At 5:37am ET on Monday 5 November 2007, I pulled an ATM slip at the South Beach SouthTrust Bank to mark the end of what was certified as my 28th Iron Butt Ride and 15th Bun Burner Gold. On this ride, I covered 1,564 miles in 21 hours 39 minutes for an MTH (miles traveled per hour) of 72.24. Despite the advantage of having perfect weather and ideal riding conditions from start to finish, I set no new personal best in terms of distance covered or MTH. But it was a successfully qualifying and for the most part enjoyable ride nonetheless.
My route was from San Antonio TX eastward on IH-10 to IH-12 to Hammond LA, then north on IH-55 to McComb MS, east on US-98 to Hattiesburg MS, back south on IH-59 to Slidell LA, then east from there on IH-10 to Jacksonville FL, and south on IH-95 to Miami Beach FL. And aside from some a few miles of patchy fog just west of Houston, I had clear skies, calm winds and dry roads the whole way. This is a rarity in LDR (“long distance riding”), as normally a 1,500+ mile ride straight through from anywhere to anywhere carries with it a guarantee that you’ll encounter rain, sleet, hail or snow at least once somewhere along the way. Just one more Global Warming anomaly, I guess…
Anyway, on the previous morning–after rising early, checking the weather forecast one last time, then strapping my gear on my bike and my flip-top lid on my head–I rode the short 20 miles from where I was staying to the TA TravelCenter just east of San Antonio on IH-10 at exit 583. There, after a quick breakfast of coffee, milk and six scrambled egg whites, I collected my mandatory start-of-run witness signatures from two waitresses and a biker-friendly trucker, pulled an ATM slip to log the start of my run at 6:58am CT, then mounted up, fired her up and headed east. Mostly sunny skies and sparse, Sunday morning traffic made it temptingly easy to twist the throttle, so I flew through Houston and on into Louisiana, making it across the Mississippi River, through Baton Rouge LA to IH-12 and all the way to Hammond LA by 1:17pm ET. From there, I turned north on IH-55 and began my 145-mile loop up through Mississippi and back down to Slidell LA and IH-10, which extended my total riding distance sufficiently to meet the “over 1500” BBG mileage requirement.
Soon after crossing into the Magnolia State, I exited the interstate in McComb MS to continue eastward on US-98. Although not a limited access highway, US-98 has four smooth lanes running all the way from McComb MS to Hattiesburg MS, so I was able to continue taking advantage of the unusually lovely weather and light traffic for that entire 70-mile stretch of nostalgic, down-home country scenery and backwoods beauty. From Hattiesburg MS, I turned back south on IH-59, making a quick dog-leg through the polluted Pelican State to get back on IH-10 and continue my ride eastward.
The sun was setting as I rode through Mobile AL, and as the sun goes down of course so does the temperature. But my leather jacket and gloves kept me warm enough to make it another 325 miles to Live Oak FL. By the time I got there, midnight was approaching and I could definitely feel an uncomfortable chill in the air, so I took a 15-minute break to drink some coffee, stretch, and put on my H-D hard weather riding gear. Normally I try to avoid taking breaks that long on BBG runs. But in this case I had more than 8 hours left to cover less than 430 miles remaining, so I figured I could easily afford to invest the time to warm up and assure I was comfortable for the remainder of the ride. Avoiding that 15-minute break might have improved my MTH for this run from 72.24 to 73.08, but that would not have been a new personal best. (FYI, my personal best BBG-wise was BBG #9, ridden in May of 2007, on which I covered 1,708 miles in 23 hours 3 minutes for an MTH of 74.09)
Except for occasional eighteen-wheelers, I pretty well had the highway to myself from this point forward. That is one of the (few) advantages of riding straight through the “wee hours of the morning”. From Live Oak, I continued riding eastward through the cool night air under cloudless, starry skies, following IH-10 to its terminus in Jacksonville, then heading south on IH-95 through Daytona Beach and on to Miami, SoBe and Home Sweet Home.
Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!