More Iron Butt AAR Notes

Since I had a couple of folks over on the bike forum ask about any other lessons learned, I typed up a good bit of stuff there.  Since it was a decent chunk of writing, I figured I’d cut and paste it over here for you non-bike-forum types 😉

Fuel stop checklist:
Remove fluids – except for the splash-n-dash right after lunch, the first order of business on stopping was getting to the latrine. Lockable storage plays a part here, more to follow on that later.

Add fuel – Natural, since they’re called fuel-stops for a reason.

Make notes – While not necessary for an undocumented long ride, I found it most natural to do this right after getting the gas reciept, and therefore kept my notebook on the top all the stuff in the topcase. Write down the important bits, such as whether you stopped and grabbed extra food and spent extra time stretching and eating before fueling up. For example, I wrote “Stopped and ate before fueling” at a long eat/stretch session in the evening, because otherwise it looks like my average road speed drops by about 25mph for that stop. Would also note exceptionally long leg times due to traffic, if applicable.

Add fluids / food – I generally did this after finishing my notes. If you bring a camelbak, this would be the time to refill it and maybe grab a couple sips of a soda or other ‘richer’ juice stashed in a bag. 50/50 gatorade and water is a good camelbak filler, as you can keep up electrolytes without getting too much sugary crap with the water. Also, it’s generally a good idea to have granola bars, or fruit, or some combination thereof to get some calories between larger meals. Helps keep the fluids settled better during the on-bike time, and helps you eat lighter at ‘meals’, which means you don’t get the food-coma issues after lunch and dinner. Make sure to have something mildly salty in order to keep your body able to absorb the fluids you’re taking in, ESPECIALLY in the summer time when it’s hotter out.

That’s pretty much it for the routine at stops. Pee, Gas, Notes, Fluids/food, and then you’re off again. I’ve done quite a number of 3-400 mile days and the camelbak routine works really, really well. Also makes the latrine an even higher priority when stopping, which is a good thing because you can gauge hydration.

Other asides / notes:

Lockable storage: This is a must. I had my Givi E52 topcase and my tankbag installed for this trip. The next time I go out, I’ll skip the tankbag and reinstall the sidecases. Here’s why: When I stop, it’s usually imperative that I go in immediately and hit the latrine, and it’s a waste of time and effort to have to schlep the tankbag on and off the bike to be able to do so. Also, it makes fueling just that much more of an ordeal, because I had to disconnect my tank bag ‘safety cable’ (I use a bungee cord strapped to one of the ram-mounts), move the tankbag, fuel up, reinstall the bag, etc, etc. With sidecases I could have had the raingear, extra layers, extra gloves, etc moved down, and all of the crap in the tankbag would then go nicely in the topcase. Most stops I would only have to open the topcase, and for none of the stops would I have to worry about securing the tankbag, since everything would be locked already when I park the bike to go inside. Edited to add: When out with a group, it’s a no-brainer that Joe Dumbass is highly unlikely to mess with your bike with a bunch of other bikers standing around. This is definitely not the case when solo…

Average speed: Know what you need to make. If you’re getting slowed down by traffic, try to hustle it up at the stops, not while you’re riding. Here’s why: Spend two hours riding 70mph on the interstate, then spend 14:24 stopped, and you’ve averaged 62.5mph, which is what is required as an on-road average to complete to whole 1k in 16 hours. That leaves you a whole 8 hours of cushion to add lunch, or an extra 10 minutes at each stop, or to take a nap if you need it. There’s no reason to go flying between stops when all you have to do is run 62.5mph average. Plus, the 0mph you’re traveling while stopped with a highway safety officer can really, really wreck your average.

Power!!!: My cell phone battery died. I knew it had issues with lasting an entire 16 hour day with even moderate usage, but it never even crossed my mind that mild text usage and a couple of cell phone calls, combined with hopping towers all day long would kill the ever-loving hell out of the battery. I saw a battery symbol I had literally never seen before: The usage meter on my Evo Shift goes green battery > yellow battery > red battery, each with less and less bar, indicating lower and lower power levels. I saw a “red outline with a red diagonal slash” indicator which is apparently HTC’s indicator for “Screw you, I’m out”, right before the phone cut off completely. Had to buy a charger at the stop in Buckeye because I was still deciding whether I was going to cut through Phoenix for my last sections, and couldn’t confirm that with SWMBO so she would know what route I was on.

Here’s my stop breakdown for this ride:
Start- Benson AZ
1st stop – Gila Bend AZ, 170 miles.
2nd stop – Yuma AZ, 118 miles.
3rd and 4th stops – San Diego CA, 179 miles. Worst fuel mileage of the trip @ 34.39mpg. Mountains + some dumb traffic + a bit of spirited riding had me within .6 gallons of empty. I stopped and got lunch, for which I spent an extra 1/2 hour because I had screwed up the timezone thing and wanted to get a good lunch with my cousin. Fuel stop was within a mile of the eatery, so that gas stop was the quickest of the trip because I didn’t need to hydrate.
5th stop – Riverside CA, 96 miles. I planned the bit closest to LA for just after lunchtime so that hopefully I would encounter the least traffic possible. The traffic was heavier as I approached the LA metropolitan area, but was never really more than just ‘congested’, which meant I could continue to make decent time.
6th stop – Ehrenberg, AZ, 171 miles. In retrospect, this leg may have been a bit too far. It would have been good to get off and clear my head in Indio, as the wind had died down by then, but the relative nothing that is the stretch of I-10 south of the Joshua Tree NP had me space-cadeting a bit.
7th stop – Buckeye AZ, 117 miles. Had to pick up the cellphone charger here. Thank God the bike has a spare power hit so I could text while plugged in and then run the power cable up to my tankbag to charge the phone while on the next leg.
8th stop – Tucson AZ, 135 miles. The bike would most likely make it all the way from Buckeye back to Benson on 1 tank, but I could not. Got back to ‘home turf’ and spent a couple minutes stretching before the last dash home.
Finish – Benson AZ, 57 miles.

Here’s a link to a Google Maps version of the route.

About Galaxieman