2020 – Summer Solstice Bun Burner Gold

Friday June 19, 2020 – Saturday June 20, 2020
(1523.6 miles)

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.

My Bike at the turn around point. It’s dead, but I don’t know it yet.

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.

2020 – Space Crew Dragon Launch Attempt SS2K

I was sitting at home Memorial Day weekend lamenting the fact that the final Mason Dixon 2020 rally that was schedule to be held that weekend had been postponed to the fall (and combined with the Void rally). The weather this spring was unusually warm and I’d barely had the bike out due to the Covid-19 restrictions. While feeling sorry for myself I came a across a post on Facebook from Dan Crowley stating that the IBA had approved a special certificate for a SS1k (1000 miles in 24 hours) that included watching the upcoming SpaceX Crew Dragon Launch.

As something of a space geek, I was well aware of the significance of this launch. It would be the first crewed flight from US soil since the space shuttle retired 9 years ago. It would also be the first crewed flight on a commercial rocket. While to many, rocket launches have become routine, this really was going to be a big deal. At this point I wasn’t seriously considering it, but I did some quick google maps planning and discovered that from my house in CT to Titusville FL where the best viewing opportunities would be was just over 1200 miles. I mentioned it to my wife in passing and as usual she thought I was nuts.

Over the next day or so I kept coming back to the idea of doing this trip, it would about 2400 in 48 hours which, while pushing my limits a bit, wasn’t out of the realm of possibility. I started doing some planning for real, and put a route together that would have me leaving Tuesday afternoon (just 2 days from when I started planning), arriving in time to watch the launch, continuing back until I hit the 1500 mile marker, which would give me a BunBurner 1500 Silver (1500 miles in 30 Hours). I would then get 6-8 hours at a hotel before continuing home, completing a SaddleSore 2000 (2000 miles in 48 hours) in the process. The Covid-19 restrictions were starting to ease up and being isolated on my bike, and taking appropriate precautions I felt it wouldn’t be an undue risk to me or other with me making the trip. I talked it over with my wife, who gave me the go ahead, and made arrangements for my mother to watch the kids while I was gone and my wife was working. And just like that this silly idea was going to happen.

The bike was in good shape, I’d done the annual maintenance over the winter, the tires had plenty of life, and there weren’t and out standing issues. All I had to do was reinstall the Aux fuel tank and my newly improved hydration system. I’d replaced the Coleman plastic cooler with a stainless steel vacuum thermos. This had a slightly smaller diameter so I made a new holder for it, fixing some of the mistakes I made with the first one in the process. I bought some snacks and packed a change of clothes. I had to work Tuesday, but working from home gave the flexibility to take an afternoon nap. When the time came to depart I was feeling pretty good.


Overall the ride down was, thankfully, pretty uneventful. Traffic was almost nonexistent. Waze took me right through the center of Baltimore and Washington DC and I encountered no issues. The one mechanical problem I had was with the Aux fuel tank. This was the first time I’d used it this year, and I’d stored it full to prevent condensation/rust. The first couple of legs were short due to needing to mark the corner where I’d deviated from the shortest route to avoid going through NYC. Therefore it was the third stop, well into the night when I went to fill it for the first time and couldn’t budge the cap. It must have seized up over the winter. I didn’t have a wrench big enough to fit it, and by this time any place I could have bought one was closed. I continued the rest of the way down without being able to use it. This meant stopping every 150 miles, about twice as often as I’d planned. I ended up sticking to the schedule within about 20 minutes though. Riding through the Carolina’s I encountered the remnants of a tropical storm and spent quite a while getting soaked. I was wearing an Aerostich suit that I recently acquired used. For the most part I’m happy with it, but it’s definitely not waterproof any more. I also had a problem with my phone detecting water in the USB connector and stopping charging. I didn’t notice this until the phone shut off and it took me a while to find a combination of cables/chargers that would make it happy again.

I also had a surprise on crossing the FL boarder where they were directing all of the cars into a way station setup for Covid screening. I was afraid they were going to turn me around ending the trip in failure. My heart sank when they asked me where I was from and directed me to another area (they were letting most of the cars continue at that point). It turned out that I just had to fill out a form stating where I was going and how long I was staying. I also had to promise to self quarantine. I was careful to wear a mask when I didn’t have the helmet on and avoided being near anyone. In total it delayed me less than 10 minutes, and I got a free pencil.


I arrived at the Titusville viewing area about 2 hours before the scheduled launch. Traffic wasn’t bad at this point and while the viewing area was pretty much full, there’s always room for a motorcycle. While waiting for the launch, I made a couple of minor fixes on my setup and oiled the chain. I have an automatic oiler, but I like to do it manually when I’m able to be sure. I was also able to get the Aux tank open with a makeshift strap wrench using some webbing and a pair of pliers. That would make the trip back less stressful.

It was raining and overcast when I arrived, but as launch time approached it started to clear and was looking pretty good. We could see lightning in the distance, this was Florida after all. Unfortunately it wasn’t to be, and about 17 minutes before launch they scrubbed due to weather. I packed up my stuff, took a picture with the VAB behind the bike, and headed out. I then sat in traffic for an hour and 45 minutes… I should have planned a back road route to get out of there. I took advantage of the time to call home and check in. I know people talk about calling people on the bike all the time, but I never think of it…

Shortly after getting back on the highway I felt something hit me in the neck. At first I thought it was a rock but quickly realized I’d been stung. It hurt, it hurt a lot! I continued on until I felt another sting on my chest. I was coming up on an exit and got off as quick as I could and stripped off my gear. I was stung in the neck again in the process, but didn’t find anything. Since I was stopped anyway I decided to fuel up and as I pulled up to the pump, this guy flew from somewhere and landed on my mirror. I can’t prove it, but I’m going to blame him. He hung out there giving me the evil eye while I fueled, then flew off.

Paper Wasp!
Paper Wasp!

Other than more rain, and more phone charging problems the rest of the trip to complete the BBS (1521 miles in 27hrs 28 minutes) was uneventful. I stopped for the night in Hardeeville, SC just over the southern boarder. I was fortunate to grab a sandwich from Subway just as they were closing and crashed for 6 hours of sleep at a Days Inn.

The next morning was a little rough and I snoozed the alarm more than I intended, but still managed to be on the road by 5am. The way north was marked by more scattered rain. I would just start to dry out when it would start to rain again. My hands were pretty well pruned and the dye from my gloves took a few days to dissipate. At 12:41 I reached 2028 miles in 42 Hours 13 Minutes completing the SS2k. That was the last stop that would count for certification and while I never felt pressed for time on this trip, it was nice to be “off the clock”.

I made a slight detour to Freedom, MD to try and get a picture of a sign for the Millage Manics grand tour. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to find a sign and wasn’t in the mood to spend much time looking. While the side trip was partially wasted time it was nice to get off the highway for a bit, and it resulted in me avoiding the Baltimore tunnel which was worth while.

The big problem with going almost anywhere to or from CT is that NYC is in the way. On the way down I detoured north via I84, and while that’s less stressful it did add about an hour to the trip. On the way home, I just followed Waze and It took me right up I95 through NYC. Traffic was moving and I didn’t have any problems, but there are an awful lot of places without breakdown lanes on that route. Ridding a 23 year old bike with a known vapor locking issue, I’m always conscious of where the out is, and I get very nervous when there isn’t one. It worked out this time, but I think in the future I’ll accept the delay and avoid NYC.

I arrived home almost exactly 50 hours after I left riding 2478 miles (2586 on the odo). I ended up being about 2 hours later than I’d planned due to the traffic in Titusville and snoozing too many times. I still made it home in time to put the kids to bed, and accomplished my goals with minimal drama so I was pretty happy overall.


I submitted my rides to the IBA, and pending verification I’ll be adding a BBS and SS2K to my list. Next up I want to try for a BunBurner Gold (1500 miles in 24hrs). I need to find a better solution to charging my phone on the road. Ram and Quadlock have both released waterproof/resistant wireless chargers within the last month, and while they’re expensive, my experience on this trip make me believe they’re probably worth it. I’m just waiting for reviews to decide which is a better product.

2019 – TOH New England – SS1000 – Addendum

It took longer than expected, in part due to a clerical error, but the IBA certified my TOH Extreme SS1000. Coincidentally I received the 1st place New England TOH trophy within a week of the certificate. I had a great time doing this ride, and while it’s unlikely I’m going to try and repeat it, I’m defiantly looking forward to my next certificate ride and have already started looking at options for a Bun Burner Gold (1500 miles in 24hrs).

2019 – MD2020 – Part 1

As my second ever rally longer than 24hrs, and my first rally of the season I entered the Mason Dixon 2020. The name , in part, comes from the fact that they’ve always planned on 2020 being the last year of the rally. That made this the second to last, or penultimate. This resulted in the event selling out for the first time ever. There were also a lot of REALLY experienced rider registered, including many Iron Butt Rally (IBR) veterans and hopefuls who are preparing to run this years IBR in only a few weeks. Consequently I was more than a little apprehensive about it and was not expecting to do very well at all. In The Void rally last year I’d ridden my plan and despite having a couple of significant mechanical issues still ended up with plenty of extra time. All I was really hoping for out of this rally was to schedule a bit more aggressively and see what happens.

The bonus locations were revealed on the Sunday before the rally, and I spent most of the week trying to improve on my route ideas. The bonuses included a combo bonus that required getting 5 bonuses in a particular order, with no other bonuses in between. It would take about 12 hours of the rally to do the combo. The first of these was a daylight only bonus, but the rest were anytime. Because many of the non-combo bonuses were daylight only, the best routes I could come up with picked up as many non-combo bonus early, arrived at the first combo (N01) as close to the daylight cut off (2030) as I was willing to risk.

With the plan made as best I could with out actually having the rally book, which we wouldn’t get until about an hour before the rally started, I also made a plan to pickup a handful of Tour of Honor Bonuses on my way down to West Virginia, as well as scout the mandatory JIM bonus. This bonus is mandatory every year and it’s a visit to the grave site of one of the founders of the rally, Col James Young. Finding a particular head stone can be a challenge, it’s right next to a TOH Helicopter, and it’s well known by others as it’s required every year so I decided to stop in on the way down so I’d be familiar with the layout. The cemetery is Fort Indiantown Gap National Cemetery, it’s a beautiful facility, and seeing it decked out with 100’s of flags for Memorial day weekend was quite sobering.

The first TOH stop was an auspicious start as it was in a park that was closed when I got there. I turned around in a pull off up the road and realized I could see the helicopter through a break in the trees, I took the picture but I’m not optimistic that it’ll count. At the second stop, for the first time ever I forgot to put my flag away when I left. Thankfully I keep my flag in a spot on the bike where I can see it while riding for exactly this reason. I happened to glance down a few minutes after leaving and realized it wasn’t there. I pulled over to turn around and saw it sitting between the side case and the bike. That could have been much worse and I hope to not make that mistake again.

Thankfully after that I got into the grove and things went smoother from there. I did experience a couple instances of my GPS and backup phone not charging correctly though.

Once I got to the hotel I was able to get through registration and my first ever odometer check without any issues. I spent some time playing with USB cables to try and resolve the GPS issues.

That night there was dinner (fried chicken) and a riders meeting where some of the rules were reviewed, but we didn’t receive any additional information on the bonuses themselves. Following the riders meeting there was a Novice/Rookie meeting. I was a novice having never participated in this rally before. There were a hand full of rookies who had never participated in any rally’s before and most of the discussion focused on them. Jim Owen, the only 2 time IBR winner hung around to offer advice to us plebs. While he didn’t provide us with his secret for winning, it was interesting to hear his take on things.

Following the meetings we went our separate directions to socialize, admire all the bikes in the parking lot and make any last minute route changes. Based on some of the discussions I had with more experienced riders I was feeling pretty good about my route but I did make one change that cut my margin to N01 down to 30 minutes.

The next morning we moved our bikes to the staging area and met for another riders meeting at 0500. There we received our rally packs and frantically began trying to absorb all them. There were a couple of wild card bonuses including one for taking a picture of yourself standing in a pot hole. I found out that there was another one that I completely missed, I was focused on the locations I was planning on going to, need to be more careful in the future. After a few questions, some of them even legitimate, were were released. I made it out of the parking lot at 0545, already 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

The theme for this years rally is Cold Leftovers, all of the bonus locations are apparently from previous rallies, and all of the really flags, name tags, etc are leftovers from previous years.

First stop was the JIM bonus that I’d visited the day before. Turns out I needn’t have worried as there were about 10 other riders there at the same time making it easy to find. This is a large cemetery, but it’s small compared to Arlington or many of the other national cemetery’s. It’s humbling to think about all the men in women that have died defending our country, because of them I can spend the weekend riding my motorcycle around and many of the other things we take for granted.

From there is was off to Sugar Notch, for a WWI/WWII memorial outside a fire station then, Pittston for a memorial for those lost in a mining accident. From there I kept heading north to Jermyn for a sign that says Nebraska, not really sure the significance there.


Next up was Milanville for a historical marker. This was my closest call of the rally, on this winding back road, I slowed trying to find the sign, and I started to turn off when a utility truck comes flying up behind me, it isn’t able to stop in time, but passes me on the left. It stopped, made some rude gestures, and continued on his way. That’s fair, it was obviously my fault he was driving so fast…

I passed a few big pot holes in this area and stopped to get my wild card bonus. I thought I had an adapter to put my phone on the selfie stick, but couldn’t find it so I just adjusted the phone in the RAM X-Grip so that it could see over the dash and set the timer. By some stroke of luck, it worked on the first shot.








I then crossed into NY and headed for Corbett, NY the furthest north location of this rally for another historical marker. The second NY location was the a stone with a plaque noting the birth place of the horse Hamiltonian. The rally book claimed no one had heard of him (or something to that effect), but when I asked my wife, a horse trainer, she knew exactly who he was.

Leaving the Hamiltonian site, I ran into a detour around a local festival of some sort, it brought me out on the back side of a road block where another rally rider was trying to talk his way through. I learned later he was successful. At this point I was running almost an hour ahead of schedule and feeling pretty good about adding the extra stop the day before. Unfortunately I’d also completely lost the Garmin and my backup phone. Neither would charge reliably. Thankfully my main phone was working well, the down side is that it wasn’t really setup for offline navigation as I primarily run Waze on it and use the other two devices for offline stuff. This wasn’t a problem here, but I knew I going to be in the middle of no where PA in the middle of the night and would have been happier with a backup.

I continued on to Pen Argyle for a heart shaped head stone. It looked like there was burial going on in the back of cemetery I didn’t want to disturb so I snuck in the wrong way to get my picture. It was then on to Plainsboro, NJ for a grave stone for a cow, there has to be a story there… I then headed back into PA for a picture of the Pennsbury Manor sign. I encountered an inquisitive young man here who was very interested in how my bike did on the trails, and how smooth it is. (Given that it only has one cylinder, the answer to the last one is not very). I tried to be polite while not wasting a lot of time.

Zigzagging back into NJ, the next stop was the one I added at the last minute, it was work a good number of points but would require ridding through Philadelphia on the way out, I was a little nervous about traffic issues given the holiday weekend, but it turned out to no be a problem despite one wrong turn. I got my picture of a dinosaur and headed to the next stop in Malvern, PA for a monument to a massacre of a native american tribe. There were quite a few monuments in this park, so double checking the rally book was in order. I also noticed a sign on the way in say motorcycles were prohibited, not sure why. The next stop was the first of the N-Group combo bonuses. I was running about 30 minuets ahead of my plan which meant I was a full hour before the daylight cut off.

The leg to N02 was a long one, about 2.5 hours, most of which was highway, but there was some winding back roads at the end. As I was approaching the site I could see lightning in the distance and it was starting to sprinkle. I parked under a tree and got my picture. As I’d feared there was no cell service here and I wasn’t sure where to go. I loaded the off-line navigation app I have, and entered the coordinates, but it said I was too far away from a road to be able to calculate it. I didn’t feel like messing with it so I decided to backtrack until I got service. Before doing so I topped off my tanks at the gas station across the street. I hadn’t seen one open in a while and new N03 was even more in the middle of no where and didn’t want to take chances. I back tracked only about a mile or so before I picked up service. I pulled off and let Waze figure out where I was. While I waited a couple of other riders passed by and circled back to make sure I was ok. They offered to let me follow them if I couldn’t get it working which I appreciated, but I was now back on track. All that messing around cost me though, instead of being early I was know pretty much right on my original plan and knew I was going to lose more time getting to the  stop. The ride from N02 to N03 were on these narrow, twisty, back roads. They’re the kind of roads that would have been a lot of fun during the day. At night, with a lot of fog and some rain they were just slow going. The last 10 miles or so were on this really windy barely paved road. A lot of riders complained about it, but I kind of liked it, I guess having a dual sport bike helped.

I then headed for Altoona where I’d planned to take my mandatory 3 hour rest bonus. I wasn’t terribly efficient here, I grabbed a sandwich from the gas station, had to fix an issue with my aux tank mount (some of the hardware loosened up due to the lack of loc-tite), and the hotel clerk was in no hurry to get me registered, by the time I actually laid down I set the alarm for 1hr and 10 minutes.

2019 – TOH New England – SS1000 – Conclusion

It took the amazing scores at the Tour of Honor less than 24 hours to score my submission and award me the 1st Place trophy for New England! Unexpectedly, this put me in first place for the whole tour based on sites visited. I can pretty much guarantee this is the last time I’ll ever be in the lead. I actually managed to stay there until the following Saturday which surprised me.

It took me a few days to get the paperwork together and submitted for the SS1000, it will likely be several weeks/months before I hear back from the IBA. This is my first time submitting as a premier member so I’m not sure what to expect.

Looking back at the trip, I’m pretty happy with how it went, I generally stuck to the plan and accomplished the primary and secondary goals of getting all of the New England ToH sites, and completing the SS1000. The weather was just about perfect for the time of year, sunny skys and not a drop of rain the entire time.

The bike, despite a few issues, performed very well. The brakes is a wear issue, and the aux tank mounting is entirely my fault. I’ll inspect the caliper carefully when I do the the brakes, I kind of hope they’re sticking, because otherwise I’m at a loss to explain the low MPG. I burned a total of 42 gallons, with an average MPG of 39.

I’m going to have to redesign the aux tank mount, and I’m not sure if I’ll have time to do that before the MD2020 rally in May which is disappointing.

Part of the exhaust header fell off the bike during The Void Rally last year (long story), and this was the first real trip since replacing it. Not only is it now quieter, but the bike has had a tendency to backfire when rolling off the throttle since I got it, and that’s now gone. One step forward, 2 steps back I guess.

I spent some time with support trying to figure out what was going on with the charging on my phone, and ended up having to replace it. It looks like something died in it. It’s hard to say if that was related to the trip or just coincidence, but I’m going to take a close look at all of the related wiring.

I felt pretty good the entire ride, I didn’t feel anywhere near as tired as I had on my previous SS1000. I think adding the ToH stops helps breakup the trip, and focus me better. My heated gear performed well, I was a little chilly the first day, and added another sweatshirt for the second which helped. I did end up with a small burn on the back of my left hand, so I’ll need to be careful about how high I turn the gloves up.

The other comfort issue I has was that the cheek pads pressed on my cheeks more than I’d like, and I think I was clenching my jaw. Consequently by the end of the first day my jaw was so sore I could barely open my mouth enough to eat. I’m going to look into smaller cheek pads, or maybe just compressing the ones I have more.

One of the other apps I run on my phone logs my position, and records how much time I spend at each stop. I can press a button to set category at the time, or I can tweak it after the fact. It’s interesting to see that I spent an hour and half just getting fuel on this trip. While each stop wasn’t too long, they add up quickly. One of the debates I had with myself when I was deciding to add the auxiliary fuel tank was that although my range would be longer, each fuel stop would take longer. In part to pump more fuel, but also because I have to get off the bike to fill the aux tank, I don’t to just fill the main tank. I’m going to need to play with fueling strategies to figure out what works best.

My bonus stop times were higher than they’ve been for rallies in the past and that added a lot of time. I think there are a number of reasons for this, but it’s something I’ll need to work on.







If you’ve made it this far, thanks for following along, I hope you enjoyed reading about the trip!

2019 – TOH New England – SS1000 – Day 2

The snooze button is my nemesis. I’m powerless to resist it’s temptation. The alarm starting going off at 0430, but it was 0500 before I actually pried myself out of bed. Having already decided to scratch the BB1500, there was really nothing pushing me to get up, so I didn’t. Looking at the map last night I’d thought I’d be home by 1900, and didn’t feel any urgency. I would regret that a little bit later in the trip as the expected arrival time started to creep later.

I loaded up the bike and prepared to head out. The thermometer on the bike said 19. There was frost on the seat and windshield. Yay! I’d had some sporadic issues with the phones not charging the day before and had taken the time to clean up the wiring in the tank bag and make sure everything was plugged in tight. I pushed my bike away from the hotel as best I could to try and avoid waking everyone up as I knew I’d have to crank it for a while to get it start in these temps. Sure enough it was not happy about it, I couldn’t really blame it.

Once I got underway I was really feeling pretty good, I started thinking through the math again, trying to decide if it might still be possible to get the BB1500. It seamed it might be if I could maintain 65 mph on average, based on yesterday, that was not going to happen unless I gave up on the memorial sites and just stayed on the interstate. I again concluded the BB1500 was off the table, I maybe a bit stubborn.

As I got on I91 north, heading to the next site my primary phone went from 100% charged to completely dead in less than 15 minutes. This was not a good sign. I use a magnetic adapter cable when on the bike. I’ve had phones die in the past when the USB port wears out, given the number of plug/unplug cycles I go through on a trip like this the magnetic adapter is meant to spare my phone. It’s worked quite well in the past, but is prone to being bumped loose. That’s what I’d assumed happened here. I guessed that the rapid discharge rate was due to the cold. When I got the the first site of the day, I pulled out one of my battery packs that support rapid charging and plugged in a USB-C to USB-C cable. I use this setup regularly and it’s always worked well. This time nothing happened. I tried turning it on and it instantly turned off again. I tried another battery pack with the same results. I have two phones, but only the primary has data service. I set it up as a wifi hot spot for the backup phone. Without the primary phone, I lost all tracking data, my primary navigation source (Waze), and all my entertainment. Great.

Site 11: VT1 – Barton, VT

I took the picture with my backup phone and stuck the primary phone in my coat to let it warm up still thinking the problem was that it was too cold. I have an app on my primary phone that keeps track of the locations, resizes, and names the pictures in accordance with the rules. It also emails the pictures, in this case to myself so I’d have a backup if something happened to the phone. Using the backup phone meant I had to do all of that manually.

I also noticed while stopped here that the luggage rack my aux tank and top case are mounted to is pretty badly cracked. I know I had it overloaded but thought it would be strong enough. This is why I’m a software engineer and not a mechanical one. I’m assuming this was the result of the massive frost heaves yesterday. Despite the cracks it still felt solid, and there wasn’t much I was going to do about it out here anyway. I deiced that I would use up the fuel in the aux tank, but not re-fill it in order to minimize the weight on the luggage rack going forward.

Site 12: VT3 – Rutland, VT

On the way to Rutland, I passed through Woodstock, VT. When I lived in NY we used to visit Woodstock a couple of times a year for horses shows, it was nice to see some familiar landmarks. This site is a memorial to the Korean War Veterans. The monument is located on a busy street, but there is convenient parking in an access road behind it, next to a fire station. I turned my primary phone back on, and it would boot, and run off the battery pack, but didn’t appear to be charging. I was at least able to take the pictures I needed with it. I put it back on my bike and continued on, but it still didn’t show any signs of charging.


Site 13: VT4 – Westminster, VT

The memorial in Westminster, VT contains the names of the locals veterans that served in WWII. This was a nice little memorial in a small Vermont town. It is located in a landscaped area that forms the center of a traffic circle. I parked the bike right near the center, and was kind of surprised that the few cars that drove by all waved at me rather than giving me rude looks/gestures. I like small towns. The phone wasn’t charging, but did allow me to take the pictures I needed. On the way here I noticed the rear brake making noise. I checked it while stopped and found that the pads were shot and I was now metal on metal. I’d checked the pads before leaving and they weren’t in bad shape. I suspect I had a caliper sticking, this would explain the increased wear and the poor fuel mileage, maybe. I’ve been planning on replacing the disc next time I did pads as it’s still the original one and pretty worn, I guess that just got bumped up the list.

Site 14: VT2 – Bennington, VT

When I lived in NY, we were about 20 minutes from Bennington, it was one of the closest places to go for retail stores, food, etc. I must have passed this American Legion Post 100’s of times without ever giving it much thought. It doesn’t even have a cannon. As I pulled into the parking lot here the mount I use for my backup phone broke. This mount has a 3D Printed component, and that’s what failed. It had happened on The Void last year and I JB welded it back together and didn’t think about it again. I guess it’s time to rethink how that phone is mounted.

Bennington is one of my favorite towns, it’s got this small town feel, with a quaint New England down town area. It’s also got one of my favorite dinners, the Blue Ben. This used to be a regular stop for us, and since it was about noon, I was hungry, and I wanted to try and figure out what was going on with my phone, I decided to take the time to stop in.

Obligatory Food Picture

The food was as good as I remembered, the coffee was better.  While I waited for my food, I tried a bunch of charger/cable combinations. I carry spares of every USB cable I need because I always seem to have trouble with them. I eventually figured out that I could make it charge, albeit slowly, by using a USB-C to USB-A cable. It wasn’t ideal, but at least I was able to use my phone again. I ended up stopping for about 40 minutes, which put me further behind, but was a much needed break.



Site 15: MA3 – Lenox, MA

Leaving Bennington, the road started looking real familiar, I quickly realized I was on the route I used to use to commute to work during the brief time I worked at General Dynamics in Pittsfield. I was working there 11 years ago when I bought this bike. It was interesting to see how much, and how little, had changed. The memorial in Lenox, MA was a little tricky as it stands on an island in the middle of a fairly busy intersection. I almost dropped my bike here because of the slope of the road, but was able to catch it in time. I was feeling pretty good at this point, temperature was in the 50s, I’d eaten, my phone was charging and while running pretty far behind schedule it looked like I’d be home before 2200.

Site 16: CT2 – Waterbury, CT

Waterbury can be a challenge depending on time of day and traffic, I got lucky though and although there was some traffic, it was all moving and with a quick u-turn I was able to get a parking spot right in front of the memorial. CT2 is a really nice memorial to a Navy Chaplin who performed heroically following the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in WWII.

Just outside of Danbury my bike started to stumble, I reached down and switched it to reserve as I’ve done a thousand times before, only it didn’t fix the issue. I bucked along for a bit hoping fuel would flow and it would catch, it didn’t. I pulled over, to the left (I was in the passing lane at the time) having flashbacks to last falls problems. After playing with the valves for a few moments I could see fuel in the filter and it started right up. I realized that this was the first time I’ve hit the reserve since working on the bike, and it’s possible there was just trapped air or something. I continued on, but got off at the next exit to get fuel not wanting to take any chances. This resulted in a detour around Danbury airport, more delay.

Site 17: CT4 – Wilton, CT

CT4 is the CT American Legion Post. This maybe another example of the rallymaster playing mind games. You can see one of last years ToH memorials from the parking lot here. As I pulled in I had a brief moment of panic that I’d screwed up and put in the wrong waypoint. I checked the listing and confirmed it was correct, took my picture and was on my way.


Site 18: CT3 – West Haven, CT

It figures that the one place on this entire trip that I get stuck in traffic is RT15, a road I take to/from work every day. At least it wasn’t too bad all considered, I probably only lost about 10 minutes. This was also the only time my GPSs really disagreed, the Garmin was convinced the access road to the memorial was one way, and it was, but Garmin had the direction wrong. Took a minute or two to find the right site, a statue of a sailor looking off into the sea. This is listed as a 24hr site, but there is a sign there that says the road it technically closed after 10pm (or something like that), I’d be surprised if it’s enforced though.

Site 19: CT1 – Stonington, CT

This was the reading comprehension test. The ToH memorial is a bench dedicated to the memory of a local that was killed on September 11th, 2001. There is a much more obvious memorial with a flag poll in the parking lot. I initially pulled up to that one, but my habit of always checking the provided picture payed off and I realized my mistake, took the required picture, despite being probably the windiest site so far, and was on my way. The temperature had started to fall at this point and the electric gear was back on. In the home stretch now, off to RI where the sites are only 15 minutes from each other. I’m feeling good.

Site 20: RI1 – Hope, RI

This site is a revolutionary war era cannon in front of the Hope library. Apparently the cannons for the USS Constitution were made in this town, very cool. My usual process at each stop is to fill out a paper log sheet with the odometer and time, then fill in the same information in the app I use for planning and taking pictures. I then take a picture of the odometer with the app and take the bonus picture(s). The paper copy is probably redundant, but since I wrote the app I use, I don’t entirely trust it yet (despite the fact that it hasn’t let me down). This site happened to be the last one on the page, and I turned the sheet over expecting to see 3 more RI sites and the last MA site I needed. There were only 2 RI sites left. A check of my math, followed by a check of the map showed that I’d fucked up. The first RI site along my route is actually right next to the Stonington, CT site. So close that when I put the route together in BaseCamp I must have missed it and not noticed. There was a lot of cursing.

The good news is I didn’t make that mistake in Maine. I was currently about 45 minutes from the site I skipped. Looking at the map I decided it would be shorter to continue to the end of my plan, then backtrack to the one I skipped before heading home. This ended up only adding an hour to my route.

Site 21: RI2 – Smithfield, RI

I was pretty pissed at myself at this point, the GPS was showing me getting home about 2200, time to take a shower, have a beer and relax a bit. With the need to backtrack I was going to be later and would probably just pass out since I had to work the next day. The good news is the next 3 sites came pretty rapid fire being only about 15 minutes apart. This site is a really nice monument to the armed services veterans.


Site 22: RI4 – Woonsocket, RI

RI4 is the American Legion Post for RI, it’s not in a particularly nice part of town, and I got to park in front of the 18 wheeler delivering beer while getting my picture. I might have been getting cranky.

Site 23: MA2 – Franklin, MA

The end is in sight now, this was supposed to be the last site for me before I screwed up. I still felt a sense of accomplishment getting here. Parking was a bit tricky as the memorials are on the end of a park where there is no parking. I ended up making a lap of the park in order to find a spot to park where I could get a picture of the bike and still see the memorial in the back ground. This was another where you needed to be paying attention as there are several memorials in the park that look similar. The one I was looking for is an Operation Iraqi Freedom Memorial.

Site 24: RI3 – Westerly, RI

The route back down to Westerly was, thankfully, a straight shot down I95 and took about an hour. The GPS was now showing me getting home about 2300, a lot later than the 1900 I’d been thinking looking at the map in the hotel last night. When I made the plan, I didn’t account for stopped time which I think explains the difference. Parking is tight at this memorial, but because it was pretty late, I just parked in the driveway of the business across the street which worked out well. This was one of my favorite memorials of the trip, and not just because it was the last one. It’s a really nicely done monument to the veterans of Westerly that overlooks a park.

I had been sending all the pictures along the way to my server at home. I had a script setup to submit the pictures to the Tour of Honor, but I took a few minutes to log into my server, make sure everything was in order and tweak the wording of the email to remove the BB1500. Then with the press of a button all of my pictures were sent off to be scored, all that’s left is to get home, and hope I didn’t screw up any of the pictures.

The ride home was uneventful, and was really the only leg of the trip were I felt truly tired, if I hadn’t been almost home, I would have stopped and taken a break. I think in large part it was mental, I’d finished the primary objective and was starting to relax, which can be dangerous on a motorcycle.

I made it home at about 2315, all told I’d done 1767 miles per the GPS and 1847 by the odometer. It took 45.75 hours all told.

2019 – TOH New England – SS1000 – Day 1

I set the alarm for midnight, but my fire department pager conveniently woke me up at 1150, so by midnight I was dressed and seated at the computer with a cup of coffee. At 0001 the sites were released and I got to work. The first thing I did after importing the gpx file was to copy the New England sites to a separate list in BaseCamp and change their icons to something that would stand out better. I then went down the list of sites and skimmed the descriptions looking for availability and anything else that might effect routing.

The good news: Everything is 24hr accessible

The bad news: Boston MA and Presque Isle ME.

Boston shouldn’t be too bad if I can get to it in the middle of the night, Presque Isle is out there, that’s going to be a haul.

The RI and eastern CT sites are all lined up in a nice row and initially I planned to start there and work my way around counter clockwise, however looking at the timing I was worried about cutting it too close to rush hour in Boston, and more importantly, I really wanted to be out of ME as early as possible. My pre-plan had been to save the southern states till last anyway, so I the plan was made to head to Boston first. In an effort to save time upfront, I did not add layover time at each stop (I wish BaseCamp made that easier). I’ve heard of people doing this, and making up the time enroute rather than planning for it and wanted to see how it work out. (Spoiler: not great)

It took me longer than I’d like to get all the gps/phones loaded up. I also uploaded the route plan as a track in Spotwalla so those following along would have an idea where I’m headed. By the time I got the bike loaded up and started (it doesn’t like the cold). My official start time was exactly 0130. I apologize in advance, I didn’t take many pictures other than what I needed to claim the sites.

Sites 1: MA4 – Spencer, MA

In recognition of the American Legions 100th Birthday this year, the Tour of Honor has selected a legion post in each state to be one of the memorial sites. This one in Spencer, MA features a cannon pointing to Europe. While I appreciate the work the american Legion does, I have to admit visiting the legion posts wasn’t as interesting or inspiring to me as some of the other memorial sites. I realized on the way here that I forgot to close the arm-pit vents on my coat which made this leg a bit chillier that I’d have liked. At least that was an easy fix.


Site 2: MA1 – Boston, MA

Speaking of interesting and inspiring, the Fallen Firefighter memorial in Boston is very impressive. Unfortunately, although this is a 24hr accessible site, the park itself closes at night so I couldn’t get any closer than the fence. I want to go back to this one at some point when the park is open to get a closer look. I had a brief conversation with the security guard there and explained what I was doing. He suggested I come back when they open at 7. I didn’t tell him that I was planning on being in Maine by then, he clearly already thought I might be crazy. While I couldn’t get as close as I’d like, I also had no traffic issues, or trouble parking so that part of the plan worked out well. I’ve had the motorcycle in Boston on several occasions over the years and it’s always an experience…

Site 3: NH2 – Exeter, NH

This is a nice simple memorial to the armed forces in Exeter, NH. I was starting to get into the rhythm here, but discovered a limitation in my gear on this leg. I have heated socks, gloves, and a jacket liner. I purchased these at the end of last year, but this is the first trip where I’m really using them. The controller I have is bluetooth. This is pretty convenient in that I don’t have to mount it on the bike somewhere, it just lives in the pocket of the liner and I plug one wire into the bike and the whole setup gets powered. There is an app that I then run on one of my phones (I run two on the bike to have access to various apps) to control the two temperature channels. The problem with this is that when I unplug it to go take a picture, I have to remember to go back into the app and turn in back on before I have heat again. While not the end of the world, it is kind of a pain when I’m stopping frequently and adds a few more seconds at each stop. I wonder if I can add a battery to keep it alive…

Site 4: NH1 – Concord, NH

This is another Fallen Firefighters Memorial, It’s located down a fairly long series of driveways, pretty far off the beaten path. It’s also not in great repair. I don’t know if it’s vandalism, or just not maintained, but there are supposed to be 4 fire hydrants, one on each section of the memorial and only 1 is left, and it was looking a bit sad. I grew up in southern NH and used to go to Concord regularly for various reasons. In fact I’m pretty sure I took an EMT test in the building right next to this memorial at one point. This proved to be the start of a trip down memory lane that this trip turned into. I decided to get fuel at this point. I’d depleted the aux tank and needed to use the restroom. The aux tank was working well, and I put almost the full 4 gallons into it, which meant it was draining correctly. Unfortunately I only got about 150 miles out of it, which puts my MPG at about 37, considerably lower than expected. Historically I’ve gotten 48-50 MPG on this bike.

Site 5: NH4 – North Conway, NH

NH4 is a nice little memorial to the WWI veterans from North Conway. I was starting to see more snow on ground as I get further north. I also realized another issue with my winter gear. Typically on longer motorcycle trips I snack as I go. I have a “cup” attached to my tank bag so I can put dried fruit, jerky, or whatever in it and eat it as I ride. With the heavier weight winter gloves on I don’t have the dexterity to do this. I tried to sneak a few bites at each stop but I was worried about taking too much time, it was also pretty cold and I was not inclined to stand around if I didn’t have to. I was not drinking as much as I usually would either. I was hoping this didn’t turn into an issue. I’d also started to notice that I’m spending more time stopped than I usually would. I don’t know if this is because of the cold, the gear or if I’m just out of practice.

Site 6: ME1 – Augusta, ME

The first site in Maine is The Maine Law Enforcement Officers Memorial recognizing the 85 Maine officers who have died in the line of duty. I had some trouble getting the flag to lie flat on this, the wind was starting to pick up making it difficult. The wind proved to be a challenge throughout the day. This site is located next to the state offices in Augusta, and I got a few strange looks riding up to this one.

Site 7: ME2 – Bangor, ME

The first endurance rally I ever did was the 2107 Team Lyle New England, an 8 hour event entirely in Maine. One of the bonuses for that event was located right next to the Maine Vietnam memorial I was looking for here. The memorial is located in front of the Cole Transportation museum. Unfortunately the museum was closed for the season and they had a rope across the driveway so I couldn’t get the bike very close. (the ToH rules require a separate picture with the bike if I can’t get it in the picture with the memorial). If you look closely at the picture you can see the front of Huey on a pedestal. If I were smart, I could have turned a bit to my left, taken a picture of the Huey and claimed it for credit in the ToH Huey alternate ride. I’m not smart. Chalk it up to being too focused on the mission, or too cold, but to be honest I didn’t even realize the Huey was there until I started writing this up.

Site 8: ME4 – Presque Isle, ME

The memorial in Presque Isle, ME is the site of the first successful trans-Atlantic balloon launch. This is an interesting bit of history, but outside the normal Tour of Honor memorials. Personally, I think the person who chooses these has a sick sense of humor, and just wanted to make us ride to the middle of no where Maine. This after all, would be keeping with the fine tradition of Rallymasters everywhere. This was over 3 hours from the previous site and one of the longer legs of the trip. Most of it was on I95, which in that part of ME has a speed limit of 75. My poor little thumper was just about red lined trying to make those speeds. I made pretty good time, but the crosswinds were brutal, trying their best to push me off the road. I experienced some issues with my Garmin GPS on this leg, it kept shutting off. At first I thought the USB power connector had just vibrated out, I pushed it back in and all seamed well for a while. When it happened again, I pulled over to check the cigarette outlet adapter in the tank bag. Again it seamed to fix it and I continued on my way only to have it shut off again. I pulled over and found the USB connector unplugged again. I realized at this point that the GPS had shifted in the RAM X-Grip and the connector was hitting the center of the mount which was causing the cable to come unplugged. An easy fix once I found it, but a pain in the butt until I did. This happened again later in the trip too, I’ll need to see if I can find a way to prevent this (velcro?). Once I got off I95 onto RT 1 the winds were a little better, but there were several spot where snow had been blown across the road. These were easy enough to get around but made me a little nervous. Up until this point the weather had been sunny with only scattered clouds. Up here it was overcast and a I saw a few flurries. As desolate as this part of the state is I decide that when it comes time to settle Mars, we should just get a bunch of people from Maine to go, they’ll feel right at home.

I actually saw another motorcycle going the other direction on RT1, I thought initially it might be another ToH rider, and it may have been, but they didn’t look like they were setup for long distances. Hard to tell when passing quickly though. A couple of days after getting home I saw a post on Facebook about a motorcycle accident in the Presque Isle area and the picture looked like this same bike. I suspect they’re a local, I hope they’re ok.

The site description warns “Caution: gravel turnout”, what it didn’t mention was that the memorial is ~100ft from the road and there’s 2-3′ of snow on the ground. I debated whether the picture from the road would be adequate, and I suspect it would have been, but after getting all the way out there I wasn’t taking any chances. It was the fun kind of snow too, where it’s just solid enough on top where you start standing on it only to have it collapse underneath you, for every step. It took a while to get out there, but I only really fell once. I got my pictures, then it was time to get fuel and another 3+ hr leg to the next stop.

Site 9: ME3 – Greenville, ME

This was the American Legion post for Maine, a fairly plain looking building with the silhouette of a soldier kneeling out front. This site is also right next to one for the Team Lyle New England bonus locations and brought back a lot of memories from that trip. At this point I had gone 834 miles in 16.5hrs, and I was starting to feel the effects of the cold, and probably not eating enough. Despite that I wasn’t really tired at all, but I was starting to look forward to getting off the bike for a while. This next leg was to be the longest of the trip at about 4.5hrs, and I would be over the 1000 mile mark before I got to the next stop. I made a deal with myself that once I got to the next site, I was going to find a restaurant to warm up, get some hot food and coffee.


Site 10: NH3 – Groveton, NH

Wow, they sure grow frost heaves big in Maine! There were a couple times on this leg I’m pretty sure I was airborne, and I wasn’t going that fast. This leg was mostly winding back roads and it was dark again so I was being cautious about wild life and not pushing too hard.

NH3 is another American Legion post guarded by a cannon. It was also my closest wild life encounter on the trip. As I was leaving the site I was still in a small downtown type commercial area with street lights and low speeds so I wasn’t on super high alert. I looked down at the GPS to figure out where I was going, when I looked up there were 3 deer standing in the middle of the road. They were easily avoided, but it was a reminder not to let my guard down at all.

Although the plan was to stop after this site, I ended up stopping a little earlier in Gorham. The GPS said 997 miles so I knew I’d make the SS1000 without a problem, I was cold, hungry and there was a McDonald’s in front of me, so I stopped. I ended up stopping longer than I’d intended, about 40 minutes, but man was that coffee good! I also took the time while I was warming up to look at hotel options. The next site, in Barton, VT, would put me at 1083 miles, giving me a healthy margin and I should reach it about midnight. I decided that would be enough for one day and booked a room at a nearby hotel that was only 15 miles from the last site. I should have taken the time to look closer at the map in order to understand the relationship between the Barton site and the hotel.

As I was getting close I realized I was going to pass the hotel before the memorial site, I didn’t want to have to back track out of my way so I decided to just stop for the night. The next morning I realized I had to back track anyway so I probably should have stuck with the plan and picked up the Barton site before the hotel, but in the grand scheme of things it didn’t make a big difference.

I found a gas station just down the road and got my end receipt. The official end time for the SS1000 was 1201, the GPS said 1068 miles, and the odometer showed 1113. It took me 22.5 hrs. The GPS says 19hrs of that was moving time. I was pretty happy with that given the routing required by the ToH sites and the temperatures, but it was taking longer than I’d initially planned.

I checked into the hotel and opened up the laptop to take a look at the plan for the next day. According to BaseCamp, if I only stopped for 2hrs, and was able to make it’s timing, which I hadn’t up to then, I could still make the BB1500. I decided that I wasn’t up for that and opted to get about 4 hours of sleep and not try for the BB1500. It had always been a stretch goal anyway. I set the alarm for 0430 and instantly fell asleep.

2019 – TOH New England – SS1000 – Pre Trip Planning

Over the past couple of years, as I’ve started getting involved with the long distance riding world, I’ve read just about every ride report/blog I can find. This is the first trip I’ve done that I felt might be interesting to others, so I’ve attempted to write a ride report. This is my first time, go easy on me….

I started thinking about doing this ride towards the end of last summer for a few reasons:

  • Two years ago I completed an IBA SaddleSore 1000 (1000 miles in 24hrs on a motorcycle) earning membership in the Iron Butt Association. I’d hoped to do anther certified ride last year, but life got in the way and I never made it happen.
  • Last year I started participating in Tour Of Honor, I did enough to be considered a finisher and had a great time doing it, but my personal goal was all of the New England Sites, and once again life got in the way.
  • Last fall I participated in The Void Rally, a long distance endurance rally. This was my first rally of this type longer than 8 hrs. I had a blast doing it, but I had some bike issues, one of which was a vapor lock issue that occurred when the the fuel tank got below half. I rode over 1800 miles that weekend and stopped for gas 20 times. Determined not have to do that again, this winter I build an auxiliary fuel tank for the bike. I also replaced the fuel filter which, after testing and research I believe was the root cause of the problem. Before the next rally (MD2020 in May), I need to confirm the fix was successful and the tank works.

So, I want to do an IBA Certified ride, I want to complete all of the New England Sites, and I want to stress test my fuel system modifications. A plan starts to form…

The Tour of Honor (ToH) and Iron Butt Association (IBA) have special certificates if you complete ToH sites during a SS1000 or BB1500 (1500 miles in 36 hrs). Looking at last years sites, to get all of the New England region sites would be about 1600 miles and take about 32hrs (not including stopped time). Getting the ToH memorials requires more time on secondary roads that one would typically choose for a certified ride making this is pretty aggressive for the BB1500 and all sites (you really only need 8 for the certificate).

The ToH also awards trophies to the first 3 riders to complete a state/region. While a trophy isn’t going to change my life, it is an additional motivation to try for all the site. The ToH sites for the year are released on April 1st at 0001. So, here’s the plan:

  • Wake up at midnight on April 1st, spend about an hour planning a route and be on the road by 0100
  • Complete the SS1000 getting as many ToH sites as I can, with 8 being the minimum.
  • Find a hotel, get some sleep and re-evaluate based on how things are going. There are 3 main options at this point
    – Continue to get the rest of the sites and complete the BB1500.
    – Get some or all of the rest of the site but not worry about the BB1500 time constraint
    – Declare victory/defeat and head directly home.

Thinking about routing leading up to April 1st here are some of my thoughts:

  • It’s still pretty cold in New England in April, I have heated gear, but I don’t want to push my luck. I also don’t want to be in northern VT/NH/ME at night if I can avoid it due to wild life. Therefore a primary goal for routing is going to be to get through those sections on the first day before dark.
  • If I’m unable to get all the sites during this ride (which is a very real possibility), it will be easier for me to get the southern ones at a later time as they’re closer to home.
  • Therefore my preliminary strategy is to shoot up through Massachusetts into Vermont then across New Hampshire into Maine, returning to Massachusetts, or at least the interstate before dark.

All of that of course depends on the site locations and availabilities (some maybe daylight only or time restricted), so the plan will likely get thrown out the window on April 1st at 00:01:01. At least it should be good practice for routing on the clock…