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Old 08-08-2009, 01:46 PM   #1
BigWan OP
The Cripple Maker
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Joined: May 2007
Location: Ocho Doble Up-Country, CA
Oddometer: 354
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



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 screwed with this post 08-19-2009 at 07:43 AM
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Old 08-08-2009, 02:35 PM   #2
BigWan OP
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Joined: May 2007
Location: Ocho Doble Up-Country, CA
Oddometer: 354
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.


BigWan screwed with this post 08-11-2009 at 12:16 PM
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Old 08-08-2009, 04:08 PM   #3
Vinnie the Snake
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Joined: Jul 2006
Location: Broken Arrow, Ok
Oddometer: 1,094
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.

Yea, Yea, Yea, 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.
2007 - Vintage TAT - Ok, NM, Co

2008 - Vintage TAT - Ut, Nv, Or

2009 - Vintage TAT - NC, Tn, Ms, Ar

2010 - Unfinished Business Tour - TAT, CDR Shadow of the Rockies
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Old 08-08-2009, 04:22 PM   #4
BigWan OP
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Location: Ocho Doble Up-Country, CA
Oddometer: 354
Thanks, vinnie!
I was getting worried, hearing nothing but crickets...
yup, bet that's 100 humid degrees, too...
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Old 08-08-2009, 04:55 PM   #5
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great pics
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Old 08-08-2009, 05:02 PM   #6
BigWan OP
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Joined: May 2007
Location: Ocho Doble Up-Country, CA
Oddometer: 354
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.

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Old 08-08-2009, 06:32 PM   #7
BigWan OP
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Joined: May 2007
Location: Ocho Doble Up-Country, CA
Oddometer: 354
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!

BigWan screwed with this post 08-08-2009 at 07:17 PM
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Old 08-24-2009, 06:31 PM   #8
Joined: Aug 2008
Location: Monument, CO
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Great ride report. I've ridden those passes on the Alpine Loop in CO between Lake City and Ouray. 2-up on a 950? well done!

Question for ya. What can you tell us about the gas can panniers in this photo:

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Old 09-06-2009, 10:35 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jcd1111
... What can you tell us about the gas can panniers in this photo:
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Old 09-07-2009, 05:39 AM   #10
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Location: Greenville NH
Oddometer: 275
Simply awesome!

What a great adventure! I am very glad you didnt gloss over the frustrations and just tell the fun parts. It really keeps the sense of adventure and helps others in preparation for the TAT. You both have a ton of determination and grit. Awesome!
If youre gonna be dumb ya gotta be tough.

[COLOR=Red]2008 BMW R1200 GS Adventure
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Old 09-07-2009, 08:13 AM   #11
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Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Looosyana, USA
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What a unbelievable ride and report.
I started with nothin', and still have most of it.
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Old 09-10-2009, 06:13 PM   #12
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Joined: Aug 2009
Location: behind BigWan, trying to keep my feet tucked in :)
Oddometer: 1,792
an epilogue of sorts...

Hey Guys
Thanks again for the kind comments - it's nice that people are still reading this! I think I’ve addressed most of the questions (tell me about the gas cans, etc.) via PM, but if I missed something, feel free to let me know. I’m friendly!

I recently received a wonderful email from my 90 year old grandfather - he read the whole ride report and loved it. He wrote: “Wow, what an adventure that must have been. Sounds like so much fun. I wished it had been me on that trip.” Later, when I saw Grandad in person, he told me again how he had wanted a motorcycle his whole life but never got one. He said he had enjoyed traveling vicariously through our report and added, “I rode along with you as I read...”
I love that about all of these ADV ride reports and I was so happy to be able to share a bit of the dream with my Grandad. So, in case I forgot to mention it earlier - thanks to all of you FFs for inspiring us to do the TAT and write a report!

As a side note, Matt always wanted to take Grandad for a spin on the 950 but I was nervous about letting my husband, The Cripple Maker, anywhere near my dear grandfather. I’m pretty sure that NOT having a bike helped Grandad make it to 90!

Speaking of cripples, several of you have asked how I’m doing - I’m healing well, thanks . I never did get that birthday MRI (and I put off seeing a doctor as long as possible due to concerns about our crappy health insurance), but I finally went to see an orthopaedist last week and things seem to be okay with my ankle and knee. At the very least, there doesn't seem to be ligament damage and I don't have any unhealed fractures. They’re still sore and they swell up over silly things like crouching down to rummage through the kitchen cabinets, but it seems like it will just take time. I’ve been forced to sleep on my right side for 6 weeks now and it’s getting really old, so I hope my stupid ribs mend soon. They still give me a twinge if I reach up or bend down or breath deeply; but it’s much, much better now. Thank you for asking!
(Oh, and Matt is just fine - no lingering after effects from landing on his head. Luckily, he has a neck like a bull)

There have also been questions about the state of the 950...
Oh. The 950. Our loyal steed. Matt calls it a “she” but I always think of it as a boy. Shemale? Hmmm. I’ll go with “she.”
Well, the bike just didn’t seem happy anymore, so we sent her to go live on a farm. Don’t worry, she’ll be happier there. It’s a big, wide open farm with lots of other bikes to play with. All around this farm there’s nothing but nice twisties and dirt. Lots of fun, rocky, uphills and downhills and water crossings galore...the roads are scenic and endless and there’s NEVER any slick mud or silt...

Yeah. Doesn't that sound nice?

No. After much debate, the bike, which had better “health” insurance than either of us did, was examined by a specialist and deemed too damaged to fix. The insurance company totaled it. Matt was able to pull most of the farkles, including our renazco seat, but had to give up his woody’s wheels. Sigh. It was a sad, sad day.

I put together a little 950 memorial for matt...
here’s the bike, when we first met

Look how shiny and new she was - she had been pre-loved, but came from one of those “adult rider, never been in the dirt, dealer maintained” kind of ads. Dreamy.
She had no idea what she was getting into...

Squaw Ridge



And, vice versa (he had no idea what he was getting into)...
The bike gave Matt some problems initially (typical 950 issues) and I remember him thinking he had made a huge mistake.

But, eventually he got all the kinks ironed out and she became a perfect, dependable, reliable companion. Though, maybe a tad bit homicidal. Matt and I had a few laughs as we remembered all the times the bike tried to kill him.

Actually, matt says I’m his good luck charm - when I’m around, he doesn’t get as hurt. She's too busy going after me. Haha.
Let's just focus on the good memories, shall we?

Highway 1

road to San Borja

San Francisquito

the road to San Evaristo

Oregon backcountry

And, more recent times...

Our Beloved Bike 2005.5 - 2009
Rest in Peace

Now what?
We talked about not getting another bike until next year. It seemed like the prudent thing to do.
Then, matt started talking about a 950 super enduro.
Uh huh. Right.
I'll let you know what happens, once we get it all settled. We haven't even received the check from the insurance company, yet...
It will be a week or 2.
OSO LOCO!! osoooo!

Oso bored? you can find the rest of our ride reports HERE
make stupid your favorite!
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Old 09-01-2012, 05:04 PM   #13
Joined: Jul 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
Oddometer: 499
Great RR! We were also looking at the big KTM for our touring. I hope it works well for you guys.

Good luck!
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:59 PM   #14
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Location: Chandler, AZ
Oddometer: 516
Something about those Wans!

So after having read some reports and heard about the Wans, I had to go check out some of their ride reports. Seems that this was the first one you guys wrote? So, I thought I would start here. Thank you for the ride report! Awesome job!
Currently Owned: 2005 Triumph Tiger 955i
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Old 01-14-2014, 11:20 AM   #15
Joined: Jan 2014
Location: arkansas
Oddometer: 3
Thumb great ride report

My wife and I just finished this report and thoroughly enjoyed it. We are just a couple of old, dull, boring Goldwingers...............but if our bones weren't so brittle and our knee joints so unstable we would be reallly tempted to give it a try......................

thanks for all your work
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