4321 Miles, 18 States, 1 Saddlesore 1000 – Summer 2009

This was the start of a long summer vacation ride that would take me through 18 states. It was also my qualifying run for the Iron Butt Association (IBA). The IBA is an organization dedicated to safe, long-distance motorcycle riding an currently has 50,000+ members. To qualify, you must complete one of the IBA rides, the shortest of which is 1000 miles in 24 hours. The ride must be witnessed at the start and the finish and you must maintain a detailed log of your stops for gas and rest.

Summer 2009

My home is in Jacksonville, Florida and my initial destination was the island of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts where my wife and two youngest children were working at and participating in activities at a Christian study center. Total distance was about 1200 miles, so I mapped out several stops in Connecticut (1000+ miles) where I could get a witness to sign my form. I figured that local police stations would be my best bet since I would arrive in the early hours of the morning.

I left Jacksonville at 6:30am and hoped to avoid some of the heat but by mid-afternoon, I was in North Carolina and feeling that drowsiness that the heat can bring on, so I stopped at a rest area, and took a nap on a picnic table in the shade for about 45 minutes. I woke up feeling refreshed, mounted up and continued the ride up I-95. South of Washington DC, I could see that a storm was forming up ahead and debated whether or not to stop to put on my raingear. I delayed doing so because of the heat and wound up getting wet when I hit the edge of the storm. So I pulled over under an overpass and donned my gear. I rode in the rain around DC and through Maryland and on into Delaware. The temperate dropped and now I was cool and clammy. Around 11 pm I needed to rest again.

I pulled into a rest area, parked right in front of the facilities (which were well lit), put the kickstand down, shut off my bike, put my head down on my tank bag (with my helmet on) and fell fast asleep on my bike. My first Ironbutt motel experience. I woke an hour later when someone honked the horn in a car behind me. At that point I felt pretty good about reaching my destination with time to spare. Again, I continued north on I-95, through New Jersey, across the George Washington Bridge into New York City, on into Connecticut with my destination in sight. I left I-95 in Fairfield, CT and filled up with gas at a local gas station on US 1 (the only one open at 3:15 am). I needed the gas receipt becuase that’s what the IBA uses to validate your time and location. I rode about 3 blocks to the local police station, parked, got out my paperwork and went inside.

The station was pretty dark, and there was only one young officer behind the glass. When he asked if he could help me, I explained that I was doing a long distance motorcycle ride and had left Jacksonville Florida the previous morning with the goal of riding 1000 miles in less than 24 hours and I needed the signature of a witness to prove that I had reached the destination. I asked if would he be willing to sign my form and he said sure, so I passed the paperwork through the slot in the glass. He read through it all, and then suddenly looked up at me, gave me a quizzical look and asked “Wait a minute, you left Jacksonville Florida yesterday morning?”. I said yes and he laughed and said “Man, you’re crazy!”. Then he said “Actually, you’d like my Sergeant. He rides his bike from here to the West coast of Florida”. He signed my form and I felt a great sense of accomplishment. My ride, known as the Saddlesore 1000, is the shortest of the IBA rides. But I was hooked and already thinking about my next one.

My stops for gas, meals and rest and the mileage at each point were as follows:

Time Location Miles
6:28 am Jacksonville, Florida 0
8:29 am Richmond Hill, Georgia 135
8:30 am – 9:00 am Breakfast in Richmond Hill, Georgia
11:18 am Turbenville, South Carolina 298
1:43 pm Dunn, North Carolina 439
1:45 pm – 2:15 pm Lunch, Dunn North Carolina
3:10 pm – 4:10 pm Break, Nash County Rest Area (North Carolina)
5:45 pm Richmond, Virginia 610
8:36 pm Jessup, Maryland 765
11:00 pm – 12:00 am Break at a rest area in Delaware
12:50 am Mount Laurel, New Jersey 901
3:12 am Fairfield, Connecticut 1034

I continued north on I-95 and finally stopped at a TA truckstop in Branford, CT. After 12 hours of riding in the heat and 10 hours of riding in rain I was doing the old head shake routine to stay awake and knew that it was time to rest. As I walked into the store, I got talking to another traveler and when he heard my story, yelled out to the store clerk, “Hey, give this guy a free coffee. He’s been riding non-stop from Florida!” I got a coffee, went to pay for it, and was told that I didn’t have to pay for it. I must’ve looked like I really needed it… LOL. The rain was starting again and they had some tables outside under an awning so I sat at a table and waited for my coffee to cool a bit. The next thing I remember was waking up from a nap – about 2 hours later.

It was back onto I-95 as I continued east into Rhode Island. In Providence, I picked up I-195 and rode that to the end where I turned onto Rt 25 and then Rt 28. I crossed the Bourne Bridge over the Cape Cod Canal (which connects Cape Cod Bay in the north to Buzzards Bay in the south) and then continued south on Rt 28 through Woods Hole to the Steamship Authority ferry terminal. It was early on a Thursday morning but traffic was light and I got to the ferry around 8:30am or so. Motorcyclists don’t need a reservation – they can always fit another bike on.

Waiting to board the ferry Martha's Vineyard

So it was about 26 hours end-to-end. I slept on the ferry ride to Edgartown and was met there by my wife and kids.

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Matthew Dragiff

A Goldwing rider from Jacksonville, FL.

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