Bun Burner GOLD
I'd been planning this ever since I'd finished the 5 & Dime Rally. I probably should have planned more considering the enormity of this ride, but it all worked out in the end.
My original plan was to start from my home near Lacey, WA, head north on I-5 to I-90, then head east to somewhere in Montana and head back. According to Google this would take me somewhere in the neighborhood of 22.5 hours. Add in some time for gas stops, subtract some time for Google using a slightly lower than normal average speed, and I was fairly confident I could do this.
I planned the ride for September 12/13, 2014. I could take Friday off, then have the weekend to recover. As the date approached I started checking Google for road construction along my route. I was glad I did. I knew that I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass was under construction just east of the summit. However, the during this weekend, WSDOT was advising rolling slowdowns with delays of up to an hour. This was, needless to say, unacceptable. A 15 minute delay could be extremely costly, let alone an hour. I needed a new route.
Rural freeways were going to be a requirement for this trip. I-84 quickly became a viable option. Normally I do my best to avoid traveling through Oregon when I can. This is my own private protest against Oregon's agonizingly slow speed limits and stupid gas pumping law. However, I discovered on the Five & Dime Rally that the gas monkeys will let motorcyclists pump their own gas. That just left the slow speed limits, which on the R1200GS are probably a good thing since fuel economy goes down significantly as speed increases. I-84 it was. Some quick trial and error lead me to Snowville, UT as my turn around. Utah here I come.
0430 - September 12, 2014
I set my alarm for 0400 and was on the bike by 0415. My first stop was a the closest gas station to my house. On my SaddleSore attempt one year earlier, I ran into a problem at this gas station with the receipt. I finished pumping the gas and the display read, "Receipt Printed Inside" and it wasn't a 24-hour station. Thinking this was a fluke, I decided to use this station again. Guess what? "Receipt available inside!" Dammit!!!
After swearing and fist shaking, I headed down the road to another station that I knew was open 24 hours. I got my start receipt at 0430 and shortly after was cruising down the on ramp to I-5 South towards Portland. The weather was absolutely perfect. Dry and mild. Life was good.
The trip down to Portland was pretty tame. The sun started coming up about the time I reached Vancouver and I was treated to a beautiful backlit Mt. Hood and subsequent sunrise. I can go anywhere from 160-220 (speed dependent) between fuel stops and Hood River, OR ended up being my first stop for fuel at 0654, I was fueled and gone inside 10 minutes with 4.3 gallons of fuel and a mouthful of landjaeger.
From there it was a long, fairly boring slog with stops in Pendleton, OR, Ontario, OR, Bliss, ID. I discovered that in mid-September, I-84 pretty much exactly tracks the position of the Sun, as it was directly in my eyes for most of the morning until the Sun was high enough in the sky. This was really lame, but its not like I could change it.
I arrived in Snowville at 1705 MDT. I was feeling good about my time. It had taken me 11.5 hours to travel 767 miles, and I knew if I was running short on time when I got back to Olympia, I could stop at pretty much any gas station north of Chehalis and still make 1500 miles. I'd be lying if the enormity of the challenge didn't strike me though. I'd been on the road for almost 12 hours and I was only halfway done. Damn.
After gas in Snowville, I turned around and headed north/west, straight into, you guessed it, the setting sun! Dammit! Sunset wasn't until around 7:30 PDT, so I had another three hours to enjoy my retinas being fried. Yeay!
Heading back, I stopped in Mountain Home, ID, Baker City, OR, and Boardman, OR to get gas. By the time I got to Boardman, it was 11:30 and my GPS was telling me that I would be arriving back at my planned finish gas station at about 3:45 - leaving me about 45 minutes to spare if I needed. However, after this gas stop, fatigue started to set in on me. I ended up stopping at a rest area somewhere between Boardman and Portland just to stop and walk around a little bit. This was the only non-fuel stop I made the entire trip, but boy I needed it. I felt a little refreshed and hit the road again.
After another hour or so, I began to feel very tired. I was finding it difficult to hold a straight line and maintain focus - all classic warning signs that I need stop...NOW. I made the decision to stop and get gas a little earlier than I needed to, however there weren't any stations in the area. It was then that I got extremely lucky.
One moment I was riding down the road, doing my best to concentrate. The next moment i realized...my eyes had closed - involuntarily. . Adrenalin surged. I needed to stop immediately.
Needless to say, this scared the crap out of me. I think it was only for a second or so, but at that point, who cares? Unfortunately, I was coming into Portland and there wasn't anywhere to stop. More adrenalin got me across the Columbia and to Vancouver where I took the first exit. I was thrilled to see a 24-hour gas station with a mini-mart.
I got some gas and some 5-Hour energy and felt significantly better and more awake. I'm not a huge caffeine connoisseur, but I had purposely laid off caffeine for a few days prior to the ride for this exact situation. I didn't want my body use to caffeine if I needed some to make it home. I slammed the 5-Hour Energy and walked around a bit and felt a ton better. BACK ON THE ROAD! Muhahaha!
The trip back to Olympia was dull, but at least I was awake for all of it. I also managed to avoid the cop hiding in Chehalis where the speed limit dropped to 60 and rolled back into the station I started at 0403, 23.5 hours after I left it. The first 20 hours were a lot of fun. The last 3.5, not so much.
My final odometer mileage was 1531 and 1544 on Google. When I arrived back at the house, I was pretty much exhausted, but thanks to the 5-Hour Energy I had a tough time getting to sleep.
Other than being tired, I felt pretty good. The bike functioned perfectly and I made it through an entire Tom Clancy novel on the way. I ended up using just under 40 gallons of gas and averaged about 38.5 MPG.
I had four Go-Pros mounted on the bike and am in the process of editing together the footage into something that isn't completely boring and lame. We'll see how I do. Check back later for the vid-
On December 16, 2014, something got me very excited. My check to the IBA for my ride cert was cashed. This is a very good sign - it meant that I should be receiving word soon whether or not my ride qualified. On December 23, I was even more to find a package from the IBA in my mailbox. I took great pleasure and pride in affixing my new BBG plate back to my bike. Now I just need to get the certificate framed!
Many thanks to the volunteers at the IBA for their many hours spent verifying rides. It doesn't go unnoticed or unappreciated!