I’ve Been Everywhere (almost)
Last fall I purchased my first BMW motorcycle after some 20 years of ownership of a cherry 1952 Harley panhead. I thoroughly enjoyed the old Pan, but I was desirous of having a motorcycle more suitable for long distance touring. Accepting an offer that I “couldn’t refuse”, I sold the Harley and in the deal ended up with a nice K Bike from Germany. With my newfound freedom to ride the open road, I was looking forward to some long trips.
At around this same time TeamStrange announced the IBET. I signed up as soon as learned of this self-directed rally event. With my Map”n”Go I immediately began planning trips which would result in visiting as many cities as possible with as few miles as possible. As with most of us living in the insanity of this present system, I need to optimize my efforts in visiting the cities on the list to take full advantage of the rare time I have available for pursuing my hobby of motorcycling.
Here is a summary of my efforts to date in achieving the first 25 cities (as of 4 June 2000) Home Base: Joplin, Missouri SW Corner of Missouri near Kansas/Oklahoma Border, approx. 60 miles north of Arkansas Border. Located on I-44 and US 71. Also on old Highway 66. Trip 1. Local Sites 92 miles 4 Cities The Tour began on Saturday April 15. I had scouted out the closest cities and upon receipt of the rally flag, on the first day of the Rally, April 15, I was able to snag : Nashville,Mo .. old abandoned Post Office no other proof Pittsburg, Kansas.. Post Office.. not the best, small lettering Chicopee, Kansas… city limit signs, north and south Oklahoma State Line south of Baxter Springs, Kansas on US 66 Trip 2 Kansas .. 11 Cities, 740 miles, 14 hours.
Upon the purchase of my K-Bike, I had begun planning for a IronButt Asociation SaddleSore 1000. I felt that I could possibly combine a major IBET City harvest with a SaddleSore 1000, and mapped out a possible route which included 11 IBET Cities and ended back at home base at a distance of 740 miles. My plan was to attempt both the 11 City IBET grab, and after a brief stop at home, I could pursue the remaining 260 mile loop for the SS1000 by traveling up the local superslab for 130 miles, turning around, and returning home. This would be a stretch, I knew, as my previous long day had been 600 miles. My main goal from the outset was the 11 Cities, but, depending on how I felt upon returning home, I might go or the SS1000 also.
With the SS1000 in mind, I planned on getting the necessary documetation as I went along to be able to qualify the ride as an IBA SS1000. I had Friday April 28 as a day off for the SS1000 / 11 City attempt. Getting up at 0430, I was able to get ready, eat a bite, get my SS1000 witness form signed by my wife, and hit the nearest gas pump for time and location proof at 0530. The sky in the east was starting to grow light, and I could see that it was to be a gorgeous spring day. I headed west into Kansas, destination Buffalo. I passed through Parsons, Kansas on the way. Just one week earlier, the town had been hit hard by a tornado.
When I passed through the devastated area of the city, I felt like someone had knocked the wind out of me. Even following one week of cleaning up the damage was so apparent. Bits and pieces of people’s lives, their homes, and their personal possessions littered the ground everywhere. I had never seen the results of such a tornado first hand, and it took some of the pleasure of the ride away. It was a haunting scene, and a humbling experience to see exactly how small we are compared to the forces of nature. Fortunately no one had been killed, but the devastation was awesome.
Riding north out of Parsons, I was treated to a very beautiful sunrise to my right, with the huge orange ball of warm sun glowing through the cool thin mist rising from the green wheat fields. Very tranquil and a calming effect from the trauma of seeing the destruction of the tornado. The destination of Buffalo(0700) was reached, and the City Limit sign duly photographed. I use a 35mm point and shoot type camera, and also I take a second photo with a disposable camera. I don’t want to take a chance on not getting the photo of the City.
North out of Buffalo, I turned back west at Yates Center on US 54. Although I had only gone 122 miles since leaving home, I stopped for a gas receipt to verify my “corner” if needed for the SS1000. From there, I headed west towards Wichita, picking up Toronto (0745), El Dorado (0840), and Wichita (0910). I had been wondering how difficult it would be to document Wichita, but heading west into the City on Highway 54 (Kellogg Street), I encountered a sizable city limit sign about a mile east of the Beechcraft plant. I grabbed a splash of fuel and another receipt for possible corner verification for the SS1000 attempt in Wichita, then turned north towards Nebraska. Taking the bypass around the northeast side of Wichita saved a lot of time, and an hour and a half later, I was in the “other Tampa”, Tampa Kansas.
Although Rand McNally shows the roads to Tampa from the west and north as paved, they were gravel, although the road from the west appears to have been a thin Chip and Seal paving at some point in the past. I kicked up plenty of dust on these roads, and wondered if a GS wouldn’t have been a better choice of bikes than the K. Anyway, the 10 or so miles of gravel roads picking up this city really knocked my average speed, as I was only able to get up to around 40 to 45 on the marbelly surface. Having grown up in rural Iowa, I enjoyed the peace and solitude of riding through the vast green agricultural sea of Kansas. Continuing northward in almost a beeline, I enjoyed the next couple of hours of beautiful big fat blue Kansas sky, with some puffy white cumulus clouds for variety. I was able to lose myself and my problems for a while and think of nothing else but the enjoyment of the moment and the enjoyment of the wonderful beauty that surrounds us that we rarely take time to appreciate. Whenever I’m out in the wide open spaces like this, I have a hard time imagining that anyone can begin to think of the world as being overcrowded.
The only thing that marred my pleasure was a major construction delay south of Clay Center which again really knocked my average speed. After 10 minutes or so of waiting , the lead car came to guide us through the construction zone. They were melting the asphalt , one lane at a time, with a huge furnace-like trailer, then mixing up the hot asphalt with another machine, then re-compacting the heated and mixed asphalt. When we got to the heating truck, the smoke and steam was so thick that I had NO vision past the windscreen. Having lost sight of the lead car, I held my breath and proceeded onward, trusting that nothing and nobody would be in front of me. About 100 feet later, I rode out of the smoke unscathed, but with a nice adrenaline boost.
With the extra stops I had been making for the SS1000 verification, and taking the photos for IBET, and now the construction delay, I was beginning to get the first doubts about successfully doing the SS1000 on this day. With the earlier 10 miles of gravel roads, a nice coating of springtime bugs, and now a thin layer of smoke, both the bike and I were beginning to develop that “road warrior” look. I stopped for gas and a snack at noon in Clay Center and enjoyed the beautiful town square with stately courthouse. I timed my stop just right to also enjoy the noon blowing of the town siren. So far I had traveled 357 miles in 6.5 hours, for an average of 55 MPH, but I had to run hard between stops to get that much average speed. I was almost halfway done with my originally planned loop. At that point I had stopped 8 times.
The next 230 mile stretch of my 11 City quest would prove to be my undoing for the planned SS1000, as I was only able to maintain an average speed of 44 mph, with a total of 10 stops for city limit photos, SS1000 corner verifications, and a couple of RAT Run photos. From Clay Center, I proceeded northward to Washington, Kansas. Here, I got the south City limit sign photo, then rode into the heart of the city to obtain a time and date receipt for the SS1000. I bought a beef stick, and the clerk got rude when I asked for the receipt, but softened when I explained that I was on a motorcycle rally, and needed the receipt to verify where I had been.
On my way into town from the south, there are a series of mound-like hills off to the west side of the road. On one of these hills, I noticed off in the distance a man standing near the peak, waving. As I neared that hill, I slowed to see what was going on with the fellow. Getting nearer, I noticed that he was only a silhouette figure, but it was uncanny the way he was positioned to give the illusion that he was actually waving. (maybe I had experienced too much solitude at this point?). Art on the prairie. This whole area of Kansas, From Tampa north is filled with pioneer history, Tampa is on the Santa Fe trail. The Oregon Trail and Pony Express came through the general area of Washigton. It is very easy to picture with your mind’s eye the buffalo roaming, the wagons of the hardy pioneers, the young dudes who risked life and limb to deliver the mail, and the lives of the original inhabitants of this gentle land as you ride through it.
Next stops on the IBET tour were Waterville, Kansas and Louisville, KS. To photograph these City limit signs, I had to actually park the bike at the edge of the highway, since the shoulders were non-existent. No problem, though, as traffic was very light in this part of the world, except for the fully loaded cattle truck which blew by me in Waterville. The whiff of “money” from that cargo let me (and Toto) know that we were definitely in Kansas.
From Louisville, my next target City was Oskaloosa, Kansas, northeast of Topeka. On the way I stopped at St. Mary’s for gas, then onward to my target. I also stopped in Oskaloosa to get a time and date receipt. I stopped at an old style (I think) Phillips station on 59 north of 92 that still offers full service and no convenience store. The proprietor was very nice and I recommend stopping in there if you’re passing through Oskaloosa. I grew up hanging around in, then later working in a gas station, and think that the quality of life would be enhanced with a return to this relic of the past, so I always like support other dreamers who keep this slice of Americana alive.
My next target City was Reno, Kansas, and on the way I went through the town with the most wonderful name of Tonganoxie. Say that a few times to yourself and you will agree that it’s a great name. Reno was easy to photograph, then on to Ottawa for my final city of the day. The ride from Reno to Ottawa required traversing Lawrence, Kansas from north to south during rush hour on Friday afternoon. Those of you familiar with Lawrence can empathize, so no need to detail this painful experience. There is no good way through here, on a bike after 11 hours on the road on a hot day in Cordura riding wear. Let’s just say a north/south bypass would be a welcome improvement to the transportation plan around here. The interesting thing I managed to see here was a World War II submarine being transported on the back of a wide load Semi east on Highway 24 between Lawrence and Reno. Did anyone else see this or I am I NUTS?
In doing the autopsy on this ride, I realize I should have stopped at the wonderful Free State Brewery in Lawrence for a dab of refreshment for the remainder of the trip, but I was still in the SS1000 mode. A half hour later- At last, my last target city, Ottawa at 1711 hours, 11 hours and 41 minute after leaving town, 590 miles and 11 Cities! Buffalo… Toronto…El Dorado… Wichita … Tampa… Washington... Waterville… Louisville.. Oskaloosa… Reno… Ottawa. Has a certain rhythm doesn’t it? The day ended with a 150 mile ride back to Joplin as the sun slowly and gently lowered itself into the soft green Kansas landscape off to my right. My sense of satisfaction was great as I had achieved my highest mileage day of my riding career, and had grabbed a significant number of cities toward the IBET goal of 25.
I was too content upon arrival at home to continue with the rest of the planned SS1000 on this day. I had lost my “edge” for this day. I will pursue that goal still, but I treated the experience as a learning day, having learned quite a bit on this trip about my limits, my time/distance management skills, my equipment, my planning and execution of a long ride, and similar lessons. (don’t include a mid-trip stop at home on an endurance ride) I have subsequently completed the initial 25 cities of IBET, including in Missouri: Springfield, Houston, Santa Fe, Louisiana, Kingston, and Waterloo. In Illinois, I have Pittsfield, Jacksonville, and Tennessee. In Iowa I have Knoxville. I have several close cities I can get, as well as some which will require a couple of overnight trips. I have the goal of visiting 50 of the IBET Cities this year, but time and circumstances at my work will dictate whether or not I can reach that goal.
I plan on keeping the list of IBET Cities, even after the rally officially ends, to be a checklist of motorcycling destinations to shoot for. After all, when we get to the end end of the line, wouldn’t we all like to be able to say “I’ve Been Everywhere, Man?”
Tom Moore Rider #913
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