I was thinking about the Iron Butt gathering in Daytona Beach when I called Don and asked how he felt about Florida. He said, he sure wanted to ride to Key West just to say he'd been there. He'd already done the Daytona thing, but had always wanted to go to Key West. I said, that sounds fine to me, let's go. I also planted the seed of SS1K (saddlesore 1000). It sounded good to him, after all he kinda wanted to do something like that. We did some planning and agreed on a route and time. I'm not sure what time we had planned on leaving, but we were both up by 3:30. We decided to go ahead and leave since we were up. We got our signatures from our respective wives and got our first fuel receipt by 4:28am.
It was 68 degrees when we rode off, which was unusually warm. It was also very wet and humid. It wasn't raining, just wet. It was going fine until I missed the exit off 635 and went out I-30 instead of I-20 (NY instead of FL). Don wouldn't let me lead for the rest of the trip. I tried numerous times to take the lead, but my Vulcan couldn't out run the thoroughbred BMW. Oh well. It continued to be wet until we got almost to Jackson, MS where we would turn south toward Mobile Alabama.
We kept a steady conservative pace and made excellent time. Don let me get a couple of pieces of fish at the fuel stop as long as I could eat standing up. Since I had practiced this before, I was OK with the idea. We caught a few too many stop lights getting through Mobile which didn't help our time, but once we got back on the interstate we got back on schedule. Mobile has a neat tunnel to go through on I-10 and you cross a long bridge and some strong winds. The stretch across the northern panhandle of Florida is "forever" long but uneventful. The traffic is so fast in Florida you have to stay in the right lane to keep the highway patrol from running over you. We made good time. We turned south on I-75 to Gainesville. We stopped here to conclude our SS1K and get our paperwork signed by the Motel attendant. She was willing to help us out with very little convincing.
We got up the next morning and Don let me lead out of the parking lot (his second mistake). After touring around the city, we finally caught the "big road" southbound and twisted heavily on the throttle. I had installed my Auxiliary fuel tank by this trip and we were traveling at least 200 miles between fuel stops. Don's bike is already setup for this much fuel capacity. In fact, we were pretty-well matched on our miles per tankfull. This made an incredible improvement over my last two Iron Butt rides, and it was convenient to have the same distance per gas tank on both bikes.
At the time of our first gas stop in Sarasota, I suggested that we attempt a BunBurner 1500 since we were already on schedule to do so. Don seemed game, therefore we pressed on. Once we dropped past Naples, we took the scenic 41 east toward Miami. We saw several Alligators laying up next to the swamp. It was Ok, but I'll never have to ride this far just for this. The other noticeable thing was the birds; I saw the strangest looking birds down there. After turning south, we met up with too much traffic, too narrow of a road, and not enough time. I was getting concerned about making the BB1500. Don didn't look near as concerned?
I was totally let down once I recognized we were on the Keys. I expected wide-open views of crystal clear and blue water. Although, I'm sure the water is beautiful, I just couldn't see much of it. I compared it to Harry Hines Blvd. in Dallas, while Don compared it to Greenville Ave. Either way, it was way too congested and commercialized for what we had in mind. It was a lot like Long Island, NY. You think because you're on an Island you should see the water, but it's not always true. I guess we had visualized it after songs we'd heard and stories we'd read. It's never as good as the story. Once we arrived on Sunshine Key, I recognized our time was about to elapse for our BB1500. Looking at my odometer, we could qualify. I motioned Don to stop at the next fuel station for a gas receipt and signature. Once I'd fueled, I looked up to see Don underneath a shade tree doing 12oz. curls. What(?), he hasn't gotten his paperwork signed yet. What am I going to do with this guy. He informed me that he didn't need any paperwork. He had all the paperwork he needed wrapped around his can. (Yes, I got his paperwork taken care of.)
We're disillusioned even more upon arriving on Key West. You couldn't park a moped it was so crowded. We finished out Hwy 1 right to the end, made the block and came back out toward Sunshine Key before getting a room for the night.
An early departure from the Keys helped us sneak by the island traffic. We took the toll roads north from Miami past Fort Lauderdale and up toward Orlando and Ocala. Once we got to the countryside (middle) of Florida the traveling was fine, but a long way from the fun of hwy 170 in Big Bend. The heat had increased tremendously and the area was very dry. The next day we would hope for such a thing. After getting through Ocala we decided to take a more scenic route up toward Tallahassee, after all what was our hurry. The evening awarded us pleasure (I'm talking about the ride), but once we turned west on I-10 at Tallahassee; we started getting into some heavy clouds and an occasional shower. We stopped for some local BBQ and a night's stay at Marianna, FL.
The next morning brought us a front that wouldn't give us relief until we stepped into the door of our homes. We were only 900 miles away, it shouldn't be any "big" deal? Well, I once heard a friend describe a fellow scooter rider on a Iron Butt run that wrapped himself in cardboard to protect him from the weather. They nicknamed him the tin man. I wanted to become the tin man. If I could have found some cardboard, I would have tried it. The crossing of the water at Mobile brought the strongest winds ever; and you could sure tell it was coming off the water. Going back through the tunnel was very short-lived, but good. We did pretty good until we ran into the construction on I-10 in the Baton Rouge area. We decided to circumnavigate and ride down 190 for awhile. I'm not sure whether it was better or worse, but I can certainly say it wasn't good. Once on the west side of Baton Rouge, 190 was a nice rural drive. It really felt very "Louisiana". We cut across to I-49 then up to Shreveport. The ride from Shreveport to Prosper proved to be the toughest, although we didn't stop to complain. Upon arriving home, I had to get in the Bathtub of hot water to thaw my knees. I'm not sure why my knees were colder than anything else, but I could barely walk. I enjoyed the trip for the sake of a trip. I don't know if Don or I will have to hurry back.