|05-31-2013, 09:11 AM||#301|
SWA Chicken Hauler
Joined: Nov 2012
Location: BAF Afghanistan / Glasford, IL
Way good ride....
Yea man, I'm in. Glad you made the decision to plug the plug from the typical working world. I've read so much good advice in this thread and there is no way I can add anything to what has been written.
Ride safe and enjoy and keep the rest of us posted.
Anywhere is home
|05-31-2013, 01:04 PM||#302|
Joined: Aug 2010
Location: Southern Maine
|05-31-2013, 05:04 PM||#303|
Joined: Jun 2012
Location: Atlanta, GA
Ladies, Babies, Mamma's 'n Pappa's!
Austin here!.. decided to combine ride report's since Chris already has a solid one going and I've been utterly failing as a proper ADVer to keep mine up. Many, many apologies, amigos! Thought it might be cool to give a dual perspective on the trip, though. So I'll give a bit of my account of the insanity of the last 12 days and hopefully add pictures in a few days.. If anyone is curious, I've been uploading short, 1 minute daily video compilations of each day's progress as we go along with a ton of pictures to my tumblr at www.thetransamerican.com. Unfortunately, it's simply much, much easier to upload photos and videos to tumblr through their iPhone app than do the whole photobucket + copy link + insert copied link to ADV headache from a mobile phone. But you can track our daily progress and adventures there I you'd like.
I ride up from my home in the bluburbs of Atlanta, GA to meet Chris at the trailhead in Tellico Plains. Never met the dude before, and was curious how our month long internet date would go. Fortunately, within minutes of meeting him, it was obvious that he was very un-serial killerish, knew his shit, hungered for dirt, and would be a solid riding amigo - so we dived right in to the TAT within 15 minutes of shaking hands.
Everyone talks about the water crossings in Tennessee with hushed breath and, really, I don't know why. They were mostly a cinch! Great intro to the trail though, really made you say in your head, "yeah, I'm doing the TAT finally. TAT ON!" The first few miles is great dirt/gravel roads in the always boss Appalachian mtns. It's always awesome up in them hollers of Tennessee. Thankfully, didn't hear any banjo music or see anyone with a still.
The miles went by pretty fast, and before too long we hit pavement. Lots of pavement. Tennessee is nice. But it's really just a cruise. About 80% pavement. Bummer. My thirst for dirt runs DEEP.
Posted up in some forgettable park in the terribly named town of Gruitly-Laager, Tennessee after I was beset with some rear brake issues. The brake completely went out on a downhill and would boil water it was so hot. Really, we poured water on it. Needed new brake fluid and the local auto parts store didn't open till the next AM. Of course. Mechanical issues this early in the trip do not bode well.
Day 2: New brake fluid in the system we headed out and put down more (mostly) road miles and pulled into Mississippi just as dark was creeping in. Spent the night in a tent being assaulted by gale force winds and tornados warnings.
Day 3: Finally hit real dirt! The hill country of Mississippi made for great riding. With the rains from the night before, we ran into lots of MUD, but thankfully only one reroute was required due to an overflowed river. We didn't make the reroute decision lightly, though. It was only made after careful consideration and Chris's disrobing, and wading waist high into the torrent to verify that our machines would become submarines if we attempted it. Bummer. This was also the day of our first flat tire, this one on Chris's bike. Double bummer. Oh we'll, the TAT must go on! Found a nice place to camp on at a lake that night.
Day 4: more Mississippi. Made it to the flats and had an awesome time cruising along the elevated dirt roads they had build to, presumably, keep the fields from flooding when the river rises. Found a bridge out, but giving no heed to the "road closed" signs, I rode straight on throug. Until mud up to my KLR's axle stopped me. Whoops. With a little pulling and pushing with Chris's help, we were out and through it in no time though. Finished that long day of riding by crossing the Mississippi River into Arkansas and camped in a little state park just that side of the river.
Another day, another flat. We pounded lots and lots of deep gravel roads and I ended up busting my rear tire with a nice inch long gash. Seriously, this gash would have sank the titanic. Tire was toast! We stuck a tube in it and nursed it into town (with the tube well exposed through the iceberg sized hole) where an awesome shop - Arkansas Wings Cycle - hooked me up wi their last offload tire - a little $40 Duro. Just fine! It was past 5, but who would we be if we didn't put more miles in? ARE WE NOT MEN?
On we rode.
Until Chris's front sprocket stripped.
In spite of Chris's truly genius talents at mechanical improvisation, it refused to cooperate. We were forced to do a little stealth camping on the side of the road for the night in an abandoned lot. Nothing unusual for two homeless, unemployed Dharma Bums (Kerouac, anyone?) like us.
Day 6: I rode into Conway, Arkansas to scrounge a new sprocket and fairly soon we were off again. We headed into the Ozarks and spent the day bounding through trail at breakneck speed, our tongues hanging joyously from our mouths. Threw down some serious mileage and pulled in for gas, when - wait for it - Chris had a flat. This one on his front tire. His front tire was already toast, so rather than tubing it in just to change it, he rode the entire THIRTY FIVE MILES into town on a flat.
We got the front tire changed and by that time it was past 5 o'clock. But who would we be if we didn't shred more miles? ARE WE NOT MEN?
We put down another hundo.
We both put about 300 miles in that day. With my ride into town to get his sprocket, I put in nearly 400 miles in the saddle that day.
Another night of stealth camping.
Unbathed now for days, and smelling like water buffalos, we cruised into Tulsa for our first hotel. Seriously. You do not understand the miracle that is the shower. When it turned on, I heard angels singing. I wondered if I should first bow and pray to the toilet.
We hit cycle gear, got a real meal, and spent the evening doing nothing.
Day 9: left the motel with a late start after Chris did a little impromptu fork seal maintenance. He turned the Tulsa La Quinta's bathroom into his garage and changed the whole thing out in 30 minutes flat. Dude knows his shit!!
Hit the trail and battled fierce winds all day until we camped at the most dilapidated park I've ever seen. So forgettable I can't even remember the name.
Day 10: We woke up and began our cruise, when just after crossing a creek, we see two KLR's emblazoned with TAT stickers coming up behind us. We stopped for a chat - real nice guys, Don and John - from the Olde Country, just south of London. We said our so longs and headed out again, blazing trail with furious speed. Just as my ridin speed and agility had assumed godlike status I hit a slightly submerged concrete road doing 50-ish and was quickly humbled. The road was covered in an uberslippery slime and by bike instantly slung wide then went down on its right side, throwing me in front of it. The bike had so much momentum that it pushed me a solid 15 yards uphill of the road. I was wearing a jacket, but stupidly (I know) no gloves. I ended up with no borken bones by the grace of the Big Guy, but scraped my hand pretty well. We've done dozens of creek crossings and after all of them being a piece of cake, I'd become a little over confident with them. I knew better, my fault through and through. But no biggy, learned the lesson. A few scratches to the KLR, a bent right handle bar, and a broken Pellican case, but nothing ride-ending. We headed on. ARE WE NOT MEN?
We played tag with the Brits all day before we heeded the local's weather warnings (really, like 4 people STRONGLY advised us to motel it up). So we did in the depressing town of Alva, OK. Had dinner with the Brits before passing out after a long day in the saddle in one Alva's finest Roach Motels.
One. Long. Straight. Line.
Go 30 miles, turn right for one mile, take left, drive 25 miles.
You get the idea. That was it. And we did it all with a 30mph cross wing bearing into us. Bluh.
We put in more than 340 miles that day before camping in Black Mesa State Park, about 15 miles from the NM border.
Woke up and headed into New Mexico. It was incredible how, in about 5 miles, we went from the flat grasslands of Oklahoma, to the high desert/Mesa of New Mexico. And jeez, there is NOTHING there. NOTHING. Cruised into Colorado expecting there to be a gas station in Branson, just across the border. There's a real live town there, with a school and everything, but the locals said we had to go another FIFTY MILES into Trinidad to get gas. Chris turned on his reserve, steeled his eyes, and willed his bike to make it. Coasted in on fumes and celebrated our victory of finally making it. Cruised through southern Colorado, through La Veta and into the San Isabel National Forest, where we camped with the most spectacular view of 14ers on the horizon. INCREDIBLE. We did somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 miles.
Today we toasted some dirt and finished the San Isabel and and posted up in the Salida McD's now. We have a day to kill before we are due to arrive at a friend's house in Dillon Colorado, where we've had tires, tubes and a new set of handlebars sent for a little maintenance layover. Planning to highway it up to Buena Vista and spend the night camping on the slopes of Mount Princeton, where I've done a little climbing before and know a sweet spot.
Anyway, hope someone enjoys this. If anything it was useful if just for me to categorize the days, which have all blurred together into one, long, dirt memory now! I know I messed up somewhere, though, because today is actually Day 12, but I can't tell where I went wrong. Oh well, no biggy. It's all on my blog by the day if ya wanna check it out there.
1. Carry lots of tubes.
2. I shouldn't have done this on a KLR. It's a fine bike, but is very heavy and doesn't suit my aggressive riding style. Should have chosen something much lighter. No sweat though.
3. Eastern Oklahoma is gorgeous.
4. Western Oklahoma is awful.
5. Mississippi was mostly underwhelming for me, though Chris enjoyed it
6. Arkansas truly impressed me
7. Colorado has been spectacular.
8. Always carry a dead blow hammer! (Brought one, no joke, and its come in handy more times than we can count!)
More to come, always welcome feedback!
|05-31-2013, 05:31 PM||#304|
Joined: Jan 2013
Silt should be an adventure on this thing. God, that poor klr.
Most importantly, TylerR, I owe you bigtime Sir. Bigtime! You have no idea how significantly you impacted this trip! Pm headed your way.
Update coming shortly.
Sent from my SCH-I535 using Tapatalk 2
|05-31-2013, 06:07 PM||#305|
Joined: Sep 2012
Location: Tokyo, Japan
|05-31-2013, 06:59 PM||#306|
Joined: Jan 2013
Hey you! Ya, you! Ready to come along for another ride?! Alright, lets go!!!
Last night in AlVa, OK wasn't too bad. We ate at a mexican restaruant, and in strolled the two euro-riders. We shared some stories of the trail, over some brews.
They are much much more well traveled in the world than myself, and have stories from all over the world, from Thailand, Chile, Alaska, and South Africa to name a few. It was good to get advice from such nomads.
Soon we're back on the TAT, and throttled out, trying to outrun the storm. The skies are angry, to say the least.
We come across some locals. The ones on the road are three sawed-off bulls. They have a staring contest with Austin, and as he passes the two smaller turn and trot off. The bigger takes two steps toward his bike. I'm thinking to myself "GoPro! GoPro! Damnit, turn on!" But I don't get it in time. Just as he passes, the bull realizes theres a second bike, turns toward me and blows snot everywhere. I'm not a city boy, but I'm certainly no rancher either. Maybe this doesn't mean anything, But it definitely didn't give me warm fuzzies. Copious amounts of throttle were used to distance myself from that guy in a hurry.
This isn't no photoshop...it's just a wall of sand. Somewhere in the mix, we run into a few dust-devils. They are probably a mile or two off, but you'd swear that they are just a football field away. Watching them pick up debris, dirt, and just general junk and give it a whirl is humbling, to say the least. Especially when you're exposed to the elements like you are on a bike.
There really isn't anything exciting to say. The winds are bad, we're trying to outrun the rain, and somewhere in the mix, Austin picks up another gift. The ol' cheapy Duro is starting to chunk pretty badly, but it'll have to do for now. Reminds me of an oldddddd tractor tire the way it is chunking.
Back on the road, you can see what we are running from.
We ride straight, after straight, mile after mile. The winds are constantly blowing, so the bike is leaned hard to the left.
We run late into the night trying to get out of the fields, and reach some sort of shelter to setup the tents.
Finally, we reach Black Mesa State Park. No pictures tonight. It's too dark, and it's been one heck of a day playing Russian Roulette with the weather.
Here are some pictures of camp, at Black Mesa. We came in late, "didn't see" the signs for the designated tent area, and setup camp near these rocks, and isolated picnic table. It was a fantastic windbreak.
Austin with his fancy coffee pot. I don't have a coffee pot. I have a coffee pan.
We start calculating the route, estimating shipping times on our parts, and realize we have a little too much time, we've been running too fast! So we decide to detour a little and check things out.
Austin gets all giddy to play with someone's (petrified) wood.
To see a sign like this, on a dirt road must only mean good things lie ahead!
We find some Dinosaur tracks near Black Mesa. They are said to be over 150 million years old. I wonder what the terrain was like when they passed through?
It's a shame someones cattle has recently made a mess of this set of tracks.
Someone's business venture that just didn't work out... Sad, really.
Back on track, we blast out of Oklahoma, and it's like a light switch. Bam, the scenery changes.
I'm not sure what happens. Somehow our last fill up was in Boise City, OK. Then we detour off for 50-75miles, and back on the TAT, we blast through NM in the blink of an eye. I remember one neat hill climb, putting through somneones front yard, and completely launching one cattle gaurd. It was on a long, long straight, and somewhere near the upper end of the XRR's limits, I realized that it was much taller than the surrounding terrain. Lean back and throttle down! That's all I remember of NM.
Next thing I know, we're in Colorado. Maybe it's not the correct terminology, but to me it FEELS like the 'high desert'. Or at least, this is what I picture when I think of the high desert.
Anyway, back to the gas ordeal. We look on the GPS and the next city is Branson, CO. Cell service is wonky at best, but I see they have a school system. They MUST have fuel. I lead into Branson, and upon arrival notice something is arry with the KLR. Uhoh! If anyone is out there, he's missing some gear, just east of Branson!
Turns out this place is like a ghost town. Sure, they have a school. But noone is around. Not a soul. And they definitely do NOT have fuel.
I look in the XRR's tank, do some mental math. The next city is Trinidad. It's going to be close.... All these high-speed runs on a very worn rear tire cause a lot of spinning. Alot of wasted miles turn have turned into drifts and dust.
We head toward Trinidad, and I am pretty easy on the throttle. About 15 miles out of Branson, the XRR bogs and dies. Reserve #1, you're up.
I dial it back a few more notches. So much so, this guy not only catches me, but passes me! At one point I'm pretty sure I could have reached out and touched it.
Then I come up on this truck. It's hard to see, (look on the drivers side, hanging out) but there are two dogs on the flatbed that are running from side to side, to look around the cab of the truck.
Shortly after, the BRP dies again. Petcock #2 gets turned from "off" to the "on" position. This means the right side of the tank is bone dry, and the left side only has reserve left.
Things are getting a little iffy. I'm cursing that detour for dino-tracks at this point. About 8 miles out of Trinidad, the XRR dies hard. Even Reserve #2 wont get it fired, and there's not much fuel left in the tank upon visual inspection.
I decided to jump off the bike, and lay it over on its side, on the side of the road. This makes the gas cap the highest point on the tank. After a few seconds I tip it upright. Sucess! Being laid over has transfered the fuel to the right kidney, and she coughs and sputters and comes to life. I've never been so happy to see traffic...and more importantly, a place with fuel.
We head to Bella Luna for some pizza, and a well deserved beer to wash down all the dust.
Back on the road, we head out and turn out a few more miles. Soon we're in La Veta. I try out some 85 octane to see how the BRP runs, incase southerly adventures are in the works.
I see this leaving town. Funny, years ago, when my parents used to talk about LV, I pictured things very differently.
We stop to take in the views at a bluff.
As I'm getting creative with my mirror..
...the wind KO's the KLR. Austin finds it far less amusing than I do.
He gets the bike righted, curses the thing a few times, and off we go. First set of buildings in ruins we come across.
And then a church. I'm not a religous person, but it's quite a powerful sight...
Shortly after the church, the roads turn brutal. Not neccesarily difficult, but just jagged, razor sharp rocks everywhere. Mind you, we are both on quite worn tires, and thoughts of huge slices come back into my brain. It's as if they cut these routes yesterday.
Soon we are back in the dirt and dust. Opening the throttle, I notice there are prairie dogs everywhere, running for cover. Soon, I come up over a hill, and brake hard to stop at the T intersection. Knowing the KLR has alot more weight behind it, I U-turn back to the peak and wave to slow Austin. It's too late, and he takes the scenic route.
Thankfully, this is the first time anyone has blown a turn, and it couldn't have happened in a better place.
It's getting late in the day, and I start to realize we aren't going to make it to the intended camp and call it to end.
We camp in San Isabel National Forest.
And climb to the peak of this hill/mountain/whatever you want to call it to cook dinner. I'm from Maine, and anything with this elevation is a mountain in my book.
From the top, the tents, and the two bikes in hiding...
Watching the sun set as we eat on the ridge is nothing short of amazing. I've never seen views like this. It's as though the sun is torching the mountains as it drops. It's views like this that make you realize what truly matters.
I make my way down, back to the the tents. Some time later, it's well past dusk. I seem to have drifted off in thought, staring at the mountains. It's an overwhelming sight, and will make you reflect upon yourself.
It's time for sleep. It's going to be a cold one at this height, and for the first time since the start of the trip, I zip the sleeping bag to the top and put on my hat. Somewhere in the night, the coyotes start yipping and howling as they go ridge to ridge. They too fade into the distance, and sleep comes easily.
|05-31-2013, 07:20 PM||#307|
Joined: Nov 2009
Great writing, Chris. It was nice meeting you at Hunts (I was the guy with the black ST1300, came in with the guy on the DL650 for a few days there). Ya'll be safe
|05-31-2013, 08:19 PM||#308|
Joined: Jan 2007
Location: Santa Clara, CA
Spend time with those who make you better. -Unknown author
|05-31-2013, 08:56 PM||#310|
Joined: May 2013
Location: Firestone, CO
Awesome update and welcome to Colorado. Safe Travels and loads of fun on the rest of your journey.
2001 KTM 640 Supermoto/Enduro
2011 Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Vaquero
|05-31-2013, 09:30 PM||#311|
Unsafe at any speed
Joined: Aug 2006
Location: Central Arkansas
Great report. I saw the british guys at the Oark cafe, & bought their dinner without them knowing it. Wanted to show a little ADV hospitality.
2006 BMW R1200GS
2010 KTM 690 ENDURO R
1969 BSA STARFIRE
|05-31-2013, 10:54 PM||#312|
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: Thousand Oaks, CA
Hey I like the combined report.Your writing styles complement each other well and it's cool to experience the two viewpoints on the same ride! Austin'sblog is great too, the videos are fun and convey what you are feeling and experiencing in a cool, raw, honest way. Keep rockin'. I'll be following both!
blame it on the droid
"Ride with caution . And be thankful cagers are slightly more predictable than marsupials."
-XRman (fellow inmate)
speedmonkey7 screwed with this post 05-31-2013 at 11:00 PM
|06-01-2013, 06:39 AM||#313|
Joined: Jun 2008
Location: Louisville, KY...really too far from the hills!
Wow what an update fellas! You guys sure are movong along and now you are in the good stuff. Just a thought about the low octane fuel, as you are up in elevation you may notice that there is lower octane available. I don't think you would.have the same experience running that low grade down closer to sea level, just sayin. This is great ride on fellas!
If you can't fix it with a hammer, you've got an electrical problem!
|06-01-2013, 12:21 PM||#314|
Joined: Jun 2007
Location: Wherever I May Roam
Incredible! Just finished reading thru the whole thread. StuntHeavy, you've definitely got some mad skills... riding, wrenching, and writing!
Great choice of bikes for the TAT. I rode the it in 2010 on a DR650 even though I had an XR650R sitting at home in my garage - I don't really like wrenching. Although I did travel much lighter than you so it made up for the weight difference of the bikes. I think Austin is going to be wishing he was carrying a lot less weight when you get into Utah. Anyway, great report guys. Thanks for sharing it.
The book - Excuse me, which way is the Baja 1000?
|06-01-2013, 12:33 PM||#315|
Joined: Jan 2013
Thanks! Replies like this, and the others above make the hours it takes to put an update together all worth it.
My kit is about 38lbs all said and done. It definitely makes the front end even lighter than it already is!
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