Friday, May 4, 2012

The Road to Moonshine

The Moonshine Lunch Run has been on my radar since I first heard of it in the fall of 2009.  This year is the first year that I could make the trip happen. I floated 3 holidays, used up all of my vacation, and took 3 days unpaid to be able to do it without having to ride out there, stay a day or two, and then come right back.

My initial plan was to take 5 days to ride the ~2250 miles to Illinois - leaving on Saturday April 7th and arriving on Wednesday the 11th and then camping at the farm until Sunday the 15th. This would allow me to enjoy all the activities: the Thursday night BBQ at the farm, the awards dinner Friday night at Richard's Farm Restaurant, the Moonshine Lunch Run on Saturday, and Saturday night's Fireman's Chilli Dinner. 

Soon enough the initial plan was changed. In February it was announced that there would be a special MLR SS1K event, or Moonshine Saddle-Sore 1000 Iron Butt event, with ~60 starting points all leading to the ending point in Casey, IL. I had never really wanted to do an SS1K, but since I was going there anyway and there were no other female riders (only pillions) signed up for it, I decided to give it a try.

Once the Moonshine festivities were over I was going to pick a direction and go, with no pre-planned itinerary and no need to be back to work until the 30th. I had tried for weeks to come up with some kind of route encompassing all the good things to see, but I just could not finalize anything. I finally decided that I would make it up as I went along.
Per my new plan I was to be on my merry way early Saturday morning, April 7th. I would take 3 days to ride the ~1066 miles and arrive at my SS1K starting point in Santa Rosa, NM on Monday the 9th. Then I would rest and leave on the SS1K sometime on Tuesday, with arrival in Casey on Wednesday. 

According to plan the bike was all packed, gassed up, and ready to go. My clothes and gear were all laid out and ready to jump into when I woke up in the morning. I got myself to bed at a reasonable hour so that I would be well rested to begin my trip. 

Unfortunately I woke up sick. Headache, nausea, and dizziness complete with fever and chills. As much as I wanted to leave I could not. I spent all day and most of the night in bed, thankfully for the most part I was asleep. In my few wakeful moments I worried whether or not I would really feel better enough to leave on Sunday morning.

Sunday morning I awoke feeling somewhat better. The nausea and dizziness were gone but my friend the headache was still hanging on, though much better than it had been the day before. After a nice long hot shower, I fixed a light breakfast, swallowed a couple a ibuprofen, donned my gear, and headed out to start my adventure with the newly updated plan to take 2 days to ride to Santa Rosa, NM.

Sunday was fairly uneventful, just lots of highway riding mixed with a few gas stops. And a lot of boring highway. I pulled into Kingman, AZ for the night at around 5pm and stayed at a Motel 6. Days total: ~583 miles.

Monday morning I was up and on the road by around 7:30am. Another day much like the day before. Lots of highway, a few gas stops. I arrived in Santa Rosa, NM around 4:30pm and checked into a conveniently located Best Western. Funny thing... motels outside of CA are a lot cheaper! Days total: ~583 miles.

Tuesday morning I slept in until 9:00am. After a nice hot shower, I had a light breakfast and leisurely set about getting myself packed up and checked out. In preparing for the SS1K I packed some light snacks in my tank bag where they would be easy to get to and filled up my knock-off camelbak with a mix of water and emergen-C packets (loaded with vitamin B, C, potassium, magnesium, etc.) to help provide some energy and ward off muscle cramps.

The next step was to get started on my SS1K. At 10:12am MDT I was gassed up and with my SS1K starting receipt in hand, I was on my way. It was going to be, for  the most part, an uneventful but very long day.

My goal was to try to make 150-200 miles between stops. Typically on long rides I usually stop every 100-150 miles so this was going to be a bit of a stretch. For the most part I was able to stick to my plan and seemed to be making good time. I also tried to keep my speed within 5 miles of the limit so that I could avoid any performance award delays.

Two things caused delays... The first one being the Oklahoma Turnpike. Talk about being nickel and dimed to death! After 4 stops fumbling around for exact change, fighting change machines that didn't like my bills, and trying to hold loose change in my gloved clutch hand... well, maybe you get the picture... Almost $12 by the time I got through it. All I could think about when I was in those moments was how everyone always talks smack about California's taxes.

The second delay was when I started getting transactions declined on my credit card while trying to buy gas. Fortunately I had prepared for problems and was carrying cash and my debit card. I finally stopped for a break in Joplin, MO and, while chomping on some not so healthy fast food and changing my expired SPOT batteries, I called up Citibank to have them turn my card back on. After 20 minutes or so on the phone with them the nice gal told me it was all fixed.

Once again I was on the road. It was already nice and dark out and I found a nice fast truck to follow. I usually do not like to follow big trucks but I was hoping that it would help keep any critters from crossing my path. I tried to keep about 3-4 seconds behind and it seemed to work. I really like Bambi and don't wish him any harm but I sure don't want to have him boinging out in front of me at 75 mph.

It was 32F when I pulled into the BP station in Casey, IL at 4:16am CDT. I am so grateful that heated gear exists! I filled up the gas tank and got my ending receipt for the SS1K. 1066 miles in 17 hours and 4 minutes. I can live with that. Let there be no further mention of Iron Butt rides to me! One is more than enough.

After spending a few minutes talking to the nice clerk guy at the BP, I went across the street to Mc D's for some coffee and to check my email while waiting for the sun to come up before heading over to the Hammond farm.

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