100 CCC (Coast to Coast to Coast) Attempt - September 2017
I wasn’t going to even bother scribing this, but the bizarre chain of events leading up to and during this ride made it seem worthwhile, and maybe even comical. So what the hell.
I began planning an Iron Butt 100ccc ride "The Hard Way"…meaning each Coast-to-Coast leg had to be a minimum of 2,900 documented miles in each direction, times two. In other words, the starting, turnaround and ending location had to begin and end on an Atlantic or Pacific coastline, with starting and ending points at least 2,900 miles apart.
What intrigued me to attempt this ride was the fact that only three (3) advanced-level endurance riders had ever completed this before. One being a good friend of mine, Harry Knerr.
Hotel reservations were made, both in South Plainfield, NJ and San Francisco, CA. A few emails between Ira Agins and myself conclude, as I had a few questions about the finite details of properly documenting this ride. I had completed equal and much longer rides prior, so a relatively simple 4-day ride was ahead, or so I thought!
The plan was to spend the night at a hotel in NJ the night prior to ride-departure, very near to NYC. I Googled a number of Brooklyn, NY hotels, but quickly dismissed this idea as I did not trust leaving my bike overnight at any of them. I had not been to any of the NYC boroughs since the mid 1990’s when I frequently drove tractor-trailer into that area on a regular basis. So this was all a new learning experience.
I pack the bike and left the house Wednesday afternoon (in the pouring rain) with ample time to arrive at my hotel, unpack the bike, clean up and meet my witness friend Harry at a nearby steakhouse where I had promised a hot steak dinner in return for the favor.
Enroute on I-78, I come upon horrible traffic in Allentown, PA. I wobble along in 1st gear for about 6 miles, and finally come upon the scene of tragedy where the concrete median was busted up in chunks. It had become evident that someone had gone over the median wall. There had apparently been so much fuel spilled in this location that two PennDot trucks were there dunping sand on the road with workers shoveling it around to cover up all the mess. Damn!
I cook about 90 minutes in this I-78 ordeal, wondering how Harry was making out, as he had left work on his Harley to meet me in NJ. So I skip the hotel, go straight to our steakhouse, and quickly check text messages and see that Harry texted me claiming to have gotten caught up in the same mess that I had. He wisely did not want to arrive late for dinner and hold me up, so he headed for home. I thanked him for his troubles.
So I find my way to the hotel in South Plainfield, NJ, check in and find my room. I do the typical routine of spreading everything wet out over the heater to dry out. I crash for the night and attempt getting some sleep. 10pm came and no sleep. 11pm came and no sleep. 12am (!!!) came and still no sleep. Around 12:15 I fell asleep for about 45 minutes before my iPhone alarm woke me up. The hotel hallways were incredibly noisy from loud guests and hotel management knocking on doors. I was screwed, but didn’t know it yet. But, I felt good, showered, and ran outside in the rain to load the bike and go into New York City in the cold, the dark and the wet.
To preface a bit, I had set the alarm extra early (1 am) so that I could track down some police officers in NYC as witnesses, per IBA rules. Premier Members don’t need ride witnesses now, but with this ride I didn’t want to chance it.
With an NYPD station address now in my GPS, I ride to the police station, again in the rain, walk in with my paperwork and a pen hoping I wouldn’t walk into an empty building. Boy was I surprised! Even at nearly 3am, the lobby had no fewer than 8 uniformed NYPD officers standing there with some woman, some man and some kid in some kind of big argument. I thought to myself that I had walked into a domestic dispute, and I suspect I was right.
I stood in the corner quietly waiting for this argument to end, and a lovely woman finally walked up to me, Officer Pena, who asked me what I needed. So I explain the story, she wisks my paperwork away to her supervisor, and about 30 minutes later I walk out with witness signatures of New Yorks finest. At this point I should note that the two officers were very reluctant to sign my witness form, but I managed to convince them they would not wind up in court over this (yes, they actually did ask me that). I thanked them, too, profusely, and walked back out into the rain.
Parked at the NYPD police precinct in Brooklyn, NY.
Burning valuable time, I found my way to Coney Island beach to collect a vial of wet sand. Then off to the Mobil station on Neptune Avenue. I pump 1 test gallon and pull a bad receipt. Rode to the BP across the road, pump another gallon and get another bad receipt. Finally the Shell on Cropsey Avenue rewards me with a perfect receipt, 4 gallons of lavish gasoline, and I am on my way to San Francisco at 4:05am.
I ride again over the upper deck of the Verazano Bridge headed towards the NJ Turnpike, being careful over the steel grates that were wet from all the rain. I didn’t put my heated gear on that morning, knowing the sun would be up soon. It slowly got colder and colder as I gained elevation in NJ and then in PA, but it wasn’t really too bad.
About halfway through Pennsylvania on I-80, around Williamsport, the 45 minutes of sleep I had just had that night started to really kick my but. I did my normal routine of things to mitigate fatigue, and I managed to make it safely to around Cozad, Nebraska non-stop, after battling brutal afternoon traffic through the south side of Chicago. But at that point in Nebraska it was well past sunset and I knew I was done. The fatigue had slowly kept getting worse and worse until it became truly unimaginable. I don’t give up easy, but I was going to fall asleep if I didn’t get off the road...and fast.
I pulled onto an exit ramp, go to get off my bike and it falls over. Bam! Busted clutch level and bent gear shift. Great. I get out a wrench from my toolbag and leverage my shifter back straight again, and get back on my bike and take a nap. Waking up, some quick math revealed it was simply not safe to continue with what little sleep I had, and what little time there was remaining to get to the west coast and then ride back to New York city in 50 hours, so I got back on I-80 and headed back towards home in Pennsylvania all the way from central Nebraska.
It was daylight by the time I got to a favorite Shell truckstop of mine just west of Lincoln, NE at Exit 395 on I-80, so I stopped and grabbed a hot breakfast, replied to a number of texts and Facebook posts, and telephoned my local Yamaha dealer back home in Camp Hill, PA to order the parts that had broken the night before when my bike fell over.
I was thoroughly disgusted with how this ride went the entire way home, and I tried to make the miles home pass quickly. I got to the Indiana Turnpike late that night and took a quick nap in one of the Service Plazas. It was cold, and I had left my bike idling so that I could keep my heated jacket warm. The Super Tenere will idle for about 30 minutes before the ECU shuts the engine off, and by that time I had fallen asleep laying on the bike. My jacket was still plugged in pulling current, and it killed the battery. Luckily I carry jumper cables on the bike and I hunted around at 2am until I saw someone pull in driving a Ford pickup and I asked him for a jumpstart, to which he quickly obliged.
A multitude of things had a bad cumulative effect and ultimately crashed this ride. I really should have not started with such little sleep due to the noisy hotel. I plan to do a full reboot of all this and attempt this 100CCC (Coast to Coast to Coast) ride again soon.