Another month, another lack of any serious rides. But a recent article on LaneSplitter gave me a wacky idea – an Iron Butt SaddleSore 1000.
Such a ride – 1000 miles in 24 hours – goes completely against my usual philosophy of motorcycle trips. I like to pick fun, twisty roads to explore, take my time, make stops along the way, and generally enjoy the trip rather than be on a strict schedule. The SS1k requires the opposite approach. It’s all about putting the miles behind you and making the best progress you possibly can. The best approach for this is to stick to the superslab, which is something I usually try to avoid. Why would a ride like this interest me at all?
My main problem for the past couple of years is that I simply haven’t had the time to take the longer trips like I used to. By definition, the SS1k takes place in a single day. I can schedule it fairly easily, and change the date if I need to with no problem. I wouldn’t want to do it in the rain, for example. It’s an excuse to get me out on the bike for a long ride, and an interesting challenge to undertake. It’s not so much putting me out of my comfort zone, since I’m perfectly comfortable on superslabs, but it’s definitely something I’ve never tried before. I’ve never ridden even 500 miles in a single day, never mind 1000. So it’s worth a shot.
I certainly can’t jump from what little riding I’ve been doing straight into a SS1k. Like a marathon runner, I’ll have to work my way up to it. I’ve already had it in mind to take a day trip including the entire length of New York’s Taconic State Parkway. That would be roughly a 400 mile loop, mostly superslab, which would give me a taste of what a SS1k would be like. I also will not be doing it this year. I don’t have time to build up to it. Nights are shorter than days now, and optimally I’d tackle this sometime near the summer solstice, with the maximum available daylight for safety. (I may also add some better driving lights to the PC800 before then, especially if I attempt a SS1k since it will require some high speed night riding no matter what.) I’d have time to get used to riding again in the spring, do a Taconic loop as a warmup, and tackle a SS1k in mid to late June of next year.
There’s also the question of a route. Optimally, I’d plan a nice 1000 mile loop of superslabs to ride around. That’s pretty easy in the middle of the US, but I live in New England. Houlton, ME, on the Canadian border, is “only” 364 miles from home, and I don’t want to lose any time at border crossings. This is unfortunate, not only because Maine is a beautiful place to ride, but also because of speed limits from 70-75mph much of the way, allowing a higher legal average speed and the ability to maintain it unobstructed due to the lack of traffic. There aren’t any east-west superslabs across northern New England, so I can’t make a big loop out of it without seriously compromising my speed, negating the advantage of the higher speed limits in Maine.
The best solution may not be the most interesting route, but the most effective – straight west on I-90 for about 500 miles, turn around, and come back. West is the only direction I can go 500 miles without hitting water, the Canadian border, or the mess of traffic around New York City. Technically I-80 across Pennsylvania is another possibility, but I know from previous trips to Pennsic that it’s slow, full of traffic, has lots of construction (usually 20 miles shut down to one lane so that a single PennDOT worker can sip coffee on the side of the road), and is generally quite frustrating. But I-90 across New York is much better, despite the lower 65mph speed limit than Maine. The only real potential slowdown is in Buffalo, and Waze has gotten me around it before. There’s a Kwik Fill gas station just across the PA border that’s 519 miles from home – a good turnaround point that puts a few extra miles in the bank in case my calculations are a little bit off.
So those are my thoughts for now. I have plenty of time to plan and prepare over the winter. We’ll see if the challenge still appeals to me in the spring.