My Saddlesore 1000 ride

The background

The Iron Butt Association is an American organisation devoted to long-distance riding. The Iron Butt Rally itself is run in America, and due to its length would be rather hard to stage in the UK. There are, however, smaller relatives to it - the Saddlesore 1000 is the first stage, the idea being to cover 1000 miles in 24 hours.

Alex Eggert, who organised this particular assault, had done a solo Saddlesore 1000 some time before, and had come up with the idea of setting the record for the largest group to do a Saddlesore 1000. He asked around on various email lists and got a few interested parties - enough to make an assault on the record viable.

And so it was that the thing was planned for 10th July 1999...

Here's how it went:

2015: Set off to spend night in Greenford before setting out.
2030: Battery packs up (had been broken in a crash I'd had a few days before, as had a few of my ribs). Walk home (2 miles in bike clothes and blazing sun, carrying tank bag and sleeping bag) and get another battery.
2115: Set out again.
2300: Arrive in Greenford. Alex, the event organiser, puts Mik Reed and me up overnight (ta, Alex).

0500: Get up
0540: Assemble at petrol station. Mugshots & group photo taken. Sort into groups (the Ixion group is Simon Murfin and his VFR750, Adamandamanda aka a pair of Curtins and (Hoddy's) FJ1200, Mik Reed with Mel's ZZR600, and me plus the Tigger, with Guy Dewdney and his Tedium staying with us briefly).
0630: Set off.
0645: Wave goodbye to Guy.
0730: Pass Warwick.
0810: Pass Birmingham.
0840: Stafford services. c.145 miles
1045: Penrith services. c.270 miles
1230: Hamilton services. 390 miles

Now we head along the A82, across Rannoch Moor and through Glen Coe, which reminds me of the Gap of Dunloe in Ireland. Rain starts, so we dress accordingly.

1545: Ben Nevis filling station, Fort William. 512 miles
1745: Kessock service station, Inverness. 579 miles

Mik and I buy groceries - a couple of tins of beans for him, a jar of honey for me. Damn, Tiggers don't like hunni (I remembered later).

We have a hurtle along the A9, which is a 60 limit with lots of speed camera signs and warnings of unmarked police cars. No speed cameras are to be seen and no cars seem to be unmarked police ones.

1930: Windsole service station, Auchterarder (it says on my receipt). 702 miles, and we stop for a bite to eat. The chippie provides various comestibles, including haggis for Amanda.
2215: Gretna services. No sign of Leo Sayer, even though we're only three miles from Gretna. 823 miles

0040: Knutsford services, worrying for the last couple of miles that we might have to push Mik. 961 miles
0130: Pass Junction 12, my first cop-out point.
0145: Hilton Park services. 1013 miles, that's the thousand done, but we've still got to get back to the arranged end point.
0200: Turn south along the M42, my second cop-out point.
0230: Pass M40 J15, my third cop-out point.
0340: Arrive back at Target Roundabout. 1140 miles
0405: Arrive at Uxbridge Police Station for eyewitness confirmation of finishing.
0430: I set off back to Tamworth. Watch dawn breaking on my right on my way up the M40. Just early enough to avoid the traffic for Silverstone for the British F1 Grand Prix.
0540: Arrive home.
0545: Walk two miles to where I left car, drive it back home. Work out that I've done about 1400 miles in 32 hours, which is near the 1500 miles/36 hours Bun-Burner award.
0630: Bed.

The maximum strength ibuprofen was of some help.

Low points

  • Being held up by a Safeways lorry on the A82
  • Rain in Scotland (especially while we were being held up by a Safeways lorry on the A82)
  • The Tigger's broken battery and my broken ribs
  • The scenery in Glasgow
  • Nearly getting a seagull in the face on the way home

High points

  • Overtaking the Safeways lorry on the A82
  • Looking over Loch Lomond while waiting to overtake the Safeways lorry on the A82
  • The ex-racer who came over and asked Adam about his knee-sliders
  • The scenery generally, both north and south of the border
  • The sign on a gasometer by a huge installation of elderly rusting pipes that tells us that Glasgow is the city of architecture, 1996 (or so)
  • A significant lack of friendly bombs raining on Slough as we passed
  • Finishing!
  • Bed

And Alex has now threatened that this could be an annual event. I'm up for that. After all, that jar of honey won't last forever.