#138 Jax IBA "Orange Blossom" Ride-In

Fleeter Log #138
Jax IBA "Orange Blossom Special" Ride-In
2009 Mar 5-11

Day 1 - Thursday
March 5, 2009
1,051 miles

SS1k to JAX
IBA= Iron Butt Association

This is an organization filled with motorcycle riders who have a tendency to ride far.
The introductory ride to qualify for membership is the Saddle Sore 1000 (SS1k), which is to ride 1,000 miles or more in less than 24 hours. They do not advocate speeding to accomplish this goal, but to keep the wheels turning in a steady pace and the stops short and to a minimum.

In this type of riding the purpose is all about making the miles rather than meandering the back roads, sniffin' flowers as you go. My normal mode is flower sniffin', but I have been known to make miles to get to a destination without wasting too much time.

The IBA hosts an annual Spring gathering in Jacksonville, Florida each year. This is the first year that I will be attending. In the spirit of the IBA, the organizers are encouraging participants to complete a certifiable IBA ride on the way to the party. They are calling the effort the Orange Blossom Special Ride-In. To have an IBA ride certified, one has to keep detailed records and witness documentation. Normally the certifying process takes weeks to months to be approved, but riders participating in the Orange Blossom Special Ride-In will have their ride documents processed within 24 hours. The ride certificates will be presented at the banquet on Friday night.

I decided to ride the Orange Blossom Special to JAX!
In order to achieve the 1,000 miles for the SS1k, I will need to find a longer route from Virginia to Florida. First, I wanted to route to Jacksonville through Chattanooga, Birmingham, and Mobile. But when the weather started bringing snow to the Southeast all the way into Georgia in February, I decided maybe the more prudent route would be the quickest road south. Therefore, I decide on riding directly south on I95 to I10, turn west go 200 miles in the panhandle of Florida, turn around and go back east to Jacksonville. That would give me a route totaling over the required1,000 miles.

Got the route, now to figure out when to leave. I want to arrive at the hotel in Jacksonville Thursday evening. After calculating how long I feel it will take me to ride the route, I determine that I will be leaving in the middle of the night Wednesday night . . . Thursday morning at 3am, to be precise. It's going to be a cold start, but I hope to make my way to the warmer south by the time the sun comes up. It will be a good test of the Gerbings!

Shortly before 3am, I'm getting my start receipt with a fuel up. It's 19 degrees and humid! Notice the fogged up glasses and face shield? Okay, now just to make 1,000 miles before 24 hours runs off the clock. Shouldn't be a problem. I'm planning to make the ride in 17 hours or less.

Don't be expecting a lot of photos this time. It's dark, it's cold, I'm wearing bulky gloves, and there's not much to see along the freeway anyway.

The Gerbing jacket liner and gloves keep my hands and upper body warm enough, but my toes are painfully cold. I may be in the market for some boot/foot warmers if I make it a habit of riding in this cold weather.

139 miles and my feet haven't left the pegs as I cross the state line into North Carolina. Time for a short break. I pull into a rest area for a quick potty stop. Simply walking from the parking lot to the restrooms is enough to warm my lower extremities. I'm good until my next stop, which should be to fuel up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. Finally the sky starts to show some light in the east. Soon the sun will bring warmth. I check my mileage 225 -- getting close to my first fuel stop. Life is good, just a bit cold with the temperature hovering at the 20-21 degree mark . It should be a different ride after that fuel stop . . . the sun will be up, I'll be further south, so it will be a warmer ride.

The RT has a 7.1 gallon fuel tank and I average between 45mpg to 50mpg. I've been well over 300 miles on a tank, though I usually fill up around 275 miles leaving more than a gallon in the tank. I've picked out a fuel stop in Fayetteville, North Carolina that I'm familiar with for my first fuel stop at 272 miles. I'm running a bit ahead of time on my preset schedule.

I see the miles counting down on my computer, but am not worried. My exit is just 12 miles away. But then, just 4 miles from my exit, the RT falters. At first I think it's a gust of wind from a passing semi rig . . . or maybe my thick gloved hand slipped on the throttle. But the RT didn't recover. We started losing speed and kept losing speed. When I slow to 55mph, I pull over onto the shoulder and continue to coast along. My mind races through all the possibilities of why we are going slower and slower on the side of I95 as the early morning traffic races past us.

The only answer seems to be that I am out of gas. But that can't be. I should have plenty of fuel since the tripometer shows only 268 on this tank. Nevertheless, that is exactly what has happened. I continue to roll down the shoulder . . . slower and slower. I see the next exit sign just within view. I roll as far as I can before I am going so slow that it is hard to balance the approximately 625 pound machine on two wheels. I am finally forced to put my feet down to the asphalt. We are going no further under the RT's power. The shoulder is not all that wide, especially when large trucks are flying past just a few feet on my left. I decide to push the RT to a wider spot, maybe the next exit, or at least to the overpass about 1/8 mile ahead. I start pushing. I can't quite read the next exit sign . . . too far. I keep pushing.

Many, many vehicles fly past me. Some of the larger trucks even move over to the center lane so as to afford me a bit more room. It is appreciated, though the sudden gush of wind with each passing truck is still enough for me to pause and steady the RT so that it isn't blown over. I even see motorcycles flying past me . . . many of them on trailers pulled by trucks or large RVs. Headed to Bike Week in Daytona, no doubt. Rather disappointing that none see it worth pulling over to see why a fellow motorcyclist is pushing their ride down the shoulder of I95.

Of all the motorcycles I see rolling past without slowing down to see if they could offer any assistance, its the landscaping company with a trailer full of lawn equipment and gasoline containers that really hurts. But there they go past, leaving me behind . . . as nothing but a hazard to avoid hitting as they pass me by. All that gas, gone! All I wanted was a bit of a splash to get me to my planned fuel stop a mere 4 miles away! But with that thought, the trailer vanished into the river of traffic flying past me.

As I reach the overpass with a slightly larger shoulder area where I can take a rest and make a plan, I see a motorcyclist braking hard as he pulls across three lanes of traffic to the shoulder. He parks a couple hundred feet beyond the overpass and starts walking back my direction. What do you know, it was the first BMW motorcycle to come along and it's another RT! The rider offers to go fetch fuel, though he says that he has no idea where the closest fuel stop is. Not a problem. I tell him exactly where the nearest fuel stop is, the one where I had planned to stop, just 4 miles away. With this info he is off on a mission, promising to return soon.

While waiting, I start eyeballing the next exit. I decide that it looks much safer up there and start pushing the RT again. Maybe it's just hard for me to sit still doing nothing. I get to the next exit where the ramp pulls uphill to the frontage road. Well, that's not going to happen! I'm worn out from pushing the RT at least half a mile on the cambered shoulder -- I'll never survive pushing it up that hill! I settle on the hashed out triangle in the Y created by I95 and the exit ramp. And there I park it - to wait for the RT rider to return with fuel.

Shortly after I take my breather and start looking at the time to see just how much I've screwed my chance at successfully completing the SS1k, it happens again. I see The Second BMW motorcycle hitting their brakes hard, crossing over two lanes of traffic to come to a stop right next to me. This time it's a GS. The well protected rider climbs from the GS as he asks about my problem. When he hears that I am out of gas, he immediately starts unbolting his auxiliary fuel cell. I see the sense of purpose and determination in his eyes. I ask if he is "on the clock"? He tells me he is doing a BBG (Bun Burner Gold=1500 miles in less than 24 hours). He had just left Raleigh, North Carolina to start his Orange Blossom Special Ride-In, a mere 45 minutes ago. The BBG is a very hard ride. There is no time allowed for any dawdling . . . such as helping me on the side of the road.

Even though I tell him there is someone fetching fuel as we speak, he is still determined to lift a full 5 gallon fuel cell off his GS and carry it over to the RT. Gasoline weighs about 6.5 pounds per gallon. He was struggling with a heavy fuel cell with over 30 pounds of fluid sloshing around -- not something easily done. He lifted the fuel cell high on his chest as I put the tube into the RTs tank. But only a dribble came out. We switched to trying the vent tube. It gave up a faster dribble. About then the RT Rider pulls up behind us with a gallon container full of gas. GS Rider returns his fuel cell to his bike, bolts it on, and prepares to continue on his way in quest of his BBG. I wish him well and tell him I will see him in Jax!

I then turn my attention back to RT Rider and the precious gallon of gas. When I get it emptied into my tank and myself geared up to ride, RT Rider and I return to the fuel stop at the exit where he just obtained the rescue fuel. I then fill up both my RT and his RT and give him enough money to have a meal on me as my thanks for his time and effort to get me going again! We chatted awhile about our RTs and the IBA. He didn't know about the IBA Ride-In Party in Jax. He may have been wondering why GS Rider was filled with such a sense of determined purpose and was so quick to get back on the road, but I explained all that to him before we said goodbye in Fayetteville, North Carolina. The whole affair from the first falter to pulling back onto I95 southbound = 1 1/4 hours

I still have over 18 hours and 728 miles to achieve my SS1k goal. Plenty of time.

The rest of the ride goes without incident. Ride south on I95. Refuel in Hardeeville, SC. Ride south on I95. Refuel near Jax. Ride west on I10. Refuel in Quincy, FL. Turn around. Ride east on I10. Refuel in Orange Park, FL. Get official stop receipt. 1,045 miles in 17 hours and 55 minutes! Done.

Fuel stop in Quincy, Florida.
Within 30 minutes after I pull into the host hotel, Barb arrives -- completing her Saddle Sore 2000 (SS2k) certified ride from West Texas.
It was a long day -- up at 2:15am, rolling down the road on the clock before 3am and finally to bed sometime after midnight.

Day 2 - Friday
March 6, 2009
0 miles

Friday we loitered around the hotel lobby and parking lot, kicking tires and comparing farkle notes.
While most of us were socializing, the scorers were working hard verifying the "ride-in" ride documentation. During the banquet, the ride certificates were handed out.

Day 3 - Saturday
March 7, 2009
206 miles

Jacksonville, FL to Douglas, GA

We start the day off with the breakfast buffet that comes with the room.
This is one of those small world stories. The guy to the right of me is Bob Collins from the Golden Triangle of Texas. He sold a Harley to my good friends in Orange TX. My RT has shared garage space with his old Harley upon several occasions. When he introduced himself, I thought there was something familiar about his name, but it was halfway through the eggs before it came to me why.
When I headed north, I saw lots of these--bikes on trailers. Reminds me of the numerous bikes I saw flying past me while I was pushing the RT southward in North Carolina Thursday morning.

Callahan, Florida old train depot.

Homerville, GA train depot.

Willacoochee, GA train depot.
By the time I reached Douglas, GA. my stomach was growling and this place looked like it would serve my purpose.

I stayed the night at the Quality Inn in Douglas, GA.

Day 4 - Sunday
March 8, 2009

226 miles
Douglas, GA to Marietta, GA

US 441 north took me through some nice country and I saw this cool painted old farmhouse.
I took US129 North through Abbeville, GA. Last time I was here (3 months ago), I was going East.
I make it to my friends' house by early afternoon with plenty of time left for visiting, eating, and general socializing before it was time for me to find my way to the guest room.

Day 5 - Monday
March 9, 2009

82 miles

New Front Rubber

My friends, Joan and Charles, in Marietta always leave the door open for me and make me feel at home when passing through the Atlanta area.
All this riding has a way of wearing out tire rubber. My front tire is getting a bit thin since it has traveled over 14,000 miles in 21 states from Minnesota to Florida and Texas to Pennsylvania in its six month "on road" life. I last had the rear tire replaced at nearly 11,000 miles in January. I am now on the third set of tires on the RT. The last two sets have been Michelin Pilot Road2.

So the plan for today is to take a short ride up to Lawrenceville to get some fresh front rubber. Charles sees this as a chance to take his K bike out for a run too. That is NOT his K bike in the photo with the RT.
While the RT is getting the new front tire, a friend of ours, Dan, came by and picked us up for lunch.
I decide to take advantage of Charles and Joan's hospitality and stay another night.

Day 6 - Tuesday
March 10, 2009

372 miles

Marietta, GA to Hillsville, VA

I leave Marietta and head to Virginia. When riding north on US23 I see a sign for Tallulah Gorge Scenic Loop. I make a quick decision and take the right turn. This is what I find. A good old fashion tourist attraction. It was here that Karl Wallenda walked across a high wire stretched across the Tallulah Gorge on July 18, 1970. Thirty nine years ago this created quite a stir in the area and is still their claim to fame.
Tallulah Point has a small gift shop . . . complete with Moonpies. We are in the south, after all.
Just a bit further up US23 is the Tallulah Falls Train Depot. And on the roadside oddity list of attractions, I see this. It's a Country Store that usually has goats on the roof. You can see how much effort they put into keeping the goats happy. Unfortunately, there was a sign hanging on the gate -- CLOSED: The goats need a day off.

I continue all the way through North Carolina and into Virginia before stopping for the night shortly after dark.

Day 7 - Wednesday
March 11, 2009

321 miles

Hillsville, VA to Fredericksburg, VA

Last night I made it to Hillsville, Virginia at about dark and took off this morning following The Crooked Road.

Patrick County Virginia is home to several old covered bridges. I take time to find and ride across two of them.

This is Jack's Creek Covered Bridge built of oak in 1914 across the Smith River. It was designed by a guy named Walter, built by a guy named Charles, and crosses Smith River. I'm not sure who Jack is?!
Next is Bob White Covered Bridge built in 1921. Don't know who Bob White is either.
The Blue Ridge Institute & Museum has an exhibit explaining how this area is the played a most important role in the history of bluegrass music.
It's apparent that this is Bluegrass Country when even the local DQ has a live bluegrass music venue.
Somehow I end up on this long stretch (about 7 mi) of gravel road named Folkes Bridge Road. Sure enough I come across this bridge -- Folkes Bridge? Ya think?
Just a bit past the bridge, I see the only people I'd seen while on this gravel road. One of the horseback riders also rides motorcycles and was surprised to see a sport touring bike on this road. Yeah, well I didn't exactly plan it myself. I just find myself on these kind of roads sometimes.

Home at 11:00pm after getting caught up in a traffic jam just 20 miles from home. It took me 3 hours to go 10 miles! I had to pull over to the shoulder a few times to let the RT cool off when it starting heating up. Riding a motorcycle in stop and go traffic isn't the same as being in a four wheeled vehicle. A bike just can't take it without getting overheated -- especially those designed to be air cooled such as the RT.
Orange Blossom Special Summary
Total trip miles: 2,258
States fleetered in this trip: 5

Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida

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