Coast to Coast to Coast in under 100hrs
100 CCC San Diego to Jacksonville back to San Diego on a V-Strom, how did this come about? Last fall Yogi and I were thinking about doing a 50CC as our next Iron Butt ride. Got to thinking, heck weíve got to get home anyway, why not make it a 100CCC. Then Alan from the Motorcycle Tourers Forum suggested a group 50CC in May, which would fit with our schedules. Why not? In order to do a 100CCC another extreme ride is required as a qualification so Yogi and I cranked out a Bun Burner gold, 1500 miles in 24 hours last fall. That was on my Venture and all went well but in spite of Task master yogiís drills at gas stops our time was no where near record breaking. If we wanted to do the 100CCC fuel cells would cut out a lot of fuel stops and give us more time for rest at the turnaround in Jacksonville. Sounds like a plan!
Fast forward to March 1, 2002 and Yamaha announces they are bringing the FJR to America. As I cram my tongue back in my mouth I make a beeline to the Yamaha dealer and put down my deposit. The Venture has to go to make room. Hold off putting it up for sale until May as I fully expect to enjoy that Corbin seat and CB on the 100CCC. List it on a couple of boards with my expected mileage upon return but do not advertise in Cycle Trader or the paper as Iím not ready for it to go. A week later it is sold and the buyer really, really, really wants to fly down to Phoenix and pick it up two days before I leave for San Diego. Time for plan two. V-Strom, Concours or Blackbird? V-Strom wins, only drawback is the stock seat is too soft but I know I can comfortably ride in 4 completely different position on it so away we go.
Plan was to take a somewhat leisurely ride to San Diego and to check our range for the first fuel stop so yogi can be sure of his fuel cell range and I can verify the V-Strom can squeak to 250 miles between stops which was our plan. I had made 250 before but not 100% of the time. Did one of our favorite flatland twisties from Phoenix to Gila Bend and then on to Dateland to gas up. Friend Martin on his classic Wing joined us and Yogi and I were heavy on the LD recruiting. We will get him hooked soon! After Dateland we stopped in Yuma for my favorite pork tenderloin sandwich, got a fuel the body for the upcoming trip you know. Through the dunes west of Yuma, wind was there but not the worst I had seen. Up the mountain to San Diego and the normal wind gusts were there, a little stronger than normal but I was on an adventure and the winds were a fun challenge. The wind should die down before we pass through around 3 AM anyway right? Over the crest and on the downhill to San Diego and I am deep in the reserve on gas, decide not to chance trying to make it all the way to San Diego and pull in for gas. Had noticed Yogi had switched to his main tank earlier than I expected also. Results of the fillÖ250 mile range may not happen, 200 is more like it. We will replan over dinner tonight.
Yogi and I had separate rooms for this first night just so we could be sure to get some sleep. Plan was to start at 2 AM to coordinate with the Jacksonville group start time of 7 AM. 2 AM is pretty early but I normally am up by 4:30 or 5 so it would not be too much of a change. Check in at the Motel 6 (just a note here, I hate Motel 6, next time anywhere but Motel 6) and notice the only real option for food without riding is a Hunters Steakhouse across the street. That is cool, need to load up on Cholesterol before the 4 days of deprivation. Net result, I ate too much and did not sleep, I missed my pillow. Yogi calls 2 minutes before the alarm goes off to ensure I am awake, Taskmaster at work (I love this guy!). Martin I doubt had even gone to bed, he was there to see us off. On to the Mobil on Sunset Cliffs for witnessís (thanks guys), meet Dave Shealy and his BMW 1200LT who will be joining us and gas and our official start receipt. Then to the beach for sand and water, added some to my boots just to be safe, yeah right, I meant to do that and we were off. Dave has some awesome lights on his BMW and he and a trade leading out of San Diego and into the mountains. I expected cool but his is just a tad cooler than I expected but not bad. Hey whatís that? The dang wind is still blowing. This was fun in broad daylight but now it is a pain, a least I know it will be over soon. On to Yuma and our first revised gas stop per plan developed last night. Seat is going to be an issue I can tell. Out of Yuma and on to Eloy and our next stop. Seat is starting to make itself know just as the sun is coming up so I use the old sunglasses excuse to pull off at Yuma and put on my sunglasses while walking around the bike. Yogi, Dave and I had all discussed that we wait for no one so I signaled them to continue. I used to live in this area and have full trust I can triple digit it to catch up before the next gas stop. Yogi and I can make the perfect tortoise and the hare pair at times. Pull out of Gila Bend and whip it up to 115 in 3rd gear, gee I love this bike. Unfortunately I was reveling in the moment so much I only up shifted to 4th and totally spaced out 5th and 6th. Get to the intersection of I-8 and AZ84 and notice my fuel warning is blinking, Two stations there are iffy at best and I slow down to take a look and yep, both closed. Next gas 30 miles away and although I drop to double-digit speeds to conserve gas I still do not notice Iím in 4th DOH! Bike cuts out 1 mile from the next gas and as I down shift as I coast to the side of the road to add a splash of Rescue I notice I was only in 4th. Decide I may need to pay more attention going forward! Get to the scheduled stop just as Yogi and Dave are completing their fills. We leave together and are on the way to Lordsburg, land of no pay at the pumps. Around Wilcox I pull off at a rest area as the seat is starting to win. It is not the tailbone that is hurting; it is my inner thighs from the cut of the seat combined with too soft padding for my fat fanny. Catch up with Yogi and Dave again at the Loveís in Lordsburg and tell them I am going to have to stop every 100 miles or so, Iíll see them in Jacksonville. High tail it out of there and decide to stop in Vado New Mexico cause the smell of the dairy farms reminds me of when I was young, yeah right, that place stinks! Get through El Paso in great time and on to Van Horn. I-10 construction is not as bad as expected and I have a nice tail wind. The lack of sleep is starting to catch up with me. Pull in for gas and once again Yogi and Dave are there. I tell Yogi I need a cat nap or something, my energy level is way down. They take off and I decide to lube the chain on the bike and pack the cooler with ice, my camelpack water was about body temperature. The side activities were all I needed and I suddenly felt great, no rest needed. Off to Ft Stockton and beyond. Tailwind was great and I decided to skip Ft. Stockton and try for Ozona. By Sheffield I could tell it would be iffy to make Ozona, I had lost the wind so a quick gas stop. My rear has given up on complaining about the seat so I am good to go. After getting back on the freeway I saw something white fly past my face but did not give it much thought, I was on my way to my favorite gas station in Texas, Granddadís at the east exit in Junction. They have a bunch of stray cats hanging around there and I wanted to say Hi to the pussies. Pull in for gas, see the cats, I am happy, reach for my envelope of receipts and I am not happy. Now I know what that white thing was outside of Sheffield. All my receipts are gone. A 400-mile round trip to look is out of the question; I will look for them on the return trip. Make a note to stop in Junction on the way back so I can get up before sunrise and make it to Sheffield as the sun is coming up to look.
Now my spirits are a bit down but I have to keep my attention on the dog sized deer in this part of the state and decide if I want to do the 1604 Loop around San Antonio are stick to 10 since it is late. Decide if the signage is good for 1604 I will try it. Signage is good and the road is good and then the road narrows and this is looking iffy but the instructions stated the key landmarks and they are still coming up as stated so I am in this to I-10, I hope. Dumps onto I-10 just as stated and once again my spirits are high. Plan was to make it to Orange, Texas before grabbing some Zís at a truck stop. A motel is sounding good to me and I rationalize that if I see a Comfort Inn I will stop there as I know there is a Comfort Inn in Junction and I can make reservations for the return. A Comfort Inn appears in Sequin, a couple hundred miles short of the goal but I figure I can get up early and still be close to schedule. I call it a night. Desk clerk points to a spot for me to park so he can watch my bike. Nice. Next morning the morning clerk is pleasant lady and former biker. She really wants to talk. I end up leaving one hour later than I planned. It has also rained while I slept but is now just a drizzle. This was expected per the Weather Channel, I am O.K. with light rain, What the Weather Channel did not show me was what was headed towards Houston. Gas up and off in light rain.
Hit Houston at rush hour but much to my delight almost no one car pools, the HOV lane was wide open as I passed the parking lot called I-10 eastbound. Rain was getting heavy, about as hard as I care to ride in when I spot a sportbike ahead of me. Cool, brethren, I can respect someone who rides a crotch rocket to work in the rain. Enjoying the moment when the sky collapses and rain as heavy as I have seen and a little hail for good measure changes my point of view. I am in the heart of downtown Houston rush hour now and later find out that almost 6 inches of rain fell in honor of my visit. As I pass semis a wave of water covers me. Water in the dips is up to my foot pegs. I am soaked to the bone but donít even consider stopping, I just want out of here. Think that Yogi is a pretty smart bear as I figure he is 4 hours ahead of me and most likely missed all of this. Stop at a rest area outside of Houston and throw my shirt in the trash, it will never dry out anyway. Put on a dry shirt, make nice with the hand dryer in the menís room and I am off. Still very heavy rain but not a tropical storm. Hit Louisiana and it is still raining very hard, decision time. Hang it up or go for it. I lost the receipts anyway, my witness forms are soaked (now I know what rain covers for tank bags are used for, I thought they were just filler) my butt is hurting again. Other than the seat and my butt not getting along for long distances the bike has been pretty perfect for this trip. I decide to do it for Suzuki if not myself (I used to ride Suzukiís motocross when I was young and probably not as dumb so I do have a soft spot for Suziís), onward it is! Rain is about gone as I gas up in Grosse Tete LA but I see dark skies ahead. Rain on into Gautier Mississippi but it is getting lighter. No rain by Mobile but the tunnel is down to one lane due to an accident. Us the delay to walk my bike forward, my butt thanks me.
Did not know what to expect in the panhandle of Florida, as I have never been here before. Conservative 5-10 over the limit. Stop for gas in Ponce De Leon; ask a local if it is Central or Eastern Time, he doesnít know. Ask about speed into Jacksonville, he says you can go 70 no problem, yippee, he has no clue. Tells me Jacksonville is only about 180 more miles. This makes me happy but does not jive with my calculations; it is more like 300. I know I have it in the bag now and may make midnight, which would not be great but much better than I thought in the middle of the Houston storm. Stop for gas in Madison and it is home stretch now. Get my final gas in Jacksonville at 12:06 and the first 50CC is done. Find the hotel with no problems. Yogi has already checked in but they give me a key, hope Yogi feels safe. Into the room and burn up the hairdryer trying to dry out my boots. Yogi is pretty cheerful for midnight. Sleep like a baby.
Get up at 5 AM and get ready for a meet and great with the other forum members at the gas station. I was pretty sure I had blocked Alanís bike when I got in last night and wanted to get it moved before he got to it. Too late, he was already gone. How did he wiggle that Wing around all those obstacles, what a man! To the gas station and a cup of forbidden coffee, that was good. Meet the other forum members and they are all great. This makes yesterday worth it. Gas and more sand and water, boots refilled, make a note to bring totes next time. Yogi and I had agreed to ride to the first gas stop and then we were on our own. I thought I had seen Daveís bike when I got in but in daylight I could tell it was the wrong color, guess he met the same storm and was saner than I was. Found out later he made it to the Florida panhandle in spite of being in the same storm but had some lighting issues and made the smart call to err on the side of safety. Smart guy that Dave. Getting in range of the first gas stop I sense rain ahead, Iím getting pretty good at this and wave to Yogi that I am stopping. Donít see him again until San Diego. Get gas and put on the rain jacket just as it starts to rain lightly. This will be the tone for the day, light rain off and on into Louisiana. Actually pass a few members throughout the day and am feeling pretty good about completing the 100CCC. Gas stop again in Grosse Tete Louisiana because I had notice homemade red beans and rice with sausage there yesterday. Decide Power Bars are going to kill me so I take some time for a hot meal. That was good. Now both the bike and I have gas. Really appreciate the off road suspension on the V-Strom along the interstate in Louisiana, would it kill them to fill a pothole or two? Get past Houston in good time and those Chester Fired Chicken signs are calling me. O.K., two hot meals today. Past San Antonio with no problems but around Boene I am hitting a wall. Stop about every 50 miles to walk around the bike. Make it to Junction to the Comfort Inn which was running a special on King beds and in room hottubs. Waste an hour in the hot tub before going to bed. Hey, anyone ever do a 150 CCCC? Iím feeling pretty good.
Alarm goes off and I find the snooze button. End up leaving Junction one hour later than plan but still in good shape and well rested. Spend about half an hour looking for receipts near Sheffield. Never knew there was so much trash along the side of the road. You donít notice how much there is unless you get out an walk the side of the road. A shame! No receipts but I am now planning on printing out my American Express online statement that gives good descriptions and cross my fingers and hope for the best because I know I am physically going to make it. The rest of west Texas is normal. Fast and windy. By El Paso my butt has realized it is on that d#mn seat again. Short pits strategy for the rest of the way. Normal triple digit across New Mexico. Normally I slow down in the Wilcox-Benson area of Arizona as highway patrol is normally around here. After dodging tumbleweeds while refueling in Wilcox a nice lady in a new De Ville with temp plate flies by at 110+ and the convoy is on. A minivan that has been tailing me and stopping with me since Las Cruces is in the pack and I just know the wife is ragging on the husband to slow down as well she should. Just past Benson one of their tires lets go. A little highway ballet and I am safe. Safely through Tucson with only a small delay to talk bikes, this has been a problem most of the return trip, and traffic is flowing rather well for the Tucson to Casa Grande section, normally bumper to bumper on a Sunday when all comes to a screeching halt. I see smoke ahead and figure a brush fire has gotten out of hand and we have a bunch of Looky Louís. After sitting in this for 30 minutes I can see the fire trucks, tow trucks and highway patrol cars. An accident and the freeway is closed. Police are exiting everyone at Picacho Peak and then back on. A CB would have saved me from being in this mess. My butt appreciates the walking of the bike again and I am amused by the citizens that feel it is their duty to prevent anyone from suing the shoulder. I donít panic, as I am still good for San Diego by midnight, 6 hours ahead of deadline.
Combo gas stop, dust storm in Casa Grande and off on I-8 on which I see no traffic in my direction for 20 miles. Pull over twice to pull fresh gators off the road and gas up in Dateland. Plan to stop in El Centro for warm clothes and to prepare for the mountain pass winds into San Diego. Dark by the time I get to El Centro after a refreshing dust storm through the dunes and again everyone wants to discuss my bike, They donít understand when I say I am on a timed run. In my haste to get out of there I forget to put my gloves on. Notice as I hit the on ramp and find one still between the bags and seat but the other is gone. No turning around. Put on my motocross gloves and hope for the best temperature wise. Going up the pass the wind does not seem too bad until I see the 2,000-foot elevation marker then all hell breaks loose. My steering inputs are sloppy and I decide to slow down to about 45-50. Throw that idea away after the 5th SUV in 2 minutes passes me at what looks to be close to 100 mph. Those gusts that were hitting your from 4 directions and seemed like fun Wednesday are evil tonight. By 4,000 feet they are easing up but what is that ahead, looks like fog! Great. Not fog just nice thick cold clouds. I make a promise to not complain bout Phoenix heat this summer. After peaking the crest I am in and out of the clouds. The cold is getting to me and I need to take a leak. Pull off at an interchange that looks deserted and warm my hands on the exhaust prior to visiting nature. Back on the bike and I am on the home stretch. Light traffic in San Diego and it is moving very well. Final gas at Sunset Cliffs Mobil at 11:40. 94 hours and 1 minute after I started. Off to the beach for more sand and water and this time I donít care how wet I get. Spend 5 minutes getting all the sand off my boots so it is safe to ride and back to the lovely Motel 6 for witness signatures and some sleep. Gotta love Yogi, he bought beer and even left me a few. Tortoise beats the hare again.
Amazingly I am awake by 6 AM and off to the parking lot to see who all made it. Other members are roaming around and throughout the morning we all get to really meet and swap stories. This was actually better than I expected it to be. I am feeling like I could do another 50CC. That changes after lunch though and Yogi and I decide we will just veg in San Diego and not try to make it back to Phoenix tonight. Yogi is talking about catching a movie, I say that will put me to sleep for sure. We end up just vegetating in the room all night. Consider an alternative route the next day back to Phoenix just to miss the winds but we went for it and had a nice leisurely ride home again with lunch in Gila Bend. The end of this years big adventure.
What I learned. Any bike can be a touring bike with the right attitude. We had a great mix of bikes on this run. Adventure Tourers, Cruisers, Sport Tourers, Power Cruisers, Full Dressers and Luxo Barges. They all work. Other than the stock seat and my behind not getting along the V-Strom was great. Good wind management and the chain was not really an issue although I would go to my normal 1,000 lube interval instead of stretching it to 1,500, especially after the heavy rain. Only takes 5 minutes and it was a nice break. Other than my butt the rest of my body felt better after the 100 CCC than it did after the BBG on the Venture. Try to start endurance rides around your normal waking time and be sure to get some sleep the night before. I will spring for a better motel for the night before and eat lighter to ensure I can get some rest. The most important thing I learned is that there are a lot of great folks out there on a variety of bikes that have a common love of the ride!