10:04 pm. 41 degrees. Hazy drizzle. Gas light is on with a 31 mile range.
Headed back to Durham, NC on I-95 from Daytona, just north of Florence, SC. I take the next exit hoping to find an open station. No street lights. The station is closed and the dim light of the lone gas pump makes it seem darker. Since the pump is on, I get off my bike to fuel up and stretch. I feel the plug from my heated jacket forcefully disconnect. A sigh of relief after checking to make sure it still works. A little more tired than I thought. I get a banana and some water. A white mini-van turns slowly in, tires crunching the gravel as they do a 3-point turn in the small parking lot. They stop, look around, then drive off the other way. As I’m leaving with a full tank, the white mini-van pulls back to the station. Guess there were no other options. Getting up to speed on the exit ramp, I silently curse, realizing I forgot to get my receipt from the pump. Too late, now.
To most of us, it’s not easy completing an Iron Butt Saddle Sore 1000.
The basic requirement is 1,000 miles in 24 hours. To prove you did it, you’ll need to submit time-stamped receipts, a trip log and signed witness forms along with a Google map of the route. It’s a lot to think about, particularly when you’ve already traveled 800 miles. In the rain. At 40 degrees.
If you live in North Carolina and you want to try a Saddle Sore 1000, I recommend doing a Daytona Dash. Raleigh to Daytona and back is a little over 1,100 miles. It’s I-95 most of the way, which is a fast interstate if you time it right. Plenty of places to pull over if you need it and enough traffic so you don’t feel like you’ll be stranded if something happens.
Like all my big rides, I started this one at around 6:00am. It’s a beautiful day, so I stop for a photo of my bike in front of Duke Chapel. If you look closely at the photo, you’ll see a second set of headlights behind my bike. That’s the security guard. I’m guessing that he’s coming by to tell me to move along. I remove my helmet and take out my ear plugs.
“I was only taking a few photos – I’ll be gone soon.”
“You’re going to Daytona and back on that thing, all in a single day?”
He walks over and puts his hand on the seat. “That’s a long ride. I’ve never been down there.”
“I haven’t either. Gonna get a picture at the speedway.”
“Boy, I’d like to ride one of those things. Don’t think I could. I’d need one of those trikes with the three wheels. I’ve seen them down at that place on 15-501.”
“It’s not for everyone, but I sure enjoy it.”
I put my earplugs back in, latch my helmet and pull away. It’s a great day for a ride.
It’s Saturday and I get through Raleigh and out I-40 to I-95 before 7:30am. That’s the only place I was concerned about traffic. Lots of trucks on I-95, but they move quickly and don’t hog the fast lane. Not many bikes, but a sport bike keeps up with me for about 50 miles and I pass a Harley when I’m leaving SC. With a range of 250 miles, I only stop twice for gas before hitting Florida, having a snack and water each time.
When I left Durham, the temperature was in the mid-40’s. It’s almost 80 in Florida with lots of sun, so I stop at this rest area to remove my jacket liner.
I hit Daytona in mid-afternoon and stand in a short line for the photo op at the speedway. After that, I have a quick burger at Crystal, then start back.
I’m a Methodist, so the Georgia coast holds a particularly warm spot in my heart – it’s where John and Charles Wesley landed and served a mission in the early days of America. I’ve made exceptional time, so on the way back, I decide to stop by Epworth on St. Simon’s Island. I stop for a photo op at the Lovely Lane Chapel, which is one of the oldest church buildings on St. Simon’s Island. As you can see from this other photo, the Spanish moss makes a beautiful backdrop for my bike.
I get back on the road at around 7pm and it’s clouding up. Traffic is moving quickly and except for the occasional downpour, the ride back to Raleigh is smooth in a cool, hazy mist.
My final stop was a BP station about a half mile from Duke Chapel. 1,157 miles. I got on the road at around 6:20am and finished at 1:57am.
The Iron Butt Saddle Sore 1000 is the basic ride to join the club. It’s not easy. It’s best to pick an easy route like the Daytona Dash when you’re just starting out. It minimizes the risk so you can concentrate on the important stuff.
Like not making a rookie mistake and riding off without your time-stamped receipt on I-95 just north of Florence, SC.