Stupiders Travels - Two weeks on the TAT from Denver to Portland

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Lucky 7, Sep 12, 2012.

  1. EKIN

    EKIN Just Do It

    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    652
    Location:
    Cumming, GA - Close to the Hills!
    Wow, you guys have tackled some great terrain. Really enjoying your ride report, the pics, and even the cow.:clap
    #41
  2. 1reddawg

    1reddawg Long timer

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    2,304
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    Monteagle Tenn.
    :lurk:lurkGreat Ride Report .I'm In!!
    #42
  3. Giddy Up

    Giddy Up Pedal, Damn IT!

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    55
    Location:
    Denver
    :D .


    This valley was filled with smoke from the fires. The fires started to be a common occurrence for the rest of the trip. It was nice to have the texts from Pat about their location in relation to the TAT.:thumb
    #43
  4. dirtrulz

    dirtrulz Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2006
    Oddometer:
    477
    Location:
    denver co
    My guess would have to be the piles are where they shoveled the crap out of a cattle trailer after hauling them.
    #44
  5. Lucky 7

    Lucky 7 Been here awhile

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    Denver
    I thought of that possibility, but they were EVERYWHERE...including in the middle of field where you'd never park a trailer or bother to shovel shit. Mysteries of the universe. :huh
    #45
  6. Lucky 7

    Lucky 7 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    177
    Location:
    Denver
    A whole week in already. We woke up and thought, "Hey, why not head West? Maybe a little North, probably some South, but mostly let's go West!"

    So we did...again.:D

    This was our first introduction to the burns of Nevada. In case we felt out there before, now we felt like we were on a different planet. It was like the moon out here (while not officially a planet, we're still talking about a different and distant celestial body, so cut me some slack).
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    The dust was getting oppressive by this point. The farther you go west, the finer the dust gets. Gone are the days of good, thick Utah sand. Nevada sand is like talc powder. We started to space out from each other to avoid the thick clouds. Sometimes we had to let the lead rider get a mile or two ahead before the air would clear.
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    You kids pipe down!!! Uncle John is trying to show you how to do the Nevada Moon Dust Shuffle...


    The dust was killing John's already dead chain. Tightening and lubing it became a regular event. I think we went through this exercise 3-4 times on this day.
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    Somewhere deep in the talc pits, we ran into a water truck driver who stopped to talk. He shuttles water from the reservoir to to god-knows-where and said that in the last decade he'd seen thousands of guys like us. He knew all about the TAT but couldn't figure out why people would be out there for fun. He may have a point there. :) Interesting factoid: he told us that we'd just unwittingly passed the second largest gold mine in the world. For obvious reasons, they don't really advertise it much. We saw some fences, but would never have known. Thanks fella!

    We asked him how far out the reservoir was...Johnny needed him some rinsing. Chimney Reservoir, here we come!
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    Clean at last, oh lord I'm clean at last. Pay no attention to the algae...


    John cleaned up and I went swimming. We would both HIGHLY recommend this stop to any aspiring TATers out there.:thumb
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    Feeling refreshed and reinvigorated, we set out again into the wastelands.
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    It was definitely stark and barren out here, but there was a certain empty beauty to it. The treeless mountains were never far away and expansive vistas were our constant travel companion. Pretty hard to complain, especially when you have a nice gravel road to stretch your legs on.

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    Somewhere around here I dumped my bike. It was a first on the trip. I was in a rocky corner and the front wheel rolled a boulder enough to kick it out and wash out the bike. I dropped into some boulders at speed, but bike and rider were pretty unscathed. John was out front and the bike came to rest with the wheels uphill and gas pouring out. Shit. I spun the bike around (sorry panniers) and finally managed to get the wheels downhill and the bike vertical. No time for pictures of that one. John turned back and arrived just as I got it started again. Aside from a bloody knee, it was a pretty minor go down thankfully.
    #46
  7. Lucky 7

    Lucky 7 Been here awhile

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    Oddometer:
    177
    Location:
    Denver
    This was an unexpected little oasis in the middle of the desert.
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    Another mountain pass. I believe this one was called Windy Pass, which made sense. Like idiots, we pulled out the map up here and almost lost the thing. Duh....
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    We dropped out of the mountains and into McDermit NV. It's a little town right on the border of Oregon that seems to function mostly around the reservation outside of town. It wasn't much to look at, but the people were really friendly. The Ideal Market had everything you could want. We stocked up on gas, groceries, water, got some beer, and they even let us charge our cameras. Great place.
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    Oregon!! For now, anyway. The trail peeks into Oregon for a few miles, then it's on to hundreds of miles of more Nevada. This was a welcome sign, though.
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    We found a spot off the road in Oregon that was perfect. It was a little turf patch nestled in willows in a canyon. Everything was dry as hell, but it was a beautiful spot. We cracked our beers, ate some pasta, and sacked 'er in.
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    Mileage: 160
    #47
  8. Giddy Up

    Giddy Up Pedal, Damn IT!

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    55
    Location:
    Denver
    Oh man, this was my #2 campsite on the trip. It was perfect. It was a nice grassy (albeit dry) spot in this narrow canyon. Very Cool. :clap:clap:clap
    #48
  9. Lucky 7

    Lucky 7 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    177
    Location:
    Denver
    This was a rough one. Nevada didn't want to let us go easy. The morning started off with a huge burn area.

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    This was nothing compared to yesterday. It went on for hours and hours.
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    It was amazing, strange, alienating, and beautiful all at the same time. By the end, we were incredibly relieved to leave it behind. Four hours of scorched wasteland and death starts to stack up on you. I wouldn't have expected it, but it was really something to go through it all. We found out later that it was a 430,000 acre burn area. Here's our track through it.

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    The burn made for even dustier conditions and there were a number of steep powdery climbs that threatened to overheat the bikes, but they held it together and got us to Denio Junction. There was a little gas/cafe/motel that helped us answer the age old question. "Does God ride?" Turns out he does.
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    This thing was about 10 feet tall.


    After Denio, we were back into the desert. After the morning's riding, it seemed surprisingly verdant.
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    A bit more burn and we were done with it completely. This cabin had survived without much damage.
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    #49
  10. Lucky 7

    Lucky 7 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    177
    Location:
    Denver
    Right after the cabin, we were in for some crazy climbing. For the next three miles, the trail devolved into fragmented, loose rock and steep technical sections that never ended. The bikes were both boiling unapologetically and blowing coolant. We had to stop a number of times to let them cool down. With the promise of Oregon around the corner, we couldn't do much but smile at the last efforts of Nevada to consume us.

    We came across another reservoir, but this one was pretty mucky. No swimming, but we had lunch and took some pictures. We'd take water when we could get it.
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    After lunch, we passed into the Sheldon Antelope Preserve. We saw a ton of pronghorn out there. They were a fun distraction from the sand and heat.
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    After dropping out of the preserve, we were treated to 12 miles of powdery sand. It was in a two track with the tracks 8-10 inches lower than the center. This section proved to be more than our riding ability could keep up with. I dumped once and John went down twice. The bikes came through generally unscathed but we both managed to get our legs under the bikes. I got my ankle under the foot peg and got smashed pretty good. A month later and I still have a nice knot, but the boots saved me any blinding pain or lasting injury. I'd say our pride was hurt worse than we were. :cry

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    The sand finally gave way to a for-real gravel road. Thank you sweet little baby Jesus. We climbed up this road and got a nice view of the last valley we were to cross in Nevada.
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    A few miles more and we found the border. Fare thee well, Nevada, you were good...
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    California, get ready! We off our medication and here to ride.



    Yep, today was a dusty one. I'm not usually such a nice shade of grey.
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    These aren't the droids we're looking for...



    Even though we were excited to put Nevada behind us, we had to accept the sad fact that state lines are arbitrary lines drawn through a slowly changing landscape. Certainly more desert awaited. Or did it?
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    It was crazy. A few miles after the border, we dropped down into a beautiful little wine country town and immediately afterward found ourselves in trees. It had been days and we couldn't have been more thrilled. We stopped for gas inside the Oregon border and got to watch the cops arresting somebody over some mess involving an abused dog, a dognapping, and some death threats. Oh Oregon, you so crazy.

    Camping a bit later. We were in the trees next to a creek. Compared to where we'd been, it was a bit surreal.
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    Not the easiest day on the trail, but quite possibly one of the most rewarding. I think we both slept well after that one.

    Mileage: 226
    #50
  11. XStatic450

    XStatic450 ouch

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2012
    Oddometer:
    25
    Location:
    Land of 10,000 skeeters
    great report and awesome pics:clap
    #51
  12. Lucky 7

    Lucky 7 Been here awhile

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    Oct 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    177
    Location:
    Denver
    Forgot this pic. Apparently somebody thought this would make a good coyote deterrent. I'm sold.

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    #52
  13. dickosaurus

    dickosaurus Geezer Coalition

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2006
    Oddometer:
    928
    Location:
    Lone Rabbit, Oklahoma
    Really enjoying your report- rode it in '08 with a couple friends and had a big time. You make me want to go do it again.
    #53
  14. Chilipepper

    Chilipepper Baja wannabe

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Oddometer:
    854
    Location:
    BC
    Really enjoying your ride. I spent a few days riding around NV last year and realty want to get back.
    #54
  15. Lucky 7

    Lucky 7 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    177
    Location:
    Denver
    We woke up with a fine layer of ash all over camp. Even though we were still reveling in the sudden appearance of trees and water, apparently Oregon was still incredibly dry. More fires burning west of us. So it goes...dry conditions are nothing new to us.

    Right out of camp we were treated to a surprise. Looks like Oregon is having the same beetle kill problems that plague Colorado. That global climate change is a real sonofabitch. I blame Al Gore (thanks for the internet though, Al).
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    The Forest Service seemed to be well entrenched in neutralizing the problem. We never figured out the final destination for these huge piles, but they were everywhere.
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    Hey John, got a match?



    This was one of our nicer mornings of riding. We'd stumbled on what would be a long term friend most of the way to the ocean. Forest Service 28. Single lane asphalt. No traffic, no shoulders...just easy ridin'. I saw my first mountain lion out here. It crossed the road right in front of me like a long tailed bullet. I've never seen an animal move so fast. I stopped the bike but it was gone without a sound. Pretty amazing.

    Around the same time, John was having another close encounter with wildlife. A bee got into his helmet and decided to sting him in the face while at speed. Yeowch.

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    Beware big cats and face bees.


    We were enjoying the ride enough that we didn't even bother hunting for the TAT. We knew that our little asphalt carpet would dump us out into Silver Lake eventually and that was just fine by us. The TAT was only ever something to hang an adventure on, so neither of us ever felt beholden to sticking to it. I may have felt guilty about 'cheating' in Colorado, but by this point I was pretty happy to enjoy whatever lay in front of me. It was a nice feeling.

    Eventually we did drop into Silver Lake. Unfortunately the cafe was closed, but we had fun talking to the lady at the gas station. She lived right across the street and didn't mind having somebody to talk to any more than we minded stretching our legs. She told us all about the freaky-deakies that come through their town on the way to Burning Man. While we were talking, a shitty old car full of college kids with pink hair pulled up for gas. Ah, Burning Man...

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    After Silver Lake we hooked up to the TAT again.
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    To our surprise, it wasn't long before we were up to our eggs in sand again. More dust!
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    I guess those tacky red Oregon roads we'd seen in so many ride reports weren't in the cards for us. We saw more Sasquatches than we did tacky trails in Oregon. Somewhere in here John snapped. He came down with the sand madness that we've all heard rumors about. Much swearing and creative arm flailing ensued. For his mental health (and mine), we decided it would be better to find something more suited to well-bred gentlemen such as ourselves. So long for now TAT.

    A decent gravel road leads us to lunch and helps ease John's sand madness.
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    Who needs lunch with all this dust to eat?


    In Crescent we found the holy grail of TAT restaurants, The Mohawk Lounge. Seriously. Best. Meal. Of. The. Trip. Go there. We enjoyed the friendly service, the fantastic food, the incredible ceramic liquor bottle collection, and of course, the menagerie of stuffed animals. It was utterly fantastic. We didn't want to leave.
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    The bears ate your fries!


    Feeling very happy and satisfied, we hit the trail again for some more easy gravel.
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    I still wasn't used to seeing water. Every bridge had me stopping to take pictures.
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    #55
  16. Lucky 7

    Lucky 7 Been here awhile

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    Oddometer:
    177
    Location:
    Denver
    There were a lot more deadwood piles here than we'd seen yet. I couldn't imagine the manpower that went into this. All of these carefully stacked piles went for miles. MILES.
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    Kind of a cool pic.
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    I see a little silhoutto of a man...



    When the gravel ran out, we rode along the South Umpqua River for awhile. We thought it might cross up with 28 again at some point. In the meantime, it was beautiful riding.
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    John's sand madness was long forgotten, but this is when he started getting the fish madness. In some of these spots, we could actually see them down there. We didn't pack poles and I didn't think I'd have much luck hitting them with my hunting knife. The fish wait for another day.
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    Here fishy fishy...


    We did indeed cross our friend hwy 28 and jumped on in search of camping. A few more miles of riding found us well off the beaten path and under the big trees.
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    We camped right underneath these big guys next to a little creek. Hard to complain about this.

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    Another great day. The TAT was mostly behind us now, but we'd see it again a time or two before the tires tasted salt water. Ocean, here we come.

    Mileage: 213
    #56
  17. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard I have no soul

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    8,755
    Location:
    Sunny Northern Cuba (aka: South Florida)
    Not sure how I missed this thread but I am glad to have found it now!! Fan-freaking-tastic !! For some reason my brain turned the little "I'm standing on a tank" bit into a song. :lol3
    #57
  18. FloorPoor

    FloorPoor Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    712
    Location:
    Spudville, Idaho
    That's not cow shit, it's wild horses. The Stallions (and I think their harems also) crap in piles as a way of marking their territory.

    I love this report btw. The only "real" adventure ride I've been able to take was a solo, mostly dirt, trip across much of Nevada. I love the wide open spaces. (as long as the wind's not blowing 40 mph)
    #58
  19. Lucky 7

    Lucky 7 Been here awhile

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    Oct 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    177
    Location:
    Denver
    It was a crisp, smoke-free morning in Oregon. We broke camp, hoping that the next time the gear came out it would be laid on the beach. Ocean, here we come.

    A bit of the TAT takes us into Tiller OR.

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    We stopped at the South Fork Cafe for breakfast. We shot the breeze with some of the locals and caught most of the Price Is Right. Who knew Drew Carey was hosting it now? Weird...

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    Their showers were out of order, so after breakfast it was back into the woods. We rode a bit of highway, caught a short leg of the TAT, and then found more single-lane forest service asphalt. As fate would have it, we wouldn't catch up with the TAT again. Onward!

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    Remember kids, hydration is key. And now we can get onward.


    Luck was on our side and found us riding another deserted, dust free strip of old asphalt through the coastal ranges. The scenery was absolutely gorgeous and the riding was a blast. After a few close calls, we learned to watch out for the rafting vans that seemed to be the only other things on the road.

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    This sign helped us figure out where we really were. By this point we were both tired of GPS and maps and were mostly just pointing the bikes west and figuring we'd find the ocean eventually.

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    No ocean yet. The Rogue River valley is pretty damn spectacular though.

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    Success!! Beyond that bridge is our salty turning point. It's surreal to think that we rode motorcycles all the way here. After the endlessly rolling landscape that we've watched go by, there's something very final about the ocean. Whether we're ready for it or not, our long road west ends here.

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    #59
  20. Lucky 7

    Lucky 7 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Oddometer:
    177
    Location:
    Denver
    An unbelievable climate change happens on the coast. The jackets come out and the grip heaters go on. Passing in and out of the fog is a novelty we've yet to experience. We're treated to a few brief views of the water, but mostly have great views of fog.


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    No matter, 101 is great fun to ride.

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    Note to self: don't drop camera...or crash.


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    John riding 101, circa 1924.



    Somewhere near the coast we stopped for gas at this little place. Cash only. The whole place felt like it was from another time. The old guy running the joint seemed to like that just fine.

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    Starting at Port Oreford, we looked for beach access. This turned out to be much harder than expected. I think the locals like to keep the beach to themselves. Everything we found was private or state park. Right when we were about to give up, a nice guy took pity on us and told us where we needed to go. His directions were convoluted and the road was unmarked, but eventually we hit pay dirt.


    Cue gratuitous beach shots. And....go.

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    We set up camp amidst the fog and crashing waves and lit up a fire to celebrate. We drank beer and marveled in our surrounds. Four years of dreaming and here we are. After 2000 miles of dirt and dust, we're sitting on the shore of the Pacific. Amazing.

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    Mileage: 277
    #60