Wednesday, October 31, 2001

Bun Burner Gold

Note: Since writing the original report, the IBA has updated the extreme rides list and has corrected the issues with multiple BBG rules on the IBA site.


Since completing my first IBA Event in September of 2001, I couldn't wait for the Iron Butt Association (IBA) to certify the ride so I could move on to the extreme ride series - particularly the Bun Burner Gold (BBG) which is 1500 miles or more in 24 hours or less. Well, a few days ago some of the good folks on the Motorcycle Tourer's Forum were discussing the IBA rides. One person thought the BBG was not an extreme ride. I did a little investigation on the IBA site and, sure enough, the BBG is not in the extreme ride category as it has been in the past. The IBA website has two different BBG rules posted. The unfortunate part is that most people are reading the old rules because the main link to the rules is the older version. For the most current rules go to the IBA Website. Click on 'Event Calendar'. Click on 'SaddleSore 1000'. Click on 'Saddlesore 1000 Rules'. About a page down you'll find a link for the Bun Burner Gold rules. That's the one you want. The revision date is October 1, 2000. I've notified the IBA about the discrepency.

Since I didn't need to wait for certification, I decided to go ahead and run a BBG. This run took place on Friday October 12 and Saturday October 13, 2001.

Route Map

The route starts in Irving, Texas and heads west on I-20; I-10 to Las Cruces, New Mexico; north on I-25 to Albuquerque, New Mexico; west on I-40 to Amarillo, Texas; and TX-287 back into the metroplex and Irving, Texas. Total mileage is 1542.

click to enlarge


When I first woke up I checked the weather. The only suspect information I saw was that it was supposed to be cold in Albuquerque and possibly raining in the metroplex on my return. I almost called off the ride, but I decided to go ahead. I figured I have some cold weather gear and a rain suit that I needed to use. :) So I took a shower, packed up the bike and was off. The official start time in Irving was 7:14 AM Central.

The ride to my first stop in Sweetwater, Texas was a very pleasent, cool one. The wind was picking up, but I thought nothing of it. After Sweetwater the wind began to pick up more and after my stop in Pecos, the wind began to howl and pick up dust. Why is it that when the wind blows it's always a headwind? All the way to El Paso the wind was picking up huge amounts of sand into the air and keeping visibility to about 1-2 miles. My gas mileage suffered because of it. I got 31 MPG rather than the usual 38/40.

When I finally made it through El Paso and started to head north, these fierce winds became cross-winds. I have never, ever experienced cross-winds as brutal as this. On three separate ocassions the wind almost blew the bike out from under me and I almost pulled over to wait out the winds. But I decided that it was best to become one with the bike, lean into the wind and continue to make progress in an effort to pass through this mess and on to calmer conditions. I broke through somewhere around Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. What a relief!

When I stopped in Socorro, New Mexico the winds were calm, but it was starting to get cold. After the hot Texas summer, this was cold. I was going to put on some more cloths, but decided to trudge forward. Next stop Santa Rosa. This was a mistake. The sun began to set a little west of Albuquerque and it was cold, but not cold enough to stop. My jacket, gloves, boots and heated hand grips took the bite out, but I was shivering cold when I got to Santa Rosa - especially after removing my helmet.

I gassed up in Santa Rosa, drank some hot chocolate, warmed up and talked to a few people in the store. I met some folks who arrived from Santa Fe. They have been touring the southwest on their Connie and said they ran into major thunderstorms and snow around Santa Fe. They said it was so bad they pulled into the first ranch they saw and asked the folks there if they could have a little shelter. Luckily, they said the storm was over and not moving this direction. Phew!!! What a relief. While there, I decided to layer on some more clothing. I put on another long sleave t-shirt, some thermals and an extra pair of long socks. I also changed over to some thicker gloves. This made all the difference in the world.

I reached Amarillo around midnight. The skies were clear. I caught the Weather Channel and the forecast called for rain in the metroplex. What a bummer. The cold is one thing. Cold and wet is another. I had another cup of hot chocolate to warm the soul and was off. When I stopped in Wichita Falls I asked the clerk if she had seen the latest weather report. She indicated that some serious storms rolled through northern Texas and spawned a few tornadoes in and around Decatur, Texas. Decatur was in my flight path. She said the storms had passed through. Phew! What a relief again.

The last 150 miles was uneventful. The skies were cloudy, it was cold and you could tell that some serious storms passed through and left their mark. I was thankful for not having to endure this on my ride and sympathized with the folks that lost their lives in the tornadoes in Decatur and everyone else who lost their homes. Despite my inattention, the Lord must like me.

I rolled into the metroplex around 5 AM - 22 hours into the ride. I stopped at my usual ATM and got a receipt for the official end time. That was 5:33 AM.

Trip Statistics

Here are some of the major trip statistics.

Motorcycle 2002 BMW R1150RT
Total Miles 1542
Total Time 22 Hours 19 Minutes
Total Gallons 43.474
Total Gas Money $63.50
Average MPG 36.44
Average MPH 69.10*
*Based on Total Time which includes, breaks...

Lessons Learned

While I learned a lot on my last trip, I knew I was in store for more. I guess that's one thing I like about this sport. There's always something to learn.

  • Strong headwinds severly impact your MPG. Take this into account in planning your trip by ensuring their are contigency stops along the way or pack an extra fuel cell. I was running on fumes between my stops. The R1150RT's tank holds 6.6 gallons. I filled up with 6.605, 6.635, 6.369 and 6.536 gallons of gas through Socorro, NM. Needless to say, I was running on fumes and pushing the limit. In retrospect, it was foolish to jeapordize the ride in this manner, but in a few instances I had no options to stop as I was in west Texas and southern New Mexico. The only thing that got me through was a little luck, that little bit of extra gas I always get into the tank and knowing what to expect from the R1150RT.
  • Cold weather gear is a must. On this ride I experienced the coldest weather I've ever ridden in for an extended period of time. I always layered clothing and, while that works, the proper equipment is in order. So the search begins.
  • A pair of spandex-type shorts next to the bottom makes for a comfortable ride. My bottom came through in fine shape.
  • The stock windshield on the R1150RT does not provide a large enough pocket for a guy as tall as me. This is especially true and so apparent while riding in cold weather. I bought a tall Aeroflow windshield earlier in the week. My dealer called me Friday while I was on the road and told me it had arrived. Go figure.

Event Log

Date Time In Time Out Location Odometer Description
10-12-2001 7:00 AM CT 7:10 AM CT Irving, TX 8277 Met my begin witness.
10-12-2001 7:10 AM CT 7:15 AM CT Irving, TX 8277 Stopped at an ATM for an official start time of 7:14 AM.
10-12-2001 9:59 AM CT 10:10 AM CT Sweetwater, TX 8500 Stopped for gas.
10-12-2001 12:39 PM CT 12:52 PM CT Pecos, TX 8720 Stopped for gas. Had to back track about 5 miles for gas because I missed the exit.
10-12-2001 1:55 PM MT 2:30 PM MT El Paso, TX 8914 Stopped for gas and a sandwhich.
10-12-2001 5:10 PM MT 5:30 PM MT Socorro, NM 9125 Stopped for gas.
10-12-2001 8:45 PM MT 9:30 PM MT Santa Rosa, NM 9325 Stopped for gas and walked around for a spell.
10-12-2001 11:50 PM CT 10-13-2001 12:15 AM CT Amarillo, TX 9502 Stopped for gas.
10-13-2001 3:15 AM AZ 3:30 AM AZ Iowa Park, TX 9718 Stopped for gas.
10-13-2001 5:30 AM CT 5:40 AM CT Irving, TX 9857 Stopped at an ATM for official end time.
10-13-2001 5:55 AM CT 6:15 AM CT Carrolton, TX 9863 Met my end witness.
10-13-2001 6:10 PM CT 6:20 PM CT Irving, TX 9870 Stopped for final gas fill at Texaco. Note that this final fillup did not occur until well after the official end time, but shouldn't effect certification because the official end time comes from the ATM receipt. This fill-up is noted because the mileage, gallons used, etc are part of the trip data.

Monday, October 1, 2001

Talimena Scenic Byway

This past weekend I had the pleasure of riding down to Austin with some folks from the Sabre Group. While stopped at Hut's in Austin to have a good burger someone mentioned the Talimena Scenic Drive and said it was a wonderful, winding road that ran through the Ouachita National Forest of eastern Oklahoma and western Arkansas. At the time, I made a mental note because I knew I would be hard up for a ride the following week.

It didn't take long to find some good information on the Talimena on the net. Here are a few links I found:

Ouchita National Forest Website
Mena, Arkansas Website
Dallas Morning News Article

The Talimena is a good one-day trip from the Dallas area. Expect to travel around 600 miles and be gone for at least 12 hours. I left around 6a and arrived back home around 9p. The drive up is ordinary until a little north of Antlers, OK where you begin a gradual ascent into the Kiamichi Mountains. I saw quite a few deer and even had a small group of deer cross the road about a quarter-mile in front of me. Keep your head on a swivel and the brakes covered. The roads are relatively narrow leaving little for reaction if something were to pop out in front of you.

I took 75-N out of Dallas to 70-E in Durant. Then 271-N all the way to Talihina. Stay on 271 out of Talihina to get to highway 1 and the beginning of the Talimena. I had originally intended to ride some roads in Arkansas, but, much to my dismay, the shortcuts I mapped out involved some dirt roads that I didn't have the time to navigate. Plus, I'm not a big fan of dirt roads. Perhaps next trip I will have enough time to go the long way around.

click to enlarge

The Talimena is a wonderful road that runs from Talihina, OK to Mena, AR along the crest of the Kiamichi Mountains in the Ouachita National Forest. It's a road that is made for a motorcycle. Unfortunately, in the fall it's also made for slow-moving vehicles packed full of people who want to look at all of the colors. I can't blame them. The scenery is spectacular. I purposefully went up on a weekday to avoid crowded highways. That strategy worked for the most part. The few cages I saw were easily passed and I was able to enjoy the ride without any issues.

The speed limit is 55 MPH and is marked as a no passing zone. However, I found plenty of places to pass comfortably and without mishap. I don't think I could stand going through the Talimena at 25 MPH like most of the cages and tour busses. The condition of the road was superb. I did find a large amount of leaves and pine needles in various places on the road. Imagine that this time of year! :) As always, use your head and leave yourself a way out.

I stopped in Mena for lunch at the SkyLine Cafe. You can't miss it. It's on the Talimena just on the edge of downtown Mena. I had the chicken fried steak as it came highly recommended. It was worth it. There's a lot of other good ol' down home cookin' to choose from on the menu too. Take your pick. I'm sure it's all good.

On the way back through the Talimena, I stopped at most of the Vistas and took some pictures. There are some pretty good shots of the road and some of the fall foliage. Check 'em out.