Friday June 19, 2020 – Saturday June 20, 2020
The Iron Butt Association‘s Bun Burner Gold (BBG) ride requires 1500+ miles in under 24 hours. It’s generally considered one of the more challenging certified rides. It requires an overall average speed of 62.5MPH, there is not a lot of room for error. I’ve wanted to do see if I could pull off this ride for a while, and had started planning routes towards the end of last year. I’ve set the loose goal for myself of doing at least one certified ride a year, and had planned to try for the BBG this year. After my impromptu trip to Florida I was feeling pretty good about the prospect and with everything else being canceled, started looking at dates. The way things worked out this year I had about one significant motorcycle thing planned each month, with the exception of June, so I picked a weekend we didn’t have other plans, cleared it with the wife and started getting serious about planning.
Shortly after picking the date (June 20th) I saw an ad from Revzilla where they’d donate to a charity based on the number of miles ridden (and tracked on the Rever app) that weekend. I’d never used Rever but I figured why not? I then saw a post on Facebook that the 20th was actually the Summer Solstice. The IBA recognizes that with a special certificate and if you get the same ride on both Solstices and both Equinoxes you get a special certificate for that too. Looks like I picked a good date.
I like to have a goal to ride to, so I was originally looking for a Tour of Honor (TOH) site that would be about 750 miles away. I ended up with about 4 routes that could work. Unfortunately many of the TOH sites were closed due to the Corona virus, and coming out of New England where traffic is always a concern, I was worried about timing. I was also thinking that if I end up trying for all 4 solstice/equinox rides, doing the northern most one in the summer made sense. Consequently I settled on a northern route that followed I-80 most of the way. It also had the added benefit of passing right by Freedom Township OH, which would count for one of the harder to find bonuses in the Millage Maniacs grand tour.
Most people start these rides in the early AM so that they can get a mostly full nights rest ahead of time. That’s what I did for the first two SS1000s I did, but it results in finishing in the dark, late at night when you’re the most tired. For the Florida trip, I left in the evening due to the scheduled launch time, and felt pretty good about how that went. So about 1820 on Friday night I set off to get my start receipt and an official start time of 1842.
The trip when pretty much as planned on the way out. I planned for 250 miles between stops, but with the highway speeds I wasn’t quite making it, and ended up having to add a couple extra fuel stops. In fact over all I only averaged 30 MPG. I’m sure my right hand played a part in that but the fuel economy on this bike has been decreasing over the last few years and I’m at a loss to explain it, but it has me concerned. As I was making my way through Oiho towards the turn around point in Indiana I realized I was going to arrive before the target gas station was scheduled to open at 600. I’d planned a TOH stop on the way back if I had time as it was just off the highway. I decided to hit it on the way out to avoid arriving before the gas station opened. I also needed to make the extra fuel stop about that time so I’d kill 2 birds with one stone.
I arrived at the turn around point a little after 600 to find it completely dark and locked up. I checked the pumps to see if they might still be on (This was the case at one of the earlier fuel stops) but no such luck. A quick search on the GPS found another station a couple miles away. This one was 24hrs and open. Lesson learned, I’m only planning using 24hr stations in the future. I went through my fueling process, got a receipt, took a picture and grabbed some snacks. At this point I was running about 15 minutes ahead of schedule even with the extra stops and was feeling pretty good. I hopped on the bike, hit the starter… and nothing happened. This bike wont run with the side stand down in any gear, and the transmission has to be in neutral, or the clutch pulled in to start. I checked each of these things (and the kill switch & ignition) a couple times but I wasn’t that lucky. I pushed the bike to the side of the parking lot and started troubleshooting.
One of the disadvantages to the auxiliary tank is that in order to get to most electrical system under the seat I have to take it off. It’s not the end of the world but it’s probably 5 minutes to get it off and 10-15 to put it back on. That kind of time adds up. In an attempt to avoid taking the tank off, I started with the starter switch and side stand switch. When those both checked out I resigned myself to the inevitable and took off the tank. I then checked the fuses (there are only 3) and found that the 7.5A one for the starter relay was blown. I replaced it, hit the button and it immediately blew again. I know I could bypass the relay if I have to, but it would be a pain given that I was 750 miles from home. As an electrical engineer, I now this isn’t the smartest idea, but out of desperation I put in a larger fuse, 15A and pressed the button and the bike fired up!
I quickly put the bike back together without shutting it off. Texted the wife to let her know I’m running again and hit the road. In total I was stopped there for 45 minutes, 35 longer than planned. The Garmin 396 gives me an arrival time of 1835, 8 minutes before the 24hr mark. I know that I’m going to have to add in at least one stop for gas that it’s not accounting for and considering the likelihood of making it 750+ miles without hitting traffic or constructions I wasn’t feeling very optimistic about my chances.
As I headed down the road, the arrival time started moving up pretty quickly, and putting a direct to home route into Waze was showing an hour of margin (not accounting for fuel stops). My next scheduled stop was the Freedom Township sign 3 hours away. It only added 10 minutes to the route and I figured I’d make the call to skip it or not when I got closer. I’d also mentally decided to try fueling the bike up without shutting it off as I didn’t trust it to restart. The numbers were looking better when I got to the Freedom exit and I decided to go for it, but would do it without shutting the bike off. This required a little stretching to get the flag out of my top case, and I’m not 100% sure it will count as the bike is supposed to be in the picture, but I wasn’t willing to shut it off in the middle of nowhere for this. To add to the stress level, the camera on my phone started acting funny, most of the pictures were wavy. I’ve heard of this happening when the gyro for the image stabilization gets messed up, sometimes permanently. I was able to get a few good pictures though. I also carry a second phone, and have a backup digital camera in the top box. So while this was an inconvenience, it wasn’t going to be a major issue.
With that done, I decide to stop at the next service area for fuel. This was a little earlier than planned, but wouldn’t matter as I already new I’d have to add a stop. I figured the convince of not having to get off the toll highway would be worth it. I carefully got off the bike without putting the side stand down and got it up on the center stand. This is when I realized the huge flaw in my plan, locking gas cap. I thought I had a spare key in the top box, but no such luck (it was in the tool box at home, note to self, add spare key to packing checklist). Out of options (other than just running the aux tank, which wasn’t practical), I shut the bike off and filled up the tanks. Holding my breath, and crossing my fingers, I pressed the starter button, and as it’s done thousands of times for me, it fired right up. I headed back on my way and started kicking myself for not getting a better picture of the Freedom Township sign, oh well, hindsight’s 20-20 (Edit: I was awarded the points for the picture anyway!).
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful and the bike started every time I asked. I did my best to minimize my stopped time, and miraculously didn’t hit any traffic or construction. Except for a few small sprinkles, I didn’t hit any rain this trip either. I attribute this to installing a new waterproof wireless charger I wanted to test. I did pickup a small exhaust leak, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a gasket that I had to tighten after the Florida trip. I also lost the cover to one of my rear turn signals somewhere along the way. I pulled into the final gas station and got my official end receipt at at 1756. In total I’d done 1523.6 miles in 23 hours and 14 minutes.
Overall I was happy with the result. Pending verification, I successfully completed a BBG and I learned a few things for the next one, and was happy with the way the timing worked out. It’s nice to get home and go to sleep without messing up my sleep schedule. I think I’m going to look into wiring in a switch to bypass the side stand interlock, this isn’t the first time I’ve had problems because of it and it should be a straight forward, low risk modification. Now I just need to get the bike cleaned up and get new tires put on it before taking it to a track day next month.