Well, today (April 09, 2007) I completed my first Saddle-Sore 1000. Almost 2 years ago I posted my plan on what I wanted to do. The plan did not handle reality well.
This saddle-sore jumped me quite unexpectedly. Two weeks ago I had no idea that I would be doing my first SS1000 but three events put a big proverbial boot to my butt.
First my parents were down from Sacramento, Ca and my wife and I learned they were moving to Prescott Valley, Az come summer. So my route was shot as I wanted to meet them on the far side.
Secondly my wife has relatives down in Prescott Valley that she was going to visit over Easter.
Finally my dad mentioned he had his bike and was looking for a way to get it from Sacramento to Prescott Valley. So my wife piped up “Well, Steve can fly up to Sacramento, ride your bike down where it can be stored and do his Saddle-Sore in the process! Then on Monday when we (her brother and his wife are visiting) head back we can drive him home!” This from the woman that always mentioned how worried she would be if I ever did my SS1000.
“Uh… ok?” What else was I gonna say?
So the route was gone, I was going to be riding a bike I had never ridden before… heck, never ridden that model before, all on my weekend off and do so with only 2 weeks notice.
So, onto the meat.
The bike I rode was my father’s ’91 Kawasaki Voyager XII. There is no mistaking this for my ’02 ST-1100. Cruise control, wider saddle, truck, radio/tape deck and no get-up-and-go (by comparison). I flew up after work on Saturday, got into Sacramento around 1:30am, chatted with my mom until 3am and then off to bed on a pull-out couch. The Plan called for me sleeping soundly in my own bed the night before. I even forgot to pack the T-Shirt I had planned to wear. I did however remember to pack my iPod for some late-ride tunes if I started to lose focus.
Up at 10am and after visiting with my dad, having breakfast, getting everything packed on the bike and the witness form signed by my parents I was heading out by 1pm. The only picture of me on the bike is the one they took in front of their house.
I headed over to the local AM/PM off Zinfadel Ave for the official start gas-up. The first problem became apparent. His center stand just doesn’t work. Takes 2 people lots of effort to get the bike up on the center stand. He showed me how he gassed it up by balancing it but I decided to forgo any gymnastics with a strange bike. So I got to fuel the bike with it on the side stand. While getting everything in order a gentleman pulled up behind me on a BMW 1200. Not the LT, the BMW version of my ST-1100. After swapping compliments on our bikes he asked where I was going. I asked him, “Ever hear of the Saddle-Sore 1000?”
“You’re riding one of those!?”
“Yup, this is my starting fuel stop.”
He told me how he completed a BB1500 but never sent in the paperwork. I didn’t catch his name as my pump finished and it was time to start, 1:19pm. So if you ever read this, Mr. BMW Rider from the AM/PM off Zin on 04/08/06, send in your paperwork!
The new route was as follows:
Sacramento over to Monteray. Back out to the 101 to Paso Robles, 46 to 58 through Bakersfield to Needles. 95 down to Blythe, pick up I-10 into Phoenix, 101 around Phoenix and I-17/69 into Prescott Valley. A straight door to door run was 775 miles. The Monteray and Blythe/Phoenix side-tracks put the planned milage to 1033 miles. I had the directions printed out with the useful portions highlighted.
Sacramento to Monteray was mostly simple. I’d ridden the 80 and 680 many times but didn’t know the exit for Monteray. Somewhere on the 680 I pulled out my printed directions to double check. Traffic got heavy so I crammed it into my jacket pocket. No sooner than I thought, “Huh, wonder if it’ll fly out of my pocket” it did. No worries, it was only the first page down to Paso Robles. I’ll just ask for directions (shhh, don’t tell my wife) or barring that use one of my lifelines back to my route planner…. AKA dad… to confirmed what I had memorized.
The first stop was at Gilroy, Ca. His bike was showing near empty and between not knowing the mileage that bike got and how much I fuel I lost from the side-stand fueling I figured when it tells me it’s empty don’t wait for the warning light. I topped…. sided?… it off, asked for directions into Monteray from the attendant and off again in about 5-10m. Over 140 miles down, 1/10th gone and fine as can be. I admit it, I was writing my ride report as if I were done. But then I had knocked out 250 mile rides previously so of course it was cake at this point.
I had never been on 101 which is why I chose this route over the alternative I had come up with. Lovely country. I was amazed at how green it was. I remembered Northern California being only slightly less brown than where I live now, Las Vegas, Nv. But green, green everywhere. Even trees! Then it was time to ride a short distance on 1. For the first time in a few years I saw the Pacific. I didn’t stop for a picture since I didn’t want to waste any time and there weren’t any shots that just screamed for the taking. I know better now. I’ve got time, plenty of it. So next time I’m out that was, SS1000 or not, a picture will be taken.
Next up was a fuel stop in Monteray to prove I was there. Even though it was 45 miles from Gilroy without a fuel stop there it is possible to chop off that loop. It would take me under 1000 miles. Which is, of course, lesson #2 learned. Gas stops will happen often! I got a tad lost in Monteray turning left looking for a gas station when they were all straight. After fueling up I called dad to confirm what I had remembered from my directions.
“Ok, so from here I take 101 to 58 through Bakersfield, right?”
Lesson number 2 learned, never ask someone for directions unless they are looking at the route. While it is factual that I would get to the 101 and head south and I would indeed take 58 into Bakersfield I was looking for 46 to take me over to I-5 and then pick up 58. I figured this out when I was in San Luis Obisbo. What’s a little overshoot of about 25 miles between friends? A second call to the Mr. Route Planner revealed the communication error and we decided which way for me to go. Forward through the LA Basin (which I wanted to avoid) or just go back to Paso Robles and across. We decided on the latter.
Let’s just say I undershot it, stopped for local directions, found it and was back on track. Just lost 1.5 hours to do it.
The sun set as I headed out of Paso Robles on 46. This was a good good thing as I make far better time at night. Time to pick up the pace and knock the rest of this ride out!
25, I-5 and 58 into Bakersfield were uneventful. I took a break in Bakersfield to visit a good friend and gas up. It is amazing how about 45 minutes in an easy chair chatting with an old high-school bud can help the sore hindquarters get a little less sore. However I did get a tad discouraged when I saddled up to leave. He asked me how far I had to go. Well, my directions didn’t have the San Louis Obisbo leg in it and even so my ending witness was in Prescott Valley, not ~50 miles short of it. So I looked at the mileage for Bakersfield, 422, and took it from the planned route of 1033. 611 miles to go.
This was at a little after 10pm. 9 hours and I had only knocked out 422 of my planned miles!? I certainly had to pick up the pace as I did not want to use all 24 of my hours. I was up for 3 hours before starting to at the 21 hour mark of my ride I will be up 24 total. I’ve done 24-36 hours lots of time when engrossed in computer games but never riding. I did not want to start now. After gassing up I got some beef jerky for a quick snack and headed out. I had planned on sitting down for a meal but all the places around where I stopped were closed and I had spent enough time in Bakersfield as it was. I’d hit something in Mojave or Barstow.
I took another quick stop at the base of the Tehachapis to get some heavier gear on. The Tehachapi Pass was fun. I have always enjoyed that section of 58. I used to live in Bakersfield and traveled out to Las Vegas several times. However this time it was a tad unnerving being on a full touring bike and with a windshield who’s top was right in my scan-line for the road ahead.
Mojave and Barstow were next. I’m kinda annoyed at the work done in the past few years. 58 used to go through Mojave, now it bypasses it completely. Way to kill a town, CalTrans! Barstow isn’t completely skipped with I-15, I-40 and 58 running through it. However, the 58/I-15/I-40 section has one whole gas station on it. I had planned on some stops in either town and ended up sailing right through them. Sad. Ended up gassing up in some out-of-the-way station in Newberry Springs, Ca. I had lunch there at around 1am. It was very windy outside and the attendant was kind enough to let me sit down in the closed fast-food portion to eat my quick meal.
From that stop on it things started to get sore. The tailbone is expected, sure. However, my throttle hand was getting sore too as I was manually controlling the throttle most of the time. Oh, and my knees. This should be called the knee-buster 1000. Ouch! I was doing everything I could to change positions. Feet out to the highway pegs. Stand on the pegs and sit on the rear seat. Set the cruise and stretch my hands against these pegs the Voyager has on its handlebars. It became quite a routine.
It was a quick run into Needles and on to the home stretch. Not much happened from Barstow to Needles. But at Needles I picked up 95 south to Blythe and also broke out my iPod for some anti-zone-out music. Fun road, lots of hills, dips and curves. Very interesting at 3am. The first part of this section was spooky. All I could see was a couple hundred feet of road ahead of me, the stars above me and the outlines of the hills around me. No signs of civilization aside from the asphalt and yellow lines. With the iPod on shuffle it didn’t help the spookiness of the road when it decided to play Depeche Mode’s “PIMPF”. I was hoping it wouldn’t kick on any Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. It didn’t. A few songs later it queued up Ani DiFranco’s “State Lines” from her live album, “Living in Clip.” Good song all around and very fitting as she was singing about how different states treated her. I guess it was just the sound of the song and the basic content since I was crossing state lines but I think this is where I realized I was going to make it. I still had about 360 miles to go but knew I’d make it. I’m certainly going to take my ST out to that section of 95 for a little quicker fun.
Rolled into Blythe for a gas stop and some munchies. Got my first sign of me being a tad out of it when I somehow picked up the peppered beef jerky. I can’t stand black pepper. Took me 3 pieces to figure out why it wasn’t tasting like teriyaki. Went back in, bought some teriyaki beef jerky for the rest of the ride and a package of gummy worms to get the pepper taste out of my mouth.
After Blythe was just Phoenix and Prescott Valley. Checked with the attendant at the shop when the sun came up and figured I had about an hour’s ride time before I needed to stop for the sunrise. That put me at a rest stop just outside of Tonapah, Az. I took a break to let the sun rise high enough it wouldn’t blind me as I continued east. Paso Robles to a few miles outside of Tonapah wasn’t too bad after the slow start I got. 7 hours to go and just 100 and change miles left.
This was the hardest part. My butt was long since past numb so it wasn’t bothering me much any more. My knees were not working too well, I could barely mount the bike and dismounting was a chore. My throttle hand was just sore and I was using the cruise control more and more. At the beginning of the day I was able to knock out the 140 miles between Sacramento and Gilroy without a problem. Here near the end the last 150 miles was a challenge. It seems like it was an endless series of 30 miles I had to defeat.
30 miles into Phoenix. 30 miles around the 101 to find a gas station to get a record of being in Phoenix. 30 miles to the I-17 and starting north. 30 miles to the 69. 30 more miles into Prescott Valley.
I finally stopped at a shell station on Roberts and 69 in Prescott Valley. I could barely get off the bike but topped off the tank, got my receipt and called my wife so she could fill out the ending witness form. I was just so happy to finally have done what I talked about doing for so long. Final odometer mileage, 1098 at about 9am. 20 hours from start to finish.
Here I am at home. Throttle hand cramping up, fingers sore as I type. One knee is hurting and my butt still hasn’t regained its feeling. To be honest though the hardest part of this ride was that I had to stop. After parking the bike for storage I couldn’t help but think that I could catch 8 hours of sleep and have 8 hours to go another 400 miles and knock out the Bun-Buster 1500 without a problem. But work tomorrow kind of nixed that idea. It was fun and a challenge but not nearly as bad as I thought it would be. I think my ST-1100 would have kicked my butt. As difficult as it was to get my leg over the low seat of the Voyager the much higher seat of my ST would’ve proved quite difficult.
On the other hand without my ST I would not have been able to make the trip. I’ve been commuting 40 miles each way to work 3-5 days a week for the past 15 months. Nothing has increased my endurance and confidence in riding than getting on that ST through heat and cold, sun and rain, wind and snow. Though I tend to get my wife’s car when it is raining, snowing or there are high winds I have not avoided them completely. The past year marked my first time ever riding in hard rain and a light snow. When I moved to Las Vegas, Nv from Long Beach, Ca I was as sore at the end of the ride as I was at the end of this 1098 mile trek. That was only a 275 mile ride. Almost 4 times the distance and I was ready for more! Would my ST have been a challenge on this ride. Yes. But through the fun I had all I could think about is what few things I’d want to change on my ST and give it a go for a second SS1000 or even a BB1500.
Now to go and get this ride certified. All the paperwork is here, I just need to clean it up a bit and send it in. I hope it is up to the IBA’s standards.
I edited this the following day so this next paragraph is about 28 hours after what was written above. Today I got to tell several coworkers how it felt to have been on the run and completed it. A few of them have motorcycles. In fact some wanted to go with me on my SS1000 if it had gone off according to the defunct plan. But with me having to do this one on such short notice and with a starting point so far away it didn’t come to pass. I’d love to get a 4-5 bike group going from work and it would be great to have that black placard hanging off the back of my ST.