Gibault Catholic High School Athletic Director Jim Montgomery and former principal Russ Hart were supposed to meet about 4:30 a.m. at the Circle K on Telegraph Road just off I-255 to start their 1,000-mile journey.
Montgomery arrived shortly after the scheduled time and texted Hart, who said he was also there. Neither men saw each other, and they realized they were at the two different gas stations located on either side of the interstate.
“We got that figured out pretty quick, got gassed up and we left right about 5 o’clock,” Montgomery said with a chuckle.
Despite that inauspicious beginning, the two men completed their trip, which involved them riding their motorcycles over 1,000 miles in one day to Colorado.
The two friends embarked June 24 on this marathon ride and spent 18 hours “in the saddle.”
Driving 1,000 miles in 24 hours is called the Saddlesore 1000 by the Iron Butt Association, an organization based in Florida that recognizes a variety of long-distance rides.
Montgomery knew of the organization for years before introducing it to Hart, who he sometimes rides with on Sunday afternoons.
Montgomery had driven as many as 700 miles in one day on his motorcycle before this trip, while Hart had gone as far as 600 miles.
“They’re not easy,” Montgomery said of these long treks. “It gives you motivation to maintain a certain level of conditioning. The type of riding I like to do isn’t for everybody. I like just being out there on my own. You can do a lot of thinking when you’re out there inside a helmet in the Rocky Mountains.”
“Really, there is nothing to do but think,” Hart agreed, noting neither man listens to music or audiobooks while riding. “It’s kind of neat because you’re thinking about things you want to do, how you’re going to do them and things you’ve done in the past. It’s a really good time to reflect on life.”
Hart, who only recently got a motorcycle again after not having one since he was 17 because Montgomery convinced him to buy one, also said he thought the experience would be good for the men’s friendship.
“For me it was more of just like this adventure because Jim and I are friends,” he said. “I was thinking, ‘this is going to be great because Jim and I are going to do it together and we can enjoy each other’s company.’”
After leaving from St. Louis, the duo got on I-70 and continued on that road for approximately 1,032 miles.
For the next 18 hours, the men only stopped to get gas, with those breaks taking 10-30 minutes. They brought items like granola bars to snack on, but sometimes they would get food at larger gas stations.
“We took our time. We took lots of breaks. My legs were really sore, but I didn’t really have any butt problems,” Hart joked.
A ride of this distance is an endurance test, Montgomery said, and he felt physical and mental fatigue.
“You’ll feel physical fatigue if you don’t hydrate,” he explained. “Hydration is the key to completing a ride like this because just normal motorcycle riding, just riding in that open cockpit, pulls the moisture out of your body.”
Montgomery and Hart drank each time they stopped, with Montgomery consuming a minimum of a pint of water each time.
On the mental side, Montgomery said the key is to safely push past the exhaustion.
That became especially taxing about 14 hours into the journey, when the duo arrived in Denver at around rush hour and a storm with winds of at least 50 miles per hour dropped the temperature approximately 20 degrees.
“It was dark as night and there were big lightning bolts,” Montgomery recalled. “I was never so glad to get through Denver. We almost pulled off because the side winds were almost moving me out of my lane. It was pretty treacherous.”
Hart had a particularly difficult time in Colorado’s capital, as he was following Montgomery at that point and a patio umbrella blew between them.
A gust of wind moved it out of Hart’s way with only about a foot to spare.
“That was probably the only time I was scared on the trip,” Hart said. “When that happens, you do your best with the skills you have, but a lot of it depends on luck.”
Once they made it through the city, the storm abated and both men said they got a second wind.
A few hours later, they arrived at Rifle, Colo. at 10 p.m. local time.
“We filled up on gas at Rifle and did a little fist bump, but, man, we were so tired,” Montgomery said.
“I kind of had an adrenaline rush,” Hart added. “I felt really good.”
The men went to their hotel, ate a pizza and got some sleep before starting the return trip home the next day.
After Hart went on his typical morning run, they drove 300 miles that day, 510 the day after that and 590 the fourth and final day.
They drove 2,432 miles in total over the four-day endeavor.
While Montgomery and Hart said they are glad they took this trip and completed the Saddlesore 1000, neither has plans to repeat or top it.
“That was a one-off,” Hart said. “I can’t see doing that again.”
“This is a one-and-done thing,” Montgomery seconded. “I wanted to get this on my resume. I’ll continue to do long-distance riding because I love to do it. The Rocky Mountains are some of the most beautiful motorcycle riding in North America. But I don’t really have any desire to do another one.”