Border to border insanity it is called.

A few months ago I heard about a ride the Minnesota LD Riders were planning.
A B2B group record attempt.  Since I already had the Team Strange Great
Lakes Challenge under my belt, I thought I'd like to try this one too.  The
attempt was to get the most riders to finish a thirty six hour ride from
Morris, Manitoba, to Nuevo Laredo, Mexico.  Here is their description of the ride;

"The Ride!
In the Spring of 2004 we will ride from Canada to Mexico in a day (or so),
and set a new World Record for a group Border to Border ride.  This will be
an Iron Butt Association certified ride.  This is an endurance ride with
time, distance, and documentation requirements.  Other requirements include,
but are not limited to:
    You must maintain a fuel log with location, date, time, and quantity purchased.
    You must collect receipts for every gas purchase you make.
    You may not ride more than 350 miles between gas stops.
    You must log every stop (fuel or not) lasting 20 minutes or longer on the fuel log."

Sounds easy right?  Well, I thought it sounded like something I wanted to
try.  So I sent in my paperwork and entry fee.  The thing is, is the tougher
ride is the 24 hour version.  They call it the B2B Insanity.  Of course I
want to try for the bigger brass ring.  This will be my second long ride on
my new (to me) BMW K1200LT.  So I went over the bike and added a map light
and a second map case.  Can't have too much information along.  When it
comes to that, redundancy is good.  One thing I put off for too long doing
is plumbing and wiring my fuel cell.  Damn, I wasted a lot of time not doing
what I should have been doing PREPARING for a hard ride.  Now I figure I
better remember the IBA 'Archive of Wisdom' mantra tip #5 which goes, "Avoid
adding accessories or doing maintenance immediately before a trip.".  As it
turned out, the fuel cell wasn't needed.  But it would have been nice.

I'd mapped the route many times on my computer and planned to stop every
200-240 miles for fuel.  I put a waypoint at every location along the route
where to stop.  It is nice having software that shows if a gas station is at a exit or not.

I packed and repacked the bike.  I want to take everything I'll need but I
don't want to take too much.  I filled a tool pouch full of everything and
anything I thought I could ever need.  My theory is if I have it I won't
need it.  That theory works for clothes, maps and food too.

Well the day to head to Canada arrives.  Thursday April 29 I leave Beloit WI
at about 6:00am.  Today will be a short ride of under 750 miles.  The only
problem is the weather.  I've been watching the weather channel for the past
week and it doesn't look good for any of the four days I'll be gone.  Today
starts out nice but gradually gets windier along the way.  Of all the
conditions I don't like to ride in, it's wind.  It tires you.  It also
messes with fuel usage.  A strong head wind like today decreases my range by
25%.  It is dramatically proven to me on the LT where on my Trophy it didn't
seem as big a deal.  Anyway, at the boarder to Canada I wait in line and
watch the bike a few cars up have to go to the strip search area.  When I
get to the window the border guard asks all the normal questions and hands
me a yellow slip and tells me to pull over and go inside.  I don't get
searched but I do get asked all the same questions over again.  The bike
behind me goes through with no problems.  As I'm finishing up with the
multiple question routine, Eddie James (one of the Team Strange founders and
AMA Road Riding Director) walks in and asks me to wait while he talks to the
border guards.  Seems he is having a little trouble crossing into Canada!
Eddie of course doesn't remember but he and I met when I ran the Great Lakes
Challenge.  So he introduces himself and hands me some documentation to take
to the Minnesota LD Riders Kerry Person.  So the last 30 miles were on
Canadian roads at a whopping 100 KPH posted speed!  At the Morris Super 8
motel I get unpacked and wait for dinner.  As I'm wondering around a
familiar face asks me my name.  My buddy Dave from the Great Lakes Challenge
comes up to shake my hand.  We neither really recognized each other as it's
been a couple years.  He's a lot older and I've gained one or two pounds.
It was nice chatting with him at dinner.  The dinner was great!  Lots to
choose from to eat.  If you didn't find something you like you didn't look.
This all happened after sign-up.  Included in the price of the rally was a
nice long sleeved t-shirt, some stickers and a shot glass.  Also, one
gentleman had patches made up at his own expense and handed one to each of
us.  Nice guy.  The last thing this evening is the rider meeting where all
questions are answered.  After this is all done I head back across the
street for a good night sleep.  Tomorrow is going to be a long, long day.

Friday morning I wake up to the noises of the other riders getting ready.
The night before I got everything in order so all I had to do was shower and
put everything in it's place on the bike and go.  I had a bowl of cereal and
a cup of coffee.  I also filled my water bucket with ice water.  So I ride
the thirty miles to the start point.  I thought, "I wish the start was
closer this is making a long day even longer" but I deal with it.  We were
supposed to meet at the 'duty free' shop but when we got there we were told
to go through the check point and get timed out on the USA side.  This
actually worked out better because it took time going through the border crossing.

My time starts at 5:44am Friday April 30.  So this is what it feels like to
start out trying to prove you are insane eh?  The route consists mostly of
two roads.  I-29 from the Canadian border to the bottom of Nebraska and I-35
to the Mexican border town of Nuevo Laredo.

It seems like right away I spot a rider on the side of the road.  I pull
over and it is a really pretty girl!  I wish there was something I could do
for her but she seemed to have things under as much control as I could do
for her.  She was already on the cell phone for help.  She said something
about the bike using a lot of fuel.  I left her standing there after she
assured me she'd be ok.  I thought about it for a long time after.  I felt
bad for leaving but I know there was really no help I could give and I
really needed to stay on the move.  The whole thing took less then 20
seconds according to the gps.  (After the ride I see on the MN LDRiders
forum that her name is Stephanie and she ended up DNF'ing.  Too bad.)

As stated earlier, I planned all my fuel stops and had them loaded into the
gps.  As I get close to Fargo ND (my first planned stop) I start to think I
can get better time if I just play the gas stops by ear and stop only when
needed.  This way I might be able to cut out one stop.  Well, not sticking
to the plan is not a good plan.  By the time I found a fuel stop I should
have been and almost was out of gas.  I almost ruined a good day right at
the start.  So back to the plan.  Needless to say my next leg was shorter
because I got back to my original stops and had no problems finding fuel the

There was one stretch of about 185 miles where it was a shortcut bypassing
Kansas City that I'm not sure was a good idea.  I think if I were to do it
again I'd stay on the interstate.  It saved about 65 miles but only about 15
minutes according to my mapping programs.  And I don't think they take into
account small towns and waiting for trains.  On the other hand, it was
probably the prettiest part of the day.

The wind was weird the whole day.  Sometimes I would be riding into it,
sometimes it would help me along.  During the times it was behind me it was
like having a helping hand push me down the road.  I already wrote about the
effects it has on fuel consumption.  The worst wind has to be one stretch in
Texas where the rain was going sideways instead of down and the trucks would
make it near impossible to see.  I don't know how that bike stayed on the road.

It rained a lot.  As one of my fellow riders already posted to the LDRider
list, "It rained from Iowa to Waco Texas. The storms in Texas were the
worst. Lots of wind and hail."  Not only were the cars pulling over, they
were crashing all around.  One lady was sitting in her wrecked mini van
laughing about it with the deflated airbag in her lap.  Three of us riders
were a dozen cars back from this and only had to wait a couple minutes to
get through.  I cannot imagine how long it took the riders behind us to get
past the scene.  One lady in a white sports car hit a large puddle and took
off the side of her car as she hydroplaned into the concrete center barrier.
Thankfully in all the accidents I saw, it didn't look like anyone was hurt.
During the heaviest parts of the rain and wind and hail I told myself I was
going to pull over at the next hotel.  Then it would let up to a tolerable
level and I'd keep going instead of stopping.  I did this routine at least a
half dozen times.  I'm glad I didn't stop, but it was terrifying at times.
In Dallas the lightning was non stop.  It would hit the tops of the
buildings and go from building to building.  One of the best light shows I've ever seen.

The road through Kansas is a toll road (Kansas Turnpike).  Leaving this toll
road I got through the toll booths faster than the two other riders I'd been
behind for a while and I didn't see them for a long time.  I kind of got
worried about them when, after a particularly bad rainy section of road was
over and there were emergency vehicles going the other way.  After about 45
minutes they passed me again so I was relieved.

All this time I'd been watching my gps.  To finish in the twenty four hour
time frame you have to have an overall average of about 70 MPH.  Every time
you stop the display on the gps will change to show a lower overall average.
The longer you stop the lower the average.  I've been doing this sort of
thing for years and have never really been good at keeping stops short.  On
this trip I was determined to do my best.  I have two goals for this trip.
The obvious one was to finish in 24 hours.  The other was to better my 1000
mile time.  I had previously completed a 1000 miles in 14 hours or so.
Today I was determined to beat that by a little.  At the 1000 mile mark I
had less than 30 minutes of stopped time.  Fantastic for me.  It was 13.5
hours for the first 1000 miles of this ride.  Cool!  My best fuel stops were
in the four minute range.  Later in the trip they started getting longer and
longer.  Doing stretching exercises and bathroom breaks I still kept most of
my stops under 10 minutes.  For the complete day, 1666 miles I was stopped
almost exactly one hour.  I finished at about 5:16 Saturday morning (23.5
hours)!  Yeeehaaaa!  I did it!  I'm INSANE and proved it!!!  Now I'm so
tired all I want to do is get some sleep.  So I grab a room at the LaQuinta
Inn and sleep the sleep of the dead for four whole hours.

Over 80 people started this ride.  Eleven of us finished under 24 hours.
Over fifty finished within the 36 hour time frame.  A dozen or so DNF (did not finish).

Around noon I get up and take a shower and pack the bike to go.  Today will
be a short day for miles.  The plan is to do about 675 miles which will put
me almost to New Orleans LA.  Right at the southern end of I-55.  Adding in
this little leg puts my four day average at 1000 miles a day.  I figure I'll
send in the documentation for a ss4000.  Now, by the time I start to
get close to Baton Rouge I am really very tired.  I start thinking maybe I'd
do better to stop early and have a little over 1000 miles for Sunday.  Or,
if I stopped only long enough for a Iron Butt motel nap I could push on and
even get closer to home than New Orleans.  In the end, it started raining
pretty hard again and I decided to stop for the night.  You know you are
getting tired when you cannot make a decision as simple as this.  Time to stop.

Well, like I said for Sunday I have 1000 miles to get home.  Basically the
whole day was a painful drone.  With my Triumph I used to get a lot of looks
because I'd sit on a big foam rubber pillow.  The Triumph stock seat was
only good to about 100 miles.  I replaced it with a Corbin seat that was
better than the stock seat by about 400 miles.  Well, my LT has a nice big
comfy Russell Day long seat that beat the Corbin by 3000 miles.  Butt half
way through the fourth day my backside gave out.  The last 500 miles were
very painful.  How the heck do those guys do it for 11,000 miles?  The pain
got so bad towards the end it was difficult to go on.  I figure I need to do
three things.  Lose some tonnage, get in a lot better shape, and go see the
Russell people and have them make the seat fit me.  It was made for the
original owner of the LT and I think with just a little tweaking I will be a
lot happier.  After a little more rain and cold I finished the ride about
10:30pm Sunday May 2.  A little more than 4040 gps miles (a lot more
according to the odometer) in 3 days, 16 hours.

This was a great ride.  Thanks to all the Minnesota LDRiders who put in the
time and effort to set up the event!

As it stands, all times and such are not truly a done deal until the Iron
Butt Association puts their seal of approval on it.  That said it was still
my longest four day ride!  It really makes me appreciate what the good folks
looking forward to 2005's IBR are getting into.

Best regards,

Chuck Stults

Life is not a journey to the grave
with the intention of arriving safely
in a pretty and well preserved body,
but rather to skid in broadside,
thoroughly used up, totally worn out,
and loudly proclaiming...
"WOW!  What a Ride"!


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03/02/2008 06:20:56 AM -0600