Where to start? A little history:
I fell in love with the concept of a sport tour cycle. Shopped the sites diligently for over 6 months, before I narrowed models down to the ST or FJR. A Tuesday night search on the "List" revealed an 05 FJR with only 8,000 miles for $4875. WHAT?? I called the phone # to find out that, across the state (Naples) at a Toyota dealership, an FJR was traded in on a new car. My first question: What's wrong with the bike?- I am still trying to figure that one out. Came with a top case and throttle lock too.
Joined the FJR Forum, added risers, tender, reflectors for side bags, cramp buster, powerlet outlet and a Garmin Zumo 550 (Hard wired mounted on clutch side) My first reaction to an "Iron Butt" discussion was "That's not enjoying the rides". I later came across the IBA site and read descriptions of different IBA rides. I checked the event schedule and learned of a 100CCC ride. HMMMM.... a challenge! I will do it! One click put me in contact with "Hoagy". What a guy... Truly a "Why wouldn't we be friends" type of person.
I contacted Ira from the IBA and he was great about answering all my stupid questions. I even PM'd FJR FORUM admin. with questions. (Thank you Matt for your answers and positive response to my plans.) I needed to do a SS1000 first to qualify for the 100CCC. I threw one together and got that done. I found the stock seat had to go. I picked up a Russell from another forum member. I read as many ride reports I could to try to prepare
myself mentally and prepare my FJR.
I chose to drive the 280 miles to Jacksonville the day before so I could rest before the 100CCC. Pulling into the hotel parking lot, I see a lone BMW half-covered with its "Iron Butt" license plate frame begging to be noticed. What an organized bike! Doubts began to set into my head. I met the rider at breakfast the next morning. She said we were the only 2 riders making the 100CCC. Now I have only owned my FJR for 5 months. I didn't bring the side bags for the purpose of lightening the load on my back tire. I did run the top case, because I felt I could work my log and receipts quickly from it on fuel stops. I had to throw some reflective tape on the day before I left. (Lime Green) I felt under qualified to make this run... It would not be the last time I felt this way.
At 9 pm Est. (I ate subway on the way to the start) I told the other rider I was a speed limit +9 driver. I do not like to exceed the limit by 10 or more because of ticket risk. We took off with an agreement that neither of us should wait for the other. We got off track in Jacksonville! (What is it with GPS and Jacksonville?) Finally I hit I -10W alone. Miles down the road I see a cycle closing fast, then follow me to the first fuel stop. We fueled together and headed off into the night together. Oddly enough, she followed me. (she was more experienced with LD riding than I)
Somewhere in Alabama her lights behind me disappeared as I went around a curve. I slowed down and awaited her return- nothing. I made a quick decision to continue on, as I had to complete a BBG ride on the way out to qualify for the 100CCC. I would not see her MW until San Diego.
I was now on my own and settled in. Beaumont TX would see my first problem. An accident shut down all westbound lanes for 35 to 40 minutes. I had concrete barriers on both sides- nothing to do but wait. Rolling again with daylight in Texas, I developed a nice rhythm. Soon I was in Van Horn, TX. (My BBG checkpoint) My BBG was completed with over an hour and a half to spare. I called my wife and told her I felt great and was going to continue on. I hit New Mexico as the 24 hour mark hit. Over 1600 miles! My plan was going well. Now I would "Crawl" through the desert throughout the night and pick away at the miles in the "Coolness of the night".
I first rested at the 30 hour mark, somewhere in Arizona. Dehydration- WOW! I had a Camelback but had to stop to reach it in my top case: A big mistake as I would soon learn. I pulled over at a rest stop in Arizona (once I had made the split to I-8) and took a hour and 20 minute power nap. I was struggling with fatigue, but drove on into California. Somewhere after El Centro I needed to hydrate. I pulled over and put the side stand down. I was careless not to notice the bike was almost fully upright with the slope of the shoulder of the road. The bike started to fall, off balance, I grabbed the clutch grip. I could not stop it with the slippery oily road, down we both went. With the slope the bike was well passed the 180 Degree mark. I tried to lift her and the tires would slide on the gravel. I tried again only to watch my Blue Beauty slide SCRATCHINGLY up but the tires would not set. I could not believe this. How could I have been so stupid? Finally a truck came by and I flagged him down- We righted the bike by blocking the tires from sliding with my feet and me pulling and him pushing from the other side. (Thank you stranger #1) I re-secured the tank bag, collected my thoughts and finished the ride into San Diego. I believe my time was 37 hours and change. Now I could get great sleep and be ready for the return trip.
After a hot bath, I slept for 3 hours and was awake. I could not get back to sleep, so I went outside and met up with Wade. (RoadGlide) He showed me to a fantastic deli where I ate fantastic food! (I had made the trip over on beef jerky and Jolly Ranchers) Before I knew it we (There were 11 or 12 of us now) were fueling up, ready for the return. We took off at 8pm Pst. Going through the twisties east of San Diego, I realized two things. These guys were ready to RIDE! and I was getting tired. I followed the group (Which split into two groups) but released my throttle lock to see how I was doing. I soon realized I was having trouble maintaining speed. This is my sign to rest. I felt comfortable riding alone, so I hit the first rest stop and did a hour and a half power nap.
I awoke and did some of the best slab work in my life. I hit an unbelievable rhythm, quick gas stops. With the custom seat I purchased from another forum member the trip was moderately comfortable seat wise. However, the previous owner must have had a more forward sitting position than I am used to; I am used to cruisers, so I felt "Up snug" behind the gas tank. Sometimes(after many hours in need of entertainment) I felt I was pushing a shopping cart through the desert collecting mental pictures to store in my memory banks...Songs would come to mind... One song that stands out was "Peaceful, Easy Feeling" by the Eagles. All the sudden I understood “I want to sleep with you in the desert tonight, with a million stars all around". And as much as I watched the falling stars drop, the sky still had warehouses full on that night- all for MY enjoyment!
I was almost sorry to see the night give way to daybreak. But with daybreak, I continued to pick up an unbelievable rhythm of smooth gas stops. I noticed not the green mile markers, but the endless miles of beauty in west Texas. The bazaar sight for miles of the right lanes bloodstains from deer strikes seem to mesh one to another, creating an orangish/red tint and a constant reminder to keep up the pace before nightfall.
I pressed on till I saw a trail of cyclist west of San Antonio. I had caught up with the trail group. We fueled up and I left ahead of the group, which stayed to eat. The clouds were looking more threatening now. I reached San Antonio as the rush hour traffic thickened and the sky opened up in a downpour. I pressed on to east Texas. I really hadn't planned on doing a BBG on the return trip, but I had used it to motivate myself through Texas. The town that was given to me for the BBG fuel stop was Wallisville.(I later found out it should have been Winnie) I turned off on an access road and spent 15 minutes driving through secondary roads, I even had a skunk encounter before I finally continued down the access road for 3 more miles and reached an actual fuel stop. Got my receipt, well over an hour to spare, and headed east to the Louisiana border. I stopped at a rest stop near Orange, TX and power napped for over an hour.
The rain continued on all night long. Throughout the night I crawled rest stop to rest stop. I found myself in Mississippi soaking wet and not wanting to ride anymore. I stared at my FJR from under the rest stop bathroom overhang, the only roof at the stop. I stripped down to my soaked jeans and under amour shirt and curled up on the ground and slept for 2 hours.
I awoke with a new attitude. I went into the restroom and found (To my delight) they had electric hand dryers. I warmed and dried a bit, then mounted up for another push into Florida. I pushed on through Florida stretching out fuel stops. The rain continued most of the way, till finally Jacksonville arrived.
I was getting low on fuel, so I pulled over and added my quart fuel container I had carried the whole trip. (Without use) I rode into Jacksonville wanting to fuel only once, at the END station. Then it happened, 9 miles from the finish point, I ran out of gas! Not a
station within sight. What a stupid, sloppy mistake! It took over 20 minutes for anyone to pull over to help. Finally a Good Samaritan (#2) in a white van pulled over. I explained my predicament to him. He drove off with my gas can and told me it would take awhile. I watched him drive away, and then it hit me! I just gave my gas can away to a stranger to take and fill it with gas- and no mention of money occurred. Things were compounding badly now, when to my surprise this SAINT arrived back after 15 minutes or so, with a full quart container of gas! He gave me the container and would not take any money. He wanted to stay until my cycle was running. I fueled, then popped on the bike and rode away.
I set my GPS for the closest gas station. This time I would not risk riding the 9 miles left on a quart of gas. I fueled again, and then rode on to finish out the ride with another refueling and receipt - I had to laugh as the pump said "See cashier for receipt" What a sorry finish!
I stayed around the station with a weird type of inertia. A witness showed up and signed my papers. Riders began showing up, still I had no ambition to leave. I stayed the night in Jacksonville and had fantastic pizza with the other riders. We talked and I found out what a fantastic bunch of riders made this ride. It is funny how what started off as a challenge had become such a memorable adventure. I will take that desert sky memory with me forever. What a Trip!!!