Part 1 of 2: A Wet Ride West
For me, Monday March 13 marked the end of five days and almost four thousand miles in the saddle. My trip began with a 1,610 mile Iron Butt BunBurner 1500 ride from Miami Beach FL to Round Rock TX via Atlanta, Birmingham, Jackson, Shreveport, Dallas and Bruceville. I completed this BB1500 in 29 hours 5 minutes road time, 33 hours 27 minutes total time. My trip ended with a 2,083 mile Iron Butt SaddleSore 2000 ride from San Antonio TX to Miami Beach FL via Dallas, Texarkana, Little Rock, Memphis, Nashville, Knoxville, Asheville, Charlotte, Columbia, Savannah and Jacksonville. I completed this SS2000 in 36 hours 30 minutes road and total time, as I did not stop for a motel sleep break. Next month, I’ll tell you about my Hard Ride East. But first, let me tell you about my Wet Ride West:
The ride from I-95 to the Florida Turnpike to I-75 and on into Georgia was sunny, warm and uneventful all the way to Atlanta, where I looped I-285 to hit I-20 east. This gave me plenty of time to get accustomed to my new Icon Mainframe full coverage helmet, which I ordered online from RideGear.com. Above 70 degrees, wearing a full coverage lid standing still is somewhat like holding your head in a warm oven. Once you get rolling, though, the ram-air ventilation system kicks in and it’s not so bad. And the faster you go, the more air you get. (Maybe this contributes to the crotch rocketeers’ need for speed.)
I had logged onto the National Weather Service before leaving, so I knew I’d be passing through a severe weather front somewhere west of Atlanta. Sure enough, cold winds and dark clouds were waiting for me at the Alabama state line. By the time I hit Birmingham, the black skies were streaked with lightening and cold rain was coming down in sheets. In Bessemer, I pulled into a ghetto c-store, donned my wet weather gear, and then eased up onto the interstate and back into the torrent. Strong northerly gusts were now blowing freezing rain and sleet–and frequently me and my bike–from one side of the road to the other. At times, the wind slowed me down to a 30mph crawl, but I was fully armored and determined to keep going. After all, this was the perfect opportunity to test my hard weather gear in truly adverse conditions.
I may have cursed the suffocating heat of my full coverage helmet earlier in the day, but I was sure thankful to have that insulating warmth and protective shield now! My H-D hard weather jacket and pain-in-the-ass-to-put-on “waders” did their job as well, as (for the most part) did my waterproof H-D Gore-Tex leather gloves. But like a chain, a suit of weather armor is only as strong as its weakest part, and that proved to be my (not) “water resistant” boots. As I fought the winds riding west through Tuscaloosa, the cold rain kept falling … and my boots began filling. My feet were awash with ice cold water, and I truly began to appreciate the age-old axiom that you can’t stay warm unless your feet stay warm.
East of Meridian Mississippi, I finally broke through the front into clear night skies and dry road conditions. The ride would actually have become quite enjoyable at that point, had it not been for my cold, wet feet. So when I stopped for gas in Newton, I drained my boots and put on dry socks. This helped some, but within minutes the remaining moisture in the boots once again soaked through my socks to ice my numbing feet.
I kept riding westward on I-20, across the Mississippi River at Vicksburg and on into Louisiana. But with each passing mile, I could feel more and more of my precious body heat leaking out around my toes. I stopped for gas in Minden, and began to shiver as I pumped. The water in my boots got the best of me, so I crossed the street and checked into the Exacta Inn around 2:00am. With the room heater running full blast, by 6:20am all my gear was dry and I was warm, rested and back on the road to the Lone Star State.
Sweet Mother Texas welcomed her wayward son home with clear blue sunny skies. By the time I turned south on I-35 and made it through Waco, it was too warm for lid and leathers, so I stopped to shed them both in Bruceville. From there it was an easy ride on into Round Rock and the end of my run. The next day, I made a beeline to Cavender’s Boot City and bought a pair of waterproof Georgia Mud Dogs, available online at GeorgiaBoot.com.
I’ve put over two thousand miles on those boots since then, and I can assure you that for the money they are the warmest, driest and ugliest boots you’ll find anywhere.
Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!