Submitted by Wayne Cantwell 05-03-05
Itís 10:15pm, cold, misting, and Iím topping off the bike one last time for the day. It seems like just a few minutes ago that I was grumbling about the fuel pump from this morning not giving me a receipt and having to make another stop at an ATM to get a computer generated ticket with a time and date. ďItíll be about right this one wonít work either.Ē I thought to myself as I put the handle back in the cradle. A feeling of relief came over me when the pump spat the paper out with the appropriate info that I would need to prove my end time. ďThere, itís done.Ē I said out loud to myself. ďWhat Have I doneĒ, you say? Itís either the most idiotic thing a man can do, the most fun, or maybe a combination of both. I guess the best thing to do at this point is go to the beginning.
It is mid April and Iím looking over my calendar. Sunday May 1st. It is the only date I had open and since I donít work on Mondays I would have that day to recuperate. Also, if I got too tired or the weather got bad I could check into a motel and not have to worry about being missing work. So, May 1st it is. Each day I would check the weather in Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Santa Rosa, and Albuquerque to make sure there was no bad weather in the forecast. I had determined that there was no reason to take unnecessary risks to knowingly ride into bad weather. I could always reschedule for a later date.
Then there was getting things together. The V-Strom has the Koppa luggage on it so there was no excuse not to have things I might possibly need such as water, munchies, tools, first aid kit, gas container, extra clothes, etc. In my tank bag I had cell phone, wallet, flashlight, extra glasses, spare key for the bike and luggage, GPS, emergency contact info, camera, and notebook to keep my tickets and log. There is an extensive preparation list at: http://www.ironbutt.com/about/about.cfm
I would recommend anyone doing this sort of thing to check this site out. One other thing I did was call the credit card people to let them know I was going to be taking a trip that day and would be using the card repeatedly across 3 states. The reason for this is so the credit card company wonít put a flag on my account and I have to waist time going inside the gas station to make a phone call and work things out. On the bike I went over it checking tire pressure, chain condition, put a throttle lock and throttle rocker on which really paid off after about 5 hours of riding.
May 1st Ride Day.
Itís 4:00am. I step out on the front porch to see how cold it is. ďHmmm, I think Iíll put on a sweater.Ē A decision I was very glad I made later on. I now know itís easier to take clothes off than to wish for some I donít have with me. I get my gear on, kiss my wife good by, put on my helmet, climb on the Strom, say a brief prayer, and head off for the first gas stop to get a printed ticket to start my time. I top off the tank, look at the receipt slot and nothing. There flashing at me are the words ďPrinter error, see cashier.Ē Well nuts, itís 4:15 am and the place is closed. I head off to an ATM to and get a print out with the date and time. Not a good start.
4:30am and Iím on the road, well, sort of. Do you ever get that nagging feeling you forgot something? In this case, ďDid I put my ATM card back in my wallet and did I zip my tank bag?Ē So I pull off the highway, make a quick check and yep, the bag is zipped, wallet is there with card inside. OK. From now on no more of these time killers. ďFocus Wayne.Ē I tell myself and off I go again with the next planned stop in Erick Oklahoma.
From this point on nothing really eventful happens other than the next 2 fuel pump printers are on the blink and I have to go inside to get a receipt. Some of the things going through my mind while Iím riding is, ďMove around, put my feet on the back pegs, pivot my waist, make use of the throttle lock to exercise my hand, keep moving donít get near trucks, and stay aware of what is around me.Ē
1:15pm CST. Iím in Albuquerque and I pull into the Owl Cafť parking lot where Iíd eat lunch and rest a bit. I pull into the parking lot, take my helmet off, and call my wife to let her know Iíve made it as well as my father and a friend, Gary Rollins. Then I go in and eat probably one of the best cheeseburgers Iíve had in years. There were a lot of other great stuff on the menu but all I could think of was riding back with a stomach full of spicy food might not be a good idea.
Itís a little after 2:00pm CST. Iíve filled up at a Chevron across the street from the Owl Cafť and am heading back for I-40 to start the trip back to Oklahoma City. Iím still feeling pretty good, not as tired as I thought Iíd be and feeling pretty good about making it as far as I had. ďHalf way there.Ē I say to myself thinking about where I might stop and take a nap on the way back. As soon as I hit Santa Rosa the sun disappears and the temperature starts dropping. This is when I realize I made the right decision about grabbing the sweater. The wind also picks up making things a little more interesting.
5:30pm at a gas stop in Adrian Texas I call home and my wife tells me that 100 percent chance of rain is predicted in OKC by midnight and Iíd best hurry up. That pretty much killed my plan to take an extended stop at the giant cross in Groom Texas. So Iím off again, still fighting the wind and now fatigue is setting in. The fatigue may have been there before and I was just in denial, but at this point I was starting to feel it more.
7:40pm Iíve made it to Shamrock and itís misting off and on. ďIím almost there.Ē I tell myself. ďJust focus on the road and vehicles around me.Ē I had brought along some lemon drops that actually helped keep me alert. Another thing that kept me on my toes was seeing a mangled up deer on the side of the road. Hitting a deer with a semi was one thing, hitting it on the V-Strom would have been disastrous. I came across three or four more grisly scenes like this that really made me evaluate my speed and where I was in the road.
10:00 pm. Iím on the I-40 cross-town, itís sprinkling, and the end is very near. Two things are going through my mind. ďWhatís the best place to get gas.Ē And ďMan my butt hurts.Ē I pull off on Sunnylane Road and head for the Albertsonís thinking for sure their gas pumps would spit me out a ticket. The rest you read at the beginning of this story. The only thing I would add is that as I got home I said another prayer, this time of thanks for the safe trip and then kissed my wife, took a shower, ate a bite, then went to bed sleeping better than I had in years.
Why did I do it?
Did I have something to prove? Am I some kind of tough guy who loves punishment? Does doing an Iron Butt type event make me a better motorcyclist than someone else? The answer is none of the above.
I did it because I wanted to and thought it would be fun. I wasnít disappointed. I donít think the designer of the V-Strom had this kind of riding in mind but it was loads of fun and performed marvelously. Iíve got a whole new respect for that bike.
Would I do it again? Yep. But Iíll probably do it on a Goldwing.