TATtered old men -Eastern TAT Edition.
Myself, Lee and Burt had been planning on the Eastern TAT ride now for some time. Lee and Burt had already done most of the Western TAT but this would be my first taste of the TAT. I had some family business to take care of and so could not leave when Lee and Burt did.
Arkansas to Ashland City, TN
I got started on Friday May 29<SUP>th</SUP> with a plan to meet up with Lee and Burt in Jellico on Saturday 5/30/09. So I had a lot of miles to put behind me and planned to get a very early start on the first day. I planned to almost exclusively run two lane pavement and only had to run interstate for a short while to get across the mighty Mississippi River.
I mounted up on the R² at 5:AM and found a warm front had come in that night and I had some very dense fog to navigate in the early morning here in Arkansas. I started out and had quite a time keeping my helmet shield clear and after about an hour my jacket looked like I had ridden through a downpour it was quite wet but did not get through so I had my electric jacket liner turned up pretty high. I was comfortable temp wise but worried I might get rear ended on the slab before the fog lifted.
About an hour and a half later it started to lift and then dissipated by 9:30. Slow going for the first part of the trip, not good for my “long mileage” day.
I got into a groove, ride, gas up, ride, gas up, ride etc..today was to be quite the marathon on this little 250 but by the end of the day I had and about 13 hours later I had accumulated almost 600 miles! I pulled into Ashland City, TN about 6 PM and found a room at the plush “Relax Inn”….hey it was cheap but clean works for me. Then down to Sonic for a quick Berger and then back to clean up and crash. Filled my camel back with water and Ice, oiled the chain and after a quick once over the R² looked like it was ready for more.
Slept soundly that night.
Had talked to Lee the night before, he and Burt rode down to NC to visit with one of Burt’s friends and would then meet me in Jellico. They planned to be in Jellico around 3-PM so I only had about 238 miles to go and would be a much easier day for me. I saddled up and headed out trying to find some interesting two lane and maybe even wonder up into Kentucky before dropping back down into Jellico. Everything was going along nicely I had my McDonald's deluxe breakfast down, my Camelback full and was feeling pretty good after a very long first day. My first big challenge was to get around Nashville without having to fight the traffic and I headed North around the city as much as I could. I soon got into the grind again ride, fill, ride, fill….I had added one tooth to the counter sprocket so I was back to stock gearing on the R² and was having to fill up when traveling highway speeds at around 110 GPS miles. I also was carrying a 1-gal Rotopax fuel bottle in my right dirt bagz so I never had to worry much about running out, especially on the roads I was traveling.
The day wore on and I Ended up going up through the Daniel Boone National Forest in Kentucky since I had some time to burn, it was a nice change to the never ending pavement and then dropped back down into Tennessee. I came across this beautiful road side (I call it a Cave) picnic area and had to stop and snap a few pictures.
Then on into Jellico arriving at the hotel about 4 PM as I recall. Lee and Burt were already there and were busy changing sprockets for the TAT ride tomorrow. I quickly dropped one tooth on the counter shaft and now was ready to go…finally, the actual ride was almost here! I usually don’t sleep very well when on the road but sure didn’t have any problem sleeping after a long day on the bike and quickly retried for the night. We would be up early to head out first thing in the morning.
OK , so we’re up early and after a quick continental breakfast at the hotel we are ready to go. I am anticipating some great riding and have seen some of the roads we will be on in other TAT reports, should be great. Lee takes the lead and gets us on the track which he had scouted out when he arrived in Jellico yesterday.
I am so excited to finally be on the TAT ride that I forget to take many pictures the first day but right off we start to see some beautiful tree canopied roads.
A lot of my pictures were shot on the move but Lee did stop when we saw this old bridge and we all took some shots of it.
Then we pull in for lunch at Yanni's, good food and a stop that had been suggested by Bigdog in his report.
And so it went for the rest of the day with Lee and Burt deciding to camp and I headed for the closest hotel that would meet my budget. Actually was not hard to find good lodging I think I paid between $35 and $45 max for the whole six days. Here is the R² at the hotel after our first day on the TAT.
Here are the stat's for our first day on the trail.
Next morning we meet up and after a little breakfast head out again making a solemn promise to take more pictures as we went.
Most of the roads were paved unfortunately but were still beautiful and the weather was exceptional. I had seen a lot of water standing in the fields on my way across TN coming to Jellico but so far it was actually quite dusty.
Right away we see more great views and roads that were a blast to go down.
Obviously I was on the move for this one, sorry about the focus.
More beautiful roads........hey even some gravel here..
Our first TN water crossing.....easy peezy on this one but we were apprehensive about what lies ahead since so many had commented on the super slippery TN water crossings so we were still cauthious....no problem..
Here come Lee and Burt down a great turn off with lots of shade..
Time for a short break....
More great roads......
Burt and Lee in front of an old TN Barn we saw, there were many old barns on this route.
I see Lee stop up ahead and he is taking a shot off the overpass for I 24.
Somewhere around Savanna TN we go through an Amish area, very hardworking people. I first did a double take when I saw a young man behind two horses dragging a rack over plowed fields and the temps were in the mid 90's that day too. Next we see two horses pulling a wagon with two more Amish on top piling up hey....wow hard work and hot too.
We press on doing a much better job of getting more pictures today. Here I wait for the others to catch up and take a shot of this neat little house.
More TN road shots.
More modern way of handling and "making hey'
I happen to be in the lead when I come up on the infamous super slick TN water crossing....I'm sitting there trying to figure out the best line when I hear Burt go by.......I'm thinking this is going to be fun...:evil and it almost is Burt hits a rock and it throws his bike completely sideways but he is able to catch it and makes it across.....ok my turn I get a little momentum and clutch it across, take a few hits on the slippery moss covering the rocks but make it just fine. By this time Lee is waiting for his turn and he makes it look easy finding a tack with more smooth rock and makes it look easy. Hey were all across and still dry!!!:clap You can see my track on the rocks in this picture.
We head out again, I see Burt stopped up ahead and I pull up and he is pointing to the side of the road....a peacock..I reach for my camera but could not get him to show us his colors...looks like he has seen his fair share of bikers...........
We press on and I was impressed by the number of really nice equestrian farms, we passed right by this one as they were out exercising some of their horses.
Here is a nice little one lane bridge somewhere in TN
Another TN bridge shot
Towards the end of the day I come up on this underpass shown many times before but had to do the obligatory shot
Well the day drew to a close and we know tomorrow would bring us the delta of Mississippi.
I find a suitable hotel and order in Domino's......it was great.
Today's ride stats..
This day Burt decided to go South to Al to visit another friend so it would be just me Lee today. After our McDonald's breakfast we headed out to finish off TN and MS. Our plan today was to end up in West Helena, Ar.
But first a few more great TN roads
We hit the MS boarder and stop to get a picture, no sign or anything to mark the spot only our GPS alerted us to the border...
As we hit MS we note the color of the dirt get very rusty colored, Burt had mentioned this earlier that he could always tell when he hit MS because it had red dirt.
We also hit several silt patches in the road and though not large they sure got your attention when running along and not expecting them.
We also saw a lot of nasty Kudzu in MS
Seamed like the Kudzu just gobbled up all in it's path..
Lee says he wants some coffee so we take a short break mid morning and a welcome one at that. I am feeling a little weary from the long hours on the bike, a little caffeine might just do the trick.
Then we're off again, most of the roads in MS were gravel so that was a nice change and a lot of fun as most were quite smooth. Here is Lee kicking up some dust and also one of a mirror shot off the R²
We ride on and make Holly Springs for Lunch with a slight diversion, we stop at "Annie's Restaurant" and have some of the best fried chicken ever. Lee even splurged on a piece of peach pie..good stuff and highly recommended future TAT riders. Sorry no picture too busy eating :evil
Off we go with very full bellies and not long after we come across this...
Lee spots a second sign laying in the ditch and goes to check out what it says..don't remember what but more about the bridge out I guess, he'll have to fill in that part. We go down the road a little farther and find a pile of dirt in the road.......as a roadblock,
not to be outdone we skirt it and press on...then find the bridge...believe me it is "OUT"
I had gotten instructions for a reroute for this bridge so we stopped to "review"
They worked out very well and we were soon on our way again. More gravel roads and more fun. I came around the bend on one road and found this rock query they were making a bunch of dust too..
We press on having a lot of fun on most of the gravel, some of it though was quite thick and rather large...causing a lot of fishtailing on the bikes so we had to be on our toes.
I come around to my next turn which is a right turn to the right when I see two guys in their front year waving me over, I was waiting for Lee at that point so I motored on over and they were very friendly saying that they had seen a lot of dirt bikes come this way, not sure what they were drinking but they offered me a coke which I declined. They did allow me to take their picture however........what do you think they were drink'n? Didn't get their names they we're too busy talking, well at least the one with no shirt was :freaky
So ask them to take a picture of me and they do.....which butt'n do I push here.....funny shit...
Lee rides up, takes one look and keeps on going:rofl
OK so now it's my turn to eat some KLR dust.. no matter I'm still laughing my ass off four miles down the road.:lol3
A little later we stop for a "rest stop" and I take the obligatory shot of my now very dirty R²
Soon we see a sure sign we are near the MS/AR border....the Isle of Capri casino sign shows up on the horizon..
Always a welcome site to me......
I punch up "lodging" on my GPS and quickly note that most of the recognizable hotels are 20 miles north in Tunica, MS. We decide on the Lucky 7 hotel, it is out of the West Helena "war zone" so to speak and it meets my price too $39 Lee is "hoteling" it tonight too so we each get a room and then go looking for some food. Lee says he wants Mexican after we decide the first place is in a part of town we do not want to be in and sure enough it turns out very good. Better yet we spot McDonald's across the street so breakfast is good to go as well.
Day 5 stats
Rooms were good, I go up at AM to get a receipt and the Indian family that was managing the place was till snoring loudly, they have their door open and I say hello and pretty soon I hear the wife tell her hubby to get out and take care of business. I get my receipt and were off to McDonald's
Lee tells me that he heard from Burt last night and he will try to meet us at McDonald's by 7:30. So we settle in and chow down. The weather is not looking good today, 50% chance of rain and it looks like the forecast if right. I decide to take off about 8:45 since Burt still hadn't shown up, Lee stays behind to wait for him.
I head out to pick up the TAT and actually am about 30 minutes behind what looks to have been a downpour as the roads are wet and water is standing everywhere. The gravel roads were soft and heavy so it was tough going compared to earlier in the week. It was getting progressively more muddy as I went, came to this water crossing which was deeper than it looks but made it across no problem.
I'm determined to stay on the TAT at least to Russellville as I had not ridden this part of the TAT so on I went. I rode up on a levy and it was much better.
However that was short lived and I was soon back in the mud. I came off a pretty good section of gravel onto completely soaked red clay dirt road and almost lost it...........VERY slick. Managed to slop on through it but I was definitely in Ark delta here, elevation 186'
I stopped to clean some mud off.
This section was actually not very wet but was very soft and powdery and the road was just like the field...loose dirt.
The rain clouds are really building now and I'm in and out of sprinkles as I get closer to my goal of Russellville, AR. I get out the frog togges and put them on over my jacket and pants. I make Russellville and fuel up then hit the interstate for about a 90 mile run back home. I only got sprinkled on the whole day no real hard rain and make it back home about 4:PM.
Day 6 stats.
All in I rode almost 2,100 miles in the last six days and my bike and equipment performed perfectly. I was very happy I did not take my camping gear and will probably not take it on the Western TAT either. I found the little 250 more than adequate in all aspects for this type of riding and much prefer it to my previous BMW GS800 though I know some won't understand that. It is light and quick, easy to turn around and gets down the highway at speeds that will get you across the country as fast as you dare go.
The one thing I am adding is a Scott performance steering stabilizer and of course a larger fuel tank if one ever becomes available, other than that it is perfect.
Changing the front counter sprocket up and down one tooth is nice but not necessary unless you are going several hundred miles and then only because of the better mileage. I like the 13/46 gearing best with stock being 13/43.
I know Lee and Burt will have more to add, hope you enjoyed the report.
After riding the TAT-West last year with Burt & CeeBee, we decided to try the Eastern part of the TAT this summer- before it gets really hot & humid! CeeBee was busy riding my backyard roads at SLAP!! We missed him by a day.
Burt roared from Rockford,Wa on his DR650. After 2500miles+, he arrived at my house in Rogers,AR on May 25th.:lol3
After many :freaky :freaky brews and solving all the world's problems- we headed for Flat Rock, NC to see his Korean War buddy Chick.
We again solved many problems with the help of more :freaky :freaky :clap brews! Camped out in Hohenwald, Tenn and were in Flat Rock, NC on May 28th. We headed for Jellico, Tenn next.
Met up with Mike in Jellico on Saturday afternoon, May 30th.
Prepped for the TAT by changing counter sprockets, me to a 14 on my KLR.:D
Burt Gunn & DR650
Mike Spear & R2
Lee Ullmann & KLR650
We were ready to hit the TAT on May 31st!
We had rode 1074 miles to Jellico, Tenn via Flat Rock,NC to start the TAT/Eastern portion!:clap :1drink
My trusty 276C showing our trip data from Rogers,AR to Jellico,TN.:D
looks like fun I am jealous!
Tires: I'm using Metzler Karoo on the rear & IRC GP-1 on the front. Just measured tread depth after 2550 miles, the Karoo is down to 6mm from about 10-12mm new. The 606 I used on the Western TAT had 6500 miles on it when I removed it and would have gone another 1500 miles. Now I know to go back to the 606. The IRC looks really good on the front!!:clap :D
Looks like fun boys:clap. I just received my maps from Sam yesterday CO through OR. I'm just in the planning stages for a trip next year, can't wait. Well off to the beach for four days
yes, it's a Scott's-- highly recommended for the TAT West- I also used it to stay stable on the "big marble" Mississippi gravel roads-- they dumped way too much gravel-- we were "skating" most of the way through Miss.:evil :rofl
I really like it!!:wink:
Glad to see you guys out there-----looks like you hit a good weather window.
I met Burt and Lee on the Continental Divide years ago---and me a Lee rode together in Missouri for a few days last year.
I also ran into Burt in Mexico a few years ago----Burt I am so glad to see you out again---ain't no little heart attack going to keep you down.
And Mike on the WR250R--you are doing me proud---man your bike is really set-up well-----I see you kept the windshield on and it must be working for you. I'm gettin my little WR out this weekend and settin' up for another biggy on it soon.
Lee with me in Missouri
Burt in Mexico
Anyway---on with the story guys !!!!!!
Top notch trip report and pics...Looks like you were hooked with with a rough crowd. On the list of things to do. Is there a aftermarket tank in the near future for the R2?
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