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Baby Butt 1000 was a great adventure!


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September 25, 2002


Why ride 1000 miles in less than 24 hours? You can’t really enjoy the scenery, there is no money or fame involved, and usually your knees and butt pay for it. Still, for one hundred riders, including my riding partners Denny and Pepo, the idea proved irresistible. Saturday morning found us all at a hotel in San Diego eagerly awaiting the start of the annual Baby Butt ride, which is sponsored by the Red Hot Riders, a San Diego area motorcycle club. This would be a group 1000 miles in 24 hours ride that was sanctioned by the Iron Butt Association. For many of the riders, this would be their first attempt at such a ride.


Over the past few years I’d ridden some pretty long distances in one shot, including one ride from Grand Junction CO all the way to home in Glendora, CA. Even though I wasn’t a stranger to long rides, I still had butterflies in the stomach waiting for the signal to start.


At 0500 the start committee waved us off. Even though this wasn’t a race, many of us wanted to do the ride, and be tucked snugly in bed by midnight, 1, 013 miles later. Denny, Pepo and I blasted up the I-15, intent on heading north. We all felt pretty good, and had confidence in our BMW RTs.


Soon we were north of the cities, and leaving the deserts behind. With the Valentine on full power, we sped northward towards Lake Isabella. Making our way into Kernville, we bought mandatory gas and headed out onto CA 155, which would take us into the Central Valley.


CA 155 is one of those must-do highways. Twisty and scenic, it winds its way through the southern Sierra until it bottoms out on CA 65. While not fast, it was great fun to dance through the curves that seemed to go on forever.


Bottoming out on the flats I tucked in behind Denny and Pepo and sped up the Central Valley. Here it was very hot. Glad I planned ahead and brought a Camelbak filled with cold water!


Soon, we headed up into the foothills enroute to Yosemite National Park. I was shocked at the dryness of everything. It seemed the entire landscape was brown; even the oak trees looked threatened by the lack of water. It wasn’t much better in Yosemite. Streams were dry, meadows were little more than dust bowls, and fire personnel were everywhere. I fell in behind a group of Harleys that were motoring up the valley. One of the Harleys had an old-style side car attached. How the rider had to work that bike! Hanging off, adjusting his balance, speeding up and slowing down, he was an active guy. Wonder if he was tired by the time he got to Laughlin?


At the top of Tioga Rd, Pepo and I elected to stop for 25 minutes and take some rest. Stripping off our gear, Pepo napped while I laid back and watched an eagle soar over the pines above my head. Beautiful!


Soon back on the road, we encountered little traffic as we wound our way through Tioga Pass. After passing beautiful Sunshine lake, we descended to CA 120 and US395. There was a stunning view of Mono Lake . Since Denny was waiting for us at the intersection we visited for a few minutes and then took off for points south and east!


Being mindful of the CHP, we kept our speeds down as we entered Bishop CA. We still received several radar hits, but we were being good, so no worries. Out of Bishop we were able to pick up the pace for our next stop, CA 168 as it heads east toward the Ancient Bristlecone Forest.


Checking our time/distance schedule, it was evident to me that we would not be finishing in our self-imposed time frame. In fact, at this point, we seemed several hours behind it. I mentally re-calculated our ETA in Laughlin for early Sunday morning.


While we weren’t making the time we had hoped, we were having a great time! Pepo and Denny are great riding partners, and we seemed comfortable with the pace as Denny, or I led.


As we entered CA 168 enroute to Westgard Pass, the road narrowed dramatically. What an awesome road! Twisting and dipping, it climbed steadily to over 7,000 feet. On the back side we zoomed down to CA 266. As the road straightened my PIAA driving lights came in very handily. Bright enough to vaporize a deer at 500 yards, I found it impossible to out drive them, even at 100 miles per hour.


Are you looking for a riding experience in the middle of nowhere? Let me introduce you to CA 266/NV267 to US95. This is probably some of the most desolate riding country in the United States. To one side is Death Valley. On the other side is the famous Area 51. Nearby is a nuclear test site, and also a radioactive materials dump. We didn’t see any weird alien craft, just an occasional motorcycle blazing down the highway.


Did we want to get to Laughlin that badly, or did we want to leave the thermonuclear test site before we started glowing green? Whatever the reason, in no time at all we were downshifting into Beatty. 70, then 55, then 40, 35, and finally 25 mph said the signs. Feeling somewhat bleary, I jumped at the screech suddenly pouring from my Valentine 1. A deputy using “instant on” radar pegged Denny and me at 40 in a 25 zone. He circled around to talk to us, as we had already pulled into a gas station. While he allowed that we were indeed slowing down, he was concerned that we were speeding. After telling us to slow down a bit, he wished us good luck and we continued down the road.


Feeling duly spanked, we kept things down until we got back out onto US 95 where we let the big boxers run. Averaging about 65 miles per hour we were in Pahrump for mandatory fuel in a little more than an hour. This was a good spot to get caffeinated and stretch, as we had a solid two hours of riding ahead of us. By now I was beginning to feel the effects of sleep deprivation. I resolved to monitor my own situation carefully as I wanted to be a finisher, not a statistic!

We rode the next two hours very carefully. Past Las Vegas, Henderson and Mountain Pass, we turned on 95 to Searchlight. This section of the road was very fast, and had lots of truck traffic. We didn’t want to make any mistakes now that might cause us to be DNFs. We’d heard a rumor that one Baby Butt contestant had gone down earlier and had broken his leg. We’d also passed another contestant being issued a CHP “Good Driver Certificate.” We wanted none of those options!


Soon the turn off for Laughlin appeared in the middle of the desert. We made a quick left, and in a few minutes we were in Laughlin. After riding around in the dark for hours, the bright neon lights of the casinos nearly blinded me as we cruised toward the River Palms Casino and the finish of the rally. Another quick left, the ignition off, the required paperwork to the finish committee, and it was all over! We’d completed the ride in 20.5 hours.


Would I do this rally again? Yes, the Red Hot Riders did a superb job of organizing and running this event. I met people and saw a lot of real estate, most of it at high speed, which was fine with me. Would I recommend this ride to others? Yes, with a qualification. Make sure you are physically and emotionally ready for an arduous ride. Double check your mount. Insure that it will carry you safely over great distances and at high speed. If you are set, perhaps I’ll see you on the Baby Butt 1000 next year!


Steve in So Cal


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Great report.


You were so thorough that I don't need to do the ride myself. Maybe you should think about those floorboards we discussed with all your mileage.


I bet you guys needed a long snooooozzzzz after that one.

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