So What Did YOU Do In The Summer?
Back in the middle of Summer, around the lightest night/longest day, one of our Group did something 'off the wall'.
An 'Iron Butt' ride. 1000 miles in 24 hours. Here's Rosie's story of Mid Summer Madness!
Excitement was reaching its peak as I rode into Squires car park on the afternoon of 23rd June as requested by the organisers to register.
My bike had recently been serviced and a new rear tyre fitted as was a sheepskin seat pad kindly gifted by a friend. I had programmed my Garmin sat-nav, I had the route downloaded on Google maps on my i-phone and I had the route written down junction by junction in a plastic wallet in my tank bag. I had also, as advised by other seasoned Iron Butt achievers, “carb’d up” and attempted to catch up on sleep over the past few days. I also had a cool bag in my top box holding small water bottles and snack bars containing peanuts. As far as I was concerned I had done my preparations, dotted the “I’s” and crossed the “T’s”.
I met one of the organisers, Mark, and completed the paperwork required confirming which route I had chosen and my plans for pre and post ride. Mark also explained that due to probable road closures overnight the first checkpoint venue would be changing from Birch services to Hartshead services. I then grabbed a coffee and caught up with some friends who were helping by marshalling the event.
At 4pm I set off from Squires to Pollington where one of my best friends had offered me a bed for the night to save me camping or staying in a B&B. Evening meal of pizza (more carbs) was gratefully demolished and it was bed by 10pm. 2 hrs later I finally drifted off only to be woken by my alarm what seemed seconds later at 3:45 am. Quick coffee and in daylight we tried quietly to get my bike out of the garage and onto the road without waking the rest of the street up. My idea of being one of the first had been copied by others and when I reached Squires at 4:20am I reckon I was about number 30 in the line-up. The weather was dry and the temperature 11 degrees. Much preferred riding conditions to the previous weekend’s heat-wave. Receipt log and odometer readings documented by the marshals, a few hugs and good lucks from other riders and pillions that I knew and we were off. I actually rode through the gate at 5:02am.
In all my excitement I blithely followed the 3 bikes in front of me before realising that they were going on the anticlockwise route, opposite to the route I was supposed to be doing. A quick ‘all the way round the roundabout’ and I was back on course heading for the first checkpoint.
As I reached Hartshead services I was relieved to see the checkpoint well signposted and a marshal directing us. Following the necessary odometer reading and signature and another good luck hug I was off again.
Excitement had now abated and I concentrated on the task in hand. I had planned my first fuel stop at Birch and as they had reopened the M62 I made my way there.
My coordination was a bit awry and I overfilled my tank which caused the lady attendant to be very concerned and warn me that my bike was leaking fluid and there was a puddle underneath it. I apologised and reassured her that it was my fault and I would take more care.
Off again heading towards the M61 then the M6. Passing the signpost for Preston I gave a virtual wave to my Son who is currently based at Weeton Barracks nearby.
The weather had become a bit cooler and there was a small shower of that fine rain that gets you wet but not drenched. I was glad of the wiper blade on my thumb built into my glove.
I pulled into Burton in-Kendall services as by now I was in need of a warming coffee. Chatting with others on the ride and a decaf’ cappuccino and snack bar later and I felt better.
Back on the road and I reached Gretna where I pulled in for more fuel and by now the sun was out.
Following the M74 I headed for Glasgow.
Well, all I can say is that, yet again, despite my Garmin on my handlebars and Google maps in my ear the route over the Erskin Bridge has eluded me for the second time. Realising I was heading in the wrong direction I chose the Garmin to follow as the lag from Google maps was abysmal. Garmin was indicating a triangular route back to where I needed to be. Glaring at the screen and matching it to the road ahead I stopped at a junction and suddenly realised no give way paint on the road! Looking around I noticed a small island between me and the car in the correct lane stopped at traffic lights. Looking ahead I saw oncoming traffic that thankfully peeled to their left, where I was heading, and just the driver of a transit van giving the universal hand sign to say “what on earth are you doing there” to which I gave the universal hand sign of palms upwards for sorry I haven’t a clue!
Lights changed and I quickly placed myself in the correct lane and berated myself for getting it so wrong. As I safely reached the A82 heading for Loch Lomond I gave myself a stern talking too that I must take more care.
Riding alongside Loch Lomond was one of the highlights of this trip. The weather was dry and sunny though the temperature was only 13 degrees but in reality ideal riding conditions. I noted at least three signs advising car drivers to let motorcycles pass safely and to their credit they all did. I was joined by another rider as we ‘negotiated’ the cars and I made room for him to pull in before setting off again. It was pleasant being with another rider who understood good riding etiquette. Eventually I lost him as I made good progress past a couple of coaches and a caravan.
Heading up to the next checkpoint at Fort William and reaching Glencoe there was a dramatic change in the weather. It became very wet and more disturbingly extremely windy with some heart stopping gusts. Fatigue was setting in so I settled into the traffic behind a car for a while to rest.
Heading into Fort William I tagged behind another group of bikers going the way my sat nav was taking me only to realise as I passed the checkpoint that they were not “one of us”!