Heaven to Hell Pictures

I did my first Iron Butt Ride on April 11th, 2015. It was a group ride with our local Harley Owners Group chapter and it was a back and forth route from Las Vegas, NV to Grand Junction, CO; back to Las Vegas.  Officially we had 16 people turn in documentation to the Iron Butt Association for their certificates (My first time documentation included), unofficially, we had at least 19 bike in the group. I was told that a successful group ride of this size was impressive and as a Road Captain in our local HOG group, I have always been proud of the effort and the way the ride was handled, and that we started and ended together as one group.

Ever since that ride though, I was always thinking of my next Iron Butt Ride. I would go through the list of Certified Rides and think about this ride or the next, but the one that always grabbed my eye was the Heaven to Hell Gold. Maybe because I live in Las Vegas, I was drawn to the fact that it ended near me, or maybe it was the fact that only 27 people had completed it. Hell, more people finish the Iron Butt Rally every year that its held than the total amount of riders that have completed this certified ride in the last 17 years. I slowly became obsessed with it.

In April of this year, I completed my second Iron Butt ride, the Kactus Kilo Tour of Honor SS1K that coincidentally occurred almost two years to the day from my first certified ride. Though it took two years to get going, I’m hooked now.

There is a charity that I am involved in and ride with. This charity deserves it own separate post but this year I found myself capable of completing the Heaven to Hell Ride as my ride with the charity would bring me within range to setup for it.

From July 10th through the 19th I rode with my charity from California to Texas and on July 19th, I rode a Tour of Honor Saddle Sore 1,000 from Abilene, TX to Colorado City, CO via Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. Finishing on my birthday, July 20th.

My facebook post that day was this:
“For my birthday.. I rode 1,100 miles in 24 hours, across 5 states. Visited 4 Statue of Liberties and several veteran memorials and picked up a couple of pics for the HOG ABC’s of touring. It was a good day. I ate B-Day Cupcakes that were delivered to my hotel room from {my girlfriend} Christine and I am staged to crank out out a bucket-list Heaven-to-Hell ride that will get me back home. This is just the last 24 hrs!

Leading up to this day, I rode over 2,500 miles… of which 1,200 miles were escorting an american flag across CA, NV, AZ, NM and into TX for the Nation of Patriots “Patriot Tour”. I Ieft TX without my flag pole as its now flying the Nation of Patriots flag proudly acoss the rest of it’s tour.

I made new friends, thanked veterans, and stood in front of greatness time and time again. I have attended cermonies that brought men to tears and seen patriosm that others can only imagine.

It been a pretty damn awesome 2 weeks! … I only have a couple of days left before I return to normality, but it aint over yet!”

It was a pretty damn awesome two weeks! but the next day… July 21st, I started my Heaven to Hell ride. I even had a friend ride out of Las Vegas to meet me in Colorado Springs because he wanted to do the ride as well! Awesome!

Leading up to the ride, I planned everything I could. I went over the route and the IBA description time and time again. I adjusted gas stops and went over it yet again. I read and re-read the IBA Requirements for the ride and signed up for Premier Membership. When I met my riding buddy in Colorado Springs, I went over the fact that this ride is important to me and there will be no screwing around on this trip. No ABC’s of Touring Stops, no Tour of Honor Stops, nothing but business from beginning to end.

July 21st, Start, Pike Peak, CO – Plan your ride, ride your plan ( see, I learned )
We leave the hotel and head up to Pikes Peak, the pre-ride to the entrance the day before payed off and we knew exactly how to get to the entrance with out any additional stress. We left the hotel on schedule at 8am and got to the entrance of the park soon after and we had a nice no-stress ride to the top. I was worried about the weather given all the rain they had been having lately but on this day, the morning was perfect. Clear blue skies, and it was even t-shirt weather at the top of the mountain.

We parked our bikes, took some scenic pictures and took in the sights. We ended up at the gift shop and bought a “I Rode The Peak” patch. With the purchase of that patch, the ride was on! I went straight to the bike, went through my checklist, zero’d out parameters on the GPS, hit the SPOT OK button, and we were off!…. then within minutes later we were stuck behind traffic as a Road Grader that just finished leveling the parking lot at the peak, started to make its way back down the mountain.. F’Really! Come on!  GOOSFRABA… Goosfraba…. goosfraba.

We got around the grader in pretty short order considering the switch backs and make it down the mountain without further incident.

Stop 1: Hartsel, CO (74 Miles later)
Why did I plan this stop? I think I was worried about gas mileage after reading all the warnings about mileage when going up the Pikes Peak. None the less… stick to the plan.
City/State on the Receipt … Check.
Date/Time on the Receipt … Check.
Gallons/Price Correct… wait… Date/Time are an hour off! Double check the receipt to the Garmin and the onboard GPS. Yup, one hour off and on the first gas stop and there are no other stores in this middle of no where. So I make a note of it, hit the SPOT OK button and hope for the best.

Stop 2 : Independence Pass; 12:56pm MST (146 Miles)
This is a required stop and we started to get into some rain on the way up the hill… cold, wet rain. Took me about an hour before I remembered that I have heated grips on the Harley. The pass was beautiful and we got our required pictures, plus pictures of the GPS, odometer, etc… just in case we need it.

Stop 3 : Wood Creek, CO
Even though I told my riding partner that there was no screwing around, I made plans for this one stop at Woody Creek Tavern. Famous for their margaritas and local bar to the writer and gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson. We had some lunch, drank some water and I bought a t-shirt. We seem to be on time and maybe even a little ahead as our stops were going quicker than I had planned.

Stop 4 : Glenwood Springs, CO; 15:37pm MST  (211 Miles)
Aspen sucks! Well.. when you are on a bike running a timed road trip. We finally got out of Aspen and into Glenwood. I had to fight the urge to be drawn into the siren song song of the local Harley dealership but we managed and we were off without further delay. I’m starting to worry about time though… we spent allot of time in CO so far and still have Utah and Nevada to go through. The schedule says we are OK though, so I relax… the plan is good and we are still riding the plan.

Stop 5 : Grand Junction, CO; 16:58pm MST (294 Miles)
Nothing to say about Grand Junction, got fuel, checked weather and moved right along. There was some rain ahead of us but it looked like most of it already moved off.

Stop 6: Salina, UT; 20:15pm MST (502 Miles)
We just rode through a long section of highway miles. We got some light rain but we barley managed to ride the edge of two major rain cells. One was probably 1/2 mile away and you could see the curtain of rain off to the left in the desert. We got a couple of occasional rain drops from it, but nothing major.

At the gas stop, I even ran into a an ex-worker from back in Las Vegas. We talked for a bit, got caught up and remarked on the fact, that of all places to run into someone, who would have thought it would have been in Salina, UT.

Recognizing the fact that I haven’t had a cigar yet on this trip, I go to my tour pack and start to light one up for the next segment. as I am in the process of setting my cigar going, my riding buddy comes out of the gas station, looking and pointing at a huge rain cloud,
He asks, “Are we going that way?”
Me, “Yup, right through the middle of it.”
“Should we put our rain gear on?”
“Nah. Why start now? Lets go!”

For future reference, if you are ever on a ride and someone says “Why start now?” in reference to rain gear…. put the rain gear on.

Oh we got rained on. This storm probably ranks as one the worst storms that I had been through. The rain was so bad that the road way could not clear it fast enough…. rain so bad that you can not see the lane markers any more…. rain so bad that there are puddles of water in your boots. Rain so bad that you can’t keep your cigar lit anymore!

Stop 8 : Delta, UT; 21:49pm MST (576 Miles)
Delta Utah…. go the speed limit! The presence of Sheriffs is strong in this town. The original gas stop that I had planned had us going through town and getting gas just before we left Delta but when we got to the station, it was closed. Though the pumps were open, there was no attendant in case of a receipt issue, so back to the beginning of town where we saw a manned gas station. Locals were setting off fireworks in the middle of the night and I remarked that it was a nice ‘Welcome to our town’ celebration that they put on here.

Stop 9 : Ely, NV; 23:27pm PST (728 Miles)
Oh my god what a boring ride! 152 miles of riding in pitch black, no moon, no oncoming cars, no cars in front of us, no cars behind us… just you and the what ever small patch of desert that your headlight can light up in front of you.

This is another required stop so we get our pictures of everything that we can, then go inside to buy some water and snacks but the attendant is no where to be seen. We head back to the bikes to find them covered in Stink Bugs. They seemed to be more drawn to the warmth of the tires and they are covered in bugs.

We go through the now normal routine of checking the receipt and hitting the SPOT OK, and we are off again…. while squishing hundreds of bugs on the way out. Seriously, you had to shake out your jacket before putting it back on, it was nuts!

Stop 10 : Tonopah, NV; 02:10am PST (897 Miles)
Another boring stretch of road in the middle of the night, only punctuated by the occassional Jack Rabbit that would dart across the road right in front of you. I swear, one had antlers on his head.

Stop 11 : Beatty, NV; 03:41am PST (991 Miles)
Those damn Jack Rabbits are out to kill me! You kind of get freaked out on the first couple that run in front of you, then I remembered a story that was told to me that basically went like this, “Is it bigger than a small dog?”, “No'”, “Then why the hell are you trying to swerve around it!?”. So I stopped worrying about it and just started counting the number of suicidal bunnies in the desert… sorry, it was 3am… I lost count and lost caring about it, but there was a lot of them.

I also remember how unseasonably cool the entire trip has been. Pikes Peak was nice and warm, but the rest of the trip was rather cool.. and sometimes very wet and COLD. So far though, it has not gotten hot.

Remember earlier when I said, when you have that moment when someone tells you “why put on your rain gear now?”.  The same goes for when someone says, “Hey it hasn’t been hot really at all.”.

Stop 12 : Bad Water, CA; 05:16am PST (1049 Miles)
111 Degrees and the sun isn’t even out… but at least the sun isn’t out… just as I planned it! We ride to the ticket Kiosk and it’s Out Of Order. Thats OK, I have this planned out just in case. Do another SPOT OK, take more picture of the GPS showing the location and time. Take more pictures of us and the bikes and even of the broken kiosk.

It’s done! We made it! It’s Over!… nope… we still have to get home to Vegas… another 2 hours away. but the time seemed to click off effortlesy and before I know it I was back home in my bed. The next day I organized all the receipts, paperwork and pictures and sent it off to get my certificates.

After two weeks of riding and nearly 6K miles in 12 days, I rode in 10 states and completed two Iron Butt rides and as I sit here typing this ride report, in my other browser are plans for a Solar Eclipse 1000 on the 21st of August.

Mile Eater, here I come!



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