At 7:34am Saturday, 7 October 2006, I pulled an ATM slip at WAMU South Beach to mark the end of a round-trip ride from Miami Beach FL to Raleigh NC and back, logging 1,555 miles in 22 hours 36 minutes. My route was I-95 north through Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina, then I-40 west to the Raleigh suburb of Garner, and back the same way.
Upon certification by the Iron Butt Association, this should be my third Bun Burner Gold. Of the 24,000+ members of the IBA, less than 50 had completed three or more BBG 1500’s as of 31 March 2006. I’d like to say my performance–as measured in miles traveled per hour (MTH)–as improved with each successive run, but that has not been the case: On my first BBG, I covered 1,529 miles in 22 hours 7 minutes, yielding MTH of 69.13. On my second, I covered 1,546 miles in 22 hours 28 minutes, for a lesser MTH of 68.81. And for this run, my MTH was 68.80, the lowest of the three.
Some IBA sport-touring crotch-rocketeers have covered 2,000 miles in 24 hours, and unless I change horses or add a five-gallon fuel cell, I have no chance of challenging their MTH of 83.33+. There is nothing wrong with trying to up your personal best, however, and comparative analysis of previous rides can be as beneficial to distance riders as watching game films is to football players. My first run was my best, so an MTH of 69.13 becomes my baseline:
BBG-1 vs. BBG-2: My second MTH of 68.81 was off by 0.32, which translates into a performance detriment of 6.25 minutes. In other words, if I had completed my second BBG in 22 hours 21.75 minutes instead of 22 hours 28 minutes, that would have been just enough to match my personal best of 69.13 MTH. The performance decrement was small, and I am satisfied that it was easily attributable to traffic congestion and rainstorms on the second run that I did not have to contend with on the first.
BBG-1 vs. BBG-3: My third MTH of 68.80 was off by 0.33, which translates into a performance detriment of 6.43 minutes. In other words, if I had completed my second BBG in 22 hours 29.57 minutes instead of 22 hours 36 minutes, that would have been just enough to match my personal best of 69.13 MTH.
The difference between my performance detriments on BBG-2 and BBG-3 was only 0.18 minutes, but the trend was negative and cause for further evaluation. What was the problem? Was it my ride? Nope. My Harley-Davidson FXDS has never let me down on an Iron Butt run. Was it the roads? Nope. All of my BBGs have been on mostly well-maintained interstate highways. Was it traffic congestion? Nope. I had normal traffic conditions for all of BBG-3. Was it the weather? Not really. I did ride through 30 miles of rain approaching and leaving Raleigh, but nothing that compared to the 300+ miles of blowing rain and mist I encountered on BBG-2. Then what was the problem?
Actually, there was no problem … other than a slip in discipline. In my first two BBG runs, I had avoided all unnecessary stops. But on my round trip to Raleigh, I made six stops for photo opps. I estimate that for each such stop, I lost at least one minute slowing down and pulling over, one minute retrieving/aiming/shooting/pocketing my camera, and one more getting back on the road and up to my targeted speed. That would yield 18 minutes lost altogether. Had I avoided those stops, I would’ve covered those 1,555 miles in 22 hours 18 minutes, and achieved a new personal best MTH of 69.73.
Many people consider motorcycle distance riding and endurance riding to be one and the same, but this exercise illustrates a difference: Using IBA lexicon, I consider the 1,000 mile-per-day pace of the SaddleSore 1000 to be distance riding, and the 1,500 mile-per-day pace of the Bun Burner Gold to be endurance riding. To me, the former is relatively fun and gives you some leeway for sightseeing and other stops. The latter is more like work, with little margin for errors or diversion. They can both be sources of great pleasure and pride. But like so many things in life, it’s hard to get more of one without sacrificing some of the other.
Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!