Three Friends, One Direction: West on the TAT! Giddyup!!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by mathewsturtevant, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. CaseyB

    CaseyB Adventually

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    Awesome

    I've been following the ct90 guys as well. Love it when two RR cross paths.

    Glad you had a good time and I look forward to your POV
  2. Paratrout

    Paratrout Been here awhile

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    +1 I think he is doing his report the best way; after it is all said and done. Very few people can do good reports play by play. (John Downs is the man when it comes to those reports)
  3. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    The night before we started the trail in Tellico Plains. The guy next door starts warning us of all the scary stuff we're going to see just in Tennessee. He warned of Moonshiners, forest meth heads and even ghosts!! He said we better be packing heat, cause we'd need it.
    Well Tenn was kinder, gentler, and way more paved than I imagined. One friend who had researched it said we'd be riding hog tracks. Well, years ago perhaps. Even my GPS showed many of the roads were dirt not long ago. But a lot of it was pretty tame and we ended up in suburbia at least once.
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    My beast of burden:
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  4. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    The last day of Tennesee was the dirtiest.
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  5. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    That first TAT proper night we camped at Sale Creek lake which is off Tennesse river near Shelton cemetery. A random dude gave us Smores, Golfish. Cheesecake cookies, Kaiser rolls, Angle food cake. etc. All Pepperidge Farms Products. Maybe he works for them?? Almost couldn't camp there because of a Tornado that had come through and the camp host said the tent sites weren't ready yet . Eventually, the guy warmed up to us and we got a beautiful spot right by the lake. 3 wood ticks were crawling on my legs in a vey short amount of time . I had treatd most of my clothes with Premetherin which repels them, so I switched into my treated pants. Richard and Travis compared notes on Central American countries where they both had lived.
    Next day started off c.c..cccold!! End up getting lost in a new development. Streets changed? Many miles later, slept next to a place called Boobie Bungalo. Full moon. 3 beds in condo. Ate tuna with goldfish on smushed hamburger buns. Mostly all paved.
    Next morning started off mostly paved. Great breakfast biscuits. Richard lost tent poles so we back tracked. Never found the tent poles. It was Memorial Day weekend and as I had feared.... all campsites all full just south of Savannah Tenn. So we got a hotel this time we all got our own rooms... We were starting to need space from each other. Ate Chili dogs with squished buns --really good. Got an early start into Missisppi the next morning. We crossed our first TAT border and as the GPS said we crossed the only thing that changed was the mix of blacktop aggregate. Shortly thereafter we crossed a rickety bridge, then a couple miles of paved roads before a nice swath of dirt. There was logging happening and some elevation gain which was nice because we were able to see the terrain a bit.
    The dirt was red and dry but not too dusty. We were making good time when a sedan came flying around the corner. Richard was in front so they had to see him, but there was no indication that they had slowed down at all. Even though cars are pretty rare on the TAT, you have to treat blind corners appropriately..
  6. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    Mississippi started off pretty cool. The dirt was red, a little muddy but not bad. After a quick crappy breakfast at Sonic, we headed over to see the man- Sam Correro. We kinda got turned around and lost in a neighborhood 20 minutes from his house but then eventually found our way to his house.
    Sam is a gentle man. He spent 15 years making this trail that he estimates at least a thousand people have done. He showed us map details, kept offering us coffee and allowed me to interview him on video. Super nice guy.
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    The man himself! Sam Correro!
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    I went to stand on the porch of this typical Mississippi shack and by the time my photographer counted to "3", I had fallen through the floor.

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  7. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    just a few more pics:
    Hotel was too sketchy to leave bikes outside:
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    Ruts, mud AND Sand on this one..
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  8. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    Crossing Mississippi then into a town taken over by Kudzu. After breakfast at a mediocre diner. We set out across the Arkansas farmlands. At first, it was a mix of daunting white sand but that was short lived. It soon became a half day of gravel grid with lots of dust. It was also HOT. But later it became cooler. This was a good way to learn about riding in different types of gravel. The deeper the scarier. The size of the pebbles also determines how to deal with it. I find about 38 mph works pretty good. In 3rd gear I still have enough to goose it if I get the front wheel heading sideways.
    Eventually, in the afternoon we started getting a bit less gravel and a bit more elevation. We were pretty tuckered out around 4 so we slabed it to Wooly Hollow campground. I didn't even set up my tent before I went for a swim. IT was delightful. Only two other swimmers, and the sandy floor of the lake reminded me of beaches where I grew up in Wisconsin. I needed some time to not talk to anybody. We grilled hot dogs with chili again.
    The first of many, many, many flat, pasture one mile grids that make up much of Ark(South East) and seemingly 400 miles of Oklahoma. All the turns were 90 degrees and the terrain was flat, and gravelly or dusty:
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    Travis Resting
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    Richard had lost his tent poles and we were consdiderinf wether or not to go to REI in Little Rock. My wife ended up sending one of my other tents. We did a pretty long ass day and camped at Wooly Hollow St Park.
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    I really liked that this was a quite state park with a lake that had a sandy floor. It was just what I needed after a long hot day.


    Richard lost his tent poles so I gave him some twine and a pole from my rain fly and he rigged this up:
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  9. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    In the morning, we headed into the Ozarks. It was pretty impressive how beautiful it was after the farmlands. Also, it was more dirt as opposed to gravel. We were headed west often on tops of the little mountains. Eventually, I got us in our first truly lost moment. But I figured it out with the GPS. We had just taken a right turn a little too soon. Then the trail became much more difficult than the typical TAT(so far:evil). I already wasn't feeling great, then getting lost on top of it started me think about the "what ifs". What if we get even more lost? What if we go down a hill that we can't get back up? What if I panic? What if it gets hotter? Well, we kept moving forward and it did get steeper and a lot more technical. Then at the bottom of the hill, travis went ahead and then he found a very cool swimming hole. The water was slate blue and milky. And cool. It was a good reset. The GPs showed us getting closer to next highway. There was one technical water crossing then a bouldered section of trail then a long DEEP river crossing. It had a gravel floor which was perfect. I made it through no problem. Travis stalled out but the trusty bike started up again.
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    Swimmin hole[​IMG]


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  10. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    I got really sick of Hamburgers by the end of this trip, but Brian and his wife Reagan made the best one I ate on the whole trip. Deeliciuous burger!
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    Not only are they the owners of the famous OARK store but they also are opening a bed and breakfast soon just for sweaty, greasy ADv riders!!! These are some smart folks. They will even have an area where you can work on your bikes around back!
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    We ended up camping on the Mulberry River at the second park downstream. All was fine, until Travis discovered from some very enthusiastic revelers, that there was a huge concert/rave thing happening nearby soon. The enthusiastic people who had come a day early so they'd have plenty of time to get drunk enough... and used like the word "like" like all the time, man. It's like, they like don't even know they're doing it. We didn't want any part of their affordable beer, bad music camaraderie so we pulled up our tent stakes and camped next to the park Ranger on duty.
  11. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    It surprised me but those dang ol' Ozarks just kept going for quite a while.
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    Warloop road was a lot less of a big deal than I thoughtJust one ledge and some slimy rocks. No biggie.
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    and......bike nap!
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    We saw a lot of "Road Closed" signs on our trip and none of them pertained to 2 wheeled vehicles. We always wiggled around.
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  12. Doug329

    Doug329 Adventurer

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    Great report...brings back fond memories. Glad you got to visit with Sam. He's one great guy and really has his heart and soul into the TAT. We all owe him a lot.

    Wonderful pictures..

    Keep it coming.
    Doug :clap
  13. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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  14. joenuclear

    joenuclear Planning.....

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    Wow! I wish it All looked like that! :D

    Keep it coming.:clap
  15. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    Oklahoma was at first bucolic; gentle rolling hills occasionally spotted with a red barn here and there. The road itself was red dirt and sometimes covered with kudzu, but all quite beautiful. The openness was welcome after the sort of claustrophobic woods of the Ozarks. Even the dogs seemed friendlier; at one point a blue tick healer ran along road side with me in a very playful manner just happy to have the company I guess. We now had cows sharing the dirt roads. Ran over a small snake. Stayed in Pryor, cheap hotel, ate really bad mexican food. Feliz, our waitress, had raised herself after her parent's wild ways led her to being raised by another who tried to sell her into prostitution. She is going to school to study criminal justice while waiting tables. She thought a 6 dollar tip was a big deal. Made me grateful for my blessed upbringing.
    It rained hard that night, for a long time. Just the week before was when the huge tornado killed 24 residents of Moore.
    Next morning Adv riders John Martin? and a KIWI named Joe. John bought us breakfast and gave us the lay of the land. He said "Do Not get on trail west of Bartlesville, this rain will make the mud impassable.
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    We rode dirt to get to Bartlesville but is was quickly becoming a slip and slide and skies were getting more and more ominous.
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    When we finally made it into Bartlesville, the sky was getting really dark and kinda greenish.
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    Even thought we'd only ridden for a couple hours it was time to hunker down.

    Yet another storm system which included more tornados. Meteorologist Mike Bettes was chasing the monster rain-wrapped tornado near El Reno, Okla. when he says the storm picked up the heavy chase SUV and threw it an estimated 200 yards.
    We found out the following Monday that a Weather channel reporter/stormchaser guy died. This was serious stuff.Not a good place for three heavily laden bikes.
    And the forecast was days and days of this in Tornado alley.
  16. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    With the same Tornado prone weather brewing up every afternoon, and having been warned of inevitable mud pit TAT roads.... we were left with watching bad T.v. in a $80 per day hotel or get outta dodge and uh dodge the storms.
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    Slabbing it isn't anybody's first choice but we had to choose safety and we needed to get quite a ways west to get out of tornado alley, So we headed to Liberal Kansas.

    But first a quick stop in Ponca City for travis to get a tire. I should see if the Cycles East guys who rode the TAT backwards want to run the TAT on one of these:

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    In Forgan, Oklahoma this nice woman took a shine to us. A local teenager was in the convenience store and when he left he told her he loved her. I asked if he was her grandkid. she said "no, but I am close with all the kids here" Refreshing when most kids his age are trying to be gansta tough.
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    Liberal has limited charm:[​IMG]
    For some rason there's this big Wizard of Oz thing there. It's weird.
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  17. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    This state is long. The next morning we headed towards Boise city. Flat as a boring ass pancake, miserably cold, windiest riding by far. Just sucked. At one point I was thinking to myself "this is the single dumbest idea I have ever had..riding from coast to coast on little dirt bikes is retarded" I didn't see how we could possible make it across the whole continent. I felt like a kayaker trying to cross the Pacific; it's just too big. Then it got really bad...because of the smell. Huge cattle yards or pigs or something made it smell like my helmet had been dropped into a port-o-potty, but not just for a minute, it was like 20 minutes at a time, for miles and miles. Disgusting. At one point I was trying not to gag. And just when you'd think you were in the clear another yard would come up...:puke1:puke1 The scenery was the worst, it was freezing and it really stank. my eyes longed for a tree, the slightest bit of topography, anything. nothing but blah.


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  18. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    In Boise city OK, we ate breakfast and watched a cute little parade celebrating the Spanish Trail or.. well I can't remember. But it was quaint. After leaving town and heading back out into the gravel grids in the last few miles of blah Oklahoma, I realized we were going to go over 140 miles till the next anything and I had very little water in my camel back. EEK! I told the guys to wait and turned around and went 5 miles back into town. The guys don't worry about much. I always do, and my first worry is running out of gas or water. So When I filled up my camel back, I also filled up my tank..agin just in case(turns out lots of folks run out near Trinidad, so I am glad I did). My next worry was the GPS. It was always turning off from vibration. Well, whie we we in Boise city, I rush to the library and downloaded the GPS track for New Mexico from Sam's TAT website. I never had done this before and wasn't sure how to do it, or how it would work. The previous states of Ok, Ark, MISS, TENN, GEORGIA, north and south Carolina, I had just been using maps and roll charts.
    So, I'm worrying about this and that and then it occurs to me, the guys are just out on a road with zero landmarks and it's just one mile grids I wasn't really paying attention, if I miscount I am screwed, cell phones don't work and the roll charts are irrelevant because I backtracked, so now my odometer was off:eek1:eek1:eek1 Every road looks exactly the same and they are all just a mile apart I had made a few turns, but which ones???? I could spend hours just finding the guys.....
    but soon enough I see them up ahead and they're as calm as could be. I apologize about forgetting water and we move forward.
  19. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    As we near the border I see two things that make me very happy: One, just to the south there is a slight bump, maybe a volcanic tuft jutting up far away. And two, on my GPS is a red line telling me where to go!!!!!!!!:clap:clap:clap The little arrow on the track just shows you where the actual TAT is!! Why in the hell did I wait till New Mexico to try this? This would have saved so much time navigating before. Constantly doubting every turn hoping the roll chart will match up with reality. Then to the north, more topography and shit, there's even curvy roads again and trees!! I was so happy within 3 miles of crossing that state line:D:D It is remarkable what just a few miles and a change of scenery can do for my psyche. Also, there were animals every where all of the sudden; Gophers, Coytotes, Antelope, deer, rabbits. We went from Mars back to earth where things can live.
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    up the switchbacks:[​IMG]
  20. mathewsturtevant

    mathewsturtevant Motojournalist

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    Surprising thing about TAT critter wise; saw tons of snakes in Arkansas, tons of turtles in Oklahoma(all tallish land turtles heading north), cows of course, 3 coyotes, 1 bear cub, only a couple deer??? and the most numerous critter by far was Pronghorn antelope. They are funny because they won't jump a fence, so they just run along with you. they are the second fastest land animal after the Cheetah. They cook along at about 55mph when they want to. I thought they were only in prairies but we saw them from oklahoma to Oregon even in the forests. Very surprising.
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