100ccc Insanity

100ccc Insanity

Finish 97:10:30.76

As I begin writing this it is just 20 days short of one year ago that Jeff and I started out on our 100ccc adventure. Well; since we actually started riding. The route planning and hotel reservations, etc., actually started a few weeks before that. But, maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Hopefully some of the people who read this are thinking to themselves, or even saying out loud, “What the ____ is a 100ccc?”.

A 100ccc (pronounced One Hundred Triple C) is one of many Iron Butt Association (IBA) certification rides. The 100 is for the number of total hours you have to complete the ride. The ccc is for “Coast to Coast to Coast”. So you have 100 hours to ride from somewhere on the east or west coast, to the opposite coast and back to the original coast. That’s the “What”. The “Why” – I hear you out there – well that’s personal to each individual who participates in these types of things.

Actually, I should mention that, the 100 is sort of a misleading. While you do have 100 hours total, according to the rules, the 100 is really 2 50cc rides done back to back. So, when we arrived in San Diego in 44 hours we couldn’t add the remaining 6 hours on to the return trip. When we got our starting receipt to begin the ride back to Jax, that started a 50 hour clock. So, obviously, you sleep for as much of that extra 6 hours as you think you can spare. Remember, stuff happens, and it is likely to happen on the way back.

The receipt and odometer photo that started the ride.

It all began At 2:30am, Apr 27 2018, as Jeff and I walked out to the surf line in Jacksonville Beach, FL. Once there, we collected a small bottle of Atlantic Ocean water and Jax Beach sand. All part of the process of doing the 100ccc the correct way. The water and sand collection isn’t a requirement for the ride, but the purists consider it an important aspect of the adventure. So far be it from us to avoid living the full experience. Approximately 44 hours later we would walk out to the surf line in San Diego, CA and repeated the water/sand collection process in a second bottle. But for now, we had a lot of miles to cover… Did I mention we were throwing in a BBG along the way?

“Did I mention we were throwing in a BBG along the way?”

A Bun Burner Gold (BBG) is another Iron Butt Assoc. (IBA) ride. It is 1500 miles in 24 hours or less. Since we would be riding 2365 miles to San Diego we figured we might as well throw in a BBG along with the 50cc going west. After all, we have the perfect route for that sort of thing. All interstate, start to finish, and continually increasing speed limits.

Adding the BBG actually caused the first difference of opinion between Jeff and myself. While doing the pre-ride planning, which really just involves making sure you don’t run out of gas in No-Where-Ville, Tx, in the middle of the night, I calculated where we would be when we hit 1500 miles. It turns out that Van Horn, Tx would probably be it. Van Horn would be good in the sense that it has 24 hour a day gas. HOWEVER – it would barely be over 1500 miles and the IBA suggests that you always add some cushion to make up for the fact that all motorcycle odometers are a bit off. Google maps said it would be 1513 miles. Definitely NOT enough cushion.

By the Odometer Van Horn was EXACTLY 1500 miles – GPS said 1515.5 miles

So, looking for the next gas stop along the way, it turns out that the thriving metropolis (a.k.a. Census Designated Place [CDP]) of Sierra Blanca, Tx, population 553, was a short 34 miles farther along the route. That should be enough to guarantee the BBG. Now, keep in mind, we need to get some form of date/time/location stamped business receipt to prove we were there in under 24 hours. If we didn’t get one there, the next possibility would be El Paso. Another 88 miles. That would turn our 1500 mile ride into a 1622 mile ride in under 24 hours. Not likely to happen.

You can tell from Google Street View that there will not be a lot happening in Sierra Blanca at 2:30am when we would arrive.

The Sierra Blanca bank has no ATM, the gas stations close at 10pm and there are no grocery stores. There is a ’50s style flea-bag motel but it only sells a bed bug experience. For the 9 years from 1992 to 2001 New York City literally shit on this place every day. They sent 250 tons of treated sewage here daily, by train.

Obviously, I thought it would be a good idea to start our ride at what would be business hours in Sierra Blanca, Tx. Thereby guaranteeing that we would be able to obtain the necessary business receipt when we arrived 24 hours later. Therein, however, lay the difference of opinion. Jeff wanted to leave at around 3:00am eastern, regardless. Well, since Jeff had been the one to initiate the idea and ask me to go along, I agreed and accepted the possibility that, despite the effort, we may not get the BBG in the end. An effort, I might add, which would later be acknowledged and documented by the Texas Department of Public Safety (No points or $$$ – Woohoo!)

So, with our starting receipts and Jax Beach sand/water bottles in the trunks, and the route loaded in the GPS, more for gas stops than turns since we would only ride 3 roads that merge into one another, we started off for sunny California.

Just 8 blocks south of the starting gas station we took the ramp onto J Turner Butler Blvd. The next stop light on our route would be at W. Point Loma Blvd, San Diego, CA. 4 blocks from the parking lot at the Pacific Ocean. Yeah, for the next few hours we’d have pretty easy sailing. Within 20 minutes we were through downtown Jacksonville and heading west on I-10. A couple of hours later… Ah yes – Redneck Riviera, next 126 exits. Life is goooooood.

Jeff and I have ridden across the south to Texas several times and we were not fooled into thinking that it would all be a casual cruise across the west like Easy Rider. Well, parts of it felt like the end of Easy Rider. But we know full well that when they made that movie they didn’t include Houston or the damn bridges in Louisiana. So we were not surprised when we found ourselves sitting in traffic in those locations. In fact, as we stopped for gas west of Houston I had pretty much given up on the idea that we would make the BBG.

It was 5:15pm eastern. We were 15.5 hours into the ride and we had 560 miles to go for the BBG. Since we would be running fast in the 80mph speed limit and bucking the West Texas winds, it would turn out that Sierra Blanca would be the 6th gas stop. Only for the receipt mind you, but you have to stop and pump gas all the same. If you are very efficient it will take you 10 minutes to exit the interstate, get to the gas station, pump the gas, log and photo the receipt and odometer, get back to the interstate and get back up to speed. So that will cost us an hour. While averaging 75mph might seem like it would be easy – it isn’t. Especially when you are riding at night, with hundreds of dear grazing right beside the road, and a 40mph crosswind with gusts to 60mph.

Enter the pace car. If you are going to ride at night, across a state with a reported 3.6 million deer and 2 million feral hogs roaming about, it’s good to have something bigger in front of you. Ideally a semi, but I’ll take a car. And if you’re in a hurry a fast moving car is a plus. Well – as Arlo Guthrie sort of said – “[A]s you all know, and as fate would have it…” along came a car doing something in the 90mph range. As it passed me and pulled into my lane a BBG began to seem possible again. We pretty much burned an entire tank of gas following that guy. As we pulled off to fill up Jeff said “I sure hate to lose the pace car”. – Me too.

Once we were rolling again we continued to press. Other than deer and hogs there isn’t much to get in your way in West Texas. The BBG was in no way a sure thing but it now seemed to be a very real challenge that could turn out either way. I still had legitimate concerns about the official mileage of Van Horn and the ability to get a receipt in Sierra Blanca. But we were closing in and there comes a time when – as Nike says – you have to just go for it. So the throttle got twisted a little further and the auxiliary light were all switched on high as we raced ever faster westward.

My gas receipt in Van Horn, Tx, verified all of the concerns and possibilities which had been going through my mind ever since I started the route plan.

First, there are concerns: The mileage based on the odometer was EXACTLY 1500. Zero Cushion. The GPS showed it to be 1515.5. Only 2.5 miles further than google maps had estimated. However, neither of these distances gave me confidence that we would have enough officially for the BBG.

But then, there is the possibility: Based on the time we still had 46 minutes to travel the 34 miles to Sierra Blanca. Those additional miles should definitely give us enough.

But then, there is the concern: Sierra Blanca will likely be completely shut down when we arrive, giving us no way to get the required date/time/location receipt.

Well, the only way to find out is to go and see. So once again, we accelerated into the darkness. We now had to ride 34 miles AND find a place to purchase something within a virtual ghost town AND make the purchase AND get the receipt – all in 46 minutes.

Let’s just say that it didn’t take very long to travel 34 miles. However, the short cruise through Sierra Blanca confirmed my research. There was indeed nothing open. After our pass down what I would loosely call the business district, I turn on the street that leads to the I-10 on-ramp. On the other side of I-10 stood what would seem to be our best/last hope. A Chevron station. But there were no lights on in the building and definitely no sign of anyone about. We turned in anyway. More than anything due to the fact that we would have to go back under the overpass to get on I-10 west. Jeff stopped at one of the pumps. It showed signs of life. “You don’t think that maybe they leave a pump turned on for the locals do you???”. In went the card – enter your pin was displayed – you know the rest.

Within a few seconds I had in my possession an official receipt showing that I had successfully completed a BBG to Sierra Blanca, Tx with 10 minutes and 5 seconds to spare. AND – depending on which mileage counter you choose, I had a 34 mile (odometer) or 49.5 mile (GPS) cushion.

Sierra Blanca, Tx – 10 mins & 5 secs to spare – BBG in the books

Since the time pressure was now significantly reduced, Jeff and I spent several minutes at that station. Had some snacks and water and just savored the moment. We still had to ride on to the hotel we had reserved in El Paso. But we had plenty of time now so that 100 mile ride would be a very relaxing cruise. That’s why it seemed strange when, during that ride, the Texas Dept. of Public Safety asked us to stop for an award ceremony recognizing our superior effort. They didn’t seem to want to recognize the semi and 2 cars we were following. In fact, I believe if Jeff had simply rode on to the next off-ramp he too would have missed out and the distinctive honor would have been mine alone.

The hotel in El Paso was very nice and a very welcome break. Even though we were only there a bit under 6 hours, the shower and few hours sleep made all the difference. Once we fueled up and got rolling again we had roughly 18 hours to ride 716 miles. Easy breezy, right? LOL LOL LOL Well, the breezy part is right. If you call hurricane force crosswinds breezy.

While I appear vertical in this photo the horizon shows how much we were actually leaning into the wind as we rode across the California desert.

The ride across New Mexico, Arizona and California was certainly an experience. The photo above was taken by a GoPro mounted to Jeff’s bike. The angle of the horizon provides a sense of how much we were leaning due to the constant crosswind. As we crossed the mountains in California I had to stay in the lane that was upwind since the gusts would literally blow me into the down-wind lane. If I rode in the down-wind lane it would have blown me off the road.

As you can see in my gas receipt photo from Gila Bend, Az, the temperature at that stop was 112.1°. In April!!!. Yet, as we neared the top of the mountain pass in California, only about 5000ft in altitude, the temperature dropped into the mid 30’s. So we had to stop once we got to a fairly level area so we could put our jacket linings in and put on our heated gear.

112.1° Fahrenheit in Gila Bend, AZ

The winds and temperatures and blowing sand certainly created a bit of adversity for the final stretch of the ride. But we still got to see beautiful scenery and it wasn’t long before we were descending the western side of the mountains into San Diego. My San Diego gas receipt indicates that we crossed the United States from Coast to Coast in 43:49. It was a great experience, well worth doing. Now to get a few hours sleep and then start the 50 hour or less ride back to Florida.

Jeff and I at one of the many stops along the way

My finish receipt in San Diego indicates that we arrived at 7:35PM. My starting receipt the next morning shows 4:55AM. So, by the time I checked into the hotel, got a shower and got to sleep it was another 5-6 hours of rest.

The ride back was pretty much the same experience in reverse. We had originally planned to do a BBG the first day going back but the winds and temps in the California mountains really prevented us from getting a good start. So we abandon that idea early. The crosswinds continued across CA, AZ, NM & TX. By the time we were riding past Sierra Blanca, heading east, the winds were actually lifting my helmet up until the chinstrap was tight against my neck. When I got home I had a pain in my right shoulder. 3 days later, when it still persisted, I went to the chiropractor. It turned out that 3 of my vertebra in my neck were out of alignment. When he popped them back in place I thought the people in the next room could probably hear it but the pain was immediately gone.

One final note: Those 2 bottles of sand and water have set on the corner of my desk, hidden by other nic-nacs, ever since we returned. Now, a year later, I decided I needed a photo of those bottles for my post about the ride. Do you see a difference between the Atlantic Ocean in Jax. FL and the Pacific Ocean in San Diego, CA? (Hint: Jax is on the left and SD is on the right)

Yes – That’s an oil slick on the top of the San Diego Pacific Ocean water (right)

Jeff and I are in the early stages of planning our next big ride. Key West, FL to Prudhoe Bay, AK and back. I’ll keep you posted.