Bikes loaded and ready:
Bye Rick, Girl dog and Black dog...
We're on our way!
Now, since we were already south of Knoxville, we elected to skip the first hundred or so miles of the TAT since it would have meant driving north to Jellico, only to follow the TAT back south, so I pieced together a route that hooked up with the TAT by traveling almost due west from Rick's
Do we lose bragging rights to officially having done the TAT in its entirety? Sure.
... But I don't think I did so bad with my route:
Crossing the Clinch river near Oak ridge, where I used to go with the rowing team on our spring break to train:
First gas stop where we met a couple of ADV riders who were out riding sport bikes on twisties and wished us well on our journey.
I don't remember their screen names, or real names:
Didn't even remember to get a photo until they were taking off. Raises an interesting point of where my head was at (can't speak for LDF). So much prep and planning. Attention to details. Anticipation. Anxiety. You know how you're not supposed to do anything to your bike the week before a big ride? Well, we definitely broke that rule. How far would we be able to ride each day? Was Albuquerque too ambitious? How technical? how challenging? where would we find food? gas? Where would we be sleeping that night?
It really took a couple of days before we started to relax and enjoy. Remember to stop and take out the camera. Appreciate the scenery. Savor the curves. In retrospect my head wasn't in the game. Or rather, I wasn't seeing the forest for the trees.
This photo is a perfect example of that: I had chosen a road which was closed. If you look to the right, there's a sign for an overlook. We were so focused on rerouting and getting on our way, and not losing time, and making up ground, that not only did we fail to take the time to ride what, two minutes out of our way to spend 3 minutes enjoying what was I'm sure a nice view, but we (I at least), didn't even see the sign until now when I'm looking at the photo.
But after a few days, we eventually got a handle on how much distance we could cover in a day, it took much less time to make and break camp. We developed a system for figuring where we would eat dinner and sleep each evening... And we really started to relax and enjoy.
We eventually hooked up with the TAT proper, and in fact, TN, while having nice and twisty secondary roads, is 80-90% paved.
But it was good for LDF to get used to a bike that was completely new to her. And she did great.
So somewhere near Chattanooga,
we found a campground, drove about 7 miles into Manchester for groceries, beer and gas, and settled in for the night.
Whispering Oaks campground, I think... although there was a state campground nearby at Old Stone Fort State Park.