TAT Sept 2017 'Fly and Drive' on 250 Rally - RR

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

  1. TreblesAllRound

    TreblesAllRound Been here awhile

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    The planning thread for this ride is http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/tat-sept-2017-fly-and-drive-on-250-rally.1242543. Depending on when you consider my ride to have started, it may have started in that thread, but as it's definitely started now I'm riding the bike, I'll carry on from here.

    Friday 1st

    On Friday morning I loaded the bike up and started out along the Interstate for a motel near Savannah.
    RallyReady.jpg
    As the bike was pretty weighed down and only had around 90 miles on it, it was pretty sluggish (I didn't want to push it at all either) holding around 60mph. The route was very simple, I-4 and then I-95 via Daytona Beach and Jacksonville.
    I will miss the wetland nature reserve outside my motel.
    OrlandoMotel.jpg

    I've never done 250 miles on a motorbike and been overtaken by every single vehicle on the road (apart from one labouring lorry doing 50mph - I celebrated after that breathtaking manoeuvre). Not exactly pleasant riding, particularly given the size of the some of the enormous lorries, car transporters and oil tankers. Even half of the ordinary cars that roar by are colossal pick-up trucks with head-high bonnets. Occasionally, I felt a little envious of the occupants bathed in the cool of their AC and sheltered from the wind behind their blacked out windows. But, hang on, if I wanted to be comfortable, I could have stayed at home. I stopped a lot at various service stations. Sometimes I pretended the bike needed fuel, when actually it was just me that needed a drink and a rest. I arrived on the outskirts of Savannah tired, but happy that the bike had done a decent stretch of road and nothing had fallen off or been a major pain (well there was one thing, but the seat is new and it should soften up a bit).

    Saturday 2nd
    Leaving the motel on Saturday morning, I made a short detour to a Bass Pro shop (with a gigantic amount of stock on the shop floor - I'm going to run out of adjectives for 'big' on this trip) to buy a Garmin InReach. With the loaded bike outside in the car park it was a case of getting in and out as quick as possible, as I didn't want anyone to make off with all of my possessions on this side of the Atlantic. Fortunately, there were some young scouts fundraising by selling popcorn outside the shop. I'm sure one of them would have taken on anyone trying to nick my stuff to get a new badge.

    To make this a proper 'coast to coast' I'd also resolved the night before to do the extra 50 miles there and back to the beach at Toynbee island. I sat on the beach for a few minutes trying to take it in, but the heat and humidity prevented anything particularly meaningful coming to mind. Rather than dwelling, I hopped back on the bike and set off West, looking forward to what might happen between here and the Pacific.
    RallyAtlantic.jpg

    After around 20 miles on IS-16 of the total 220 miles to the night's stop I decided I'd had enough of the motorway and came off at a tiny exit near Metter and onto route 23 (I went through Twin City, Summertown, Midville, Louisville, Wren, Athens and Jefferson). Almost immediately, I remembered why I'm doing this trip. The 55mph road had nearly no traffic, and wound it's way up and down over gentle wooded hills. I was free to enjoy testing the Rally's handlebars on 'bends' and practice some counter steering. I could even smell the pine trees that surrounded the pretty little towns with their generously proportioned houses. As a bonus, the temperatures had dropped into the mid twenties and the humidity was no longer running down the inside of my eyeballs.

    I find the layout of towns in the US one of the most striking differentiators from the Europe. From one point of view, there is staggering waste of space. An average house will have the same footprint as a stately home in the UK, but there will only be a single story (stairs are expensive and inconvenient, so why bother?). The plot of land the house is built on will then have space for another 10 stately homes around it. The end result is that you need a car to drive to your neighbours house and a golf cart to get around your own (another reason for not having stairs). In the UK, boundary disputes over a few centimetres are common (a dispute over a full meter could result in test missile launches and retaliatory tweets). Here, with so much land available, no one even bothers to put up a fence up. It all makes perfect sense, it's just so alien to what you'd find in the UK (and obviously large US cities).

    I got to my overnight stop a little later than planned at 8 o'clock, just as it was starting to get dark. It wasn't dark enough to see the Rally's headlights on the road (it was just dark enough for them to cause reflective road signs to shine a little), so that will have to wait for another day when I've really mucked up the route planning and timings.

    On arrival I was pleased to see my Enduristar trail stand was waiting behind the receptionists desk. After a few initial difficulties, Steve did a great job to get it to me at the right time/place :-)

    Sunday 4th
    A slow day today. I'm only around 50 miles from the start of the TAT, and the idea is to have a few days at this motel getting the bike as off-road ready as I can. Some parts that I've taken off the bike and other bits and bobs I knew I'd only need for the first week need to be got rid of. I've also got some more items coming from Amazon tomorrow (Ogio flight vest with drinking bladder, second pair of gloves, a lifestraw and some goggle quickstraps). The first stage of the trip was getting to Orlando, the second stage was getting the bike ready for the road. This stage is getting the bike ready for off-road. The final stage will be getting everything set up for camping.

    To give you an idea of how much stuff I've had to research (both whether the item is any good in itself and whether it works with other items) I was going to list the stuff I'd bought. It's easier to list the items (excluding the camping stuff - even most of that is new - and underwear/base layers) that are on me or the bike that aren't new:
    ROK straps
    MRA screen
    Helmet camera
    Neck tubes
    Ear plugs
    Backup phone (primary phone for GPS is new)

    Even my passport was new, as the previous one had less than 6 months remaining on it

    I fitted a few more bits to the bike, but I think I'm going to have a problem with the hand guards and riser. I don't think they'll work together and I'm not sure the riser is going to work with the cable lengths as they stand. I also need to organise a first oil and filter change for the bike, but I'm not hopeful of getting that done until Tuesday as tomorrow is Labor day in the US.
    #1
  2. vegemanNZ

    vegemanNZ Been here awhile

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    Good on ya mate, well done for the progress and effort you are giving this trip. I'm impressed you bothered to head out to the coast...you earn a beer for that :dutchIt's interesting how many ways there are to attack this route, you are giving all the adventure seekers hope that one with little experience but big balls can do this...so keep it up, it's going to be a challenge more of a distance challenge than a technical one . Your comment about the bikes sluggish behaviour around trucks etc did give me the 'eek' feeling and my thoughts went back to my comment about the importance of power...I'd be trying to ditch some weight to gain some power back as once you get far inland and start gaining altitude, you'll be loosing more.

    Anyway...am enjoying your updates and my days are counting down. 5 more sleeps before I catch the planes, then 2 more sleeps after that to get the bike. Looks like I will only be a few days behind you...speaking of that, did you get the inreach? so I can see what route you are taking. I'm hoping to be in Lynchburg Wednesday week to visit JD Distillery...you'll probably need something like that by the time you get there :rayof
    #2
  3. chudzikb

    chudzikb Been here awhile

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    Love the observations of the U.S., there are differences from Europe! We do have our way about us, so to speak. And you are in the south, people are generally nicer in the south. So, you got that going for you, which is nice!
    #3
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  4. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    West of the Illinois, heart of the state!
    I am not sure what all you have in those bags, but you may want to down size a bit as you progress the route. Your mirrors and wind shield may suffer, if you get a taste of the different types of soil in the USA. That said, I can tell you are going to have a great time! I will follow along on line.
    Cheers fellow rider
    #4
  5. Kgw

    Kgw n00b

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    I maybe able to assist, take a look around sylva and andrews, nice places and a great river. Take sealed matches or lighter, most campsites have places, we used up 2 small cans of chain lube and rear tires were replaced at topar racing in trinidad colorado, call ahead so they have it ready, they are right off the trail and top work. I got a great feel and miles from irc dual sport and the metzler uni cross that I replaced them with are slightly better in soft mud and dirt but wearing faster on pavement , I would think about an oil change there as well . I ran double thick tube but never had a flat, I carried 1 spare tube, a front cause in a pinch you can use on the rear. The maps were really helpful to see beyond the gps route for gas, water camping, grades of land and points of interest. Pack light, emergency stuff , you can always purchase something along the way, you are back roads and trails but never to far from a town. The 1st couple of days you are riding a lot of rocky stuff ,marbles to tennis ball stuff, it sets you up for anything else but really nothing to bad. We did not experience any rain, you will be following the left overs . Watch out for the mud I can only compare it to the northern moors bogs, it's sticky and deeper then you think. Water crossing we learned to go straight rather then turn, rocks and concrete were very slick.
    I'm off the trail now after the continental divide and it feels odd to be on pavement. Many nice people along the way , helpful, curious and often full of advice and stories.
    Looking forward to hearing about it. You will see us in the log books along the way, kevin and Webb .
    #5
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  6. BkADV

    BkADV Been here awhile

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    EPIC!
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  7. TreblesAllRound

    TreblesAllRound Been here awhile

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    Just a quick note to say I'm still here. Made it up to Murphy, which is a few miles from Andrews. Planning on doing my first TAT section tomorrow. Had planned to do a bit more of a write up of the last three days tonight but I had a better offer:

    I was in the car park of the motel fitting a tool tube to my bike with some newly acquired zip ties. A chap walked past asking where the ice machine was. I didn't know, as I'd only got there last night. He looked at the bike. 'Are you on ADVRider?' he asked. Until now, this has been a completely private world that exists only in my mind and yours (dear reader), so I stammered out a 'yes'. Apparently, @68vette was in front of me, and had been reading my story (he knew all about my rack problems). Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world...

    After trying to get the essential preparation done for tomorrow, 68vette took me out for a drink. We had a good chat, so this is all I've got time for before bed today. A top man who is the first (physical) embodiment of all the helpful spirit that seems to exist on AdvRider.

    Good night all, and I hope to write up the last few days tomorrow.
    #7
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  8. vegemanNZ

    vegemanNZ Been here awhile

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    Good stuff, I did wonder where you were.

    Sent from my SM-G930F using Tapatalk
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  9. 68vette

    68vette Adventurer

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    It was great crossing paths and enjoyed our conversation. Good luck with the adventure.
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  10. TreblesAllRound

    TreblesAllRound Been here awhile

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    Second day of TAT today. Got to LaFayette. Finding the off-road is hard work and requires a lot of concentration.

    Weather gorgeous this evening but bad weather coming as tail end of Irma makes it up here. Noticing places are getting harder to book. Hotel manager tonight confirmed they are getting people coming up from Florida. Would like to have a rest day tomorrow, but think will press on tomorrow and Sunday. Then have a rest day on Monday which is when bad weather is supposed to hit.

    Keep promising to write a bit more, but will have time to gather my thoughts on the rest day.
    #10
  11. Tewster2

    Tewster2 Long timer

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    :lurk
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  12. TreblesAllRound

    TreblesAllRound Been here awhile

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    Got to Laurenceberg, TN last night. Hoping to get to Corinth today. Going faster than I would like and cutting out bits of trail (that seem to be tarmac anyway) to escape Irma which keeps moving west towards me. Think may try to move rest day to Tuesday now as that seems to be when storm will be over me.

    Slightly worried about the pain in my hands hurt from gripping the bars so long each day.

    This trip seems all about the weather. I'm being chased out of Florida/Georgia/Tennessee by a storm, which has the benefit of getting me to the Rockies, hopefully before it snows. Then there are wild fires in Oregon after that...
    #12
  13. vegemanNZ

    vegemanNZ Been here awhile

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    I hear ya on the weather and trip management, but at least you are on the bike and going west. I'm not sure if I will get the bike tomorrow or Tuesday but considering the weather might be crap, the delay may not be a bad thing. For me, accommodation has been the main task as the hurricane is causing a lot of pressure on the hotels...especially around the airport. Just managed to change hotels and have tonight sorted.

    The help and offers of support I've been getting has been fantastic...but as I type, I'm feeling a bit shattered with jet lag, excitement, nervous excitement ...you know how it feels.

    With your hands, you may find that as the trip goes on...your hands will relax, and get used to it...you're probably holding on too tight and trying to manage all that power...

    I see that you haven't sorted your inreach tracking either....maybe a day off to rest and sort stuff seems like a good thing.

    V
    #13
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  14. Hakatan

    Hakatan quality > quantity

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    Would a wrist rest help?

    Good luck staying ahead of Irma. Thanks for posting when you can. Enjoying your report!
    #14
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  15. vegemanNZ

    vegemanNZ Been here awhile

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    thx,

    If its both hands then I'd say no. The best thing is to get thinner gloves as it makes the grips easier to grab. Another trick for the throttle hand was to duct tape a small flat object to the grip itself with the goal of making your desired cruising speed match the angle that would fit under your palm. I've probably not explained it too well, but the objective is that the 'stick thingy' moves the throttle and you are having to use the fingers to hold it in one, boring position. It was the poor mans throttle lock.
    #15
  16. oldbeer

    oldbeer Been here awhile

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    Thanks for posting...you and @vegemanNZ are saving me a fortune by doing this and posting lots of pictures. Lots of people do the TAT, but kiwis wait until there's a big arsed hurricane before they try!

    Kia kaha and all that. Watching from afar!

    Good luck guys
    #16
  17. TreblesAllRound

    TreblesAllRound Been here awhile

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    @Hakatan, I actually brought one of those with me, but it wouldn't fit the grip without pinching it so tightly that the throttle wouldn't return. So it send it one with a load of other stuff to forum member @Scheffy.

    I am trying to grip less tightly and use different hand positions. The good thing is that it seems when I wrote the above that was as bad as it got. It's not getting worse and may even have improved a bit yesterday, possibly as my hands relaxed a bit as vegemanNZ suggests. Hopefully the rest day tomorrow will sort it out.

    @vegemanNZ Was talking to family in hotel car park yesterday in Laurenceburg TN who had evacuated from Miami. For me the best option is just to try to outrun it, for you it might be best to wait until it has past. It will leave it a bit wet for you unfortunately...
    #17
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  18. vegemanNZ

    vegemanNZ Been here awhile

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    yeah man, I'm probably going to stay here again tonight...it's raining, and I've heard that people are already starting to close up shop. You keep on rocking...and I will be on your tail.
    #18
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  19. 10-96

    10-96 Adventurer

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    I would move on westward as well... Love the report and look forward to reading more about your adventure. Just a suggestion, if your hand problem causes your hands to start going numb, consider buying elastic/velcro wrist braces that have a metal insert along the palm/arm and wearing them at night while sleeping. They will keep you from curling your hands inward while sleeping which can aggravate/cause wrist pain/numbness. You may even be able to wear them while riding depending on your riding gloves. They are available at walmart or any drug store.
    #19
  20. rottenpossum

    rottenpossum Adventurer

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    on the subject of the wrist pain/numbess, try resting your fingers on your brake lever and see if it helps you relax your grip.
    #20
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