At 8:31am ET on Saturday, 25 November 2006, I logged an ATM slip at SoBe WaMu marking the end of a run that upon certification should be my fourteenth Iron Butt Association Certified Ride, and my fifth IBA Bun Burner Gold. Riding from San Antonio, Texas north to Waco, east to Fairfield, south to Houston, east to Jacksonville, and then south to Miami, I covered 1,602 miles in 22 hours 40 minutes for an average MTH (miles traveled per hour) of 70.67. Although this accomplishment pales in comparison to those fabled few who have ridden 2,000 miles in a day, it was a new personal best for me in terms of both distance covered and MTH achieved in under 24 hours.
On the brisk but sunny Friday morning before, I ended my Thanksgiving stay with loved ones in San Antonio by having breakfast at the local landmark Jim’s Cafe on the corner of I-410 and Broadway. There, I gathered start-of-run witness signatures from cafe staffers and a couple seated close by that appeared to be and were biker-friendly. Then I popped a 12-hour Chlor-Trimeton tablet to alleviate some allergy symptoms I’d picked up, walked across the parking lot to a Valero c-store and pulled an ATM slip, and logged the start of my run at 8:51am CT.
Speaking of logging … a key aspect of Iron Butt rides is that receipts must be kept and a written log maintained, recording your starting point, ending point, and every stop along the way. The logging process itself is time-consuming; even more so in cold weather, because with every stop you must remove your gloves to pump your gas, get your receipt, pull out your pen and journal your log, and then put your gloves on again before you head back out. For this ride, I found a way to avoid many of those gloves-off/gloves-on delays: At an Academy Sporting Goods store in San Antonio, I bought a pair of Seirus® Hyperlite™ All Weather Gloves, which the label claimed could be used as either ultra-thin gloves or weatherproof glove liners. I questioned what they meant by “weatherproof” (they are not waterproof) … but I tried them on, and not only were they as warm as my much bulkier H-D leather gloves, but I found I could easily write while wearing them. I wore them as gloves through cool of the day, and as glove liners in the cold of the night. They proved to be a great time-saving convenience over the course of the ride.
Now back to the ride. A steady southerly breeze was at my back as I headed north out of S.A. on I-35. In what seemed like the blink of an eye, my Mexican tailwind had whisked me all the way to Waco, where I exited the interstate system heading east towards Fairfield on a 60 mile stretch of mostly two-lane US-84. I had my reservations about this, because open highways with are inherently more hazardous than limited-access freeways. In fact … 90% of all motorcycle fatalities occur on undivided roads, where cagers can most easily violate the right-of-way of motorcyclists. And being on a BBG run, I certainly didn’t want to get stuck behind Billy Bob going 45 in his farm truck for 20 miles–as had happened to me on a ride through Georgia backroads just a few months before. Fortunately, my concerns proved unfounded. Perhaps because it was the day after Thanksgiving, I pretty well had the road to myself. There was some traffic on the main drag through Mexia (birthplace and childhood home of Vickie Lynn Hogan, a.k.a. Anna Nicole Smith). But other than that, what few cars I needed to pass kindly pulled right and made way, in true Texas tradition.
From Fairfield, I headed south on I-45 to Houston, where I merged onto I-10 heading east. The sun was setting, the air was chilling and my nose started running as I passed through Baton Rouge, so I stopped to don my hard weather jacket, Gore-Tex® leather gloves and outer pants, and popped another Chlor-Trimeton tablet. From there, it was a long COLD six hundred mile night ride to Jacksonville. Not so cold that I shivered, but plenty cold enough to keep my muscles flexed and my eyes open…
At least until I turned south on I-95 and got as far as Melbourne. By then, the worst of the cold was behind me, and the temperature was actually becoming quite comfortable. But the warmer and cozier I felt, the drowsier I got, and the Red Bull I tossed back in Melbourne did not have its usual energizing effect. From Jupiter to the end of the run in Miami Beach, keeping my eyes open was a challenge like I had experienced on no ride before. Even after daylight and with damp winds hitting me full in the face, I was literally dozing in the saddle. A couple of times, I actually caught myself coming out of a dream, and just in time to avoid leaving the road! That really bothered me, making me think perhaps age is catching up with me. But after a little belated research, I was relieved to learn that may not be the case (at least not yet):
The culprit was the Chlor-Trimeton, or more specifically its active ingredient chlorpheniramine. The warning says “Use caution when driving, operating machinery, or performing other hazardous activities. Chlorpheniramine may cause dizziness or drowsiness.”
Next time, I will read the small print more carefully. This time, I’m just thankful there would be a next time!
Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!