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StretchMark

A SS1000 Tale with a Twist (Thousands of them!)

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StretchMark

I never had any interest in doing any of the Iron Butt rides until just recently. This July, I borrowed Jamie Edmund’s bike for a ride up trip up the California coast. I was surprised at the number of conversations Jamie’s Iron Butt tags generated. Each time I had to admit it was not my bike. frown.gif

 

I started to think back to my ride up to and back from the Unrally in Staunton. Both up and back, I rode the majority of the Blue Ridge Parkway and I started to think a SS1000 could be done on the Parkway. Then there was YeeHa! Stephen, frikin’ YeaHa! Stephen grin.gif, and his badgering of those non IBA members in this thread.

At that point I had face my inner deamons and admit that YES, I am green with envy and I too want the license plate holder! clap.gif

 

Put those few thoughts together and you get the moronic idea to try a SaddleSore 1000 entirely on the Blue Ridge Parkway and a little of Skyline Drive up and back in one day. eek.gif

 

It wasn’t a ride I wanted to try by myself, so I wanted to see if I could entice David to join me for all or part of it. I knew David would not be interested in slabbing it for 1000 miles, but I might get him to bite on 1000 miles of twisties. One email later….fished in! thumbsup.gif

 

The planning started and we came up with Oct 17 as the date. I was trying to be optimistic, however, many factors were working against us. The days were getting shorter (less than 12 hours of daylight). It could be peak leaf watching time clogging the BRP with motor homes. Deer mating season started and the critters would be on the move (and there are tons of them up there). The speed limit on the parkway is 45 mph and 35mph on Skyline Drive. Throw on top of that 1000 miles of twisties and you have yourself a pretty good recipe for failure. frown.gif

 

Originally I had planned to start in Cherokee and do an up and back, but with all the factors mentioned above, I decided to move home base up to Boone. That gave us a few more bail out options. We arrived in Boone Sunday evening and made an early night of it since we planned to get up at 4am. A little piddling around and before you know it we finally hit the road a little before 5am. We decided to head Northeast first so the sun would not be in our eyes later in the day.

 

I was really glad to have Dave with me. He has the awesome light setup on his GS that made it feel like I was riding during the day. Remember this demo:

 

lights4.gif

 

We rode for a little over 2 hours in the dark at the start and must have spotted over 100 deer. eek.gif After a while, every sign, stump and rock started looking like a deer.

 

David is usually good company on rides, providing plenty of radio banter, but something was wrong with one of our setups where he could hear me, but I could not hear him. In retrospect…an ideal situation that I did not exploit nearly to its fullest extent. grin.gif

 

Around 7:30 am, it was finally bright enough that I could relieve David and take the lead for a while. I could tell it was going to be a perfect weather day. This was not a day for pictures, but here’s one to mark the sunrise.

 

40574065-M.jpg

 

I had not been leading long when I ran into a flock of wild turkeys in the road. I nearly missed the last straggler. I could have plucked a feather if I had reached out. ooo.gif

 

I passed up gas at the 185 mile mark figuring we could get a bit more out of that first tank. Huge mistake! At 200 miles, I put the GPS in the mode to find the nearest gas and started getting a little stressed that it showed all the gas was 20 miles behind us. bncry.gif I pulled over and Dave said his gas gauge had counted down to 5 miles remaining. STRESS!! eek.gif We proceeded 8 miles to the next intersection. Took a guess that gas might be closer to the right and lucked out finding one 2 miles down the road. Lesson: Remember the Iron Butt Tips and get gas before you need it!! smirk.gif

 

I had read all the Iron Butt tips and was planning on drinking water, popping vitamins and eating a PowerBar, but when Dave walked out with a greasy bacon and cheese biscuit I quickly caved. crazy.gif

 

233 miles in 4:38. Average 50 mph. This was going to be a looooooooong day.

 

The next leg was pretty uneventful. The daylight allowed us to step up the pace a little. We only had 90 miles to Loft Mountain, our turn around point to start heading South. We purchased items we did not need (jam for David, fudge for me) so we could have our dated receipts. After our last gas lesson, we decided to go for a known quantity and go back the 90 miles to the same gas station. I started nibbling on a PowerBar, but once again, David came out with a greasy BBQ sandwich and I caved again. blush.gif

Here’s the only scenery shots I took, and we didn’t even stop for this first shot.

40574057-M.jpg

 

And the obligatory Mabry Mill Picture:

40574072-M.jpg

 

 

414 miles in 9:02. Average down to 45 mph. This was going to be a looooooooong day.

 

The next leg was back towards the hotel. Dave calculated we would get there by 6:00pm. I knew from riding a little the day before that the sun was pretty low at that time. Reality started sinking in at that point. I really was not to crazy about the idea of riding the last 7 hours in the dark. 4th and long…time to punt frown.gif. The idea of drinking a beer and watching Monday Night Football was sounding really good. I told David I would decide at the next stop what I wanted to do.

 

We had a really nice run back toward Boone. The weather was perfect, traffic was light. I really got into a groove following David and enjoyed leading for my 100 mile stretch. We arrived in Boone at 5:40pm and it was time to make the call. David came into the ride with his expectations set that he would continue as long as he was having fun. The idea of riding 7 more hours in the dark did not seem like fun to him, so he made the call. Unlike David, I had not achieved the IronButt mileage, so I was still motivated to Git-R-Done.

 

Little HoonTang and the kids pop up on one shoulder telling me to be safe and do the right thing, and little Yeeha! on the right shoulder pops up and reminds me of the almighty plateholder grin.gif. I decided if I was ever going to do it, this would be the time! I had 636 miles under my belt. Surely I could knock down 364 more. I felt great. In fact I was shocked at how good I felt. I weaned myself off caffeine prior to this ride. I had been working really hard to improve my fitness level over the last few months. I really did not want to quit. So we parted ways and I went back to the Parkway to finish solo. I could tell Dave felt a little bad, but he was clear with me about his expectations when we went into this thing. With this kind of riding, and without the radios, it seemed like we were riding by ourselves anyway. So I forged ahead.

 

636 miles in 12:53. Average back up to 49mph. This was going to be a looooooooong day.

 

Back on the Parkway, I tried to keep a 60 mph average, but the sun was casting long shadows making the road tough to read and regularly blinding me coming out of the turns. It was really tough riding crazy.gif. I was starting to doubt myself at that point. Almost at sunset, I came up on a large crowd at one of the overlooks. Usually, I never pull off at an overlook if someone is already there, but this time I pulled in. I took advantage of the opportunity to layer up and get prepared for the cold as I was about to enter the highest portion of the Parkway. I chatted with a few folks and realized the crowd was there to watch a simultaneous sunset and full moon rise. I stayed for a few extra minutes to watch and it was worth it. I finally decided to snap a picture at the last possible minute. Duh! I missed some absolutely amazing shots. dopeslap.gif

 

40574078-M.jpg

 

I told Dave I would ride the Parkway until it gets dark, then jump on the slab to finish. Watching that full moon come up reminded me of another full moon ride I had done on the Parkway. I remember being surprised at how bright it was. So at that point, I decided to continue on the Parkway all the way to the southern terminus in Cherokee. I was rewarded with a really wonderful nighttime ride on the parkway. At one point I caught movement in my peripheral vision and looked over my shoulder to see a huge owl flying right beside me for what seemed like 15-20 seconds. It was amazing! thumbsup.gif It was so close I could see its eyes. I thought owls hunted by sight, not smell. I was pretty ripe at this point of the ride so he may have mistaken me for some easy prey eek.gif. I was riding very relaxed and alert until about 20 miles before Cherokee. A few survival reactions kicked in and I started hitting the brakes in turns and chopping the throttle.

 

I arrived in Cherokee at 10:15pm. The gas station store was closed, but I was still able to get gas. Fatigue may have been setting in because:

* I overfilled my tank and sprayed gas on myself dopeslap.gif

* I put on my gloves before my helmet dopeslap.gif

* took the gloves back off to put the helmet on and then pulled out dopeslap.gif

* realized I forgot to put in my earplugs, went through the whole routine again and pulled out dopeslap.gif

* realized I forgot my receipt at the pump and turned around one more time. dopeslap.gif

 

841 miles in 17:26. Average remained at 49mph. This was going to be a looooooooong night.

 

At this point I decided to dismount and go sit inside the best Western Lobby for a bit and warm up, drink some water and eat some food. I’m really glad I read those IronButt tips and some reference articles on fatigue. Just in case, I inquired if they had rooms at the Best Western and they did. After about 20 minutes in the lobby, I went outside and did a brisk walk for about 15 minutes. The cool fresh air, water and food did me a lot of good.

 

My goal was to do this all on the Parkway. It was 184 miles back to Boone if I took the Parkway. Based on the fatigue symptoms and that last 20 miles of poor riding, I decided I would go ahead and slab it back to Boone frown.gif. I punched it in on the GPS and it came up with 140 miles, so I would have to stretch it another 20, plus an additional 10 just to be safe.

 

I climbed 19 out of Cherokee. I crossed the Parkway one more time giving it just a passing thought frown.gif and descended to a desolate Maggie Valley then onto I-40. I made really good time on I-40, but damn I just hate riding the slab. I could see the silhouette of the mountains off to my right. Many of the exit signs pointed to places on the Parkway where I wanted to be frown.gif. I stayed on I-40 20 miles past the calculated exit and let Claire (my GPS voice’s name) keep me company with her frantic recalculations. wink.gif

 

I arrived back in Boone at 1:15am. I stopped at the gas station and squirted in $4 to get my time dated receipt. I walked in the lobby and was relieved to see Robert, the kind gentleman who agreed to be our start witness, working behind the desk again. He smiled, shook his head, came out and looked at my odometer and I got my list bit of paperwork signed. What a great feeling! I gave Christine the safe arrival call. Fired off a safe arrival email to David. As I said earlier, I know David felt bad about stopping, but in reality, it turned out to be a great source of focus. There was no way I was going to let something happen because I know how guilty he would have felt.

 

1010 miles in 20:26. Average remained at 49mph. It was a looooooooong day. thumbsup.gifthumbsup.gif

 

Once I let down mentally and started relaxing, I began to feel the effects of the SaddleSore. I started getting tight between the shoulders, my eyes were heavy, my legs felt like they weighed a ton. My whole body started shivering as the last heat of the Gerbings escaped. Here’s a before and after shot so you can see the effects of the SaddleSore. I kind of like that Conan O'Davis look I had going grin.gif:

 

40598780-S.jpg40574083-S.jpg

A few final thoughts:

It was a great experience and I am really glad I did it.

I don’t see myself doing another one.

I felt, except for a few minor exceptions, that I was well prepared.

I was very pleased with the way I held up mentally and physically.

The GS continues to amaze me as a truly great all-purpose bike.

Ipod Shuffles rock – I think I got 16 hrs of battery life out of it.

Alaska leather seat pads are awesome

LL Bean silk long underwear is amazing

Gerbings heat…ahhhhhhhhhhhh!

David, always great riding with you! Thanks for all your help!!

I can't wait to put that freakin' plateholder on my bike.

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Gleno

You sir, are a stud. Enjoyed that write and pics immensely. thumbsup.gifthumbsup.gif

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catattoo

Mark,

That is very cool. What a way to make such a challenge even more exciting! thumbsup.gif

Congratulations my friend. clap.gif

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ericfoerster

BRAVO thumbsup.gif

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russell_bynum

You're still a putz.

 

 

 

grin.gif

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Tasker

FANNNTASSSTIC!!!

 

Wow, what a great accomplishment! I am so proud of you, and a little jealous, too! thumbsup.gifsmirk.gif

 

If you ever do decide to try this again, or some other version, let me know. I'd be proud to be your wingman! thumbsup.gif

 

Mark, congratulations! thumbsup.gif

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ESokoloff

COOL thumbsup.gif

Good going clap.gifclap.gif

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Kenny Haynes

Well done buddy. I thought about you guys all day yesterday, hoping all was going according to plan. Glad it all went safely. Quite studly indeed.

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Les is more

I think I can let go of my sides and quit laughing long enough to type a hearty "CONGRATULATIONS!!" and say that that is the most entertaining Iron Butt tale I've ever read.

 

I thought this was your imitation of the deer in the headlights

 

40574083-S.jpg

 

Oh, and I believe you were probably being followed by the famous Carrion Eating Owl.

 

You rule! clap.gifclap.gifclap.gifclap.gif

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KMG_365
You're still a putz.

 

 

 

grin.gif

 

Yup! Green with envy!! grin.gif

 

[/Yeeha!'s cruel, derisive, mocking tone]

 

Congrats, Mark!! clap.gifclap.gif

 

BTW, good luck getting that sorry-a$$ excuse for a SS1000 past the scrutinizing eyes of the IBA ride monitors! Not that you really need to worry about that . . . I mean YOU know you did it and that's all that matters, right? grin.gif Now proving it to "Global Rider" on the other hand . . . that's going to be MUCH tougher! tongue.gifgrin.gif

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90%angel

Congrats, Mark! Well done!

 

1000 miles is a long day on the slab, much less the BRP!

 

Stud man!

 

OK, Christine, we have to do this now (maybe not on the BRP...)

 

cool.gif

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russell_bynum

OK, Christine, we have to do this now (maybe not on the BRP...)

 

How about an SS1K entirely on the racetrack?

 

grin.gif

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1MPH

Excellent thumbsup.gifthumbsup.gifthumbsup.gif

 

Very enjoyable write up also. clap.gifclap.gif

 

Jack

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ShovelStrokeEd

How about an SS1K entirely on the racetrack?

 

Hmmmnn, 436 laps of Barber. Call it 450 for safety. Wheeeeee!!!!

 

I doubt they would rent us the track but, who knows? Talk about needing to keep in focus. Running at a life and fuel saving pace of 2:15 or so you'd be done in about 19 hours counting fuel stops.

 

Great training for endurance racing. I doubt I would make it. I had enough trouble doing it in 19 hours on the slab, of course that was 1230 miles.

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David

Great riding with you, Mark! I too was surprised at how good I felt after the 650 miles in less than 13 hours on the BRP. I'd nearly quit caffeine and been exercising a lot more.

 

The GS is a great bike, and I found the seat to be fine. Having the HID lighting was a lifesaver. I've never seen that many deer in my entire life. eek.gif

 

Like you mentioned, I was committed to helping you with it as long as the ride was safe and fun. I didn't think the BRP would be either after dark after we had all those miles under our belt, and then when you decided to slab it, that took care of the safe part, but not the fun part. tongue.gif I think it was a good partnership because we communicated our expectations and intentions months before the ride ever happened.

 

You did good, man. Yeah, it's a stupid little ride, but it was also a challenge that required prior planning and intense focus. Most people get tired after a couple hundred miles on the parkway and you did more than 800 miles on it.

 

By the way, I went 14.2 miles after my "fuel left" counter went to zero. dopeslap.gif And when I filled up, it took more than the published capacity of the tank! grin.gif

 

Always good riding with you.

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Kinsley

Great ride tale Mark. I can't wait to see the plateholder in place clap.gif

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soboy

Congrats and welcome to the club! Last year, when I decided to do my first SS1000, I seriously considered doing the entire ride on back roads. Problem was any way I figured it on Streets and Trips, it was gonna be a loooooong ass day and nite, just like yours was. I ended up doing a mix of slab and back roads, more slab than you did, and did 1055 miles in 16.5 hours. I don't think I would have enjoyed those extra 4 hours in the saddle.

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SCOTTinNJ

Congrats and welcome to the club!

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Joel

Well done, both the Ride and the Tale. thumbsup.gif

 

So, peer pressure can make you do this for a few cents worth of plastic? confused.gif

 

 

grin.gif

 

 

Go ahead Yeeha! Stephen, make my day. smirk.gif

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MattS
considered doing the entire ride on back roads

The advantage of the NPS Parkways over (good) back roads is that all cross traffic yields and there are no lights or stop signs on the parkway itself.

 

Any salty back route will be full of stops, turns and myriad other traps, slowdowns and hazards.

 

Despite that, Stretch has big balls for braving the hazards of the Blue Ridge, which over that many miles have a deadly and hypnotic peculiarity all their own.

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big-t

but it was also a challenge that required prior planning and intense focus.

 

 

Your Planning sucks. eek.gif You rode past my house twice,I could have met you with a can of gas and a hot sandwich and had a cold beer waiting on the return trip. grin.gif

 

 

Congratulations Mark clap.gif,thats a tough way to earn that plate

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SteveHebert

Now that is a ride tale! It makes my easy 100CC seem meaningless. I wish we could have been on other roads for it, but it would have been impossible. Fill up, slab 250 miles, repeat!!!

 

The Alabama BMW club has a four corners ride that invloves taking a picture at 4 post offices in each of the far corners of the state. Some have done that in 24 hours. I am a putz and have not done it at all. A ride like that has meaning and can be fun. All of the ones I have done have been straight slab bncry.gifbncry.gifbncry.gif

 

I need some of them lights. What a great demo.

 

See you next week.

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tallman

Mark,

It's a saddle sore, not a rider sore. dopeslap.gifgrin.gif

Way to go.

I've often thought of such a ride but found the challenge still beyond me. Maybe one day.

Congratulations. clap.gif1000 times.

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Jerry_75_Guy

Wow!, Nice writeup! Welcome to the club wink.gif

I'm envious, I've been down there twice in the last

four months, and still haven't managed to ride that road tongue.gif

 

There must have been something in the air though; I ran my bun burner gold the same day (musta been the full moon).

The difference was I got up earlier, and got home later smirk.gif, but unfortunately the trip between Indy,

Sioux Falls SD and back is nowhere near as pretty

a ride as yours was tongue.gif

 

Glad you made it home without any deer 'incidents'!

 

Congrats! clap.gif

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Mark Menard (Vita Rara)

Mark,

 

Awesome, awesome accomplishment! Also, an awesome writeup. I've done the BRP end to end a few times, but I don't think I'd ever contemplate a SS1000 on it at this time of year. You're the man! thumbsup.gif

 

Mark

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RightSpin

Woooo, hoooo! Good for you, dude! That SS1000 needs to come with an 'M' device for "manly." grin.gif

 

I know many don't get it, but you'll never regret having done it. Expecially the way you did it.

 

And congrats to David for knowing when to say when. thumbsup.gif It's easy to get sucked into a bad situation.

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HoonTang

And he meant to thank his lovely wife for allowing him to go and forcing her to endure 24 hours of no communication!!! Whoa, I've never seen that end-of-ride face before eek.gif. Now, get back to bringin' home the bacon grin.gif.

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StretchMark

Good point blush.gif

 

I would like to thank my lovely wife my tolerating such silliness. You're the best thumbsup.gifthumbsup.gif

 

Thanks for all the nice comments everyone! Except Russell grin.gif (Yup, green with envy grin.gif)

 

I forgot to mention one other part of the story. As I was loading up the bike in the truck the following morning, two other BMW riders in the hotel parking lot approached me to chat. Of course I got the obligatory "You know, these bikes don't like to be towed." I took the high road, smiled and said nothing. Yeah right grin.gif. I'm way too immature for that. I promptly blurted out "How many miles did you ride yesterday?" blush.gif So much for it being a personal goal. wink.gif

 

Another thing I started thinking about. Somewhere before Asheville and Cherokee, I did not see another deer. I am starting to wonder if my vision became too narrowly focused and I just did not notice any more deer. eek.gif Kind of scary. I only have stock lighting on my GS, so maybe they scooted out of the way before I could see them. Maybe there aren't as many deer in that stretch (I'm reaching here)? Maybe it was still too early for them to be on the move? Maybe the full moon keeps them in the woods more? Maybe I was totally oblivious and putting myself in some real danger confused.gif. Any thoughts?

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russell_bynum

Any thoughts?

 

Maybe you're just a putz.

 

 

thumbsup.gif

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StretchMark

What shade of green do we have on today. I'm guessing emerald grin.gif

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MattS
Somewhere before Asheville and Cherokee, I did not see another deer.

Elevation ... along that highest part of the Parkway, all the good eatin' and drinkin' is well downhill.

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George Brown

Congratulations. Great ride and a fantastic tale.

 

You should petition the IBA for a special plate holder denoting "NO SLAB" thumbsup.gifthumbsup.gif

Edited by George Brown

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90%angel

Yes, Mark, I think Russell is jealous. His SS1K was nothing thrilling and fun like yours on the BRP...his was a mere run from SoCal to AZ and back (yawn). grin.gif

 

Christine: grin.gifgrin.gif

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Kenny Haynes

Interesting. I have never seen a deer on the road between cherokee and asheville. Most I have seen have been above mt. mitchell, and a bear ran across in front of me near craggy gardens one time. I'm sure there are plenty around though.

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ClearwaterBMW

congrats to you.

so, with the JUST the alaska buttpad seat (which i have on my stock GS seat as well)....

you didn't have pain?

i rode 570 miles on the slab on my GS 11 days ago with that same setup... didn't feel too good/and my butt ain't that small

 

greg

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StretchMark

so, with the JUST the alaska buttpad seat (which i have on my stock GS seat as well)....

you didn't have pain?

 

Really no pain or discomfort until the last bit of slab. When riding the twisties, I ride on the balls of my feet weighting the pegs and tend to be more "engaged" which takes some weight off my butt. I could feel it in my quads at the end. OK, I'm going to sound like a fruit cake here, but I also used a yoga sitting position which puts all the weight on the sitting bones and engages the quads. I also monitored my breathing throughout the ride. Sounds wierd I know, but it really works.

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KMG_365
OK, I'm going to sound like a fruit cake here, but I also used a yoga sitting position which puts all the weight on the sitting bones and engages the quads. I also monitored my breathing throughout the ride. Sounds wierd I know, but it really works.

 

Sheesh! What a fruit cake!! hahaha.gif

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Tasker

OK, I'm going to sound like a fruit cake here, but I also used a yoga sitting position which puts all the weight on the sitting bones and engages the quads. I also monitored my breathing throughout the ride. Sounds wierd I know, but it really works.

 

Girly-man. eek.gifwink.gif

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russell_bynum
OK, I'm going to sound like a fruit cake here, but I also used a yoga sitting position which puts all the weight on the sitting bones and engages the quads. I also monitored my breathing throughout the ride. Sounds wierd I know, but it really works.

 

Girly-man. eek.gifwink.gif

 

See...I told ya he was a putz.

 

 

cool.gif

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Tasker
OK, I'm going to sound like a fruit cake here, but I also used a yoga sitting position which puts all the weight on the sitting bones and engages the quads. I also monitored my breathing throughout the ride. Sounds wierd I know, but it really works.

 

Girly-man. eek.gifwink.gif

 

See...I told ya he was a putz.

 

 

cool.gif

 

I'll never doubt you again, brother! thumbsup.gifgrin.gif

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Kenny Haynes

oooooooooooooooohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. grin.gif

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StretchMark

Crap...edit period expired. I went from stud to girly man in one day confused.gif

 

Did I tell you guys about the time I did that SaddleSore on the Blue Ridge Parkway....Well, I never had any interest...

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Tasker
Crap...edit period expired. I went from stud to girly man in one day confused.gif

 

grin.gifgrin.gifgrin.gif

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KMG_365
I also used a yoga sitting position which puts all the weight on the sitting bones and engages the quads.

 

Ahhhh So! The enlightened "Master Yoga" riding position! grin.gif

 

We'll have to get you a saffron colored license plate frame with a lotus blossom on it! thumbsup.gif

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Tasker

The enlightened "Master Yoga" riding position!

 

More like the "Master Yogi" riding position... wink.gif

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Spike
Crap...edit period expired. I went from stud to girly man in one day confused.gif

 

Ah, Websters definition of marriage....

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russell_bynum
Crap...edit period expired. I went from stud to girly man in one day confused.gif

 

Ah, Websters definition of marriage....

 

LOL!!!!

 

If Patti reads this, I hope you've got a comfortable couch.

 

eek.gif

 

thumbsup.gif

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90%angel

Ah, Websters definition of marriage....

 

There's a Jeff Foxworthy routine that goes something like that. "You're either married or gay"

 

e.g., "if you're a man, and you sleep in a bed with a bunch of deocrative pillows that you have to move before you can get in it...you're either married or gay!"

 

disclaimer: No offense intended to those that are either married or gay. thumbsup.gifsmile.gif

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Yeeha! Stephen

Holy shades of Green, Batman!

 

I AM envious of Butt-ers that can earn their certificates in the Twisties.

 

I'm the Girly Man... I slabbed mine. Over the flat-a**ed part of New Mexico and Texas no yet tongue.gif

 

 

Congrats!

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PhillyFlash

Congratulations, Mark. Don't let these guys get on your nerves. They just don't know what a tough guy you are to do your yoga style sitting and breathing with the saffron colored riding robe SS1000 through all of those terrible twists and turns. You are such a he-man. Now you can lay on your bed, with all of your decorative pillows surrounding you (you are married, right?), holding your new license plate holder in your arms as you drift off to sleep. Way to go, stud. thumbsup.gif

 

[secret message to Spike only] OK, Spike, I think it's time to send Richard's little present off to Mark. He's earned them. grin.gif [/secret message to Spike only]

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