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Old 09-24-2012, 07:40 AM   #1
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YAHBO's For Real TAT reflections...

I departed Lincolnton, NC on 3SEP and made it to Port Orford on 22SEP. I will load up some pics when I get back to NY but for now I am just going to share some pointers and experiences from this event.

I rode a 2002 DRZ400E with 14/48 geaing.

The TAT is two disctinctly different rides. The "eastern" (TN, MS, AR and OK) is a fun street/gravel road ride that takes you deep into some back country. I was caught in Hurricane Isaac's aftermath so I saw rain for the first three days. Lots of it. The water crossings were deeper than usual, I'm sure, but nothing was impassable. The paved roads in these states were very slick when wet and some of the mountain gravel roads were washed out and exposed lots of rock. I ran a Dunlop 606 on the front and a Kenda on/off (can't recall model). The eastern half could be done on a mild on/off tire (mind your pressures accordingly) in my opinion. Knobbies are not necessary.

The western half (NM, CO, UT, NV, CA and OR) is the real deal. From CO on you will be challenged in certain spots and knobbies, or ideally, trials tires will be necessary. I changed tires in Tulsa and looking back, I should have gone with trials tires. The rocky sections in UT were lengthy and many steep, gnarly uphills. I ran 606s again and that is a good all around tire. It was dry and hot from OK on so I didn't fare too badly with the 606s.

My gearing limited me to 55 mph and the bike was turning 7500-8000 rpm at that speed. Looking back, I would have started with a 15 tooth countershaft sprocket and changed it to a 14 in CO. There are steep, rocky climbs in CO/UT/NV that you will need be careful on. Heavily loaded and with the wrong gearing is a potential issue. I felt confident with the 14/48 in the steepest sections. I was running a stock clutch, no Rekluse/Revloc etc. My bike had a fresh piston and rings with proper break in and run in before I left so I was not concerned with extended revs on the street. I fact, the bike ran better each day. It never lost power in the high elevations (162 main jet) considering it is a sea level bike (Long Island, NY).

The deep sandy sections in NV will crush your spirit if you are too heavy, improperly geared, inexperienced. There are long, silty sections (check any TAT report) with sagebrush growing in the ruts and they will be difficult. Stay on the gas, get back on the seat, wiggle the bars slightly, keep your feet on the pegs (!) and do not stop.

It's all worth it because when you get to OR, you are rewarded in many ways with nicely graded forest roads, clean, narrow trails and an overall wonderful riding experience. OR is stunning at every turn and its only equal for fun and beauty is CO.

Navigation issues were few and far between. Sam Correro is a real American hero in my book and I tip my hat to him for what he has done. This ride is amazingly complex, navigation wise, and he has it nailed down. I took note of two distinct issues with his roll charts, but for the most part, navigation errors were of my own failures. MS has some very close navigation points where you will need to slow down, really pay attention and possibly get off the bike to reference other things. On a couple different occasions, I had to reference all my tools. Blackberry, ipad, paper maps, roll charts and compass. Which, reminds me, I ran a Trailtech Voyager with a compass and it was very handy to have. In some instances, if you get "lost" you can reference the roll chart's general direction and keep moving that way, eventually finding the trail again. NV had some issues in/near Coyote Mountain if I recall and I spent three hours fighting these tight, rocky cattle trails out of the mountains because I blew it coming in and was WAY off. Don't do that. Overall, these maps and rollcharts are very accurate and you just need to take your time and learn early the difference in your odometer's readings against Sam's rollcharts. Mine ran 2/10ths heavy most of the time. For example, if the rollchart said "next turn in 6/10ths" mine would read 8-9/10ths. It is key not to panic when you don't see the turn, slow down and it will be there. Sometimes it was necessary to pay very close attention to the roads/trails that you would NOT be taking as they provided clues to the one you WOULD be taking. In fact, these details are key.

I had good wx after the first three days and it was VERY hot from AR to NM. I regularly saw 100 plus degrees during the day and my bike typically ran 100 degrees hotter than the air temp. I had no cooling/overheating issues but I did see 230 degrees climbing Cinnamon Pass in CO. You may want to install a temp sensor on your bike if not equipped. The Trailtech unit has a very tidy install/set up with a radiator bleed screw connector and was very accurate. Recommended. I wore synthetic thermals under my gear and that, while sounding crazy, allows for your skin to breathe under the gear. Do not wear cotton clothes for any reason, at any time. They will become trash. Invest in a good set of synthetic thermals from North Face, EMS, etc.

I did not camp. Not once. I brought a tent, sleeping pad and bag in case I needed it but I never did. There are motels and hotels laid out on the rollcharts and the pacing of the ride is well done by Sam. By the time you see the directions into town for a motel, you will need it. Some sections you can press on to the next one, but in the west, I wouldn't recommend it. If you are doing this solo and suffer a mechanical issue, there are some very remote sections that you will need to camp and figure out a plan to get back to civilization as these remote areas are devoid of cell signal also.

Fuel. I had a 4.1 tank and never did I run out. I did on one occasion had to lay my bike over and get the fuel from the right lobe into the left, petcock side. In NV there are some long stretches. If you get lost and spend too much time burning through fuel trying to get back to the trail, you might have an issue. I would not recommend any less that a four gallon capacity. My bike was getting 45-47 mpg. I carried an auxiliary container but I did not need it.

Make sure your seat is comfortable. Make sure everything is comfortable. Any minor annoyance will be a major one on this ride. I have an aftermarket seat on my DRZ that was fine to about central AR and then I started to feel the burn. I bought a used Airhawk pad from a Yamaha dealer near Norfork Lake and that saved my trip. Do not even kid yourself on this issue. Make sure your seat is comfortable. You won't be sitting much in the western states but the east you will.

I found the people (you won't see many) to be mostly friendly. I think that they got friendlier as the trip took you west. People in TN, MS and AR basically ignored me and from OK on, people were coming up to me asking where I was from and what I was doing. Of course, this is just my take on it. CO, UT, NV and OR has a lot of off roading/outdoors type people and they were eager to hear all about it. I spent an hour in OR talking to an ex enduro rider who said he wanted to get back into it and saw his chance encounter with me at the gas station as a sign from God to get back into it.

My favorite experiences:

Backwoods of AR. Very remote and many abandoned farms. Felt like I was somewhere new.

All of CO. Cinnamon and California pass made me cry like a baby. Very moving natural beauty. Stunning views and a kick ass ride to get there.

Moab, UT. Great town. Very alive. Many people doing many things, good bars and food. The ride into the mountains after leaving Moab was awesome.

All of OR. Just perfect. Great trails, great roads. Great wx. Hated to leave. The forest, the smells, the cool air. The whole thing was worth it to ride OR.

I planned this trip for two years, took a year to prep the bike and did it solo in 19 days. The real star of the show was this Suzuki DRZ400. I believe machines can have souls. But, I am not here to discuss that. Neither are you, I can say this, this motorcycle may or may not have a soul, but it made me feel lke I had one for the past three weeks.

This is the YAHBO signing off for now.


YAHBO SLEEPY!

YAHBO FLY BACK TO NY!!

YAHBO EAT PIZZA AND USE FOUL LANGUAGE!!!
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:06 AM   #2
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I'm excited to see the pictures once you get home and back on NY-time.
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:22 AM   #3
Backlash
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What About Me

I will never forget the look on your face when I did the "High Speed Fly By" when you where looking at your I Phone for cell service. I made sure I went down the road a ways before I turned around for assistance. I will send you the pictures I took of all our stuff scattered all over trying to get your tire bead set--looks like a Suzuki Pro Staff truck with the air compressor sitting on the ground. I thought it was funny that the curved blacktop we rode was a blast for you. As I could only run 55 because you couldn't keep up with your gearing I was kinda boring for me. Get a KTM 500 EXC next with 14/48 and sixth gear and then it will be a real blast--no no no not the 350. Thanks for the fish & chips and quite a few adult beverages.
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:52 AM   #4
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Allow me to pick your mind for a moment or two.

I'm planning a solo jaunt along the TAT for next June on my ADVerized 1150GS. The choice of bike isn't really up for debate, its the one I've got and I have to travel from Ct to the trailhead and home from Oregon {I refuse to load a healthy bike onto a trailer [not that I've got anything to haul that trailer (or even a trailer, to begin with...)]}. I've budgeted a full month for the trip and have enough $ planned to Uhaul the GS home from anywhere on the ride if required. My plan is to camp as much as possible, motel/hoteling probably every third night to catch up on electronics charging and laundry. Tentatively, I've got one day layovers in Salida and Moab. Salida because the last time I was in town, I had far less time than I'd have liked, and Moab because I'm a mountain biker and that town is, well, a destination unto itself.

My questions:
What do you wish you had brought?
What do you wish you'd shipped home halfway through the ride?
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Old 09-24-2012, 10:01 AM   #5
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Nice and great post. I'm from NYS originally and I could only imaging the feeling of seeing the west (and the country, for that matter) on a moto in this style and it being un-real & epic. I guess feeling spoiled being here now in the west locally.

Great post about gearing, weight etc. I feel like 90% of the time on this site people have way way way too much stuff, and are on too heavy bikes. Granted more than 3-4 days even on a dirtbike will tax you, but to me it is always worth it particularly when you hit 80 on the freeway and it actually rides just fine other than maybe in heavy wind. Honestly a good seat (aka seat concepts, something like that that inspires genuine tolerable comfort) will go a long way and I think is hugely important for any long distance trip.

It's amazing how even on a light bike that extra weight will affect you and hurt your ability to float in sand in particular... Great post/question above about what you wish you'd sent back or not brought, too...
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Old 09-24-2012, 10:03 AM   #6
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I second Twilight Error. I plan to leave for the TAT in 2 or 3 days on my GSPD. I have camping gear and most everything I think I will need. I am trying to cover the bases and some without over packing. My plan is the eastern TAT and to head south maybe after OK finding my way home on back roads.

Any key life savers or dead weight advise is much appreciated.

KB
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:04 AM   #7
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I just slightly updated my list, if this can be of any help... this is a good universal list for all motos small bike or large. I added jeans for a larger trip like the TAT.


Couple pairs good moto socks (Fox thick are nice, keep feet cool. These are better than ski socks)
a couple t shirts
two pairs boxers. Do not wear bicycling shorts because they can cause infection after more than 1 day, just get a good seat
swim short
light pant and/or jeans

lightweight technical rain coat for when cold and/or rain
lightweight technical shirt (or two) to wear under your pressure suit.moto armor.
Moto armor up top may not be necessary but it highly recommended.
puffy down jacket that compresses to nothing
flip flops and/or a small set of sneakers as temps drop
thin small packable moto jersey
bike multi tool (allen keys)
moto chain tool (only one needed for whole group)



small tool kit:
¼ drive wrench, plastic from HF
- Small ¼” drive socket set
- Wrenches from a Volvo car emergency kit, metric that are 2 sizes on the same wrench. Range 10-14, then a 17 and a small adjustable.
- Couple small wires and scotch locks (electrical)
front and rear tubes (regular duty, these are the smallest). Never actually used because I use heavy/ultra heavy duty tubes on the bike.

jet kit (never used)
Quart oil (never used, scrounged at gas stations/truck stops/auto parts stores when actually. Diesel motor oils are as good as moto oils in both synthetic and dyno)
Jb weld (never used)
electrical outlet on bike for charging phone (done before trip)
brake fluid clutch fluid (never used, only one needed for whole group)
Tire patch kit (definitely get at Walmart)
The super small sleeping bag, down ( great example), definitely avoid synthetic bags as they’re too bulky.
the light sleeping pad (great example)
tent setup (good example, or a bivy – all bivys kind of suck because they collect moisture inside)
Spork
headlamp
Swiss army knife w can opener
more voile straps
cigarette lighter
Spot beacon for the wife/emergencies
Good small camera like a Panasonic Lumix Tough camera. Only tough cameras survive the dust.

A decent size 100oz hydration pack. For technical riding, you want a combo of weight on your back and on the bike, not too much on either. For less technical / more comfort put more on the bike. The pack needs to be able to carry some mass if needed.
bar of soap or small bottle of Dr Bronners for river/caming showers
toohbruth and small toothpaste
sunblock
meds: advil, stomach, allery
iodine tablets to find/use water out of streams
bug dope / 100% deet (used when needed, but there are bugs in Utah even now in Sept/Oct)
Neosporin
small cheap J&& medical kit from a gas station
Chapstick for the desert/wind damage
Rip repair material for sleeping bags, jackets or soft bags if you go down, etc
As you travel, drink Gatorades and refill 1 bottle with water for camping. Gatorade bottles also work well for eating out of (then toss) or carrying fuel (wash out sugar residue first) or disposing of old oil.


visene and/or visene contact (can be purchased in gas stations)
metal cup (included with my small cook set)
peanut butter packets
MTB food, shots, and gels
clif bars
our own camping fork cook fork for cooking meat (may not be necessary). Wal Mart has a decent version. Only 1 needed for whole group
good whiskey
1 or 2 camping dried foods for when completely rural.. You can plan to get these in towns like Moab or in Colorado at local gear stores.

earplugs (never used, nut probably should have)
headphones (never used, but might have been nice to use for slab time)
phone charger cord to cig lighter
Another item was this tiny little titanium cup setup with a little stove. Great example, only one stove needed for whole group
Some sort of cheap quick coffee setup, maybe instant
TOTAL: About 25-30 lbs total. And small and lean…

Bike tips:
Balanced wheels/tires
Definitely make sure the springs and suspension are dialed before the trip. This makes a huge difference.
Gearing should be soe that you can get to 80-85 max and this usually means you’re geared down 2-3 teeth (or equivalent) before the trip.
Gears and chain should all be completely solid. My front cog had only 2K miles on it and completely stipped out. Luckily I’d brought a spare by accident.
Electrical and a really solid battery are hugely important because you need to rely on the bike to charge. Strong good lead batteries (Yuasa, etc) are actually just fine because they can still take a charge if your system are on the fritx. The lithium/gel batts are nice but they require your electrical to be really really solid. Do not skimp on a battery or something that’s questionable
Tires can be ordered and delivered as you progress including to inmate’s houses along the way.
Good or very good seat as mentioned
Not too much stuff or weight or weight in racks. Remember that all welds can break and can add a lot of weight. I mount Outdoor Research 15 liter dry bags directly to my bike with holes drilled through the plastics, using Voile straps. One ripped in a wreck but I quickly repaired with the repair material referenced above. These ones are nice because they have daily chains sewn into them, which isn’t hugely important but nice.


The places to get almost all of this stuff:
- REI or EMS or Campaing Store or similar
- After lots of dicking around all over the place, Wal Mart has many many things you’ll need and is definitely the place to go. See the camping section there. Bug dop and sunscreen, etc.
General thoughts on packing. More small stuff rather than a large bag or two are much better for packing small and light. Avoid large bulky things.
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:19 AM   #8
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Dan you rascal! I have referred to you as "my angel of mercy" in other venues. That was a good time and thank you again, for stopping. Hope to ride with you again maybe in some far off exotic land like Wisconsin or something.

Also, many thanks to Acesandeights who opened his home to me and generously allowed me to leave my DRZ at his place while he waits for the shipper to pick it up. Thanks, Aaron.Throw me an email at yahbomoto@gmail.com to discuss Baja 2014!



Quote:
Originally Posted by Backlash View Post
I will never forget the look on your face when I did the "High Speed Fly By" when you where looking at your I Phone for cell service. I made sure I went down the road a ways before I turned around for assistance. I will send you the pictures I took of all our stuff scattered all over trying to get your tire bead set--looks like a Suzuki Pro Staff truck with the air compressor sitting on the ground. I thought it was funny that the curved blacktop we rode was a blast for you. As I could only run 55 because you couldn't keep up with your gearing I was kinda boring for me. Get a KTM 500 EXC next with 14/48 and sixth gear and then it will be a real blast--no no no not the 350. Thanks for the fish & chips and quite a few adult beverages.
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:55 AM   #9
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Items brought/sent

The only thing I sent back was my camp towel and the used maps and used roll charts. I was running pretty light. All my extras (stuff that stayed on bike when I got off it) weighed 33 lbs. That does not count the front fender bag which housed my tools.

CLOTHING

I wore:

Riding boots, pants, enduro shell, thermal top and bottom, moto socks, gloves, helmet, wrist supports/guards.

I brought:

1 pair moto socks, rain shell, rain pants, zip off pants/shorts, Sanuk sandals (very flat east to store), goggles, thermal top, thin fleece, neck warmer, cheap work gloves, winter hat, baseball cap.

TOOLS and EXTRAS

21" tube, patch kit, JB weld, three extra air filters, extra oil, 15' rope, extra clutch lever and cable, zip ties, electrical tape, plexus, monkey butt powder, chain lube. 3/8 drive, 8, 10, 12, 14, 17, 21, 24mm sockets, tire irons, allen key set, 2 in 1 screwdriver, valve stem fishing tool, c02 cartridges, lighter, Leatherman multi tool. I did get a flat on the last day and needed the tire changer equipment. It was a front flat. FIRST AID KIT.

CAMPING and NAVIGATION

Pillow, one man tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, Touratech map flat (crossbar style), roll chart holder, GPS, GoPro Hero 2.


BIKE SET UP

Wolfman soft tank panniers, soft side bags, tail bag. I wore a Fox tailpack and a CamelBak Mule. Pics soon of the set up.

I don't feel like I brought anything unnecesary. While I did not camp, I was prepared to if I had a mechanical issue and was forced to, or met other riders that were into it. I did not need the extra oil, clutch cable and lever or rope.

I set it up so I only needed to access two of the bags regularly. If I had bad wx or mechanical issues, then I would have to access all. Other than that, when it was time to get off the bike, it was a fairly quick process to get into the room and set up for the night.

The side bags, tail bag and tank panniers weighed 33 lbs full.

I carried my electronics and charging cables in my camelbak along with my ipad, tooth brush and sandals.

If I did it again, I wouldn't change anything. Maybe leave the oil and goggles behind.

Totally agree with Dieselcruiserhead about battery. I installed a new Shorai before the trip and had zero issues. Lightweight, crazy cranking power and long life. It is a good product. I had no kick start on my bike and I never needed it.
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Old 09-24-2012, 12:20 PM   #10
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That's a stout roll chart holder. What brand is it, as I'd been looking to get one myself and that one looks well made.

Acesandeights likes YAHBO's roll chart holder.
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Old 09-24-2012, 12:44 PM   #11
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Hand made by a fellow inmate...

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Quote:
Originally Posted by acesandeights View Post
That's a stout roll chart holder. What brand is it, as I'd been looking to get one myself and that one looks well made.

Acesandeights likes YAHBO's roll chart holder.
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Old 09-24-2012, 12:54 PM   #12
woodly1069
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Excellent information all around! Thank you, hope to hit the "trail" maybe next year
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Old 09-24-2012, 06:48 PM   #13
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Nice report

To the point.
Looking forward to the photos.
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Old 09-25-2012, 08:48 AM   #14
Martindf
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The write up was informitive an to the point.I wish I wish the times and moneys were there so as I could have made the trip.Maybe it was better that you did it solo as not to worry about others riders with less experience. As a ride leader you have many things to look after.But as a fello rider and a friend I could only hope you will be there for another Mega ride that I,we will do together .M
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Old 09-25-2012, 04:09 PM   #15
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good tips. thanks man.
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