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Old 03-01-2015, 07:17 AM   #1
Soldier311 OP
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Is the TAT really the best way to "see" the U.S.?

I'm wanting to do a coast-to-coast trip in the next couple of years that will take me across the U.S. and see lots of interesting things along the way. Of course, like any sane motorcyclist, I prefer to avoid the freeways and stick to interesting back roads instead.
Now, I know the TAT (Trans-America Trail for the initiated) is well-suited for this and my offroad skills are certainly up to par for it, but is it really the best way to go coast-to-coast and see the things that "need" to be seen? The TAT was supposedly conceived as a mostly dirt route from one coast to the other. Is there a better way?
FWIW, I plan to give myself about a total of 30 days to make it from east to west and likely fly back home and ship my bike back too. Or just leave it on the west coast and sell it at the end of the trip.
Any advice and discussion is much appreciated.
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Old 03-01-2015, 08:29 AM   #2
multiphrenic
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i doubt very much there's a best way for all. for me, part of the fun of travelling is making up my own route by looking at a map, trying things, and then watching my decisions unfold (poorly or not).

it all depends on what you want. do you want to ride primarily in dirt, or add dirt to pavement excursions? how much time do you have? a mile off-road is not the same length as a mile on road.
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Old 03-01-2015, 08:46 AM   #3
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The Plan

Avoid interstates and all large cities.

Spend days and days and days maping out everything you want to see.
Print out a map or a trip sheet.

Get up in the early AM for your start.
Burn the map and trip sheet to make coffee.

Pick a direction and go.
If you see something that looks good stop.
If you see a road that just looks good Take it.

Go till you get tired and stop.
When you run out of time, sell the bike and fly home.

DAMHIK

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Old 03-01-2015, 09:14 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by multiphrenic View Post
i doubt very much there's a best way for all. for me, part of the fun of travelling is making up my own route by looking at a map, trying things, and then watching my decisions unfold (poorly or not).

it all depends on what you want. do you want to ride primarily in dirt, or add dirt to pavement excursions? how much time do you have? a mile off-road is not the same length as a mile on road.
I agree.
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Old 03-01-2015, 11:01 AM   #5
Strong Bad
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That should be "uninitiated" as those who are "initiated" already know what TAT stands for in this group.

I suppose it depends on what you want to "see" in the United States. Some people like wide open spaces with views 100's of miles in every direction, others like heavily forested terrain where you can't see more than 100 feet in any direction. The TAT has both, so not everyone is going to like or dislike everything along the way.

There are a couple of things about following another's route. Last year when doing the CDT, I found that New Mexico was a complete surprise, and it followed routes that I never would have thought to take and I was glad it did.

One of the common goals of many routes followed by us ADV types seems to be using as much dirt as possible along the way. That is all well and good, but I personally see no reason to parallel a 2 lane paved road just to stay in the dirt. There are plenty of 2 lane backroads that criss cross the US in every direction that would yield many of the same views/vistas as a pure dirt route. Not saying I'm in a hurry to get somewhere, but with limited time I want as little time as possible doing dirt just for the sake of traveling in dirt.
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Old 03-01-2015, 11:25 AM   #6
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Met a guy who was riding his Harley on Hwy 50, west-east and back again, I was riding the TAT at the time...we both had the same look in our eyes. I picked up my dinner plate and sat down at his table, "You've seen some stuff," I said, "Tell me about it.", it was pretty awesome, street and dirt collides on the TAT and the Loneliest Highway. Either would be a righteous trip.
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Old 03-01-2015, 11:27 AM   #7
Sleddog
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strong Bad View Post
doing the CDT, I found that New Mexico was a complete surprise, and it followed routes that I never would have thought to take and I was glad it did.
I did the New Mexico - Colorado portion S-N, last April, by myself. I was ecstatic! NM was not what I expected!
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Old 03-01-2015, 01:32 PM   #8
Soldier311 OP
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Strong Bad View Post

One of the common goals of many routes followed by us ADV types seems to be using as much dirt as possible along the way. That is all well and good, but I personally see no reason to parallel a 2 lane paved road just to stay in the dirt. There are plenty of 2 lane backroads that criss cross the US in every direction that would yield many of the same views/vistas as a pure dirt route. Not saying I'm in a hurry to get somewhere, but with limited time I want as little time as possible doing dirt just for the sake of traveling in dirt.
This, I think, is kinda what I'm talking about. Therefore, does the TAT bypass some must-see places by quite a ways just to stay on dirt? I don't necessarily want that.
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Old 03-01-2015, 01:50 PM   #9
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Did the TAT in 2010 and rode the bike home to Ohio on I-80. I can say that compared to the TAT, if you want to see nothing of this great country just jump on I-80. Enjoy your trip and thank you for your service.
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Old 03-01-2015, 02:47 PM   #10
Strong Bad
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soldier311 View Post
This, I think, is kinda what I'm talking about. Therefore, does the TAT bypass some must-see places by quite a ways just to stay on dirt? I don't necessarily want that.
Seeing as you have lots of time before your trip, I would read all of the TAT ride reports and judge by the pics and comments if you see anything that stands out that you have to see for your self. I personally think that you could see more and more interesting stuff doing your own route than doing the TAT.

I live in Southern California and I have lived and worked as a Geologist in California, Montana, Wyoming, and Idaho. Last year I did the CDT and this year I will do the Heart of the West. There is so much to see in Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada that there is no way passing through one time from East to West that you could even scratch the surface.

30 days across the US one way is plenty of time to see more than you will ever remember. If playing in the dirt is less of a goal than seeing interesting stuff, I would think about a route that stayed on 2 lane back roads and then as you get to the Rockies/Cont Divide zig-zag around seeing as much as you can of Northern New Mexico, Western Colorado, Western Wyoming, Western Montana, Idaho, and North Central Nevada. Of course spending time along the Pacific coast is always a good idea.
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Old 03-01-2015, 03:49 PM   #11
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If it were me, I would not focus on the TAT at all. Instead, do some reading and exploring on the web and make a list of places that are important for you to visit. The top tier list of places would describe a general connect the dots type route. Then I would look for other places I'd like to visit on the segments between the major dots. This would describe more specific (but still general) route segments between the dots. After I did that and made a few revisions once I had the big picture, I'd dig in deeper for specific paths that connect all the dots that take in the preferred riding experience I am looking for. Sometimes interstate jumps between a few places are good if they buy you the miles and additional time to more fully enjoy the areas you prefer.

After you think you are done, you may find yourself making major changes due to time, weather, or whatever. Don't be shy about continuing to revise and refine your routes right up until the day you depart. Planning the trip and researching the places to visit can be very entertaining.

Sounds like you have a great project going. Best wishes going forward!
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Old 03-01-2015, 04:15 PM   #12
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+1. I would decide what places you want to see and then see if the TAT goes there. I thing the big raison d'etre for the TAT is to cross the country on dirt roads.

The TAT does cover a lot of great stuff the great plains, the Ozarks, some of the highest passes in the Rockies, Moab, the coastal mountain ranges.

But you miss the Grand Canyon, Zion, Death Valley, and a host of other great attractions. You can do some nice dirt road riding along the north rim of the Grand Canyon.
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Old 03-01-2015, 05:36 PM   #13
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My family is from Missouri and I have been across 80, 70, & 40. Noting worth looking at east of the Rockys. Never done 90 would like to see Black hills, and Plains Indian country, there must be something out there. Perhaps follow Lewis & Clark with deviations. Best X country trip I had was returning along the Santa Fe Trail, must have stopped every 50 miles for some historical location. Bent's fort was fantastic.

I would truck west then look at connecting all the western National Parks using CDR, GWT, & PCQ then truck home.
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Old 03-01-2015, 05:48 PM   #14
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If you want to see the "Must See" places that most ordinary traveling folks want to see-------you won't see none of that. It avoids those places.


What you'll see on the TAT is much better than that-----every inch is a "Must See".

Kind of hard for me to explain. I'm a loss for words.

The 30 days that you have is key---that's enough time to see a lot of stuff and not be in a hurry.

BigDog
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Old 03-01-2015, 06:58 PM   #15
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Sure!
Riding on dirt backroads are very soothing and fun IMO.
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