Mississippi/Louisiana Border

Over 1500 in Under 21

July 2008

At 5:12am ET on Tuesday, 3 July 2007, I pulled an ATM slip at the South Beach WAMU to mark the successful completion of what will hopefully be certified as my 24th Iron Butt ride and 11th Bun Burner Gold. On this BBG, I covered 1,536 miles in 20 hours 42 minutes, giving me an MTH (miles traveled per hour) of 74.20. My route was from San Antonio TX east on I-10/I-12/I-10 to Mobile AL, then north on I-65 to Montgomery AL, south on US231 through Dothan AL to Florida, east on I-10 to Jacksonville, and then south on I-95 to Miami Beach.

After collecting start-of-run witness signatures from the biker-friendly breakfast patrons seated around the counter at the San Antonio TA TravelCenter’s Country Pride Restaurant (TATravelCenters.com), I logged an ATM slip there to mark the start of my ride at 7:30am CT on Monday. Once again, scattered thunderstorms dominated the weather forecast over most of my route, and once again (surprisingly) The Weather Channel’s predictions were on target. Riding eastbound on I-10, I felt the first raindrops near Schulenburg TX. And by the time I reached the outskirts of Houston TX, the downpour was so intense that I had to follow truckers’ taillights to keep moving forward. The going was slow and agonizing all the way to Baytown TX, where I stopped for gas and realized that, just like on my ride west from Miami Beach to San Antonio a few days earlier, my Harley-Davidson Gore-Tex FXRG-2 waterproof riding boots had filled with water.

Note that the key word here is filled with water: I don’t think my FXRG-2 boots leaked. Instead, I suspect that the rain penetrated my Bass-Pro Gore-Tex rain pants, soaked through to my jeans, and then found its way into my boots by seeping down through my socks. I say that because my jeans were soaked from the knees down, and how could that happen if my rain pants were “waterproof”?

Easily. One would think that if something is labeled and sold as “waterproof”, then it must be absolutely impervious to water. But nothing could be further from the truth. Products like SealSkinz gloves and socks, for example, are labeled and sold as “waterproof” because a test laboratory found no leakage at 4.5 psi after 60 seconds, which meets the requirements of the International Standards Organization’s ISO 811. In other words they are called “waterproof” because they were proven to be waterproof for only 60 seconds … and at a pressure of only 4.5 psi. Atmospheric pressure at sea level, for comparison, is 14.7 psi. So in real world conditions–like riding a motorcycle at high speeds through hundreds of miles of rain–being waterproof for 60 seconds at 4.5 psi just doesn’t mean much.

There are many solutions to this problem, of course. One is my old pair of Harley-Davidson “waders”, which do seem to be absolutely waterproof, but are also hot as hell and a bitch to get on and off. Another is the $747.00 Roadcrafter one-piece motorcycle riding suit available at Aerostitch.com. The cost is four times what I paid for my H-D waders and ten times what I paid for my Bass-Pro Gore-Tex rain pants … but the value of never having to worry about wet legs or waterlogged feet again might make it a worthwhile investment … assuming, of course, that you have eight hundred bucks to put into a riding suit!

Now back to the ride… East of Baytown the rain subsided, and for the next several hundred miles I had clear skies, dry roads, and plenty of opportunities to twist the throttle and make up lost time. Even Baton Rouge LA, where I almost always encounter traffic jams and congestion, had open lanes all the way from the Mississippi River Bridge to the start of I-12. Warm, sunny skies prevailed from there across the rest of Louisiana on I-12 and back to I-10, through Mississippi, and on into Alabama, so everything dried out except my feet.

In Mobile AL, I exited I-10 heading northeast to Montgomery, where I turned back south on US231, riding through Troy and Dothan, and then hit I-10 again south of Cottondale FL. The reason for this seemingly out-of-the-way detour is that the ride from San Antonio to Miami Beach can be made in less than 1,400 miles, and the loop up through Montgomery and back added enough distance to meet the 1,500 mile minimum required for a Bun Burner Gold.

I stopped for gas in Tallahassee around 10:30pm ET. From there, for the remaining 521 miles of my ride east on I-10 to Jacksonville and then south on I-95 to Miami, the late night traffic was light and I had little to impede my speed other than intermittent showers. But the winds were mild and the rains were warm, so I was able to complete the ride in relative comfort.

Except, of course, for my waterlogged feet…

Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!