TAT: A family affair

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by Brent4ADV, Aug 16, 2008.

  1. Brent4ADV

    Brent4ADV Enjoying empty roads...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,006
    Location:
    B'ham, AL
    And no I'm not talking about that kind of affair. Anyway, I'll kick this RR off with a little background. Last July I was on ADVrider and saw some TAT reports and decided that I wanted to, one day, write my own. Well I proceeded to start acquiring supplies and tools needed for the trip. I bought the maps from Sam in november of '07 and started working on the GPS stuff (thanks again to Garmin for thinking of us Mac users by releasing Bobcat).
    Around April I was talking to my dad and told him about the trip and he was hooked. He started talking about wanting to go so we decided we would make a run at it together. He didn't really have a suitable mount to tackle the trip so he got an '08 KTM 530 and we started working on it. We needed a way to mount some saddle bags on it but there was no subframe behind the seat. I finally came upon the rear rack from Pro Moto Billet and that provided a starting point. What we came up with is a rack made from 1/4" X 1" aluminum bar and 1/16" sheet aluminum.

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    Now he was able to mount the Ortlieb waterproof bags on the bike. In retrospect, we wish we would've put another bar around the back of the racks to keep them from bending in but we'll see how they do. Other mods to his bike include: Roc Stompa footpegs, FMF exhaust, larger fuel tank (from KTM), stator and regulator rectifier (trailtech), bar risers, aux dc ouput (charging various items) and sheepskin buttpad from Alaska Leather (thanks Barb :thumb)
    My bike, an '01 KTM 640E, has some pelican 1550s mounted onto an SW-Motech quick-release rack and I also snagged a buttpad from Barb. Now that the bikes were ready, it was time to ride...
    #1
  2. Brent4ADV

    Brent4ADV Enjoying empty roads...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,006
    Location:
    B'ham, AL
    Well today started very early at 4 a.m. We delayed leaving last night and thus were forced to get up early this morning and trek up to Jellico. The drive up from Pell City, AL took us about 6 hours or so, but we finally made it.

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    Once we got there the bikes were already looking for trouble by loitering in exactly the wrong spot.

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    We got them straightened out and headed out of town….headed west. While riding down the road I realized that it’s a totally different mindset than a normal ride. Usually you set out with the intention of returning to your starting point, but this was quite different and it felt good to know that our bikes would carry us to a destination further west every day.
    The first stretch of gravel/dirt that we hit came within the first 20 miles of the journey and wound through the rural Tennessee country side.

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    This section was nice and cool (as was the rest of day) due to the overcast skies and light breeze throughout the day. I felt pretty good with the heavily laden bike but I definitely need to adjust the tire pressure for the upcoming days.
    We then got back on the pavement and started winding our way through ranchlands, farms, and rural neighborhoods.

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    Making our way further west we jumped back into the woods and onto some more gravel. This section was a blast but the downhills and hairpins could have proved tricky with the gravel acting as marbles which made us feel like 3 year olds during their first time to the ice rink.

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    Unfortunately, the area needed some rain so the dust was an added annoyance.

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    Our gas stop for the day was at mile 82 in Wartburg, TN and we ran into a couple of guys from Anniston there. They had been riding around the Smokeys for a few days and were about to head out to the Catoosa Wildlife area. They spotted us from across the parking lot and had to ask what all the luggage was for. We told them about the trip and they immediately cracked a smile and said, “That’s on our list as well!”

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    Here is the obligatory gas station pic showing how wide you can make a 640 and a 530.

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    After leaving there, our route also took us through Catoosa and we would love to get back there to do some more exploring around. There were trails peeling off from the main road everywhere. Here are a few shots from the Catoosa.

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    After this we got pretty tired and just really wanted to get to Sparta, TN for the evening since our day started pretty early. We stopped taking pictures and started twisting the throttle so we could expedite our arrival. Once in Sparta, our saddlebags exploded in the room and we rode over to a Chinese buffet for some sustenance.

    Stats for the day:
    Daily Mileage: 200.27
    Moving Time: 5 hours 15 min.
    Moving Average: 38.0 mph
    Max Speed: 77.4 mph

    Gotta get some sleep, more tomorrow...
    #2
  3. DeBandi

    DeBandi Exploring Alabama

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,100
    Location:
    Blount Springs, AL
    Great Job Guys :thumb
    #3
  4. RogerDe

    RogerDe Dust In The Wind

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    266
    Location:
    Texas
    Look forward to more trip report's & pic's of the ride . Planin to do some of the TAT next year Okl. & Col. 5 day's worth . I live in Texas 50 mile's south of Big D.... Enjoy the ride ...Ride On....
    #4
  5. DockingPilot

    DockingPilot Hooked Up and Hard Over

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2004
    Oddometer:
    10,067
    Location:
    Andover, N.J.
    :lurk
    #5
  6. Bronco638

    Bronco638 Nobody Home

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2004
    Oddometer:
    4,334
    Location:
    Itasca, IL
    +1 for doing this ride with your Dad. How cool. :thumb

    :lurk
    #6
  7. Vinnie the Snake

    Vinnie the Snake Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2006
    Oddometer:
    1,096
    Location:
    Broken Arrow, Ok
    This should be great. If you need a place to work on bikes or camp PM. Lots of support here in Tulsa Area.:ear :ear
    #7
  8. f650gsa

    f650gsa de la Mobra la BMW

    Joined:
    May 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    531
    Location:
    lake county , illinois
    Good Luck guys and Ride Safely . I'll see you in Pueblo .
    #8
  9. Nichelob

    Nichelob Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    168
    Location:
    On one small patch of rubber
    I'm definitely in :clap Stay on top of things and keep'em coming...
    #9
  10. Brent4ADV

    Brent4ADV Enjoying empty roads...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,006
    Location:
    B'ham, AL
    Today started at around 6:30 or so. We got up and were feeling great after a well-deserved night's rest. Outside the temp was around 65 or so and sunny. The bikes were definitely enjoying the sunrise.

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    After making a few adjustments on the bikes we talked to the hotel manager and found out there was a huddle house right down the road so we loaded up and went there for breakfast. Once there we were engaged by a few country boys asking about our trip. They were some good guys and said that they no longer thought of harley guys as "real" riders after hearing the details of our journey.

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    Afterwards, we got some gas and headed down the road. Today's ride was probably 90% road so it was a bit boring but heading west none-the-less. And to be honest, if I were going to ride some roads, then I couldn't pick any better ones than where we went.

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    After that we crossed over the Caney Fork River which is the tailwater for the Center Hill Lake. As a side note, the road going over the dam is closed til July 2009 but it's a simple re-route.

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    Once through there we traveled down a canyon with a stream running next to us. The road was narrow, twisty, and felt almost like a tunnel with the overhanging trees. It was a welcomed change from farmlands.

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    We rode a few miles further and came to our lunch and gas stop in Bell Buckle, TN. They were packed full but we just got the food to go and ate on a park bench by the bikes. If you ever go thru the town I highly recommend this place.

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    While eating lunch there, a guy on a bicycle with no shirt rode up and starting asking us questions about the bikes and our destination. He claimed to be a math teacher for alternative school high schoolers but I highly doubt that considering his general attitude and mannerisms. Although, come to think of it, I remember some of the alternative school teachers at my school and they were much worse off than this guy.
    Anyhow, we got back on the road and it was only about 40 miles to Columbia, TN so today was a relatively short day.

    Stats for the day:
    Daily Mileage: 177.84 miles
    Moving Time: 4 hours 32 minutes
    Moving Average: 39.1 mph
    Max Speed: 75.6 mph

    More tomorrow...
    #10
  11. Doormandan

    Doormandan Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2008
    Oddometer:
    84
    Location:
    So Cal
    Cant wait for more :wink:
    #11
  12. Blazer1717

    Blazer1717 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    43
    I'll be Dammed. Never know who will show up on this advcouchrider site.

    Way to go Brent and Jermo!

    Proud to see yall are getting out for a cruise.

    That was a helluva job on the exc rack/bag mount.
    Typical Jermo.
    If it survives this trip you better get ready for mass production.
    I need at least 3 myself.

    It seems this dualsport thing is getting around to us all, but I was certainly surprised to find this thread about you two.

    I did the GDR about a month ago. 5950 mi. round trip on DR.
    Suz did bottom half and the SOR ride with me. She spanked me all the way
    Should have known not to give her the roll chart. She thought she was back at the Six Days!

    I just finished the annual CO. 1000mi. single track ride with crew from back east. Now I'm recovering in Salida and Sargents, waiting for the next CMRA/Natra gang to show up.


    I met 2 fine gentlemen from Ireland doing Tat. One on 950 ktm, other on KLr.
    Both had murdered their hard saddlebags and were now running just large army looking duffle bags strapped long ways on the bike. They looked fried and their gear seriousl looked like hell, but they were having a blast. The last I saw of them they were headed to Denver in search of,...well let's say "a good time".

    Also week before last I met a large group at Sargents from around TN. Fl. Al. doing Tat also. Some live just down the rd. from me and a couple are your neighbors. They were riding as wide a variety of real trail bikes as I have ever seen on the road. One, from Birm. on a Kawi trail bike, had gotten a ticket in Salida for "NO TAG". At least 2 had knocked major holes in crankcases on Dr's and a DRZ coming down Tomichi Pass. They were having a time!
    Good attitudes and great guys. Looked like nothing was gonna stop them.


    I loaned them a couple of tags, repaired a front brake on a Yammer and they were long gone. They too were obviously having quite the adventure.

    Being the expert level enduro riders you both are I expect you'll have no problems with any of the trail, erh, actually roads, but there's bound to be some fun times coming your way.

    Stock up on sunblock before Oklahoma.
    All these riders said it was pure hot dusty torture.
    You'll love it.

    When ya get out this way give me a call.
    Also< I have a friends address here if you need to ship something ahead.

    Take lots of pics and keep us all posted.
    #12
  13. Brent4ADV

    Brent4ADV Enjoying empty roads...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,006
    Location:
    B'ham, AL
    Today we awoke around 6:30 or so and went out to check on the bikes, made a few adjustments and got ready to ride over to breakfast. There was a waffle house right down the road so we figured that was as good as any.

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    The weather was sunny, cool (about 65 degrees when we left) and with clear skies so we couldn’t have asked for a better morning. The terrain was more of the same this morning with alot of (paved) back roads, which were fun, but we were ready for more!

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    We did happen upon a woman in a horse-drawn carriage when we were riding through an Amish area. We offered a “howdy” but she just looked and kept on riding so we did the same.

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    After leaving her we arrived at Laurel Hill Lake, which isn’t on the route but dad’s zumo routed us that way so we went up there. It turned out to be a nice detour of only about 10 miles and it was all dirt so we didn’t complain.

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    We then made our way towards our lunch stop and started encountering more gravel and dirt roads as we did. This was definitely a welcomed site as we were itching to, as the country song says, “get a lil mud on the tires.”

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    Once we did hit a dirt road we came upon those slippery creeks that everyone always talks about. I saw the first one and immediately got on the binders. I told my dad to take it easy across it and everything and he did just fine. When I crossed it…different story. The first pic shows the marks from my front tire as it slide out from under me.

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    And here is the damage.

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    Upon closer inspection at the hotel...

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    Since it was only the one hinge that was busted we just put a strap around it for a temporary fix. Once in Selmer we went to the walmart and got some epoxy so hopefully that will hold well enough for the box to maintain it’s water resistance.

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    After that we cruised into Collinwood, TN and got a gas station restaurant meal and some fuel then kept heading westward. We eventually crossed the Tennessee River on our way.

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    After that it was more paved back roads to Selmer. We got some Mexican food, checked out some old cars at a drive in car show at the McDonalds and washed some clothes. Let's hope that epoxy holds.

    More tomorrow...

    Stats for the day:
    Daily Mileage: 226.17 miles
    Moving Time: 5 hours 29 minutes
    Moving Average: 41.2 mph
    Max Speed: 79.5 mph
    #13
  14. Brent4ADV

    Brent4ADV Enjoying empty roads...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,006
    Location:
    B'ham, AL
    Kind of a lackluster internet connection here in Helena, AR so I'll update tomorrow and give you guys (and gals) two days worth of riding.
    #14
  15. RAZR

    RAZR I'll cut ya

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,605
    Location:
    Silver Lake (L.A.)
    :lurk :lurk yes please :lurk :thumb :freaky
    #15
  16. Brent4ADV

    Brent4ADV Enjoying empty roads...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,006
    Location:
    B'ham, AL
    This morning began around 5:45 a.m. since we had a decent day ahead of us (245 miles) but I knew it would be a good one…we are on the TAT. We went and ate some homemade waffles from a woman who had to be in her 80s so they were pretty tasty. We then departed Selmer for more westerly destination. It didn’t take long for us to reach some unpaved surfaces although it was still a bit dusty (this would not be a problem the following day).

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    The surface was a larger pebble/dirt mixture and rode pretty well unless you got too far to the outside. Once in MS we also got to play in the woods on some fun trails.

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    Once out of that section we entered some fields with a sandier surface. I was really surprised how sandy everything was this far north in MS. It was a blast to ride though because you could just get on the inside of the turns then gas it on the exit and let the back end kick out.

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    We then came to a “road closed” sign but it turned out to be a sand burm which was easy to navigate around or over in my dad’s case. I was sure he would dump it on the sand hill so I got the camera ready.

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    <embed width="448" height="361" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" src="http://i151.photobucket.com/player.swf?file=http://vid151.photobucket.com/albums/s138/eghatchintheham/MOV01257.flv">

    We also crossed over highway 78 at Hickory Flat, MS and the temperature was starting to climb as we entered into the afternoon.

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    We also took a trip down my street

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    While closing in on the Mississippi River we started entering some farming lands and those gravel roads that accompany them. We also spotted a crop duster while out there.

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    And we finally crossed into Arkansas.

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    Looking North up the Mississippi River.

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    We were definitely glad to pull into the hotel that night after our longest day, so far, on the TAT.


    Daily Stats:
    Daily Mileage: 260.63 miles
    Moving Time: 6 hours 6 minutes
    Moving Average: 42.6 mph
    Max Speed: 71.5 mph
    #16
  17. Brent4ADV

    Brent4ADV Enjoying empty roads...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,006
    Location:
    B'ham, AL
    After a long day and a good nights rest we figured today, being only 214 miles, would be a simple and fun day. That was before we walked outside and saw this…

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    We saw the news the previous night and figured the storm would move quickly through the state but we were not so lucky. The storm had spent all night dumping rain throughout our entire route and when we left we were still at the tail end of the storm, chasing it North.
    We spent the first 10 miles on some gravel roads and were alright since they drained the water well. Our first turn onto a dirt road ended like this…

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    The surface was hard underneath that top layer of very soft dirt but it had no rocks in it so when it was wet, it was extremely slippery and sticky. This meant two things. The first is that you couldn’t get any traction and the front tire just wanted to push everywhere. The second is that the mud would get stuck into places that made riding very inconvenient (i.e. brake rotors, sprockets, chains).
    Dad dropped the bike where he was in that pic and I helped him turn it around and get some of that mud out of there. We got back out on the gravel road and diverted around that dirt road. Once we hit some pavement we came across a gas station and asked the owner if we could use his water hose and he graciously lent it to us. He was a pretty neat guy in his own right and told us about the historical site just down the road.

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    A few more miles down the road we got up on this levee and decided to take a breather. Also on this levee was a pumping station with a generator next to it. Every metal plate on that pumping station and generator had bullet holes in it so I’m guessing that the locals didn’t have much to do on the weekends.

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    Back on the highway for a short stretch we were still chasing the storm down and ran into patches of rain throughout the day. This only served to exacerbate our already soaking wet situation.

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    The rest of the day was pretty uneventful as we neared Clinton and we were treated to some high speed straight gravel roads in the woods.

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    All in all it was not the day we had envisioned when we set out this morning. I think we both agreed that this has been our most exhausting day, so far, even though it’s been relatively short.



    Day 5 Stats:
    Daily Mileage: 220.42
    Moving Time: 5 hours 13 minutes
    Moving Average: 42.1 mph
    Max Speed: 84.2 mph
    #17
  18. Brent4ADV

    Brent4ADV Enjoying empty roads...

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,006
    Location:
    B'ham, AL
    I guess that after yesterday we learned a valuable lesson. That lesson was to not underestimate the TAT. We made sure to leave early this morning (around 7:15 or so) since we thought the Ozarks might present a bit of a challenge. We were definitely right on the money. The ground, even though wet, was not mucky like yesterday since it was able to drain off the road.

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    Another climatic change today was the fog at the higher altitudes. Since there was rain in the area the low lying clouds were covering the Ozarks and somewhat limited our sight distance. Can you spot the bike in this picture?

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    Still in the Ozarks but at a lower elevation we stopped for a breather and a power bar on this hairpin turn. The ground was perfect for blasting down these forest roads. We were able to average in the 50s during these sections.

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    We then hit a section that really gave us some trouble. It was a double track section that was extremely rocky and had one pretty killer hillclimb. The section was about 2 or 3 miles long and started as a winding creek bed then got out into this clearing.

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    After that little part we hit the hill climb. I was able to carry enough speed to get up it the first time but the 530 stalled (we are definitely changing the gearing) and we had to get it restarted and up the hill. This little section cost us about an hour or so. And as always the pictures do not do this section justice. Also, sorry for the picture quality...I think I had something on the lens.

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    I also broke the mount on my racks during that section and we had to improvise something since the case starting bouncing pretty bad and we were worried that it would break the other mounting points.

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    This is our temporary solution until we can get that piece welded and reinforced, which might be a couple days since tomorrow is a 378 mile day :eek1 . On the plus side, I now have a back rest...now how should I mount my cup holder?

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    After that mess we finally left the Ozark National Forest and took a break at Oark (a famous stop). The restaurant/gas station had just come under new management and they are starting a blog and they are going to take pictures of all the TATers that come through and add them to the blog. They are also going to have a map in the restaurant with a pin placed where each rider is from. Really great place and nice people. :clap

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    From there on out we cruised up into some hills (nothing like the Ozarks) and took a break next to some rocks on the trail.

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    And we had heard tons of bad things about Warloop Road but it really didn't hold a candle to the hillclimb we encountered earlier in the day.

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    We are definitely beat after today and we'll need all our energy for tomorrow to make our distance.

    Stats for the day:
    Daily Mileage: 250.72 miles
    Moving Average: 37.7 mph
    Moving Time: 6 hours 38 minutes
    Max Speed: 81.8 mph
    Max Elevation: 2188 ft.
    #18
  19. Nichelob

    Nichelob Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2007
    Oddometer:
    168
    Location:
    On one small patch of rubber
    :clap You guys are killing the TAT! And writing all about it while you're doing it! Awesome. I hit the same hill climb (I don't think it's part of the trail, but easy to misroute). I failed about 25 yards from the top and had to reroute :cry . You guys did it on wet rocks, +1. And you're exactly right, Warloop is a joke compared to that hill climb (my TOPO says it's called Pilot Rock: N35 34.629 W93 14.619, please correct me if we're talking about a different road).

    Impressive stuff, looking forward to the rest...
    #19
  20. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    5,539
    Location:
    NYfC, yff
    Our Devil boxes sent us up that steep pitch as well... I know exactly which one you are referring to. I made a post about it in our trip report here. :wink:

    Frankly, I think it should be part of the official (not accidental) TAT-east. It was fun!
    #20