Friday, 27 September 2013

Gitchigoomee Iron Butt

I'd originally read about touring around Lake Superior and called it the Gitchigoomee Goaround.  I figured it'd be a week of riding.  I came across another motorbike blog where the guy was talking about doing it in 24 hours.  It turns out that focused, long distance, intense rides have a club!  The IBA.

It turns out that circumnavigating Lake Superior is 1673kms, which happens to be just over 1000 miles.  Leaving and returning to The Sault and going south through Michigan and around Superior to Ontario again, it would be a two border crossing trip with an awful lot of winding lake-side roads in between.  That would be an ironbutt you'd earn the hard way.

What better time to do it than Thanksgiving Day weekend (October 12-14) in Canada?  If we met up at Sault Ste. Marie on Friday and prepped, we could leave early Saturday morning before sunrise when there is minimal traffic at the border.  As the sun rises we're already making tracks through Northern Michigan.

The route:  Sault Ste. Marie and back to The Sault, 1039 miles in 24 hours!
44 miles per hour (70 km/hr) average speed is needed, so packing in fifty miles per hour (80km/hr) gives you the wiggle room to stop for things like gas, or peeing, or eating, or a cat nap.

In a world of perfect efficiency with no road works, border crossings, traffic lights, mechanical considerations, weather, or traffic, keeping a steady 44 mph would be pretty easy.  Doing it with all those things and the onset of a Canadian winter (along with early sunsets and late sunrises) raises the stakes.

I think I'd want to get in shape for this one.  I was going to dare a buddy of mine to do it this year, but maybe this would be a better next year dare.


With next year in mind I'm adding in the weather this Thanksgiving weekend for Thunder Bay and Sault Ste Marie, which should give us an idea of what to expect.  With showers on Saturday a Sunday to Monday run looks like it might have been the best bet.  Cold at night, cool during the day, the right kit would be imperative.  Leaving The Sault about 4pm so that the last hours are done in daylight on the afternoon of the next day.  By the time we're pushing east again the sun should be getting high in the sky so we're not riding into it.

Sault weather days

Sault weather nights
Thunder Bay days

Thunder Bay nights
Warming up into the teens during the day, flirting with freezing over night.