Being in a rural area, I have to ride 17kms to the nearest small town. None of the 3 gas stations are open late. However, we have one Sobeys grocery store that is open 24 hrs. I never really understood why our grocery store is open 24hrs but none of the gas stations are open. Generally if you need groceries, you can wait until the next day, but generally if you need gas, you need it now! Anyway, I go into the grocery store and the only person working there gives me a peculiar look that says “Hey man the store sign says open 24hrs, but that does not mean we expect anyone to come in, particularly someone who looks like a big banana!” (The Hi Viz Jacket I wear is a very bright yellow). Anyway, I introduce myself and explain to him my intentions to ride 1600kms in less than 24 hours. He initially stares at me as if I have lost my mind. I ignore his stare, and ask him for two things, one, if he would be willing to witness my start time and, two, a dated, timed receipt. The guy was very happy to witness my ride and printed out a “No Sale” receipt with the name of the store, address, date and time so that I did not have to buy something which I did not need. The perfect model receipt! I know that for the SS1600 ride that I only need one witness but I thought that a second witness couldn’t hurt. I return to my bike, and insert the receipt carefully into a special wallet that fits nicely in my document holder in my Givi topcase. I remind myself of Ron Ayres experience of loosing his receipts during an Iron Butt rally. I mount the FJ and start it up. My first SaddleSore ride has begun at 2:49am. My odometer start reading is 59,564km. As I turn around in the parking lot, I notice my witness has come out of the store to see me off with a wave. I wave back and smile. I take a brief detour downtown to obtain a bank ATM receipt with a date/time stamp. Once again, probably overkill, but the IBA’s rules state to obtain a gas receipt or alternatively an ATM receipt to document the start of the ride. I am sure that the dated/time grocery store receipt is adequate for the start time evidence but I wanted to be sure.
The first couple of hours were spent riding on rural secondary highways with very little traffic in the early morning. The night air was a crisp temperature of 11 degrees C but I was comfortable dressed in several layers. There was a full moon and the night sky sparkled with stars. The fields were covered in fog which glowed eerily to reflect the bright moon. The stillness of the night was only broken by the sound of the FJ gliding down the road. The view combined with the smells of wet dew was exhilarating. It was one of those “perfect” moments that make you thankful to be alive and on a bike. I kept the speed at the posted limit, anticipating a critter, big or small to come flying out of the ditches. I saw no critters but I did smell a skunk that had recently crossed over the highway. My PIAA 1100X auxiliary lights, which I had installed earlier in the summer, are perfect at lighting up the edges of the road. Unfortunately, the perfect moment was not to last, as the fog lying in the field became thicker the farther I rode inland from
As I reached the city of
As I approach
The 407 is still under construction and ends suddenly at the East end of
My next stop for gas is at 9:39am at
Within 30 minutes of leaving the gas stop the sky began clouding over and the temperature dropped. It looked and felt like rain. I was wearing a Cool Max t-shirt so what was once a refreshing breeze minutes ago through my jacket open vents, now began to feel uncomfortably chilly. I kept watching the cars passing in the other direction to see if their wipers were on. I debated pulling over and zippering closed the open vents on my jacket but made a decision to go on. This turned out be the right call as within another 30 minutes, the sun was shining and it was getting warm again. I noticed a sign that indicated the last chance to buy gas in the
I was traveling to the edge of
My 4th gas stop is at St- Lazare. I am confident that the location is still adequate to prove that I have taken no short cuts at the “corner” of my route. I have now traveled about 884 kms. The gas stop is quick and without incident and I am quickly on my way. The traffic along this stretch of Hwy 40 is the heaviest on the trip so far. However, the speeds are reasonable and I find that all drivers are courteous and correctly move over to the right lane as I approach. Before long, I notice the “Welcome to
Not long after entering
As I head East, the traffic becomes lighter. I catch up to another rider on a bright green sport bike. Although going slower than my previous pace, I decide to keep this other rider company. At times the rider slows to well below the speed limit around what are tame corners. Starting from a stop seems to be a struggle for him with several stalls and subsequent wide left hand turns. It becomes obvious that this biker is new and unfamiliar with the bike they are riding. I wonder about the ability of the rider to ride safely as he seems oblivious to all traffic hazards around him. I should have passed him and been on my way but I almost felt responsible to ride a safe distance behind and provide a safety buffer from the encroaching traffic. It is a relief when he eventually turns off the highway and heads down a country road.
I arrive at the East Entrance to Alqonquin provincial park a few minutes later and pass under an
old log structure at the park boundary. For the next 200kms, I will travel through some of the most fantastic unspoiled scenery in southern
The ride through the park is over too soon and I enter the town of
I have to travel another 20kms down the freeway before stopping for what will be my final gas stop before the end of my ride. The gas station is in Port Sydney and I know the place well as my brother-in-law lives just down the road. The roads to home from here are all now familiar and I know that that there is only about 3.5 hours of riding before me. It is now 5:33pm and I have traveled 1,387 kms. I stop at the station and after obtaining my receipt I pull over to take another 10 minute rest. It begins to dawn on me that short of any unexpected problems or breakdown, that my first attempt at an Iron Butt Saddle Sore will be successful. I am almost anxious as I get back onto the bike and start to listen for any peculiar noise from the bike that may be a precursor to an unexpected breakdown ahead. I eventually smile and excuse my paranoia and begin enjoying the last few hours of the ride. I am feeling great. I have only experienced a few moments of being uncomfortable during the ride. Anytime that I started to get the dreaded “monkey butt” feeling, I would sit on the passenger seat, shift positions or stand up on the pegs and lean forward into the wind. Occasionally, I would extend my legs straight forward and out to relieve any leg or knee cramps being careful not to lower my leg too much and contacting the pavement.
The next 2.5 hours pass quickly and uneventfully. The sun is setting and it starting to get cool. I decide to stop in the next town of
I enter the town of
Each km now is one additional km that I do not need to do to complete the Saddle Sore ride. My route had added an additional 50 kms over and above that required. 50 kms over a trip of 1610 kms seemed insignificant at the time I planned the trip. Those last kms however would now turn out to be more difficult than the previous 1600kms. The physiological factors of continuing to ride after achieving enough kms is unbelievable. I now felt tired and just wanted the ride to be over. It had gotten dark and was getting very cold. What was previously a refreshing temperature in the morning now felt like a winter chill.
I have driven this road hundreds of times in the past and knew every landmark. I cannot express the relief of seeing the glow of the lights of Kincardine off into the distance of the night sky. Finally, I could see the Esso gas station that was to become my end point. I arrived at the station and stumbled as I dismounted. I was exhausted but also overjoyed. I filled up the bike and entered the station store. I ask the station attendant if she would be witness to the end of my long distance ride. I begin to explain to her my accomplishment and she seems amused. Her eyes and facial expression betrayed her thoughts that she was convinced that I was crazy. She signed my witness form, probably more to get rid of this rambling crazed biker than anything. I had ridden 1664kms in 18 hrs and 27 mins.
Unfortunately, even though this was the official end of my Saddle Sore ride, I still needed to travel 17 kms to get home. Although tired, I was able to roll off these kms without problem. The site of home was an almost emotional experience. I parked the bike, left every thing on the bike and immediately started stripping off my jacket, riding pants and boots. I got my wife to sign as an additional witness and then after having a quick bite to eat, walked straight for the bedroom and collapsed in exhaustion and passed out into a deep sleep. I awoke suddenly 30 minutes later in a state of panic. I could not recall obtaining a receipt at the Esso station at the end of the ride! I look at the clock. It has still been less than 24 hrs since I started out. I quickly develop a plan to ride back to the station and obtain a receipt to document the end of my ride. Before suiting up, I check my receipts in my top box. There before me is a receipt for my last gas stop. I think back and I do not recall receiving the receipt or even placing it into my wallet. I double check that all my other receipts from the ride are still in my wallet. Convinced that all my receipts were accounted for, I go back to bed and drift into a sound deep sleep with the satisfaction of knowing that I had ridden an efficient and more importantly a safe Saddle Sore 1600K.
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