|This article tells the tale of a another great ride by Rowland. This ride extends one man's personal challenge on his Nighthawk. Read and enjoy!|
I made my BB 1500/36 trip from San Antonio to Sheridan, Wyoming, August 13-14th on my 92 Nighthawk, using Rand-McNally's TripMaker to plan the trip. The shortest route was 1380 miles through north Texas and northeast New Mexico to pick up I-25 at Raton, New Mexico, then I-25 the rest of the way to Sheridan.
I stretched the route to 1550 miles by zigzagging to have more interstate miles, heading west from Amarillo on I-40 to Santa Rosa, New Mexico, then north on US 84 to pick up I-25 south of Las Vegas, New Mexico. I picked out gas stops based on an expected 170 miles per tank before going on reserve. I listed my planed gas stops each day on an index card along with ETA, miles traveled, and miles remaining at each gas stop. I kept it in the map window on top of my tank bag and found it very helpful in monitoring my progress, even though I didn't stick to the planned gas stops.
The first day was 830 miles by my slightly pessimistic odomoter, and ended in Wagon Mound, New Mexico. The second day was 705 miles on I-25 all the way to Sheridan.
I left San Antonio at 9:00 A.M. (one hour late) and headed through the beautiful Texas 'Hill Country' ranching country, going on reserve earlier than expected. Must have been a combination of headwind, higher than usual cruising speed, and drag from the soft saddlebags.
I then crossed the west Texas plains against a strong quartering right headwind to Amarillo. More beautiful agricultural scenery and more poor gas mileage. Passing eighteen wheelers on I-27 was a bit interesting as I went from being in their wind shadow to pushing through their bow wave back into the right crosswind.
At Amarillo I turned ninety degrees left and the wind became a quartering tailwind. The next 150 miles to Santa Rosa, New Mexico on I-40 gave me the second best gas mileage of the trip. I was heading into dusk on the path of old route 66 and it was really pretty. Nightfall caught me as I gassed at Santa Rosa and I was sorry to miss seeing the remaining 110 miles to Wagon Mound in daylight.
The next morning was beautiful as I left Wagon Mound at 7:45 to head north over the 7,834 foot Raton Pass into Colorado and then on through Colorado. I stopped as I entered Colorado to take pictures. Traffic was heavy with construction off and on from Colorado Springs to the northern border of Colorado. I passed through Denver at lunchtime and was delayed by congestion due to an accident. My preplaning showed I would have to concentrate on making miles to make my finish time in Sheridan.
All across the northern half of Colorado I could see a line of thunderstorms ahead. I passed through it at Cheyenne just over the border into Wyoming. Traffic was light once past Cheyenne for the remaining 325 miles to Sheridan. I did go through two more areas of rainshowers and two areas of construction in Wyoming, arriving in Sheridan in the sun at 7:45 P.M., twenty-five minutes before the end of my 36 hours.
I was struck by how beautiful and relatively unpolluted the American West is. I really enjoyed the trip up and back. I am considering another Bun Burner to/from the Steak Dinner in May. Rand McNally puts it at 1600 miles round trip, all interstate, 70-75 mph limits. Hmm...
The next two parts have thoughts and lesons learned. I know that the big dogs already know that stuff, but maybe it will be useful to some of the others getting started.
I carried (and drank) lots of liquids and wore my First Gear Kilimanjaro jacket with all vents open, leather pants, an all-white full face helmet, earplugs, leather gloves, and hiking boots.
When I first contemplated the trip, I was looking at late June. I was concerned about the heat riding across west Texas in August. The combination described above was tolerable, however, in 107 F heat riding up to Ron's BBQ August 1. Thanks again, Ron, for hosting the BBQ. I don't think I saw more than 95F on the Wyoming trip, so was pretty comfortable.
Based on soreness after my SS1K, I was aggressive in exercising on the bike from the start. I would alternate taking hands off the grips and rotating the free hand one way and then the other, and then resting it in my lap or on my knee, which put lots of air up my sleeve.
I would put both hands on the grips and then roll my shoulders in one direction and then in the other direction. I would twist my upper body one way and then the other. My bike has the stock seat which is pretty good. I found that I could get significant relief by moving my butt to one side to get one cheek completely off the seat for a mile or so and then moving to the opposite side.
Another revelation was the low average speed each day, 58.6 and 58.8 mph, compared to a car cruising at the same speeds. Reasons for better time in a car include better fuel range so stops are based on bladder range rather than fuel range, no need to stop to put on rain gear, exhange sunglasses for regular glasses, change faceshields, clean/lubricate chain, do Iron Butt paperwork, etc. Can drink/eat in the car instead of at stops. Tried a Flexi Flask but it didn't work with my chin bar. Need another 8-10 inches of tube length and a 90 degree elbow fitting to go into my mouth. A Shoei DuoTech will help, but still not as easy as eating/drinking out of cooler in a car or, better yet, having my wife hand me things.
If I go to Kansas City in May, it will be interesting to see if I can improve my average speed with what I've learned.
Although I am on my sixth bike, I have been away from riding for 25 years. I bought my 92 Nighthawk CB750 with 2800 miles on it in April, 1998. I took an MSF Advanced Riders course, added a Memphis Shades Roadmaster handlebar windshield/fairing and did my SS1K the following weekend.
As equipped for the SS1K, the CB750 had the windshield. a centerstand (factory option), passenger backrest/luggage rack, case guards with highway pegs, and right grip throttle lock.
For the Sheridan trip I added soft saddlebags, stuffed for the five day round trip. To help gas mileage, I put in a sixteen tooth countershaft sprocket, a 6% overdrive. I changed the handlebars for ones an inch or so higher and farther back for a more upright seating position. The new handlebars moved the mirrors back and out enough for me to see the lane behind me, an added plus.
I didn't know the battery's age, so installed a new one. I added two cheap digital clocks from Pep Boys velcroed to the top triple tree between the instruments and the handle bar. I put one on regular time and started the other at 00:00 as I got my start gas receipt so I could see how I was doing on the total of 36 hours for the trip.
The original tires had questionable tread for a 2900 mile round trip and were just beginning to crack in the sidewalls. I mounted Dunlop K591's, proving to myself that if I had a flat tire it would not be practical to remove/reinstall the tire after putting in an internal patch. I would have to use the BMW plug kit and take it easy to the next decent sized town. The front tire was a 110/90H18 which is about 2-3% taller than stock making my speedometer right on in speed and about 1.5% pessimistic in distance.
My SS1K gas mileage was 39.3 mpg. I expected equal or improved gas mileage with the overdrive countershaft sprocket. My BB mileage varied from 31.9 to 41.1 and averaged 36.6 mpg. Maybe Honda's choice of 15 teeth for the sprocket is best. Maybe running 5-10 mph faster made the difference. I hadn't realized how much the wind (airspeed) affected gas mileage, especially at 75 mph groundspeed. I also think the soft saddlebags (stuffed) made a difference in drag. Probably a combination of the above reduced my mileage.
Another thing that affected speed and mileage was using the highway pegs. With the throttle locked and a 10-15 mph headwind, moving my feet from the highway pegs to the regular pegs made a 5 mile an hour improvement on the speedometer. The Nighthawk has a metal grill on the mufflers behind the footpegs. Putting the balls of my feet on the footpegs and my heels on the muffler guards allowed me to tuck my legs in a little more. I started using the highway pegs when held up in traffic and going slower in towns. My bike (and bikes in general) must be pretty dirty aerodynamically.
The Nighthawk tank holds 4.8 gallons total. Except for gas receipts to establish course turns, I pushed into the .8 gallon reserve on most legs.
I had one leg of 184 miles, two legs of 172 and one of 168 miles. A couple of times, I slowed down and drafted a large vehicle (not a good idea) to make a fuel stop. I now know why I have gotten better gas mileage in heavy traffic. I also learned that I have to go on reserve earlier going uphill than on the level. Now, rather than accepting that I am within .8 gallon of empty when I have to go on reserve, I switch back to main when I get back on the level and see what happens. I sure would like about one to two more gallons.