A TALE OF TWO RIDES
NEVER, NEVER, NEVER, NEVER QUIT, UNLESS YOU SHOULD, AND “10 MINUTES”
Every year the Iron Butt Association (IBA) holds what is called the Pizza Party in Jacksonville, FL. Long Distance (LD) riders come from all over to meet and greet. During the event the IBA sponsors two LD rides, a SaddleSore 1000 (SS1000), and a Bun Burner Gold (BBG). The SS1000 equals riding a 1000 miles in 24 hours, and the BBG equals 1500 miles in 24 hours. However, the rides at the Jax event are not ‘normal’ SS1000 or BBG rides, because they have required stops or bonuses that you must gather.
Tale ONE: actually it begins last year. Last year I signed up for the BBG ride which had a theme called ‘Full Court Press’. It entailed riding the perimeter of Florida with a few extra bonuses along the way. My troubles started the Monday before I was leaving. I was sick, my body ached all over. I went to my doctor on Wednesday and they said you’ve just got a cold, etc. Well Wednesday and Thursday I got sicker and sicker, so Friday I went back to the doctor and I had the flu, both strains A and B. Not deterred because I had already committed to the BBG ride, I left for Jax with a group of Southern Thunder HOG Chapter members who were heading to Bike Week. After arriving in Jax I knew I wasn’t up to the BBG so I backed out, knowing I had two years to complete the ride.
Fast forward to February 2016. I was going to ride the 2015 BBG ‘Full Court Press’ with prior approval to start and end in Pensacola, FL versus Jax. A good plan to start and end closer to home. Looking at the route and talking to the previous year’s riders I determined the choke points were the University of Florida and Miami American Airlines Arena bonuses. I research the events and schedules of each and that determined my ride dates. I also added each bonus stops weather to my iPhone and was checking the weather daily. Doing my homework.
My first indication of ill-will started in Pensacola. As I was riding to my motel the day before I was to start I rode by the first bonus only to see a flashing sign saying the streets were going to be closed the next day for the Mardi Gras Parade! What that meant was I had to leave Pensacola much earlier than I planned which meant I would be in Miami traffic. I also looked on my phone apps and the weather at each bonus was either clear or ‘light rain’. I felt I was good to go and my only issue would be in Miami.
I left the next morning, the beginning portion of the ride was uneventful, U of F bonus went perfectly, but between Gainesville, Bradenton and Naples those light showers became torrential rain showers. I-75 was under construction with lane closures, and wrecks caused by rain and bad roadways. The FDOT had milled the inside of the inside lane and the outside of the outside lane leaving 4’ on each side of the center line rideable, otherwise you rode in about 1” of water in the milled areas. It rained so hard my waterproof satellite tracker stopped working! Stopping at the Naples bonus I looked at the NEXRAD weather to discover the whole southern portion of Florida to Miami, and then up the entire east coast showed Yellow and Red rain on radar. Between the wreck delays and construction delays I determined the ride was a bridge too far and quit in Naples. It hurt to fail, but it was the safest thing to do. This was the first ride I never completed, but as stated in the title it was a ride I should quit
Tale TWO: Present day: Returning to the scene of the crime so to speak, I again signed up for the Jax BBG ride, this time the theme was ‘Plane Crazy’ (see Below, yellow daylight, black night).
I was determined to do better. Before the ride I was worried about the Bike Week crowd, hoping the traffic would be OK. However, Bike Week wasn’t the worry, it was a wreck on the east side of the Tampa I-275 bridge. Riding toward the Pinellas Park bonus (east to west) I noticed that the west bound traffic was stopped, all 4 lanes and was backed up for miles and miles and miles. At the bonus there were two other riders there, and we all ask the same thing, how do we get off this peninsula? I asked a couple walking in the Park and they sent us to another bridge. This did turn out to be the fastest way, but ‘fast’ is a reletive term. At mile marker 14.5, I picked my feet up for the final time! We did 14.5 miles about 20’ feet at a time. Once I finally picked my feet up it was bumper to bumper traffic to basically Orlando. End result: Time lost 1.5 hours, my GPS said my ETA was ‘10 minutes’ before I would be disqualified. And that was without any time allowed to gather 3 more bonuses and at least 2 more fuel stops before the finish.
I knew I could make up some time, but this was stretching it to the max. This was a never, never, never, never quit time. I rode 700 miles, gathered 3 bonuses and 2 fuel stops and finished with 28 minutes to spare! During the 700-mile last leg there were numerous 60 mph construction zones, some lane closures, me getting disoriented/lost in Miami, etc. BUT the main takeaway was never, never, never, never quit, unless you should!