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Old 12-13-2012, 03:03 PM   #1
leftystrat62 OP
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The TAT Preparation Thread-the logistical side of it

One of the things I've really enjoyed in preparing for the TransAmerica Trail (TAT) is all the reading and research that I've done. For some this may be a burden,especially because of the time involved,so I thought I'd put together a thread specifically on how to prepare for the TAT. There are lots of great ride reports out there that contain bits and pieces of helpful information,but wouldn't it be great if you could find all that in one place? I was thinking of trying to gather information on: mapping,riding gear, camping gear,specific TAT bike preparation, electronics,etc.
I'd love to hear form both those who have ridden the TAT as well as those of us who are still preparing for this trip of a life time.
I've been an outdoor enthusiast since the 80's, with climbing,mountaineering,and riding as part of my background. My overall skill set is pretty good, but I'm always interested in learning from others how to do things better-that's one of the reasons I enjoy the ride reports(RR) so much.
I'd like to start the ball rolling with my (still in progress) preparation for mapping out the TAT. As a solo rider, I chose to have redundancy in place which includes Sam's roll charts, converting his maps onto my Delorme/ Bench Mark Atlas',as well as using gps tracks.
My first order was to buy Sam's maps/roll charts
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I actually purchased the maps last winter with the intention of riding it this past summer, but finances dictated me putting it off until this Aug 2013. I've got to say this part of the planning process has taken me WAAAAY more time than I thought it would. I fairness to me I am trying to learn and understand BaseCamp (I've got a MAC),learn how to use my Garmin Montana ,and just figure out computer stuff which I struggle with. I'm sure there is probably a quicker and more efficient ways to do what I am going to share,but my gps/computer skills are lacking so I did the best I could do with what I've got
Here are the resources I have chosen to add to Sam's mapsPhotobucketPhotobucket
I'm a big fan of the DeLorme Atlas',and even more of Bench Mark Atlas' that only cover out WEST. I strarted with Sam's TN maps and converted them into the atlas with a colored marker (this is a Bench Mark Atlas).Photobucket
I came up with a system that seem to work well for me. I retraced Sam's maps into the atlas' and where ever he placed a milage marker,I did the same in the atlas,and on the roll charts indicated by a highlighted yellow mark at the appropriate milage marker. I also numbered each state turn by turn on the roll charts with a red pen starting from 1 to? This matched up with each turn on the gps. This was very tedious,but here is what I accomplished. I plan to predominately follow the gps while I ride,but what if the gps dies,or I want to confirm info with the roll chart? By having those corresponding numbers it allows me to roll the roll chart forward at my leisure,(not turn by turn). If my gps says 138 Rt; 156.72,then that means on my roll chart -at the 138th number that I wrote with red pen I take a right,and the overall accumulated milage is 156.72 miles that is shown om my maps as well.

PhotobucketPhotobucket
To help on the gps end-I used a RED rectangle to always indicate the mile markers that are on the maps/roll charts.Photobucket

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Old 12-13-2012, 03:39 PM   #2
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I've had 3 separate trips on various parts of the TAT. 2 out east and 1 out west. The 2 trips east we only used GPS and it worked pretty well. There were some hiccups but we were always able to quickly get out the map and figure out where we were and where we need to be. The way we set up our files was to coordinate the file with the map. TN-01 was the GPS file and it coordinated to the first map in the TN set, AR-03 was the 3rd map in the Arkansas set. So, if we needed to refer to a map, all we had to do was to look at the GPS and see which file we were on. We got pretty good at changing files while moving (you kids don't try that at home).

Out west, I had a GPS and the guy I was riding with, Patrick, was using roll charts. I was having issues with the GPS power wise and he was having electrical issues with his odometer. Another problem with the roll charts is that unless your odometer is super accurate it won't match up with the roll charts. Patrick's was off as well and he would have to reset his odometer every few hours at a known location in order to keep up with the roll charts.

The final issue is the new color maps. Oregon in particular. Oregon is supposed to be the worst state to try and navigate through due to the sheer number of roads in the woods. The Oregon map that is provided is so small scale-wise that it makes it useless to try and use to navigate with. When I was creating my GPS files, I had to use the roll charts and not the map.

Are you planning to bring all that paper with you? I think you'll find that traveling lighter is a major contributor to a successful trip. Personally, I would go with GPS and the maps and make up your own Oregon maps.

RIding the TAT is a blast, I will be back in NM this June and start making my way west to the coast.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:20 PM   #3
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Mrprez if you can tell me how to reply to just a certain section of your response instead of my quoting your whole post that would be great! I could never figure out how people do that when they respond to section by section.
So I'll have to do it old school. To refer back and forth from my atlas maps and the gps what I did was remove only the necessary pages from each atlas which when it's all said and done is equivalent to carrying only one atlas for the whole country! I made a plastic pocket cover for it and reinforced it with duct tape with a velcro lid-seems to work real well.

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I'm in total agreement that you'll need a super accurate odometer-I've installed a ICO Racing Dual Sport VRL(with battery back-up) which allows me to move forward or backwards my odometer reading (which is in tenths)-just incase I miss that turn and have to turn around. If I didn't have a unit with that odometer feature,I don't think I would have even considered bringing the roll charts.

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The problem you mentioned in OR I think (hope) I've addressed for the entire TAT. I chose to transfer Sam's maps to the atlas' because the detail the atlas' show is excellent,but Sam's maps can be confusing. Plus because of the atlas' size I can better understand the bigger picture.
Photobucket

If you notice in this picture I've highlighted any and all camping along the TAT as well as marked the hotel/Gas/food locations with my color code system.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:31 PM   #4
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I plan on spending around an extra 4 days in Co & UT,that's why I purchased those other maps and books. I don't regret buying the books,but for this trip I don't think they were necessary.
Here's two pictures of the White Rim Trail in UT that most people ride. I wanted to show you what it looked like in the National Geographic map,and then the Moab East or West Trails map.

First the Nat. Geo Map
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now the moab map
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Both great in their own way,can't go wrong with either one,but I think I'm leaning towards the Moab map.
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Old 12-13-2012, 04:41 PM   #5
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Here's what the Tat looks like on BaseCamp ,first a distance away,then I zoomed in to show you what I will see on my gps.
PhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket

I've read of others using google earth to plot out the TAT, but I couldn't figure out how to do it. So what I have been doing it plotting each and every Longitude & Latitude coordinate (that is provided on the roll chart) in to basecamp as a waypoint (WP). It's VERY time consuming,but I'm pretty sure this will keep me on Sam's actual course of travel-which should be helpful in NV & OR--I hope.

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Old 12-13-2012, 04:58 PM   #6
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My roll chart has a strip of tire tube around it to keep the rain out of the "waterproof" roll chart that I bought from touratec.
Photobucket

this roll chart will go on that ram ball that is on the right side of my handle barsPhotobucket
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Old 12-13-2012, 05:01 PM   #7
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Last but not least I plan to carry all the states TN-OR on this 32 gb thumb drive. I'm sure if I get in a jam,I can find an inmate who could help me reload the maps
Photobucket

One of the other reasons I really want to carry all the atlas sections with me is because I like to camp as much as possible. As the day is drawing to a close I can pull out the atlas,locate where I am on it and see if there is something close by. These atlas' list all the state parks,camps sites,etc. in the index,so I've already highlighted them on the maps,and loaded them into my gps. I plan to camp as much as possible (unless it's really raining),that's one part of riding that I really do enjoy.

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Old 12-13-2012, 10:55 PM   #8
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Wow! Looks like a lot of passionate work. Plan your work and work your plan. I will just follow you.
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Old 12-14-2012, 04:32 AM   #9
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I would think that between your maps and the GPS that you will soon find that keeping up with the roll charts to be pretty tedious. I like what you've done with the Benchmark maps, I may copy that as sometimes I find it necessary to modify my route a bit. For instance when leaving CO and going into UT, I stayed in Dove Creek and bypassed Monticello the next day. This required a reroute to get from Dove Creek to the TAT route heading north into Moab. Once I got my GPS issue resolved, I had no problems following my route at all.
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Old 12-14-2012, 11:28 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrprez View Post
I would think that between your maps and the GPS that you will soon find that keeping up with the roll charts to be pretty tedious. I like what you've done with the Benchmark maps, I may copy that as sometimes I find it necessary to modify my route a bit. For instance when leaving CO and going into UT, I stayed in Dove Creek and bypassed Monticello the next day. This required a reroute to get from Dove Creek to the TAT route heading north into Moab. Once I got my GPS issue resolved, I had no problems following my route at all.
I agree that the roll chart seems like it could be tedious,that's why I numbered each turn on the gps to match the roll charts #,so if I needed to confirm a tricky part I can just "roll" to it quickly. I really like using maps especially these atlas',but it's such a pain to get off the bike,unpack the maps just to check one turn-thus the gps.
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Old 12-14-2012, 01:04 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leftystrat62 View Post
I've read of others using google earth to plot out the TAT, but I couldn't figure out how to do it. So what I have been doing it plotting each and every Longitude & Latitude coordinate (that is provided on the roll chart) in to basecamp as a waypoint (WP). It's VERY time consuming,but I'm pretty sure this will keep me on Sam's actual course of travel-which should be helpful in NV & OR--I hope.
I do mapping using Google Maps. AFAIK here are ways of converting kml/kmz files into gpx, but I've never done it. GMaps works great for me.

I map out sections of a ride in Google Maps, then use a bookmarklet from here which gives an XML/GPX format text dump of the route. I open a scratch gpx file I use for this workflow, dump in the XML, and open it with Mapsource. I haven't used BaseCamp, but I imagine you could use it the same way.

What this gets me is a high resolution track of what I want to map out, without me having to screw around with the horrible pen tools in Mapsource. When making them for the TAT I used the roll chart as it is easy to check the distances in Google Maps (though they are sometimes off by a few tenths).

If I come to a road which is not route-able by Google Maps, I export everything up to that point and just manually draw the lines in Mapsource. I've mapped every part of the TAT this way (except Oregon) and only ran into this problem 3 or 4 times. Oregon is another story, as pretty much every map I've been able to lay hands on (mostly digital ones) are a horrible mess of logging roads and it's hard to sort it out. Hopefully the newer maps Sam made are a little better and easier to decipher.

If I ever opt to do the portions I haven't hit yet (from Salina, UT westward), I'll probably buy the new maps if only to get Oregon sorted out.
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Old 12-14-2012, 02:31 PM   #12
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So I thought I'd show the equipment/tools/gear that is always in my saddle bags on my DS bike,and will be with me on the TAT. I've always been interested in knowing just what people like to carry,so I will try to document it with pictures that show things in more detail,and will make mention of some things that may not be obvious. Hope this helps.

Photobucket

Photobucket
Photobucket

I'm pretty sure I'm going to try the mousse tire tube inserts instead of tubes,if that's the case I'll drop the electric (which works great) pump and carry a small hand pump. I'll then only carry one spare tube-not two if I do the Mousse. Probable leave one of the two patch kits at home also.
Photobucket

As a Firefight I feel comfortable knowing what to take in my first aid kit. Just basic stuff I use every day in the streets. Anything more than lacerations and gross bleeding-your screwed. lol
PhotobucketPhotobucket

This bag carries a lot of incidentals

Photobucket

Some of the items:test light,soldering torch,film negative to clean out weeping/leaking fork,SPARE head lamp,floding scissors & tape for roll charts,fire starter,sleeping pad repair kit,water purf. tabs
Photobucket
Photobucket

That silver item in the middle is a "stand" to keep the bike up incase of a flat,and the tow strap is on the far right
Photobucket

Majority of toolsPhotobucket
Photobucket
that is 2 diff. stainless steel wires on dowels,and some solder material above
Photobucket

These are the items in that white pouch on the lft. side of the tool bag. The top lft-grease in an old film canister,some radiator lead stuff,spare radiator hose, blue 3/8 adapter that works with tire iron,that duct tape bag contains an assortment of scrws.etc.
Photobucket

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Old 12-16-2012, 08:22 AM   #13
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Looks like some great preparation. I didn't read all the details and maybe you've covered this, but here are a few important things I have found on trips like this.

For the GPS convert your routes to tracks and plan to navigate by following the tracks.
If you haven't done a lot of this type riding, I would recommend practicing navigation. I have always found it a lot harder than I would ever have believed. Things just don't work the way you think they will. Using tracks solves a lot of the problems.

There were lots of major-looking dirt roads in Oregon that did not show up my GPS at the time.

Instead of the thumb drive, you might just buy another microSD card and just swap it out if you have a problem.

Plan on having to do maintenance to your air filter. I carry two preoiled spares for my KLR.

Bring a small voltmeter. You can get one for less than $5 at Harbor Freight. I have found I use this about more than any other tool on trips anymore.
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Old 12-16-2012, 10:45 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wbbnm View Post
Looks like some great preparation. I didn't read all the details and maybe you've covered this, but here are a few important things I have found on trips like this.

For the GPS convert your routes to tracks and plan to navigate by following the tracks.
If you haven't done a lot of this type riding, I would recommend practicing navigation. I have always found it a lot harder than I would ever have believed. Things just don't work the way you think they will. Using tracks solves a lot of the problems.

There were lots of major-looking dirt roads in Oregon that did not show up my GPS at the time.

Instead of the thumb drive, you might just buy another microSD card and just swap it out if you have a problem.

Plan on having to do maintenance to your air filter. I carry two preoiled spares for my KLR.

Bring a small voltmeter. You can get one for less than $5 at Harbor Freight. I have found I use this about more than any other tool on trips anymore.
I do covert the to tracks but forgot about doing a backup with a sd card instead of thumb drive.
I do carry a spare oiled filter,and I plan to also carry a few air filter skins for this trip.
I think I'll look for that volt meter instead of the test light-especially if it's small. Thanks for the input.
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Old 12-16-2012, 04:25 PM   #15
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Laugh looking forward to the RR!

We may have met in May at the Berkshires ride...meters:
http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=692098 Wired to signal from R Brake lets me see the battery volts when bike's off, when running, shows how alternator's doing. Offered by Sanjoh, another inmate emoto has similar you can search for/PM either.

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=793723 was the voltmeter I bought from inmate herrhelmet, been working fine & I didn't trust the $5 HF.

Add a plastic straw, how to avoid shorting when testing volts.

Wish I could go with you; have a blast!!! Thanks for posting a great 'how to' ride prep!

Have you seen http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=691537 Dualsportmaps.com?


Quote:
Originally Posted by leftystrat62 View Post
I do covert the to tracks but forgot about doing a backup with a sd card instead of thumb drive.
I do carry a spare oiled filter,and I plan to also carry a few air filter skins for this trip.
I think I'll look for that volt meter instead of the test light-especially if it's small. Thanks for the input.
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