About a year and a half ago, I began wondering if I could cover more ground, get to more places and carry less weight on my back, if I had a Dual Sport motorcycle. I have been backpacking with friends for a couple years and while it is fun, healthy and we have a great time...it is sometimes difficult and depending on terrain/elevation gains etc., we certainly cant travel as far nor as quickly as we would sometimes like. I joined ADV after talking to another friend of mine about the possibility of getting a motorcycle. He was a member here and told me there was a great deal of information available here and that the community was great and the people here helpful. (I would find this out while planning this trip)
Long story short, after reading opinions from young and old (I am in the older group) regarding bike size, light vs heavier, distance and recreation etc...I picked up a 2009 Kawasaki Super Sherpa (250cc) late summer of 2011. (yeah I know..its a girls bike...whatever) I did this all the while fantasizing about the TAT, which I thought would be a great little adventure ride.
Longer story even shorter, I convinced two of my other friends to get bikes (One an XT225 the other a KLX300R) and one of them, Jim, (with the KLX) was able to get the ten days off we would need to ride the TAT from Salida, CO thru Oregon. Now it should be noted that Jim picked up the used KLX about 13 days before we needed to have the bikes shipped out to Colorado. More on that later.
So, after replacing two tires on the Sherpa and not having had much luck finding a rack that I liked for my gear, I gave a last minute call out to a gal named Kristen. (member here at ADV) her husband had made some racks for the Sherpa and I decided to see if I could get one before my trip...which was less than 12 days away at this point. Her husband Ken said that given that shipping time, he simply did not think he had enough time to make the rack and get it to me. I understood this, as I had given him virtually no notice. I sent an email back jokingly saying that he could simply just take his wife's off and send it out to me...haha. The next day I had an email saying that the rack was being shipped, and he had taken it off his wife's bike! Are you kidding me? Damn nice people..ADV Riders. Big thank you to Kristen and Ken.
My bike was squared away at this point. (got the rack on the day before my shipper arrived to pick up the bikes) Jim's bike had been dropped off at my house prior to him taking off on a camping trip. He had done a few things to get it ready, but it needed some attention. So, front and rear brakes, new front tire/tube, clutch adjustments, etc etc. The bike was ready to go...and the shipper is literally driving up to get the bikes..whew!
I had arranged for shipping about 3 weeks prior and had used “U-Ship”. (had never heard of this/done this before) We ended up paying 700.00 dollars to ship the bikes (and a laaaaarge bag of gear/tools) to Colorado Springs, CO. I had been fortunate in getting a response back from several ADV Riders from Colorado, when I asked if someone could receive/”babysit” our bikes. Our very own ADV' Rider “Onlead” (Randy) ended up receiving the bikes, inspecting them upon arrival and handing off payment when they arrived. Thanks Randy!
THE JOURNEY BEGINS: Day 1
Jim and I left August 1st
from Sea-Tac Airport in WA and arrived in Denver, CO around 11 am.
Randy had already volunteered to pick us up at the airport (90 minutes from his house) and after a couple cell phone calls, we were loading our carry-on stuff into Randy's trunk and heading back to his place. The fact that Randy drove three hours total to take us to our bikes was not as big a deal for him as it was us. All of these kind gestures are HUGE when you are planning a trip like this...thanks again Randy.
We get to Randy's place and frankly, it is hot as the dickens!! I don't remember the temp, but I know it was not less than 90 degrees. Randy points to the blackened area just north of his place...some 500 yard away or so...where the fires that had made national news, and forced he and his wife to evacuate their house had barely stopped before claiming their neighborhood. Crazy! It takes longer than we thought to get bags packed, gear on the bikes, changed into riding clothes etc...so it is a couple of hours before we can get on the bikes and finally head out. Jim will have the GPS mounted to his bike and I will have the Roll Map mounted to mine. (Along with the supporting TAT maps) Randy put together a route for us, that would get us to Salida via a scenic/dirt ride. He printed out a map for us as well. He warned us about the “pink” gravel that they have out there telling us “not to go charging into any turns” until we get a feel for the gravel there. (He was right, it was a bit slick)
We thank Randy and we head out, glad to feel some wind as we ride..it is freaking hot! We fumble with the directions a bit, but it isn't long before we are enjoying a nice ride along “Shelf Road” in the shadow of Pike's Peak. Beautiful mountains, dirt road..wind cooling us off, it was great!
As we roll into the small (dying) town of Victor, I notice Jim's rear tire looks lowwww. We check it and sure enough, flat tire. A flat already!!?? The rear tire was new when he bought the bike and I simply had not checked the tube before the bikes shipped. I replaced three tires, checked three tubes...just not this one!
We happen to be next to an old car repair shop of sorts...old...dark..no lights on...looked like it had not seen business in decades. There is an air hose hanging on a hook on the wall in front of the shop, right next to the sidewalk. Is it possible???? We check the hose...its hooked up to a compressor ready for use..just like the old gas stations of days gone by!! (You know, the ones that left the hose out even when they were closed at night, so people could air up their tires.) Nice! A lady sees us and steps out of the shop. She tells us they are closed, but she lets us use an old wheel as a jack stand, so we pull the wheel and get the tire off. We check the tube...stupid “pinch flat”...tiny little pinch hole on the side of the tube. Whoever had changed the tire, was not proficient. ( I am convinced after reading many ride reports that many of the “repeat” flats experienced by folks during long trips are “pinch flats”) This was the only flat tire we would get during the more than 2,100 mile trip.
We throw a new tube in, put the tire/wheel back on and setting the bead...was noooo problem! Haha, gotta love that air hose! The husband see's us and tells us we can use his sink/soap inside the shop to wash up after we had changed the tire. Nice! Thank you! We leave Victor, CO and head towards Salida. We comment to each other that Victor, CO could have been a tiny town you would see in a horror film...it was a bit odd.
It is getting dark by now, and we are just outside of Salida when I tell Jim, I am so tired I am getting sloppy in my riding. It is about 9:45 We had been up since 4:45 am to get to the Airport early etc. The flight, the heat, the 16+ hour day...all conspired to wear us out. We stopped and stayed in a motel just shy of Salida. We threw our gear on the floor, turned the A/C up all the way and after a hot shower we were ready to call it a night.
Tomorrow would be a longer day than we anticipated. It would literally be the start of the TAT for us. 3 passes over 10,000 feet, rain, lightning and just a lot of riding! (a lot more photos too!)
More to come