Sunday, March 6, 2011

Iron Butt Warmup

Iron Butt what? No, hold on, my blog isn't switching over to a "Mature" content rating. For those of you who still needed proof that motorcyclists are a little on the nutty side. Wander on over to the Iron Butt Association website. Go ahead. I'll wait.

IBA main page.

About the IBA.

That's right.  A few of my fellow Freewheelers are interested in picking up the 1000 miles in under 24 hours "Saddle Sore" achievement.  I'm not saying I'm one of them, but getting a couple of long distance rides under my belt will be perfect for planning some trips this summer.  I'm not against the IBA.  If people want to push/test themselves on their bikes I'm not going to stand in their way.  But I'm not in that mindset right now.  Being fairly new to the motorcycle scene I'd rather take my time on trips and enjoy the scenery.  It's the journey and not the destination etc etc.

Anyway... here was the first warm-up route for those eventually going for the gold.  The initial goal was somewhere around 450 miles.  We ended up skipping the last "purple" leg of the trip for reasons I'll get into later. 

View Iron Butt Warm Up 475 Mile Warmup in a larger map

A quick snapshot of the odometer before leaving the house.

The night before the ride we had a total of six riders listed as going.  As is always the case, putting yourself down as going and actually showing up are completely two different realities.  As the first rays of sunlight reflected off of the International House of Pancakes sign, our merry band of travelers found ourselves three people short.  Hey, no sweat off my brow..the smaller the group the better, in my opinion.  I forgot to snap a picture of my breakfast.  Sorry Jeff!  You'll just have to imagine the scrambled eggs, toast, bacon and hash browns.

On a side note.  As we were leaving the city I noticed a Google maps picture vehicle.  You know, those vehicles that drive around and snap "street view" pictures for Google.  I had heard they were in town.  I always imagined they were big vans for some reason.  But it looked like a little Ford Focus or something like it with a odd looking ski pole setup on top.  I'm not sure if it was actually filming, but I'll keep checking where I saw it on Google maps and hope I got myself captured on film:)

We headed west out of town towards the city of Sells and then Ajo.  Stacy, the leader of our little pack, may have taken a few shots over her shoulder.  It's an unknown fact that she has three hands which allows her to take pictures and drive at the same time.  No safety violations here.  Move along.

I'm the friendly looking guy in the neon yellow jacket directly behind her.  I knew it was going to warm up in the afternoon so I decided to grab the Intake Air 2 Tour Master mesh jacket.  It came in handy in Phoenix where the temperature probably hit the mid eighties in the sun.

We made our first gas stop in Why, AZ.  Don't ask why.  There was a small casino next to the convient store.  I'm not much of a gambler, plus we were going for time.  So after filling up and a quick bathroom break we were back on the road.

Our route took us across the Barry M. Goldwater Air Force Range.  The Air Force uses it as a bombing range for the various nearby military bases.  Some pretty country in there.  Luckily no stray bombs landed on the road.

Our next stop was Gila Bend.  The gas station had a ton of arts and crafts out front.  One of the more interesting items were these metal wind catchers in the shapes of peacocks.  Their bodies had heavy stones balanced on a rod, and when the wind caught the metal feathers the birds rocked back and forth.  Neat stuff.

Here Stacy and Walker, our third rider, contemplate some of the crafts.  Unfortunately Walker had to turn back to Tucson at this point.  He said he was starting to have some problems with his clutch slipping and wanted to turn back before something serious happened.  We wished him luck and continued on, down to two.  At this point it felt like a Agatha Christie novel.  Who was going to disappear next?

Stacy and I headed north out of Gila Bend on Old US Hwy 80.  This was the best part of the whole trip.  It was country I hadn't seen yet.  We passed through large agriculture fields which smelled like earth and plants..something you don't seem to experience in a car.  We passed by large cattle ranches where you could smell the sweet odor only cows can produce.  We even saw a shrimp farm that was starting to produce algae bio fuels.

We crossed this neat looking bridge near Gillespie Dam.  Apparently it was built in 1927.  The dam, which was built in 1921 apparently failed in 1993 due to heavy rains.  I could see a portion of the dam that had broken away.  It looked like some giant had come along and just pushed a part of it over.

We made a left turn at Salome Hwy and started making our way back to I-10.  We pulled off the road at one point to check our maps and stretch our legs.  This also gave us a chance to take some more cool photos.  Who is that hot looking guy sitting by the side of the road??

Stacy looking stylish next to her Yamaha.

We finally got back on I-10 and headed straight for Phoenix.  At one point I-10 turns into a tunnel running beneath downtown Phoenix.  It's really pretty neat to ride on a motorcycle.  We stopped at a Circle-K to refuel.  They didn't have any public bathrooms, so I had to run next door to a "Ranch Market".  I had three different people give me bad directions in the store on the actual location of the restrooms.  I was starting to think the entire store was out to get me.  I did locate them eventually, but I must have looked pretty silly wandering the store in my ass-less chaps and neon yellow jacket.  I'm sure all of Phoenix had a good laugh.

It's at this point that Stacy and I decided to cut the trip short and head straight back to Tucson on I-10.  We could have kept going, no sore butt yet.  But we both had some things we could still make if we turned back early.  I wanted to make my weekly disc golf.  And she wanted to get back to a soccer tournament that was taking place in Tucson.  So we jumped back on the freeway and made good time back to town.  My odometer showed 399 miles total.  So we were short 50 miles or so on our goal.  No problem..50 miles is nothing.

My helmet shield looked pretty nasty with all the dead bugs.

The next warm up ride is supposed to be 700 miles.  I have a month to decide if I want to go on that one.  I'll keep you posted:)

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