Author Topic: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)  (Read 5930 times)

Offline B.D.F.

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My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« on: July 03, 2011, 11:54:06 am »
My Coast- to Coast ride in under 50 hours. 3132 miles in 47 hours, 51 minutes on a 2008 Kawasaki Concours 1400. The bike had 62, 688 miles on the odometer when I started and just under 70K miles when I got back home. There are a LOT of chassis miles on me and there were even more when I got back home too, just like the bike. There are absolutely no issues of any kind to report on the bike- it performed flawlessly and I could not be happier with its performance or behavior on this trip. There were just a very few issues with my chassis, mostly due to some lingering numbness in my butt and upper left leg which is almost gone now (3 July, 2011).

Spotwalla data from the trip is available here: http://spotwalla.com/tripViewer.php?id=2ed64debc2480041f


I left on Monday morning, 6 June, 2011, and headed west trying to get to the Pacific in 50 hours or less. The trip actually started from my home in RI but the CC 50 clock really would not start until I got a receipt for some purchase in the last coastal city before I headed inland. The city was Rye, NY, and my receipt for fuel was time- stamped 12:21 PM.

The route was just major highways all the way to Tacoma, where I would have to use secondary roads to get to the Pacific. The timing of the trip was based entirely around getting through Chicago in the middle of the night in the hope of avoiding traffic. The timing worked out pretty well and while I was in a bit of stop and go traffic on I-80 just south of Chicago, it did not last long or delay me appreciably.

The first day was really pretty pleasant; it was warm and sunny but not hot. Then I hit a warm zone and was stuck in it for the entire first night and the second day. It was 88 degrees while I was stopped on the highway outside of Chicago and really unpleasant in all my gear.

I did not plan any fuel stops or any stops of any kind before starting the ride. My plan was to look for fuel ahead of me, close to the highway, by using a GPS when my range was down to 30 miles or so. The bike is a Kawasaki C-14 with a 5.8 gallon fuel tank and I used as much of that capacity as reasonably possible. I also had a fuel bladder with an additional 3 gallons of fuel in it so there was no risk of actually running out of fuel. The extra fuel was really useful as an emotional crutch more than as fuel; I never touched that additional fuel at any time on the trip west or back east but I also would not have dared to run the main tank as low as I did if I had not had that extra fuel with me.

Cutting through the eastern states by day, in good weather, my biggest concern was whitetail deer (‘forest rats’). I saw a lot of evidence of deer-strikes along the highway for the first five hundred or six hundred miles but then the deer carcasses on the side of the road became much rarer. Good thing too because I was not looking forward to traveling at high speed all night long waiting for Bambi to step out onto the highway.

The major speed limitation on the entire trip was road construction; it was everywhere and went on for miles at a time. The work zones were very well marked though, and the roads through those zones were in great shape so there was no actual stopping for the construction. The speed limits w/in the work zones were anywhere between 65 MPH and 45 MPH, and as the threats on the signs before the zones were pretty Draconian, I never went above 5 MPH anywhere in any work zone and usually even closer to the limit. I only ever saw one law enforcement officer in any work zone though and that was a state policeman in Ohio using a radar to check traffic speed.

Once past Chicago, the country really opens up and the speed limits increase until they reach 75 MPH. I felt great well into the night of the 6th but by dawn was getting a bit fatigued. The first sunrise of the trip occurred while I was in Iowa, and I stopped for fuel and to get something to eat. A cup of coffee (I am a big coffee drinker normally) and continue to ride west. The second day was going pretty well other than being a bit too hot (mid- 80’s) and I was making pretty good time. I turned off of I-80 onto I-29 north in Iowa and entered South Dakota sometime after 9:00 AM (all times are Eastern Standard Time, I usually didn’t even know what the local time zone even was). Things took a turn though when I turned west onto I-90; the wind was strong, choppy and quartering from my left / front for the next several hundred miles. This was one of the worst parts of the trip and I could not believe the force of the wind. At one point a particularly nasty gust actually ripped the glove box top right off the bike; I caught it about two inches in the air and held it down in place with one hand until I stopped to buy fuel. By the end of the trip through South Dakota both arms were tired from fighting the bike to stay in one lane.

The original plan was to take Rt. 34 to Rt. 212 from the western end of SD to I-90 in Montana but there was a sign on I-90 advising some part of Rt. 212 was closed so I stayed on I-90 all the way. About this time I met up with a fellow who came up from Colorado to ride with me for a while and that was a very pleasant part of the trip (thanks Ralph!). The wind had beaten him up pretty well too so we did not ride all that far and he turned south to go home.

Finally the wind calmed down a bit and the trip was getting a little better and I had been in Montana for a while when I noticed a mile- marker that said 495. 495? 495 miles to go…. in Montana? Just Montana? That was bit of a wake- up call because Montana was not the last state, or even the next- to- last state I had to cross and it was getting dark and had been raining for some time. The rain would continue all night and into the next day too. That would contribute to the other hard, nasty part of the trip: riding through the mountains in the dark, in the rain, in the cold, all through the curvy roads in western Montana and Idaho. I was wearing heated gear and enough rain gear to keep me warm and dry except for my feet; I did not bother to bring heated socks with me because I could not possibly need them. Big mistake. The temperature dropped into the high 40’s and my feet were terribly cold all night, probably because I was riding in the rain. My visor was fogging and I had to slow down; I was making progress but not nearly as much as I had hoped to be making at this point in the trip. These conditions continued all night and really wore down my resources. Things picked back up after dawn and after passing Spokane, WA. The highway straightened out, it stopped raining and the temperature rose to somewhere in the 60’s. And, of course, I was at least now in the last state I would cross although there was still 400 miles to go. I do not remember where I had breakfast but I think it might have been McDonald’s, and a terrible cup of coffee (yep, sounds like McDonand’s) and started the last big part of the trip. The ride through Washington was actually quite nice and pretty easy other than going through Snoqualmie Pass, where it was raining again, the traffic was pretty thick and the road was pretty intense with curves, lane changes and level changes. The temperature also dropped again but I was not worried about being cold, I was worried about part of the road freezing. The whole pass kept me very much on edge and was an intense part of the ride. The temperature never dropped below 37F though and once on the coastal side of the pass the sun came back out and the temps. rose rapidly. The last hurdle would be getting through the city of Tacoma and then taking secondary roads to get to a coastal town. Some folks have asked if Tacoma could serve as the destination but no, it has to be a coastal city and Tacoma is about 85 miles inland on Puget Sound (which is NOT the ocean). Tacoma was mixed with another treat though as a gentleman I knew from the forum met me and rode to the coast with me. By this time I could not even tell if I was going to make it in 50 hours or not because I was just too fatigued to do complex things like add two numbers so I just kept up a good pace (but not reckless or excessive) to get to the end of the ride. It was rush hour in Tacoma but traffic was moving along very well at near the speed limit. Finally I was to the coast and stopped at a convienance store for the receipt that would mark the official ending time for the trip; I bought a bottle of water at 9:12 local time, or 12:12 my (EST) time…. I had made the trip in not only 50 hours but just under 48 hours! The trip was 3132 miles by my odometer and took me 47 hours and 51 minutes. Not a record or anything but still a good, solid coast- to- coast run I think.

There were some real treats along the way, such as the already mentioned friends joining me for parts of the ride (thanks again Ralph and Chet). Another highlight for me was coming out of the edge of the Rockies at night and into Butte, Montana. The city is just about exclusively lit with sodium lighting and it has a very pleasant orange glow. I don’t know if Butte is a great city or not but it is beautiful to come down into at night. South Dakota was probably the biggest surprise of the entire trip for me as I have never driven in the US west of Chicago before; I expected a barren land, maybe almost a desert but SD, at least on the sides of I-29 and I-90, is prairie and quite pretty. Nearly flat, gently rolling grassland as far as I could see in any direction. If they could do something about the wind, I think it would be a great place to visit again. Maybe they could plant another tree, that way there would be three of them and maybe stop some of the wind.

Lessons learned: carry extra fuel. I used to think that long distance riders used auxiliary fuel cells to increase range alone but have found out other benefits; carrying more fuel is like a spare tire, you may not need it but it is comforting to know it is there. If I were to do another long distance trip, at least one that involved the more open spaces of the US like the west or southwest, I would use a fuel cell. Also water: carry at least a half- gallon of water on the bike. I did not carry water and planned on buying it along the way but that was a mistake because it is not available when you want or need it. For example, while stuck in slow moving traffic south of Chicago, I really wanted a drink but was not able to exit the highway to get one.

I did bring enough gear to wear to be comfortable though. Heated gear, other than the already mentioned lack of heated socks, and full rain gear made the trip much more pleasant then it could have been. The only weak spot was my helmet which not only fogged the visor constantly when it was raining but leaked water inside the visor too. Not enough to be dangerous but it was annoying having the occasional tickle from water running down my face.

This trip also intensified my love / hate relationship with Aerostitch triple digit glove covers. I love them because they are truly waterproof. I hate them because they are uncomfortable because of their shape, size (the biggest available ain’t none too big) and that wacky ‘crotch’ they put between the middle and ring fingers of each cover. They are also about as graceful and dexterous as a boxing glove worn on the wrong hand. Trying to use a GPS to find fuel, in the dark, in the rain, while wearing Aerostitch glove covers, gives new meaning to the work ‘clunky’. But they are waterproof and my hands stayed dry no matter how badly they were balled up with frustration.

In the end, a ride like this is really about management; management of time, of fuel, of fuel and food stops, equipment carried and used, etc. I basically approached it as would a bull trying to back through a brick wall; I stayed awake for the entire trip and kept moving west. That approach works OK depending on the individual personality and the duration of the trip. It worked for me for just over two days but I doubt it would work for three or more days. A longer trip would have required squeezing some sleep in there somewhere and that in turn would require fewer stops (I really doubt my fuel stops could have been shorter) and probably faster top speeds. At no time on the entire trip did I go more than 6 or 7 MPH over the speed limit. I think it may be necessary to go a bit faster on a longer trip when it becomes necessary to get at least two hours of sleep per day. In the end, we all have a certain amount of reserves that we can call upon until they are used up; I was not to the end of my reserves at the end of the trip but I am sure I had used more than half of them and could not possibly have turned around and ridden for another 48 plus hours to get back to the east coast without rest periods. A third day of such intense riding may be possible but I believe it would absolutely be interesting.

And now for the funniest part of the entire ride:

One of the rituals of a coast- to- coast ride is to grab two containers of water and sand, one from each ocean. It is symbolic and is not required but like most people who have made this run, I also grabbed the souvenir water vials.  I picked up Atlantic water in Rye, NY, on a road named Kirby Ln. When we left the convenience store, Chet led the way to a nearby beach so I could grab a little Pacific water. We parked right on the beach and I got my sample. I had forgotten to charge my cell phone on the trip so it was as dead as the proverbial ‘door nail’. I also did not have my son’s street address so I didn’t know where I was going after ending this ride. As my son’s phone number was in my (dead) phone, I was going to have to call my wife and get my son’s address before I could move on. Of course Chet was concerned about this situation and offered me his phone several times but I refused. I believe I said something like: ‘I am a big boy, have two GPSs with me, a running motorcycle and money in my pocket…. what could possibly go wrong?’ He had to get to work that afternoon and so reluctantly left me on the beach and left. I finished packing up my gear and got ready to leave perhaps twenty minutes after he did.

I was really exhausted by this time and could not think clearly, and I was also physically exhausted. So much so that I could not lift my leg to get off or back on the motorcycle. So I lift my leg by pulling my pant leg up and over the saddle and mount up. We had parked on a hard- packed lane going down to the water but there was soft beach sand on both sides so when I turned the bike around to leave, I had to ride into the sand for a bit. Of course the bike wallowed like anything that weighs 700 + lbs. will in beach sand but that wasn’t really a problem, I just put a foot down to stabilize it. Of course my leg was pretty worthless and just folded up and…. yep, the bike was down on the right side. I got up and my very first thought was “I wonder how far in the tide comes?”; it certainly would have been interesting if the ocean washed up and over my bike. Hmmmmm. I got under the saddle and gave it all I had but lifting it by myself, in that condition, in the sand, just wasn’t going to happen. There were no houses or buildings of any kind within sight and I really could not think of anything sensible to do with this situation. Just then, I spot a car moving down the beach toward the road. Yippie! I wave my arm toward the car and an arm shoots out of the driver’s window and waves back. Nope, that ain’t what I am after. So I hold up both arms and give the international “come here” signal and the car steers a bit left and heads toward me. Yay! As it gets closer I can see there is a woman maybe 35 or 40 driving, a teenaged girl about 14 riding in the passenger side and another, younger girl of about 9 or so in the back seat. Oh oh. So the woman pulls up, notices the bike laying on the ground and says something like “Bike fell over, huh?”. I says ‘Yep, and if you help me pick it up you will be my hero for the entire rest of the day.’ All three people jump out of the car, trot over to the bike and grab onto something. I stop them because they can’t possibly lift it by the windshield anyway and place them around the bike, each of them with something substantial to lift against. I grad the saddle again and on ‘3’ we all lift… and the bike pops up like it weighs twenty pounds! Imagine my surprise because I don’t think I was lifting as hard as the 9 year old girl; they basically did it alone. I thanked them profusely but in my sorry state didn’t get anyone’s name or address or any other information. So to those people who saved me from (drowning? Having to live on the beach? Being eaten by a whale?) something awful on the beach that Wednesday morning, my greatest thanks. And you were my heroes for a lot longer than just a day.

I assured them I was fine and they drove off. I jumped back on the bike, it fired up and off I went to…. I don’t know where I should be going? So I found the nearest clump of civilization on a GPS and headed that way. After about 15 miles or so I was in a small town with businesses lining both sides of the road and looked for a sign with the key word “cellular” or “wireless” or similar. There, on the right side! Walked into the store and they said they could not touch my phone because they did not deal AT&T but did direct me to a nearly Radio Shack AT&T dealer. The kind woman running that store lent me a cup of electrons (charged my phone) while giving me her cell phone to call my wife. The kind man also working in that store got me a couple of bottles of water so I could wash the humiliation (read: beach sand) off the side of my bike. After getting Jared’s address as well as assuring Andrea I was still alive, I headed off to Tacoma.

Homo Sapiens Sapiens and just a tad of Neanderthal but it usually does not show....  My Private mail is blocked; it is not you, it is me, just like that dating partner said all those years ago. Please send an e-mail if you want to contact me privately.

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Offline JetJock

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2011, 02:18:15 pm »
Very cool report, Brian. Congrats on your successful CC50!

Somedamnday I'll get around to attempting something like this.

Offline S.Ga.Rider

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2011, 04:39:37 pm »
Very entertaining story bd. Sounds like a great, but exhausting trip.

Offline Stavee

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2011, 04:48:39 pm »
Brian it was great being able to ride along for 3 hrs with you. http://s261.photobucket.com/albums/ii61/stavee/BDF%2050CC/ is a link to a photobucket record of our little ride from Sturgis, SD. to Buffalo. Some aren't so good but I took them. Note the videos are in reverse order (last first).

Enjoy
« Last Edit: July 03, 2011, 06:20:22 pm by stavee »
First bike '38 DKW

Offline booger

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2011, 05:53:34 pm »
I'm jealous.

Glad you didn't encounter any major problems ;)

Offline accbiker

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #5 on: July 04, 2011, 06:59:37 am »
Thanks for sharing, Brian.  As much as I want to do a CC50, I don't think I could do the northern route.  You are the man!

-David
Athens, GA

Offline DarkKnight

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #6 on: July 04, 2011, 07:39:27 am »
So cool!.........If you dropped it close to home, it wouldn't have been such a good story.
Similar thing happen to me when I drove cross country. In 1978, I was 23 and went 9k mile in 5 weeks on a KZ900.
It was a gas shortage and I carried a 5 gallon gas can on the back of my bike from Ct. In Yellowstone, I  poured it in the tank because gas was everywhere. Then later at night in Washington I needed gas and no one had it. I begged a girl at 7/ 11 for gas and she caved in. Frantically filled both tanks and hit the island barrier the way out.  A huge black guy came over a bear hugged my heavy bike and picked it up while I  all I could do is watch.
Cross country ride are real cool. Lots of stories.
My Son is doing a 4400 bicycle ride across the US as I type. They are in Colorado today You can check it out here.

http://4kforcancer.org/follow-us/2011-baltimore-to-portland/
 They are spending time with people along the way. Now this is truly an amazing adventure.


Offline gflint

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2011, 12:58:23 pm »
Butte is a nice place, even with the Butte pit in the middle of it.  This seems to to an ultimate saddle test.  What were you sitting on and how were things in the end?
Keep it simple - if no one has shot at me or tried to blow me up it is a good day.

Offline gflint

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #8 on: July 05, 2011, 01:02:27 pm »
Forget I asked.  I found the answer in my own Airhawk thread - Corbin with Airhawk.
Keep it simple - if no one has shot at me or tried to blow me up it is a good day.

Offline okxd45

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #9 on: July 05, 2011, 01:39:02 pm »
Great read!  Laughter could be heard ringing from my cubicle  :-X while reading the beach portion.  Nice to know a couple of girls can lift the bike if need should arise.  Thanks for sharing and your definitely the man for making that ride.......except for the part where you fall and women had to help you......lol. ;D
Jeff
"Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under 't." Macbeth Quote (Act I, Scene V).
"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves." (Matthew 10:16 NIV)

Offline B.D.F.

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #10 on: July 05, 2011, 05:54:37 pm »
Yep, and Airhawk over a Corbin is what I used but I want to make a comment or two about this: yeah, it is kind of a saddle test but it was not the seating arrangements alone that allowed me to sit for so long- I took a lot of Aleve along the way, usually 3 or 4 tablets at a time, and at least twice each day and maybe three times. Even with all of that by the end of the ride everything below my waist was pretty well shot as well as painful although there was no specific area or sensation of pain, more like a telegraphed signal that things 'down there' were not going fantastically well. I also stood quite often until the second night when that was no longer working, and I spent a lot of time sitting <kind of> sideways, not unlike the way motorcycle racers drop down going into corners (one leg at 90 degrees to the saddle and that thigh resting on the saddle while everything else hangs off the far side).

I just don't want to give the idea that with an Airhawk and / or Corbin saddle all will be well after 48 hours in the saddle. I could walk without pain at the end and I think that is enough of a testament to the seating- to expect to jog backwards while wearing a smile after that amount of time in the saddle is not reasonable IMO. The Corbin and Airhawk combination is the best thing I have found for long distance riding, including a Russell, but there wasn't much spring in my step at the end either.  ;)

Brian



Butte is a nice place, even with the Butte pit in the middle of it.  This seems to to an ultimate saddle test.  What were you sitting on and how were things in the end?

Forget I asked.  I found the answer in my own Airhawk thread - Corbin with Airhawk.
Homo Sapiens Sapiens and just a tad of Neanderthal but it usually does not show....  My Private mail is blocked; it is not you, it is me, just like that dating partner said all those years ago. Please send an e-mail if you want to contact me privately.

KiPass keeping you up at night? Fuel gauge warning burning your retinas? Get unlimited peace and harmony here: www.incontrolne.com

Offline stevewfl

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #11 on: July 05, 2011, 09:39:26 pm »
Wow, awesome trip and write up, thanks.  I couldn't find in the read why you wanted to cross that fast, was it to see if you could do it/challenge factor or you needed to be somewhere fast?

“The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” St. Augustine

Offline Jaxter

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #12 on: July 05, 2011, 10:11:02 pm »
Great story, congrats on a safe and successful ride...I think you showed remarkable restraint at keeping within 7 mph of posted speed limits...I know at some point I would have dialed up triple digits.
I've Never Had A Better Day

Offline ZG

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #13 on: July 05, 2011, 10:30:23 pm »
Awesome read and ride Brian!!  :hail: :thumbs:

Offline B.D.F.

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Re: My Coast- to Coast in less than 50 hours report (long)
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2011, 05:07:52 am »
Opps- I forgot to mention that part. I was trying for an Iron Butt recognized CC 50, or Coast- to Coast in 50 hours or less. Just like you rode 1,000 miles in 24 hours or less for a Saddlesore 1000. As it works out, I also made two SS 1000's, back to back, as well as two Bun Burner Golds, back to back (1,500 miles in 24 hours). I didn't apply for any of those though as I already have the Saddlesore tag from some time ago and besides, the CC 50 kind of trumps all the runs contained inside of it.

Because I traveled a route so far north, the CC-50 will be labeled 'The hard way'. The much more common route is between Jacksonville, FL and San Diego, CA and is 'only' about 2,350 miles. My run was over 3,100.

The trip itself was to see my son who lives in Tacoma, the CC-50 was just something I squeezed in along the way. My wife flew both ways like most sane people would have done.  ;)

Brian


Wow, awesome trip and write up, thanks.  I couldn't find in the read why you wanted to cross that fast, was it to see if you could do it/challenge factor or you needed to be somewhere fast?
Homo Sapiens Sapiens and just a tad of Neanderthal but it usually does not show....  My Private mail is blocked; it is not you, it is me, just like that dating partner said all those years ago. Please send an e-mail if you want to contact me privately.

KiPass keeping you up at night? Fuel gauge warning burning your retinas? Get unlimited peace and harmony here: www.incontrolne.com