|A few months ago I decided that I really
wanted to go to the Iron Butt Association party in Daytona Beach Florida.
Since I didnít have a lot of time, I knew I had to get there and back
in as little time as possible. A friend of mine, Jan Cutler
had set the record from Santa Monica California to Jacksonville Florida
a couple years ago. I decided I could kill several birds with
one stone by trying to break the record, do a 50cc Quest, (Coast to
Coast in 50 hours or less), a Saddle Sore 2K, (2000 miles in 48 hours),
and finally make it out to the Iron Butt party all at the same time.
After I learned of plans for a rally in Nevada that involved riding
back-to-back Bun Burner Goldís, (1500 miles in 24 hours) I thought
this will be a good time to see if that was possible at the same time.
As I began planning it became clear that dealing with timing in changing
time zones was going to be a problem. I decided to deal with
this by setting all my clocks to Eastern Standard Time after my last
day of work. That way, I could simply leave by Eastern Time,
and figure every checkpoint by that time without having to calculate
loosing 3 hours while crossing the continent. I carefully laid
out the route and made notes of the time that I would have to make
key locations by to maintain the record pace. I planned on leaving
so I would go through Houston Texas at 1:00AM so I would miss the
traffic. The record, 31 hours and 26 minutes requires an average
speed of slightly more than 78 miles per hour.
I knew that to maintain this pace, I would need to be well ahead of
it after the wide-open spaces of Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas.
I knew that maintaining that pace through Louisiana, Mississippi,
Alabama and Florida would very difficult. It would be very important
to be well ahead of schedule before I got out of Texas.
One of the concerns I had involved the tires on the FJR1300.
It came with Metzler MEZ4 tires. The back tire only lasted 5500
miles. I replaced them with Michelin Pilot Roads. I had
about 3000 miles on them when I replaced them with another set before
the ride. There was only about 1/16th of an inch
of tread left on the rear after only 3000 miles. My friends
at Cycle Gear made sure I had a set before I left. They did
look at me a little funny when I told them that I would need a second
set a week later. Jeff Andruss of Andruss Autoworks made sure
the tires got mounted and balanced. I didnít think they would
last all the way to Florida and back, so I made arrangements with
Jan Cutler to replace the rear tire in Phoenix on the way back if
I left my house in Northern California on Tuesday morning. I
hit heavy rain, and even some small hailstones going over the Grapevine
into Los Angeles. Much to my relief, all of my electronics came
through the gully washer intact, with no malfunctions.
I got checked into my hotel in Santa Monica in the early afternoon.
I went down to the beach and filled my vial with Pacific Ocean water,
and marked the bottle. I then went to bed early and got good
At 1:30AM, Peter Heesch came up and got a picture of me with the bike
in front of the Santa Monica Pier. We then went to the closest
gas station where Peter signed my paper work, I filled the bike and
got the receipt that was my official starting time, 2:00AM, PST.
Things went well on the first leg. I made Buckeye AZ by 7:20AM
MST. The weather was clear, and traffic was light. I lost a
little time in traffic in Phoenix, but I was sure I could make up
that time when I got out of town. I made good time through the
rest of Arizona, through New Mexico, and into El Paso Texas.
I lost some more time in El Paso, but it wasnít bad. About 100
miles out of El Paso it got worse. I hit the first of 4 construction
zones that required you to follow trucks at 45-50 MPH for several
miles. You have no idea how frustrating it is to watch the MPH
average on the GPS go down and down while you are stuck those zones.
Just when I got out of one, a mile or two later there was another
one. By the time I got clear of the last one, I was about an
hour behind my schedule.
I was making up some of that time when I received a performance award
from the Texas Highway Patrol. It was nothing too bad, 87 in
a 75. As I soon found out, I had picked the day that they were
concentrating on revenue enhancement on I 10 all the way into San
Antonio. In the 150 miles west of San Antonio, there were LEOís
at least every 15 or 20 miles. They were usually working in
groups of two or three cars, using instant on radar, and hiding in
the medians, and behind bridges etc.
By the time I got to Houston, I was about an hour and a half behind
schedule, and the weather had turned bad. It was about 40 degrees
and raining in Houston, and the wind was blowing hard. It was
about 2:30 AM when I finally got through the city, and decided that
this was not the day to break the record. I got gas, and documented
the Bun Burner Gold, with 1,593 miles in 21 hours. I got a room
in Winnie Texas for about 4 hours, and left at 6:30 to finish the
In Louisiana, there were again several construction zones that had
long backups. It occurred to me that the highway departments
in that part of the country havenít figured out Californiaís practice
of working on small sections of road at night, and finishing it up
before morning traffic.
It rained on and off all the way from Texas to Tallahassee Florida.
At times it rained very hard. At least it wasnít cold.
In Live Oak Florida, I got gas and the receipt that documented the
Saddle Sore 2000. I had covered 2,391 miles in 36 hours.
All I had to do now was get to the Shell station in Jacksonville Beach
and document the 50cc.
Jim Frens met me at the Shell station at 7:18PM on Thursday.
I had put on a total of 2,494 miles by the odometer, and 2,461 according
to the GPS in 38 hours and 18 minutes. It was well short of
the record, but a respectable time for the 50cc.
The Iron Butt Party was a blast. It was a great deal of fun
seeing many old friends. Even Steve Lotsofsky of Reno BMW fame
made an appearance. John Laurenson put on a great party on Thursday
night. I stayed too long, so I hope I wasnít too much of a pest.
After finishing it appears as though if I were attempting the back-to-back
Bun Burner Goldís, I would have had an additional 9 hours and 42 minutes
to put on an additional 600 miles. That would be an average
of slightly more than 60 mph. I think that is certainly doable.
Particularly in light of the poor weather and road conditions I encountered
in the first 2,500 miles of the trip.
A pleasant surprise came from the tires. When I got to Florida,
there was very little apparent wear on the tires after about 3,000
miles. When I got home, after about 6,000 miles, they appear
to have about Ĺ the tread left. They actually wore much better
on the highway than they did riding the local roads. I now believe
that it would be possible to run the entire Iron Butt Rally on one
set of tires.
I also found the bike got much better gas mileage once I got away
from California oxygenated fuel. I got 40-48 mpg for most of
the trip. I consistently put on well over 400 miles per fill-up,
and it took about 8-10 gallons per fill. On one tank, I got
over 460 miles, and it took 9 gallons to fill it.
I want to thank all the people whoís help made the trip possible.
Jeff Andruss of Andruss Autoworks who mounts and balances all my tires
and was instrumental in fabricating the mounting brackets for the
accessories. Cycle Gear in Pleasanton for providing tires and
any thing else I need. Jan Cutler for all his help and inspiration.
I also want to thank Jeff Johnson and his wife Phyllis for their kind