Ironbutting

Writing this in my tent on 7/8/15 at 8:36pm
The day I was leaving for the ironbutt ride, 7/5, was a fairly eventful day. Dale took me out to fly his kite, and I did a lot of last minute planning. I planned my gas stops in 100-125 mile intervals to minimize the stops required. I taped a piece of paper with the towns I needed to gas up in (and the amount of miles between them) onto my tank. I ended up making plans for three badges: the 1600k/24, the 2000k/24, and the 2500k/36.
I gave Dale some cash to buy a gas can and a quart of oil, and he let me crash from about 3pm-6pm. After I got up it took me a long time to get all planned out and packed, so my official start happened sometime around 11:20pm on 7/5.
It was a brutal, miserable, and at times outright painful 24 hours. Particularly in the beginning. It’d been fairly warm the entire time I was hanging out with Dale, but then the day I decide to go on this ride, it got pretty cold. I wanted to stop and put every piece of clothing I had with me on, but everything was so totally packed away, it would have eaten a lot of time to try to go into the bag. My fingers and toes were very unhappy.

The plus was that the sun rose at about 5am. The bad was that it was totally overcast, so the sun didn’t help much.
The entire day was too cool for my liking. From the start to about 7am it was outright painful, but after that it was just uncomfortable.

I was quite glad to have gotten the gas can, as my first planned stop, sometime in the wee hours of the morning, was met with a closed station. It would have sucked pretty hard to have been SOL that early into the ride.

I only really bothered to stop at the border crossings for pictures.

I finished the 1600k in Vermilion Bay. Got a couple of kids working the gas station desk to sign as witnesses for me.
I kept going and finished the 2000k in Thunder Bay. I only managed to get one very reluctant gas station clerk to give me the gas station number and address for that form, as I arrived in Thunder Bay close to midnight.

I had lined up a place to stay in Wawa, which was another 500k away, and Wawa was where I was planning to stop the ironbutt ride. After I left Thunder Bay though, it quickly became evident I wouldn’t make it to Wawa. The road was pitch black, littered with moose and deer warning signs, and my body was beginning to succumb to delirium after all the sleep deprivation.
The decision to forgo the 2500k badge was a difficult one for me. “Only 300 more miles” was the motto of the little devil on my shoulder.
If an animal had jumped out in front of me, though, it would have been difficult enough to dodge or stop in time if I was fully alert. In the state I was…
I came across a truck stop travel center and pulled in. Immediately started pitching my tent in a grassy spot and fell asleep within seconds of my head hitting my balled up jacket playing pillow.
I slept well, and for quite a long while. I packed up my gear, added oil to the bike, and tried turning it on. Battery was dead again.
I pushed the bike towards the gas station area, and eventually another biker, Jessee, pulled up next to me. He saw me with my tools out taking the battery cover off and inquired as to my woes. He ended up jumping me off of his bike. We were both headed for Nova Scotia, so we decided to ride together until Wawa, where I’d be stopping and he’d be continuing.
The electrical issue was odd. We rode fairly slow for the first tankful (was only in 4th gear for 100ish miles), and after that my bike did turn on. The next stop though, it wouldn’t start again (5th gear, 100ish miles).
Eventually we made it to Wawa and said our goodbyes. I went to a subway because it’d advertised itself along the road as having WiFi. Figured it’d be my ticket to getting a hold of my Wawa connection, Gord.
The WiFi forced me to give them my email to be able to log in, which I did. Funnily enough, they immediately sent me an email with a free 6” sub coupon. So I ate my free sub while waiting for Gord to get back to me.
After getting another jump from some good samaritans at the subway, I made my way to Gord’s, having received the address. I got fairly lucky in that Gord’s the owner of a Polaris dealership, and a fairly adept mechanic. I showed him the connection Doug had tried to clean up back in Calgary and he decided to cut the plastic connector off, solder some small connectors to each of the three wires, and connect each directly to each prong on the regulator end. He had me pitch a tent in his backyard, which has a gorgeous view. It was extremely cold during the night, though.
We charged the battery overnight, tested the charging system, and tested the battery. The charging system is putting out a measely 12.5ish volts when revved. The battery tested good.
Given that the alternator is most likely at fault here, Gord decided to disconnect my headlamp to save electricity. He also advised me to consider staying in a lower gear. I changed my oil at his dealership and split. I’m bound for Toronto to visit some family. Didn’t make it quite as far as I wanted to, but that’s okay.
I’m about 10 miles south after turning southbound at Sudbury.
I started looking for a place to camp along the road, and saw a sandy road going up a hill.
I started up it, but lost my nerve when I saw huge sandy ruts on the uphill portion. When I tried getting the bike turned back around, I ended up dropping it when the tire went into a dip in the sand. It was a slow drop, and I did manage to flick the killswitch before laying it down. Unfortunately the bike fell on its side downhill. I heaved, but didn’t manage to get it to budge. I walked back to the asphalt and waved down a cager to help me lift it up. It’s fairly embarassing having a mom with her kid in the back stop and have to tell her you can’t pick your own damn bike up off the ground. C’est la vie.
Having had the extra time to look around, I decided the spot up the hill was actually a good idea, if I’d just remember my earlier lesson in Texas about riding along the grass instead of the sand.
I pitched the tent, got in, and set off to write this entry.
I hope to leave fairly early and make it to Toronto as soon as possible.

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