What can't the Ninja 1000 do? When you haul along some extra fuel, just about nothing!
Nothing but the most glamorous of accomodations for our hapless heroes.
This was clearly shot before they realized they had to turn around and ride home.
What began as a loose-lipped exchange about attempting the Iron Butt’s Border-to-Border Insanity challenge on a sportbike progressed into the most physically and mentally demanding undertaking I’ve ever attempted. On the surface, the concept seems simple: go from point A to point B in 24 hours without letting your average speed drop below 60-odd miles per hour.
Riding 1,400 miles straight on a Ninja 1000 is equivalent to crossing the Baja Peninsula in an M3 without air conditioning—enjoyable misery. By the end of the trip my thoughts were a hallucinogenic mush, joint mobility equal to rigor mortis and a bonkers core body temp.
The timer began in Perimetral Norte, Tijuana at 5:45AM June 24, 2011. The pace out of Mexico was furious up to Disneyland, as morning traffic was still assembling. The single radar detector we had fell off and exploded on the freeway 20 minutes into the ride.
By the first gas stop, 153 miles from the Mexican border, our average speed had dropped below 70 MPH. Deciding to stick together, we couldn’t go any further than the smallest tank, a close tie between the Triumph Scrambler and GSX-R750. Because of this, our pace had to exceed posted speed limits in order to make Canada in time.
Running flat out would have further killed gas mileage and attracted a parade of cop attention, so 95 percent of the journey was spent a cool 10-30 MPH over—fast enough for a ticket but slow enough to keep a low profile. How we all escaped a single ticket over the entire trek is nothing short of dumb luck. There were a couple of close calls though. In one instance, an observation plane picked us up during a spirited rally through the mountain roads surrounding Shasta on the way to Weed (not the fun kind). If it had not been for one rider’s keen eye to the sky, none of us would have spotted the circling plane. A quick tap on the helmet and we all cut throttle moments prior to a cruiser rolling onto the highway behind us. Not this time copper.
Things got extremely sketchy the last 277-miles separating Oregon from Peace Arch Park, British Columbia. Temperatures dropped quickly in northern Oregon and only got colder the closer we got to Canada. In Vancouver, Washington my upper thighs started to spasm. At first, I perceived the shaking as an engine issue my legs were feeling through the tank but that was not the case. Night temperatures never dropped below 50-degrees but I was convinced it was cold enough to snow. On bike-acrobatics helped get the blood flowing but fatigue and shivering overpowered any desire to press on. My brain latched onto crazy phrases like, “Cut, it, ooouutt,” recited by Joey Gladstone of ‘Full House’ and Chappelle’s “It’s doo doo baby!” that I repeatedly voiced in different octaves, hysterically chuckling all the while. When that got old, yelling like a madman into my visor kept things lively. I was out of my mind. Bug guts speckled my visor so I smeared them with my glove and instantly regretted the decision. My head felt light and completely numb so I repeatedly exhaled into my helmet for warmth until carbon monoxide overload became dizzying—another terrible idea.
Stopping for gas was our only escape from motorcycle delirium. Downshifting and leaning into surface street corners were approached with the caution and dexterity of an 80-year-old MSF student. At the pump, the 10-15 minutes spent off the saddle were honestly rejuvenating. We could interact, eat, drink, stretch, and talk about quitting. By the final gas stop, pulling the bankcard out of my wallet was a shaky 15-second process. With boxer shorts over my head for warmth, we offered words of inspiration for the final leg.
Adrenaline rolled us up the empty forested freeway for the final 36 miles. At 4:30AM on June 25, 2011, we crossed into Surrey, British Columbia, as the sun was beginning to rise. We looked like smiling heroin addicts after a weeklong binge, which is probably why the border agent questioned every single aspect of our being prior to letting us cross.
Was it worth it? For the memories yes, but would I try something like it in the future? Never again.