Somewhere in Southeast

Over 1700 in Under 24

December 2007

At 7:58am on Saturday, 12 May 2007, I logged the end of what should be my 20th certified IBA ride and 9th Bun Burner Gold. I had covered 1,708 miles in 23 hours 3 minutes for an MTH (miles traveled per hour) of 74.09. This trumped my previous personal best from three weeks earlier of 1,614 miles in 22 hours 47 minutes and 70.84 MTH. It also exceeded what I had previously computed to be the maximum number of miles I could reasonably expect to cover in a 24-hour period without adding a fuel cell to my FXDS. Consequently, this BBG run represents a personal best that I am not likely to even attempt to outdo.

Based on the previous Friday morning’s news and weather reports, a new personal best was the last thing I was expecting from this ride. My planned route was north up I-95 through Florida, Georgia, and on up to Florence, South Carolina, where I was going to take I-20 back southwest through Columbia to a turnaround point in Augusta, Georgia. Just to the east of this route, the Weather Channel was predicting scattered thunder showers from the remnants of Tropical Storm Andrea. And just to the west, CNN was reporting that smoke from wildfires that were scorching over 200,000 acres of southern Georgia and northern Florida was already causing road closures. But it had not been easy to juggle my workload around to clear that day for riding, so I decided to ride regardless of the hazards. I donned my waterproof Gore-Tex boots and rain pants, packed the rest of my hard weather gear in my riding bag, loaded up, fired up, and headed out…

The morning showers forecasted for the Beach did not materialize, so I had clear skies and dry roads as I headed west across the I-195 causeway then north on I-95. And for the first time in memory, I made it all the way up through Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties without encountering a single accident or road construction queue. Cloud cover appeared and increased as I headed further north. But no rain fell and the traffic was light, so I continued making good time all the way to Jacksonville. The forecasters had me expecting smoke or fog at that point, but the cloud cover remained high and visibility was clear. And once again, for the first time in memory, the perpetual bottleneck at the I-10/I-95 junction near Jax downtown simply wasn’t there. I breezed on up the freeway into Georgia. And by the time I made it to South Carolina, I had covered over 500 miles without encountering a drop of rain, a puff of smoke, or a single traffic jam. It was nothing like what the TV’s talking heads predicted, but I sure wasn’t complaining!

As I approached my planned turning point west onto I-20 in Florence, I knew that I was making better time than I ever had before. It also came to me that if I just kept heading north on I-95 instead of making the turn west, I could save the two stops that would otherwise be required to document my turn from north to west, and on the return, from east to south. So that’s what I did. My run up I-95 had thus far been “perfect”, I thought–good weather, light traffic, no problems, and no big mistakes–so why not just keep on truckin’? After all, the main reason I had planned the turn was to avoid what I thought would be a lot of lane-clogging trailer traffic as the Rolex Riders and Wild Hog Wannabes towed their toys to Myrtle Beach Bike Week. But like so many problems I’d anticipated for this run, the trailer traffic simply wasn’t there!

By the time I reach the outskirts of Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina, I had stretched my fuel reserve, miles, mileage and luck about as far as I could. I was barely 20 miles from the Virginia line I’d hoped to reach, but getting there without adding another time-consuming gas stop before making my turnaround simply wasn’t in the cards. So I logged my turnaround in Enfield, and began my 854-mile race back to Miami.

All this time I’d kept my rain pants on, but still no rain came down. I thought about taking them off, but I figured that would not only cost me time but also guarantee a torrential downpour. The skies and roads stayed dry and clear all the way back southward through the Carolinas and Georgia, so I continued making what for me was “perfect” time and then some. I did at long last encounter patches of smoky fog (or foggy smoke?) and light mists from Jacksonville south to Melbourne, but not enough to be any problem.

The sun rose as I was coming into West Palm Beach. And looking down at my clock and odometer, I realized that not only was completing my ride within 24 hours virtually assured, but I might even be able to bring it in under 23! I twisted the grip and gave it my best, but I missed that mark by 4 minutes. Still, I had ridden further and faster in under 24 hours than I ever expected to–or will probably ever do again–and I was happy with that.

Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!