I turned to see a young Dad along with his
son. I had stopped at a rest area
following a traffic-jammed ride through the old part of St. Augustine, FL, on
my way back to Durham, NC. His son was
smiling and pointing at my bike.
“Seven and a half hours. On my way back now.”
“In the same day?”
miles here and 500 miles back. I’m
riding 1000 miles in 24 hours.”
The young dad shook his head. “Why?”
I was in the middle of a Saddle Sore 1000, which is the entry ride into the Iron Butt Association. To qualify, a biker needs to have time-stamped receipts from key gas stops along the route, as well as signed eyewitness statements at the beginning and end of the ride.
My ride to St. Augustine officially began at my 6:24am gas stop. I made a quick run to Duke Chapel (because that’s where all Parker’s Rides begin!), then I was on the road by 6:35am. My destination was the Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine, which boasts the oldest continual Christian congregation in the US.
Saturday morning traffic through Raleigh was light and I was making excellent time through Fayetteville, into South Carolina and beyond. As I got closer to the GA, SC border, things were looking great. The traffic was minimal and my GPS had me reaching my destination at 2:15.
Then, I reached Hardeesville, SC. Just past the final exit before GA, I-95 became a parking lot. Actually, a slow moving parking lot. My index and middle fingers on my clutch hand got a serious workout and by the time I reached the accident site and the traffic cleared, my GPS had recalculated my time of arrival to 4:45pm.
I stopped at the next exit to regroup, then
continued on without incident to St. Augustine.
When I was five miles from the Cathedral Basilica, I noticed that my GPS
said it would take 1.5 hours to get there.
This couldn’t be right, so I decided to move forward and assumed that I
must have inadvertently set the GPS to “walking” instead of “driving”.
When I hit St. Augustine, I learned that the 38th Annual Lions Seafood Festival was in full swing. Plenty of bikes, SUVs, sports cars – you name it. This was a well-attended event. When I finally made it to the stoplight that turns into “Old St. Augustine”, I had a mile to go, but it would have taken 30 minutes to get there.
I decided to cut my losses. I got out of the turn lane and headed to the
nearest gas station to get my mid-point receipt.
The ride home was uneventful. I noticed lots of deer on the highway
shoulders, so I kept in the left lane.
And because of traffic, I was much later than I had planned, reaching
Duke Chapel at around 1am. As I was
taking this photo, an Uber dropped off three students behind me, one of whom was
struggling to stand upright. He smiled
and slurred “Nice bike” as his two dates each took an arm to lead him back to
When I went to get my final gas receipt, the pump
was out of paper. Then the clerk refused
to let me in the store, even when I told him all I needed was a receipt. I went to another station and purchased 52
cents worth of gas, got my timestamped receipt and headed home.
It was a great day for riding and a successful
Saddle Sore. Thinking back on my
conversation with the young dad and his son at that Jacksonville rest stop, I
have to leave it to more articulate riders to explain why we do this. My only answer to him was, “It’s not for
everyone, but I enjoy it.”