Across USA without a stop
Californian Gary Orr has travelled 3592kms non-stop across the USA on his BMW.
Gary Orr, the co-owner of San Diego BMW Motorcycles in San Diego, California, has recently accomplished a longstanding dream to ride from California’s west coast all the way to Florida on his BMW K 1200 LT – a distance of more than 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometres) – without stopping! That would be similar to Melbourne to Perth without stopping, no getting off for a smoke, or a comfort stop, a stretch or a refuel.
Many riders can claim to have travelled across Australia or America by motorcycle, but how many have truly completed it non-stop? For Gary, it started out as a desire to just jump on his bike and head east – not for any records or awards – but just to be the first human in history to travel from California to Florida on a motorcycle, without stopping, for anything or anyone. This meant no interruptions of travel for food, sleep, toilet breaks, traffic lights, traffic, road construction, border patrol, police, weather or anything else that could interfere with his journey.
Gary’s steed for the deed was the pinnacle tourer in the BMW armoury, a BMW K 1200 LT equipped with GPS and XM Satellite Radio. Although the LT has a big fuel tank and a decent range, it’s unlikely that it would have carried Gary even as far as his neighbouring State of Arizona. So in order to just keep on riding, he used the K 1200 LT to tow a trailer which carried 75 gallons (283 litres) of petrol. This would provide him with enough fuel for the entire cross-country trip.
The one-man show began in a public parking lot in Ocean Beach, San Diego, and ended just 35 hours later in Madison, Florida. Gary wore a BMW Rally 2 jacket that was generously packed with snacks to get him through the trip. In order to stay hydrated, he ran a hose from the water tank that was mounted on his bike, straight to his mouth. Gary also constructed a unique fuel pumping system that used a switch to transfer the fuel from the tank on the trailer to the K 1200 LT’s fuel tank.
According to Gary’s GPS tracking device, he did not stop for 2,232 miles (3,592 kilometres) and used the Interstate 10 freeway almost exclusively. At the few stop lights and signs that were encountered, Gary carefully implemented a ‘slow and roll’ technique, which, at no point in time, required him to completely stop his motorcycle – he simply just reduced his speed until the light turned green and it was safe to pass through. While extensive planning was undertaken, the journey required a substantial amount of luck to be successful and Gary was thankful of the satellite radio and his cell phone that kept him in contact with supporters of his endeavour.
His trip was cut a bit shorter than the actual ‘coast to coast’ ride he’d hoped to accomplish, because of a faulty wire, but the San Diego BMW Motorcycles co-owner was extremely proud nonetheless of his achievement.
“To do California to Florida without stopping required more than 35 hours in the saddle and I’m still recovering from that,” said Gary. This wasn’t a race and I didn’t exceed the speed limit the entire way. The total distance was a bit shorter than we’d hoped to go non-stop, but I had a wire inside the trailer hitch harness work loose and this poor connection caused a lot of extra heat to build up and melted some wires in the wire harness of the bike. “The resulting loss of my trailer lights is what prompted a young Sheriff’s deputy to pull me over, thereby ending my non-stop attempt at the 2,232-mile mark! I was able to get the lights to work for a while, and he left me with a written warning as proof of the experience. I didn’t tell him what I was up to, for obvious reasons, but I did ride on to the coast after the stop without further incident.”
Gary was amazed that the trip actually went so smoothly, given all the things that could have gone wrong. Construction work, traffic lights and congestion aside, there are also three border checkpoints on the Interstate in Arizona where traffic is frequently stopped and searched to check for illegal immigrants. At these checkpoints – and behind lines of cars – Gary just kept riding incredibly slowly, and was waved through on each occasion.
As lucky as he was, Gary doesn’t think that any other bike could have performed as well as his K 1200 LT. “The LT was the only real choice for this trip; in fact it’s the only bike I can even tow other bikes with on the back of my trailer! The fuel consumption was even lower than I imagined it would be too, as I was staying within the speed limits. The most important thing was for me to stay hydrated while riding, and to keep my food supply steady, so I had lots of small packages of granola bars and drinks that I kept in the cooler on my back seat. I was just 120 miles away from the coast when the Sheriff’s deputy stopped me but I made sure I carried on to the coast afterwards. Would I do it again? Never say never!”