Riding the TAT to Costa Rica ...

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by JRWooden, Sep 3, 2017.

  1. JRWooden

    JRWooden Long timer

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    If Mark Sanford can hike the Appalachian trail to Argentina,
    it seems to me I should be able to take the TAT to Costa Rica . ... Right?

    Ok ... seriously:

    Tomorrow myself and three mates will set off on the TAT from Andrews NC.
    Our initial objective of Colorado. Given hurricane Harvey's influence ( as in RAIN ) we are not sure how long this might take us. I've been following several other TAT threads and things seem pretty good, so we will hope for the best.

    Depending on how it goes, when the group reaches the intersection of the TAT and either
    the BDR-CO: http://ridebdr.com/COBDR
    or perhaps the intersection with BDR-NM: http://ridebdr.com/NMBDR

    We will be splitting up ... the rest of the guys will either press on and follow the TAT to the west coast,
    or perhaps have to turn back east via some other scenic route to return to gainful employment ...
    mostly depending on the calendar.

    As for myself, having no desire to be gainfully employed, I will in all likelihood head south through Central America and end up in Costa Rica to harass my good pal @Reaver http://advrider.com/index.php?members/reaver.101274/ I'll be cashing in my voucher for a stay at his resort ( https://www.vista-villas.com/ ) which, as I understand it, gives me unfettered access to the shop fridge.

    That leg of my trip is for the most part unplanned at this point, but I'm not in a hurry.
    I'll be asking for some routing help as that part of the trip gets closer.

    So - Grab a beer, sit back, and follow along as the slapstick comedy of the four stooges unfolds.

    NOTE:

    If you are looking for any "wisdom" to be gleaned from this thread to help you prep. for a personal TAT assult just remember:

    Some people's best and highest purpose in life it so serve as a warning to others.... :imaposer

    Seriously, I'll try to put any "good stuff" in this post and edit it as I go so that it's all right here:
    (FWIW):

    • Consider buying one grade better gasoline for the TAT ....
      You will be lugging the engine from time to time ... trust me

    • As a purist, you may consider "airing down" your tires for the off-road sections,
      and airing back up when you hit asphalt again...
      I think that you will find this an "exercise in frustration" as it is hard to tell from the maps which sections are asphalt vs. dirt and it alternates often....

    • Your gear... if you plan to camp of course you'll have more gear...
      On the TAT: Less is more ... your back will thank you for every pound you leave at home
      and don't ask it to pick up with your bike on the trail ...
      Speaking of that ... I'm going to assume you're not doing the TAT alone.
      Let someone help you pick up your bike EVERY time (unless you're riding a 250)
      Don't try to be a hero and ruin your trip by hurting your self.
      Everybody will fall .... spread the load.

      Think about your final drive gearing. My bike BMW F650GS - twin cylinder came with 17/41 sprockets -- for the TAT I switched to 16/42 ... I could not be happier.
      I did Engineer's Pass with the 17/41 setup ... in retrospect that made things a LOT harder than they had to be....

    • A number of folks including myself have thought about trying to "convert" Sam's tracks to Routes so as to have turn-by-turn directions. Having now followed his tracks I say:
      Do NOT try to convert ... the tracks are "point to point" and there is enough "slop" as a result of capture accuracy and point resolution and 43 other things that will make you unhappy if you convert. .... Most GPS units will put you in the middle of the screen, you just need to "manually" follow the track. They guy in the lead has some work to do...
      follow the track, make sure the rider behind him is still there, and last but certainly not least ... control his bike and have a good time. There's a lot going on there, and it takes practice. The reward is: You are the lead dog and are seeing it all first and NOT eating dust....

    • People doing the TAT consider it a vacation I do as well. But when riders in a single group have different senses of "urgency" in terms of getting on the trail it can cause friction. I don't recommend riding alone ... but as a group y'all need to decide how you want to handle the start time: A "hard" departure ... "Kick stands up at x:xx AM" loser(s) buy the beer at the end of the day or ... whatever works ...
      but I would NOT leave that topic UN-discussed.

    • Did I mention that Arkansas has many dry counties? You've been warned!

    • I've never felt the need to "invest" in an automatic chain oiler ...
      If I ever do that TAT or something similar to it again I'll "revisit" that decision...


    #1
  2. adventurebound9517

    adventurebound9517 Been here awhile

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    I'm in. I've been following you for some time over @Reaver. this should be fun, ride safe.
    Phillip
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  3. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    Sounds like good timing, ride on!
    #3
  4. Reaver

    Reaver nonsense

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    Why?

    Why me?

    Oh right, you're my supposed friend.

    Bring my pants willya?

    Should I be posting this in orange?

    The shop fridge will be stocked with whatever you bring so have at it. Tequila Jim is waiting for you.

    Don't overthink everything and just have fun. Stay safe. Remember, I rode Hurricane Joachin trying to see you last. Harvey left the building.

    Spot Tracking?
    #4
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  5. Aces 6

    Aces 6 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over

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    :lurk
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  6. CrStep

    CrStep Been here awhile

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    In :lurk
    #6
  7. adventurebound9517

    adventurebound9517 Been here awhile

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    #7
  8. JRWooden

    JRWooden Long timer

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    Ok ladies and gents ....
    We have "launched" ...

    Poor Reaver ... yes I'll bring my own beer :drink
    Sorry, I think we decided your pants didn't fit any more and they are now being worn by a homeless person in uptown Charlotte ... unless they got too embarrased... :jump

    I'll try to keep this up to date as time and internet access allows ... currently in TN and the internet is already sketchy..
    Pictures will come later - photobucket wants to charge me for 3rd-party use ... not sure I want to pay them ...... (Suggestions?)
    Without further ado... .

    DAY Zero:

    I arrived in Murphy NC which is close to the start of the TAT to have new tires put on my bike - after some goat roping I had a pair of Mitas E07 tires installed.
    I have high hopes for them... we'll see
    I got them installed by Mike at http://www.ridewnc.net/home.html I can't say enough complimentary things about him.
    Great prices ($20/tire mounted and balanced) nice shop with good equipment, will let you drop-ship tires in advance of your arrival.

    No issues with the tire install, headed to Andrews NC to meet the three "mates" with whom I will head west.
    * Nick - my self defense instructor and an Aussie
    * GARY - (Edit: I had a brain fart and typed Greg earlier...
    the Kiwi's name is GARY ;-) - a long time friend of Nick's, a kiwi, and a new friend of mine
    * Allan - also a long time friend of Nick's, who hails from Denmark and likewise is a new friend of mine
    * I round out the group as the OCD/ADHD American Engineer.

    We meet at the Quality Inn in Andrews NC. there's a flurry of last minute activity that makes the old "Who's on first" skit look pretty lame....
    No major rodeos ... we hit the sack with visions of back roads and river crossings dancing in our heads....
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  9. JRWooden

    JRWooden Long timer

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    DAY ONE:
    We rise to meet the sun and have a "continental" breakfast (continental as in LAME) at the Quality Inn.
    Nick augments that with a "real" breakfast at the Huddle House next door.
    We realize that we are only a handful miles from the tail of the dragon - http://tailofthedragon.com/details/ so elect to defer the launch and chase the tail up and back in the morning hours.
    Back to the hotel, a little more dust in the air and we are off - many of my trips start " At the crack of noon" ....
    This adventure started at the "Crack of about 3PM" :pynd:doh

    The weather is great - mid-70s just slightly overcast so we are not sweating our asses off

    We are currently using Sam's official 2017 paper map set augmented by the GPS track files....
    We're still sorting some minor acclimation issues regarding the maps and GPS tracks but we'll have that ironed out in the next day or two.

    This section of the TAT was mostly forest service roads in reasonably good condition, nothing too "sphincter tightening"

    We ended up in Tellico Plains at the "Lodge At Tellico Hotel" ... not KLR cheap at ~$100/night split in half it still saves the budget allocation for a couple beers :drink
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  10. JRWooden

    JRWooden Long timer

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    DAY TWO:
    So ... off to a bit of a late start today :doh
    Nick had to run into town and do some kinda bank business. I reckon he was down to his last $10,000 in cash and wanted to make sure he had enough on hand to cover any eventuality...

    Stay tuned!
    #10
  11. Reaver

    Reaver nonsense

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    Jim, just click the button right there beside the Post button that says "upload pic or gps track" and BOOM, pic posted!
    #11
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  12. JRWooden

    JRWooden Long timer

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    DAY TWO - continued:
    Got a late start (again, but we should have that worked out now and start getting in "fuller" days going forward.
    Hit the trail where it splits off of hwwy 68 just outside Tellico Plains.
    (By the way on the other side of the road just up from the "Lodge At Tellico Hotel" there is a motorcycle campground.
    We didn't see it the night before or likely would have stayed there to save a few $$$)
    The trail and the weather were great for the first couple hours - four water crossings right off the bat then a nice variety of "forest service" type roads.
    It started to sprinkle but we pressed on without bothering to stop and don our rain gear...
    BIG mistake for me at least - a bit later it started raining like (as my dad would say): "A cow pissing on a flat rock"
    It came on suddenly so being soaking wet already we rode on ... the temperature was OK so no risk of hypothermia yet :freaky

    The sun starts to set and we get some fog and mist and things cool down.
    We make it to Ducktown TN - "where everything is ducky" according to a sign we past on the way in to town.
    Personally I was not quite ducky ... I could not have been any wetter if I'd just climbed out of a swimming pool
    Allan and I opted to stay at Ocoee Hotel and dry out & regroup - beds are on the soft side and pillows not so great, but a clean hotel and not bad at all for $65/nite.
    Nick and Gary decided to avoid any demerits on their man-cards and split off for a near-by campsite.
    Stay tuned for developments there ;-)
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  13. Reaver

    Reaver nonsense

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    Show us a pic of your loaded wind machine. I want to see if the kitchen sink is packed full or upside down like a turtle protecting your stuff.

    Congrats at just getting to the launch stage in one piece. @BikerBec wants to follow and laugh "with" you. :deal

    Now you just get here in one piece, I've got enough parts to rebuild the bike.
    #13
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  14. bps

    bps n00b

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    Need pics, Jim!
    #14
  15. JRWooden

    JRWooden Long timer

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    Pictures shortly ...
    Including loaded bike.
    Varios are full of gear but in "compressed" mode.
    Sack of camping gear on passenger seat which I will jettison in Colorado - no more camping once I finish the TAT!
    40L top case that is full - duffle bag on top of top case with a few freeze dried meals in it, so once the camping trip is over that will just be empty,
    except for the requisite sandals...
    So not TOO heavily weighted ...
    No sink, just a plate that turns into a bowl for food and "sink" purposes ;-)
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  16. FredRydr

    FredRydr Danger: Keep Back 300 Ft.

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    :D
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  17. FredRydr

    FredRydr Danger: Keep Back 300 Ft.

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    Jim,

    Your GPS is mounted upside-down, again.

    Fred
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  18. Reaver

    Reaver nonsense

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    Yeah, he'll be in Toronto before we know it.

    Unless he tries to use Spanish on the Canadian Border Patrol.

    He's already complaining about connectivity, it just gets worse and worse.

    Leave your light on Fred.
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  19. FredRydr

    FredRydr Danger: Keep Back 300 Ft.

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    Jeez. Well, I'll get the ball rollin' while we wait to see if he's actually left home.

    On another day, that's JRWooden on the right with his steed (Reaver on the left and FredRydr in the middle). Notice who seems to be having the most fun.

    IMG_0543.jpg
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  20. JRWooden

    JRWooden Long timer

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    View attachment 960671

    Vestas (the bike) needed new shoes ...
    I got the Mitas E07, there are some others I would have liked to have tried, but these were the only ones I could get in a hurry.

    As it turns out I like them a LOT. Coming down the muddy mountain last night in POURING rain things were very stable aired down to about 27 & 33 psi some road noise but even without my ear plugs it is what I would call very tolerable - of course ... my hearing is "less than perfect"
    #20
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