December 2000 Ride Story
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   Antique Iron Butt
   By Cambren Davis

My plan was simple, be the oldest bike to complete the Saddlesore 1000 in the Iron Butt Association. I logged on their website, and the oldest bike listed was a 1960 BMW - can't have that, this is the USA (just kidding, I ride a Beemer also). Where to go? Do it on the way to the DJ Road Run of the AMCA in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. What to ride? My 1948 Indian Chief. Plan on a new top end job first, make a rack to carry spare fuel, better plan on a new tire, plan on new chain, and so forth. Along the way plans are thwarted, requiring new plans. This is natural and must not only be accepted, but embraced as the essence of adventure. Adventures are best had alone, so that's how I go.
This article first appeared on the IBA website. Reprinted here with the kind permission of 
Cambren Davis
Leaving at 7:00 PM in August from Dallas, Texas in 103-degree weather may seem strange, but it's part of the plan. This way, I should be able to travel the hottest stretch, between Dallas and Wichita at night and ride the mountainous sections during the daylight hours. Having managed to sleep all day, I feel great despite the heat. My experience has taught me that I can plan on 50 mph average on the Chief, factoring in fuel stops. This means that I should be able to do the trip in 20 hours riding time with four hours for resting. As it turns out, much of my time at each stop is consumed in goofing off, ten minutes here - ten minutes there.

Cambren and 48 Chief
By the time I reach Ardmore, Oklahoma, the temperature has dropped to 95 degrees and it is nighttime. I stop in Oklahoma City and am told that the bathroom at this particular gas station is locked at 9:00 every Saturday night. I never heard of a bathroom closed after 9:00 PM before and am reminded of the Dump in Alice's Restaurant. I get back on the road. The bike hums along at about 65 and the night feels perfect for a ride.
Click on pictures for full size
The girl at the tollbooth in Wichita takes time out from her phone conversation to tell me she likes my bike (whom is she talking to at 2:00 AM?). After missing the fuel in Salina, Kansas, I  hit heavy rain and stop at an underpass to put in my spare gallon. I am very cold and wet by now, and beginning to wonder at the wisdom of this trip. This is the low point, I know it will be better at sunup. I am shaking so badly at the next stop in Ellsworth I can hardly hold the Styrofoam cup of coffee. The attendant looks at me like I'm from Mars, but I hang around long enough to put on my rainsuit and warm up a little. A trucker tells me that it's a bad night for riding - no kidding. By the time I reach Wakeeny, Kansas the rain has turned to drizzle and the sun is rising. I stop for a quick muffin breakfast and shortly the sun comes out. A stop at a rest stop to take off my rainsuit and put on dry socks makes me feel better. This is my tip to distance riders - if you don't carry anything else, make sure you have extra socks; they always make you feel great.

Chief on the road 
(and a great photo! Moen)
Within a couple of hours it's hot again. Two fuel stops later I am approaching Denver and the traffic is speeding up. Soon Indian dealer Rocky Halter in his truck passes me. We exchange waves and I get back to the job at hand. I cruise through the city at 75 mph to try and keep from getting run over, and begin to pull the I-70 grade out of town. At this point the Indian decided that it has had about enough of this and begins to balk. I guess a combination of overheating and altitude doesn't do much for performance, but by the time I hit the US-40 turnoff it's feeling weak and even the gearbox is overheated. The ride from Georgetown to Granby is slow and steep. I stop in Granby to get some oil (consumption is high in the mountains due to so much downhill running with the throttle closed) and again run into Rocky, who is also on the way to the Steamboat Springs. Rocky gives me two quarts of oil. I throw in my spare gallon of gas and head out for Steamboat Springs.

By now I am a bit tired. I am confused about the time, and afraid I will arrive late. In reality I have about two hours to ride about 80 miles, but mountain roads are slow and I don't know the route. Rain looms ahead, and I know it will be slow going through the 10,000 ft Rabbit Ears Pass. I do what we all do at times like this - I pray. Please God, I'll be good, just don't let it rain on me again (my boots are still wet from the night before). Like the Red Sea, the clouds part ahead of me and close behind me. The roads are wet, but I make good time. Thanks God; now, about that stuff I promised...

Continental Divide
I roll into the gas station and collect my computerized receipt. 5:20 PM, forty minutes to spare. Finding a witness for the End of Trip form is easy, antique bike enthusiasts are all over town for the meet. I soon have the necessary signatures and head for the campground and blissful sleep. I spent the next week touring around the mountains and took my route home as it came  - but that's another adventure.

I don't think I could have found a better bike than the Indian Chief to ride a thousand miles virtually nonstop. Although I was tired when I arrived, I was not sore at all. In fact the only discomfort I felt in the days that followed was some numbness in the fingernails of both index fingers - strange but true. I am proud of my achievement, especially since I pushed the Saddlesore back to an era where American made bikes are competitive. I told Bruce Lindsay (another vintage long distance rider) that the gauntlet has been laid down for him and his '37 Harley. Here is a way to rekindle the Indian - Harley wars.

I never felt unsafe during this trip. I was below the speed limit at all times except when other vehicles made it prudent to run faster, and had no close calls at all. Rain and other minor hardships only enhance the experience, these are the trips best remembered. The Saddlesore 1000 is really an achievement for anyone to be proud of regardless of the bike you choose and it's great to be an Iron Butt member.

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