Virgin Butt to Iron Butt in 24 hours- OR BUST!
(OK, it was BUST this time, the bike I mean, BUT….)
June 24th, 2000 at 8am saw the Saddle Sore Six plus mascot (me) set off on a grueling 1000 mile bike jaunt up to Scotland and back inside a day. To some though, this day would bring them the Bunburner award…1500 miles inside 36 hours, or even 24! But more of that later….
Our intrepid team consisted of Iron Butt veterans Alex Eggert and Ro Dudley and two Virgin Butts, namely Matt Gray and yours truly. Virgin Butt or Virgin on the Ridiculous Butt- who's to judge, but Butt virgins and Butt veterans set off into the wild grey yonder at approx. 8.15am on this grimly grayish morning to ride northward, ever northward along the A40 to the M40 and beyond…
The weather on this auspicious occasion was Ok-ish- to a point, but got worse around High Wycombe where the Heavens decided to bless us with their opening. We stopped by the side of the M40 so those not already wearing the blessed waterproofs could put them on. I of course had been resembling something between a Mitchelin Man and a blimp all morning, but at least I was a dry blimp as well as a courageous one, but my even more courageous brother Alex and Butt veteran several times over had developed wet little legs as he had forgotten to put his (waterproof) trousers on..!
Not to be deterred by a little rain (!) we sped off up the M40 to catch up with the M42 and then the M6… and more rain. This time it was so heavy that we stopped at the Lancaster North services not only to fill up but also to let Ro dry her hair!
Northward ever northward we rode. Through the Lake District- though we saw no lakes (I believe they were out of season…)- passing Carlisle and over the Scottish border. It was now 1pm and dry! Lunchtime beckoned and having reached Hamilton services at around 2.30pm, we stopped for a break and chitchat, of course, and to refuel.
The bike we were riding was a Triumph Trophy 1200cc thingy and can only be described as the Grande Dame of British Motor SS1Kles. And with a butt bit fit for two butts, she purred along effortlessly with speeds of the 'ton' or more (ssshhh!) in our quest for double Buttdom.
Passing through Glasgow, we followed the M74, then the M73 and onto the M8 and across the Erskine Bridge and into the heart of Sunny Scotland, the A82 and the breathtakingly beautiful Loch Lomond. Navigating along the narrow roads and in and out of the tourist traffic and some interesting experiences enroute (now I know where 'up hill and down dale' comes from…), we left the loch and passed along to Rannoch Moor.
Having a break, a chit chat and a photo stop, we admired the open spaces as the clouds closed in… preparing to bless us again as we rode towards Glen Coe…
Glen Coe was spectacular in itself. Although it had started to rain (thank God and Alex for waterproofs!) this simply added to the spectacle and the melancholic grandeur that is the Highlands of Scotland. Complete with misty mountaintops, it's not hard to see why people get lost up here. And the sense of history is overwhelming. One can easily imagine Mel Gibson in a kilt (nice) running across the landscape with hoards of extras behind him… But by now we were up to our visors in blessings as it was raining noticeably, but this didn't deter us form taking even more pix of ourselves and of these stunning and moody mountains before moving on.
We reached Ben Nevis filling station in Fort William at 6pm and I kept an eager eye out for Ben Nevis itself, but alas didn't see it as it was behind some other Big Ben in the mist. Still following the A82 towards Inverness, through the Great Glen, we passed along the shores of the infamous Loch Ness wondering what monster would we see here…? Well, monsters we did meet in the form of the west highland midges all eagerly waiting their suppertime and as we didn't wish to oblige, we stopped only briefly for pix before continuing on our quest on to Inverness, our turning point. Having filled up at Kessock service Garage at 7.25pm, we left the old faithful A82 for the eternally long A9 and literally rode off in to the sunset. And dusk encroached.
Complete with phantom petrol stations and one or two speed cameras, we saw very little else by way of habitation along this road to nowhere. Southward ever southward, but the road was no longer as smooth as silk… By the time we reached the border, having endured yet more rain and drizzle, the Grande Dame of British MotorSS1Kles was beginning to get a little reluctant to continue our journey. To cap it all, Ro's bike was going out in sympathy! Her problem wasn't too hard to solve though as the immobilzer had finally been itself immobilized (the fuse had gone) and although an awkward two man job to fix, she had a spare and was soon revving to go.
We on the other hand had a more insidious problem to deal with. One that lead to fuel starvation even on a full tank of gas… but Alex who was undaunted by this obstacle, bravely continued the run… with me at his side (well behind him on the pillion seat). We had been in the saddle now for more than 16 hours and I will admit that my Iron-Butt-to-be was showing signs of metal fatigue. You really do earn your merits as a passenger on one of these runs. Anyone saying otherwise should be made to do this as a passenger (twice!) so they can find out for themselves what it's really all about….
It was getting light now (3.45am), and our poor MotorSS1Kle no longer had a butt bit fit for our butts, but now had her own butt bit to bite on as she was wheeled into place and clamped on board the rescue truck, set for our journey home.
Eventually though, Bike gave up the ghost and came spluttering to a halt, limping the last few miles past Charnock Richard services with only 210 miles short of our journey of 1172 miles to complete…and 60 odd miles short of the magic thousand. It was 2.15am and we still had 6 hours to finish the SS1K, but this was not to be, not for us…. this time. We sent Matt and Ro off in to the night to deservedly win their Iron Butt awards while we stood there, stranded at the side of the road, to await the rescue rangers.
It wasn't all doom and gloom. By now the night was almost at odds with the dawn. To add to the fun, we had stopped just by a speed camera that had to be one of the most prolific picture takers in the country. It snapped away at the fools who laughed at speeding fines… and the two people broken down nearby who made sure that the camera really did get their best sides!
The rescue ranger who turned up to inspect the damage and a motorway maintenance man (we were by some extensive road works as well) kept us company, counting the speeders as we waited for the recovery vehicle that would come to take us home…
Of the Saddle Sore Six, Two got their Bun Burner Gold's, and all except us got the SS1K. Iron butt? … not quite, not this time (aaah!), only a knackered one… for now, BUT watch this space as my name will be added to the illustrious lists of the Iron Butt Association (I.B.A) and I will be SS1K Babe… and that's official!