TAT...and Beyond!

Discussion in 'Epic Rides' started by MountaineerWV, Oct 14, 2011.

  1. MountaineerWV

    MountaineerWV Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    293
    Location:
    West Virginia
    Currently 108 days in. </p> I meant to begin this ride report much earlier, but was caught up in riding and having fun! Better late than never, right? At first I struggled with how I wanted present this ride report – the perfect sentence, the coolest picture, and so forth…way too exhausting, so please forgive my crappy writing and horrible pictures. No promises on posting frequency either.</p> For the longest time I didn’t want to do a ride report, I wanted this experience to be mine. I changed my mind because the ride reports on ADVRider and Horizon’s Unlimited were a source of inspiration and something that I could live through vicariously when a motorcycle trip was not an option. Hopefully this can repay some of the debt I owe all the riders that took the time to document their trips.</p> On 29 June 2011 I set off from Morgantown, West Virginia on my first bike, a 2006 Suzuki DR650. I don’t know how far or where I’ll go, but the basic plan is to do the Trans American Trail and then take a left and go south. When fun or money runs out, the trip will be over.</p> [​IMG]</p> [​IMG]</p> My bike has approximately 3k miles on the odometer. 1,100 of those miles were mine, with about 30 being off road. I needed miles under my belt. Off road riding is the quickest and most challenging way to build the technical riding skills I am going to need for a trip south – time to TAT it up!</p> NOTE!! I am writing this report while on the road, currently in Guanajuato, Mexico. I’ll try to give a rough route/schedule and would love to hear from other riders or individuals along the route. Next up is Guadalajara and then Mexico City.
    #1
  2. redog1

    redog1 KLR650-2009

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,824
    Location:
    Magalia, CA./ Butte & Siskiyou C.
    any trip that has the TAT and going south in it has to be good:clap:clap:clap
    #2
  3. UpST8

    UpST8 turnin gas to noise

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2007
    Oddometer:
    7,376
    Location:
    californication
    Along for the ride
    #3
  4. cleanair

    cleanair Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Oddometer:
    200
    Location:
    just past resume speed
    Looking forward to the RR and pic's.

    Lets Go Mountaineers!
    #4
  5. stewncissy

    stewncissy Adventurer

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Oddometer:
    34
    Location:
    Thompsons Station, TN
    Tell me more.....:lurk
    #5
  6. MountaineerWV

    MountaineerWV Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    293
    Location:
    West Virginia
    Let's get the trip preparation out of the way so we can get to the fun stuff. </p> Parkinson's Law is true.</p> "Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion"</p> I suppose one could get ready in a week or so, but half the fun is reading trip reports and looking at photos - all for research of course.</p> I'm a minimalist by training, if not by nature. The Army taught me that. I hate carrying extra stuff and everytime I repack my gear I look for ways to eliminate. Everything can be layered or has more than one use. Equipment is packed by frequency of use. The Sealine bag and my topcase are for things I need multiple times per day and the saddle bags are for items that may get pulled out if I have a need to use it - from top to bottom. Pack light and allow for serendipity.</p> [​IMG]</p> [​IMG]</p> The TAT was a great shakedown trip because I was able to buy stuff or send stuff home as needed. I don't care what anyone says, Walmart and McDonalds are America's gift to the world. Walmart has anything one could possibly need to buy and McDonald's always has Wifi and cheap coffee. By the time I finished the TAT, my equipment was streamlined and ready for the trip to South America.</p> I chose the DR because of it's reputation as being bulletproof. I can attest to that. I dropped the DR at least twice per day on the TAT. Thankfully it's a tank and fairly light to pick up. Looking back, it was pretty stupid of me to do the TAT alone with my level of riding experience...er, inexperience.</p> [​IMG]</p> The DR is probably the only bike that is perfect for an overland motorcycle trip straight from the factory, but also has thousands of dollars of aftermarket products to make it better. Before purchasing anything, I looked at the price and thought 'How many days on the road is this going to cost me?". If I didn't see the cost benefit, I didn't purchase.</p> Budgeting for such a trip is a huge pain in the ass and the variance in budgets in other rider's reports is quite large. At the end I will post the details of exactly how much it cost me to purchase and equip the bike and myself from nothing (other than socks) and also how much I spent per day total & by country. I am not shoe stringing it by any means, but I do watch my budget carefully.</p> **If you want to blow your budget quick, fast, and in a hurry I have one word for you. Alcohol.</p> [​IMG]</p> Every aftermarket part installed was aimed at decreasing risk or increasing the longevity of the bike. The only items installed were heated hand trips and the beaded seat cover for the stock seat. I elected not to upgrade the headlight/tail light because I refuse to ride at night. Of course I broke that rule a few times so far.</p> - Pro Cycle Aluminum Skid Plate and Armor for Engine Case</p> - Acerbis Handguards</p> - Symtec Grip Warmers</p> - Bead Rider Beaded Seat Cover</p> - Pro Cycle Steel Braided Front and Rear Brake Lines</p> - Dual Star Stainless Steel Oil Filter</p> - Pro Cycle Magnetic Drain Plug</p> - Twin Air Airfilter</p> Luggage - lighter is better!</p> - Wolfman Expedition Saddlebags</p> - Wolfman Side Racks</p> - Pro-Moto Billet Rear Rack</p> - Pelican 1490 laptop case</p> - SeaLine 30L Dry Bag</p> Personal Protection Equipment - I didn't skimp on PPE, this was the most expensive category of equipment after purchasing the bike. One item I wish I would have purchased was a neck brace. I'll give a review on all my PPE later.</p> - Helmet: Flip Face</p> - Cortech GX Sport Series 2 Jacket</p> - Acerbis Koerta Naked Chest/Back Protector (sent home b/c cortech jacket included armor and served it's purpose)</p> - Rev'it Cayenne Pro Pants</p> - Cortech Vice Gloves</p> - TCX Infinity Gore-tex riding boots</p> - Etymotic mc5 Ear phones</p> Spare Parts - Everything can be bought on the road, so I didn't pack much in spare parts.</p> - Front and Rear Wheel Bearings</p> - 525 Clip type master links</p> - Spare 21" tube</p> - Various metric fasteners</p> [​IMG]</p> Think my stock Trailwings with 4K miles will make it to Port Orford, OR?
    #6
  7. SR1

    SR1 Back in S. Korea

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,540
    Location:
    Seoul Survivor
    I have a different bike than you, but any chance you inventoried your equipment? That list would be gold.
    #7
  8. MountaineerWV

    MountaineerWV Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    293
    Location:
    West Virginia
    #8
  9. Jarrod Weaver

    Jarrod Weaver Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 29, 2008
    Oddometer:
    43
    Location:
    Just North of Austin
    :lurk
    #9
  10. MountaineerWV

    MountaineerWV Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    293
    Location:
    West Virginia
    29 June 2011. Today is the day!

    This is the moment for which I spent three years planning and saving. This is the reason I resigned my commission as an Officer in the US Army. I set off from Morgantown, West Virginia to conquer the Trans-American Trail...and only left 2 days behind schedule!

    Has anyone on a long distance multi-year ride, with no support crew, ever departed on time?

    I had breakfast with the family that morning and planned to set off at 9AM. 1PM rolled around and I was finally on the road. My Mom was making fun of me saying I would never leave, and secretly hoping I wouldn't.

    Leaving was the hardest part of the trip. I was ready to go, but there was a fear of this being a mistake. Of the trip not living up to the expectations I had built up in my mind. The bike is sounds and feels great. Better to get on the road and start moving, because nothing will ever be perfect.

    300+ mile days on the bike are not something I enjoy. I contacted a fellow rider, AllenTC2, through the ADV Tent Space list for a place to crash about halfway to Jellico, TN. He offered to meet me at the Foodland near his place and lead me the rest of the way.

    I park in the Foodland parking lot and call Allen. He arrives on a V-Strom. Suzuki all the way! I turn the key and press the starter...and the bike doesn't start. Doesn't even attempt to turn over. A short troubleshooting session later identifies the culprit. The negative lead on the power cable to the battery snapped. Easy fix - just shove the remaining flat piece of metal in between the nut and the terminal and problem fixed.

    Thanks Allen for the great spaghetti dinner and letting me crash at your place!

    Onward and upward - Jellico, TN.

    I camped at the local camp ground so as to have a fresh start the next morning.

    Typical Camp setup.
    [​IMG]

    On top of being a green, little off-road time, and going solo, I decided to add an additional challenge. Do the TAT using only the roll charts and topo maps. I have a GPS to track my route, but no maps are loaded.

    Let's just say the first day had a steep learning curve. After getting lost and refusing to backtrack, the mileage on my odometer was way off compared to the total mileage on the TAT Maps. Now I had to do quick mental addition to figure out where to turn next.

    [​IMG]

    I completed about half of the route laid out on Day 1. Got lost in some National Forest and it was getting dark so I backtracked to the camp ground. Can't tell you how relieved I was when I passed by the old iron bridge that other TAT riders posted pictures of in their ride reports.

    [​IMG]

    Locals cooling off.
    [​IMG]

    Rails to Trail.
    [​IMG]

    First bit of Ass I saw on the trail
    [​IMG]

    TN still had substantial hurricane damage
    [​IMG]

    After loosing it at the first stream crossing, I decided to walk my bike across the notoriously slick crossing.
    [​IMG]

    About the TAT Maps - I had a mixture of old and updated maps. I got lost 3 times in TN, all three times it was my fault. The TN was mostly paved with a little bit of gravel. It was a great introduction for me. The terrain was increasingly challenging for me, and a great way to build experience.
    #10
  11. kclark

    kclark 1SevenZero

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2010
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Washington
    Subscribed :lurk(It took me a minute but I figured out how.)

    I'm hoping in the next couple of years to put together a ride on the TAT. Just have to figure out how to get the wife to buy off on it.
    #11
  12. redpillar

    redpillar Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2008
    Oddometer:
    882
    Location:
    Vancouver Island
    Im in
    #12
  13. SR1

    SR1 Back in S. Korea

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,540
    Location:
    Seoul Survivor
    Thanks for the equipment list. Looking forward to your next installment.
    #13
  14. Farkle_Adict

    Farkle_Adict Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 6, 2010
    Oddometer:
    90
    Location:
    Off the Grid
    All in!! Great so far
    #14
  15. redog1

    redog1 KLR650-2009

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,824
    Location:
    Magalia, CA./ Butte & Siskiyou C.
    :lurk
    #15
  16. oldtrucks

    oldtrucks Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    296
    Location:
    NorCal
    I'm along for the ride :ricky

    I plan to set sail on the TAT September 2012 (Colorado West) so I have 11 months of planing and consider this a lesson plan :lurk
    #16
  17. RiotPat

    RiotPat Long timer

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,246
    Location:
    New Yorkistan
    :lurk
    #17
  18. One Less Harley

    One Less Harley OH.THAT'S GONNA HURT

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Oddometer:
    5,076
    Location:
    Bowling Green, Ky
    IN, yea, I get to relive the TAT once again:clap, I left June 17th
    #18
  19. arooni

    arooni Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2011
    Oddometer:
    178
    Location:
    Seattle, WA
    I had the great pleasure of riding with James the last month through Mexico. We parted ways in Mexico City as his boat to Colombia leaves a few weeks before mine.

    Glad to see you got your post up. Have safe travels to Guatemala; and maybe I'll meet up with you at the language school just as you'll be ready to go. Looking forward to meeting up in Colombia as well; if you're still around.

    Ride safe and live well.
    #19
  20. rangecon1976

    rangecon1976 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    44
    Location:
    Northwest Oklahoma
    Taggin along!!:freaky
    #20