Day 1: Chattanooga TN
to Big Hill Pond SP (TN)
We rode from my house outside Chattanooga
to Bell Buckle where we got gas and picked up the TAT.
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We rode all the way to Big Hill Pond State Park
in TN after a total mileage of about 405 for the day and arrived right after dark.
Random water crossings in TN. Let me tell you, I thought I could ride through the slick crossings. I went down HARD.
We both had crashes in the end, a sign of things to come.
Day 2: Bill Hill Pond SP (TN) to Helena, AR
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…
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.
Kyle bridging the terminals and me failing to capture the fireworks.
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…
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?
Luggage explosion in our motel room:
Here is the path of Ike
It passed during the night and we only got a small amount of rain but there were some tornados in the area
Day 3: Helena
AR to Choctaw Park
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.
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!
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…
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.
Kyle trying to figure out what just happened….
“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
Day 4: Chocktaw Park
(AR) to Christie, OK
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!
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!
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.
Then we came to this:
So we went around….
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
Then we ended up camping on the side of the road next to a nice stream.