May 2nd 2014 the alarm awoke me at 3am. I wasn't sleeping that soundly anyway. Its the start of my big day. I have a thousand plus miles to put in today. Why you may ask? Well Im an Iron Butt Rider and my ride is a saddle sore 1000 today. I've done several of these on a Honda Gold Wing already-no problem. This day is different though. About a month ago I received an e-mail from the IBA about a special weekend May 2nd through May 5th designated as SCOOTER INSANITY weekend. Ride a thousand plus miles on a scooter and receive a special certificate and a pin. Any size scooter will work but you can go for the gold by riding one 300cc or less. Of course I have to go for the gold. I knew exactly the scooter I wanted.
When we opened our shop in 2008 we sold Qlink brand scooters. One model was the Qlink Commuter 250. It is a copy of a Honda Helix. I had read about Ed Otto who participated in the 1995 Iron Butt Rally on a Honda Helix. This intrigued me when I read about it, so I set out to buy a Commuter 250. I searched the internet but none available at least in my area. Then a customer stopped in and asked if I would like to sell their scooter for them. Guess what?! It was a Commuter 250. We agreed on a price and I bought it. It had not run in 2 years so it needed some work. Levi (my son) and myself set about to get it running.
Well May 1st we got it running. I wanted to have time to try it out before I took off but that didn't happen. I mounted a 5 gallon auxiliary fuel tank and it provided a nice back rest to lean against. I dont know which was more important the extra fuel or the back rest. I used them both and glad I had it. Levi cleaned the carb and rejetted it to let a little more fuel into the engine. We installed a performance CDI box which both adjusted the timing and gave me a few higher rpms. Levi also installed a new drive belt. After a two mile test ride all seemed fine. Then Levi set my phone up to play Pandora and installed Bluetooth headsets in my helmet. I finalized my route. Everything was set. I headed home to get some sleep.
Well up at 3am got ready checked the weather map. Maybe a little rain but not too bad. I rode my Gold Wing to the shop. Loaded up the scooter and away I went.
I should say here that Lisa, my wife, was not in complete agreement with what I was about to do. I would be more worried if she was in agreement. I told her not to say a word. There is nothing you can do, you cant stop me. I have to do this, I cant explain why. I told her I would start down the interstate and if it didnt feel right I would turn around at the next exit. She gave me her blessing and love and a kiss and out I went. What a wonderful wife.
The first thing to do is get gas and my receipt is my time stamp for the beginning of the ride. I clocked in at 5:10 am at Brookville, Pennsylvania I jumped on I-80 and wound the little scooter up. To my surprise it rolled right up to 65 mph. I thought this is great and it felt right so I settled in for the long haul.
I didnt realize the wind noise would be so bad. The scooter had a small windshield which helped some but the wind noise was really loud. I listened to the music but the wind noise almost drowned it out. The second thing was the wind blowing the scooter all over the place. A truck passed me and the wind buffeting was intense. I kept going of course. It seemed like I couldnt pass by a rest areaThis made me mad. I decided I would not drink or eat till this worked itself out. That was a mistake. More on that as I go. By the time I got to Cleveland, Ohio the wind was terrible. I exited I-80 and turned north on I-77. The wind was at my back and it was quiet and the scooter roller along easy. I stopped for gas to mark my route and then proceeded up 77. Too bad I was on I-77 for about 12 miles and then I turned east on I-90. I had wind again. I fought my way through Ohio and into Pennsylvania. The wind along the lake was very strong. I made my way into New York. I was looking at about 400 miles across NY on route 90. I was beginning to feel the effects of fighting the scooter through the wind. I was getting sore in my arms and my back. I did drink a little water and ate a breakfast sandwich. The scooter was running fine and would do70mph on the flat. I felt I was making good time. The first toll in New York went fine, no problem.
Then this is where it gets a little crazy. I was pulling into the second toll plaza when I got cut off and forced into another lane. I went to the booth and there was no ticket, it was an EZpass lane. I didnt know what to do so I pulled across 3 or 4 lanes to the side of the road and set there contemplating what to do. Do I continue on? I dont have a ticket. What would the fines be? I have to travel all the way across NY with no ticket what is going to happen at the end? What are my options? With no human help to be found, I was on my own. So I made my way back to the toll booths on the berm on the side of the road. Waited till there was no traffic coming and then gassed the scooter back through the toll booth the wrong way. Then I set on the berm until there was no traffic and then got in the lane with an attendant handing out tickets. Before I came to a stop he was yelling at me. He then asked me if I needed medical attention. I said no I was fine. He asked me if I needed him to call 911. I said no. He then proceeded to tell me that I had endangered many lives (which was ridiculous as I waited until there was not a single car in sight!) . And that I must be crazy. I said I needed a ticket. He said he wasnt sure if he should let me on the highway. I said give me the ticket. He started leaning toward me with the ticket. I took it out of his hand stuffed it in my pocket and took off. As I was leaving the booth I could hear him yelling Unbelievable! Unbelievable! By this time I was looking a little rough. Here I was a big, 260lb guy wearing a bright green coat, my beard a tangled mess, riding a little scooter. I must have been a site. I had my ticket. I merely had a problem. I figured out a solution. Problem solved.
Well on my way again. I gassed up shortly after the toll booth incident. And hoped I would not run into someone who saw me at the toll booth. All went well. I headed east. I could now travel about 4 hours without stopping. I got a bottle of Pepsi and drank some of it.
By this time I rode through a few light showers. But I was not wet. That was a good thing because by now I was getting cold. By now the wind, the light rain and cold temperatures were taking a toll. I began to look at the miles to go and began to formulate when I could make it back home. My estimate was 18 ½ total hours I would be back at Brookville and I set my sights on that figure. After that I put myself in a state of mind that nothing would stop me. I was feeling the cold, my arms and back ached, and my butt was getting sore. On the Gold Wing I would just stand up for a little while but I couldnt on the scooter. I also had a cruise control on the Gold Wing. On the scooter I had to keep a close watch on the speedometer and not let my speed drop to much or I would lose my momentum. I gassed up just before Albany, NY to mark my corner and then turned south on I-87. I was now the farthest from home. I had prayed Lord help me get to Albany safely. Then I was praying for help to make it back home. It was a good feeling to start back towards home. I-87 south went well even at the toll booth where I turned on to I-84 west. I had a little hold up for construction on I-84. It was getting dark now and I would have to rely on the stock headlight. Until today I had never ridden the scooter at night. I had a little dark riding this morning but now I had a long way to go in the dark. The headlight was adequate but not like the Gold Wing of course. I ran on high beam as much as I could. It was getting colder after the sun went down. I was feeling it. I have ridden in the cold before. You get so cold that your discomfort just levels off and you just keep ridding and deal with it. This was now happing to me. I did not know how cold I was getting.
I made my last fuel stop at the Buckhorn exit near Bloomsburg. I pulled in and all the pumps were taken so I pulled up behind another motorcycle thinking it would not take long and he would pull out of the way as a courtesy to a fellow biker. When he was done he just walked right past me and went into the store. I want to tell you one thing I learned today is that us scooter guys get no respect!! No one waved at me or even acknowledged that I was even on the road. I would say to myself You dont have to acknowledge me but I bet I put more miles on today than you did! By the way there were several guys filling up their Harleys and I saw their back patch. They were members of a 1% group. After filling up my scooter and filling up my fuel cell as they were watching me, I pulled up to the store. No one said a word but I wondered what they were thinking. I choked down a ham sandwich, finished that bottle of Pepsi, jumped on the scooter, and took off. Next stop Brookville. It was still very windy and cold. I prayed the Lord would keep the deer off the road and in the woods because I wasnt seeing a whole lot from the headlight at 70 mph. Now I was getting into some hills but the scooter would run about 60 mph uphill. That was good. I pulled into the TA truck stop just after midnight and fuelled up. I checked my receipt and it did not have the correct time on it. I went inside and asked the attendant for another receipt with the correct time on it. I then had to explain to her why I needed the time stamp and she just looked at me like I was crazy. By this time I knew I was looking pretty rough. I must have been a sight. She printed off the receipt and all I had to do was ride home - about a ½ hour ride. Before I got to Brookville to clock out I began to experience something I never experienced before. I would get these very intense and deep convulsions, sort of a hard shaking. I didnt know what was happening. After filling up I started for home and I experienced more of them. Then I realized I had read about this in the Iron Butt magazine. I was suffering from hypothermia and dehydration. My body was telling me it had enough. Well I wasnt far from home. I only had about 15 minutes yet to go, so I kept going. I pulled into home at 12:45. Lisa came out and I wanted her to get a couple of pictures of me on the scooter. I returned home totally exhausted and very week, and very cold. I could hardly walk into the house. My back and shoulders ached. My butt was not iron any moreit hurt. It was good to be home.
Conclusion: I could not have anticipated the toll that the winds would have on me, the noise, the beating I would take because of it, or fighting to keep the scooter in my lane and upright. I did not know that a minivan would make wind turbulence and throw you around, not to mention what the big trucks did to me when they would pass. I should have had more layers of clothing to wear. Lesson learned, take extra clothingmore than you think youll need. Wear hearing protection. Stay hydrated even if you have to make a few more rest area stops. Remember, I have 24 hours to complete this ride.
I pushed myself to my limit and now I know. The Iron Butt Association is 100% all about safe long distance riding and I knew I was not following the rules set forth by the IBA. I know they expect the individual to use sound judgment based on the knowledge provided by the IBA. I could have done better.
Stats: 1026 miles. 19 hours. Ave. speed 54 mph. 55 mpg. I lost 8 lbs. Dale Bundy
And it was all to earn this simple certification - but I am one of only six riders to complete the first International Scooter 1000 Insanity GOLD event.