Originally Posted by Klay
Well, at least you got a green light on a new bike out of the deal.
Yes and that's exactly what I did. I went home and bought a brand new 2009 KTM690 enduro R.
It was perfect for the high speed dirt road dual sporting that makes up the TAT. I rode it all over nearby, took it to Florida for some big trips and even rode it to work some, but stuff was in the way and I never got the consecutive time off to plan a trip in 2010. I started racing the 450 more and hurt myself bad enough in 2011 that I got back surgery and 6 weeks off instead of a trip. I did make the most of my down time and was able to research carbon fiber construction and made a rally style fairing for my bike.
The stars aligned in 2012, I had a ton of vacation and an awesome reacher bike with a fairing that makes the miles melt away while still allowing for single track action. My next trip was planned for early July to make it all the way to Utah but I got greedy.
I found out that Sam re-routed TN (and MS). I bought the new maps placed the tracks with the old ones, connected them with a route through Deals Gap and the Blue ridge parkway and planned an epic loop around TN:
The north trail is the old TAT that starts in Jellico, the south trail is the new TAT that starts in Tellico Plains.
I planned a 5 day ride that would require an exhaustive pace around 300 miles per day. We would take the old trail East, go south and take the new trail West. I was well prepared for the trip with the same gear as 2009 but an added Thermarest, stove and percolator.
I rooked my friend Adam into joining on his BMW 650. His heavier bike with sloppy suspension and street tires handicap his superior riding skills enough for us to ride at about the same pace. We started on Familiar Mississippi roads. I forgot my camera which sucked in every way. I have to rely on Adam's pictures and a handful from my phone camera (which i couldn't get to recharge) for this report.
But before we got to Tennessee Adam's chain up and fell off.
He was able to adjust it but was a bit concerned that it was at the limits of adjustment. It was also showing a bit of cord but we were already 35 miles into 1000 so we couldn't turn back.
We got into Tennessee where there are houses or farms everywhere and every driveway seems to have a dog. Since I had the maps and was riding in front, the dogs would start out running after me. I would honk my horn, slow down swerve and kick trying to lead them on but eventually they would give up an lock on to Adam. One little terrier was tenacious. When Adam stuck his boot out to push the dog away the dog went under his boot, rolled over a couple of times and was back on his feet biting at his back tire.
When we reached civilization (Boliver) Adam wanted to get some stuff to address his chain. We went to Auto Shack to get a file to cut the old chain and some longer bolts for his adjuster. Adam wanted to buy a master link too. I asked the cashier if there was a motorcycle shop in town and was told there was a "kinda sorta one" nearby.
We followed their directions and when I spotted this I KNEW we were among friends.
But it turned out we were going down there.
To the oldest building in Boliver.
The owner told us to "come on in and look around"
When he found time to show us all of his marvelous accomplishments...
we discussed chain sizes (did you know a 640o-ring is the same as a #5?) his old XR650 (on site) his new CR500, the Z50 XL70 and XR80 that his grandson had ridden to great success and the trophies that littered (literally) the loft of his business. None of the bikes in the shop had a tank or seat so it made them hard to identify.
It turned out that he didn't have any O-Ring chains because the locals wouldn't spend the money for them but he had a section
of O-ring chain that we could take to his bench grinder and relieve the o-rings.
After 45 minutes or so I assumed that he had told Adam that he didn't have the master link and Adam was too nice to leave with all of the untold stories but it turned out that we just weren't done hearing the stories that needed to be told.
We finally broke free with a $5 master link. The proprietor never once asked where we were going or what we were riding.
A bit delayed we moved on to the usual TN hazzards.
I have ridden this part before and this path is slippery.
So I pussed out and walked the KTM accross.
Adam rode the crossing but he did it really slowly and dragged his feet. Pussy.
We kept moving east and came to a road blocked by a logging truck backing into a lot. There was a lady in a Mustang waiting but since we were on a gravel road I skipped to the front of the line so we wouldn't have to pass her once we started moving.
We got to one of these slick water crossings;
I tried to avoid it by crossing in the ditch and the chick who is apparently a relative of Colin McRae came flying past in the Mustang, sprayed me with a wave of water and drifted off down the gravel.
I tried to ride accross the last crossing but the front kept washing so I got off and guided it accross. Once on the other side I found this:
We finished our 300 mile day at Davy Crocket State PArk in Lawrenceburg then set out to look for libations. We rode all over town even to a grocery store looking, then we back-tracked to a place I I.D.d on the way in.
I was tired from riding and the 6 tall boys. We slept late, way too late, then made coffee, then rode to the Polaris dealer to look for a tire for Adam's BMW.
They had one 17"
It's a bad boy.
We were back on the trail by 11:00 just 9 more hours to our destination. This section of the trail could be described as
Ride 1 mile of two lane road,
Turn onto a highway,
Ride 1/4 mile,
For 300 miles.
We rode a highway that paralleled a creek for a while. At one point I scared up some big birds who flew up and over me and I saw one of them shit. A bit later we stopped in the shade to take some surreptitious pictures of a real live Chain Gang.
These guys were working spreading gravel on a bridge or something in their off time.
I love the "Jail Bird Blue Bird" in the background.
While we were cooling off I noticed something on the back of my bike. It was pink and slimy. I imagined hitting some road kill and kicking it up on the bike but it looked fresh. Finally Adam tasted it (or maybe got close enough to smell it) and determined that it was fish.
We were puzzled for a while but I eventually remembered the birds and the creek and surmised that the birds must have been enjoying a Sushi lunch and tried to take some with them but dropped a sizable hunk on my bike.
We rode and rode and rode. For a while it was the suburbs of Nashville where we saw some hot stay at home moms and there was even an attack cat. We rode through several tree farms sucking up state government subsidies.
Our destination was Frozen Head State Park 300 miles from our start but 200 miles in we went through Rock Island State park and wished we were stopping. The old maps had us crossing an awesome looking bridge that was now pedestrian only so we sought out an alternative route. I missed a turn and caught something coming at me from the corner of my eye. I assumed it was a deer passing through but on further review it was a cow out to kill me.
A large calf had ended up outside of its fence and was chilling with other cattle on the side of the road when it was spooked by our bikes and jumped off the hill and into the road just in front of me to the point I thought I was going to either hit it or be crushed by it. Having grown up around cows and watching PBR I know that full sized bulls can jump a fence and a calf can run like hell.
Adam nearly passed out from laughing so hard.
The next section was probably the best of the ride, gravel roads, big hills picturesque scenery... We got to this familiar spot that makes all of the ride reports.
I stopped on the bridge to look at it and the bike didn't restart. I immediately thought "fuel pump" but didn't want to believe it. we pushed the bike into the entrance of the creek landing and Adam went down to make friends with some locals. Since it was Thursday afternoon they were all drinking and getting ready to go party.
They asked me if I wanted a beer and I answered honestly. I think we ended up drinking 5 or 6 between us plus ate some grilled chicken and even took a big bag of chicken with us. They also gave us solid advice on where to buy liquor, where to camp and how far away the bars were. I finally got the KTM started, rode it around the area, lost my cell phone charge cord and we took off into the increasingly dark sky.
The fuel pump petered out again in front of this store outside of Crossville, TN.
We bought some beers, made some phone calls and cursed the darkness. The gps found us a KOA 25 miles away so when the fuel pump started working again, we made our way towards it. It died again, Adam went to check it out while I stayed behind and started drinking. I got it started again and finally rode to the campground late and cold.
Like this except dark and colder.