Transamerica Trail 2009 - OCD or not to be.

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Questor, Dec 10, 2008.

  1. Questor

    Questor More Undestructable

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    Hello All. :wave

    Winter is closing in on us up here in New England, and the Cabin Fever is happening.

    Since there is pratically no riding, I'm obsessing and planning for my Transamerica trip next Summer.
    Last September I rode that 13,000 mile loop of the US National Parks, and kept ending up in beautiful places that I could not take a fully loaded GSA solo. The Maze in Canyonlands for instance.

    So in the Summer of 2009, MotoAdventureGal and I have plans to ride the TAT.
    I've done lots of research - since that's what I do - read all the TAT Ride Reports, and have started collecting the gear and advice / local knowledge needed for the trip.

    So first, I needed the right bike. After consulting the ADV "collective" I found a used 2002 Suzuki DRZ400S with 5K miles on it. It's in good shape and runs well.

    A few weeks ago MotoAdventureGal and I went down to the Pine Barrens and rode with the Meteor club to develop our skills in sand.
    Here's my stock DRZ admiring the view. :lol3
    [​IMG]

    Here's a pic of MotoAdventureGal's DR350, and my DRZ resting at camp.
    [​IMG]

    So now it's December, and it's freezing cold outside - lots of ice.
    So the bikes are tucked into the garage. I think they may be nuzzling. :wink:
    (Notice all the firewood? We're ready for a long cold winter in front of the wood stove. :thumb )

    [​IMG]

    Here's how my DRZ looks now. It has a 4 gallon IMS fuel talk and a ThumperTalk Skid Plate.

    [​IMG]

    I've got some side case armor ready to install the next time the temperatures ride above 60 degrees. :eek1

    I'll be using Sam's maps, transcribed into my Garmin GPS.

    Rider_grrl will also be getting a larger fuel tank and luggage and carrying her half of the gear. She's been waiting for me to do all the Beta-testing. :wink: Smart Girl.

    We are going to be camping as much as we can while on the trail so we need to bring things like Tents, Sleeping bags, foam pads, and cooking stuff.
    I think I'm going to use some Ortleib "Low Profile" waterproof saddlebags and a Seal Line 30 L dry bag mounted to a small tail rack to carry the camping gear. I'm going to emphasize "Light is right" when it comes to the gear we bring. No more than 20 lbs per bike. (I've read the reports, and I know what a handful heavy bikes can be in the sand and slimey mud.)

    I've done lots of "Ultralight" camping before, and totally understand how "Less is more" when it comes to gear... I just need to impress this upon Rider_grrl. She's very much a princess camper. If it were just me doing the TAT I would use my Bibler bivy sack, my Pacific Outdoors insulated inflateable 3/4 length pad and a 40 degree synthetic sleeping bag. I'd stock up on food in the afternoon, and simply lay down off the trail somewhere in the evening when I got tired.
    Rider_grrl wants a a warm bed, hot food, and the occasional shower. :huh

    So I think with some more research and planning we might find a happy medium somewhere in between.

    So I'm tossing this up for the collective to kick around...
    What suggestions do you have for gear, motorcycle parts / accessories, that would make this epic trip next summer a sucess? Let me know what has worked for you.

    I'll post pictures of the luggage system / bags soon, as soon as I get them all adjusted.

    After that I'll get into the specifics of the tent options, and camp type gear.

    Thanks in advance, let the obsessing begin!
    Q~
    #1
  2. MotoAdventureGal

    MotoAdventureGal Motorcycle Vagabond

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    Gearing up to ride...
    Right now I am enjoying Questor's OCD-ness...I'm a total last-minute-Lucy and would probably start putting together all my travel goods about two weeks before takeoff if left to my own devices. Lucky for me, I get to hear all the research in full detail waaaaaaaaaaaay ahead of time. Our bikes are similar enough that I can probably take advantage of most of his research. If I ride the DR350.

    I say "if" because I have a line on an 800 GS and a KLX 450 R...and both present certain challenges. Unfortunately I'm a bit of a girl-in-a-candy-store with regards to motorcycles...I simply cannot decide.

    Re: camping. Yes, I resemble that remark about the "princess camper". Sure, I've done lots of touring and solo camping, but on my 1150 Adventure where I had plenty of room for the princess pillow and multiple sleeping pads. (I'd deny it but he captured that dang pink pillow in the picture above!)

    Any ideas you folks have about minimalist camping with maximum comfort, I sure would love to hear!

    Wish us luck finding a happy medium. We laugh about our differences now...but on the road for 5+ weeks together? Oofa. Both of us have done 95% of our adventure touring solo...

    ...should be quite the adventure indeed!
    #2
  3. Questor

    Questor More Undestructable

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    While I'm on the subject...

    I've used a bunch of different tents in the past few years.

    I first started with a Hennessey Hammock. While very small and light weight, there was no place for my gear in case it rained, and not every campsite has trees. (I'll try and find a picture...)

    In the Summer of 06 I used a Pacific Oudoor tarp and Bibler bivy sack.
    While light and easy to set up, there is no way Rider_grrl would put up with this kind of minimalism.
    [​IMG]

    Then as I moved up to a larger bike I went deluxe, and upgraged to a tent. :eek1
    I am currently using a Go-lite Hex 3. It's a center pole design with bug net inner tent. It packs super small, weighs about 6 pounds and the pole is in 16" sections so it fits in the hard cases of the BMW very well. I consider it a roomy one person tent + bulky motorcycle gear.

    [​IMG]

    So what will I use for the TAT? I need a tent that will pack small, weigh very little (Max 7 lbs) and be a "Home" for two people, plus gear, for two months. I'm willing to take a slight weight penalty hit, in exchange for more living space. I know how small tents can get with two people in them for extended periods - like in a rain storm that lasts two days...
    Additional features such as large vestibules and two doors are a plus.

    I'm thinking of either the MSR Mutha Hubba
    3 person, 6lb. 2oz.
    [​IMG]

    or the Black Diamond Guiding Light.
    4 person 6 pounds.

    [​IMG]

    Any other options I may have overlooked?

    Let the Obsession continue, and yes, I'm addicted to gear.
    One of these days I'll check myself into one of those 13 step programs on an exotic island with all those bikini clad nurses and rid myself of this terrible affliction...
    But until then. :lol3

    Q~
    #3
  4. intothenew

    intothenew Briar Patch Navigator

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    My butt hurts just reading your post, help both of those bikes( they don't need the verbal abuse) and do something about the seats.

    The tent, Heaven, except for my flatulence. She puts up with it in a 20'x24' room with resistance as well as the tent.:D
    #4
  5. Questor

    Questor More Undestructable

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    Hey Mr. New. :wave

    I know about the Eureka K2 XT tent you mentioned, but I feel it is too heavy and bulky for the trip. At 12 lbs, and over 30" long packed, it's quite massive. The tents that I'm considering are all under 6 lbs, and do not exceed 20" in lenght, so they will fit in the side cases. :thumb

    I'll keep working on this.
    Right now I'm comparing all the sleeping bag options. I'm finding a lot of nice bags that are rated to 30 and weigh under 2 pounds.

    True, gear like this is all very expensive, but I consider "Gear" to be an investment. Good equipment not only makes the trip better, but it lasts for years. Amortized over 10 years the price difference between good and the best gear is only a few $ a year. That's how I rationalize it anyway. :wink:

    Q~
    #5
  6. DR. Rock

    DR. Rock Part of the problem

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    Hey A&E :wave

    I know you already have some idea what we use on the Mobius trip, but I'll lay it out:

    Tent: Eureka Pinnacle Pass 2XTA. The vestibules are enormous. Packs small & light, easy to set-up, nice & waterproof. Tipsy McSwagger has one, as does BobbyC. Haven't heard any complaints.

    [​IMG]

    Sleeping bags: We each have 2 LaFuma Warm & Light down bags. We picked 3 of them up at $65 each on sale at campmor (I think), and paid full price ($99) for the 4th. We have 2 each right and left zip, and it gives us a huge amount of flexibility... zip them together and double bag for maximum warmth, lay on one pair and pull the other over us like a comforter when it's warmer outside. For mid-summer camping, we leave one pair at home, and on the shoulder seasons, or if we're at elevation, we make sure we have all 4. They pack incredibly small (9"x4" each). Urbancowboy bought one or two up as well, I haven't heard how he likes them, though. As they are down, ya gotta be sure to keep them dry at all times, :nod which isn't hard as they practically fit inside a sandwich-sized ziplock. We've been warm with them to just below freezing, snuggled up, sauced with bourbon and hot chocolate, wearing long underwear.

    Sleeping pads: A Swiss Army one, and an old Thermarest out west, Two Thermarest Prolite 3's in our NY kit. YMMV. Test for a full night on a hard surface before committing.

    Pillow: Play around with a large stuff sack, and spare clothes. That works for us, but we're probably not as particular about the pillow as RG is. Maybe a seat sheepskin pad can serve double duty as stuff-sack pillow fill material.

    Chairs: Our one big luxury is camp chairs. We have kermits in our NY rig, and some cheap fold-ups out west, but I reckon when those die, they'll be replaced with another set of kermits.

    I think the comfort concern is going to be a lot less once you're out there and put some long hard days on the trail. We both were apprehensive about sleeping badly, and waking up tired and stiff, and being miserable.

    It's hard to explain; maybe it was just being so happy about where we were and what we were doing that it didn't seem so bad, or maybe we were so beat-up and tired from riding that anything felt better than riding another mile by the end of the day. :dunno Whatever the reason, I don't think I've slept better on any vacation, and I can safely say the nights we spent in a bed (usually a cheap mattress in a cheap motel) I slept worse than the nights we spend on the ground. Having a hot shower once every few days... that's another story. :thumb

    See you guys soon,
    d
    #6
  7. gwl

    gwl Been here awhile

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    Rider girl you may want to look at a Big Agness insl. pad. It is 2.5 thick. I have one and love it.
    #7
  8. RandyM

    RandyM Less talk, More ride

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    For sleeping bags, check out Big Agnes. I have been using their Yampa 40 and a sysnthetic 30 Degree bag with a insulated inflatable pad. The pad inserts into a sleeve in the bag so you can't roll off it. The only down side to the inflatable pad is that you have to blow it up every night, but it is very comfortable.
    #8
  9. kelamity

    kelamity Been here awhile

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    One thing i don't like to compromise on is neck comfort. A good combo is the Thermarest small compressible pillow on top of an inflatable seat cushion. I bought both of them at Campmor. The Thermarest pillow does take up some space but the seat cushion doesn't take up any at all. You can get away with clothes in a stuff sack on top of the seat cushion... it gives you some height so you don't get taco neck.

    I like my Sierra Designs Electron tent, mostly because it has 2 entries with 2 large vestibules to keep the dew off of your stuff. It's also very easy to set up and if you bring ALL the accessories it's only 6lbs. 6oz.

    Definitely get one of those MSR camp towels. Even when they're damp you can still dry your whole body and hair. I think I have the medium... maybe 2 by 3 ft. in size.

    I've been using a Thermarest inflatable sleep pad but next time I'm gonna get the small folding foam pad. It seems so much easier than squeezing all the air out every morning.

    My women's specific Sierra Designs sleeping bag is really comfortable too. Not sure of the style name but I could check if you want. I like it so much, I often sleep in it at home when my apt. is cold. The Thermarest pillow also lives on my bed.

    You should go to Campmor and do some set ups on the floor to see which one is the most comfortable for you. That place is awesome. I don't think they know much about motorcycle camping but if you use the mountaineering term "fast and light" they'll show you the kinda stuff you're looking for.
    #9
  10. RockyNH

    RockyNH Older Than Dirt!

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    Questor... Nice Thread!! I am in NH.. we are still recovering from our ice storm and expecting a foot of snow tomorrow... Not riding either!! Dreaming about my trip to the Trans Lab HW next year...

    I have a long range dream of the TAT though it may never happen... In the meantime, I can follow your thread with envy from New England!

    Pat in NH
    #10
  11. olebiker

    olebiker Old buzzard bait

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    Pat how long was your power off?

    Carl
    #11
  12. RockyNH

    RockyNH Older Than Dirt!

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    Carl, it went out Thursday... I got it back Sunday late... Lost it again overnight Monday but I was sleeping :)

    I was one of the lucky ones.. I have friends still without and we are supposed to 6 - 10" of snow... and more south in MA like afoot or more.. tomorrow..

    That will surely hamper cleanup on some of the really bad areas..

    Pat in NH
    #12
  13. benh

    benh lookin 4 a way outta town

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    If I had to do it over again I would recommend Dirt Bagz and an aftermarket rack with a dry bag (tent, bag, and pad) strapped on top.

    Have fun...planning is part of it!
    #13
  14. Brent4ADV

    Brent4ADV Enjoying empty roads...

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    After my TAT trip I would definitely say that soft bags are the way to go. Whether it be Ortleib, Dirt Bagz, or the Giant Loop I think you would definitely be better served with soft bags.
    Also, do not underestimate the importance of bringing spares and tools. I know that these items carry a large weight penalty but you will not want to be caught without them. A good rule of thumb that I learned from someone on here was to work on your bike in one room and keep your tools in another room. Every time that you have to get a tool just add it to the list of things you should take with you.
    With that being said, I hope the 20 lbs./bike you were referring to just included your camping gear because you will have 3 to 4 times that in overall gear on each bike. Good luck with your planning process.
    #14
  15. Seth S

    Seth S Will _____ for _____

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    A quick note on gear and the TAT.....your idea of what gear is needed will quickly exceed your carrying capacity. When I did my trip I found that I didn't need many more clothes then those I was wearing. I have a 3lb tent, a ground pad, and a highly compressible down sleeping bag. if I were to go again this is the gear I'd take:

    Sleeping:
    light tent or bivy sack and tarp
    30 degree down sleeping bag
    thermarest camp pad


    Clothes
    riding jacket
    Riding pants
    gloves
    helmet
    boots
    knee armor
    Rainsuit or rain gear of some sort
    balaclava
    warm hat


    1 long underwear bottom
    1 long underwear top
    2 pair mesh lined hiking shorts
    1 pair lightweight nylon travel pants
    3 -4 pair Smart wool socks
    1 -2 fast drying T shirts
    1 fleece jacket
    1 brimmed hat

    electronics
    head lamp
    cell phone
    Emergency locator beacon or tracking device
    digital camera


    Misc:
    First aid kit
    duct tape
    JB weld
    multi tool
    bike tools
    spare tubes
    spare plug
    Oil filter(s)
    common known maintenance items for your bike
    tire irons
    zip ties
    Sunblock
    Dry Skin Creme


    There are probably a couple of other odds and ends but thats pretty much the base. Essentially trips like this should focus on your protective riding gear and what you need to keep your bike running. Then assess the weather and pack accordingly. I know I tend to start off with too much stuff and then just send it home. The other thing you can do is send the warm clothes ahead for the more mountainous regions.

    my 2 bits
    #15
  16. Brent4ADV

    Brent4ADV Enjoying empty roads...

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    This is a good list to start with but I would also like to strongly encourage you to take an assortment of spare hardware. I don't know how many nuts and bolts we sheared off, stripped out or used otherwise. Add oil and chain links (and obviously a chain tool).
    #16
  17. Seth S

    Seth S Will _____ for _____

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    You can cut down on the hardware if you do a periodic torque check and if you put locktite on everything you can before you leave. I dont think my old DRZ ever lost any bolts....My KTM 950 lost one or two from the bodywork on my TAT trip...and I had one spark plug rattle loose because I was always nervous about over tightening it.
    #17
  18. LoJack

    LoJack Long timer

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    The next time I'm in the market for a tent I am probably going with Tarptent. A good friend uses one and I was very impressed by its simplicity, light weight, and pack size. Though it's not freestanding.

    Hope you guys have a great time. Lojack
    #18
  19. Questor

    Questor More Undestructable

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    Hey Benh. :wave

    I LOVE planning for trips. To me it's well over half the fun.

    You're pretty close in terms of what I'm planning.
    I've got some Ortleib Low Profile Dry Bags (2100 cu. in, each side) and a small 35L dry bag mounted to a rear luggage rack. At just over 100 liters of storage space, I should have more than enough storage space.
    I'll put the heavy stuff in the side bags, tent, cookwear, food. - and the light things such as clothing, sleeping bag, in the top dry bag.

    When I was an ultra light backpaker and mountaineer, an 80 liter pack was HUGE. I don't see why I need more now...

    I'm planning to pack for the riding, not the campsite.
    (MotoAdventureGal, don't read this. :lol3 )

    I think Seth S has the right idea...
    Bring the essentials, nothing more.
    It's a ride after all, not a military campaign.

    I'll post more pictures of the bike soon.

    Less is more. Repeat ad nauseam...
    Q~
    #19
  20. Questor

    Questor More Undestructable

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    OK. Here's a question for the collective...

    What GPS?

    I'm going to buy Sam's maps and transcribe them to Mapsource...

    I've got a Garmin 276C on my GSA, but I'm concerned about the effect of vibration from the DRZ thumper, and the 4,800 miles of dirt roads.

    What GPS / mount combination for the TAT would the collective suggest?
    I see a lot of folks with 60CSX and RAM mounts. Is this a good durable setup?
    This is what DR. Rock used on his Mobius Trip... and I've got mad respect for him and LDF. :bow

    Your collective thoughts?
    Thanks.
    Q~
    #20