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edstoll 06-25-2009 05:01 AM

Ed on the Trans American Trail
Trans American Trail

This is my first real attempt at a ride report here. I have lurked forever and educated myself here. I hope someone gets some enjoyment or benefit from this.

I also needed a place for my family and friends to see what I have been up to without trying to explain it over and over.

It all started with a desire to ride the Trans American Trail. . The route runs across the United States using dirt roads, gravel roads, forest roads and farm roads. It drops down into dried up creek beds and runs atop abandoned railroad grades.

The problem is it is 4800 miles long and would take a lot of time to complete. I decided to break it into sections and am beginning with the official start of the trail in Jellico Tennessee. In this report I will ride Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. The plan is to ride to Jellico, ride the trail and somewhere in Oklahoma turn back towards home. I hope to ride the rest of the trail in the future. .

First I bought the maps and spent some quality time with Map Quest getting the route ready to download to the GPS. I also built a route to Tennessee that will keep me off the major roads. Then I got my DR650 all kitted up for the ride and waited for a weather window. Notice the new tire. I didn’t want to put a new knobby on and just wear it out riding pavement to Tennessee. I figured I would just ride on the mostly wore out one and it will be toast by the start of the trail. I can swap it out anywhere..

I wait while storm after storm moves through and finally on Wednesday the 17th of June it looks like I have a shot. I leave early in the morning from home in Osceola Iowa. I am planning two days to ride 760 miles to Jellico.

When I take these rides a big part of it is to locate a cheese burger and chocolate shake. This chain store never disappoints.

I did not take pictures on the way to Jellico. I made very good time and it looked like I was going to get to Jellico the first day. Everything was going great and then mother nature steped in. It seems I hade out run my weather window and caught up to some severe weather in western Kentucky.

I was planning little to no motel use this trip to save money but I was so soaked I checked in to the Motel 6 in Morgantown Kentucky. I laid out my stuff to dry and put my wet shoes on the heater vent.
606 miles for the first day is still pretty good
I got up early on the 18th and did the final 175 miles to Jellico

The tire doesn’t look like it has hardly worn down anymore. I guess I will just go ahead and leave it on awhile. I can change it anytime and I may as well get the goodie out of it.

After you leave town you get to twisty gravel right away. I was day ahead of schedule and having a ball.
Then mother nature stepped back in. The clouds looked ominous so I got off the trail near Winfield Tennessee and found shelter in a car wash.

That worked out perfectly and I stayed dry as a mean storm blew through. I waited awhile until the roads dried up some and then hit the trail again. I had read where many of the Tennessee roads have been paved. I found that to be true but they are still fun roads. They are narrow and twisty and through some very beautiful country.
Through out this trip I crossed many small rivers that people were out enjoying and swimming in.
If you will notice I still didn’t need the new tire yet.

While out of a forest service road I caught up to another motorcycle rider unmistakably doing the same thing as me. I met Brian from New Hampshire. He had ridden from New Hampshire and was going to spend the next 8 weeks doing the entire Trans Am Trail and then ride back to New Hampshire. Wow.

We rode together for a day. It was a regular thing to stop for gas since Brian was running the stock tank on his XR650R. He only had about a 90 mile range. I hope he gets that changed before he gets out west. Gas stops frequently get a visit from curious locals. I really enjoy that stuff.
We got to Rock Island State Park as it was getting dark. This was Brians planned stop for the night so after a few pictures of the waterfalls we setup camp.

420 miles for the day. It was a long but good day and I am still day ahead of schedule.

That is it for day one on the trail. I have to get another cup of coffee before posting more.

advridgerunner 06-25-2009 05:34 AM

good post friend, I hope to do at leat part of the TAT one day.

mark2wheeler 06-25-2009 05:36 AM

so far so good
It seems you have it good so far.Best of luck.I will want to learn more about the trail.

GB 06-25-2009 05:37 AM

Looks good :thumb


edstoll 06-25-2009 05:43 AM

Up early again and all packed up ready to roll.

While I have the maps and roll charts with me I keep them in a saddlebag and rely on the GPS track I had built from them. Brian on the other hand has a GPS but is operating on the roll chart and maps.

When I first found him the previous day he was having trouble figuring out where he was on the trail. After getting him acclimated to where he was in relationship to his charts he had the route nailed. As long as he stayed on top of it he would always know which way to go at intersections. I would occasionally blow a corner but it would show on my GPS and I would turn around a few yards later and get back on track.

We were suppose to cross this dam but it was gated off for construction. We had to route around it.

Brian really needs a bigger tank

Bell Buckle Tennessee is the home of the RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival. Really cool town and of course I had an RC Cola and Moon Pie.

As you read other Trans American Trail reports you learn the Tennessee section is famous for super slick water crossings. Trust me they were. Just ask Brian.

I had been worrying about Brian’s rear sprocket. It was extremely worn out. I was looking at it at the gas stops and it was deteriorating rapidly. I convinced him we should jump off the trail and ride into Lawrenceburg to get him fixed up. Randy’s Cycles had what he needed so we said our farewells and I continued on alone.

When it started getting dark I got off the trail and rode into Bolivar Tennessee. There were firemen sitting outside at the Fire Station. I was probably looking pretty rough by then. I ask them if there was any place to set up a tent for the night. They said there were no camp grounds and one of them didn’t think it would be safe to just set up behind a church or anything. I told them I could go to a motel but I am cheap. They told me which motel was the best and gave me directions. I thanked them and walked back to my bike and put on my helmet. Then one of them hollered at me to come back. He says we might have a place for you. He then ask me “are you a serial killer or anything ? “ I told him no, actually I am a police officer from Iowa. They start laughing and ask why I didn’t tell them that sooner. I told them that would have got me kicked out faster. After some more laughing and friendly banter involving donuts and such, they showed me a nice grassy spot behind the fire station. They opened up their showers for me and it was all perfect. Great guys

It was another good long day and I was now one full day ahead of schedule.

I packed up and was out of there at first light. I bought some donuts , left them at the fire department and was rolling early.
I believe this was Walnut Mississippi. Interesting police department.
Mississippi had more dirt roads.

As I was going through Illinois on the way down I ran into a lot of bridge construction. At some of those sites it was advertised as being paid for with stimulus money. President Obama is from Illinois right?

In Mississippi they just closed all the bridges.

This one was torn clear out so I left Brain a note and routed around this one.

There are some good bridges in Mississippi.

Mississippi has a problem with Kudzu. It grows like crazy and is over taking everything. Notice the nice new tire still on the trunk. I am really getting mileage out of that old Kenda 270.

Rode some pretty nice roads and then another bridge.

I’m not going to be turned back anymore.

Then it was up on some levees in the northern delta.

Isle of Capri Casino at the Mississippi and Arkansas border I am into Arkansas and still haven’t put on that tire.

That is the end of Mississippi. Work is calling. I will try to finish this report tonight.

achesley 06-25-2009 06:12 AM

:clap :clap Love the TAT reports. You're gonna have fun roads starting in Central Arkansas. Those Kenda 270's are tuff and last.

Wannabee 06-25-2009 07:04 AM

Cool Ride!
Another Kenda 270 fan I see. I run them on my dr and ran them on my NX650 , get go milage out of them , handle rock and mud , anything I want them to do.
Keep posting , very interesting ride.

KeeneState83 06-25-2009 07:24 AM

I'm in!!! :lurk

Where abouts in NH is Brian from?? I'm in Southern NH is the only reason I ask...

MapRider 06-25-2009 07:33 AM

Good info for next years TAT attempt.....

edstoll 06-25-2009 10:42 AM


Originally Posted by KeeneState83
I'm in!!! :lurk

Where abouts in NH is Brian from?? I'm in Southern NH is the only reason I ask...

I think he is from the southern part of the state. His ADV user name is nhappytrails. He is a good guy. I hope he gets hooked up with others going all the way.

LeeU 06-25-2009 11:06 AM

That Kenda won't wear out!! They get to that tread depth and last & last! I don't like them when that flatten out and make awful road noise!!!:lol3 :wink:
Was on the TAT (East) a couple of weeks ago. It gets better the further west you go. It's HOT everywhere in the eastern portion now!!!:eek1 :eek1

Lee Ullmann

Curtis in Texas 06-25-2009 12:21 PM

I'm in for this.
3 friends and I will be doing this same ride in the Fall.
I;m showing my family your RR so they can understand why and where.

Curtis in Texas

DauntlessDave 06-25-2009 12:40 PM

Love the posts, and here's a tip...
Good report. Tip: If you put a few vertical spaces (enter) between each picture they wont spread out horizontally on you. That way the thread will be eaier to read because your text will be screen width.

hankme 06-25-2009 12:49 PM


ksmdigital 06-25-2009 12:52 PM

Great report and I love your pictures.


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