48 States in 10 Days with Whitney Meza
I completed my first Saddle Sore 1000 ride through the Iron Butt Association last June on my 2003 H-D Sportster 883, and since that ride, I have checked out the other ride opportunities/challenges that they have. The 48 states in 10 days caught my eye first. As I dug into the history a bit more of this challenge both Michael Kneebone & Fran Crane had co-rode/created back in 1988, I couldn't help but review the list of other IBA riders who have been certified in this ride. What caught my eye immediately was Fran Crane and just how incredible of a female endurance rider she was. It had me investigating just how many other women have completed this ride (48/10) and because the IBA doesn't list out whether they are male/female...I had to make a bit of an assumption. With the help of a fellow IBA volunteer, I believe we counted maybe 13-15 females who rode their own bikes to be certified since it was created. It was the fuel to the fire I didn't know I needed...I just HAD to take on this challenge now. It was an opportunity to see most of the country I haven't had the chance to experience before and continue to add more female names into the records for the IBA.
I didn't have much time to "train" and get my body used to riding longer distances. I didn't have the opportunity of spending a couple of days just out on the road to ride on weekends because my husband was just coming back from a one-year military order overseas.
I knew I could ride my Sportster if I had no other choice. It just would have taken double the number of gas stops but after test riding so many touring styles bikes last year...I knew I could make it a bit easier on myself. But with the release of the new Harley-Davidson Pan America bike around the same timeframe I had scheduled to complete my 48/10 challenge, I just had to see if it was possible. I reached out to Corporate with a well-thought-out media kit and held my breath. I had never even seen the actual bike in person before, let alone test ride it, but I took a chance. Harley-Davidson was so supportive in helping me see this through and was able to pull one of their demo-fleet bikes out for the entire month of June for me. I picked up the bike in Milwaukee with only 200 (Harley-employee demo) miles to its name, and I returned it back with just shy of 14,000 miles in just over a month.
The first two/three days of the challenge I had to get myself used to riding 14/16+ hour days on the bike. Once I got into a routine, it got easier. But mentally it was tough swinging a leg over when an hour spent relaxing for lunch sounded fantastic. But I realized very quickly that I am totally capable of riding 900/1000 mile days if I plan my gas stops efficiently and stop when I need to rest my body/ eyes for a quick power nap and then keep pushing on. I enjoyed the challenge, I thrived in planning every single gas stop for each day, timing out my days to know when I needed to get up and when I needed to arrive at the next stop. That adrenaline never stopped until I finally parked the bike back in the garage.
I knew I was going to like the bike, I just wasn't expecting just HOW MUCH I loved the bike. Adventuring touring style bikes were new for me, as I haven't had the chance to throw a leg over one over the last year of testing out new bikes. This bike had all the bells and whistles I could want to help me with this challenge. The heated grips, cruise control, adaptive headlight (lights up the curve a bit more as you turn into one), the adaptive ride height. I rode that bike in the tall position for the seat, it was the most comfortable for me riding long distance. But that meant that either at stoplights (which didn't happen that often during my 48/10 route), traffic or gas stops...I would have been barely on the tips of my toes. It provided me with a whole lot of confidence when it lowered down to bring me to the balls of my feet. I never realized how much I enjoyed the rider position on the bike as well (after now hopping back on my Sportster). I was surprised just how comfortable I was in that position, and how easily I could stand up on the bike if and whenever I needed to. I had the absolute hardest time returning that bike back to Harley. I really grew to appreciate the bike and all its features. Every time I stepped out into the garage, it made me smile and provided me with so much "pull" to go out and ride on another adventure.
I only had a chance to witness their beauty lit by moonlight in West Virginia and Colorado. But just from what I saw through the stillness of the night, I can't wait to go back and ride through those states. I had never been to the west (or at least as far as the ID/WY border last year), so I was excited to take in those states. Even just the interstate/highway riding through Oregon and Washington, I am now obsessed with trying to get back and experience some more of the passes and two-lane/single roads now. I know most people assume that I'm not taking the time I need to really enjoy myself, but honestly, it was the best way to get a taste of each state and what it had to offer. My list of "must-ride roads on a motorcycle" continues to grow, and I am not one bit mad about it.
I never realized how much rain would impact my mental space. I invested in a one-piece suit, gloves, and shoes that were all Gore-Tex to keep me dry and safe. Even after 10 hours of riding in straight rain, it held up surprisingly well. I had just a little seep into my hips and on my wrists where my gloves ended. The gloves even though they were soaked on the outside, kept me warm and somewhat dry on the inside (it was a struggle to take them on and off though after those 10 hours), and my feet held a little moisture but were not sopping wet when I walked into my room at the end of the night. I could make it through the triple-digit heat with the gear but riding in wet clothing was one thing I just couldn't stand.
I didn't attempt any camping, just strictly hotels (even though I did have my 1- person tent packed with me just in case of side of the road emergencies). A place where I could pull into the parking lot, unload onto a luggage cart (whenever possible), bring everything upstairs, jump into a shower every night and wake up the next day with fully charged batteries and (most of the time) dry gear, and a comfy bed to get a good night's rest of maybe 4-5 hours of sleep. I always seem to roll out of the hotels before they even begin to serve breakfast, which was a bummer. It was still worth it, and for the most part easy to find a spot right off the interstate/highway to continue back on my route.
My phone was the one piece of gear I could not do without for the challenge. It was my backup tracking to help with my verification with Spotwalla. It held all my photo receipts of my odometer readings with the receipts. It was entertainment for hours on end, playing radio stations and songs I enjoyed. It provided me notifications when traffic was beginning to back up, warnings for construction zones and detours/different routes to take that'd be more efficient. It was my source of motivation as I checked into my Instagram account daily to provide viewers/family/friends with updates on where I was at. I also used it a lot during the gas stops to capture my motovlog content. As much as it took up a bit of extra time to film, I am so glad I did what I could. Not only so I can look back on and remember those moments, but also when my kids are a bit older it's almost like a "scrapbook" of memories that they can watch firsthand and see just what their mom had accomplished.
When I finally completed my route at the end of day nine, I was overcome with the thought of exactly what I accomplished. I had planned the challenge with hours to spare and sitting at the hotel parking lot that evening as the sunset, double- checking to make sure I had all my 48 receipts within each state validated...I proved to myself that I did what I set out to do. I planned a fantastic route (even with whatever mother nature threw my way). I walked into my final hotel room, still carting all my gear in hand, completely exhausted, high on adrenaline, and felt like I was exactly where I was supposed to be at that moment. All the hard work had finally paid off, and I did what I set out to accomplish: riding 7,983 in nine days. It was hard to top that moment.
I wanted to do this challenge to see if I was capable of long-distance endurance riding. I knew after trying my first Saddle Sore 1000 ride last year, I caught the itch. I just had to see if I was cut out to ride consecutive days and long mileage. I enjoyed seeing every single sunrise and sunset each day and realizing just how many states I went through by the end of the night. I wanted to learn if I was cut out for any long-distance endurance rallies, and after completing the 48 states in 10 days challenge...I can't wait to see what I take on next. I enjoy these personal challenges. It's a mental game much more than physical most of the time. I was always trying to get myself to the next stop, and then onto the next. I never truly relaxed until I was hugging my two young kids and husband. But I realized I am capable of so much more, and there are always new opportunities to try next time I get on a bike. I think that's why I enjoy long-distance riding the most: there's a constant pull to keep moving forward.