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-   -   Owen & Kyle's Excellent Adventure: TAT08 (http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=478259)

kpt4321 06-23-2009 05:57 PM

Owen & Kyle's Excellent Adventure: TAT08
 
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...inalMedium.jpg

So, this one is a little bit late in coming, but here it is nonetheless; to follow is a Trans-America Trail adventure!

Owen and I (Kyle) met freshmen year of college (2003), through a mutual interest in everything motorsports. At the time, we were primarily involved in automotive motorsports, building and racing cars of various types. However, as these things often go, that took a turn for the better (or the worse) when we "discovered" motorcycles. In hindsight, it was bound to happen; both of us grew up racing mountain bikes, and then racing cars, so it was a natural progression. We spent the next 4 years designing cars, building cars, racing cars, and fixing cars, and eventually doing the same with motorcycles, occasionally persuing degrees in mechanical engineering as deemed necessary.

In 2005, I bought a new ZZR600, the former supersport billed "sport tourer." I proceeded to ride that bike everywhere, putting 10k miles on it in the first year, completing several track days, and spending the majority of my free time on the bike. In the meantime, Owen was riding (and collecting) various dirt bikes; he started with at least one 2-stroke 125, followed by the (never quite operational) death machine CR500, and a basket-case ZX-600 that never really left the garage. We also had time for a few interesting "side projects:"

http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z.../testing32.jpg

http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z.../testing37.jpg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2rQVY8yw5U

In the fall of 2007, Owen and I graduated and parted ways; I went to an engineering job in Boston, and Owen moved to Tennessee to work in wind power. This was not to last for long. By the following summer, I had decided that I would be moving to Philadelphia, where my girlfriend was to attend graduate school. Around July, Owen frantically called me, as he often does when he is hatching a scheme; this time, the scheme was to ride dirt bikes across America. You can probably guess what happened next.

wind_man 06-23-2009 06:27 PM

As Kyle stated, we both achieved a few degrees in Mechanical Engineering and went our separate ways. I returned home to work for a BOP contractor who was riding the wind power boom and went straight to work in west Texas. This picture really makes these things look small, but to the middle of the rotor, these things are 262.5 feet tall and the blades are 123 feet long each. If there is anyone else in the wind industry out there reading this, these are GE 1.5MW SLE machines. We installed 172 south of Big Spring TX last year.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...e058Medium.jpg

I was mainly involved in the installation process of the turbines and got some fun safety training out of it! This is a picture of us learning how to get out of the towers as fast as possible if there is a fire in the 'nacelle' which is the box part where the generator, main shaft, and gearbox are. It takes some nerve to do this, but like anything you get used to it.

http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...argeMedium.jpg

In high school our weekends usually involved heading to Western NC to learn to drift on the fire roads and I always figured there was a way to follow these roads across the country. Thus, I eventually found Sam and the TAT......

GB 06-23-2009 06:33 PM

That's an heck of an excellent TAT adventure, let's hear and see all about it :thumb

:lurk

kpt4321 06-23-2009 06:51 PM

In July, when Owen first proposed this trip, I was neck deep in my own planning disaster: my girlfriend (who went to college with Owen and I, and was well accustomed to our hijinks) and I had decided that we would be moving to Philadelphia at the end of August. In order for this to happen, we had to make several trips down there to find a place to live, I had to quit my job (in the midst of a worsening job market), move everything I owned in one shot, and find a new job. So, based on the fact that the prudent decision would be not to take a vacation to ride across the country, I decided to go for it. :lol3

With approximately 8 weeks to go, I set out to buy a bike. Owen was already several steps ahead of me, as he had since acquired several more motorcycles: a Yamaha 426, and a Honda XR 650R (with baja designs equipment), which he would be using on our trip. Given the limited timeframe, I hit craigslist, and bought the first reasonably appropriate bike: a badly neglected 1988 KLR 650, in the "rare" "sough-after" Tengai trim, meaning more broken plastics and less compatible parts. Perfect! It only needed a new tank, a carb cleaning, replacement plastics, new tires, a chain, new cables, suspension work, a valve clearance adjustment, new fluids, fork seals... No matter thought, I had 8 weeks to take care of everything (and put everything I owned in boxes, find a place to live, get a job, and move).

The KLR in all of its glory:
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...9126Medium.jpg

With the bike running, I set out to put some miles on it. While I had plenty of miles on pavement, I probably had only 20 hours of dirt riding experience, all of it on a 125 2-stroke, and I figured any time I could get on the bike off-pavement would pay off big-time; it did, although perhaps not the way I expected.

My first long ride (up through Sandwich Notch, NH) went reasonably well. On smooth fire roads, the bike was a hoot to ride, 1988 tires aside. After a few hundred miles, I returned home, made a couple laps of the trail on my father's property, and did a celebratory burnout in the driveway, at which point the bike began making noises that sounded like a handful of change had been thrown into the combustion chamber. After a teardown, I found that this wasn't too far off.

http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...tionMedium.jpg

http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...tionMedium.jpg

So, about 6 weeks to go, and the engine on my bike is junk. Perfect!

Figuring that time was short, I ordered an oversized piston and ring, brought everything down to the local machine shop, and asked if they could turn it around in a week. They didn't quite do that, but a week and a half later (about 4 weeks until the move, for those keeping track), I had the bike back together, and set out to break in the new rings.

About 20 miles into my first ride, 5 miles from home, the bike quit.

On the side of the road, in the decreasing light of dusk, I diagnosed that the bike had no spark. I pulled the tank, checked all the connections at the coil and ignitor, and gave up. I was lucky to be able to reach one of the few childhood friends who was still living in the area (and owned a pickup truck), and he came down and picked up the bike around the time I got my 1,000th mosquito bite. 4 weeks to go, and the bike doesn't run again.

Umpteen hours of troubleshooting later, and I figured out that the bike's coil pack was broken. And the stator. And the ignitor. I'll never quite understand how all of these broke concurrently. In any case, after a week of troubeshooting, and another week to track parts down, the bike is running again. With less than 2 weeks to the move date. With 20 miles on a fully rebuilt engine, and only a few hundred miles on a new bike, I was not confident.

kpt4321 06-23-2009 07:05 PM

Fast-forward 2 weeks. In that time, I became unemployed, put my shit in boxes, and crammed a 26-foot Penske truck with all my stuff, and then jammed my ZZR, my KLR, and Kate's SV behind it all. Aside from the KLR molesting my (until then pristine) ZZR's gas tank with its brake lever, and 4 New Jersey state police cars treating us like criminals for parking a car in the truck section of the NJ Turnpike rest area, we made it to Pennsylvania. I rode my bike in the mornings, painted the house during the day, and worked on GPS tracks in the evening.

The plan was for me to ride from Philadelphia to North Caroline, meet Owen near the Tail of the Dragon, ride to Tennessee, and begin the TAT. This time, as amazing as it was, the bike had no problems. None. Of course, the same wasn't true for me. I had set out a GPS route that would have me spending about half my time on I81, and half on some fun roads on the blue ridge, including the BRP. On day 1, I rode 400 miles, ending the day at Peaks of Otter. On day 2, I awoke to pouring, torrential rain. Until this point, I had not experienced the joy of rain at 70 mph into an open-face helmet. I rode that day's 400 miles in the rain, proceeded to get lost several times, hit some nasty detours on the BRP, and finally showed up to Owen's promise of burritos as night began to fall. The real adventure was about to begin.

wind_man 06-23-2009 07:16 PM

I started looking for a bike that would be suitable for the TAT on Craigslist and the first day I found an XR650R that was already titled in the state of TX. My mind raced as I could think of no better bike to make a street motard out of eventually and the luggage available for TAT travel was second to none so I immediately called and locked in the SCREAMING deal. The guy selling it sounded legit so I drove to San Antonio and grabbed it as others sat there with cash in hand, but the guy stuck to his word! I love people like that!

As I bought it...
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0327Medium.jpg

Here it is with most of the luggage configured as per our journey complete with new swingarm bearings, the Valdez equivalent of a fuel tank, and other bits needed for real TAT travel.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0096Medium.jpg

I rented a minivan and tossed my bike in the back with the wheels off, which turned out to work supprisingly well! Then I drove 1100 miles straight through and got home to meet Kyle. I am still very pissed that I don't have a picture of the bike in the fan, it was quite funny. So after Kyle's KLR disaster/moving disaster/crappy ride down to WNC in the rain, we met up at the Tsali campground to test out our gear and play on the Dragon and Cherohala Skyway back to my place in Chattanooga to do maintenance. In college I became a burrito connoisseur <!--[if gte vml 1]><v:shapetype id="_x0000_t75" coordsize="21600,21600" o:spt="75" o:preferrelative="t" path="m@4@5l@4@11@9@11@9@5xe" filled="f" stroked="f"> <v:stroke joinstyle="miter"/> <v:formulas> <v:f eqn="if lineDrawn pixelLineWidth 0"/> <v:f eqn="sum @0 1 0"/> <v:f eqn="sum 0 0 @1"/> <v:f eqn="prod @2 1 2"/> <v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelWidth"/> <v:f eqn="prod @3 21600 pixelHeight"/> <v:f eqn="sum @0 0 1"/> <v:f eqn="prod @6 1 2"/> <v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelWidth"/> <v:f eqn="sum @8 21600 0"/> <v:f eqn="prod @7 21600 pixelHeight"/> <v:f eqn="sum @10 21600 0"/> </v:formulas> <v:path o:extrusionok="f" gradientshapeok="t" o:connecttype="rect"/> <o:lock v:ext="edit" aspectratio="t"/> </v:shapetype><v:shape id="Picture_x0020_1" o:spid="_x0000_i1025" type="#_x0000_t75" alt="http://s3.amazonaws.com/advrider/friday.gif" style='width:42.6pt; height:20.4pt;visibility:visible;mso-wrap-style:square'> <v:imagedata src="file:///C:\DOCUME~1\oroberts\LOCALS~1\Temp\msohtmlclip1\01 \clip_image001.gif" o:title="friday"/> </v:shape><![endif]--><!--[if !vml]-->:freakyout of necessity and made some awesome ones at camp to make up for Kyles rainy trip of doom.

At Tsali
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0114Medium.jpg

Parallel to the Cherohala, didn’t like the street tires much... Also, we didn’t really like the Maxxis M6006 tires either, the Dunlop D606's we switched to in CO were much better, even if they do suck compared to a Maxxis IT...

http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0118Medium.jpg


BTW, this site is a great resource when planning the TAT when you want to camp instead of do the hotel deal, we still have mixed feelings about if camping or hotels are the way to go for the TAT.
http://epgsoft.com/CampgroundMap/

The advantages that we saw for camping were that it was cheap, and you can really camp almost anywhere on the TAT so you can have longer/shorter days if need be. However, all our luggage really made a profound difference in how you could ride the bikes, not really in the weight difference but in how much you could move around on the bikes. Maybe the luggage saved me from really pushing it at times, which could have saved some major crashes, but I had my share of those anyway.


Thus we did miss the first 312 miles of the TAT since we started in Bell Buckle TN, but I went back two weeks ago and completed that section. More to come in the morning...

kpt4321 06-23-2009 07:36 PM

A little bit about our gear:

As engineers, we went "slightly" overboard on planning. For example, in order to figure out what gear and luggage we wanted, I made a spreadsheet with every time I thought we would need to bring, its corresponding volume, and thus the total volume of our items by subcategory. Based on this (which came to about 60 liters, not including tools), I made another matrix of all the luggage options out there, their cost, and their size. In the end, I went with a Wolfman Large Expedition Tailbag (the "waterproof" one), expedition tankbag, and some cheap small tank panniers. I would carry tools and spare parts in the tank panniers, my DSLR and some small items in the tank bag, and the majority of everything else in the tail bag. The majority of everything else looked something like this:

http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...s/IMG_9305.jpg

3-5 days worth of food (mainly oatmeal, rice meals, nuts, and berries), a change of clothes and some layers, a cold weather riding jacket, and some toiletries, along with 4-6 liters of potable water (depending on location). I also carried a Thermarest sleeping pad, a North Face 35 degree sleeping bag, a tiny camp pot and a Coleman multi-fuel stove, and a Eureka "2 person" tent strapped to the back of the bag. On my body at all times were dirt boots, Klim pants, 661 armor, and a camelback.

Based on what I've seen here, I'd consider this a "medium" amount of stuff. I've seen guys pack 120+ liters of hard bags (although I still do not understand how this is necessary or possible), and I've seen guys run the TAT with only a small tailbag. However, to be self-sufficient for days at a time, equipped for camping at altitude and riding in all weather, and not dependant on someone else cooking our meals, I do not think we could have packed significantly less. We both took a few overnight trips prior to the adventure to tweak our packing, and we certainly learned some lessons along the way.

french horn 06-23-2009 08:01 PM

With you all the way .... great RR

Wondering why you ditched the Kwaka prior to the TAT ?

Keep it coming :thumb

kpt4321 06-24-2009 06:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by french horn
Wondering why you ditched the Kwaka prior to the TAT ?

There seems to be some confusion here; I (Kyle) rode the KLR, while Owen (wind_man) rode the XR650R. The KLR is a "Tengai," therefore having different plastics than the usual KLR, so perhaps you didn't recognize it?

These initial posts were somewhat lacking in pictures, but do not fret, we have several hundred from the actual TAT. More to come...

french horn 06-24-2009 06:30 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by kpt4321
There seems to be some confusion here; I (Kyle) rode the KLR, while Owen (wind_man) rode the XR650R. The KLR is a "Tengai," therefore having different plastics than the usual KLR, so perhaps you didn't recognize it?

These initial posts were somewhat lacking in pictures, but do not fret, we have several hundred from the actual TAT. More to come...

A haaaa ... got it now .. thanks

can't wait for more :lurk:wings

Joe Siphek 06-24-2009 10:08 AM

I'm in!!!

bigdon 06-24-2009 10:09 AM

n:freaky

wind_man 06-25-2009 07:21 AM

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</style> <![endif]--> Day 1: <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Chattanooga</st1:city> <st1:state w:st="on">TN</st1:state></st1:place> to Big Hill Pond SP (TN)
We rode from my house outside <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Chattanooga</st1:place></st1:city> to Bell Buckle where we got gas and picked up the TAT.
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<small>View Larger Map</small>
We rode all the way to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Big</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Hill</st1:placetype> <st1:placename w:st="on">Pond</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">State Park</st1:placetype></st1:place> in TN after a total mileage of about 405 for the day and arrived right after dark.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...9344Medium.jpg
Random water crossings in TN. Let me tell you, I thought I could ride through the slick crossings. I went down HARD. :cry

http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0120Medium.jpg
We both had crashes in the end, a sign of things to come.
<o:p> </o:p>
Day 2: Bill Hill Pond SP (TN) to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Helena</st1:city>, <st1:state w:st="on">AR</st1:state></st1:place>
The next morning we got up and went to get some gas a few miles away. After we fueled up the KLR would not even crank. We quickly realized the switch was bad since the headlight worked, but heard no solenoid click. So, Kyle’s brilliant solution was to just bridge the terminals on the solenoid with his Leatherman, which shot awesome sparks everywhere which they appreciated at the gas station… :kboom This was an intermittent problem and one morning in NV Kyle decided to troubleshoot every electrical circuit and bypass every safety aspect of the starting circuit, which is a great story for NV since it lead to some hilarious scenarios when starting the bike when he thought it was in neutral, etc. :rofl
Kyle bridging the terminals and me failing to capture the fireworks.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0134Medium.jpg
So we rode into MS which turned out to be much more fun than TN because of the awesome road surface which we each learned to step it out a bit on.
The infamous wooden bridge with the pile of dirt…
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...9350Medium.jpg
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0121Medium.jpg
With impending doom due to hurricane Ike, we made it to Helena AR and tried to find a room. We thought we were going to be tough and camp no matter what, but this storm had us scared as we thought we were going to get a direct hit, but it was not to be. So we locate a hotel right off the route that we thought would work but was VERY sketchy so we moved on up the road and found a Sam Walton special and a hotel close by that was slightly less sketchy. We rode to the Wallyworld and picked up more good stuff for burritos. Some of the people asked us if we were in the Xgames, playing paintball, rugby, etc, as we perused the store in all our gear, smelling to high heaven. The social demographic of that area probably had no idea what we were doing on bikes like that in the first place, so who could blame them?
<o:p> </o:p>
Luggage explosion in our motel room:
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...R/IMG_9354.jpg
Here is the path of Ike
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedi...ledrainblk.gif
It passed during the night and we only got a small amount of rain but there were some tornados in the area :eek1http://www.srh.noaa.gov/images/lzk/i.../ref091308.gif
<o:p> </o:p>
Day 3: <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Helena</st1:place></st1:city> AR to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Choctaw</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Park</st1:placetype></st1:place> (AR)
We got up the next day, ate our dried fruit, oatmeal or cream of wheat, and tea, and took off on the flats of AR towards the Ozarks, excited that it looked like it had not rained a lot. However, some of the farm roads in the area had a hard base with some silt/clay on top that turned into some slick stuff with this small amount of rain. I was hurrying along at maybe 45 mph and saw a section of this slick stuff and figured since it was so thin the hard base would make for good traction. Then it started feeling funny and the next thing I know I am about to lowside then I get highsided off and launch over the bike.
Below you can see where my rear wheel hooked and came off the ground for a decent distance in the lower left part of the picture.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0125Medium.jpg
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0124Medium.jpg
<o:p> </o:p>
The best part was that as soon as I made sure I was ok and got the bike back up to stop the fuel from pouring out I look back and see Kyle do the same thing!
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0123Medium.jpg
<o:p> </o:p>
So it gets wetter and wetter…. Obviously since Ike had passed farther West of us we were heading into the path it had taken last night. These signs were not funny after a while…
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0135Medium.jpg
At one point Kyle had the most amazing save I have ever seen, a dirt tracker would be jealous, honestly. Below is the picture of his tracks, I still can’t begin to describe how far over he was leaned and then still brought it back up… You can see how he had a huge tank slap a few times, but he saved it.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0126Medium.jpg
Kyle trying to figure out what just happened….
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0128Medium.jpg
<o:p> </o:p>
“It’s a big blue watery road…”, which makes me think of being on a boat…. (CAUTION EXPLICIT LYRICS WITHIN http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R7yfISlGLNU )
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0131Medium.jpg
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0132Medium.jpg
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http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0130Medium.jpg
<o:p> </o:p>
Day 4: <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:placename w:st="on">Chocktaw</st1:placename> <st1:placetype w:st="on">Park</st1:placetype></st1:place> (AR) to <st1:place w:st="on"><st1:city w:st="on">Christie</st1:city>, <st1:state w:st="on">OK</st1:state></st1:place>
<o:p> </o:p>
Thankfully after a decent bit of watery road we headed UP into the Ozarks. This was what I considered to be the first section of real trail on the TAT.

Here I am talking to my banana…. We were a bit loopy already, which should give you an idea of how wacked out we were got when we reached the coast!:huh
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...9359Medium.jpg
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...9358Medium.jpg
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...9368Medium.jpg
AND I DIGRESS -- As you can see I had on an Aerostich Darien Light jacket, and by this point it had started fading SIGNIFICANTLY. I was kind of bummed that my million dollar jacket faded so quickly, since I bought it to be obnoxious and bright in the first place… I actually talked to my parents at some point along the trip and Aerostich had issued a recall for my jacket because of this. I would like to express my satisfaction with them standing behind their product, I will buy from them again!:clap
Then we made our way down to Oark with the cool general store. They had gas that day, we were lucky. We talked to the new owners for a while, ate some beef jerky and went along our way.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...9371Medium.jpg
<o:p> </o:p>
Then we came to this:
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0138Medium.jpg
So we went around….
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0139Medium.jpg
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0140Medium.jpg
After that we were a bit worried and just down the trail we found another large downed tree that we had to go around. This time, we couldn’t just ride off the side of the trail around the tree, we had to ride 50 yards into the woods, across some kind of marsh, and back up to the trail. Someone had constructed a barbed wire fence where our exit needed to be so we simply removed the wire ties with our handy Leathermans, dropped and raised the wire, and pulled the bike through the wires, closing them after we came through. Too bad no pics:cry
<o:p> </o:p>
<o:p> </o:p>Then we ended up camping on the side of the road next to a nice stream.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...9372Medium.jpg
<o:p> </o:p>

kpt4321 06-25-2009 07:29 AM

Day 5: Christie OK to Wah-She-She Park, OK (229 miles)


After our previous day of detours, and with the image of straight Oklahoma roads ahead, we set out to knock out some serious mileage. However, we quickly were stopped on the way out of Moodys, by a downed bridge. Now, some downed bridges are just a reason to be adventurous, but this was not one of those, as it crossed a veritable raging river.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...K/IMG_9373.jpg

http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...K/IMG_9376.jpg

50 miles of detour later, and we were back on track. Initially, the roads were similar to Arkansas, with hills and twists. However, this changed before the day was up, and we were soon riding on the roads we had expected to see. Long, straight, and marginally smooth, these roads encouraged us to pick up the pace. However, at 55 miles per hour, the roads became pretty brutal; you could cruise along for hundreds of yards, even miles, with nary a problem, and then you’d come across a drainage ditch, a washout, or a bump, blending into the road surface until you were virtually on top of it. Our bikes began to take a pounding. On numerous occasions, I slammed into a rut or a bump, bottomed out the rear suspension, and then took back off, with the rear wheel attempting to pole-vault over the front. At one point, Owen went bombing over the crest of a small hill, riding in one of the two tire tracks, only to find a rancher heading up the other side at approximately the same speed. A fistful of brake and several different types of skidmarks later, he was off the side of the road, breathing the truck’s dust.



The type of sign you love to see:
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...9385Medium.jpg

Typical roads in eastern OK; note the road continuing perfectly straight to the horizon. It was over one of these crests that Owen met his rancher friend, and almost became a hood ornament.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...9383Medium.jpg



We finished the day up at Wah-She-She campground, a nice place with showers, a luxury we would soon be without. After unloading our gear and setting the tents up to dry, we rode 30 or 40 miles each way to the closest gas station, to buy a six-pack and a can of tomatoes. After riding all day, you’ll do almost anything for a cold (or, by the time we got back to camp, a quite warm) beer.



Cool bridge near the campground:
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0149Medium.jpg

Sunset over Hulah Lake, as seen from our campsite:
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...K/IMG_9395.jpg


Day 6: Wah-She-She State Park, OK to Beaver Dunes State Park, OK (350 miles)


Time to crunch some miles! We set out to ride the rest of Oklahoma, already tiring of the straight roads and hidden traps. The day started as one might expect:
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...K/IMG_9398.jpg


No bother, just check out the GPS, re-route around it, and get back on the trail as quickly as possible!
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...K/IMG_9404.jpg



http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0156Medium.jpg



Well, shit. At this point we had spent several hours trying to evade various floods, riding through the ones that were tolerable, and turning around at the ones that weren’t. We were pissed, and frustrated. Luckily, the whole day didn’t go this way. Some of the day went like this:
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...K/IMG_9416.jpg

This was the stickiest, nastiest mud I had ever seen in my life. If you can’t tell from the picture, Owen is in up above his ankles, with the bike at redline in first gear, and just barely able to push the front tire along. Classic Oklahoma.


Luckily, the day was not all bad. At one point, out of nowhere, we were riding through a wildlife preserve full of wild buffalo! I had certainly never seen a buffalo, let alone roaming freely, so this was pretty cool (and the dirt roads through the preserve were fantastic). That being said, we kept the speed in check through here, to avoid a high-speed buffalo collision.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0153Medium.jpg



All excitement aside, the majority of the mileage was on straight Oklahoma farm roads. Coming from the east coast, the wide open spaces in Oklahoma were almost unimaginable; as far as the eye could see were open fields, dotted with the occasional farms, and intersected by straight roads on a perfect 1-mile grid.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...9418Medium.jpg



The better of these roads were fantastic to bomb down. However, the worse ones were a nightmare. At one point, bombing along at 50 mph, we came across a 6-foot wide sinkhole, with a depth approaching five feet; our safety margin for being able to stop in time was measured in feet, and not many of them. There were also plenty of the aforementioned surprise traps; I specifically remember one occurrence where the rear bottomed out so hard, and then flew several feet into the air, and then bottomed out again on landing, that I could not believe I was still alive and my rear subframe was still attached.


Oklahoma rural decay:
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...K/IMG_9439.jpg



We ended the day a Beaver Dunes state park, after riding for over 10 hours, 350 miles in total. At this point, we had a good shot at making it to Colorado the following day. This was becoming important, as we had arranged to pick up a new tire for Owen in Trinidad (his tire was looking like this):
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0159Medium.jpg

kpt4321 06-25-2009 07:40 AM

Day 7: Beaver Dunes SP (OK) to Trinidad, CO (307 miles)
We set out the next morning with Trinidad Colorado as the goal. The remainder of Oklahoma was rather pleasant, although we were at this point yearning for roads that were anything but straight.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...K/IMG_9443.jpg
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...9422Medium.jpg



Somewhere around here, I had a rather odd experience. Cruising down a road quite like the one pictured above, a small bird burst out of the roadside brush and flew across the roadway; before I had a chance to respond, I felt a solid “thump!” on my left boot, and saw a little bob spirial into the road out of the corner of my eye. I was so incredulous at what had just happened that I slid to a stop, turned around and went back, where I confirmed that I had, indeed, just kicked a bird to death.


For those of you who are mechanical geeks, we came across quite a curiosity out in the middle of nowhere, Oklahoma. Like all agricultural land, this land needs a source of water, in order for the crop to grow. However, being this far from civilization, there is no source of electricity, or any other motive power; somebody had to improvise:
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0179Medium.jpg



This solution was surprisingly high-tech. They had taken a standard automotive engine, a run-of-the-mill gasoline V8, and converted it to run on propane (or perhaps natural gas?), which was piped in underground. We went by several of these over the course of our travels, and they were cranking at full steam, pumping water out to the fields.
We were in New Mexico for only a short period of time, but in that time I certainly came to like it quite a bit. The geography was unique and interesting, the roads were fun again, and it was absolutely desolate. I’d love to make a trip out west, and just ride more of this terrific state.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...M/IMG_9456.jpg



At the end of the day, we made it to Trinidad, Colorado, just as the rains started to roll in. On the way into camp, we stopped at a real grocery store, and a real liquor store, and had a feast of rice, beans, cheese, and a great porter. The plan was to take the next day off to do bike maintenance, resupply, and prepare for the journey ahead.


Day 8: Trinidad CO to Ophir Creek, CO (140 miles)


We set out the next morning to run to the grocery store and the motorcycle parts store. However, just outside of the campsite, Owen’s rear tire went flat. After 5 minutes of frantic pumping, we actually looked at the tire, and found a big nail stuck in it. We decided that I would continue on to the grocery store for supplies, and then go to Valcom Motorsports, the friendly local bike shop, while Owen would ride back to camp and start stripping his bike down. About 2 hours later, I returned to camp wearing a new tire around my head and carrying a bag full of food.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...O/IMG_9460.jpg



http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...O/IMG_9461.jpg


Owen replaced his punctured tube and tire, we both cleaned our air filters and lubricated our chains, and then we filled up with water and set out. On the way out of town we went back through Valcom, where they let us use some space in the back to change our oil; if you ride the TAT, I would highly recommend this shop for your resupply needs.


The ride out of Trinidad started out well. We were on the roads that we had ridden all this way for, rapidly climbing in altitude, and seeing the sights that would become familiar over the next few days.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0187Medium.jpg


http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0186Medium.jpg



However, at La Veta, the weather started to look ugly:
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0193Medium.jpg



And, soon enough, it was coming down by the bucketful, bringing strong winds and lightning with it:
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0198Medium.jpg

(note that this picture is not in any way modified; the weather was so nasty, the camera didn’t even know what to do).


At this point, we were at the point of no return. We were riding at 10,000 feet and higher, with lightning coming down on all sides, in a torrential downpour, with the light quickly fading. The day soon left us behind, but the storm did not, hammering incessantly as we picked our way through narrow switchbacks and muddy roads with death-inducing drops on both sides, by only the light of our (sub-par) headlights. The roads were so twisty, and we were traveling so slowly, that it took an hour to reduce the (GPS-indicated) straight-line distance to our campground waypoint by a few miles. When we finally did arrive, we found that the campground was closed, with a gate across the road. Not willing to continue on at this point, we rode under the gate and set up under a tree at the best looking campsite we could find, and fell asleep in wet gear, in wet tents and bags, shivering through the cold night.


The next morning, we awoke to find frost on the bikes and ice on the picnic table.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0206Medium.jpg



Because all of our gear was so wet, we started a fire and spent a few hours drying everything off.
http://i814.photobucket.com/albums/z...0204Medium.jpg


This was a sad morning for me, as I lost my beloved lexan spork while washing our dishes after a hearty meal. I was later able to track down some new plastic cutlery, but I am still yet to find a replacement for my spork. :cry

By late morning we were ready to depart, and headed off in the direction of Salida.


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