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Old 05-24-2009, 06:51 PM   #16
BLINKER 152
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i'm in! sweet report , keep it comin. TAT gets better every day my friend its the best way to see this country for sure and meet some great people off the beaten path. when in doubt... keep goin' forward.
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:09 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by maynard58
Great report, were did you get the seat pad ?
The pad is from Alaska Leather. http://www.alaskaleatheronline.com/servlet/StoreFront

If you order use the code "deadsheep" (I think it was)... They are fans of the ADV crowd. :)

Great people to deal with as well. I called in my order.
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:15 PM   #18
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Thanks everyone... and I agree... the people you meet on a journey like this is probably second only to the ride itself.

You always read in these reports how a rider meets someone who is helpful or extra friendly... but it is true. All it takes is to get your bike out on the TAT and you will meet good people along the way. And you will have a story to tell.
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Old 05-24-2009, 08:28 PM   #19
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Old 05-24-2009, 10:11 PM   #20
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Old 05-24-2009, 10:53 PM   #21
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DAY 3: Continued.

Let me back up a second because this will partly fill y'all in on why I made some of the decisions I did during this part of the ride I am about to tell you about.

My new friend BigDogScott here on ADV and his buddy were a day or so ahead of me on the TAT. Me running solo and them in a pair, I had the idea in the back of my mind to catch up with them, ride some of the TAT, solidify a new friendship and see where the trail took us together. I was looking forward to the solo adventure which is why I did not join them on the way to Jellico, but at the same time I wanted to meet my new friends and share war stories.

I am not sure how much Scott would want me to talk about this so I will just keep it brief. Scott and his buddy crossed the MS river and was turning left on the TAT when he was struck from behind by a careless driver. I will leave the details to him if he chooses to post them but he was ejected off his bike requiring medflight to a hospital in Little Rock, AR. HE IS FINE for the most part. But his TAT trip was over at that point.

When I got his voicemail that day, my heart sank. I was on track to meetup with them that afternoon - hopefully. But my days of looking for and seeing their knobby tracks ahead of me were over.

I ask that everyone keep Scott in their thoughts and prayers as he recovers.

Hang in there buddy. You'll be back on the TAT in no time.


Okay..... So back to the story....

Somewhere, I missed a turn on the TAT. The GPS feature "auto rerouting" had me take this little trail to the left. A quick look at the map shows it cutting out pretty good bend in the trail possible even saving a few miles... since the entire area is beautiful, I did not mind the new route.

It starts out nice enough:





The GPS showed my route and I thought to get a pic a little late, but you can see I was not far off the main route. Before this pic, I managed to cut out a pretty good loop in the main trail.



The railroad rock trail started to narrow before I emerged out on the gravel road. This stuff was loose!



I eventually crossed the TAT route and the GPS still had me on a different route which in retrospect, I should have investigated further. I had success with the first 'off road' excursion so why not keep going right???

Here is the second trail.



The soft sloppy fairly undisturbed mud hole at the beginning should have been a clue. I saw bike tracks stop here and turn back. But the GPS said it was only .5 miles through here and back to my TAT.

I got off the bike and hiked in 100 yards or so. It looked fine, so I hopped on the pig and we made our way in.

LESSON LEARNED NUMBER ONE. - HIKE IT! Explore what you are about to embark on if you are not 100% certain of the outcome... at least when you are in the middle of nowhere and solo. (I'll recap these at the end - for the studious.)

Not far past where I hiked to, I saw some rock ledges approaching. I did not have time to look at the GPS screen because I was too busy picking my line and avoiding deep quad tracks and so I just bounced down them. It was a two step drop. And they were substantial. It was here, I told myself that I was committed to this route. I did not know how I would climb back up those on this bike.

So on I went.

Sorry I don't have too many pics of all this. I was "on the clock" you might say. Just too busy keeping the bike up and down the trail to worry with taking pics.

The trail did get relatively easy from time to time and grabbed this pic when I stopped for a drink of water.



The trail is now a full blown quad trail. Ruts, rocks, roots, mud... all things one goes in search of on a fast 2 stroke or nice light and nimble DS bike. It is one recovery after another. Sweat is pouring down my face inside my helmet and every yard is an accomplishment. It was like wrestling with a bigger, tougher opponent who has you severely out skilled.

LESSON LEARNED NUMBER 2 - Elevation changes. If the area is wet... and you are in elevation changes... THERE WILL BE WATER pooled at the bottom. Water in the form of mud. I either skirted or powered through several mud holes ranging from the innocent to the bike eaters.

Finally I emerge into a small clearing. I stop. Catch my breath and assess my situation.



I know right??? A little late for the assessing step...

What you don't see in that pic is a fork in the trail. I kill the bike and study the GPS. That .5 mile trail --- well that bitch was a ghost in the machine my friends. It is no where on my GPS screen now! :eek:

If I zoom out far enough I can see that the TAT is on my right. So I decided take the fork on the right. But just in case I was wrong I continued straight... reason being the trail to right was it was a rocky descend to not one but TWO huge sloppy mud abysses. Think wolf in sheep's clothing. They looked tame enough at first but when I investigated, I saw that there was no way my loaded bike with my skills could get through them without burying.

The trail that continued on straight was a dead end.



And that stuff looks dry. It was - kinda - but once your bike peels away the dry looking top layer, it is a sticky mess.

Back to the trail on the right....


I grew up in South Arkansas with a four wheeler from the age of 10. I can read mud pretty good but I thought I would test it anyway.

I found a sturdy stick and probed out to see how soft the bottom was. Yep... SOFT. The stick just kept sinking the harder I pushed it into the mud. There was a go around for the quads on the first one so I walked the bike around it... but not before almost getting stuck.

Check out the pics: Just keep in mind the rule of pics not doing justice to the real things. If you have overcome crazy terrain and then took pics of it, you know what I am talking about.



This pic was taken while I was walking around surveying my situation. Remember those rock ledges I stumbled down earlier? Well those things were the reason I knew I could not go back the way I came.

So I devised a plan of attack and went about it. I rode the bike down the hill and got her stopped right before the first mud hole. I tried to take the go around but even the elevated "dry" area was soft and the front wheel just slid into the hole. I rev the bike riding the friction zone while trying to keep her balance. (I'm only 5'9" so this is more than a simple task with this bike loaded.) The rear tire begins to spin and dig. Panic number one.

Real quick and with cat like reflexes, I position myself more the front of the bike, twist the throttle and ride the clutch... the Lady Dak roars to life and pounces out of the mud.... MUCH to my relief. I probably looked like some kind of DS contortionist out there.



Where my rut is there was high ground when I started. But it was just too close to the edge. The space to the right looks really wide now and I am not sure why I did not go further to the left. There must have been a reason, but I don't remember.

Time to gain my compsure for the next hole. There was no go around really that I saw. Trees were down around me, but there was a high ledge to left and right of the mud hole. The right ledge was narrow and had a huge rock in the way. Plus if I had chosen that side, I would have had to walk in the sloppy suck mud that was that hole. The left look tough but promising.

I took the left.



The only tricky part here was not losing grip on the bike right toward the end when I had to squeeze by the tree you see there. The ground was sturdy and I made it through just fine.



The trail opened up to a field again. I stopped and drank some more water. Rechecked the GPS and found no sign of where I was at. This trail did not make even the topo maps.

There was formidable sand to be had as well. This trail gives you your monies worth!



This was a welcomed bit of trail.



I started noticing some fairly significant elevation changes and I was headed down... I know what this means by now.

I should note that I am almost three miles into this .5 mile trail now. I was pissed.



Under controlled circumstances this would have not only been fun, but something I would go in search of. But this was not my reason today. I was making good time on a wonderful trail hoping to meet up with my new friends real soon.

The Zumo is robbing me of this!!!

Anyway... I continue on through some tricky sand that just does not end. I manage to keep the bike up but I don't know how. I did not have much speed. I just gave it lots of throttle every time I thought I was about to go down. It seemed to work.

Finally a huge HUGE tree blocked my path. I stop.

When I kickstand the bike, the bitch sinks into the sand and I barely grab it in time before it falls over. I heave the bike up loosing my footing and fighting for every scrap of ground I could keep. I felt like I was holding some hill in a huge battle. THIS TRAIL WAS NOT GOING TO SEE THE SIDE OF MY BIKE. N-O-T , T-O-D-A-A-A-Y , S-I-R!!!!!

I keep it up and kick a nearby piece of bark over to use a foot for my stand.

There was a vague go around someone had made with a quad but instead of going around, I decided to do what I should have done in the beginning. SCOUT THIS TRAIL!

LESSON LEARNED NUMBER THREE! - DON'T no matter what you think, how you feel, or how big of a hurry you are in run as you scout. I guess I was getting pretty damn anxious to get out of here and I jogged the trail as I scouted. I began to hear water running. ****.

Sure enough a huge swell of a creek was flooded and totally obscuring what was left of the trail. I mean... there was no way to even tell which way the trail went through this flood. It looked deep and I knew sand was under there somewhere. NO WAY could I even attempt to cross this.

I reach for my camera to take a pic and the damn thing had fallen out of my pocket. ****!

I quickly look for a bushwacking avenue around this thing and there was no way... NONE. There were huge house sized boulders to my right and I could only see water straight ahead and to my left.

Panic knocks at the door as I walk back to my bike.

I am facing the reality of having to go back the way I came.

Each and every sand pit, mud hole, rock ledge, rut, and root I had tackled I would have to battle once more.

It was like something out of the show Lost. I felt like the 'Island' was designed to beat me.

I found my camera near the bike and began to make my way out.

Surprisingly, getting out was much easier save one experience. That last big mud hole you saw above.

I had to bushwack my way around that thing. I scouted a fairly good path that consisted of tree dragging, hooking saplings behind other trees, kick rocks and chasing off a snake... that last bit was an accident. :eek:

I grabbed my trusty steed by the bars and we set off both on our own power across this rutty field. I entered the woods right here.



And we were to travel through here: I had already cleared out the majority of the blockages.



The remaining parts of the trail seemed easier the second time. I carried a lot more speed with me and only nearly lost it once.

I saw those rock ledges coming up. I could not believe I was already back to these things. I had been dreading them and praying for help the entire time I was riding back.

What I could not see going down them was this nice little line to climb up them. I had I seen that, I would have turned around A LONG TIME AGO. The drop off each one was so far, I did not think I could back up them. It never even crossed my mind as a possibility.

But sure 'nuff there was a way... I rolled up to the first one and gave her the juice... the "too heavy, terrible trail bike, that is the Dakar (as everyone says)" rolled up that ledge like it was nothing. The second one was more tricky and I gave a bit too much power bringing the front end up but I rode it down and I was done!

Around the next bend... GRAVEL!!!!!

I got out of there and was so elated!!! I wanted to get off the bike and make gravel angels but instead, I powered on out... I back tracked only getting turned around once. But this one was worth it because in my celebration, I actually jumped the bike for the first time.

There were several small burms across the trail one after the other... each one I got a little more confident and the last, I yanked hard on the bars and gave her the go juice. The bike came to life and for a second, I was flying. Just like when we were kids and we jumped our bicycles the first time. It was exhilarating. I admit that I did not mean to quite do that. I did not think I would get so high and go so far. So from then on, I just played it safe.

I was in a big hurry at this point so I did not stop for any pics. But soon, I was back on the TAT - safe and sound. It was about 2 hours from in to out. My days distance and plans (however loose they were) were blown.

So to recap:

Lesson one - HIKE IT: If you find yourself in a similar situation with similar conditions, hike the trail... just do it. I figured, I was up to whatever challenge... and it was only .5 miles right??? Just do it... especially if you are on somewhat of a schedule.

Lesson two - ELEVATION CHANGES: IF it is wet and you are in an area with ups and downs, you will find water in the 'downs'. Some or eventually one will be impassible. Especially if you are on an unmarked quad trail after days of heavy rain. Duh....

Lesson three - RELAX!: Don't let the anxiety of the situation cause you to prematurely exhaust yourself. In my case, I wanted out of there. I did not mean to or even think to, but I found myself running in a fast jog while I was scouting the rest of the trail. That made my escape from the forest more difficult.

The rest, well as they say, is history...

More later.
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2009 Solo TAT Ride Report
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Old 05-25-2009, 12:51 AM   #22
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Day 3 - Continued.

Once I made my way out of the forest and back to the TAT, I was really feeling the pressure to make it as close to the MS border as I could.

You all know I had no plans per say on this trip, but I really wanted to meet up with Scott. I had been speaking with him via the phone everyday since I left home. And via email several times before that.

But anyway... I road the TAT for aways enjoying every minute of it. But I was somewhat rushed. I wanted to make up the time I had lost playing deep in the woods of Tennessee.

I emerged in Crab Orchard, TN (I think it was - I don't have my maps handy).



I crossed the tracks to the gas station and filled up. Grabbed a cold one and sat in the parking contemplating my next move.



After a short chat with a passer by chick and her friends - you know the usual stuff only thing different was it was a car load of girls wondering what the hell I was doing - I decided to try to make up some time and catch up to Scott and his buddy.

I could look back and say that I might regret pulling off the TAT here for a couple hours but knowing what I know now, I am glad I did. It allowed me to go further west.

I jumped on I-40 and super slabbed it Nashville where I headed south on 65 till I met the TAT again.

It was a boring ride. After having been on the TAT and other 'stuff' it near torture to get back up on the Tarmac.

After battling traffic in Nashville and a short jaunt down 65, I was back on the TAT! WooHoo!

Things had not changed much...

Another version of a TN bridge.





More TN pavement:



Cool little country store:



Growing up in AR and now living in TX, I sure miss trees



The Amish are interesting characters. Either they are very friendly or very "to themselves". I did not feel right taking pics of them, but I did get a buggy passing by:



I made my way to Lawrenceburg as the Zumo said it was the closest camp ground to me.

This is David Crockett State Park. And a great place to camp. I got in after hours of course, but the camp hosts were great. They radioed to Ranger on duty (they live in houses in the park) and she came to handle the formalities.





Interesting story... I stopped in town at a parts store to get the "lay of the land." I did not feel like another MRE tonight and wanted to find the local burger joint. While I was there, we were trying to determine if David Crockett had shower facilities. He did not know but his old friend was a Ranger out there. He could not locate her number since she was married now and he did not know her new name. He knew she just had a baby though.

The parts guy pointed me to a local burger joint and I left.

I headed over there and was met in the parking lot by an older couple chock full of questions.

THEM: "What kind of bike is that? A BMW? I thought they made cars?"

ME: "Well, they made airplane engines and after WWI, when the plant was demolished and post war rules stated they could not build 'war machines', they started making bikes, then years later made cars."

THEM: "You don't say. Young fellar, what brings you out here on that contraption?"

ME: --- insert the typical story --- "Do you know if the park has shower facilities?"

THEM: "Don't know... but a ranger lady there should know if you get there before they close."

I thank them for the conversation and make my way inside for an over priced and rather tasteless burger. Ugg... But I use the time to phone my good buddy and visit with him. He tells me in the meantime he has phoned my wife to check on my family for me and offer them anything if they need him. Now, he is about 8 hours away from us. But this is the kind of friend he is. And at the drop of a hat, he would make the drive to take care of my family. That is a true friend. We met a few years ago while building Jeeps. He volunteered his garage and tools and help to put my lift on. We have been friends ever since. Moral: Sometimes you don't have to embark on an epic journey to meet those 'good people'.

After my dismal dinner, I headed to the camp ground wishing I had just MRE'd it.

I got there and the camp hosts pointed me to a RV spot right next to the shower house. I cautiously asked what the rate was... He said... oh don't worry, I am sure the Ranger will just charge you for a tent. After Indian Head camp ground debacle, I still worried the cost. It is a matter of principle.

Soon the Ranger showed up. Good people.

She said that tent camping was $8 and if I wanted to pitch at an RV spot, that was no problem. They had ice coolers there and I thanked her, paid her, and set out for ice. She inquired and then said hop in, I'll take you to get ice. Well, the ice machine was empty. She politely asked me what the ice was for. I told her it was for a couple cold beers I had packed with me. She said... "Oh, don't tell me that... no alcohol in the State Park. But if you don't flash it around, I'll get you some ice."

She called her husband he brought me ice they had.

Wow. How friendly is that? Not only do they allow me to break the rules, but they aided in cooling down my 'hot' ones.... so that I may have COLD ONES.

We chatted, the three of us, about half an hour. She was amazed that so many people in town knew her (after I relayed the stories above to her) and we all got a chuckle out of it.

I showered, sipped my cold ones, left Scott a voicemail and retired for the evening.

FINALLY - End of Day 3.

What an adventure!
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Old 05-25-2009, 04:41 AM   #23
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Hey Phil, Great report keep it coming. I'm glad you made it further than I did. You really made some good time once you got going.
I am home now, I have to wear a back brace for 10 to 14 weeks, but at least I don't need surgery. Someday I will be back to finish the TAT.

Scott
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Old 05-25-2009, 06:50 AM   #24
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Great going

I'll be watching this one closely. I recently decided to standardize on the Dakar so I am very curious how it does off road. Are you running the standard sprockets? Can't wait til Colorado
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Old 05-25-2009, 07:17 AM   #25
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Keep it coming. Always like TAT stories. Hide the GPS and use roll chart and maps that Sam gives you. Much better. Uhhhh I just assume you still get the roll chart and maps with the package.
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Old 05-25-2009, 08:19 AM   #26
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Alright everybody...lemme have it....

What is the TAT???? I've even done a search on it (not too extensively), but can't find nuthing on it. So go ahead and give me your slams.

I'm definately NOT a noob to riding...even off road...just to this ADV stuff.

This looks like a ride I'd be interested in doing.
It sucks that part of why I'd like to get more into back roads riding is to get away from the frikken road traffic....and here BigDogScott gets nailed by a car??? WTF??? Very glad to hear he's gonna be OK.

You be careful out there. Ya better haul ass if you start to hear banjos playin'!!
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:04 AM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick46
Alright everybody...lemme have it....

What is the TAT???? I've even done a search on it (not too extensively), but can't find nuthing on it. So go ahead and give me your slams.

I'm definately NOT a noob to riding...even off road...just to this ADV stuff.

This looks like a ride I'd be interested in doing.
It sucks that part of why I'd like to get more into back roads riding is to get away from the frikken road traffic....and here BigDogScott gets nailed by a car??? WTF??? Very glad to hear he's gonna be OK.

You be careful out there. Ya better haul ass if you start to hear banjos playin'!!

Trans America Trail - http://www.transamtrail.com/

MORE MORE MOAR!!!!
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:19 AM   #28
John Joel Glanton
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Me and my two buddies will be riding the TAT from Trinidad, CO to the middle of Utah in August of this year. I'm enjoying your thread here. Keep it up!
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Old 05-25-2009, 09:37 AM   #29
DrLewall
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So many riders comming to play in my backyard and I have no one to play with. Hope everyone has a safe and fun TAT ride! Perhaps our paths will cross at Oark Cafe'
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Old 05-25-2009, 11:28 AM   #30
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Great Reporting! I am leaving on July 1st. No chance of catching you, but leave a few bread crumbs .........good luck, and I can't wait!

God Speed,
Frank
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