Kawasaki Ninja 250R IBA 50CC Quest

 

Introduction

The Iron Butt Association (IBA) is dedicated to safe, long-distance motorcycle riding. My first long distance motorcycle ride was the most basic of the IBA rides, the SaddleSore 1000, which requires riding at least 1000 miles in 24 hours or less. You may read about it on the Ninjette Christmas Break SaddleSore 1000 Site.

One of the more advanced IBA rides is the 50CC which stipulates going from coast to coast across the United States in fifty hours or less (not fifty hours of ride time but fifty hours total). My desire to ride a 50CC stemmed from discovering that no motorcycle smaller than a 350cc had done so to date. The chance to document accomplishing something no one else has ever done was an intriguing opportunity which does not present itself often, if at all, in one's lifetime.

I learned a great deal in doing a SaddleSore 1000 and intended to take advantage of that experience to make a ride 5 to 6 times longer progress as smoothly as possible. Before embarking on such a long trip there was planning to be done and some small additions to the Ninjette that needed to be addressed.

This webpage turned out to be quite an effort as many others contributed pictures and my wife, Joleen, assisted in the writing. I have endeavored to give proper credit to all who took photographs (you may want to visit these sites: KillBoy.com and Kelly Sweet). With the exception of a few obvious ones (which were taken by kind passers by), all other photos were taken by me unless otherwise noted.

 

Preparing for the Trip

My wife, not surprisingly, wanted me to structure the trip in such a way that I would not be run off the road by some cager and left unconscious in a ditch for three days before I was discovered. I therefore began to contact a variety of individuals and businesses in late April and early May to put together a network of folks I could contact or check in with along the route. I began by sending an email to some strategic Christian Motorcyclists Association (CMA) area representatives and a few members of the Ninja 250 Riders Club that I knew were experienced long distance riders and members of the IBA. This yielded a lot of good advice and contact information. God then took control and the preparation went well beyond what I expected.

Local chapters of the CMA on both coasts came through in a big way. San Diego CMA chapters of Gospel Riders and Wings of Eagles contacted me and offered to help. Wings of Eagles, in cooperation with Joy of Motorcycling Traffic School and North County's House of Motorcycles, responded with an oil change, a place to rest before I began the 50CC, and a get-together so I could meet members of the local CMA chapter(s). Jacksonville CMA Chapter, Bikers for Christ, graciously offered an oil change and a place to stay at the end of the 50CC ride.

Dr. Bob Darden, owner of Texas Sidecars and Trikes, located near Bailey, Texas offered to hop in his van and come get me anywhere in the Southern United States if I needed help getting home. Bob's business is on the way to Trenton ISD where I work so I have dropped by a few times to say howdy and see how business is going. Bob does not seem to consider the Ninjette a likely prospect for any of his business services for some reason.

One of the members of the Greenville, Texas (King's Kruizers) Chapter of CMA suggested that I peruse getting some corporate assistance. I could offer little more than a link to their website and a heartfelt thank you; but, one never knows when a chord of interest might be struck, so why not give it a go. Most venders I emailed did not reply back; however, Paul Thompson, owner of New Enough gave me an extra discount on some much needed hot weather riding pants and provided some personal insight and advice. My Kawasaki dealer, Greenville Powersports, responded by donating T-shirts. CMC Network Solutions, Inc. assisted by donating some of the fuel and motel expenses.

 

Preparing the Motorcycle

Remembering the SaddleSore 1000 I did, the most notable two improvements would be a comfier seat and on-bike storage (not using a tank bag which has to be taken off to fill the fuel tank) to keep non traveling time to a minimum. For most of my riding, however, I liked the stock saddle and would rather keep the bike as clean of accessories as possible. So why not get an extra seat frame so one could swap between the stock saddle (local rides and two-up riding) and a "Wing-e-bago" model (commuting, IBA rides, and solo touring) at will. My first thoughts were to widen the seating surface slightly (like a cruiser saddle), eliminate the pillion, and replace it with a light duty trunk and backrest. Details of the project may be found at the Tail Trunk Saddle Project page.

Additional modifications included adding a RAM mount for my Palm/Magellan GPS system and the installation of two additional 12 volt power outlets. Having to change a tire on a timed ride would be a disaster so the tires were scrutinized. A Bridgestone Battlax BT-45F 100/90H16 front tire was fitted to replace the worn stock rubber. It was determined that the Metzeler ME 880 Marathon 130/90HB16 rear tire would be fine the entire trip.

Valve clearance, cam chain tensioner, and fluids were checked just before the trip so that the 6,000 mile interval would not pass during the trip. I am well aware that Kawasaki Ninja 250 have successfully competed in IBA rallies of 11,000 miles but the Ninjette is my "work-a-day" commuter and as such needed to be viable after this trip. Engine maintenance on the 250, while easy, is somewhat frequent. Valve clearances need to be checked at 6,000 mile intervals and I feel better about changing the motor oil at least once every 3,000 miles. I therefore placed stipulations on trip routing and scheduling that some attempting this ride would not. For example, I wanted to have fresh oil in the bike before and after the 50CC portion of the trip and the total trip mileage kept to 6,000 miles or less so a valve clearance check would not be necessary while on the road.

 

Route

A great deal of research went into the route and the timing of this venture. I wanted a course that would not require me to be on the same road twice during the trip. The 50CC portion of the ride dictated a route comprised of rural interstate highways so maximum miles could be covered without the traffic congestion and the lower speed limits imposed by urban or secondary road travel. Additionally, I wanted to have plenty of fuel stops along the way and a short distance between the two coasts. Personal rest and motorcycle maintenance during the trip were considered when planning the over-all route.

Summers are quite busy for my family and I with various church, school, civic, and family activities taking place throughout. Therefore, I determined that I could only spare about a week for the entire trip. The 50CC would have me traveling through the most southerly of our lower 48. If I made the "to the coast" and the "from the coast" routes through the states just above the group traveled through during the 50CC then I could see how many of the middle and southern states I could ride through in a week or less.

Research indicated that hurricane Katrina was no longer a factor effecting the typical route between Jacksonville, Florida and San Diego, California via Interstate 10. Front movement was a consideration since keeping the time spent riding in the rain to a minimum was a priority. I began studying weather system movement in the Southern United States in the Spring of 2006 and ultimately determined that a west to east route would be the best.

I selected a route that began in Commerce and went through Amarillo, Texas and on to Teec Nos Pos, Arizona (the Four Corners -- just to say I have been there). From Teec Nos Pos I planned to travel to San Diego, California. Unfortunately, time constraints eventually forced me to abandon the Four Corners side trip while in route. Ultimately, I stayed on Interstate Highway 40 while traveling to the San Diego area starting place. The 50CC was from San Diego to Jacksonville, Florida. On the way home I planned on riding US 129 through Deal's Gap and then heading home via Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee.

During the 50CC the route was divided in such a way that a SaddleSore 2000 could be pulled from the mileage covered while on the 50CC Quest.

 

 

Maps Courtesy of MapsOnUs.com

 

 Detailed Stop to Stop Maps of the Bun Burner 1500 and the 50CC Quest

 

Bun Burner 1500 Log

Location of Stop

Date

Local Time Zone

Central Time Zone

Odometer Reading

Notes on this leg of the trip.

Brookshire's

1603 Culver Street

Commerce, Texas 75428

6/18/2006

4:56 AM (CT)

4:56 AM

13516.2

Got up at 4:00 AM and did final loading of the Ninjette. My lovely wife fixed a fine breakfast. I headed to the Commerce Police station for a "Start of Ride" sign-off. Fueled up at the local Brookshire's supermarket and then headed the Ninjette toward Sherman, Texas and points west.

Shell

Highway 287 and Texas Highway 6

Quanah, Texas 79252

6/18/2006

9:33 AM (CT)

9:33 AM

13771.4

Arrived at Quanah, Texas and fueled up. I managed to miss all the severe thunderstorms rolling through North Texas. The Ninjette does not like to get wet so this was a good thing. The south wind was building both in presence and effect on travel.

Loves #200

6930 I-40 East, Exit 74A

Amarillo, Texas 79120

6/18/2006

Noon (CT)

Noon

13911.6

Stopped to fuel at a Love's Travel Station in Amarillo, Texas. The temperature was beginning to rise, vegetation was diminishing, and the sky was really beginning to open up. I stopped just outside of town to get a shot of the famous and quirky Cadillac Ranch landmark.

Shell

Interstate Highway 40 and US Hwy. 54

Santa Rosa, New Mexico 88435

6/18/2006

2:29 PM (MT)

3:29 PM

14087.1

Crossed the first state line of this trip and hit some road construction. The Ninjette acted rather fuel starved and stalled on me. Switching to reserve had no real effect. Coasted to side of road to trouble shoot. No visible problems. Plenty of fuel. Back on the road and no stalls thus far. This episode put the "home support crew" a little on edge to think of me stalling out in the middle of the interstate; I began keeping a closer eye on the situation. The gusty south wind appeared to have a slight westerly component. I was spending more time at WOT to maintain highway speed as the altitude climbed. New Mexico has few municipalities to provide speed traps for unsuspecting motorist and raise revenue. However, New Mexico has solved this logistics problem by using what they call "Safety Corridors". You'll see a sign "Entering Safety Corridor" and be informed that traffic fines double. There are no towns or any civilization even visible in the "Safety Corridors" but you can certainly be fined for misbehaving in them even though there is only desert as far as the eye can see.

Flying J Travel Plaza

9911 Avalon Road Northwest

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87105

6/18/2006

5:08 PM (MT)

6:08 PM

14213.6

I decided that the side trip to 4 Corners is not going to work within time constraints imposed by scheduled Christian Motorcyclist Association (CMA) events in Vista, California. The main purpose of this portion of the excursion is to successfully complete an IBA 50CC on a Ninja 250. Adding an extra 300 miles to the ride to San Diego would not accomplish this. I asked the "home support crew" to come up with shortest route from Flagstaff, Arizona to Vista, California. Ultimately, I opted to take I-40 to I-15 on to Vista, California. Interstate travel being preferred as time is an issue. The Ninjette stalled again on the way to Albuquerque in the same manner as before. Again no visible issues. High temperature, high altitudes, and a lot of WOT riding preceded the stalling once again. I hit 7200 feet in altitude just east of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Hopi Travel Center

Interstate Highway 40, Exit 292

Holbrook, Arizona 86025

6/18/2006

8:29 PM (MT)

9:29 PM

14435.3

Phoned the support crew. My wife was definitely ready to hear from me. I planned on spending the night just west of Flagstaff as a compromise to keep fatigue and exhaustion at bay. Ideally, I would prefer to make it to Needles, CA tonight - the ride is going great, but, the family and logic dictated otherwise and I sought some rest before tomorrow's final leg of the ride to the west coast.

Motel 6

2745 South Woodlands Village

Flagstaff, Arizona 86001

6/19/2006

Midnight (MT)

1:00 AM

The Ninjette has been running well for the last several hours, so, at this point, I suspect the Ninjette stalling was due to vapor lock caused by high altitude and heat. The "support crew chief" made a reservation for me at a Motel 6. The desk clerk assured her that the sign is visible from the Interstate so I take the exit as instructed and find a very confusing series of intersections with no Motel 6 in sight. After circling the area a couple of times, I discover that the sign is indeed visible from the Interstate if you miss your exit and are riding past the motel. I located an exit, doubled back, and turned on to the Motel 6 property.

Wal-Mart

Flagstaff, Arizona 86001

6/19/2006

4:58 AM (MT)

5:58 AM

It was a toasty 50 degrees that morning with 40% humidity just west of Flagstaff, Arizona. The skies were partly cloudy and the wind calm. Lucky for me the hotel was across the street from a 24 hour Wal-Mart. I am now the owner of a new pair of sweats in an effort not to freeze on the first part of today's ride. (It was close to 90 degrees when I left Commerce and pushing 100 by Noon.) For the ride, I had packed well ventilated, mesh riding gear. I was hopeful the Arizona sun would warm things up quickly. I had to replace a front turn signal/running lamp I lost the night before. No amber lamps are available so clear will have to do. Who wants to skirt the east side of LA without a left turn signal? I've got about 11-12 hours to make it to Vista, California near San Diego and meet with fellow CMA members. The Ninjette is pointed west and we're off again.

Route 66 Chevron

527 West Route 66, Interstate Highway 40

Seligman, Arizona 86337

6/19/2006

7:16 AM (PT)

9:16 AM

14652.2

Precautionary fuel stop. Arizona has some interesting lane division reflectors that are imbedded in the Interstate. Before each reflector is a "ramp" cut in to the pavement preceding it that are just about the width of a front motorcycle tire. Additionally, they are placed quite frequently and make lane changing without hitting them somewhat difficult. Clearly these are not the brainchild of a motorcyclist.

Petro #15 Mobil Mart

I-40 at Blake Ranch Road (Exit 66)

Kingman, Arizona 86401

6/19/2006

8:22 AM (MT)

10:22 AM

14708

The last large town fuel stop before the trip around the tip of Nevada and the Los Angeles metro area. I began to take note of some excessive tread wear on the rear tire. I replaced the front tire with a Bridgestone Battlax BT-45F before I left Texas. I took great care in measuring tread depth and predicting tire wear with the rear tire before deciding whether the existing Metzeler Marathon rear tire with 9,000+ miles on it could make it through the course of the ride. I was wandering at this point if all planning had come to naught. I might as well have taken a belt sander to the tire considering the punishment dished out by hot pavement and hard riding in the Mojave desert. The trip from Flagstaff along I-40 was quite a windy ride, in fact, I was more than ready to be out of the desert wind.

Barstow Chevron

913 Barstow Road

Barstow, California 92311

6/19/2006

11:59 PM (PT)

1:59 PM

14931

The Ninjette acted fuel starved again. Gusty winds with a headwind component, high altitudes, high temperatures, and a fair amount of WOT preceded the event. I tried to keep the throttle from full open this portion of the trip and was successful until I got fairly close to the San Fernando Valley where traffic and a stiff headwind became a dual challenge. It appeared that keeping maximum fuel weight in the gravity fed system prevented vapor lock from occurring. I kept an eye on the situation, keeping WOT to a minimum, and if necessary, intended to stop more often for fuel to keep the fuel tank as full as possible. As I dropped into the San Fernando Valley, I was amazed by the amount of smog that covered the urban area below. The polluted haze literally obscured the top of the mountains.

Mobile

4730 Highway 76

Fallbrook, California 92028

6/19/2006

2:45 PM (PT)

4:45 PM

15064.6

Reached the destination of Vista, California. I had plans to meet with the Wings of Eagles chapter of CMA for pizza and a Biker Blessing that tonight. The trip from Flagstaff, Arizona to Barstow, California along I-40 was full into a south desert wind. I made good time however. The Ninjette and I headed south on I-15 towards San Diego (Vista is a little north of San Diego). I was looking forward to meeting fellow CMA members and some great fellowship.

Best Value Inn and Suites

330 Mar Vista Drive

Vista, California 92083

Spent the night at a Best Value Inn and Suites provided by the Wings of Eagles chapter of CMA.

Bun Burner 1500 Statistics

Actual Mileage as per MapsOnUs.com

Date

Receipt Time

Central Time

Mileage Indicated

Odometer Reading

Gallons of Fuel

MPG

Speed Actual

Speed Indicated

Riding Conditions

Location of Stop

Start

6/18/2006

4:56 AM (CT)

4:56 AM

0

13516.2

NA

NA

NA

NA

Small Texas town

Brookshire's

1603 Culver Street

Commerce, Texas 75428

268.1

6/18/2006

9:33 AM (CT)

9:33 AM

255.2

13771.4

4.467

57.13

70 to 75

75 to 80

Texas woods to North Texas plains. 70s to 80s. Moderate South side wind.

Shell

Highway 287 and Texas Highway 6

Quanah, Texas 79252

141.4

6/18/2006

12:01 PM (CT)

12:01 PM

140.2

13911.6

2.632

53.27

70 to 75

75 to 80

Texas plains. Gusty South side wind. 80s to 90s.

Loves #200

6930 I-40 East, Exit 74A

Amarillo, Texas 79120

180.7

6/18/2006

2:29 PM (MT)

3:29 PM

175.5

14087.1

3.693

47.52

70 to 80

75 to 85

Entering high desert. Gusty South side wind. 90s to 100s. New Mexico speed limit is 75. Altitude 4,000 feet+.

Shell

Interstate Highway 40 and US Hwy. 54

Santa Rosa, New Mexico 88435

119.3

6/18/2006

5:08 PM (MT)

6:08 PM

126.5

14213.6

2.456

51.51

75 to 80

75 to 85

High desert. Gusty South side wind. 90s to 100s. Speed limit is 75. Altitude 5,000 feet+.

Flying J Travel Plaza

9911 Avalon Road Northwest

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87105

6/18/2006

6:00 PM (MT)

7:00 PM

0

14213.6

Dinner Buffet

Flying J Travel Plaza

9911 Avalon Road Northwest

Albuquerque, New Mexico 87105

221.2

6/18/2006

8:29 PM (MT)

9:29 PM

221.4

14435

4.133

53.57

75 to 80

75 to 85

High desert. South side wind. 80s. Altitude 6,000 feet+.

Hopi Travel Center

Interstate Highway 40, Exit 292

Holbrook, Arizona 86025

103.5

6/18/2006

11:58 PM (MT)

12:58 AM

117.7

14552.7

Spent the night at a Motel 6. Altitude 7,000 feet+. Got lost on the way to the motel.

Motel 6

2745 South Woodlands Village

Flagstaff, Arizona 86001

1

6/19/2006

4:58 AM (MT)

5:58 AM

1.1

14553.8

Wal-Mart: Sweats and turn signal bulb

Flagstaff, Arizona

95.3

6/19/2006

7:16 AM (PT)

9:16 AM

98.4

14652.2

4.516

48.10

75 to 80

75 to 85

High desert. South side wind. 80s. Altitude 6,000 feet+. Turned back to be sure I had enough fuel.

Route 66 Chevron

527 West Route 66, Interstate Highway 40

Seligman, Arizona 86337

MapsOnUs would not calculate correctly. The following is Seligman to Barstow mileage.

6/19/2006

8:22 AM (PT)

10:22 AM

55.8

14708

1.05

53.14

75 to 80

75 to 85

High desert. South side wind. 80s. Altitude 5,000 feet+.

Petro #15 Mobil Mart

I-40 at Blake Ranch Road (Exit 66)

Kingman, Arizona 86401

273

6/19/2006

11:59 AM (PT)

1:59 PM

223.3

14931.3

4.313

51.77

75 to 80

75 to 85

Descending. Mojave Desert. Gusty South head wind. 90s. Altitude 2,000 feet+.

Barstow Chevron

913 Barstow Road

Barstow, California 92311

130.1

6/19/2006

2:41 PM (PT)

4:41 PM

133.3

15064.6

2.29

58.21

60 to 75

65 to 80

Urban Interstate. Negligible wind. Low 80s to 90s. Altitude slightly above sea level.

Mobile

4730 Highway 76

Fallbrook, California 92028

Total Mileage as per MapsOnUs.com

Total Indicated Mileage

Total MPG

Spent the night at a Best Value Inn and Suites. Urban travel to get pictures of coast and meet with local CMA chapter. Negligible wind. Low 70s to 80s. Altitude slightly above sea level.

Best Value Inn and Suites

330 Mar Vista Drive

Vista, California 92083

1533.6

1548.4

52.69

 

Monday afternoon, June 19, 2006

Suzanne (Suzie) Calcagni, of the Vista, California CMA chapter Wings of Eagles, met me at a Mobile station in Fallbrook, California. Suzie then escorted me to the Best Value Inn and Suites in Vista, California. Wings of Eagles very graciously insisted on paying for the room during my stay. Suzie confirmed time and location of the scheduled get-together that evening and I headed to my room to get cleaned up and make myself presentable.

I was ready to go meet the Wings of Eagles at North County's House of Motorcycles 45 minutes early. I consider this good as I could take my time to travel to the motorcycle shop and enjoy a bit of the local color. I spoke with the girl behind the check-in desk and got directions which seemed simple enough. So I was off to the CMA Bike blessing and associated social activities.

It didn't take long before I realized that I was in trouble because a cross-street the desk clerk told me to take was not where she said it would be. No problem, I will just go to the next street and cut over. What I was seeing as I "progressed" through Vista was not reflected on the map the motel provided at the front desk. I found my way back to the motel, checked with the desk clerk once more, set out, and promptly got lost again. I had overlooked a critical difference in the philosophy on street layout between California and Texas. Here in Texas when a city or subdivision is planned the basic conceptual philosophy used is a grid format. All the roads are predictable and tend to intersect in a logical fashion at right angles. In California, it seems the basic conceptual philosophy used in street planning is a bowl of spaghetti. I pulled in to a driveway and amid a chorus of barking dogs called Mrs. Calcagni. A Wings of Eagles member volunteered to come rescue me and I was able to follow his Goldwing to the motorcycle shop.

Once there, a good time was had by all. Rick Davis, Public Relations Manager for Joy of Motorcycling Traffic School had been contacted by Suzie Calcagni and informed of my proposed ride. Joy of Motorcycling Traffic School and North County's House of Motorcycles responded with an oil change for the Ninjette and a pizza party for the Wings of Eagles CMA chapter. While the Ninjette was being serviced, I enjoyed pizza and fellowship with several Wings of Eagles members in one of the second floor conference rooms of North County's House of Motorcycles. Clearly this was not the typical small rural motorcycle dealership with which I am more familiar.

We adjourned to the parking lot to pray over the Ninjette, the IBA 50CC ride, and sign the IBA required paper work. The end of ride paperwork for the Bun Burner 1500 was signed by 2 of the shop employees and the start of ride form for the 50CC was signed by a retired deputy sheriff and a retired deputy police chief. After pictures, conversation, and prayer several Wings of Eagles members escorted me to Oceanside, California for the requisite pictures of ocean water, sand, the Ninjette, and me. I additionally got a little bag of Pacific coast sand as a souvenir. I was then escorted back to the hotel exit where I packed and reorganized for the coast to coast trip before getting some sleep.

A special thank you to the Wings of Eagles CMA chapter and North County's House of Motorcycles in Vista, California. They really made me feel welcomed and threw quite a fellowship. The Biker Blessing was a great send off too. Thank you North County's House of Motorcycles for the free filter and oil change. May God bless you richly.

 

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

I got up at 3:30 AM Pacific time (5:30 AM Central), showered, loaded the Ninjette, and was quickly on my way to fuel-up and get a fuel receipt for IBA documentation. Traffic was nice and light that early in the morning.

 

50CC Quest Log

Location of Stop

Date

Local Time Zone

Central Time Zone

Odometer Reading

Notes on this leg of the trip.

Arco

810 Tararack Avenue

Carlsbad, California 92008

6/20/2006

4:20 AM (PT)

6:20 AM

15126.7

I left the motel in Vista, California and pointed Ninjette toward I-5. I stopped at a gas station that was recommended by locals as being close to the "water" and easy to find. After fueling up I headed south on I-5 until I was finally headed east on I-8. I was surprised to find that I had to travel almost 25 miles until I was actually headed east toward the Florida coast.

Shell

4925 Spring Street

La Mesa, California 91941

6/20/2006

5:11 AM (PT)

7:11 AM

15166.7

This was the first gas station I could find open after turning east. I stopped just in case I needed the extra time to fit the ride into the 50 hour time limit.

On The Go Food Mart

2420 South 4th Street

El Centro, California 92243

6/20/2006

6:51 AM (PT)

8:51 AM

15269.9

The Ninjette and I made it over the mountains with no issues. The temperature was cool and the winds generally calm except for valley passes. I stopped for fuel to assure I would have adequate fuel for the desert crossing.

Shay Oil Chevron

592 East 16th Street

Yuma, Arizona 85365

6/20/2006

7:53 AM (PT)

9:53 AM

15336.5

Yuma is on the edge of the Mojave Desert so this fuel stop was for both me and the bike.

Cracker Barrel Store #305

1780 South Sunridge Drive

Yuma, Arizona 85365-2029

6/20/2006

8:18 AM (PT)

10:18 AM

15338.5

I stopped at the Cracker Barrel in Yuma, Arizona for breakfast. There are no Cracker Barrels in California. I understand that the Wings of Eagles and other motorcyclist groups like to plan rides into Arizona to visit the Yuma Cracker Barrel.

Loves #296

820 West Pima

Gila Bend, Arizona 85337

6/20/2006

10:51 AM (PT)

12:51 PM

15454.2

I optimistically passed by Gila Bend until I saw that the number of miles I would be riding to the next town would cut things too close for comfort. I turned back at the next available exit. This likely cost me about 25 miles and at least thirty minutes.

Circle K # 843

6750 South Craycroft

Tucson, Arizona 85706

6/20/2006

1:05 PM (PT)

3:05 PM

15588.6

The Ninjette was running fine even though the altitude was over 4,000 feet with the temperature on the rise. I kept a watch on things and trying not to run the bike at WOT. Rear tire wear was again occurring at an excessive rate on the hot desert Interstate. One could literally tell the tire had worn from fuel stop to fuel stop. I sure was glad I had a high mileage tire like the Metzeler ME 880 Marathon. Pure sport rubber would most certainly put one in a bad spot on a ride like this.

Dick's Texaco

Interstate Highway 10 and Rex Allen Drive

Wilcox, Arizona 85643

6/20/2006

2:13 PM (PT)

4:13 PM

15662.7

I began having problems again with vapor lock probably due to altitude, heat, and running the Ninjette at or near WOT for an extended period. The behavior of the bike confirmed what I have suspected as I rode to California. Indeed keeping the tank full seemed to solved the problem. I purposed to stop every 100 miles or less for fuel so the weight of the fuel in the tank will provide enough weight to force fuel on through to the carbs. The extra stops were slowing me down so I quit stopping to take pictures to save time.

Trail Town Chevron

1882 Stagecoach Road

Lordsburg, New Mexico 88045

6/20/2006

4:38 PM (MT)

5:38 PM

15734.8

It would appear that the folks in Arizona are a bit more realistic or honest than we Texans. In Texas we call all our geographic depressions creeks, rivers, streams and such even if there is water flowing in them only a few days a year. For example, near the intersection of Texas 121 and Texas 160 is a small town named Desert with a dry creek bed near it called Desert Creek which is typically dusty rather than muddy. In Arizona however, the powers that be fittingly name "dry creek beds" washes. I have crossed Rattlesnake Wash, Holy Moses Wash, and several other colorfully named washes.

Chevron West

1216 West Pine

Deming, New Mexico 88030

6/20/2006

5:50 PM (MT)

6:50 PM

15796.1

I enjoyed train watching in the desert. The railroad main lines are a mile or two from the interstate and the several mile visibility allows an individual to see a one to two mile long train in it's entirety. They looked like the N-Scale trains my son and I have back at the house.

Loves #214

1300 Horizon Blvd.

El Paso, Texas 79929

6/20/2006

7:42 (MT)

8:42 PM

15918.5

Just east of El Paso I stopped at a Trans America Truck Stop for fuel and a Subway sandwich as energy bars were getting somewhat trying. I was glad to be back in Texas where fellow motorcyclists actually wave! Thankfully, any late afternoon "heat" showers missed me. I phoned the support crew for a weather report in an attempt to decide whether to reroute to I-20 at the I-10/I-20 split because of Houston area flooding occurring within the last week. Taking I-20 would be longer but allow me to rest at my brother and sister in-law's home in Canton, Texas. After some discussion it was decided that continuing on I-10 would be the best approach. I had a bit of a tail wind for much of the New Mexico passage until entering Texas. The wind then turned into a pest out of the southwest as I was headed south enough that it was mostly a gusty side wind.

Pilot #209

501 Van Horn Drive

Van Horn, Texas 79855

6/20/2006

11:21 PM (CT)

11:21 PM

16021.7

The vapor lock and rear tire wear issues took leave as evening cooled the Texas plains. I would have liked to have been past San Antonio by this time but am running quite behind due to frequent fuel fill-ups and some poor strategic decisions earlier in the trip. A call to the home support crew indicated that Ozona, Texas would be the best bet for a motel down the road. I-10 between El Paso and Kerrville has an 80 MPH daytime and 65 MPH nighttime speed limit. This speed limit is largely ignored it seems. I pace myself with the flow of traffic and as traffic thinned I picked out a tractor trailer rig in the distance and attempted to keep a consistent distance. This typically translated to about 75 to 80 MPH.

Interstate Highway 10

Bakersville, Texas

6/21/2006

2:10 AM (CT)

2:10 AM

16178

I had seen almost no one for some time when over the top of a rise I noted a lone, single motorcycle traveling west toward El Paso. There are literally no towns or even buildings in sight and have not been for some time. The only nuts that would be out in the middle of no where on a bike in the wee hours of the morning would have to be on an IBA ride (perhaps a 50CC Quest but in the opposite direction). At Bakersville, there was little in the way of late night commerce or town for that matter. The only available gas station was quite closed at this hour. However, as with most retrofitted old filling stations, there was an automated pump at the disposal of after-hours travelers. Unfortunately, the IBA required receipt jammed with no attendant to rectify the situation.

Circle Bar Super 8 Motel

Exit 372 Interstate Highway 10 and Taylor Box Road

Ozona, Texas 76943

6/21/2006

4:00 AM (CT)

4:00 AM

16259.8

The Ninjette and I stopped in Ozona, Texas to catch a couple of hours of sleep. I spent 30 minutes trying to find a motel that had both a night clerk and a vacancy posting. Amazingly, all the motels that had vacancy signs had no night clerks and the only motel that had a clerk on duty had no rooms. With time slipping away, I mounted my trusty steed and headed east out of town. An information sign just down I-10 indicated a truck stop with a Super 8 Motel. I pulled off in hopes that a vacancy might be found. Indeed, as luck would have it, a room was available. I got bedded down a little after 4:30 AM.

Circle Bar Truck Corral

3331 Interstate Highway 10

Ozona, Texas 76943

6/21/2006

7:14 AM (CT)

7:14 AM

16259.8

Up and having breakfast buffet at the on site restaurant. I loaded up on carbs, protein and, according to my wife, cholesterol. A good flavor to the food but, unfortunately, a little cold for my taste.

Circle Bar Super 8 Motel

Exit 372 Interstate Highway 10 and Taylor Box Road

Ozona, Texas 76943

6/21/2006

7:30 AM (CT)

7:30 AM

16259.8

I packed up, checked out, and began leaving Ozona under cloudy skies to continue east on I-10. Upon pulling out of the parking lot, a momentary flash from the oil light was a shocking reminder that the Ninja 250 engine uses a lot of oil when pushed hard. When operated moderately, the Ninjette uses no discernible oil. I vowed checked the oil level at each stop from then on.

Harold's Shell and Food Mart

2350 North Main

Junction, Texas 76849

6/21/2006

8:45 AM (CT)

8:45 AM

16344.3

Fueled up. Added oil. A pleasant morning with thickening clouds.

Kerrville, Texas

6/21/2006

10:00 AM (CT)

10:00 AM

Just past Kerrville, Texas I pulled over at an underpass to put on rain gear. Called the home support crew to check San Antonio radar to see how bad the storm cell covers the area. The Weather Underground indicated that I'm only going to get wet for 10-15 miles and then the radar was pretty clear for remainder of I-10 in Texas.

Tiger Tote #12

1609 IH 10 West

Seguin, Texas 78155

6/21/2006

11:42 AM (CT)

11:42 AM

16492.2

I encountered a few light scattered showers from San Antonio to Baytown, Texas. The trip through San Antonio went well. The northern loop was well marked and traffic generally light so navigating around the metropolitan area was a pleasure.

Flying J Travel Plaza

1876 East Freeway

Baytown, Texas 77521

6/21/2006

2:50:00 PM (CT)

2:50:00 PM

16677.2

How do you spell Houston? H-U-M-I-D-I-T-Y. Folks in Northeast Texas that speak of how humid it is there do not have a clue. Now at the coast it is humid. I-10 takes you right through the heart of Houston. Fortunately the traffic was light even through the construction zones. I saw an HOV lane (motorcycles may travel HOV lanes in Texas) that said "To Down Town." That was the direction I wanted to go so I took it. Unfortunately it did just what it said and dropped me and the Ninjette right in the middle of down town. Rats! I took a gander at the GPS and turned East. After several blocks I noted a patrolman and lane split up to his driver's side window. I explained that I was lost and asked how to get to I-10 East. Ten traffic lights, 30 minutes wasted and I was back heading East. Just outside of Houston I asked the home support team to run some numbers to be sure I am not "on a fool's errand" and can make Jacksonville in the allotted time. Steady but manageable Southerly wind.

Beaumont, Texas

6/21/2006

4:00 PM (CT)

4:00 PM

Ran into stand still traffic which was building quickly near the Intersection of US 69 and IH-10. Those of us that ride motorcycles know how much they hate to stand still. I quickly took US 69 North exit, pulled off, killed the engine, and consulted the home team and my father-in-law on possible routes around the traffic jam. I decided the detour through Bridge City would waste more time than slow moving traffic. As it turned out the traffic was caused by construction on I-10 and cleared quickly as noted when heading back south on US 69 and no back-up from IH-10 was evident. I should have just held course and queued up. That cost about 20 to 30 minutes.

Louisiana State Welcome Center

6/21/2006

4:55 PM (CT)

4:55 PM

Just crossed the Louisiana border and stopped at a visitor welcome center for the requisite cup of Community Coffee. I took I-12 and avoided "The Big Easy". Interstate Highway 12 rejoins Interstate Highway 10 near Slidell, Louisiana.

Travel Centers of America

1701 North University

Lafayette, Louisiana 70507

6/21/2006

6:22:00 PM (CT)

6:22:00 PM

16872.9

Fuel

Travel Centers of America

1701 North University

Lafayette, Louisiana 70507

6/21/2006

6:52:00 PM (CT)

6:52:00 PM

Dinner at the truck stop

Mississippi

6/21/2006

9:30 PM (CT)

9:30 PM

Stopped at a Mississippi Visitor Center for a quick rest stop. Had the support crew make contact with A. J. Weather, Vice President of the local CMA chapter in Jacksonville, whom I was to meet in Jacksonville to relay an ETA. The amount and close proximity of the lush coastal vegetation has eliminated the effects of any wind.

Malbis Chevron

29805 US Highway 181

Malbis (or Daphne), Alabama

6/21/2006

11:26 PM (CT)

11:26 PM

17141.9

I was just east of Mobile, Alabama and took a precautionary dose of the Wal-Mart Equate branded "NODOZE" the wife slipped in at the last minute of packing. I was getting tired and needed an extra boost.

I arrived on west side of Tallahassee, Florida. I was tired but in good spirits. The support crew double checked the distance from Tallahassee to Jacksonville on MapsOnUs.com and I'm 164.2 Miles or approximately 2 hours and 27 minutes from the final stop on this Ninja 250 50CC.

Pilot #425

33333 Blue Star Highway

Midway, Florida 32343

6/22/2006

4:15 AM (ET)

3:15 AM

17373.9

Fuel and another Equate "NODOZE".

S & S #37 Shell

Interstate Highway 10 and US Highway 441

Lake City, Florida 32055

6/22/2006

6:41 AM (ET)

5:41 AM

17486.6

Physical exhaustion and my personal sleep cycle conspired against me from Midway to Lake City. I never want to do anything like that again. I was shouting greetings at trees, waving at trucks and fence posts, and praying out loud quite a lot. Whatever it took to stay alert. It was beginning to get quite humid and foggy. Moisture buildup was consequently becoming an issue inside and outside the helmet visor. This turned out to a blessing from the Lord as it helped occupy my mind and keep me awake. I did lose one of the "rag" washcloths I brought with me somewhere along I-10 while wiping the front of my face shield. Lake City was mentioned on the IBA website as being a last fuel stop before Jacksonville. As it turned out there were ample truck stops on the route to Jacksonville.

Smoker's Express/Lil Champ #1179

11410 Saint Augustine Road

Jacksonville, Florida

6/22/2006

8:11 AM (ET)

7:11 AM

17558.4

Official arrival time in Jacksonville, Florida was 48 hours and 51 minutes after I left Carlsbad, California, just over an hour under the imposed 50 hour time limit. The home support crew chief signed off and headed to bed. I couldn't blame her one little bit.

 

50CC Quest Statistics

Actual Mileage as per MapsOnUs.com

Date

Receipt Time

Central Time

Mileage Indicated

Odometer Reading

Gallons of Fuel

MPG

Speed Actual

Speed Indicated

Riding Conditions

Location of Stop

Start 50CC and Day one of SS 2000

6/20/2006

4:20 AM (PT)

6:20 AM

0

15126.7

1.075

NA

NA

NA

Urban Southern California. No wind. Upper 60s to 70s. Altitude Just above sea level.

Arco

810 Tararack Avenue

Carlsbad, California 92008

36.6

6/20/2006

5:11 AM (PT)

7:11 AM

40

15166.7

0.711

56.26

55 to 60

60 to 65

Urban Southern California. No wind. Upper 60s to 70s. Altitude Just above sea level.

Shell

4925 Spring Street

La Mesa, California 91941

102.4

6/20/2006

6:51 AM (PT)

8:51 AM

103.2

15269.9

2.001

51.57

65 to 70

70 to 75

Southern California mountains. Gusty Southern winds. 70s to 80s. Altitude 4,000 feet+.

On The Go Food Mart

2420 South 4th Street

El Centro, California 92243

59.5

6/20/2006

7:53 AM (PT)

9:53 AM

66.6

15336.5

1.649

40.39

75 to 80

80 to 85

Southern dessert. Gusty Southern winds. Upper 70s to 80s. Altitude 4,000 feet+.

Shay Oil Chevron

592 East 16th Street

Yuma, Arizona 85365

0.9

6/20/2006

8:18 AM (PT)

10:18 AM

1.7

15338.2

75 to 80

80 to 85

Breakfast

Cracker Barrel Store #305

1780 South Sunridge Drive

Yuma, Arizona 85365-2029

114

6/20/2006

10:51 AM (PT)

12:51 PM

117.7

15454.2

2.148

54.80

75 to 80

80 to 85

Southern dessert. Light Southern winds. Upper 80s to 90s. Altitude 4,000 feet+.

Loves #296

820 West Pima

Gila Bend, Arizona 85337

132.7

6/20/2006

1:05 PM (PT)

3:05 PM

134.4

15588.6

2.552

52.66

75 to 80

80 to 85

Southern dessert. Moderate Southern side winds. 90s to 100s. Altitude 4,000 feet+.

Circle K # 843

6750 South Craycroft

Tucson, Arizona 85706

6/20/2006

2:13 PM (PT)

4:13 PM

74.1

15662.7

1.467

50.51

75 to 80

80 to 85

Southern dessert. Moderate Southern side winds. 90s to 100s. Altitude 4,000 feet+.

Dick's Texaco

Interstate Highway 10 and Rex Allen Drive

Wilcox, Arizona 85643

154.4

6/20/2006

4:38 PM (MT)

5:38 PM

72.1

15734.8

1.328

54.29

75 to 80

80 to 85

Southern dessert. Moderate Southern side winds. 90s to 100s. Altitude 4,000 feet+.

Trail Town Chevron

1882 Stagecoach Road

Lordsburg, New Mexico 88045

67.1

6/20/2006

5:50 PM (MT)

6:50 PM

61.3

15796.1

1.07

57.29

75 to 80

80 to 85

Southern dessert. Moderate Southern side winds. 90s to 100s. Altitude 4,000 feet+.

Chevron West

1216 West Pine

Deming, New Mexico 88030

121.3

6/20/2006

7:42 PM (MT)

8:42 PM

122.4

15918.5

2.347

52.15

75 to 80

80 to 85

Southern dessert / plains. Moderate Southern side winds and scattered storms. 80s to 90s. Altitude 4,000 feet+.

Loves #214

1300 Horizon Blvd.

El Paso, Texas 79929

6/20/2006

8:02 PM (MT)

9:02 PM

0

15918.5

75 to 80

80 to 85

Subway sandwich for dinner

Loves #214

1300 Horizon Blvd.

El Paso, Texas 79929

102.2

6/20/2006

11:21 PM (CT)

11:21 PM

103.2

16021.7

2.061

50.07

75 to 80

80 to 85

Texas plains with a light South wind. 70s to 80s. Altitude 4,000 feet+.

Pilot #209

501 Van Horn Drive

Van Horn, Texas 79855

MapsOnUs would not calculate correctly. The following is Van Horn to Ozona mileage.

6/21/2006

2:10 AM (CT)

2:10 AM

156.3

16178

3.258

47.97

75 to 80

80 to 85

Texas plains with a light South wind. 70s. Altitude 4,000 feet+.

Interstate Highway 10

Bakersville, Texas

232.4

6/21/2006

4:00 AM (CT)

4:00 AM

81.8

16259.8

Hotel

Circle Bar Super 8 Motel

Exit 372 Interstate Highway 10 and Taylor Box Road

Ozona, Texas 76943

End Day 1 of SS 2000

Total Actual Mileage as per MapsOnUs.com for Day 1 of SS 2000

Time for Day 1 of SS 2000

Total Mileage Indicated for Day 1 of SS 2000

Totals for Day 1 of SS 2000

1123.50

22:20 Hours

1133.1

Begin Day 2 of SS 2000 at 4:00 AM on 6/21/2006

6/21/2006

7:14 AM (CT)

7:14 AM

0

16259.8

Breakfast

Circle Bar Truck Corral

3331 Interstate Highway 10

Ozona, Texas 76943

83.8

6/21/2006

8:45 AM (CT)

8:45 AM

166.3

16344.3

3.743

44.43

75 to 80

80 to 85

Texas plains, light South wind, thickening clouds. 70s. Altitude 2,000 feet+.

Harold's Shell and Food Mart

2350 North Main

Junction, Texas 76849

147.1

6/21/2006

11:42 AM (CT)

11:42 AM

147.9

16492.2

3.043

48.60

75 to 80

80 to 85

Texas plains, South wind, scattered showers. 80s to 90s. Altitude 1,000 feet+.

Tiger Tote #12

1609 IH 10 West

Seguin, Texas 78155

182.7

6/21/2006

2:50 PM (CT)

2:50 PM

185

16677.2

2.699

68.54

60 to 70

65 to 75

Texas coastal plains, South wind, decreasing clouds. 90s. Altitude near sea level. Took a wrong turn and ended up in downtown Houston

Flying J Travel Plaza

1876 East Freeway

Baytown, Texas 77521

193.3

6/21/2006

6:22 PM (CT)

6:22 PM

195.7

16872.9

3.4

57.56

70 to 75

75 to 80

Coastal woodlands, No wind due to high vegetation. 80s. Altitude near sea level.

Travel Centers of America

1701 North University

Lafayette, Louisiana 70507

6/21/2006

6:52 PM (CT)

6:52 PM

16872.9

Dinner

Travel Centers of America

1701 North University

Lafayette, Louisiana 70507

265.7

6/21/2006

11:26 PM (CT)

11:26 PM

269

17141.9

4.576

58.78

70 to 75

75 to 80

Coastal woodlands, No wind due to high vegetation. 70s. Altitude near sea level.

Malbis Chevron

29805 US Highway 181

Malbis (or Daphne), Alabama

229.1

6/22/2006

4:15 AM (ET)

3:15 AM

232

17373.9

4.088

56.75

70 to 75

75 to 80

Coastal woodlands, No wind due to high vegetation. 70s. Altitude near sea level.

Pilot #425

33333 Blue Star Highway

Midway, Florida 32343

End Day 2 of SS 2000

Total Actual Mileage as per MapsOnUs.com for Day 2 of SS 2000

Time for Day 2 of SS 2000

Total Mileage Indicated for Day 2 of SS 2000

Totals for Day 2 of SS 2000

1101.70

23:45 Hours

1114.1

120.7

6/22/2006

6:41 AM (ET)

5:41 AM

112.7

17486.6

1.91

59.01

70 to 75

75 to 80

Woodlands, No wind due to high vegetation. High humidity and broken fog. 70s. Altitude near sea level.

S & S #37 Shell

Interstate Highway 10 and US Highway 441

Lake City, Florida 32055

78.1

6/22/2006

8:11 AM (ET)

7:11 AM

71.8

17558.4

1.075

66.79

65 to 70

70 to 75

Coastal woodlands, No wind due to high vegetation. Fog, clearing near coast. Upper 60s to 70s. Altitude near sea level.

Smoker's Express/Lil Champ #1179

11410 Saint Augustine Road

Jacksonville, Florida

End 50CC

Total Actual Mileage as per MapsOnUs.com for "Day 2" of 50CC

Travel Time for "Day 2" of 50CC

Total Mileage Indicated for "Day 2" of 50CC

Totals for "Day 2" of 50CC

1300.50

23:57 Hours

1298.6

Total Actual Mileage as per MapsOnUs.com for 50CC

Time for 50CC

Total Mileage Indicated for 50CC

Average MPG for 50CC

Totals for 50CC

2424

48:51 Hours

2431.7

54.13

Thursday, June 22, 2006

A.J. (Andrew Jackson) Weather the Vice President of Jacksonville CMA Chapter, Bikers for Christ met me at a predetermined Smoker's Express fuel stop in Jacksonville, Florida. A.J. greeted me warmly and offered to take me to breakfast. We went first, however, to a nearby fire station for an end of ride sign-off by a local fireman. I then followed A.J. to a McDonald's near A.J.'s home. The breakfast was quite tasty after all that riding in the wet conditions the last few hours of the trip.

A.J. and I then rode to his home where he and his wife had a guest room with a bed ready and waiting. A.J. napped as well since he had been up most of the night communicating with my wife trying to predict when I would actually arrive in Jacksonville. While I would have liked to have slept more, I was wide awake by 1:30 PM and at that point I was wide awake. My body was exhausted from the demands of the trip, nevertheless, my mind was still processing all that had occurred and needed to occur.

This trip was all about the ride so all I had to wear beside riding gear, was padded cycling shorts, T-shirts, and my faithful western boots. So, changing the oil and cleaning the Ninjette were accomplished in said attire (sorry, no pictures). It looked pretty silly but was comfortable and did the trick.

A.J.'s wife, Maxine, prepared a lovely down home dinner that was a treat to the palette. After dinner, A.J. and I rode down to the beach for the requisite pictures of ocean water, sand, the Ninjette, and me, and getting that little souvenir bag of Atlantic coast sand of course. We tried for some time to find a location we could actually get a picture of the bike and the Atlantic Ocean at the same time but were only partially successful. There was room for the Ninjette in A.J.'s shop building so the little Ninja 250 did not have to spend the night out in the weather. We turned in early, which suited me, as A.J. and his bride go to work quite early in the morning.

According to my wife Joleen, Maxine deserved a medal of valor for washing my riding clothes. Joleen would have likely buried them in the backyard upon my return home. The clothing was a bit rough to say the least.

A special thank you to the Jacksonville CMA Chapter, Bikers for Christ and A.J. and Maxine Weather. They really made me feel welcomed and opened their home to me. May God bless you richly. From coast to coast, CMA Members were truly a blessing; our many, many thanks to everyone involved.

 

Friday, June 23, 2006

The house was abandoned except for the Weather's dog when I awoke at around 6:30 AM. I showered, packed, and loaded the Ninjette to head toward the Carolinas and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Traffic was not too bad as I headed north on Interstate 95 toward Savannah. Once past Savannah, I caught Interstate 26 toward Columbia, South Carolina.

I was able to meet Payne Seal, a fellow Ninja 250 Riders Club member, who resides in Columbia. Payne suggested a local home-style cooking chain called the Lizard's Thicket. Good fair at a quite reasonable price. Before I knew it, we had chatted about music, work, and motorcycles for almost two hours. Payne is a very gracious young fellow and was a delight to meet and visit. Unfortunately, I needed to be on my way as it was just about rush hour and the traffic would be getting heavy. Payne and I snapped some photos and talked our waitress into taking a picture of both of us.

Continuing Northeast on Interstate Highway 26 through Columbia, I quickly ran into a traffic snarl. I opted for Interstate 126 which I thought was a bypass loop. Interstate 126 unfortunately dead ends near the down town area. Rats, I did it again. I then backtracked and found a series of state roads that paralleled Interstate 26 and got me past the congestion.

It soon became apparent that I was not only going to hit some rain but I was not going to make Deals Gap before night fall. I called the spouse to find out what the weather ahead was shaping up to be like and see if I could get a hotel reserved for the night. It was at that point I was informed that our ISP had been having problems all day and she could not get on the Internet to pull up a weather map. I examined the map I had with me and it looked as if Franklin, North Carolina would be a good location to stop for the night and then progress to Deals Gap in the morning. From the map legend Franklin appeared to be large enough to have a couple of "Mom and Pop" motels from which to chose. My stalwart wife and support crew chief said she would start calling the phone numbers we had for discount motel chains to see what she could find.

As I continued toward Greenville, South Carolina, I hit rain. I did not know how much as I could not get a weather report. So far during the trip when it did rain, it was patchy. I could not tell if this shower was going to be any different; so, I elected not to put on my rain gear. I learned later, from personal experience, that the rain stretched from just outside Columbia all the way to Greenville and was raining in the "inches per hour" neighborhood. Things got so wet that most of the loose papers and my South Carolina map I had in my fannie pack were ruined. The Ninjette's brake light module and LED license plate frame fried and quit; I had to finish the trip without brake lights (I still had tail lights and turn signals). I, of course, was drenched.

I was wrong about a couple of other things that evening. First, Franklin was a large resort town and the prices they wanted for a hotel room were staggering for this rural Texan. I spent more on that one motel room than I spent on all the other motel rooms utilized during the trip combined. Second, when you see a straight line on a Texas highway map between two towns you expect that there is a good "straight" road represented by that straight line. This is the case even in the margin areas of a Texas map that show Oklahoma and Arkansas. Admittedly, I had a South Carolina map and was trying to navigate to a North Carolina location; but, why split hairs. It seems that Carolina roads have so many curves that the map makers gave up on accurately drawing the road and just resorted to straight lines on the map. I quickly learned that straight lines on a South Carolina highway map are meaningless. Texas map makers do not have to cope with such compromise as there are so few curves on Texas roads that each can be faithfully and meticulously reproduced.

The short trip to Franklin, as indicated by the now wet and crumbling map, turned out to be a very twisty series of state roads. This would have been great fun had it not been dark, wet, foggy, late, and had my brake lights not been taking a leave of absence. The humidity kept my visor fogged up. I pulled over to wipe the visor off a few times just before I completely lost visibility. Once, the local sheriff pulled over to see if I needed any help. This area is very biker friendly with much to see and do including a multitude of little local gift and craft shops. One could have a great time with the family making a vacation of it.

Time continued to slip away and the temperature was dropping. Wet mesh riding gear is not particularly comfortable in the lower 70s or below. Joleen, my wife, made reservations for me at the Comfort Inn in Franklin and I was determined to make that locale. I arrived in Franklin around 11:30 PM and of, course, got lost because the same civil engineers that planned the roadway system in Southern California were employed in the Carolinas at some point. I finally arrived at the Franklin Comfort Inn after calling and asking for directions (not very manly, but effective), checked in, and got to bed about midnight.

 

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I arose about 6:30 AM and enjoyed "do it yourself" waffles at the motel's continental breakfast. I glanced out the window and noted heavy fog. I was fogged in, so I clearly would not be leaving early enough to make it home that evening. It was still quite foggy when I phoned home to get a weather update from the wife at around 7:30 AM. I decided to wait on the sun as the locals predicted the fog would be gone by 10:00 and I am sans brake lights. The mountain roads leading to US 129 and the Tail of the Dragon would be much more fun in the daylight and the dry. I had been looking forward to all the twist, turns, and scenery for days. At 9:30 AM (CT) I'm packed and heading out. Brake lights are still not working but a bum tail lamp was easily replaced at the local Wal-Mart.

Beautiful, smooth ebony ribbons that stretch before you taking the path of least terrestrial resistance make this whole area a playground for motorcycles and sports cars. US 129 is touted as the number one motorcycle and sports car road in the nation. However, there are many more roads less traveled that are its equal. As I traveled these roads I began to realize why sport bikes are so popular as the Ninjette effortlessly flitted from side to side as it took each turn with greater confidence. I actually had rub marks on the side treads of the tires. An uncommon occurrence for the Ninjette in Texas. Awe inspiring scenery and friendly folks seem to await at every turn of this wonder land.

The roads in Texas are simply inferior to what can be found here in the Smokeys and Blue Ridge. In part, the land and weather in Texas are to blame. In the Carolinas and Tennessee mountains a rocky foundation is covered with a thin layer of topsoil. When one digs down and places road bed and pavement on the top of these mountains the roads simply stay put. In much of Texas, there are feet and feet of black "gumbo" clay, silty loam, or sand to go through before anything solid is struck. The ground here in North Texas swells and buckles when it rains and shrinks and cracks when it does not rain. Currently much of the Southwest (including Texas) is in a severe draught and the road bed is literally coming apart. Most stretches of back roads have cracks, dips, and buckles. The Texas Highway Department is the rest of the issue as they tend to spread "chip-seal" and poor quality path work asphalt over damaged areas instead of actually trying to repair the problem. Further, where there is good pavement, the ninnies spread "chip-seal" on top of it.

After riding US 129 the Palm GPS got me to Marysville, Tennessee and beyond to rendezvous with Interstate Highway 40 west of Knoxville. I was able to dodge most of the late afternoon thunderstorms that cropped up. I have been in contact with Duke Dunsford, a fellow Ninja 250 Riders Club member, who lives near Nashville. We arranged to meet for dinner at a Cracker Barrel in Mount Juliet just east of Nashville. At roughly 7:00 PM I met Duke; his wife, Heather; Tom Frundle; and Jaymee Sharp (who slipped away with his family to go to a local car race). The Dunsfords, Tom, and I had a great visit and enjoyed each other's company.

I headed on toward Conway, Arkansas where I was to spend Saturday night and attend Sunday services with Mike Kemp who is also a Ninja 250 Riders Club member. By 10:00 PM, it became clear that I would not make it to Mike Kemp's home by a reasonable time. The lack of functioning brake lights late on a Saturday night was also a major concern. I procured a room at the Super 8 in Jackson, Tennessee, filled the tank, and then got to sleep about 11:30 PM.

 

Sunday, June 25, 2006

I awoke at about 6:00 AM, showered, and walked across the street to have breakfast at the local Shoney's. After I enjoyed breakfast, I contacted Mike Kemp and set a time to meet after church. Mike suggested meeting at Brown's Country Store in Benton, Arkansas after church at 1:15 PM. I packed, checked out, and left Jackson at 9:15 A.M. Travel was uneventful except that rain began to develop just south of Interstate Highway 40 between Memphis and Little Rock. Interestingly (Praise the Lord), the Interstate seemed to curve just in time to avoid any storms so I actually ran into very little rain.

I arrived in Benton, Arkansas a little early and elected to fuel up before I met Mike Kemp. At 1:10 PM, I met with Mike Kemp at Brown's Country Store. Good food and great company. It was a joy to visit with Mike again and discuss everything from church, to cultural change, to family, to motorcycles.

I headed down the road at 3:15 but my good fortune ran out about 10 miles from Benton as I got rained on until roughly 30 miles from Texarkana. The final fuel stop, just west of Texarkana at about 4:45 PM, provided enough petrol to carry me the rest of the way home to Commerce at 7:30 PM that evening.

 

Comments

Every man has a desire to place his mark on the world. While I fully realize that God has, and will continue to use me in a variety of ministries to impact humanity and His kingdom for good; it is nice to have a time, place, or event that one can point to. Being documented as the first to do something, satisfies that yearning, if even in a small way. The Ninjette and I, for now, hold the record for the smallest motorcycle to have successfully competed the Iron Butt Association's 50CC Quest.

I got to spend quite a lot of time in thought and prayer which I found enjoyable.  There is nothing quite like a motorcycle trip to insolate one and with their thoughts and prayers.

The official arrival time of 48 hours and 51 minutes is closer to the allotted time than it perhaps should have been. I spent too much time visiting at eateries, taking pictures, documenting the ride, and making wrong turns. There are several things I would have done differently. First, thoroughly researching the routes to find out possible alternate routes in urban areas would have likely saved almost an hour. Second, obtaining a working knowledge of the region or regions that one will be traveling or staying in would make some aspects of the trip more manageable. Third, being able to cell phone while traveling would have saved a lot of additional time. Fourth, automating the log and data keeping aspect of the various stops would be a timesaver (such as carrying a laptop -- which would require more on bike storage and likely a larger touring motorcycle). I never could get my fuel stops under 15 minutes even though I tried to script a fuel stop routine. Streamlining the fuel stops is a great help when participating in IBA rides. I feel fairly certain that with more thorough preparation and shorter and less frequent fuel and food stops that one could shave four hours or better from the total time (or at least use the time for more sleep).

Once again I found the motorcycle a very capable mount providing enough power for the speed and traffic conditions imposed by Interstate travel. Those who are amazed, bewildered, or skeptical about someone undertaking a 6,000 mile, 8 day trip on a Ninja 250R are just not familiar with this little motorcycle. The little Ninjette is truly amazing. Its light weight and ease of maneuverability combined with the velvety smooth little twin's low heat production and heat dissipation create a truly versatile platform for solitary touring or relaxed riding. Fuel mileage was less than the norm, but was not disappointing considering the wind, terrain, and traffic flow.

An interesting aside is that this year (2006) is the fiftieth anniversary of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System.  On June 29, 1956,  President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Federal Aid Highway Act in effect creating the national high-speed roadway system that allows us as US citizens to move about this country so freely.  Iron Butt Association members in the United States owe a debt of gratitude to President Eisenhower.

Blasting along the Interstate is not as enjoyable or relaxing as the last portion of the trip in the Blue Ridge where I had time to take in the local color. I truly enjoyed the mountain roads and scenery. We are truly blessed to live in these United States for each one of us can, as citizens, cover large amounts of the varied and beautiful territory of this great country without going through check points or justifying our actions to the powers that be. There are friendly and good hearted folks all over this great country. Race, creed, economic station, or political differences do not seem to matter to the people I met. They were simply friendly folks who enjoyed interacting with other friendly folk. Truly, the people I met along the way made the experience of this trip most memorable and quite enjoyable. When considering the world condition, it seems the over simplification, "it is not the people -- it is the leadership who can not get along", rings true.

 

Photos

Bug splat as taken at Quanah Texas

 

The Cadillac Ranch just west of Amarillo, Texas

 

New Mexico Dessert along Interstate Highway 40

 

Seligman, Arizona

 

Arizona Dessert along Interstate Highway 40

 

Leaving the Mojave and headed toward Southern California and that famous smog as noted by the hazy mountains.

 

Best Value Inn of Vista, California

 

 

Wings of Eagles at North County's House of Motorcycles Showroom. Starting at the left: Jordan Bennett, Blaine Bennett, Bob Calcagni, Sandy Woodruff, Suzie Calcagni, Glen and Penny Ottman, Theresa Mohn, Woody Woodruff, Dr. Evan Yeager, Gary Placentia, Mike Mohn, and Rick Davis. (photo by Theresa Mohn)

 

Wings of Eagles at North County's House of Motorcycles Pizza Party (photo by Theresa Mohn)

 

Wings of Eagles at North County's House of Motorcycles Pizza Party (photo by Theresa Mohn)

 

Wings of Eagles at North County's House of Motorcycles parking lot signing the IBA BB 1500 form (photo by Theresa Mohn)

 

Wings of Eagles at North County's House of Motorcycles parking lot signing the IBA 50CC form. From the left: Mike Mohn, Evan Yeager, Thom Boswell, Woody Woodruff, and Penny Ottman. (photo by Theresa Mohn)

 

Wings of Eagles at North County's House of Motorcycles parking lot signing the IBA 50CC form (photo by Theresa Mohn)

 

Me striking a pose at North County's House of Motorcycles parking lot (photo by Theresa Mohn)

 

Wings of Eagles at North County's House of Motorcycles parking lot praying and blessing the trip (photo by Theresa Mohn)

 

Wings of Eagles at North County's House of Motorcycles parking lot praying and blessing the trip (photo by Theresa Mohn)

 

Rick Davis and Suzie Calcagni at North County's House of Motorcycles (photo by Theresa Mohn)

 

Wings of Eagles at North County's House of Motorcycles parking lot praying and blessing the trip (photo by Theresa Mohn)

 

Wings of Eagles at North County's House of Motorcycles parking lot bike blessing and IBA form signing (photo by Theresa Mohn)

 

 

The Ninjette by the beach at Oceanside, California (photo by Thom Boswell)

 

The Ninjette at Buccaneer Park, Oceanside, California (photo by Thom Boswell)

 

 

On the beach holding some west coast beach sand at Oceanside, California (photo by Thom Boswell)

 

Wings of Eagles escort to Oceanside, California (left to right: Sandy Woodruff, Woody Woodruff, Gary

Placentia, Thom Boswell (a Horizon College of San Diego faculty member), and Glen Ottman)

 

Early Morning near El Centro California

 

The view in the early morning near El Centro California

 

 

Cracker Barrel at Yuma, Arizona

 

Arizona Dessert east of Yuma

 

Gila Bend Welcome Sign

 

Arizona Dessert east of Gila Bend

 

Arizona Dessert near Tucson

 

Early Morning on the Texas Plains East of Ozona (About this point I decided that I was spending too much time taking pictures on a timed motorcycle ride)

 

A.J. Weather in front of the McDonald's Jacksonville, Florida

 

On the Florida coast holding local beach sand (photo by A.J. Weather)

 

Evan and Ninjette not very close to the beach in Jacksonville, Florida (photo by A.J. Weather)

 

Still not very close to the beach, but, you can see water (photo by A.J. Weather)

 

Loaded up and ready to leave Jacksonville in front of the Weather's home

 

Georgia Welcome Center

 

Evan Yeager and Payne Seal at the Lizards Thicket in Columbia, South Carolina (photo by a kind hearted waitress using Payne's camera)

 

Roadside Photo near Franklin, North Carolina

 

Roadside Photo near Franklin, North Carolina

 

Evan near Franklin, North Carolina (photo by Kelly Sweet) -- note the "dessert hydration system" (forward facing Wal-Mart "fannie" pack with two over-sized water bottles).

 

Roadside Photo near Franklin, North Carolina

 

Roadside photo East of Robbinsville, North Carolina

 

Roadside Photo East of Robbinsville, North Carolina

 

US 129 and headed North

 

Along US 129

 

Along US 129

 

Along US 129

 

Along US 129

 

Sign of a good road just south of Deals Gap on US 129

 

Along US 129

 

Evan at Deals Gap, North Carolina

 

The Ninjette at Deals Gap

 

The legendary Tree of Shame at Deals Gap

 

All shapes and sizes of motorcycles and motorcyclists at Deals Gap

 

The Ninjette at Deals Gap

 

Evan and the Ninjette enter the Tail of the Dragon just north of Deals Gap. . . . . (photo by Darryl Cannon -- KillBoy.com)

 

Round the first bend. . . . . (photo by Darryl Cannon -- KillBoy.com)

 

And look forward to the rest of the Tail of the Dragon (photo by Darryl Cannon -- KillBoy.com)

 

The Tail of the Dragon Section of US 129

 

Lots of motorcycles travel on the Dragon

 

Early morning on the Tail of the Dragon (photo by Darryl Cannon -- KillBoy.com)

 

How could you not have fun here? (photo by Darryl Cannon -- KillBoy.com)

 

Sunset in the Blue Ridge (photo by Darryl Cannon -- KillBoy.com)

 

Lake beside US 129 a little north of the Tail of the Dragon

 

Jaymee Sharp with his son on the far left, Duke Dunsford, Heather Dunsford, Tom Frundle, and Evan Yeager at the Cracker Barrel in Mount Juliet, Tennessee

 

Evan Yeager and Mike Kemp at Brown's Country Store in Benton, Arkansas (photo by Mike Kemp)

 

The Ninjette get an oil change and the valves set after the trip

 

.

Over 6000 miles of road dust, dessert sand, and some rain

 

A now clean 248cc engine

 

Certification

The Iron Butt Association Bun Burner 1500, SaddleSore 2000, and 50cc Quest Certificates sent as recognition for the trip.

 

From Michael Kneebone

Smallest Motorcycle to finish the 50cc Quest:
Evan Todd Yeager Trenton, TX 06/20/06 KawasakiNinja250 SDO>JAX
Michael Kneebone

President, Iron Butt Association

 

 

Riding Gear, Luggage, and Equipment

  • Z1R Strike Razor Helmet
  • Joe Rocket Rio Mesh Jacket
  • Joe Rocket Dry Tech Liner
  • Joe Rocket Sahara Vest
  • Firstgear Hypertex (HT) Air Overpants
  • Joe Rocket Razor Gloves
  • JC Whitney Motorcycle Travel Trunk on custom saddle mount
  • Padded cycling shorts
  • Over-the-calf socks
  • Small can of Silkolene Pro Chain Synthetic lube
  • Small can of Plexus Plastic Cleaner
  • Small bottle of Meguiar's Quick Detailer
  • Palm/Magellan GPS
  • RAM Mount for Palm/Magellan GPS
  • Maps and notes generated by computer mapping programs
  • Apple iPod
  • Cell phone
  • Ball point pen
  • Small Fuji Film digital camera to post the pictures on the website.
  

Gear and Equipment Sources

New Enough
 

Animated Works Inspired by the Kawasaki Ninja 250 50CC Quest

Animated Works by Kelly Sweet 

 

Return to The Yeager's Kawasaki Ninja 250 Site

The Yeager's 2005 Kawasaki Ninja 250
 

God Bless America

 

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