Georgia/South Carolina Border

One Short Ride Before She Died … Again

January 2010

I blew my engine just over half-way through an Iron Butt Association Bun Burner 3000 Gold (“BBG3000”) attempt on 4 August 2008. It then took me almost four months to raise (with the appreciated assistance of many good-hearted bikers) the six grand–roughly $3,000 for parts, $1,000 for labor, and $2,000 for towing, shipping and airfare–needed to get home, get my bike transported from West Bumfuck to San Antonio and then on to South Florida, get my Twin Cam 88 remanufactured in Milwaukee, replace my carburetor, and bring my fubarred FXDS back to life. That long and painful process finally came to an end the week after Thanksgiving. Uncle Harley gave me back my bike on Tuesday afternoon. He told me to put a thousand miles on it, and then bring it back for a 1K service. Less than 24 hours later, I had done my part:

At 10:14am ET on Wednesday 3 December 2008, I pulled an ATM slip at the SoBe Wachovia to log the end of my 38th Iron Butt Ride and 10th SaddleSore 1000, on which I covered 1,034 miles in 17 hours 29 minutes. My route was from Miami Beach straight up IH-95 through Jacksonville and Savannah to Ridgeland SC and back again. I chose that route because there are several Harley-Davidson dealerships along that stretch of interstate, and that would minimize the likelihood of a long tow if my new hardware failed to hold up.

MTH (miles traveled per hour) for this ride was a lackluster 59.14, but there are reasons for that. For one thing, the new engine break-in instructions from my wrench were to “…keep it under 50 for the first 50 miles, then take it easy for the first one thousand.” I may have been a bit aggressive in my interpretation of the “take it easy” part, but I conscientiously avoided any serious throttle-twisting. Another factor was the chilly winter weather: Luckily I encountered no rain or snow, but the comfortably cool temperatures of the day dropped quickly after sunset. And from midnight until daybreak. That’s a WCT (wind chill temperature) of about 15 degrees at 70mph.

The cold didn’t slow me down while on the road, but it did force me to take extra time–20 minutes or more–at almost every gas stop between dusk and dawn to go inside the shop and thaw the frostbite out of my aching fingers. I figure that without those extra thaw breaks, my MTH could have easily been in BBG range at 65.00 or higher.

The miles traveled per hour parameter, by the way, is an integral part of Iron Butt Math. For example, the minimum MTH for a SaddleSore 1000–riding over 1,000 miles in under 24 hours–is 41.67. The minimum MTH for a Bun Burner 1500 Gold (“BBG”)–riding over 1,500 miles in under 24 hours–is 62.50. Anyway…

The important thing is that I successfully completed the break-in without a single mechanical hitch, leaving me tickled pink and pleased as punch with the performance of my born-again motor. And to top that off, replacing my thirsty Mikuni carburetor with its more gas-thrifty H-D stock equivalent (sans Dynojet kit) was adding as much as 40 miles to my tank’s cruising range. Now all I had to do it seemed was get some sleep–and a 1K service on the bike–and we’d both be ready for some serious long distance riding!

After a good night’s rest and a slow-paced morning spent completing my IBA ride submission paperwork, ordering some new glove liners (I’ll have more to say about these in the future), and charting routes for another BBG 3000 attempt I optimistically planned for that weekend, I rode my bike to the shop for the 1K service. It was a warm and beautiful December afternoon, so I spread myself out on a bench and basked in the South Florida high-season sunshine while my wrench went about his business. After about an hour he came outside to find me, and it wasn’t to bring me a beer:

In his hand was a pan. In that pan was my drained transmission oil. And in that oil were more than enough shiny metal filings to make a prospector feel prosperous…

Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!

Bruce Arnold aka IronBoltBruce
Follow me on Twitter (ugh): @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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