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BigWan 08-08-2009 01:46 PM

TAT the hard way - 2up on a 950
I've been reading and enjoying ride reports for a few years now, and I thought it was finally time to contribute. There seems to be an abundance of TAT ride reports now, but since that's the ride we just did - here ya go...

My wife (kelly) and I talked about doing a ride this summer. The conversation went something like this:

Kelly: How about going to oregon, washington, and BC; stopping in portland, seattle and victoria? I'll bet with the economy the way it is, we can get some great deals on nice hotels.
Matt: okay.

a few days later:
Matt: How about doing oregon, washington, wyoming, montana, and colorado - a mix of camping and hotels?
Kelly: okay.

a week later:
Matt: How about doing the TransAmerica Trail - all off-road, all camping?
Kelly: WTF?
Matt: (pause) Did I mention that I already bought the roll charts?

So, with less than 2 weeks of planning, we headed out to do the western part of the TAT (CO, UT, NV, OR). We have driven out to TN several times so we decided to start the TAT in colorado, where the riding starts to get challenging (sorry TN, AR, OK!). We were going to camp along the way, but we also wanted to attempt the TAT without doing the big bike by-passes. We knew that camping gear (for 2 people) makes the bike harder to manage so that morning, as we were getting dressed, we made the last minute decision to leave the camping gear behind. It was a tough call, but we hoped things would work out. We're on a KTM - what could possibly go wrong??

7/17/09 SF bay area to Beatty, NV aprox. 450 miles
We headed out via yosemite
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we took a break somewhere in nevada and met a local

the rig

Beatty, NV. We stayed at the phoenix inn, soon to be the atomic inn. Nice place, nice people.

7/18/09 Death Valley aprox. 240 miles
This was our "fun" day - riding around death valley. It had been over 6 months since we had been riding, so we just wanted to get a feel for the dirt again. It would also be a chance for me to show kelly some of what she had missed at DVdaze.

We went to Rhyolite

Saw some weird art. Looks like the carpet matches the drapes!

Went through Titus Canyon

Ubehebe Crater

Teakettle junction. In the afternoon, things really started to heat up. The ground was smokin' hot and we were all feeling it. Climbing out of the racetrack, the bike was one bar from overheating, where it stayed most of the day.

the grandstand at the racetrack

thinking about a trade-in

We finished off the grand tour by riding through the saline valley to Panamint Springs. At lunch, we drank several pitchers of water and then started the slab back to Beatty. The air was so hot, we actually had to slow down to keep it from burning our legs. It was the weirdest thing - it was like having a hot hair dryer blowing on us at close range. Our pocket thermometer topped out at 120F, which seemed pretty hot. Later, we found out that there had been a heat wave and it had actually been 128F.
Lesson learned? Death Valley in July = bad

BigWan 08-08-2009 02:35 PM

7/19 and 7/20 Las Vegas aprox. 130 miles
What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. However, they do have a nice aquarium (mandalay bay).

7/21 Page, AZ aprox. 260 miles
We had to go through Zion Nat'l Park. They charge $25 for a cage full of people, or $12 for EACH person on a motorcycle. It was quite the expensive toll road.

kanab, UT

Glen Canyon

here's a dam picture

For some reason, Page was full of French people. We had our photos taken by some French kids on a scavenger hunt. Not sure how they ended up in Page...

7/22 Taos, NM aprox. 450 miles
Rode through Carson Nat'l Forest. Northern New Mexico is really pretty.

We were trying to find a place to eat in Taos, but couldn't decide. We compiled a list of 3 and stopped a random guy on the street to ask his opinion. The guy ended up being a tweeker, but he was nice and went into great detail about which ones had made him sick (all 3). We decided to try chinese food at Hunan restaurant (which was not on the list) and it was fine. Pretty good food, actually.

7/23 Trinidad, CO aprox. 140 miles
It was a quick ride - we wanted to get to Trinidad early enough to do some work on the bike.
Saw our first antelope

Valcom Motorsports

The folks at Valcom are so great. Very TAT friendly. I had called ahead and ordered some tires (which were waiting for us there). They asked if they would be mounting them for us and I said, "no thanks, I'm going to do it myself." In Santa Barbara, this gets you escorted off the premises. Here at Valcom, they said "no problem" and told us we were welcome to go around back and use the warehouse (where it was cool and shady).

in 40 minutes, we were back on the road with new shoes.

Like many other TAT riders, we stayed at the Trail's End motel. The owners ride and are helpful and understanding. We had a great stay.

the rooms are cozy and cabin-y

For the record - my giant, meaty hands are too big to type fast so my wife is doing most of the work. If there is something in this RR that sounds a little "girly" (like "cozy and cabin-y") it's because she's writing it.


Vinnie the Snake 08-08-2009 04:08 PM


Originally Posted by BigWan
7/19 and 7/20 Las Vegas aprox. 130 miles

For the record - my giant, meaty hands are too big to type fast so my wife is doing most of the work. If I there is something in this RR that sounds a little "girly" (like "cozy and cabin-y") it's because she's writing it.


:rofl :rofl Yea, Yea, Yea, :rofl :rofl :rofl We have all heard that before.

Just kidding!

I'm in. Looking forward to the RR. Be Safe it will be a great trip.

By the way. OK in this 100 degF heat is a chore.:evil

BigWan 08-08-2009 04:22 PM

Thanks, vinnie!
I was getting worried, hearing nothing but crickets...
yup, bet that's 100 humid degrees, too...

rcook52459 08-08-2009 04:55 PM

:lurk great pics

BigWan 08-08-2009 05:02 PM

7/24 Day 1 of the TAT: Trinidad, CO to Salida, CO aprox. 250 miles

Well, since I can't write "manly" enough, I might as well embrace it.
Today was our first day of the TAT and I was super excited! And nervous.
It was an easy morning and a beautiful ride.
I've never seen such nice dirt roads - so big and flat and wide. Matt's teaching me to ride and all I ever see are rocks, gravel and torn-up hills. These roads are lovely.

the first of many cow butts

We got to La Veta by 8:30am and topped up

It was a great day. After Death Valley, 90 degrees felt cool and the riding was so easy. The San Isabel Nat'l Forest is gorgeous. Saw lots of cute cottontail bunnies and didn't run any over. Had lunch at West Cliffe.
Hwy 69 was kind of boring (too bad, with that name) but things got better after Cotopaxi.

We met our first (and pretty much, only) fellow TATers on the road to Salida. Paul, Julian and Andrew - sorry, no pics and didn't catch their ADV names - from NY and San Diego. Hi Guys! Can't wait to see your RR.

Salida is a neat little town.

We had pizza and beer at Amica's. The michelangelo was pretty tasty, but Matt was coveting our neighbor's calzone.

This Super 8 was our most expensive motel of the trip. At least they had hot tubs and a pool. This no-camping-gear thing is working out!

Previous RRs made me really anxious about the 2nd day of the trail - the dreaded Hancock Pass!! Even worse, it was my idea to skip the dual sport by-passes.


BigWan 08-08-2009 06:32 PM

7/25 Day 2 of the TAT: Salida, CO to Lake City, CO aprox. 170 miles
Hancock and Tomichi Passes.

It was a chilly, rainy morning but anticipation kept us warm.

Cascade Falls

the ubiquitous falling-down-mining-ruin shot. I was surprised that this was so early in the trail.

the Hancock Pass welcome mat. This photo is blurry because we hit a big rock as I clicked the shutter, but I like how it shows the crap you have to go through before you can get on the trail.

Going up to Hancock Pass

I tried to take pictures of the difficult sections...I think I managed to get snapshots of most of them. Honestly, I was waiting for things to get worse, but they never did.

Looking over at Tomichi Pass

Tomichi Pass

Looking back at Hancock Pass

Note the super crappy GPS - this glorified compass would come back to haunt us again and again...

A moose! Not a great photo - he was walking towards us when a jeep came by and scared him back into the trees.

The clouds were threatening to dump as we sped towards Lake City.
Amazingly, we got there just before it really came down (can't remember the exact time - 2:30 ish. pretty early).
We got our bags off the bike just before the downpour.

After it cleared up, we had a nice dinner here. The young waitress was so sweet and funny. She recommended the ice cream place for dessert (good call).

The ice cream place - San Juan Soda Co. Handmade ice cream. The mint chip is delicious!

This was one of our best days of the trip. I LOVED Hancock and Tomichi passes - the scenery was breathtaking and the riding was really fun. Matt did so well - no get offs, no problems at all. I think he only dabbed once or twice.
But don't worry - we got ours later down the TAT!

seaduck100 08-08-2009 07:02 PM

You must be one hell of a rider, I am not sure how I'd do with a pillion on that rocky nasty stuff..

Could you stand up on those stretches with 2up?

Looks like it would be a fun trip.. I am jealous.

BigWan 08-08-2009 07:23 PM

From Matt:
Hey Seaduck,
When I ride alone off-road, I'm usually standing 80% of the time. However, when 2up I tend to stay in my seat. It makes for a steadier center of gravity and it allows kelly to keep taking pictures (she complains when I block her view).

GB 08-08-2009 07:50 PM

Not the hard way, the beautiful way :thumb


Matt 08-08-2009 08:45 PM

Amazing photo's Kelly, and equally amazing riding Matt.

Thanks for taking us on your adventure (so far anyway), can't wait for more.

Now all I've got to do is ship the bike over and have some fun.

BigWan 08-09-2009 09:59 AM

7/26 Day 3 of the TAT: Lake City, CO to Monticello, UT aprox.207 miles

Matt says that when he's riding in the dirt, every day is Christmas. I always thought he was insane, but on this trip I finally understood. Every morning was so exciting and I couldn't wait to get going and get on the trail. We knew this kind of enthusiasm can't last (and it wouldn't), but on day 3 we were still pretty stoked.

Lake City is so lovely in the morning

Went to the Mocha Moose for coffee. Met a nice couple on a GS, they have a rental bike company in Phoenix and get to tour in the slow season.

Really looking forward to Cinnamon Pass - from the photos we've seen, it's going to be beautiful.

I was excited about this rainbow until Matt reminded me that it meant it was raining. oh, right. It's still pretty.

As we were in the rain, going towards the pass, we ran into Paul, Julian and Andrew! We were hoping to ride with them today, but they were still snug in their tents and had decided to wait for the rain to stop. I wish I had had the camera out but I didn't think of it until we took off...

The rain stopped long enough to snap a shot along the trail. The edge of the cliff just drops off into nothing. It's pretty scary to look down, especially when the rocks are wet and slippery...

We thought the roll chart said to turn into American Basin, but Paul later said his roll chart said to skip it. Oh well. I'm glad we went in - it was one of the most scenic stops of the day. This was one of the many places where we wished we had our camping gear.

Obligatory falling-down-mine stuff at Animas Forks

Took a break and watched the chipmunks eat berries and flowers. I love these little guys! I wish the ones in the road weren't so suicidal, but at least we didn't squash any.

California Pass, with Lake Como in the background

Lake Como

Is this Corkscrew Pass? I can't remember. I do know that Corkscrew Pass lived up to its name and was a windy MF. My arms got tired from holding onto the back bars. It was still pretty, though.
*edited to add - it's not Corkscrew Pass, but is close to it.

The rocks at Ophir Pass

Matt recognized this view from the TAT ride reports - he said we must be getting close to Ophir Pass. We waited and waited and then we got down to the town of Ophir and realized that we had just done the pass. Doh!

It was getting ready to dump when we got to Ophir. A kind woman offered to let us hide out in her barn until the storm cell passed. It was so nice of her! Unfortunately, all it did was waste an hour and put off the inevitiable, for as soon as we got back on the road another cell came and soaked us completely. Oh well.

We had been looking forward to the jeep road (727) that was coming up next. Sam noted "Fun, Fun, Fun" on the roll charts and we figured it would be something good. Yeah. It turns out that Sam is a fan of sarcasm - that road was 13 miles of horrible. Nothing but baby heads and slick mud puddles that went on forever - not rocky enough to be interesting, but really uncomfortable at speed. Ugh. It was raining the whole time so I didn't take any pictures, but here's the trail map if you want to have some "Fun, Fun, Fun" of your own.

Had more rain and hail and got lost on the way to Monticello

Found some really nasty, sticky mud - the fender got packed solid and the bike just stopped. One of the things that Matt would have done with more planning time is get the high fender for the 950. The stock one just sucks.
The bike was a mess, as were our boots. I think I was 2 inches taller after walking around in the mud. We got to Monticello and found a car wash

And then some lunch. The waitress said that earlier in the day, Monticello had torential rain and lightning strikes. A tree next to the restaurant was struck and almost smashed her car.

Later that evening, we ran into Paul, Julian and Andrew again. They enjoyed the "Fun, Fun, Fun" about as much as we did. It was always nice to see those guys and commiserate about the trail.
Tomorrow - Moab!


Johnny Quest 08-09-2009 11:22 AM

Great report, love the pictures, definitely more detailed then the my spot pictures.:1drink

gregg 08-09-2009 05:51 PM

WOW:clap Cool cool . I'm in:deal

themansfield 08-10-2009 08:46 AM

You've never seen anything like Matt and Kelly two-up on a huge motorcycle, totally hammering miles on the TAT. Great meeting you guys! We tried to catch you in Nevada but Julian's KLR got, er, side-tracked by that silty pucker bush terrain.

Working on a ride report, but I'm afraid your trip was way more impressive than stitches in Colorado and Julian in a concussive state thinking Bush was currently president. Awesome.

Will stay tuned.

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