Karen, A.K.A.-VFR Chick Shares Her Motorcycle Journey
1000 Miles to Bowie Arizona
It was the week before March 19th and the day of our Iron Butt Ride. The Weather forecast was calling for rain in California and the earthquake and Tsunami in Japan was all over the news. I was talking to some of my friends along the Central Coast of California (our intended destination/turnaround point) towards the end of the week and they were telling me it’s already raining with no signs of stopping before the weekend. I’ve ridden in the rain plenty of times, so it was fine with me if we if made the Iron Butt ride through bad weather. However, while I was comfortable riding in the rain, most of the other riders on the Iron Butt ride were not, and I knew it wouldn’t be worth it to stress them out in those types of conditions.
During the week, we started talking about changing the route to go east into Arizona to avoid the bad weather in California. Over the last 15 years, if there’s one thing I have learned when it comes to riding motorcycles, it’s that rarely does anything go as planned. So, you must go with the flow. The point of this motorcycle ride was to do 1000 miles in less than 24 hours and whatever we had to do to accomplish that successfully, was fine with me. So, Friday came and I received the message that we were definitely heading east, towards Arizona. We would travel through Laughlin, AZ to grab few extra miles to meet the 1000 mile Iron Butt requirements. Then turn around in Bowie, AZ, and travel back over the Hoover Dam, which was a more direct route. The plan was to meet at a gas station in Henderson, NV between 5:00am and 5:30am and leave by 5:30am.
Friday night, I packed up my bike, checked tire pressure, lubed the chain and did an overall check on the VFR. So, when I first woke in the morning, I would merely have to roll out of bed, have a bite to eat, and leave. Saturday morning, I took some Aleve, in order to help prevent aches and pains along the way, and later arrived at the gas station a little before 5:30am, and met the other riders.
I was riding with a local club called the “Vegas Knights.” They are a co-ed club and they do their best to dispel the “bad” image that many people have of motorcycle clubs. They are regular people who just like to ride and are primarily sport bike riders. As a club, they all have their club names. The member leading the ride was Seraph, whom I already knew. I also already knew Slinky and was familiar with SID and Snake Eyes. I just met Pushstart that morning. There was supposed to be 9 riders, but for various reasons, people backed out and this morning we were down to 6, including me.
The President of the club, Dragnhrt, was there at the gas station to sign all of our witness forms for the beginning of the ride, even though he wasn’t riding with us. It was the first time I met him, but I was impressed that he took the time to do this for his club instead of letting someone else do it. It seemed to give the ride a sense of higher importance and purpose. We ended up running late because our leader Seraph, didn’t show until close to 6am. When he did show up, we found out he had been working with his wife, Phoenix, helping her decide whether to make the ride or not. With Seraph there, we all gassed up, got our dated/timed receipts from the gas pumps and got ready to leave.
I was already tired, but I know from experience, my circadian clock is definitely in sync with the sun. I’ve started many a ride in the dark, very tired, but as the sun comes up, I wake up and have plenty of energy. Sure enough, as the sun came up and the road ahead became brighter, I gained energy and was more alert. It was a windy day, with winds of about 25MPH. As we headed east though, the winds got a bit weaker.
When we first started out, I was a little taken back by the riding formation the group chose. Instead of the typical staggered riding, they rode side-by-side. While I had ridden with some of the members in other environments, I had never ridden with them in this group and formation before. So, when the riders in front were side by side and Snake Eyes pulled up right next to me, I wasn’t very happy, as this was not my preferred way to ride. However, since there really wasn’t an easy way to communicate, I was the outsider and I didn’t want to make waves, I just sucked it up and dealt with it. I knew they were all safe riders and weren’t going to do anything stupid. It was a little nerve-wracking at first, since the wind gusts would push us around a little bit, but we all got used to it and fell into a groove.
The ride itself was pretty uneventful. The route chosen was on major highways and mostly straight to make it as easy as possible. We kept the speed around 85/90MPH with occasional faster stretches. When we stopped for gas, we usually took about 20 to 30 minutes to relax, eat, drink use the restroom, stretch… anything we needed to do to break up the monotony of the ride and prevent/minimize fatigue. We all reminded each other to get receipts from the pumps for our IBA submissions.
There were a few places where there were some long sweeping curves and a few of us took advantage of those to speed up and get some wear on the sides of our tires. During the long stretches of riding, my mind would wander to thoughts of the week before, the week ahead, I would sing songs to myself in my helmet, look at the guys’ bikes in front of or next to me, and make sure all looked good; other times I would check my odometer to see how many miles we had traveled and how many more we had to go, just to play the numbers game in my head.
I also changed positions on the bike frequently. I would sit in my “default” position, leaned over with both hands on the handlebars; sometimes I would have my left hand on my left leg or hip… or on my calf so I could put my weight on that hand and lean my body to the left. One of my other favorite positions is to reach back with my feet and put the passenger pegs down and put my feet up on them. I then lay on the tank with my head/helmet resting on the tank bag. This allows me to take most of the pressure off my hands and wrists; sometimes I sit up normally and hang my left arm over the top of the wind screen to allow myself a bit of a stretch.
Not Even a Sore Butt!
I must admit that my Sargent seat kept me nice and comfortable and I didn’t even get a sore butt. However, I did occasionally experience a little stiffness in my back and shoulders, and the only pain I felt throughout the ride was from watching my fellow riders limp around with a sore butt… LOL!
We stopped in Wilcox, AZ for a meal about 2:00pm (3:00pm Arizona time). Since I was munching on some mixed nuts periodically and drinking water from my Camel-back while riding, I really wasn’t hungry or thirsty, but I took the opportunity to eat since everyone else was eating. I knew if I didn’t eat then, I would regret it. After eating, we had about 30 miles to our turnaround point, Bowie Arizona. This was just a little bit east of Tucson and such a small town, they didn’t even have a gas station. So, in order to prove to the Iron Butt Association we were there, we took a picture of each other in front of the Bowie Post Office.
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