Two losers ride the TAT
If you're looking for a ride report you can emulate, one where the riders woke at 6.30am ache free, were moving by 8am and had finished all 200 miles by 4pm this report isn't for you.
If this is what you need, may I suggest a real ride report like Docking Pilots. Losers don't get allowed into a crew though we do sometimes dream.
If you want to read about procrastination, late starts, poor navigation, altitude sickness, a few tip overs and a couple good crashes, then you're in the right place.
I remember what you did for me CB.
Did you ever get the beer? :rofl
Losers have a hard time doing 220 mile days, and have to skip parts of the TAT to get into town before dark.
Losers take at least two hours from waking up to getting on the road and moving.
Losers' laundry never gets dry, and they have to put on damp socks in the morning.
Losers spend an hour and a half searching for a non-existent road just because their GPS track doesn't have enough waypoints.
We are TAT Losers, and this is our story...
Tony's TAT summary
2007 KTM 450EXC (crazybrit) and DRZ400 (remarksman)
One night Brian was having dinner with his neighbor and the topic of our TAT trip and the issue of bike shipping came up. It turned out the neighbor had relatives he wanted to visit in Colorado so a plan was hatched, Brian and his neighbor would truck the bikes out. I would fly out. Brian's neighbor would drive the truck back to Oregon and see his relatives. Brian picked my bike up on
Days (each will eventually link to that days ride report)
Day 1, Aug 20, Golden CO to Salida CO
Met my friend Toddler at 9.30am and rode to Salida where we would pick up the TAT.
Day 2, Aug 21, Salida CO to Lake City CO
Late start (~10.30am). Toddler left for home near Sargent. We spent 2 hours on some non-tat jeep trails which were fun.
Day 3, Aug 22, Lake City CO to Rico CO
Original plan was to take an extra half day and explore San Juans, then ride to Rico but sickness led to a late start (11am) which nixed that.
Day 4, Aug 23, Rico CO to Moab UT
Early start (9am), smooth days riding
Day 5, Aug 24, Moab UT to Green River UT
Late start (11am) due to bike maintenance, crash, nav issues near Green River, heat. Bailed back to Green River and decided to regroup for next day.
Day 6, Aug 25, Green River UT to Richfield UT
Early start (8am) but more nav issues near Green River, still an epic day
Day 7, Aug 26,. Richfield UT to Baker NV
Early start (9am). Easy PM of riding on fast roads.
Day 8, Aug 27, Baker NV to Eureka NV
Epic day of riding.
Day 9, Aug 28, Eureka NV to Battle Mountain NV
Short day, bike maintenance in PM.
Day 10, Aug 29,. Battle Mountain NV to Fields OR
Long long day of riding.
Day 11, Aug 30, Fields OR to Lakeview OR
Day 12, Aug 31, Lakeview OR to Chemult OR
Detour from TAT onto OBDR.
Day 13, Sep 1, Chemult OR to Portland OR
Final leg back home
Giant loop containing:
Tool bag containing following (to be completed)
Plastic box containing electrical connectors, spare wire, solder, JB weld etc (should have downsized the container).
Lightweight bivy sack (for emergencies)
2 pairs underwear
2 t-shirts (only wore one)
1 pair cotton shorts
1 pair swim shorts (unnecessary, wore them in motel hot tubs but underwear would have worked just fine)
1 poly pro base layer (only wore it on final day leaving Chemult)
1 pair sandals
1 baseball hat
Fleece liner for Enduro Jacket (only used it on final day walking to breakfast)
2 MX jerseys (one would have been fine)
Klim Dakar pants
2 pairs MX socks (I like clean socks each day and they would often not dry overnight, so spare pair was nice)
Acerbis Koerta pressure suit
Alpinestars Tech 10 boots
Dirt gloves and leather gloves (didn't really need the later)
Camelback with 3l bladder.
What worked well
- Giant Loop bag was truly excellent though I managed to wear a hole in the underside from rubbing on the PMB rack.
- KTM 450, no mechanical problems, some slight weeping from HT cooler and some clutch slipping due to the Clever Lever (fortunately I brought along the stock lever).
- CycoActive barback mapcase. We carried 11x17 copies of the relevant Benchmark pages with the route highlighted. Super easy to open up and navigate in the large. Mostly useful once we got to Nevada.
- 276c+ GPS, modified TT mount (176c) and Rally Management nav bracket.
- HYDRAPAK Big Sur Hydration Pack. 3 liter capacity. Bladder hose is removable (quick connect though it got harder to remove as time passed). Bladder is reversible for easy cleaning and has a much better sealing system than Brians. Minimal capacity for tools which is what I wanted, small size, tools were on the bike. Best of all. on closeout at CycleGear.com for $40. Only thing I don't like is that the sternum strap is too short,.
What didn't work well
- Air filters: Original plan was to use a filter skin on air filter every 2 days. That wasn't practical, ended up needing to change skins every day and even then the filter underneath needed cleaning twice. I should have brought a half pint of Belray along for reoiling. Moab Powersports oiled my filter with Belray for free first time and I bought a Uni recharge kit in Lakeview (I was dubious that the cleaner would remove Belray, store claimed it would, it didn't, so I had to resort again to gasoline).
- First oil change. Should have brought oil for 1st change with me from home. This would have allowed me to change the oil at night in Moab rather than having to wait until 9am the next morning for dealer to open. This would have allowed us to leave ontime at 9am. After this I carried the oil for the second change on the bike.
- Time management in general. Leaving any earlier than 9am seemed beyond us on a regular basis. A few days we were even later.
Filter skin change every day.
Changed oil (no filter change), rejetted and cleaned/reoiled air filter at Moab ~700 miles (many thanks to Moab Powersports).
Changed oil and filters at Battle Mountain (~1500 miles)
Cleaned and reoiled air filter at Lakeview Oregon
Where we stayed
Salida: Supposed to stay at a Hostel in middle of town, but they totally screwed the booking up, so we slept at an overflow house. $25 per person.
Lake City: BackCountry Basecamp. Cheap, spacious and excellent. http://www.lakecitybasecamp.com
Rico: Circle K Ranch, 10 miles south of town. Half the price of the motel in town. http://www.ckranch.com/
Moab: Super 8
Green River: Motel 6. First room smelt of urine. Wifi extra and barely worked. Was cheap but probably better option as there are plenty of choices.
Richfield: Days Inn. $55 for a excellent room with full breakfast for 2. Owner said times are very hard and lots of motels, hence low rate.
Baker: Silver Jacks. Made phone reservation. Interesting place if you like eclectic. Pretty good pizza. Basic room but fine. http://www.silverjackinn.com.
Eureka: Best Western. $100 for last room (smoking). Most expensive motel of trip. Saturday night, only two motels in town, Sundown was fully booked. Should have made reservation.
Battle Mountain: Owl Club. $45. Very basic.
Fields: Fields Station. Denio was fully booked. Made reservation. $65. Great place.
Lakeview: Executive Suites. $65 and overpriced. Small room overfilled with furniture. Major hassle with owners upon leaving.
Chemult: Crater Lake Inn. $45. Cheap, decent room, nice owners, two free beers upon arrival :D
Carry on there riders, regardless of your issues/short comings, we are IN BIG TIME>
OK, I have been composing a bunch of notes about things that worked, things that didn't work, life, the universe, and 42, but what every ride report needs is pictures!
The bikes went from our homes in Oregon out to Denver, CO in my truck, with the help of my neighbor. There were a bunch of range fires in Idaho, which made for a spectacular sunset:
Bikes arrive in Denver:
Last-minute changes to the bike are never advised before a big trip. Always break the rules -- after riding around on my Beta, I decided I needed some bigger footpegs for standing on all day, so those went on the day before departure:
And somehow Tony's headlight lens cracked on the way, possibly in the epic hail storm we drove through east of Cheyenne, so the first order of business on our first actual riding day was applying a headlight protector film:
Our cast of characters:
Todd, our "local guide" in Colorado is on the left with the big "K" shirt, Crazybrit in the middle, Remarksman on the right.
And puppies, everyone loves puppies!
Stuff That Worked
- I purchased some Klim in-the-boot ventilated pants just before the trip, and they held up well. The vents work pretty well, but the zippers seem to tend to jam up either with the dust, or on the vent fabric. Otherwise these seem like good, sturdy stuff. Probably more Klim stuff on my shopping list in the future.
- Happy with my other existing gear: Alpinestars body armor suit and Tech 8 boots, A.R.C. Backcountry jacket, Answer jersey, A.R.C. gloves, some leather street gloves for cold weather and road riding. The enduro jacket is bulky and heavy, and Tony and I discussed whether a really lightweight waterproof shell might be better. He likes the lightweight idea, I'm still leaning toward a more durable jacket. Mainly it boils down to whether you think you might ever crash or run through brush and branches while wearing your jacket. To me, the jacket falls in the survival equipment category, so I want something that won't get shredded easily. Plus, I get cold easily, so the heavier jacket is appealing.
- Filterskins, extra filter, NoToil cleaning system
You can clean your filter and skins in a bathroom sink with this stuff and not feel like you're destroying the hotel room. I have been using NoToil for a while and have generally been happy with it. Tony is not convinced that the oil is as tacky/effective as Belray, but until I see some evidence, I'll probably stick with NoToil. The only disappointment I've had with NoToil is that if you clean and oil a filter, then put it in a plastic bag, there is some 'carrier' component of the NoToil oil that is supposed to evaporate which disintegrates your filter. This carrier allows the oil to be a thin fluid when applied, but supposedly leaves only the sticky part of the oil in the end. Use caution with oiled filter storage -- make sure the carrier is COMPLETELY evaporated.
I had never used Filterskins before, but they're great on a trip like this. You can put a new one on each morning, removing the filthy one. With the Filterskin on, a clean air filter would stay usefully clean for several days. Without one, I probably would have been changing/cleaning the air filter every other day.
- Nuun electrolyte tablets -- these add some flavor to icky-tasting Nevada tap water and keep your
electrolyte levels up. The packaging works great when the tube is full, but when it runs down, bumpy roads will start 'powdering' your tablets, so pack these carefully.
- Suzuki DRZ 400S
Compared to more 'pedigreed' bikes, the DRZ-S has "soft" power delivery and a somewhat soft suspension. I'd argue that these qualities actually make it a great choice for a couple weeks of long days on the bike, along with its bullet-proof mechanicals and non-fussy oil requirements. The one thing it badly needs is a sixth gear. I had it geared with 14/44 which is good for trail riding, but not high enough for highway and long straight stretches in the desert. The CV carb is fairly tolerant of altitude changes, and I only changed the jetting once on the trip (altho it would have been happier with another change once we hit cool, dense air in Oregon).
- Rox Risers
These move the handlebars up three or four inches, and allow you to move the bars forward as well. You will want a bike that you will be comfortable standing on for hours on end, and these risers do the trick. Sure, if you're going to race enduros, the bars should not be so high and forward, but my back wouldn't have survived all the standing up without the risers, and my guts wouldn't have survived all the bouncing if I was sitting down.
It was really handy to show up in some town you've never been to and find out if there are any motorcycle shops, or where the motels are. Tony and I used Dropbox to organize GPS data and some text files of notes/lists, and I had all those notes loaded on the iPhone for quick reference. Also, it takes pretty good photos of people, food, and nearby buildings and signs (but it falls short on landscape/scenery/distance photos), and the HD video is pretty good. And, of course, I could keep up with my email and post daily travel updates to a blog. I have the Verizon variant, and there was decent reception at all our motel stops except Baker, NV.
- Benchmark state atlas map books
We had Benchmark atlases for CO, UT, NV, and OR. For all the states other than OR, we scanned the TAT route pages, marked the route, and printed them. That is, we only had to bring the appropriate pages rather than the whole book. We did bring the entire OR book because we weren't entirely sure what our plan was after arriving in Lakeview on the TAT.
Looking at these maps is a much easier way to plan an alternate route or look for the closest "bail out" town than panning around on the small screen of a GPS. Plus, you get a better idea of which forest roads are 'major' than the GPS seems to show.
Wives and family worry much less when they can see that you are making progress and sending 'OK' messages. The main concern here is that if the SPOT batteries die, worried family members might assume that the sudden lack of tracking data implies that both of you must have fallen off a cliff somewhere. That is, the tracking data sometimes lulls people into incorrectly assuming that a lack of tracking data means Something Bad Has Happened.
Stuff not needed/didn't work/needs improvement
- One side of my DirtBagz was basically filled by three things: a thick quarter-zip fleece, Thor waterproof over-the-boot riding pants, and a 2-liter Platypus water container. I never used the waterproof pants because when you ride into a thunderstorm, you don't really have the time or inclination to change pants.
The fleece was quite bulky and I thought it was going to be a big waste of space until the last couple days in Oregon, where it was COLD!
The Platypus water container ended up springing a leak, otherwise it would have been a great solution. I had to fold the cap part over a bit for it to fit in the saddlebag, and apparently it couldn't handle the folding.
- I bought a "last year's model clearance" hydration pack from Fox with a 3-liter bladder. The pack is fairly nice (really nice for $40!) but the bladder cap is fiddly and always wants to cross-thread, and initially it had a really plastic taste. Tony's hydration bladder was much easier to fill and handle -- hopefully he will post the brand/model.
- My luggage consisted of DirtBagz Ranger saddlebags and a generic duffel bag on the rack. In terms of capacity and general usefulness, this is a good set-up. However, neither the DirtBagz nor my duffel are waterproof and stuff inside, even things in plastic grocery bags, got wet each of the first several days of the trip from thunderstorms. Next trip at least some of my luggage will be waterproof. (I do have a waterproof duffel, but it is a good bit larger than the one I brought.)
- Tin cake pans for oil changes. I saw these disposable tin pans at the store a few days before leaving for the trip and thought, "Oh, these look like they'll hold 2 quarts of oil, and should be handy for filter cleaning and such." Well, disposable tin pans do not retain their integrity after a few days of rough roads, so the oil change ended up leaking a fair quantity of oil into the hotel parking lot. We did much better "dumpster diving," finding some restaurant-sized vegetable oil containers.
To finish out thoughts about luggage:
- The other side saddlebag held: tools that don't fit in my 'tool tube,' spare air filter, Filterskins, NoToil filter cleaner and oil and rubber gloves, a substantial First Aid kit (fortunately barely used on this trip), snacks, riding gloves, spare rear tube (spare front tube rode on front fender).
- The duffel bag held clothes, Keen sandals, cord and clothespins for clothes-drying, toiletries, swimsuit, Benchmark map book and pages, and some rags.
- Fox hydration pack also carried my enduro jacket, baseball cap, fleece beanie cap, Nuun tablets, flashlight, PLB, sunscreen, pocketknife, sunglasses, etc.
- Strapped to the luggage rack is a large Sven Saw (collapsible camp saw). We never needed this, but I'm still glad we brought it.
Stuff I wish I had brought:
- a Sharpie or similar pen. We saw messages from other ADV folks written on the walls of some old cabins, but all we had was a ball-point pen.
OK, and we're off ......
We left Brian's mums house in an undisclosed location between Denver and Boulder, about a 30 minute ride to meet Todd(ler) at the 7-11 in Golden.
I spotted Todd's TE610 as soon as we turned off the main road but Google maps (incorrectly) claimed the 7-11 was actually another mile into Golden so I humored Brian and followed him, aka honked my horn and he ignored me. Eventually we turned around and met up with Todd who was propping up the wall of the 7-11 all nonchalant like, as is his way.
We rode Hwy 6 for a bit,, then a tiny bit of I70 to Idaho Springs where we headed up some jeep trails to meet the aforepictured German Shepherd puppies which were adorable.
We had lunch in Georgetown. As losers do. we naturally assumed that lunch was kind of an everyday thing when out riding but this is where Toddler (a TAT veteran who I'm fairly sure is part of a crew) educated us that stopping for lunch is a luxury on the TAT which we had better learn to do without. Shit this TAT thing is going to be harder than I thought, no lunch stops? Not even a sack lunch?
After this we headed towards Salida. At some point along the way, Todd started circling on his TE610. I couldn't make sense of it from a distance. Then he stopped and raised his hands up and started chanting. As Brian and I drew closer we saw that he'd managed to zero in on some kind of federally protected hawk and slay it. It was lying on the ground flapping the last couple of beats of it's wings. This is my first warning that I'm not going to be tough enough for this Colorado riding.
Riding towards Salida
Later we rode a pretty cool jeep trail that descended down into Salida. Here is Brian descending. Loose and steep.
We arrive in Salida but there has been a screw up with the accommodation. We were supposed to be staying at a hostel in town. Todd booked on Wednesday. It's now Saturday. One of the owners walks out to tell us that somehow they double booked. We end up sleeping in the house of a friend of the Hostel owners. It's far enough from town that we have to ride in. Since we're sick of the dirt gear, we don shorts and sandals for the ride. We eat at The Fritz, pretty good but everything is closed by 9pm.
Never understood the point of rushing a bike holiday if you don't have to. Looking forward to following this RR. It's off to a good start. :beer
Glad you made it home safe and had a great time Gentlemen.
As crazybrit mentioned, Toddler took us from Golden up to Idaho Springs, then over Saxon Mountain Road. Here's the great switchbacks view:
The switchbacks drop you down into Georgetown. From there, we went over Guanella Pass. This is now paved for most of the way, although on the north side there are a few miles of gravel. There, Toddler spooked up a little burro, which then ran across the road right in front of crazybrit:
We gassed up in Jefferson, then headed south into South Park (yes, like the one on TV).
After Todd's bird-killing incident, we hit some pavement westward to catch some fun roads into Salida. Unfortunately, there was a thunderstorm and the skies opened up and dumped rain on us. We hung out in some aspen trees for a while to wait it out.
As it turned out, we should have just kept riding, as the storm seemed to be hanging out where we were, and hadn't actually rained much just a mile down the road. It did make for some great rainbows, though:
The skies were interesting over Salida, too:
Normally part of the ATTGATT crew, we fell off the wagon a few times on this trip. In this case, our gear was still all wet from the thunderstorm:
My dinner at Fritz was really good. I think Tony didn't expect quite what he got, but still enjoyed it.
Stats for Day 1:
I'm in, too broke to ride right now, THAT'S a sad state of affairs, so I'll read about riding, it's much cheaper.:D
I like how you've set up everything for the RR, it makes it easy to follow, or skip ahead. Hope you're having a good ride. I'll let you get back at it, good pix BTW!
Day 1 Video
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Mostly the same photos as above, plus some short video clips.
Day 2 - Salida to Lake City
We started off with a great breakfast in Salida at the Patio Pancake Place. We actually got to the restaurant fairly early, but took a long time eating, then wandered around town looking for an ATM because someone didn't bring enough cash, and ended up not really hitting the road until 9:30 or 10:00 -- Losers!
We made our way north a bit, then turned west into a pretty, narrow valley, then headed back south toward Hancock Pass. The road was pretty rough, rougher than Todd's fender bag or dry bag could handle, apparently:
I had strapped the fender bag onto my luggage, but I didn't have a way to carry the dry bag. Todd finally figured out that he was missing things and headed back down to pick them up. Tony had stopped, then when he tried to get going again, he got stuck on a rock and fell over -- Loser! :rofl
(Photo by toddler:)
Eventually we made it to the top of Hancock Pass. Looking south, you can see the road up Tomichi Pass:
Then it was on to Tomichi Pass. Ascending:
Looking over Tomichi Pass to the south:
Eventually we made our way down to Sargents, where we gassed up and Todd headed back toward home. :cry Thanks, Todd!
Tony and I took a snack/lunch break:
We crossed some valleys and low ridges:
We dodged several rainstorms and only got sprinkled on several times, but it rained hard that night. We found a fun trail down a pretty canyon just a bit off the TAT route since it looked like we would arrive at Lake City early.
It was a fun little jeep road/stock watering road that eventually got pretty gnarly and turned into more-or-less single-track. It looked like it might connect back up to the main road, but it was starting to get late... Tony sent me ahead after one tricky hill to scout things out, and I startled a great horned owl. He flew down the trail a ways, then stopped on a tree to keep an eye on me. No photo because I figured he would leave if I stopped. The trail ended up winding around a bunch, and I called it quits after a couple miles, and we ended up backtracking.
Tony was stopped by a Hinsdale County Sheriff for going 45 on a gravel road where the un-marked speed limit was apparently only 25. He received only a stern warning. Meanwhile, I realized that while I was sure my registration was somewhere on the bike, I had no idea where it was actually packed. :huh
Interesting note: Hinsdale County is the least densely populated county in Colorado, with a population of less than 800 (2000 Census). I'm guessing everyone there probably knows half the people in the county. If you ever wanted to become a mayor or county commissioner...
We had our first real encounter with cows shortly after leaving the Sheriff:
Later we would see more cows. Lots of cows. Sometimes cows in places where it didn't look like there was much for them to eat. Often in places marked "SMA", for Soil Management Area, on my GPS. Cows on BLM land, cows on National Forest land, cows on private land. And whenever the road crossed a creek or ran near a spring, there were always either cows there, or signs of cows recently there. That was especially sad, since some of the springs would have made excellent hydration pack re-filling sources, except for the cow crap everywhere.
Eventually we made our way into the valley that leads down to Lake City:
We found great lodging and dinner thanks to the recommendations and help of the friendly lady at the Lake City grocery store. She even called a couple places to check availability for us. We stayed at Adventure Base Camp and ate dinner at The SmoQue Shack BBQ.
Stats for Day 2:
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