Miami Beach FL

One Last Ride Before She Died

December 2009

At 4:51am CT on Monday, 4 August 2008, I pulled a fast gas receipt at the Timewise/Valero Junction Country Store to mark the end of my 37th Iron Butt ride and 18th Bun Burner Gold 1500. On this ride I covered 1,539 miles in 21 hours 0 minutes for an MTH (miles traveled per hour) of 73.28. My route was from Miami Beach FL north on IH-95 to Jacksonville FL, then west on IH-10/IH-12/IH-10 across Florida, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana to the Lone Star State, on through the Alamo City, and then a hundred miles more to the western edge of the Texas Hill Country at Junction.

I have ridden through Junction many times. And I suspect that due to its location, many other Iron Butt riders could say the same. If you’re making the IBA 50CC run–i.e. coast-to-coast in 50 hours or less–from Jacksonville Beach FL to San Diego CA on IH-10/IH-12/IH-10/IH-8, you might want to consider Junction for your midpoint rest stop: It’s centrally located 1,196 miles west of Jacksonville Beach and 1,162 miles east of San Diego. If you choose to do so, be sure to check in for your 40 winks at the Lazy-T Motel (2043 N. Main, 325-446-2565). It’s just a few hundred yards south of IH-10 exit 456. You’ll get a clean room at a low rate, and Bill won’t mind if you wake him up in the wee hours of the morning. And tell him Bruce Arnold sent you!

Now back to the ride…

This was supposed to be the first of two back-to-back 1,500-mile legs for my elusive third Bun Burner Gold 3000. But as those of you who read my September 2008 installment may recall, that was not to be the case: About two hundred miles into the second leg, the odometer on my ’99 H-D FXDS rolled over 150,000 miles. And mere minutes later a short hesitation … then a groan … then grinding … and finally the awful sound of metal crunching metal marked the end of the road for my long-faithful Twin Cam 88.

Although distressed by her demise, I can’t say I was disappointed. After all, I’ve been told that stock Harley-Davidson engines are only engineered to last 100,000 miles without a major servicing. So the extra 50,000 miles I got out of mine was a substantial bonus, especially considering that for most of those miles the old girl was getting–quite literally–rode hard and put away wet!

I can’t say I didn’t get any warning that her end was near, either. My fuel consumption for this last hard ride was the worst in memory. It was as if I was riding into a strong headwind the whole way, forcing me to repeatedly drain my reserve just to average 100 miles between gas stops. Even more foreboding was the fact that I was going through nearly a quart of oil every 500 miles. That alone should have given me pause. But she wasn’t smoking that I could see, and so it didn’t. Yeah, I knew I was riding on borrowed time. But hey, I’d been doing so for quite a while. Surely she’d hold together for one more race against the wind, right? Oh well … just chalk it up as one more case proving “Hope springs eternal…”

Anyway, aside from the gas-guzzling, oil-burning, and knowing deep down inside that my engine might go at any time, the ride from Miami Beach to Junction was a good one. The skies were clear, the air was warm, the winds were calm and the Sunday traffic was light. The summer sun did fry the exposed tops of my hands during the day (I forgot to use sunblock), but later the cooling night air flowing over them was soothing enough. In fact, about the only real pain I experienced on this ride was the impact of what historians may someday call the Great Depression of 2008: Premium gas near five bucks a gallon … the stations or c-stores at one in five fuel stops out-of-gas or out-of-business, … and many of the rest saving a few pennies by no longer printing receipts “at the pump”, which forced me to go inside to get the required ride documentation, and cost me several precious minutes on the 24-hour BBG run clock.

All in all though, these inconveniences amounted to nothing compared to the obstacles I’ve had to overcome on other long distance rides. I encountered no wicked crosswinds … no rain, sleet, hail or snow … no accidents or traffic jams, not even any heavy traffic. In fact, of my 20 BBG 1500s submitted so far, this one was far and way the easiest. Well, least challenging, anyway.

Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!

Bruce Arnold aka IronBoltBruce
Follow me on Twitter @ironboltbruce
Co-Moderator, Bruce-n-RC’s Biker Forum
Mile Eater Gold Member, Iron Butt Association (IBA)
Sustaining Member, Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF)
2009 Chairman’s Circle, American Motorcyclist Association (AMA)
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