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Saddle Sore on Honda - set personal record


CB500F Saddle Sore 1000 Nagging that is what it was doing. That ever present feeling that I needed to do an IBA ride on this little bike. As most know my much loved Ducati passed on November 2012 and I made it through the winter months on a CBR250, waiting patiently for either the Honda CB500X or CB500F to show up neither had yet hit the states; I had money on both at Blackman’s cycle. Well the F showed up first, and after much reading and comparing of specs, much to my male friends dismay, chose to go with the F before the X even arrived. Now that I have had the opportunity to see and sit on the X my decision was spot on, at over an inch taller, heavier and longer there is no way I would have been able to ride it. So it was with great trepidation that I planned a route here on the east coast for my first Saddle Sore 1000 (1,000 miles in under 24 hours). I was nervous for many reasons, from the lack of power with this new bike (almost 50% less horse power than the Duc), to the traffic, and congestion I could encounter that I was lucky to avoid on many of my rides back in the PNW. I did my best to plan a route that would avoid as many major metropolitan areas as possible. I had been riding serious miles on the new bike putting in tons of hours on my almost non-existent seat (as with all my bikes all the padding is gone save a ¼ gel pad), trying desperately to get ready for a long ride. I believed I was ready, what I didn’t realize was that with my pack my new bike would now weigh in at four and one half times what I do, making riding in a straight line easy enough, stopping, turning, or moving it around a parking lot would be almost impossible; we will get in to that later. September 5, 2013 my ride started. I had signed out at work the day before, thus per the time on my first gas receipt 1:13 am became my official start. I had no idea what I would encounter other than I knew from the minute I tried to back out of my apartment parking spot this was not going to be an easy ride, I could barely hold the bike up or back her up. I kept telling myself just stay aware and keep riding in a straight line as much as possible; think about how/where to pull in for gas, be sure you don’t have to back up or turn around in parking lots, and that the bike is on a level surface before stopping; finally just finish. As I pulled onto 78W, I also had to remind myself that this was the east coast, speed limits are much lower here than on the west coast and the traffic and congestion would be worse. I had come to the understanding in my competitive head that it may take well over my usual 16 hours to do this, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t or wouldn’t do my best. I had decided to head west and then south, two reasons I felt this would offer me the least number of encounters with large cities and I wanted to keep the ride interesting both on the SS and on the way home, avoiding the mid-west would allow for both. 78W is all too familiar to me now so riding it in the dark was not a big deal, 81S was also not to be a problem as I had ridden that all the way into Maryland on a few occasions, past Hagerstown though would be all new territory for me. I had put together my usual spreadsheet of exact exits and gas stations, thus I had no map in my tank bag or any means of changing my direction if I needed to. Unfortunately, I had mapped my stops a little too far apart, not accounting properly for the extra weight of the pack and high speeds that would negatively affect my mileage. Luckily this is the east coast and I was on major freeways so gas was a plenty. My first stop was a mere 167 miles, wait what did I just say “mere” hardly; the furthest I could comfortably go on the Duc was 120 miles, sometimes I would push my luck and go 130 but only if I knew that there was a gas station close by. I pulled into the Shell station and took the time to eat a bar and grab a small coffee as I had not eaten or drunk anything yet this morning. I was making good time and felt that keeping my energy level up was important with the extra weight of the bike testing my skills and my strength (keep in mind my shoulder is still not healed from my mishap in June). I was in and out in about 15 minutes, this is significantly slower than I was on the Duc but I knew the number of stops I would need to make was much less and therefore needed to be sure I was eating and drinking accordingly. Part of my training was pushing on the bathroom breaks, the Duc required me to stop so often I was able to go every 1-1/2 to 2 hours the new bike could go almost 3 hours before needing gas and one time I was 4 hours on back roads; much to my amazement I had worked through this and determined the maximum amount of fluids I could ingest to meet the extended stop times. As I pulled out back onto 81S I figured the next stop I would need to change out my shield as the skies would be lightening, and then I started to worry about fog. Why do I even think these things, I have no idea, other than I have so much time on my hands to think and nothing else, especially when riding in the dark that sometimes fearful what-if thoughts creep in. Of course there is that self-fulfilling prophecy thing, so what happens I hit fog so dense I can’t even see the white line on the road. I pull into the slow lane just hoping my taillight is bright enough (we had installed an LED) to prevent me from being hit. Not only does my mind wander to the scary what-ifs but whenever I hit fog like this a Steven King story I read many years ago comes rushing back (The Mist). That story, as with many of his greats, still causes me chills whenever I hit fog. His ability to really scare me is the reason I stopped reading his stuff when I started living on my own and found I couldn’t sleep for the images manifesting in my mind after reading his books. I needed gas about when the fog got so thick my face shield was fogging up and the water was dripping down inside; not being able to see the signs I had to just guess when I thought an exit was coming up and followed the white line off the freeway toward the dull glow of what I hoped was a gas station sign. I was so happy to see I was spot on; I had no idea how I was going to get back on the freeway as I couldn’t see the street from the station pumps, but I had to if I was going to make any kind of decent time. This stop was Natural Bridge, Virginia. I asked the gas attendant how to get back on 81S and she said just go right out of their lot and it would be on the right. Though I couldn’t see I had to trust she was correct. I got truly lucky when a bunch of construction trucks that had stopped to coffee-up started to leave the lot right when I did. Waved them ahead of me knowing I could follow their taillights toward the freeway. Sure enough it worked and though they turned to go north I could see well enough to get on the southbound ramp. Now just to keep up my speed as much as possible simply trying to make good time even in this dense fog would surely test my ability and my devil may care sensibilities. When I finally broke through the fog I was in mid-Virginia and the scenery was glorious. I was so glad I had chosen to head south, through this hilly/mountainous area. I tried to explain to one of my buddies riding this route was like the ultimate SS, there was nary a straight line, for most of the ride there was just fabulous long slow curves perfect for freeway speeds yet fun enough to keep you on your toes. I couldn’t believe I was on the freeway most of the time I was having so much fun. Without a map I was again having to just guess on the gas stops, but seemed to be averaging about 170 miles before stopping, or I should say before I was hitting one line above empty which was about as far as I was willing to push my luck. My third stop would be Abingdon, Virginia and from there I would head due west into Tennessee on Route 40, just outside of Knoxville. By this time I had been on the road about 500 miles, so when I looked at the time I was shocked; I had no idea I was making such good time and I kept trying to recalculate in my head what my time was thinking there is no way as the speed limit was so much slower than I was used to, I was spending way too much time at each stop, not to mention the horrific fog, but there it was in front of me at the rate I was going I might just hit 14 hours. I had never ever dreamed of hitting 14 hours on the Duc with the number of gas stops I had to make my best time ever had been 15 hours and that took me years to accomplish, yet this little bike with half the horse power was out performing the Duc. I tried to temper my excitement telling myself over and over not to count my chickens before my eggs hatched, good thing I did. My next stop was Riceville, Tennessee; I seemed to have somehow got back on track with my gas stops so this was one of the planned ones. Again taking a little longer to eat, gas up and gear down as the temps had risen significantly. I knew I needed to stay comfortable as the temps in Alabama would be pushing 90. Sure enough I could feel the heat rising and as I was gassing up in Trussville, AL where a trucker came over and asked me what I get asked all the time “aren’t you hot.” As you all know I believe in all-gear-all-the-time no matter how hot it gets, the way I look at it you can replace/repair bikes and gear, but you can’t replace/repair me easily. Back on the road trying desperately not to count my chickens too soon, sure enough the road I was to turn onto off 459S was closed. At first I thought just the ramp was closed so I scooted onto 20E, swung back off to get on 20W at the first exit in Leeds, AL, only to find out the sign was correct the entire road was closed headed west. Ok don’t panic, though I didn’t have a map I have a pretty good sense of direction and I knew my bike odometer was almost spot on, so I figured I would just get in my mandatory 1000 miles another way. My biggest concern was how I was going to be able to cancel, or if I would be able to cancel, my hotel reservation in time before being charged for a room I couldn’t use, since I couldn’t get on 20W. Yes I could have pulled over, got off the bike pulled out my map and tried to figure it out, but I was making such good time I didn’t want to waste time if I didn’t have to. I hoped back on 459S and when I got to 59N/20E hit that until I hit 65N. I could have gone south until the ocean but I was concerned, knowing the US pretty well I had a feeling heading south would put me too close to major metro areas and heading east would put me in Atlanta, thus north was my only option. Unfortunately, I couldn’t picture in my mind where 65 went so I wasn’t sure where I would end up but I figured I only had about 150 or so miles to go so I was hoping beyond hope it would not put me too far from civilization. I started to feel a little more confident when I saw the signs for Decatur, knowing there was at least one large university there, unfortunately I also realized this would put me just short of 1000 miles and I knew I needed to go a little over just in case my odometer was not as good as I thought it was. As I passed by Decatur I started to count the miles that I would need to go and figured Athens would be a good stopping point. Just outside of Athens I started to pay close attention to the signs looking for the best hotel and gas station ladened exit. I would need not only a place to gas up but a place to rest my weary body. I chose the exit for Hwy 72, pulling into a Citgo for my final stop. Of course things are never as easy as I think they will be, now I that I had my receipt in hand I needed to find a witness to sign me in. I approached a man and a woman in car at the pump next to my bike. I explained to them what I was doing and asked if they would mind helping me out, I have never in all my years of riding encountered such a rude reception, and I hope to never encounter another. The man was nodding and seemed to be more than willing to help me out; the woman however must have been the one to wear the pants as she became indignant with me and said flat out “Do you know who we are?” I replied “No I was just requesting some assistance” to which she responded “Who do you think we are?” I was so shocked I just backed away from the car apologizing profusely. After this chilly reception, I figured I would go to the hotel check-in and see if I had better luck. I went in to buy my usual gas-station dinner, and noticed a nice young woman. I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try so I asked her if she would mind signing me in and she said sure. As we were headed out to the bike I noticed about 5 bikes around the pumps, I was very relieved knowing fellow riders would sign me in and most likely even understand why I needed to be signed in. I politely asked one of the men standing near my bike and he said sure. I turned and thanked the woman for her time but that these guys would sign me in. Turns out the man who was more than willing knew the current winner of the IBR and was thrilled to sign me in. The rest of the guys in his group didn’t seem to understand what I was saying and they kept asking me where I was riding to and I kept saying I thought 1K miles in about 15 hours was more than enough and I was headed to bed. As the gentleman was signing me in I noticed he had not filled in the time, so I said oops you missed the time. He pulled out his flip phone (a man after my own heart) and it said 3 pm. I said you must have the wrong time and he in a fabulous southern drawl said “sweetheart you are in central time not eastern time anymore” I was so out of it I didn’t even realize I had crossed into a different time zone! Necessary receipt in hand, and sign out sheet all done, now all that was left was to find a place for the night and figure out what I would do tomorrow. All in all not a bad ride 7 gas ups, which is actually only 5 true stops, compared to the 14 I would have to do on the Duc and 14 hours 50 minutes for 1043 miles compared to my best time on the Duc which was 15 hours for 1010 miles. Until next time.


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