Trans America Fail
The last thing this forum needs is another poser Trans America Trail ride.
So here's mine.
A friend from another forum sent me a link to the TAT in 2003. I was intrigued but I had a pregnant wife and no dirt bike but
kept it in the back of my mind anyway. In 2007 I came across ADV and realized I hadn't thrown a leg over a motorcycle in
years. I started exploring back roads on a 1970 Honda CL100, got a GPS, bought some TAT maps and started making my way to the
Pacific coast. Slowly
TN TAT Part 1 Easter 2008:I wrote about some of my early exploring on the "Badass Ride" thread http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=328950. I rode a '71 CL100 all over the local roads, a bunch of the MS TAT and finally I was going to knock off a bit of TN in preperation for a full trip.
I packed up the bike on a Wednesday, rode it to my sister's house loaded it in a truck and drove my father home to Savannah,
My ride west wasn't without its difficulties but it started out nice enough. I have always loved these old wooden bridges.
But there was trouble in paradise, an exhaust stud had pulled and the pipe kept pulling away from the head. Also oil was beginning to appear on the head and cylinder.
Hmm. You mean that bungee cord isn't as good as a stud and nut? Where is that oil coming from?
It still looks good from way over here.
I really was riding it.
That's odd, every time I stop there's more oil.
Time to get some beer.
But then it all came to a slow, powerless halt. I was in a construction zone so I coasted off the road into someone's driveway and behind a barier and the tools came out. At least I was prepared.
I took it apart a little to verify that the valve train is working but it has no compression.
So I talk to my wife who will drive a hundred miles to come get me.
I drink that beer and wait and wait.
And finally the cavaly arrived. My wife was thirlled at getting to leave work two hours early.
But it's not so bad right? A little JB weld and I could have been back on the road.
AR & OK Labor Day 2009
I purchased an older, plated KTM 400 EXC and rode my first couple of races and a few D/S rides. Between the two bikes I have since ridden about 1/3 of Tennessee and most of Mississippi, but I really need, NEED, to get out West. By September 2009 I had let most of the Summer slip away with only about half the weekends spent on self indulgent rides with the other half spent alone in my garage with my family abandoned. I really needed a multi-day trip by myself to close it out. I picked the week before Labor day for the ride in order to maximize the continuous days off, but I came across a thread in "TRIP PLANNING" http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=475095 of a guy from Nashville riding a 450 exc and starting in Arkansas.
I did a full service with valve adjustments, air and oil filter and even put in Engine Ice coolant. I also replaced the sprockets and chain. I had just done the wheel bearings from a catastrophic failure in June while on a Florida ride (this is important).
I built a cover for the exhaust from an aluminum medical instrument tray and painted it orange with spray paint. I had to drill a couple of holes in order to mount the kolpin Fuel pack to the subframe.
The top bag is a backpack that I got from work a few years back. It contains my tent and sleeping bag and some clothes and tools. The little saddle bags are the Stearns "ATV tank Bags" that they sell at Walmart. One has tools and lubes, the other has food stuffs. I really didn't like how they looked and felt on the tank so I moved them to the back but I honestly never rode with them on the tank. The blue bag is my tent poles and one long tire iron. The seat has one of the Walmart atv seat pads that is still uncomfortable, but doubles my day.
I tested the load by doing some wheelies in the yard and riding to my Mother's house for a pool party.
Day 1 September, 1 2009:
Tom is driving in from Nashville and we are planning to meet at the Helena, MS Casino parking lot at 10:00am. I want to ride the last 35 or so mile of the Mississippi section of the TAT to meet him there, but I have to ride about 100 miles to get to the start. Just after my alarm goes off, he calls to say they are running late so I should wait an hour and a half so I went back to bed. When I did leave, I discovered that my backpack was interfering with the top bag in a most annoying way. I had tested the combination earlier in the Summer and it worked out, but having them both overpacked was causing me to lean forward too much on the most boring part of the ride where I should have been the most comfortable.
On the way to meet Tom and Jeff, I finished off the last bit of the MS TAT that I had never done before including the old bridge out and riding the levees which I was really looking forward to.
I got to the Casino where Tom and his friend Jeff had been waiting an hour and a half for me to get there.
I am borrowing this picture from Jeff to illustrate how well-apportioned Tom's 450 is.
He had 13 or 14 bags on the fenders, handlebars, tank, and seat. He had two video cameras, two GPSs and two horns. He had cold gear, hot gear and rain gear, tools and spares. To be fair, he was riding the whole TAT, then down to California, then up to Alaska... This picture (also credited to Jeff) illustrates the differences in our loads.
The butterfly would be our constant companion for the next 900 miles.
We could have eaten the buffet at the casino, but I wanted to spend some money in Helena, AR as it is a perpetually depressed place and home of the world's largest free blues festival. http://www.bluesandheritagefest.com/
We chose BurgerWorld because he had a scooter out back and because it was the first place we passed. We got there at straight up noon, on a weekday, ate at the on-sight picnic tables and were the only customers there the whole time.
Tom asked our server if he got a lot of bikes like ours there and he told him "no but I seen them at the casino".
Jeff started back East to Nashville and we headed toward California. I adjusted my chain at the lunch stop because it was a bit snug. I took off my jacket and found I had nowhere at all to put it. I thought it would go into the backpack or top bag, but they were both overstuffed. I rolled it into a ball and strapped it to the rest of the luggage with the bunjee cord that was holding my flipflops. We hadn't even left Helena before we hit gravel and my coat fell off. Somehow re-routing the bunjee caused it to get into the tire and it broke causing my jacket to come loose. I tied the jacket back down and we got out of the big cities and into the farms that make up most of the Eastern AR section.
Because of the farm roads in one mile squares There are more straight up dirt roads in Arkansas than in TN and MS where Gravel is King. The dirt was very fine silt in some places that required us to ride side by side and we left 60'tall dust plumes behind us. Running water from the rice fields made muddy spots in the middle of nowhere. One road was probably not really a public road since it needed mowing badly and had huge holes in it. There were people working the field but I didn't look up to see if they were watching us.
At some point it occurred to me that the bungee that broke was also tying down my cherrished flip flops with fish skeletons on them.
About 100 miles into Arkansas, we stopped to gaze at the traffic on I 40. Tom looked my bike over and somehow noticed that the brake side wheel bearing was off kilter.
I was pretty screwed. The bike was running fine, but we knew it wouldn't last forever. Since it was the middle of the day still, I decided to turn back toward home on the trail. I calculated that I could ride back to Helena, then take 61 south while my wife could get off work at five, pick up the child and we could meet near Tunica, MS. That plan worked out, she rescued me, again, we ate dinner in town and retired back to our home. Tom called while I was eating and said he was camping at a trailer park about another 100 miles into Arkansas. I told him I would catch him before he got to Oklahoma.
I'm surprised I have never seen this in another ride report, but there is this big Tractor sitting way the hell out in a bean field right on the TAT. It doesn't look like anything was removed from it. If it was crashed, why didn't anyone take the engine? If the engine went bad, why didn't anyone take the body parts, axles or transmission?
I ran over this snake while Tom and I were riding and assumed it would move on. I passed it coming back and I'm afraid it couldn't take a knobby to the elbow. I think some birds had been after it too.
The best news of the ride back is that after 3 hours, my flip flops were sitting in the middle of the road right where they fell off. I don't even think they had been hit by a car the whole time.
My wife came to the rescue again driving 60 or so miles to pick me up in Tunica, MS. The bearing probably would have held for the rest of the trip or at least long enough for me to get to her in retrospect but the previous bearing failure had been so devastating I was gun shy.
I had those same flip flops. Wore them straight through to the ground. That was a sad day.
Anyway, carry on. :lurk
Day 2 September, 2 2009:
After a good nights sleep in a good bed with my sainted wife, I hatched a plan. I sent the wife and child on to work/school and broke the bike down to replace the bad bearing. As it happened, I ended up with an extra set of rear wheel bearings when I replaced them earlier in the Summer. The bearing didn't come all the way apart like they did the previous time. I'm still not sure why it failed so quickly. I think when I first put them in, I didn't get one pressed in quite far enough so that the center tube was riding on the inner races. I also added grease to them and the grease looked dry when I pulled them out and I did ride them for 100 miles at highway speed with the chain a little tight.
I took the opportunity to swap out the big Ogio backpack for this small Walmart model and dropped about half the clothing from my bags. I also packed a stuff sack to cram my motorcycle jacket into so it could be carried with the luggage.
I loaded the bike in my truck, picked up my mother and took I40 about an hour into Arkansas. I unloaded from there and spent an hour and a half pounding pavement.http://minitrail.smugmug.com/Motorcy.../IMG1608-L.jpg
Making my way back to the overpass where I flaked the day before.
Once on the trail, I hauled ass. I didn't expect to see Tom that day. I figured I would be at least 200 miles behind him and would need to ride fast and long into the day to make up time on him. Sometime after passing through Beebe I called my wife and told her of my progress. She was tracking Tom's spot messenger and his route puzzled me. He had gone much further North than I expected the trail would take us. He had mentioned that he was going to break the trail to visit a friend. So I thought that might have something to do with it.
Yeah, I should have replaced this bearing when I did the other one, but I thought it might hold and I would have a spare.
I broke the bike down and replaced the bearing in this hay field right by the road. I really lucked out having just enough tools to punch out the old bearing.
It was a real pain in the ass getting the wheel back on the swingarm.
I rode until it started getting dusk, scared to death that the bearings were going to go again. I passed through another town and bought gas. I went to a couple of stations hoping they sold beer, but it was a dry county. I was determined to camp on the side of the road like a real ADVrider, but it wasn't easy. I saw a sweet trail by a river, but it hadn't gotten real dark yet and I wasn't certain I couldn't be seen from the road. While I was down there a truck slowed on the bridge as if they were looking for something and it spooked me so I moved on.
As it got darker, I got more nervous about finding a spot to camp. I was on one of the steepest, roughest rock-filled roads of the trip when I crossed a stream that looked promising.
At first I thought I would follow the stream away from the road, but I found a little clearing that was pretty well hidden from the road.
I wanted to feel the place out before I set up camp so I took some food and a drink and started down toward the stream to eat and call my wife. I figured that the place was so remote and the road so rough that no one would pass through, especially after dark. Fist a pickup went through then some folks on four-wheelers. I figured they were kids at first, but it was a man and woman on one and a child on the other. I called my wife and the four wheelers went slowly past again. They could see me, but my bike was stashed in the weeds up on the hill. The lady asked if I needed help, but I assured her I was OK.
I put up camp after dark, but I was very uncomfortable about almost certainly trespassing. I was sure that the four wheeler people would come back to see if I was still there or maybe they would call the police or land owner to drive by and look for me. I don't know why I was so paranoid, but I'm sure a beer or 6 or having someone with me would have eased my tensions.
I thought that the rough road would be a deterrent from travelling and would ensure I would spend the night uninterrupted, but it was a bad idea. Cars came through every 20-30 minutes until probably 11:00 or so. Because every car that passed slowed to a crawl to cross the bridge, they all sounded like they were going to swing into the field where I was camping.
At about 9:00 a car came from the downstream direction casting its lights into the field before it turned. I peeked out and saw a buck race up the path and in front of my tent. After the car left, I could hear the deer digging and snorting right around the tent. I actually, finally fell asleep and was awakened by a car at around 2:00am. I looked out and saw the deer lying about 20 feet away in front of my tent. WE were surprised to see each other, but I finally went to sleep for the rest of the night swearing to myself I would get up a the very first sign of light.
Day 3 September, 3 2009:
It's was cool and everything covered in dew when I woke up and I was happy to pack up and get out of there. I figured I would ride for a while, then eat some breakfast once it warmed up a bit. I stopped to call my wife before she left for work/school and she was surprised I was already on the road before 7:00. I rode for 100 miles, got concerned about gas and there was a one-pump station. I started getting into the Ozarks by this point and what a beautiful ride.
The roads were so rough, though, that I had to constantly check and tighten my baggage. They were also slippery with greasy mud and exposed rocks. Really fun on a dirtbike, probably challenging on a big bike.
I kept seeing motorcycle tracks and figured they were Tom's, but they looked really fresh. I expected that he rode through there the day before. There were other tracks that looked like ATV tracks so I thought they could have been made by locals. I rode another 100 miles, got worried about gas and there was a two-pump station. The OARK is a TAT landmark. The people there know everything about the trail and talk to nearly every rider. They will let you waste as much time as you want there and will take good care of you while you are there.
When I stopped, a man came from inside and told me that another KTM and a Yamaha had been through there about an hour earlier. From what they told me in the OARK, I surmised that the bikers in front of me were Tom and his friend (on a TW200 (that explains the atv tracks)). They had eaten a long big breakfast. I was hungry at this point, but I just ate a pastry, bought some cookies and water and poured it on in order to run them down.
And I did catch them. Right on Warloop Road of all places. I didn't realize that was where we were, but it was a hell of a road. Actually it way more like riding down a slippery stream with big, slippery rocks.
It turned out that Tom didn't ride much of the trail at all on his second day. He had ridden to NW Arkansas to visit his Friend Donny and they were riding the trail together for the day. That's why they were only a couple of hours ahead of me. Donny and the TW200 were capable of keeping up for the most part, but he had a different agenda from me and probably Tom as well. I really wanted to keep moving West, but we kept stopping for this and that and every time had to eat or drink or smoke something. Donny rode with us to the OK border (after we were followed very closely by local patrol car) then took the highway a couple hundred miles home on the TW200 (not something I envied). Somehow, I managed to not take a single picture of the experience.
The first part of Oklahoma is pretty unremarkable and not unlike Arkansas in its terrain. At one point, Tom saw something familiar and we dropped into this very park-like place next to a beautiful river. Tom recognized the place from another ride report and he thought that if we stopped the owners would come down and talk to us. And they did. They Moved from Alaska and bought this place to rent for picnics and family reunions etc. They didn't have camping, but I think they were working on it. They were still learning about the TAT at the time, I imagine they have met a lot more riders since then. It is a very cool place with very cool people. I encourage everyone on the trail to stop there and, if they have camping, plan to stay there. Unfortunately I don't have a clue what the place is called or where it was.
It was a bit early for us to retire so we rode on probably 30 or 40 miles to the first Oklahoma Gas stop in Salina.
We camped at Snowdale State Park on Lake Hudson just up the road for $10/site. There is a convinience store right at the entrance so we drank a few 20oz beers, ate our camp food, enjoyed hot showers and slept well.
Tom got out all of the OK maps so we could see what we were up against. I think it was around this time I decided to cut my trip a little shorter in order to get home before Monday.
I guess it was Friday Morning when Tom and I lit off for the rest of Oklahoma. We were on our bikes by 8:00 or so riding in fog and occasional rain.
Somewhere in Tom's files there is a video of me trying to pick up this big ass spider, but I chicken out and recoil in horror every time it moves and it moves fast.
Everything in Oklahoma is made of flat iron. Bridges, fences, mailbox posts, swingsets...
Jalopeno corn dog over some kind of spicy nuggets at a truck stop.
Another flat iron bridge
This is the only graffiti I have ever done in my life.
We rode through some beautiful hills and valleys, oil fields, un-fenced cattle fields and stopped in the first shade we come to in miles. http://minitrail.smugmug.com/Motorcy...g1685lq1-L.jpg
At this point, Tom is becoming very concerned about the sprocket seal leaking. It's probably leaking 1/8th of an ounce of oil per 100 miles, but you know how it sprays all over, attracts dust and looks dangerous.
This was fenced or I would have ridden it.
My tire is taking a beating.
Riding the long straight Gravel in Oklahoma was tough. We rode two abreast when we could, but I would duck behind Tom when cresting hills on the one lane roads (even though we never saw any other vehicles on the road) and would catch a lot of gravel in the face. It was too dusty to drop back out of the range of the flinging so it was a constant dance. Eventually I took a direct hit to the headlight which killed the glass and the bulb.
We made our way to Newkirk, OK 200 miles from where we started at the park. This was going to be my turning around point and Tom was going to continue on to Alma or Alva or something. We found this Napa store. I bought a headlight bulb and Tom searched for an oil seal to no avail.
This is one of those places where time is just stopped. The owner of the store and his customers seemed to have all of the time in the world to learn all about our travels, bikes, jobs, problems, kids etc. Super nice people. We stayed there over an hour and could have stayed all day for all they cared using the phone, computer and chairs. He told us they get riders all the time. I asked what they bought and he said the mostly stopped in to get out of the rain.
He loaned me some packing tape to repair my light.
We left the bikes there, walked down the nearly abandoned downtown of Newkirk to a pharmacy where I got some vitamins and we looked for lithium batteries for Tom's camera or something. This whole store had almost nothing in stock. They had one bottle of men's vitamins. One brand, one bottle.
Tom and I ate at Sonic, got gas and I headed East toward Arkansas and he went West toward Oregon.
I took more pictures on the way back since I was on my own schedule.
Typical mid-Oklahoma view.
Hills in the background. No trees anywhere.
You couldn't find two rocks this size in the entire city of Memphis. In Oklahoma they anchor the fences with them by filling these wire baskets.
WTF? I realize there isn't any wood out here, but you'd figure there would be a better use for those pretty stones.
I ran into this guy 100 miles or so out of Newkirk. He is on an '08 KLR with aluminum panniers and two spare tires. I wondered how we never passed him, but he had started his trip earlier, stored the bike for a bit and had gotten underway again. I don't have a clue what his name is. He was a non-member lurker of ADV.
Somewhere around here Jalapeno corn dogs, spicy chicken nuggets and a Sonic burger were battling it out inside me. At first I hoped I would make it back to camp. http://minitrail.smugmug.com/Motorcy...mg1703i1-L.jpg
Then I started to think I would just go back to the truck stop.
Eventually I just hoped I could find a tree to hide behind.
This is where I made it to. Cattle had been grazing around here, so my contribution didn't stand out.
I got gas in Dewey, OK and pressed on. My original plan was to stop and find a camp around here. It was about 5:00 and getting cooler by then, but somewhere along the way I decided I would try to go all the way back to the park from which we started. Averaging 35mph on the trail, I figured I could make the last 100 miles by dark.
I wished I had time to visit this Tom Mix museum. It intrigues me that there are people alive that are Tom Mix fans. He made westerns in the 20s, and died in 1940. The only reason I ever heard of him was because of his grizzly death which it is said he was decapitated by a suitcase in the back seat of his car when he ran off the road. A little research reveals that the museum in Dewey claims to have the actual suitcase.
This area caught my eye going both ways. It was like a miniature mountain range. I don't know if those formations are natural or the result of some kind of mining type operation.
After that it got dark and suddenly it occurred to me that the glass in a headlight does more than just protect the bulb, it shapes the beam. The packing tape that I was using didn't do any of that. My headlight made a slight spot on the ground and would occasionally illuminate a low hanging tree branch, but was otherwise worthless. I rode slower and slower as not to outrun the light. I wanted to call up the GPS and have it find me a quicker route to the park, but I was afraid of getting on a big highway with no light so I dutifully followed the trail. By 8:30 it was officially, very dark. I was only 10 or 12 miles from the park, but I was moving very slow. I stopped to call my wife and thought I heard some extra noise when I shut off the engine.
It gets worse. When I restarted the engine there was a definite, loud clatter coming from the valve train. I was definitely in trouble. It was pitch black, I was hours from home, miles from my campsite and about to have major engine trouble. I rode on slowly trying to ignore the clatter that occasionally got worse then better. Then it started to lose power. I thought it might be the plug fouling from lugging the engine so slowly, but I was sure that I would never get it started again if it died. I had to give it more and more throttle to keep it running until I had it all the way open.
The engine was bucking and surging and sounded like a two cycle that is running so rich it misses every other stroke. After a couple of miles it suddenly picked up and started running slightly better but still hurt. I ran stop signs, passed a car in an intersection and used the shoulder to merge once I got to the highway to keep from stalling the engine. I pulled into the park, stopped the bike at the same spot we started the day from and tried to soak it all in.
The office was closed so I got one of those 20oz beers, my flashlight some tools and started in on the engine.
It was a long day, but I managed to get a buzz and get some sleep.
It was just as hopeless in the morning. The cam bearing let go and spread the parts around the engine. Most stayed in the rocker cover or stuck to the stator magnet coil thing.
The stator was shorting on that gob of bearing. That explains the poor running that I thought was the plug.
The problem was the cam bearing came apart, the cam dropped down and killed the water pump seals filling the crank case with anti freeze. The cam bearings are sealed so it wasn't a lack of oil, it just died on its own.
So I called my wife and she started a seven hour drive West to rescue me.
Before she left she told me to buy a new bike that wouldn't strand me so she wouldn't keep having to come get me.
Well, at least you got a green light on a new bike out of the deal.
Dude you have a great wife. You should definitely get a new bike. But on anther positive note you are a trooper. You dealt with a few bad breaks and keep on going. Hope you have some better luck.
I think the puppy might have gotten hold of them at some point.
You definitely had an adventure didn't you?!
If you had said that your significant other was your girlfriend I would have said MARRY HER! But since you did..good choice.
It was perfect for the high speed dirt road dual sporting that makes up the TAT. I rode it all over nearby, took it to Florida for some big trips and even rode it to work some, but stuff was in the way and I never got the consecutive time off to plan a trip in 2010. I started racing the 450 more and hurt myself bad enough in 2011 that I got back surgery and 6 weeks off instead of a trip. I did make the most of my down time and was able to research carbon fiber construction and made a rally style fairing for my bike.
The stars aligned in 2012, I had a ton of vacation and an awesome reacher bike with a fairing that makes the miles melt away while still allowing for single track action. My next trip was planned for early July to make it all the way to Utah but I got greedy.
I found out that Sam re-routed TN (and MS). I bought the new maps placed the tracks with the old ones, connected them with a route through Deals Gap and the Blue ridge parkway and planned an epic loop around TN:
The north trail is the old TAT that starts in Jellico, the south trail is the new TAT that starts in Tellico Plains.
I planned a 5 day ride that would require an exhaustive pace around 300 miles per day. We would take the old trail East, go south and take the new trail West. I was well prepared for the trip with the same gear as 2009 but an added Thermarest, stove and percolator.
I rooked my friend Adam into joining on his BMW 650. His heavier bike with sloppy suspension and street tires handicap his superior riding skills enough for us to ride at about the same pace. We started on Familiar Mississippi roads. I forgot my camera which sucked in every way. I have to rely on Adam's pictures and a handful from my phone camera (which i couldn't get to recharge) for this report.
But before we got to Tennessee Adam's chain up and fell off.
He was able to adjust it but was a bit concerned that it was at the limits of adjustment. It was also showing a bit of cord but we were already 35 miles into 1000 so we couldn't turn back.
We got into Tennessee where there are houses or farms everywhere and every driveway seems to have a dog. Since I had the maps and was riding in front, the dogs would start out running after me. I would honk my horn, slow down swerve and kick trying to lead them on but eventually they would give up an lock on to Adam. One little terrier was tenacious. When Adam stuck his boot out to push the dog away the dog went under his boot, rolled over a couple of times and was back on his feet biting at his back tire.
When we reached civilization (Boliver) Adam wanted to get some stuff to address his chain. We went to Auto Shack to get a file to cut the old chain and some longer bolts for his adjuster. Adam wanted to buy a master link too. I asked the cashier if there was a motorcycle shop in town and was told there was a "kinda sorta one" nearby.
We followed their directions and when I spotted this I KNEW we were among friends.
But it turned out we were going down there.
To the oldest building in Boliver.
The owner told us to "come on in and look around"
When he found time to show us all of his marvelous accomplishments...
we discussed chain sizes (did you know a 640o-ring is the same as a #5?) his old XR650 (on site) his new CR500, the Z50 XL70 and XR80 that his grandson had ridden to great success and the trophies that littered (literally) the loft of his business. None of the bikes in the shop had a tank or seat so it made them hard to identify.
It turned out that he didn't have any O-Ring chains because the locals wouldn't spend the money for them but he had a <i>section</i> of O-ring chain that we could take to his bench grinder and relieve the o-rings.
After 45 minutes or so I assumed that he had told Adam that he didn't have the master link and Adam was too nice to leave with all of the untold stories but it turned out that we just weren't done hearing the stories that needed to be told.
We finally broke free with a $5 master link. The proprietor never once asked where we were going or what we were riding.
A bit delayed we moved on to the usual TN hazzards.
I have ridden this part before and this path is slippery.
So I pussed out and walked the KTM accross.
Adam rode the crossing but he did it really slowly and dragged his feet. Pussy.
We kept moving east and came to a road blocked by a logging truck backing into a lot. There was a lady in a Mustang waiting but since we were on a gravel road I skipped to the front of the line so we wouldn't have to pass her once we started moving.
We got to one of these slick water crossings;
I tried to avoid it by crossing in the ditch and the chick who is apparently a relative of Colin McRae came flying past in the Mustang, sprayed me with a wave of water and drifted off down the gravel.
I tried to ride accross the last crossing but the front kept washing so I got off and guided it accross. Once on the other side I found this:
We finished our 300 mile day at Davy Crocket State PArk in Lawrenceburg then set out to look for libations. We rode all over town even to a grocery store looking, then we back-tracked to a place I I.D.d on the way in.
I was tired from riding and the 6 tall boys. We slept late, way too late, then made coffee, then rode to the Polaris dealer to look for a tire for Adam's BMW.
They had one 17"
It's a bad boy.
We were back on the trail by 11:00 just 9 more hours to our destination. This section of the trail could be described as
Ride 1 mile of two lane road,
Turn onto a highway,
Ride 1/4 mile,
For 300 miles.
We rode a highway that paralleled a creek for a while. At one point I scared up some big birds who flew up and over me and I saw one of them shit. A bit later we stopped in the shade to take some surreptitious pictures of a real live Chain Gang.
These guys were working spreading gravel on a bridge or something in their off time.
I love the "Jail Bird Blue Bird" in the background.
While we were cooling off I noticed something on the back of my bike. It was pink and slimy. I imagined hitting some road kill and kicking it up on the bike but it looked fresh. Finally Adam tasted it (or maybe got close enough to smell it) and determined that it was fish.
We were puzzled for a while but I eventually remembered the birds and the creek and surmised that the birds must have been enjoying a Sushi lunch and tried to take some with them but dropped a sizable hunk on my bike.
We rode and rode and rode. For a while it was the suburbs of Nashville where we saw some hot stay at home moms and there was even an attack cat. We rode through several tree farms sucking up state government subsidies.
Our destination was Frozen Head State Park 300 miles from our start but 200 miles in we went through Rock Island State park and wished we were stopping. The old maps had us crossing an awesome looking bridge that was now pedestrian only so we sought out an alternative route. I missed a turn and caught something coming at me from the corner of my eye. I assumed it was a deer passing through but on further review it was a cow out to kill me.
A large calf had ended up outside of its fence and was chilling with other cattle on the side of the road when it was spooked by our bikes and jumped off the hill and into the road just in front of me to the point I thought I was going to either hit it or be crushed by it. Having grown up around cows and watching PBR I know that full sized bulls can jump a fence and a calf can run like hell.
Adam nearly passed out from laughing so hard.
The next section was probably the best of the ride, gravel roads, big hills picturesque scenery... We got to this familiar spot that makes all of the ride reports.
I stopped on the bridge to look at it and the bike didn't restart. I immediately thought "fuel pump" but didn't want to believe it. we pushed the bike into the entrance of the creek landing and Adam went down to make friends with some locals. Since it was Thursday afternoon they were all drinking and getting ready to go party.
They asked me if I wanted a beer and I answered honestly. I think we ended up drinking 5 or 6 between us plus ate some grilled chicken and even took a big bag of chicken with us. They also gave us solid advice on where to buy liquor, where to camp and how far away the bars were. I finally got the KTM started, rode it around the area, lost my cell phone charge cord and we took off into the increasingly dark sky.
The fuel pump petered out again in front of this store outside of Crossville, TN.
We bought some beers, made some phone calls and cursed the darkness. The gps found us a KOA 25 miles away so when the fuel pump started working again, we made our way towards it. It died again, Adam went to check it out while I stayed behind and started drinking. I got it started again and finally rode to the campground late and cold.
Like this except dark and colder.
It was a pretty nice place. The manager came around in the morning to tell us his motorcycling stories and all of the dirty jokes he knew. He let us use the porch of the cabin to the left to dry out our stuff even though my camp stove scorched the plastic picnic table. It was very cold that night and I used the stove mostly for warmth.
Adam was quickly losing faith in our ability to repair the 690 and was arranging for his significant other to come pick us up but in the meantime we had a few hours to make our way East so she wouldn't have to drive so far. We plotted a route did the now familliar process of turning the key and listening for the pump, started the bike and made it to the interstate. The idea was to get to the interstate, then get AMA roadside assistance to take the bike 50 miles east but the bike was running well and lasted longer than I expected so we started off down Hwy 70 instead. It died a few minutes later. While we were coming up with the next plan. Out of nowhere a guy pulls up in a truck, tells us he also owns a 690 and was just saying "hi" as he is on his way home to leave for a trip. Fast forward 30 minutes;
I am forever indebted to ADV rider husa for taking time out of his day and driving 40 miles out of his way (and back) to deliver us to Performance Supercycle in Cookville, TN. He accepted nothing but a handshake and a few stories for the huge favor.
At Performance Supercycle they of course didn't have the fuel pump in stock but they are experts with the fuel injected Husabergs and newer KTMs and were able to rebuild mine with an aftermarket parts kit. We cooled our heels for 3 or so hours while they worked on the 690.
We read their magazines, touched every bike in the store 5 times, fingered all of the accessories, looked at the used tire pile and even read the owners manual for a Chinese scooter that had hilarious engrish. Like "Superexcelent Performance." If only I had a camera, that manual was comedy gold.
My credit card was dented but the bike ran great. We rode 120 miles or so through Nashville to meet Kim but not before meeting another fan.
His concern was my expired tags. It's a long story but I mailed the check and they sent it back because the taxes were changed in between when they mailed the bill and when I paid it. In any other business that would be fraud. Anyway I pretended to be surprised and he was genuinely surprised that the insurance was paid up.
Two miles later we met up with Kim at a truck stop with a fast food restaurant, Tied down the bikes and went inside where I bought dinner.
But not before our new best friend the state trooper came by to tell us about his motorcycling history. I think his plan when he stopped me was to break the ice so he could tell us about the time he did an iron butt on a CB1000. He genuinely was a nice guy, I'm just not that into cops or being pulled over on the interstate for trifling bullshit.
Kim and Adam dropped me at an exit about 45 miles from home in cold-driving rain. It was then that I discovered that the AFX-FX39 Dualsport helmet sucks ass in cold-driving rain. It fogged instantly and I couldn't crack the visor just a little to let in a little air like you can on every other full face helmet on the planet. Whenever I met a car, I had to open the thing all the way and fill my face with rain and cold in order to see. At least I had the rest of the weekend off and didn't have to sleep in a tent in that weather.
You might want to rethink this, given your results...
Man, what a story!!!! :rofl I agree, next move is to toss those flip-flops. Of course, if that is the good luck on your trips, I can't even imagine what bad luck is.....:eek1
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