Part 4 of 5: BBG3000 Leg 1
Wednesday, 30 May 2007 marked the end of eight days and 6,603 miles in the saddle for me. My two-wheeled trek began when I logged the start of what should be certified as my 21st Iron Butt ride–a SaddleSore 3000 run covering 3,069 miles in 65 hours 26 minutes. It ended three hours and 130 miles after I logged the last stop of what should be certified as my 22nd Iron Butt ride–a BunBurner Gold 3000 run covering 3,055 miles in 47 hours 7 minutes. In the first three parts of this series, I told you about the three legs of my SaddleSore 3000 run from Florida to Arizona last May. In these last two parts, I’ll tell you about my BunBurner Gold 3000 run back the other way:
BBG3000 Leg 1: Eloy AZ to Lonoke AR
(1,515 miles in 20 hours 18 minutes)
To earn a Bun Burner Gold 3000 certification from the Iron Butt Association, you must complete two back-to-back Bun Burner Gold 1500 rides. In other words, you must document a ride of over 1,500 miles in under 24 hours for two consecutive 24-hour periods or “legs”. Returning from a Memorial Day 2007 visit with relatives in Arizona, the route for my first leg was as follows: Beginning in Eloy AZ, I rode east on I-10 to Las Cruces NM, then north on I-25 to Glorieta, where I took Highway 50 to Pecos NM then Highway 63 back to I-25, continuing north to Romeroville, then south on Pre-1937 Route 66 to Santa Rosa, then east on I-40 to Lonoke AR.
From an endurance standpoint, the BunBurner Gold 3000 is one of the most challenging of all the certifiable Iron Butt rides. That is why less than 80 riders hold BBG3000 certifications. I didn’t make this one any easier by riding 50 miles to get to the start of it. But I was staying in Tucson AZ and needed to meet with a friend and fellow bikers’ rights activist from Mesa AZ before I left, so we chose the Flying J Travel Plaza (FlyingJ.com) in Eloy AZ as the most convenient midpoint. And after a hearty buffet breakfast and gathering the requisite witness signatures from friendly truckers, I pulled an ATM slip to log the start of my run at 9:03am MT on Memorial Day, 28 May 2007.
I should mention that I chose to start–and ultimately end–this BBG3000 ride at a Flying J Travel Plaza for more reasons than just location. Flying Js offer what their website calls “highway hospitality” … which I’ve found means just about everything a traveler might need except a bed … and a few of them have those too! At just about any Flying J, though, you can expect to find not only 24/7 gas and grub but also ATMs, Internet terminals, Wi-Fi access, TV lounges, private showers, laundry services, and of course plenty of quick-fix essentials like superglue, duct tape and bungee cords. These new-age truck stops are also great places to find biker-friendly truckers and others more than willing to help you out with an Iron Butt Witness Form signature.
Now back to this ride… The warm Arizona sun and cloudless blue sky made for perfect riding weather. But I still had my Gore-Tex rain pants on, as I have come to believe they are in fact a good weather charm. The miles eastward on I-10 through the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico flew by quickly, and in less than four hours I made my turn north on I-25 in Las Cruces. And from there all the way to Santa Fe, a powerful Mexican tailwind pushed the velocity and cruising range of my bike to levels unachieved before or since.
North of there, at the I-25 exit to Glorieta NM in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains–the southernmost subrange of the Rocky Mountains–I lost some of that advantage when what I thought would be a quick gas stop turned into a scenic but extremely slow detour through Pecos NM. But when I finally wound my way back to I-25 near Rowe NM, I was still ahead of the game. From there, it was a short ride to Romeroville NM, where I exited to head south down a nostalgic 40-mile stretch of Pre-1937 Route 66 to connect with I-40 near Santa Rosa NM.
Thirty miles further east, I again exited I-40 onto Route 66 briefly to gas up at Newkirk NM, a one-store town at the intersection of the Mother Road and Highway 129. Standing next to the rusty gas pump there, and looking down those endless stretches of two-lane blacktop running north, east and west to the horizon, truly gave me a deep sense of isolation … of being as they say “in the middle of nowhere”. And Lord knows that is one sensation I truly love…
Two more hours of steady riding put me in the High Plains of the Texas Panhandle, where the sun was setting just as I rode past Route 66’s Midpoint Cafe in Adrian TX. Nightfall brought rainfall, and I was not to see a dry road again for more than 500 miles. My night ride across the rest of Texas and all of Oklahoma was pretty much one shower after another. The rain finally let up after I crossed into Arkansas. That was fortunate, as the dry roads made it easy for me to slip through the Little Rock AR metroplex just in time to avoid Tuesday morning’s rush-hour traffic.
I’d covered my 1,500+ miles by now, and just east of Little Rock I spied what looked to be the perfect spot to end the first leg of my BBG3000 and get ready for the second: Just off I-40 at the Highway 31 exit, Perry’s Motel & Restaurant sat right next to the Lonoke Shell. With just one stop I had an ATM, gas, witnesses, food and a place to sleep … and I went after them in that order: First I pulled an ATM slip to log the end of this leg at 6:21am CT, then a quick gas receipt to support that. Next, I collared some people filling up on their way to work for my witnesses. Then I grabbed a quick bite, got a cheap room, set my alarm for 10:00am CT, and fell fast sleep. Boots and all.
Next month …BBG3000 Leg 2: Lenoke AR to Fort Pierce FL.