakee IIIs so I had them put on a set of the Anakee Adventure Tire.  I like them!

When I got to Wilmington I scouted out the gas station I would get my starting dated business receipt (DBR).  At the beginning of I-40 there are two good stations;  BP and Exxon.  Both had complete and accurate DBR information required by the IBA for certification; city, state, date time.  The BP was closest to I-40.  I checked not a hotel and settled in for rest.

Leg 1:  Wilmington to Amarillo, 1,594 miles 21:53
I broke the 40-40 distance into two legs centered on a rest stop in Amarillo TX.  I wanted to include a Bun Burner Gold (BBG: 1,500 miles, under 24 hours) as a nested event.  At 40 hours to cover the 2,560 miles, the overall average ride pace is 64 MPH and slightly higher than BBG standard 62.5 MPH. Amarillo was around 1,595 miles from Wilmington.  My planned departure time was 0400 CT (0500 ET).  Starting at this hour matched my circadian rhythm nicely and would put me in Amarillo around 2 am.  So, this longer first leg would be done when I was most rested.  The BaseCamp route schedule was to give me information about the actual ride pace vs plan. I would use the 4 hour rest period to take up the slack from delays on the first leg.

I departed Wilmington a couple moments after the planned 0400 CT, with temperatures in the mid 40s.  The DBR time was 04:59 ET (03:59 CT). A SpotWalla track is required by the rules for the 40-40 Insanity.  I was using Bubbler GPS Pro to support documenting my ride.  I took pictures of each DBR and posted them as Gas Stops via Bubble.  This technique would give me three layers of documentation back up;  paper DBR, picture on phone (cloud backed up) and on each SpotWalla gas stop marker.

(Note that the Bubble time stamp is after I had arrived at the pump, dismounted, fueled, taken the DBR picture and finally punching the send button on the app.  This was typically 3-5 minutes after arrival at the pump.)

Pit Stop 01:  Statesville NC, 07:34 plan, 07:59 actual, -25 mins.  Morning traffic delays through Raleigh

I received reports that I-40 was closed at NC mile markers 12 & 15 near the TN border. Thanks Russell Dickerson! That detour would add 45 minutes to the plan.  I selected a route that would get me around the closures while keeping me nearest to I-40 as possible.  The draft IBA rules allow for official detours. Official detours do not lengthen the time allowed for the ride so it is in the interest of the rider to select the shortest/quickest distance while remainingas close to the Interstate as possible.  As it turned out the NC DOT opened I-40 to single lane traffic by the time I arrived near the TN border.  Traffic slowed for approximately 5 miles through each of the repair zones.

Traveling though eastern TN the temps were warming up to the mid 50s.  Traffic was light and flowing well.  I had been monitoring the weather conditions and forecasts along the entire route.  In addition to the Weather Channel coverage I was using the I-40 End to End - Weather page created by Greg  Simply outstanding!  Thank you Greg.  I was enjoying this relatively good riding weather but knew I was in for wet and more cold ahead.

Pit Stop 02:  Crossville TN, 11:39 plan, 11:55 actual, -16 mins

Traffic through metro Nashville was good.  I was riding with the flow of traffic, not using excessive speed or going faster than the obvious speeders.  I work at maintaining a consistent ride pace that takes advantage of the flow of traffic without making my speed an issue.  In addition to the Garmin Dezl 770 GPS I was using Android Auto as support navigation.  It has a nice "Speed Trap Ahead" function that works well.  Still, I have learned maintaining a consistent ride pace that keeps me "under the radar" is less stressful than excessive speed.  Scattered showers had caused the road to be wet. The spray from large trucks was as bad as riding in the rain.  Temperatures were good at around 60f.

Pit Stop 03:  Stanton TN, 15:26 plan, 15:42 actual, -16 mins

I was riding through Memphis during early rush hour.  Sunset was upon me and the cloud cover make it dark.  By the time I got into AR the rain showers had turned into downpours.  The rain showers were intermittent lasting 10-20 miles at a time.  I was wearing the best riding gear I could get to protect me from the elements, Gore-tex from neck to toes.  Protecting my head is the Schuberth E1 Adventure helmet.  In it I added a 1 inch thick foam block lined with a swatch of LD Comfort material.  My riding jacket is the Klim Kodiak, in black of course.  Covering my lower half is a pair of Aerostich AD-1 riding pants.  My boots are tough TCX X-Desert Gore-Tex adventure boots designed for long distance.  I use Dr. Scholl's compression socks.  Under it all are the most important LD Comfort ensemble of long sleeve shirt and full leg length base layer.  Between the LD Comfort shirt and Kodiak jacket is heated Gerbing jacket.

The weak point in my protection at this part of the ride were my gloves.  I was wearing a pair of mid weight leather Harley gauntlets over a pair of Klim glove liner 1.0 inserts, which kept my hands relatively dry and comfortable.  But the leather Harley gloves were soaked after 500 miles of slogging through the wet weather.  The temperatures were hovering around 60f as I was reaching the end of the showers east of Little Rock AR.  I had two more sets of cold riding gloves but elected not to use them until after the wet.  I did not want to be riding in the forecast COLD with wet gloves.

In Little Rock I passed the 1,000 mile mark. West of Little Rock the radar show clearing as I entered the cold front.  Temperatures dropped from near 60f to below 40f inside of 20 miles.  I had switched to dry heavy duty gloves at the last pit stop.  I was settling in for the long cold ride to my rest stop in Amarillo.  Between the heated Gerbing jacket and the heated grips of my BMW I was comfortable.  I could feel the cold but without 'comfort stress.'  Somewhere along this segment I ate my one meal of the day; trail mix and a low sodium V8.  I would not eat again until arriving in Barstow at the end of the ride.

Pit Stop 04:  Clarksville AR, 19:10 plan, 19:35 actual, -25 mins

West of Carlisle AR, traffic stopped.  I could see nothing but solid taillights for miles. I put on my bike flashers and Federal Signal Micropulse Ultra yellow caution lights and began filtering through the backup. The Denali 4.0 high intensity aux lights on my GSA are controlled by a HEX canbus unit that flashes the Danali lights opposite of the bike flashers.  I had little trouble filtering to the detour exit being manned by the local Sheriff's Deputies.  Seems there was a huge crash with fatalities and LEO was directing traffic onto the local county roads.  Even with continuous moving I lost about 30 minutes during this significant traffic event.

Pit Stop 05:  Oklahoma City OK, 23:02 plan,  23:01 actual, -1 min

Getting fuel in Oklahoma City was cold.  I was warm while plugged in and moving.  While stopped for gas, I struggled to say warm in the high winds and 35f temperatures.  I was on the cold side of the cold front. I was feeling the 19 hours of hard riding and almost 1,500 miles.  My body struggled to stay warm by shivering.   Departing OK City I couldn't remember if I had sent a Bubble msg so I did it again. A sure sign of mental fatigue.  But the next pit stop was my planned rest in Amarillo.  The segment from OK City to Amarillo was a dreary slog through desolate country, at night and in the cold.  I did have Amazon Music to keep me company, piped from my Samsung Galaxy S9+ through my Sena 20s Evo.  But even that was not enough to keep me cheery.  This segment was a hard riding slog and I just wanted it over.  A few miles after crossing the TX border I hit the BBG mark at 01:28, 21:29 after starting in Wilmington NC. Not too shabby a ride pace for a 69 year old guy.

Rest Stop 06:  Amarillo TX, 01:52 plan, 02:55 actual, -63 minutes

I pulled into the FlyingJ travel center and immediately sent a Bubble msg to mark my arrival time.  I would use a gas fillup DBR to make my departure.  I couldn't wait to get inside and warm up. I took my tank bag to have the items in it available to me inside.  This FlyingJ had a Denny's so I went into the restaurant.  I was met by a smiling waitress who directed me to sit wherever I liked.  As you might have guessed the place was empty, save for a couple of truckers having coffee.  I told the server I was going to remain until a little after 5 am and asked her to bring me hot water for tea.  She motioned me to the spacious semicircle booth in the corner where I could relax out of the way.  I sipped on some Red Zinger hibiscus tea while I plugged in my Sena to recharge.  Setting my phone alarm for 5 am I put on my boonie hat, snuggled my face deep in the Gerbing jacket neck and dozed off.  I got 1 or 2 good REM cycles in before I awoke just before 5 am.  I got up, went into the adjoining FlyingJ to get a cup of their fresh ground coffee.  I was ready to go. I gassed up and departed several minutes before the plan 6 am start.

Leg 2:  Amarillo to Barstow, 964 miles, 17:05 

The stretch of I-40 between Amarillo to Santa Rosa NM is bleak and dreary. But, the sun was about to rise and so my spirits.  It had snowed the night before and the country side was cover in a blanket of the white stuff.  The temperatures were mid 20s and I saw a low of 23F near Tucumcari.  With the sun comes the rush of the cortisol hormone brought on by the circadian rhythm 'dawn effect'.  This evolutionary adaptation to the human body give us a burst of energy and wakefulness to deal with the new day.  I would use this to my advantage as I continued pressing west.  It wasn't long before the temperatures where hovering around 30f with clear roads.

Pit Stop 07:  Moriarty NM, 09:21 plan (Los Pinos), 08:36 actual, +45 mins

I breezed through Albuquerque around 9:20.  By this time the sun was warming up things and riding was good.  I was in the high desert and the roads were clean and good.  My spirits were high.  The temperatures were still in the mid 30s.  I pressed.

Pit Stop 08:  Holbrook AZ, 12:51 plan, 12:28 actual, +23 mins

My goal for the 40-40 Insanity was to finish the ride using around 39 of the available 40 hours.  During the second leg I wanted to be able to extend the pit stop times.  I had also planned to transit through the high elevations the Flagstaff mid day to get the best advantage, weather wise.  Flagstaff in notorious for sudden severe weather.  But, thanks to Greg's I-40 Weather page I was on top of the latest weather condition there.  After Flagstaff is the decent into the lower elevations and warmer temperatures of the desert.  I was ready for that for sure.

Near Williams I began to feel the telltale signs of sleep creeping into my brain.  When my eyes (vision) start to bounce around that means the small muscles are unable to hold the focus steady and nodding off is not far away.  I stopped for a break with about 10 minutes of my eyes closed.  This seems to reset my brain chemistry and allow me to continue, refreshed.  It's the classic 'power nap' routine.

Pit Stop 09:  Franconia AZ, 16:39 plan, 16:15 actual, +24 mins

One short segment to go.  As I crossed into California I reflected on the ride.  Riding 2,500+ miles entirely on Interstate highways is not for everyone.  Some riders prefer never to ride on the Interstates.  To me they are wonder routes where I can maintain a consistent ride pace, with access to great services, improving cell phone coverage and relatively predictable enroute times.  I-40 is notorious for its share of Interstate issues.  But my 40-40 Insanity experience was classic Interstate end to end hard riding adventure!

40-40 Finish:  Barstow CA, 18:57 plan, 18:28 actual, +19 mins.

The idea of riding 2,500+ miles of interstate highway is not appealing to the vast majority of motorcycle riders. In the long-distance riding community we see the interstates as the quickest way to get to a place with the riding is much more enjoyable.  Therein, lies the challenge of the "Interstate Highway - End to End" precedent setting 40-40 Insanity prototype.  Interstate 40 was full of traffic delays, construction slowdowns and even the inevitable closure.  Add in bad weather for all but the last 200 miles of the journey and you have the makings of riding drudgery of the first order.

My long-distance riding career has been filled with just these kinds of rides.  I thrive on the challenge.  Over the years I have collected the knowledge, skills and abilities necessary to maintain a consistent ride pace, manage the risks and achieve my navigational goals.  I a word;  Ridecraft!

This is my last Iron Butt Association long-distance challenge on my 2016 BMW R1200GS Adventure, for 2019.  Next year I am embarking on new and challenging hard riding adventures.  I'm going to return to the roots of my LD passion.  I'm going to start all over with the entry level of IBA ride, the SaddleSore 1,000 miles in under 24 hours.  Then I'm going to work my way up the IBA ride list one at a time.   By next June I will be riding the 48 States in 10 Days challenge as a practice ride for 2020 Iron Butt Rally, "World's Toughest Motorcycle Rally"  all, on a Janus Motorcycles Gryffin 250 (229cc, 14hp, top speed <70 mph)
Here's why.

  • Total Miles:  2,563.7 GPS, 2,535 MC Odo
  • Start:  03:49, 21/11 CST
  • Finish:  18:33, 22/11 CST
  • Total Time:  38:34, 66.6 Ovg MPH
  • Moving Time:  33:50, 75.8 Mvg MPH
  • Stopped Time:  04:44
    • Pits Stops:  01:20 total, 9 enroute stops at 0:09 avg each
    • Rest Stops:  02:50 total, 02:25 Amarillo + 0:25 AZ 
    • Traffic/construction delays accounted for approximately 0:35 
  • Fuel Consumption: 
    • Total: 70.9 at $208.28 for $2.94 per gallon
    • Overall MPG:  36.2 miles per gallon

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

40-40 'Insanity' to Bite the Weenie

Texas to Hollywood CA is a long way to go for a hot dog, or in my case a veggie dog.  But, the 15th annual Pink's "Bite the Weenie" ride to eat (RTE) event is worth the trip.   Since 2004, members of the long-distance riding and motorcycle touring community have rendezvoused at Pink's to "Bite the Weenie!"  It is held each year on the Saturday evening (10 pm) the same weekend of the Long Beach Motorcycle Show.   I'm adding a bit of a challenge to this trip to make it a Hard Riding Adventure!

The 40-40 InsanityWilmington NC to Barstow CA, all on Interstate 40, under 40 hours

Iron Butt Association legend Dave McQueeney has come up with another way for us to feed our LD OCD'ness.  He has crafted the 40-40 Insanity challenge and honored me with the task of being the first to attempt (validate/evaluate) this proposed IBA theme ride.  Dave has created many IBA certified rides over the years...
Dave McQueeney, IBA #29

The certification protocols of 40-40 Insanity are that of the Bun Burner GOLD.  The Bun Burner GOLD is a prerequisite for riders wishing to certify the 40-40 Insanity.  At 40 hours to cover 2,550+ miles, the 40-40 Insanity moving average of 63.8 mph is more challenging than two consecutive BBG's moving average of 62.5 mph. The current ride rules provide the 40-40 can be done in either direction and combined with nested certifications:   BunBurner GOLDSaddleSore 2000 GOLD and easily extended to the 50CC Quest.  IBA Certificate collectors are going to love the 40-40 Insanity.

SpotWalla Map  See I-40 Weather (courtesy

RIDE PLAN - Nov 21, 0400 to 22, 2000 CST (0500 EST to 1800 PST)
The fuel range of my 2016 BMW R1200GS Adventure at BBG ride pace is around 275 miles.  I've plotted out pit stops along the entire route.  This is to give me an idea of the spacing and to assign dwell time at pit stop.  I'm plan to use the entire 40 hours allowed, while being diligent about arriving before the proverbial clock runs out.  I have included approximately 4 hours of rest at the Pilot station on the east side of Amarillo TX.  As you can see from the BaseCamp route data below, I have 1:00 of slack time given the pit stops and rest stop.  SpotWalla track is also required for certification.  I will be marking all stops using BubblerGPS Pro on my Samsung Galaxy S9+.  The SpotWalla track is required under the proposed rules for this ride.

Planned Pit Stops: Refuel, Refresh, Replan, or Repair

Garmin BaseCamp route data.  Pit stops:  0.05 fuel only, 0.07 fuel and restroom
All times in Central Standard Time CST

RIDE PACE STATISTICS:  Click here for the full 40-40 Insanity Ride Report
  • Total Miles:  2,563.7 GPS, 2,535 MC Odo
  • Start:  03:49, 21/11 CST
  • Finish:  18:33, 22/11 CST
  • Total Time:  38:34, 66.6 Ovg MPH
  • Moving Time:  33:50, 75.8 Mvg MPH
  • Stopped Time:  04:44
    • Pits Stops:  01:20 total, 9 enroute stops at 0:09 avg each
    • Rest Stops:  02:50 total, 02:25 Amarillo + 0:25 AZ 
    • Traffic/construction delays accounted for approximately 0:35 
  • Fuel Consumption: 
    • Total: 70.9 at $208.28 for $2.94 per gallon
    • Overall MPG:  36.2 miles per gallon

Thursday, October 31, 2019

Why Janus? Why now?

"Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play." 
Heraclitus, 450bce

Photo by S. Hobart
"Hello, my name is Tim.  I am a long-distance motorcyclist!"
Sounds like something said at a OCD therapy meeting.  The modern sport of long-distance motorcycle riding is kind of obsessive, compulsive, some say a disorder. Count me among the terminally afflicted.

My long-distance riding started 50 years ago.  In April of 1969 I was stationed at Fort Benning GA after a one-year tour of duty in Korea.  I didn't have any transportation but managed to save $850 while overseas.  So, on a Thursday afternoon I went to Columbas GA shopping for a ride.  I purchased a brand new Suzuki T200 at a end-of-model-year price of $495.00.  The following Saturday morning, I signed out on leave and rode this small, simple and relatively slow motorcycle to home in El Cajon, California.  Took me four days and three nights.  On the third day I got a $12 ($83 in 2019 dollars) room at a nice hotel for the night.  I needed a shower after sleeping on the ground the previous two nights.
That 4,000 mile round trip journey extended my riding horizon in ways that would influence my touring adventures for years to come.  I was "hooked" on the long ride.

Photo by D. Dossman
Over fifty years of riding, on two dozen different motorcycles, hasn't diminished my passion for the long ride.  If anything, it has focused my desire for new challenges.  Challenges that would help me practice the Ridecraft of the sport.  Challenges that extend my adventure horizon.
In 2001 I became a member of the Iron Butt Association, "World's Toughest Motorcycle Riders" by documenting, to IBA's strict standards, riding 1,000 miles in less than 24 hours.  This first SaddleSore 1,000 was only the beginning of many hard riding adventures.  The IBA gave me a BIG List of rides to work on.  By 2011 I had worked my way up the list to the premier signature event of the long-distance riding world, The Iron Butt Rally, "World's Toughest Motorcycle Rally," 11,000 Miles in 11 Days.   I would go on to ride/finish in the 2013 and 2015 and be on the volunteer staff of the 2017 and 2019 IBRs.

Today, after 18 years of building a long-distance resume' through the IBA, I am at a crossroads.  For the past year or so I have been searching for a way to add challenge to my LD adventures. Challenge that adds to my passion for the long ride.  That's when it hit me!  Why not go back to the roots of my passion.  Do long-distance riding, ala IBA distances, on a small, simple and steady motorcycle.  Why not try... Adventure touring on a Janus Gryffin 250!

"When you come to a fork in the road...take it! 

Why Janus?  Why now?

I want to ride the Janus Gryffin 250, #036, in the Iron Butt Rally, June 2021.  I need 18 months to train the Janus for the "World's Toughest Motorcycle Rally."

Riding any motorcycle in and finishing the "World's Toughest Motorcycle Rally" is a grueling challenge of the first order.  Riding a small 229cc, 14 horsepower motorcycle 11,000 miles over a 11 day period some would say is "Hopeless!"  It is not without precedent however.  Many past IBRs have included one or two small displacement motorcycles on the starting line.  Many of these riders did not finish, or DNF in rally speak.  Over the years a small number of top riders have survived the crucible of the IBR and brought there small, simple and steady motorcycles across the finish line, into the IBR record books. I am inspired be those riders!  They demonstrate at a fundamental level, it's not the motorcycle, it's the "Ridecraft: the collection of knowledge, skills and abilities used by a long-distance motorcyclist to maintain a consistent ride pace, manage risk and achieve navigational objectives."

My motorcycling hero is George A. Wyman, the first documented long-distance motorcyclist.  Wyman rode a 200cc, 1.25 horsepower "California" from San Francisco to New York City in 50 1903!  Today, top IBR riders like Kurt Worden, 3 time IBR finisher on a Kawasaki Ninja 250 and Versys continue to showcase their ridecraft on small, simple and steady motorcycles.

But it was Richard Worsham, Co-Founder of Janus Motorcycles who inspired me to select the Janus for my fourth IBR attempt.  In 2018 Richard rode the Janus Halcyon 250 in the Wyman Memorial Challenge, San Francisco to New York City, 3,800 miles in 6 days.  The Janus performed superbly!  Richard earned IBA membership on that ride and had caught the LD bug!

I and the Gryffin will have to earn a spot on the starting line for the 2021 Iron Butt Rally.  Even though I am a three time veteran of the IBR, I still have to be drawn from thousands of applicants.  If I don't make selection among returning IBR veterans, I will seek to be drawn from the separate list of "Hopeless Class" applicants.  The IBR oganizers have a great sense of humor and include a tiny selection of LD motorcyclists who ride vintage, antique or small displacement bikes.

Janus Motorcycles is providing me technical support as I train the Gryffin for the long ride.  They recognize this as an opportunity to identify ways to improve the reliability of the Janus under real world hard riding conditions.  Janus is customizing several different items on the Gryffin at my request.  I am purchasing the Gryffin outright, but Janus will back me for every mile.

Adventure Touring on a Gryffin 250

After I take deliver of the Gryffin around the end of this year, I will farkle it for use as an Adventure Touring bike.  To prepare it for the IBR and demonstrate it's long-distance worthiness, I will train the Gryffin using several IBA standard rides.
The 48n10, riding about 8,000 miles, is a good demonstration of the ability of the Janus to maintain a consistent ride pace necessary for the IBR.  By the time I finish the 48n10, July of next year, I will have accumulated over 20,000 hard riding miles on the Gryffin.  I will be disciplined regarding the Janus scheduled maintenance.  I am developing the procedures, tools and techniques to perform scheduled items before during and after each ride, regardless of the duration.  If the Janus fails mechanically, it won't be due to lack of scheduled maintenance or attention to issues.  I want this motorcycle to succeed!

Hard Riding Adventures will be the focal point for all things regarding the Gryffin Adventure Touring project.  So, follow along for the ride!

Friday, October 25, 2019

Adventure Touring on a Gryffin

How's this for a Hard Riding Adventure?  

Janus Motorcycles - Gryffin 250 "Scrambler"

Adapt a 229cc, 14 horsepower motorcycle with a top speed of 70 MPH (going down hill with a tailwind) for riding long-distance, ala Iron Butt kind of distances! 

On Tuesday, October 22nd I visited Janus Motorcycles in Goshen Indiana to finalized the acquisition details of the Gryffin 250.  At my request, Janus is customizing a new Gryffin 250 Scrambler for me to use on the open road.  By "open road," I mean using to Gryffin as an 'Adventure Touring' bike to ride 16-18 hour days, averaging 900 to 1,100 miles each, over multiple days.

Janus is modifying their standard Gryffin model for me with the items listed below.  The engine/transmission will remain stock with no performance enhancements.  I will try several different rear sprockets to obtain the best mix of cruising speed and fuel range. 

Janus Modifications:
  • Custom single seat
  • Windscreen
  • Digital speedometer
  • Custom cargo rack
  • LED headlight
  • Auxiliary LED lighting
  • Custom pannier
  • Street tires, 3.50x18 front & rear
  • Custom paint - US Army theme
Expected delivery at Janus is by the end of the year.  Once I get the Janus back to Texas, I will continue to "farkle" the Gryffin to use as an adventure touring motorcycle. 
  • Farkle Bar - to mount GPS, smartphone, other items
  • Tank Bag - Rider comfort items
  • Maintenance  Box - Tools and tire repair
  • Spare Parts  Bag
  • Hydration System - CamelBak, drink bottle
  • FLIR Camera/Display
  • Fuzeblock FZ1 - Accessory electrical supply
  • Auxiliary HI-LED caution and brake light flashers
  • Auxiliary fuel tank - 4 gallon
My goal is to get the Gryffin as close to road worthy adventure touring motorcycle as possible given its size and performance characteristics.  I have big plans for this 'little' motorcycle.  Those plans and how I will carry them out are subjects for future blogs. So, follow along in my...

Hard Riding Adventure touring on a Janus Gryffin 250!
Janus Gryffin 250 "Scrambler"

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.


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...

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.

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's BaseCamp
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

  • 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.