Beantown Baggers

The Badwater Ultramarathon – but for bikers! Account and Recap Numero 2 of 1,000 miles in 24 hours

Your experiences are yours alone.  Many may be shared, but what is impactful to you is unique based on prior life events, outlook, neurological wiring, etc.  From the communication of shared experience what emerges is the understanding of how much is actually occurring at any given moment in time.  It aids us also with gaining new perspective.  How those different experiences are reflected upon and shared with one another matters.

My longest ride, which I’d done twice (Memorial Day 2011, 2012) was the longest stretch of consistent riding for me in a one day period at 500 miles from Washington D.C. to Boston.  Eight hours of highway, stopping every 100 miles for gas and motor oil (otherwise known as espresso).  Second time around was a lot easier.  I have yet to come across a person who balks at 500 miles of straight ridin’ though I’m sure they’re out there.  That said, my buddy and I had talked and contemplated more than a few times about the 1,000 mile ride in 24 hours.  The thought was, apparently, you just ride for an extended period of time and get an Iron Butt pin.  It’s supposed to be wild (Anchorman reference).  And as far as the biker community is concerned, completing a journey as such makes you legit.  But, I’ll save the title Bad Mother F*cker here for the people who complete the Hoka Hey.  To step forward for a second, it’s very interesting – the difference between your perception of an unexperienced event versus the retrospection of that even experienced.

After having heard about the cross-country ride my buddy had taken and the multiple 500+ mile days including one at 750 the idea of putting a grand on the ole hog didn’t seem so out there.  That said, it wasn’t me who’d done that riding, but living vicariously through him did the trick to make me more open to this challenge.

We stared this ride in the face well aware shit was going to go down.  Why?  Well,  because 1) we were going to be on two wheels 2) it’s 1,000 miles in under a day! 3) different states with unfamiliar territory, attitudes, weather.  The crucial piece that held this ride together was that we were doing it.  One way or another.  Had we not been able to make it on the way down to the Smoky Mountains due to an unknown force we’d have done it on the way back up north.

I packed like I was moving abroad for a month, he packed as if he was stepping out for lunch.  What’s best is likely somewhere in the middle.  I figure, better to be prepared.  For what you ask?  Unsure, and I had clean clothes when I got back.  Read between the lines.   Memorable notes were the hail storm, wearing rain gear for what seemed to be at least 750 miles and it raining sporadically for a lot of it, drinking copious amounts of coffee, jerky and chocolate caffeine laced marshmallows.  A very healthy 20 hours.

To the hail storm, because – it was a hail storm on a motorcycle!  One moment I’m taking a photo of my friend in front of me with this completely ominous anvil shaped storm cloud to what seemed to be relatively close, but still miles away and the next I’m whipping my phone into my shirt under my rain gear without time to properly stow it as the rain had hit us so quickly.  It came in six distinct phases: wall of rain, pouring rain, sheets of sideways pouring rain, cold sheets of sideways pouring rain, freezing sheets of sideways pouring rain and hail, golf ball sized hail at 70 mph.  It got so bad literally I could see nothing.  My riding glasses which were tucked in tightly in between my helmet were getting torn off my face – actually unfathomable as at this point I’m going only 30 mph.  I’ve slowed down rather quickly at this point and am just hoping the cars and semis behind me had done the same.  I had zero time to check.  Friend skids, almost crashes.  I was 99% sure he’d crash – somehow he did not.  We come to a stop, slam the kickstands out, we’re running around like ants trying to make sense of it all the while yelling to one another over the storm and tending to our bikes which are getting just hammered with hail.  The wind picks up so much so that the bikes start waving from one side to another.  Unsure on what action is best here, either sit on the bikes or make our way into one of the trucks for safety we decide to grab our bikes.  Probably not the best move, but that was what we decided to do at the time and were ready to be held accountable.  Road is now a river and something appears to be coming from over the tree line from the right of the highway.  The leaves and branches are getting ripped apart and spit our way and then…it subsides.  Winds down like like you’re downshifting to a complete stop.  Elated we were not hurt and full of adrenaline we stand there bewildered with the other travelers.  Moments later life returns to normal, but we need to get off the highway, check the bikes and recount the event.  So we did and believe it or not, decided to make a move to outrun the next storm – which was a success only to hit several other rain storms.

Sitting down at that iHop in Knoxville, TN some 20 hrs and 1,050 miles later while the country was fast asleep was truly both a gratifying and relieving experience.  I’ll mention a second time, the difference between your perception of an unexperienced event versus the retrospection of that even experienced is eye opening.  This is what real accomplishment fees like.  Exhaustion, relief, elation and newfound wisdom.

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