Well, I’ve done my share of Iron Butt runs, but my ride up the Blue Ridge last month took the cake. Out of the garage on Friday morning, back by sundown on Saturday. I hit seven states, did most of the Blue Ridge Parkway, traveled through the middle of Atlanta, Chattanooga, Roanoke, Washington, Charlotte, and a few other cities. I did over a thousand miles, went through my entire 20 hours of music on the i-Pod and consumed at least 35 Slim Jims. I can say this: my butt hurts. By the way, I won, getting there first before my friend Pat. That was our goal, to see who could get their first, me from Georgia, and Pat from Virginia.
I understand the iron butt craze. The pre-ride planning gets pretty technical and can be very fun. Gear prep, bike prep, snack food planning, hydration, riding clothes waterproofing, suspension set up, all require prior planning. My Dad used to say “prior planning prevents piss poor performance.” Ride strategies also get technical and can be fun to plan. There is actually a complex strategy to coordinating the need to pee with the need to gas up. In the dozens of ‘long haul, get there fast,’ ‘stop for gas only’ trips I’ve done, one thing is abundantly clear. It is more fun to talk about an iron butt in anticipation of the trip and then to reminisce about an iron butt after it’s over, than to actually ‘do’ the trip. Despite having done a bunch, I think “doing” an iron butt is actually a pain in the butt, literally. Your butt feels like the opposite of iron when you are done. You feel more like you need to have an iron butt to survive them! So why the heck do we do them?
Doing an iron butt is much like climbing a mountain. It doesn’t make much sense, if you really think about it, but we do them because we can. We have a need to prove some things to ourselves. You don’t meet many people, and you stop mostly just for gas and food. You zip by stuff that I’m sure would be interesting, if you weren’t droning on with the mantra: “make miles, make miles, make miles…” Not to mention the speed limit, which is generally exceeded, putting us right literally on Johnny Law’s radar.
Clearly, the best part about my latest iron butt trip was the hard right into my driveway, after 1200 miles of tarmac and very little sleep. I pulled into the driveway and laid on my lawn next to the bike for a minute to revel in my success. Yvonne was in Florida with the kids. Just me and the dog. There I lay prone still helmeted and gloved. I did not so much as detach myself from the coiled wires connecting me to the BMW for music and GPS, fetus style. One problem: I awoke five hours later in early evening darkness, only after my sprinklers had soaked me and my gear. For an instant, I thought I had become incontinent. My neighbor’s kids had noticed me, but did not mention my lifeless body to their parents. C’mon guys, what happened to neighborhood watch? I wasn’t 200 feet from my bed, but I didn’t make it. That tells you the level of fatigue after a ride like that. The soreness of the saddle would surely keep the trips short in the near future, or so I thought.
Like most of the people who are reading this, I generally ride somewhere each week. Even if it’s a simple three hour loop through the North Georgia mountains on the Hyabusa. This month the trips will be short. It’s been a few weeks since my little iron butt. My arse has healed and my back feels better. I specifically remember pushing the dead bug laden Beemer back into the garage, and recall my feeling ready to let that bike sit a while. However, as the days went by and as I looked at the dormant bike in the garage, my left brain started to tease my right brain with another plan. I began thinking ‘my butt really didn’t hurt that bad,’ ‘the monotony really wasn’t that bad,’ it wasn’t so ‘painful, etc.’ It’s the planning that gets me. The sore butt syndrome is long forgotten and the triumph of the highway is all that remains in my mind. Almost like childbirth for a woman: you revel in what you are left with at the end of it, and forget all the pain you endured during.
The 25th “Americade” will be held in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. This is real Teddy Roosevelt territory. High peaks and deep lakes everywhere, some of the most opulent ‘great camps’ and historic resorts in this country, not to mention a proximity (three hours) to New York City that allows for a wealth of history and prominence of visitors unlike any natural preserve in America. This rally is specifically billed as a “riders” rally and a “family” rally. Not a lot of skin, burnouts, drunks, arrests or hootin’ and hollerin.’ The Americade is truly a motorcycle purist’s rally. It’s 1,000 miles away from my house, at least. The rally runs less than one week, and if I left on Tuesday I could be there Wednesday. Now that I have to plan all the strategies of the next iron butt, I can barely remember how sore my butt was the last ride. As it is in life in general, time heals all wounds, and the need to ‘make miles, make miles, make miles…’ always returns.
Well, signing off for now. Remember, ride strong, ride safe, and in the end, make sure you ride home.