Two rides. The first Iron Butt Association Heaven to Hell 1000 and record attempt for the smallest bike to complete an Iron Butt CC50 (Coast to Coast in under 50 hours) on a Honda CBR 125
|The route from Windsor, Ontario to Mt. Evans to Death Valley, to SanDiego California, to Jacksonville Florida|
In the middle of the desert in southern Arizona. Screaming over a hill at 11,000+ rpm. In the distance a police officer immediately uses his radar gun to paint the little white "crotch rocket" style motorcycle with the crouched down rider. He looks at the display and gets a very quizzical look on his face. After all, I’m not speeding, just trying to go as fast as possible on a bike of only 125cc. Welcome to the world of little bike Iron Butt riding.
This particular incident was four years in the making and started a long way away and with an entirely different motorcycle. I adopted, for free, a little 49cc Honda NS50F about 4 years ago and decided that since it had a genuine Honda two stroke racing (HRC) engine, it could be made to do Iron Butt Association rides. Of course the first thing that occurred to me was the way "CC50 on a 50cc" rolled off the tongue. I was hooked!
|The 49cc Honda NS50 "Barbie Bike From Hell" (250 decals to help|
with freeway restrictions :) )
Thus after the Florida Legends ride in March of 2010 I decided to abandon a CC50 on a 50cc and just try for the small bike record for the coast to coast in under 50 hours ride.
Since most of the planning etc. had already been done it was just a matter of a suitable bike. I managed to come across a new Honda CBR125 at a very attractive price. Can you imagine - it has a two year unlimited mileage warranty! So, the rush was on to modify it for distance riding, break it in, get going before it got too hot in the southwest and while the days were still long. All of the usual "Farkles" were applied. Fuel cell (4 gallons), GPS, light enhancement, hydration system, timers and clocks etc., etc. Thirty days later and a test ride of a Saddle Sore 1000 (1000 miles in under 24 hours) proved the little 125 could do the job. But could I? I started the usual regimen of exercises and abstinence of alcohol and caffeine.
|The little 125 as ready as we could get it in a short time|
|The usual crummy photo at O'dark Thirty at the Ambassador |
Bridge in Windsor, Ontario
Overnight in the Lincoln, NB area made for a short second day. Early in day 2, along about the middle of Nebraska we stopped for some gas and water and I noticed that the bike hesitated when I tried to start it. Shortly down the road it just quit. No electrics at all. Fortunately the battery was still accessible with only a minimum of disassembly of add-ons. Turns out the battery cable screws had vibrated loose. Tighten them back up, add a dab of threadlock and we were back on the road in only about 15 minutes.
|Charles working to find the electrical fault. Somewhere on I-80|
Checking in with the Mt. Evans Chief Ranger we were informed that the road had indeed been opened only the day before and should (weather permitting) be open for our attempt. We were also informed however that all of the area to the north of us had road closures due to snow. OOPS - time to look over our route and make some changes. We altered the route to continue on I-70 all the way to I-15 instead of taking a cut off up Hwy. 191. The additional mileage needed would be made up by going north on I-15 towards Salt Lake City, until the required distance was obtained and then finding a place to document a turn around to return wouthward.
The attempt day dawned clear and cool so off we went. We were accompanied by Kenny Wayne on a Goldwing and Randall Briggs on a Harley, two fellow long distance riders who had ridden up from Colorado Springs to help witness our departure at the top.
|Charles & Bob with the day's newspaper at the base|
of Mt. Evans - Echo Lake in the background.
The ride up Mt. Evans went surprisingly smoothly for such a small bike. Thank-you whoever invented fuel injection! The little bike didn’t so much as wheeze, although it was down into second gear on some of the sharp switchbacks.
|High snowbanks carved out only a few days before. Note crack in the|
foreground. The slope is steeper than appearances here. Bob then Kenny,
Photo by Charles
|Charles and Bob att top of Mt. Evans with Newspaper as part of documentation process.|
|Into the Colorado Mountain Passes on the way West. Charles getting a little "run" ahead.|
|Bob in his usual riding position somewhere in western Colorado|
As the sun went down, so did the temperature. By the time of our turnaround and gas stop at Scipio Out in Bad Standings it was in the middle 30’s. I thought that once we were again heading south as well as down in elevation that the temps would rise. No such luck. The dashboard thermometer seemed stuck at 36 degrees. This was my lowest point of the entire trip. I was uncomfortable and cold. Not a good combination. My only salvation was that the old IBA adage kept running through my head. "Keep finding reasons not to stop rather than reasons to stop". This kept me from pulling into a couple of rest areas but the last one north of Las Vegas was the hardest. I actually started slowing down. Then I found my reason - I would stop at the next one. The same reason I’d used for passing the previous rest area. But it worked. Within minutes the elevation started going down and the warmer desert air started to thaw out my numb body. By the time we turned at Las Vegas and stopped for gas it was a toasty warm 65 degrees. Heaven! I can’t believe I just said that about Las Vegas. When it’s cold and dark however your perceptions change.
Now we turned back north through the night and out into Death Valley National Park. Not having enough miles at the infamous "Nevada Joes"
|The infamous Nevada Joe's where you could no doubt by anyone...err... I mean|
anything. Just before dawn and the temps are now bearable. Just north of Death
Valley. We checked mileage and found had to go to Beatty first for enough miles.
|Entrance to Death Valley. A few minutes later Charles' bike fell over with|
a broken sidestand. Minor disaster! Major P.I.A.
Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the United States at 282 ft. below sea level. The finish of the first "Heaven to Hell 1000". After taking the obligatory photos of the sign halfway up a large cliff announcing "Sea Level" we started to once again pester the other tourists for witness signatures.
|There are some long lonesome roads in Death Valley. Just after sunrise and it is already about 80 deg. F.|
By the time we arrived in San Diego and booked into a Hotel close to the coast we were both very tired. So after a quick dinner it was sleep time.
In the meantime, I had put out a plea on the internet to members of the Long Distance Rider’s network for assistance to find a welder for Charles’ bike and a source of a new back tire for the little Honda. Although the tire had looked fine at Death Valley the trip across the desert and the grooved pavement along the way had it now almost at the wear marks. This task wasn’t so easy as it was the long Holiday weekend and most places were closed. Fortunately, Craig Chaddock a local rider from the LD Riders list was not only able to find a Honda Dealer open on the holiday but set us up with a friend who has a race shop out of his garage. The Honda dealer had nothing to fit my 125 as that model is not available in the U.S.A. He did however have a front tire for a Ninja 250 but refused to install it on the back wheel of a bike. "Insurancedon’tchaknow" Was the reason. I bought it anyway and left with it around my neck "bandoleer style". Fortunately Craig’s friend Daniel Sherburne (DHS Racing) also has a tire change machine and could solve both of our problems.
|Daniel (DHS Racing) changing the tire on the little Honda.|
He also expertly welded up the BMW's sidestand.
Our departure was to be timed to miss the San Diego rush hour so we had plenty of time for the trip down to the water to gather the traditional vial of Pacific Ocean Water. Once that was out of the way we were clear to get our beginning gas receipt at the gas station that seemed to be closest to the coast and we were now "on the clock" at 10:52 am Pacific Daylight Savings time. Headed east.
|Beginning fuel receipt - we're now "on the clock" for|
the ride from the Pacific to the Atlantic in under 50 hrs.
Once out of the urban area surrounding San Diego the hills and desert of southern California exerted their usual summer welcome. Instant heat once away from the cool Pacific Ocean. Dry desert and hot. Much hotter than when we were in Death valley. We continued on and passed out of California into Arizona. At 3:52pm (all ride times are Pacific DST) our first gas stop was at Gila Bend, AZ. This generally set the trend for gas stops. About 4 1/2 hours. Generally just running out the fuel cells and using the main tanks as "reserve" Neither one of us wanted to run out of gas in the desert heat so we were extra conservative. During that afternoon my dash thermometer hovered between 106 and 118°F for several hours. Lots of water and few stops to get us out of the area of high heat as quickly as possible.
|View crossing the deserts of Calif. and Arizona Temp 106 F.|
Generally a routine trip until darkness found us near Las Cruces, New Mexico. This was not a favourable position after a full day of riding and night falling. Lots of stories, newspaper articles and general fear mongering warned that stopping at a rest area and even some remote gas stops anywhere between Las Cruces and El Paso, TX was not safe. There have been many muggings and more than a little violence in the area due to robbery attempts by youth gangs. Charles readily agreed that we wouldn’t be stopping until well after El Paso, for any reason. Thus we rode on through the night and passed the infamous Ciudad Juarez as nothing more than a vast landscape of lights going over the horizon as we passed safely north of the Rio Grande river through El Paso, TX.
|The Iron Butt Motel (AKA a Picnic table) This is the delux|
version with a roof and parking. Keeps you away from
the fire ants and other critters on the ground.
An hour at the Iron Butt Motel in a rest area well to the east of El Paso set us up nicely for the rest of the night. With the dawn came relief at not seeing the herds of deer so commonly reported in west Texas. On through San Antonio (the aftermarket mirrors vibrated apart) and on to Houston (the aux. Laminar Lip windshield started to come off) we "duct taped" and "Zip Tied" our way into Louisiana. The toll was starting to tell after so many hours of high frequency vibration at such high RPM). After the long haul through Texas the smaller states seemed to be nothing more than the size of large cities. Our only slow down was through Louisiana near New Orleans where the bypass (hwy. I-12) was clogged with stop and go traffic that evening.
9:32pm necessitated another trip to the Iron Butt Motel. This time behind a gas station for 20 minutes. It never ceases to amaze me how much a short nap can refresh you. This one didn’t "take" however so about an hour later we stopped again, for a full hour this time. Fully refreshed it now felt like we were on the home stretch as we crossed the Florida border. Our last state and we were well ahead of schedule. Not far along however we decided to sleep for one more half hour just to make sure we were fresh for the boring run along northern Florida. It is after all mainly just a continuous forest.
|Charles droning along in the early morning on I-10 - N. Florida|
|That all important "Off the Clock" receipt.|
|The final results 43h, 56m - not bad for a 125cc bike|
These two rides complete a long time quest to do all three dimensions of the Contiguous states. Southernmost to northernmost (Bottoms Up Tour), west to east (CC50) and vertical (Heaven to Hell 1000) Several thing have definitely been proven however. Your bike doesn’t need to be big or new to do an Iron Butt ride. You can hold a modern (little) bike wide open at close to redline for over 90 hours in 6 days and it still runs great. "It is a lot more fun" as the old adage goes, "to ride a little bike fast than a big fast bike slow" With a little bit of planning an Iron Butt certified ride can be done on almost anything. So if you’re waiting for that new bike and "someday" you can just go ahead and do it now.
Here is a video of our final receipt stop at Jacksonville Beach. The not very affectionate greetings had to wait until we were off the clock once the receipt was printed. As you can see we look perfectly normal!
UPDATE: The Iron Butt Association has verified and approved both rides. Here is the artwork they created for us and future riders that complete the Heaven to Hell 1000
This article in an very shortened edited format originally appeared in the Iron Butt Magazine Fall 2010 issue.
Some other rides recorded at: http://bobmunden.blogspot.com/
Photos of rides and bike prep. at: http:/community.webshots.com/user/bobmunden
Follow along on future rides via the "Spot" tracking system at: http://tinyurl.com/2akprnt