Ed on the Trans American Trail

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by edstoll, Jun 25, 2009.

  1. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    328
    Location:
    Iowa
    Trans American Trail

    This is my first real attempt at a ride report here. I have lurked forever and educated myself here. I hope someone gets some enjoyment or benefit from this.

    I also needed a place for my family and friends to see what I have been up to without trying to explain it over and over.


    It all started with a desire to ride the Trans American Trail. www.transamtrail.com . The route runs across the United States using dirt roads, gravel roads, forest roads and farm roads. It drops down into dried up creek beds and runs atop abandoned railroad grades.

    The problem is it is 4800 miles long and would take a lot of time to complete. I decided to break it into sections and am beginning with the official start of the trail in Jellico Tennessee. In this report I will ride Tennessee, Mississippi and Arkansas. The plan is to ride to Jellico, ride the trail and somewhere in Oklahoma turn back towards home. I hope to ride the rest of the trail in the future. .

    First I bought the maps and spent some quality time with Map Quest getting the route ready to download to the GPS. I also built a route to Tennessee that will keep me off the major roads. Then I got my DR650 all kitted up for the ride and waited for a weather window. Notice the new tire. I didn’t want to put a new knobby on and just wear it out riding pavement to Tennessee. I figured I would just ride on the mostly wore out one and it will be toast by the start of the trail. I can swap it out anywhere..

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    I wait while storm after storm moves through and finally on Wednesday the 17th of June it looks like I have a shot. I leave early in the morning from home in Osceola Iowa. I am planning two days to ride 760 miles to Jellico.

    When I take these rides a big part of it is to locate a cheese burger and chocolate shake. This chain store never disappoints.

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    I did not take pictures on the way to Jellico. I made very good time and it looked like I was going to get to Jellico the first day. Everything was going great and then mother nature steped in. It seems I hade out run my weather window and caught up to some severe weather in western Kentucky.

    I was planning little to no motel use this trip to save money but I was so soaked I checked in to the Motel 6 in Morgantown Kentucky. I laid out my stuff to dry and put my wet shoes on the heater vent.




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    606 miles for the first day is still pretty good

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    I got up early on the 18th and did the final 175 miles to Jellico

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    The tire doesn’t look like it has hardly worn down anymore. I guess I will just go ahead and leave it on awhile. I can change it anytime and I may as well get the goodie out of it.

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    After you leave town you get to twisty gravel right away. I was ½ day ahead of schedule and having a ball.
    Then mother nature stepped back in. The clouds looked ominous so I got off the trail near Winfield Tennessee and found shelter in a car wash.

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    That worked out perfectly and I stayed dry as a mean storm blew through. I waited awhile until the roads dried up some and then hit the trail again. I had read where many of the Tennessee roads have been paved. I found that to be true but they are still fun roads. They are narrow and twisty and through some very beautiful country.

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    Through out this trip I crossed many small rivers that people were out enjoying and swimming in.


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    If you will notice I still didn’t need the new tire yet.

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    While out of a forest service road I caught up to another motorcycle rider unmistakably doing the same thing as me. I met Brian from New Hampshire. He had ridden from New Hampshire and was going to spend the next 8 weeks doing the entire Trans Am Trail and then ride back to New Hampshire. Wow.

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    We rode together for a day. It was a regular thing to stop for gas since Brian was running the stock tank on his XR650R. He only had about a 90 mile range. I hope he gets that changed before he gets out west. Gas stops frequently get a visit from curious locals. I really enjoy that stuff.

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    We got to Rock Island State Park as it was getting dark. This was Brians planned stop for the night so after a few pictures of the waterfalls we setup camp.



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    420 miles for the day. It was a long but good day and I am still ½ day ahead of schedule.

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    That is it for day one on the trail. I have to get another cup of coffee before posting more.
    #1
  2. advridgerunner

    advridgerunner RESIST WE MUCH !

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,071
    Location:
    Chesapeake AND Bedford Co. VA
    good post friend, I hope to do at leat part of the TAT one day.
    #2
  3. mark2wheeler

    mark2wheeler Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2006
    Oddometer:
    61
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbia USA
    It seems you have it good so far.Best of luck.I will want to learn more about the trail.
    #3
  4. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    60,269
    Looks good :thumb

    :lurk
    #4
  5. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    328
    Location:
    Iowa
    Up early again and all packed up ready to roll.

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    While I have the maps and roll charts with me I keep them in a saddlebag and rely on the GPS track I had built from them. Brian on the other hand has a GPS but is operating on the roll chart and maps.

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    When I first found him the previous day he was having trouble figuring out where he was on the trail. After getting him acclimated to where he was in relationship to his charts he had the route nailed. As long as he stayed on top of it he would always know which way to go at intersections. I would occasionally blow a corner but it would show on my GPS and I would turn around a few yards later and get back on track.

    We were suppose to cross this dam but it was gated off for construction. We had to route around it.

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    Brian really needs a bigger tank

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    Bell Buckle Tennessee is the home of the RC Cola and Moon Pie Festival. Really cool town and of course I had an RC Cola and Moon Pie.

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    As you read other Trans American Trail reports you learn the Tennessee section is famous for super slick water crossings. Trust me they were. Just ask Brian.
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    I had been worrying about Brian’s rear sprocket. It was extremely worn out. I was looking at it at the gas stops and it was deteriorating rapidly. I convinced him we should jump off the trail and ride into Lawrenceburg to get him fixed up. Randy’s Cycles had what he needed so we said our farewells and I continued on alone.


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    When it started getting dark I got off the trail and rode into Bolivar Tennessee. There were firemen sitting outside at the Fire Station. I was probably looking pretty rough by then. I ask them if there was any place to set up a tent for the night. They said there were no camp grounds and one of them didn’t think it would be safe to just set up behind a church or anything. I told them I could go to a motel but I am cheap. They told me which motel was the best and gave me directions. I thanked them and walked back to my bike and put on my helmet. Then one of them hollered at me to come back. He says we might have a place for you. He then ask me “are you a serial killer or anything ? “ I told him no, actually I am a police officer from Iowa. They start laughing and ask why I didn’t tell them that sooner. I told them that would have got me kicked out faster. After some more laughing and friendly banter involving donuts and such, they showed me a nice grassy spot behind the fire station. They opened up their showers for me and it was all perfect. Great guys


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    It was another good long day and I was now one full day ahead of schedule.


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    I packed up and was out of there at first light. I bought some donuts , left them at the fire department and was rolling early.

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    I believe this was Walnut Mississippi. Interesting police department.

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    Mississippi had more dirt roads.

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    As I was going through Illinois on the way down I ran into a lot of bridge construction. At some of those sites it was advertised as being paid for with stimulus money. President Obama is from Illinois right?

    In Mississippi they just closed all the bridges.

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    This one was torn clear out so I left Brain a note and routed around this one.

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    There are some good bridges in Mississippi.

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    Mississippi has a problem with Kudzu. It grows like crazy and is over taking everything. Notice the nice new tire still on the trunk. I am really getting mileage out of that old Kenda 270.

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    Rode some pretty nice roads and then another bridge.

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    I’m not going to be turned back anymore.

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    Then it was up on some levees in the northern delta.

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    Isle of Capri Casino at the Mississippi and Arkansas border I am into Arkansas and still haven’t put on that tire.

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    That is the end of Mississippi. Work is calling. I will try to finish this report tonight.
    #5
  6. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Oddometer:
    3,529
    Location:
    Jennings, Louisiana
    :clap :clap Love the TAT reports. You're gonna have fun roads starting in Central Arkansas. Those Kenda 270's are tuff and last.
    #6
  7. Wannabee

    Wannabee Survivor of Reality

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,513
    Location:
    Portage ,PA
    Cool Ride!
    Another Kenda 270 fan I see. I run them on my dr and ran them on my NX650 , get go milage out of them , handle rock and mud , anything I want them to do.
    Keep posting , very interesting ride.
    #7
  8. KeeneState83

    KeeneState83 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2008
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Pelham, NH
    I'm in!!! :lurk

    Where abouts in NH is Brian from?? I'm in Southern NH is the only reason I ask...
    #8
  9. MapRider

    MapRider Trapped

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2003
    Oddometer:
    180
    Location:
    Woodland Park, CO
    :lurk
    #9
  10. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    328
    Location:
    Iowa
    I think he is from the southern part of the state. His ADV user name is nhappytrails. He is a good guy. I hope he gets hooked up with others going all the way.
    #10
  11. LeeU

    LeeU Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2004
    Oddometer:
    334
    Location:
    Casa Grande,AZ
    That Kenda won't wear out!! They get to that tread depth and last & last! I don't like them when that flatten out and make awful road noise!!!:lol3 :wink:
    Was on the TAT (East) a couple of weeks ago. It gets better the further west you go. It's HOT everywhere in the eastern portion now!!!:eek1 :eek1

    Lee Ullmann
    Rogers,AR
    #11
  12. Curtis in Texas

    Curtis in Texas Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2006
    Oddometer:
    209
    Location:
    Rhome Texas
    :lurk
    I'm in for this.
    3 friends and I will be doing this same ride in the Fall.
    I;m showing my family your RR so they can understand why and where.

    Curtis in Texas
    #12
  13. DauntlessDave

    DauntlessDave Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2008
    Oddometer:
    101
    Location:
    New York Capitol Region
    Good report. Tip: If you put a few vertical spaces (enter) between each picture they wont spread out horizontally on you. That way the thread will be eaier to read because your text will be screen width.
    #13
  14. hankme

    hankme I'm probably drunk.

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2009
    Oddometer:
    45
    Location:
    Arden, NC
    :lurk
    #14
  15. ksmdigital

    ksmdigital Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 27, 2008
    Oddometer:
    48
    Location:
    Beverly,Ma
    Great report and I love your pictures.

    :lurk
    #15
  16. offthetrail

    offthetrail Adventure Schemer

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Home base: Edmonton
    Nice RR so far!
    I love reading about the TAT since I will be doing it in August.
    Looking foward to the rest.
    #16
  17. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    328
    Location:
    Iowa
    Thanks for the tip. I will try to do better on the next post coming up later.
    #17
  18. edstoll

    edstoll OPD-2019

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2004
    Oddometer:
    328
    Location:
    Iowa
    I was getting hungry so I rolled into the Sonic in West Helena Arkansas. It was 2pm and the place was packed. All the drive up slots were full so I pulled into the Sherwin Williams parking lot right beside it. A guy comes running out and says “you’re an adventure rider you can park right in front”.
    It turns out to be John who runs the Sonic there. He is RahRah on Adv Rider. John has some dirt bikes and a 640 Adventure. He is planning a Continental Divide ride. He fixed me up with a great cheese burger and chocolate shake. I recommend this stop to others passing through. Thanks John.

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    The first part of Arkansas is flat and uneventful.

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    I ended the day early at Beebe Arkansas with a great price on a decent room at the Economy Inn. I did laundry and shaved for the first time of the trip. It was a good day and I am still a day ahead of schedule. I thought about mounting up the new tire but the old Kenda is still hanging in there.


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    Up early for a predawn breakfast at Waffle House and on the trail again.

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    I guess if you don’t like the concrete crossing you can go over the road with the tubes under it. I tried them both and they both function perfectly. So if you have been following along- They repair bridges in Illinois, close them in Mississippi and double them in Arkansas.


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    Then there were other places where no crossing was developed you just crossed.

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    This place was pretty cool. I guess it is a backwoods bar or something. Two trailer homes set side by side (notice the trailer tongues sticking out) with some space between them. Then they just built a roof over the whole thing and have an open air stage and deck in the middle.

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    I started getting into the Ozark National Forest. Really good riding and views.

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    Gotta go I'll be back to do more after bit.
    #18
  19. Staxrider

    Staxrider dirt dauber

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,042
    Location:
    Fourth Chickasaw Bluffs
    Nice report. Feel free to take some of that kudzu back to Iowa, we have plenty.
    #19
  20. dmottv

    dmottv Take the Long Way Home

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2008
    Oddometer:
    441
    Location:
    NH Blue Hills
    Excellent! If you run into Brian again, tell him seacoast NH is cheering him on!
    #20