#143 North Carolina In-State SaddleSore 1000

Fleeter Log #143 
North Carolina In-State SaddleSore 1000 

2009 June 26-28

Every other year, generally, the MTF plays host to several Iron Butt Association (IBA) SaddleSore rides. This year, my buddy Mike "Grizz" Newton is organizing a ride in North Carolina. A SaddleSore 1000 (SS1k) is achieved by riding 1,000 miles or more in 24 hours or less. It is an exercise in time-management and consistent riding. It is not about speed. The objective is to not waste time while stopped and to keep those stops to a minimum.

Some people ask, "Why? Why would you want to knock yourself out to ride 1,000 miles in 24 hours?"

The answer may be different for different people, but for me the answer is twofold.
1) Just to prove to myself that I can. Maybe the same as why people climb those mountains or run those marathons.
2) Being able to ride 1,000 miles in 24 hours expands my riding area. Just knowing that, if I set my mind to it, I can be 1,000 miles away in less than 24 hours and that is empowering. Just think of the new riding areas that can open up with that kind of riding range.

That said, my preferred riding style is still to flower sniff my way along the back roads ... true fleetering at its best! When I am making time by riding the freeway, I can't help myself but to longingly look down at the smaller roads I'm crossing and wonder what interesting places they would take me. Or, even if I am riding the back roads while on the clock, I continue to see spot after spot that I would normally stop to explore deeper if I were in normal flower sniffin' fleeter mode.

But this Saturday, I will be riding on the clock doing an In-State SS1k within the borders of North Carolina. Just because.
Day 1 - Friday
June 26, 2009
376 miles

Fredericksburg, VA to Matthews, NC

The ride will start in Matthews, North Carolina on the southern border of the state near Charlotte. As I ride down to the designated start location, the heat of the afternoon has me reconsidering my commitment to the ride. A humid and stifling 96 degrees does not sound like the kind of weather I want to test myself in. I'll go ahead and get myself to Matthews and see how I feel about it in the morning.

I get checked into the Holiday Inn Express about 7pm for, hopefully, a good night's sleep. The alarm is set for 4:30am.

Day 2 - Saturday
June 27, 2009
1,051 miles

View NC in-state SS1k in a larger map
Loop inside North Carolina
Starting/Ending in Matthews, NC

Alarms can be set, but they will not sound off to wake you up unless they are turned on. I roll over and look at the time. Brain signals start firing off when I realize what time it is as the red blurs turn into numbers ... 5:05am! CRAP! We are supposed to be getting our start receipt at 5:30am ... in only 25 minutes!

My normal practice is to lay out my clothes for the next day. Good thing! I jump up and start changing into my base layers as I brush my teeth. Within 5 minutes, I am tightening down the RAM mount for my GPS. As I attach my tankbag to the GS, my heart is still racing and my brain is overloaded with all that I need to get done. GPS, SPOT, tankbag, camera, Camelback, powerbars, flashlight, gloves, earbuds, etc ... check, check, check, check, etc. I only have 5 minutes to prepare everything and anything I may need for the next 20-24 hours. No problem. Most is already in place or laid out for me from the night before. Fortunately, I'll be returning to this same room tonight and don't need to pack everything up and check out.

So much for taking time this morning to consider with how I feel about participating in the ride today. No time to think. Just do it. At 5:18am, I arrive at the appointed meeting place at the BMW dealer's parking lot ... all the way across the street from my motel. Commute time time: 30 seconds. Thank goodness for the proximity of the motel to the meeting spot! Good planning Grizz!

When I pull up, I find three people wondering if I was going to show up or not. Grizz and Mike Eddins are discussing final details. Mike Eddins is there to see that everyone has what paperwork they need and that it is properly filled out. He also has an open box of Powerbars sitting on his tailgate and encourages us to stuff a few in our tankbags for later. I add a couple to my selection already packed. His look tastier. Thanks Mike.

Another group participating in a regular SS1k had an earlier start. This regular SS1k was routed mostly on Interstates for simplicity and ease of maintaining a higher average speed. They left an hour to thirty minutes earlier. I never saw them. They were long gone by the time I arrived.

Also preparing for the In-State SS1k start, is a rider named Jeff. I was expecting my friend, Russell, but Mike explained that Russell was itching to get started and has already taken off. The three of us (Grizz, Jeff, and I) get geared up and head down the street a block to fuel up and get our starting receipt. With the time on the printed gas receipt, we now are on the clock. We have up to 24 hours to complete our 1000+ mile tour of North Carolina.

We can ride alone or with each other. There are no rules. Fact is, most MTF members, like most long distance (LD) riders, prefer to travel alone. But as long as it is a small group and we are comfortable with each others' riding styles, we may tag along with each other. But it is an understood agreement that at anytime, anyone of us is free to break from the group and ride alone. No harm, no bad feelings. Just let the others know that you are striking out from the group to ride solo so there won't be any wasted time or energy worrying about what happened to the missing rider from the group. This agreement has already been seen in action when Russell started his ride before I even made it out of my motel room.

As luck would have it though, 86 miles into the ride when we pulled over for our first required stop, we find Russell. He was waiting around thinking we might catch up to him. We did, and he joined our merry band. We are now four. This is probably the largest group I'd ever want to ride with while on the clock. 

I should explain that our stops will not only be determined by how often we need fuel or by when we might need a break, but required stops have been predetermined  to fulfill the route documentation requirements. We will be making numerous stops to obtain qualifying receipts (with location/date stamp) to prove the route we rode.

Russ, Grizz, and me at Bridal Falls on US64. Even though we are "on the clock," we still take time to do some quick flower sniffin' and picture taking! Jeff worked the shutter.

We spent the morning between 8:00-10:30 in prime motorcycling country twisting and turning through the southwest portion of the state along US64 riding through Sapphire, Cashiers, Highlands, and Ellijay. As pleasant as this ride was, the enjoyment factor was diminished by the fact that the clock was ticking and we were stuck behind a river rafting outfitter bus shuttling rafters upriver to their put-in spot. No fear we still have lots of time to complete our tour and our time is looking fine. We continue to settle in and enjoy the ride. Here, I follow Grizz as he bends his way along US64 on his ST1300.

Below is Russ on his ST1300. He has a unique hobby. Some people collect shot glasses or baseball cards ... Russ collects In-State SS1k certificates. He holds the record for the most In-State SS1k rides with 17 different states ridden. Actually, he already has an In-State SS1k in North Carolina, but chose to ride another since the MTF is hosting this one. 
[update: As of Sept 2010, Russ has completed In-State SS1k rides in 25 different states.]

We got to stretch out along I40 after leaving Asheville. It almost felt good to be on a freeway for a while for easy miles. This stretch between Asheville and Durham was ridden in the heat of the day, between 1:00pm and 4:00pm where we saw a high of 96 degrees. We were all feeling the heat, but being careful to stay hydrated. I had my Camelback available for sipping water while riding. I would refill it with water and ice at fuel stops. The water was supplemented with cold Gatorade bought during the rest/fuel stops.

Grizz running northeast on I85 on the way to the northeast portion of the state.

Leaving I85 behind, we head south onto US158. Not the best type of road to maintain a consistent speed, but more to my liking considering my flower sniffin' tendencies.

About the time we turned onto southbound I95 near Roanoke Rapids, Jeff split from the group to make his final push in the last 380 miles back to our start/finish point in Matthews. We wished him well as he rode off. And now we are three.

We saw quite a few fuel pumps in our 1 day tour of North Carolina.

By 2:30am, we were back in Matthews having completed our whirlwind tour of the State of North Carolina. It's not the best way to enjoy all that North Carolina has to offer, but satisfying to be able to complete such a tour in less than 24 hours.

The numbers: 1,050.8 miles in 21 hours, 10 minutes with an overall average speed of 49.6mph. Four hours was spent not moving. This included not just fuel stops and rest stops, but also sitting at stop signs, red lights even sitting behind the river rafting outfitter bus -- anytime we were not making progress. Disregard that max speed field. 806mph! ... not even in my dreams!

By 3am, the paperwork was done -- collected, signed, and turned in to Mike Eddins. He will collect everyone's paperwork and submit it to the IBA for approval. Thanks to Mike Eddins, Grizz and everyone that had a hand in organizing this ride.

[update: A few weeks later this came in the mail.]

Day 3 - Sunday
June 27, 2009
390 miles

 Matthews, NC to Fredericksburg, VA
Entire trip here on Spotwalla

I slept until noon, but still got myself up and loaded to leave the motel before 1pm. When I saw the home-made peach ice cream sign just 38 miles down the road, I decided to stop ... just because I can. Heck, I'm not on the clock. I'm not in any hurry to be anywhere and home-made ice cream just sounds good!

These ruins looked interesting, but I didn't take time to figure out how to get a closer look. Maybe next time I'm through Rockingham, I'll putz around and see what I can learn.

Could be that I'm still in SS1k mode or maybe it's just too hot to keep stopping to flower sniff. Either way, today I spend most of my time with "seat to the saddle" and the tires turning. It's time for a fuel stop in Nashville, so I make the stop worthwhile by getting a fried chicken supper from Smithfield's. I didn't stop again until four hours later for another fuel stop. Next thing I know, it's 9:30pm and I'm pulling into my driveway.

Total Trip:  1,817 miles in 3 days

Copyright 2009 Fleeter Logs

#142m Pennsylvania's Backroad Post Offices

Fleeter Log #142m
 Pennsylvania's Backroad Post Offices

Day 15 - Sunday
June 21, 2009
320 miles

I saddled up under a wet sky, but the rest of the day was one reward after another. It made the wet start just a minor annoyance in my distant memory before the day was done.

The first small post office digitally documented today is in Lamar. I didn't know at the time that this would be a theme throughout the day.
Lamar, Pennsylvania

PA445 runs south of Lamar to Madisonburg. It's only 7 miles long, but it offers plenty of joy in that short distance.

At the end of PA445, this unique post office was waiting for me to take its photo with the GS.
Madisonburg, Pennsylvania

First, the old barn got my attention, then I saw the black horse. Then, I had to stop for a few photos.

No doubt he had been wallowing around in the mud from the overnight rains!

Allow me pass on a small warning to anyone stopping to take photos: Watch where you step! I almost trod right over this guy.  He didn't seem to be too worried about getting stepped on though. I suppose he just figured that he was there first and I could go around him.
The good news is, no rattles giving me warning since it's just a small rat snake. So I left him alone ... after snapping a few shots of him.

Reedsville, PA
Reedsville, Pennsylvania

Allensville, PA
Allensville, Pennsylvania

Mill Creek, PA
Mill Creek, Pennsylvania

Cassville, PA
Cassville, Pennsylvania

Saltillo, PA
Saltillo, Pennsylvania

I couldn't resist this picturesque old mill building in Saltillo.

In Robertsdale, I took Six Mile Run Road to Coaldale. It ended near this post office.
Six Mile Run, PA
Six Mile Run, Pennsylvania

Just a mile down the road, I come across another unique post office in Defiance, PA.
Defiance, Pennsylvania

Riding down PA28, minding my own business, enjoying the scenery and then it happened ... I saw a sign for a covered bridge. Well, we all know that I seldom have the will power to resist those!
Hall's Mill Bridge 
Bedford County, Pennsylvania

Rainsburg, just another impeccably groomed small town found on the backroads of Pennsylvania.

Then another covered bridge. Apparently, Bedford County, Pennsylvania has 14 covered bridges. I stumbled across two of them.
Hewitt Covered Bridge
Bedford County, Pennsylvania
Hewitt Covered Bridge
Bedford County, Pennsylvania
Hewitt Covered Bridge
Bedford County, Pennsylvania
When I looked back up the trail from the creek and caught this view of the GS, my heart skipped a beat. That's my GS! What a great looking motorcycle. I am so lucky to get to ride around the country on that!

It really is no wonder that I don't make better time during the day. The simple nature of pure fleetering keeps me plenty distracted with small post offices, old barns, covered bridges, etc. The roads leading to these fleetering treasures tend to be those of the smaller variety. That's the only excuse I have to explain how I find myself on roads such as this -- at least this one is paved. 

Sweetroot Natural Area, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry
Sweetroot Natural Area, Pennsylvania Bureau of Forestry

Then some more roads like this one as I make my way through southern Pennsylvania toward the Maryland state line.

Bridges don't have to be covered to catch my eye. This old bridge off to the right of the newer bridge deserved a U turn for a closer look. The road was blocked off to the bridge, but I was able to park and walk across it.

See the little guy there? Does he look a bit out of place? The little mule's momma is likely in the bunch, but I didn't see his daddy anywhere around. For those readers that aren't aware, a mule is the offspring of a female horse and a male donkey.

A few more miles through Maryland, West Virginia, and Virginia and the next thing you know ... I'm home.

Total Trip:  2,794 miles in 15 days through 7 states

Copyright 2009 Fleeter Logs

#142l Forksville General Store

Fleeter Log #142l
Forksville General Store

Day 14 - Saturday
June 20, 2009
97 miles

Canton, PA to Lamar, PA 
Entire trip here on Spotwalla

The light rain falling, as I left Doc's, was only a precursor to the rest of the day. The sun wouldn't bother to come out of hiding at all for the rest of the day.

Today, I actually have a schedule to meet ... at least for lunch. Knowing that today is suppose to be wet and that I have someplace to be by late morning, I was glad to have pushed my route yesterday to get a room in Canton. That leaves me only 22 miles down the small, twisty road known as PA154 to Forksville. I will meet some MTF friends at the Forksville General Store for a bite to eat and swapping of stories.

PA154 is a fun road leading through some interesting places ... even in the rain. Enlarge the photo for a closer look at the car parked next to the building.
Shunk, Pennsylvania is one of the few wide places in the road ... but not very wide.
 That's Shunk, with an SH.

Entering Forksville in the rain, it is obvious there is even more rain in the hills just beyond. Over the next hour, that rain would escort my friends as they ride into town from all different directions. There's the backside of the Forksville General Store, just on the other side of the covered bridge.
During a brief interlude in the rain showers, I coaxed the group to gather for a couple photos.
The group included riders from Texas, Mississippi, Illinois, Georgia, Maryland, Virginia, and even Pennsylvania.

Leaving Forksville in a light rain, I head south. Two weeks on the road and it's time to head home. I dodge the heavier rain past Williamsport to Lamar where I stop for the night.
Copyright 2009 Fleeter Logs