2016 TAT, Solo, Ocean to Ocean, Plan vs. Actual, Lessons Learned

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by KenCM, Sep 13, 2016.

  1. msteward

    msteward Long timer

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    I think you did that to justify carrying that rope and stuff.

    At least you weren't hurt.
    #21
  2. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    I found an Otter Box just the right size to serve as a wallet. Glad that I did as I waded through a water crossing that turned out to be up to my waist. Everything in my wallet remained dry.

    Wallet.jpg
    #22
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  3. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    Yes, I wore gloves.
    I started with a pair of Klim lightweight windproof and a pair of Klim medium weight waterproof.
    I purchased a pair of Klim Dakar Pro leather gloves in Gunnison. I was buying an additional pair because I was only using the windproof gloves as I only needed something lightweight and I wanted something with seams in different spots because I was wearing them 10 hours a day. I opted for the more expensive Pro gloves because they just felt so much nicer than the non-pro version.

    As luck would have it, a sleet storm hit as I was going over Cinnamon Pass. I stopped at the apex of the pass to switch to my waterproof gloves and couldn't get them on properly because the liners had separated from the shell and I couldn't get all my fingers in the right places. I struggled for several minutes in high winds, cold temperatures plus sleet and rain and then just jammed them on as best I could. They were NOT comfortable that way as several fingers on each hand were bent up in the body of the glove - but my hands were dry and warmer. I mentioned this to the dealer where I traded my KTM in as they carried Klim and they sent them in on my behalf for warranty replacement/repair.

    Here are SOME of the things that led to my hands getting dusty:
    Check tire pressure
    Pump TuBliss high pressure bladder
    Pump tire
    Check air filter
    Repair tire puncture
    Patch tube
    put gear on bike
    take gear off bike
    stop on side of road to hydrate and take gear off to cool off (in the west, when it is dry, there is dust in the air)

    The damn dust gets everywhere - including inside the gloves. Then your hands are bathed in it continuously.
    I was on the side of a road for two hours repairing a flat in what I would refer to as a dust storm which I'm sure the locals just call a nice summer day.
    Until you experience it, it's hard to imagine how dang dusty it is all the time.
    The lack of vegetation means lots of open ground and the wide open spaces mean lots of wind and the two combined mean dust in the air all the time.

    It wasn't very pleasurable always breathing that stuff either and each evening I was surprised yet again at how much I'd collected in my nasal filter.

    I'll post some more on riding gear.
    #23
  4. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    So I experienced what I am referring to as a low-side bounce-and-go.
    Sliding through a corner on dirt, I suddenly low-sided. The bike went down really fast... and then bounced off the luggage and I was back up and riding off.
    It was a bizarre deal, but I don't look a gift horse in the mouth.

    A little while later, I stop and put my kickstand down and... the bottom inch or so is missing.
    On KTM's, there is a plastic piece on the bottom of the kickstand that fits into the aluminim rod constituting the rest of the stand and it was gone.
    This meant I had to place a rock under the kickstand for it to function or the bike would fall over as it was too short.

    The next town I happened across with a hardware store I bought a 79 cent solution...
    KickstandFix.jpg

    I ride away exceptionally pleased with myself.

    The next time I stop...
    KickstandOil.jpg

    The bolt that holds the kickstand on is still there, but the dang kickstand is gone!

    Being in the forest, and having a hatchet, I find some wood that's not too dry and not too wet and fashion a new kickstand:

    NewKickstand.jpg

    This served me well for nearly a week until the ride was complete. By this time in the ride I didn't much care if the bike fell over (except for the energy to pick it back up), but it never did while on that monstrosity.
    When not in use, I slid it under the bungees and it just hung out the sides on top of the rest of my gear.
    #24
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  5. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    I put new sprockets and chain on immediately prior to leaving.
    I oiled the chain every morning after checking the slack without exception (and checked the oil).
    I used Bel-Ray Blue Tac chain lube. I completed consumption of one can shortly after entering Colorado and purchased another there which was consumed on the last day.
    It was a couple days before I needed to tighten the chain and only every few days after that until the last 4 or 5 days at which point I was tightening it twice a day (and that wasn't really often enough).

    I changed the oil three times (about every 1,500 miles) and changed the sand cover on the air filter when I changed the oil.
    I checked the air filter more frequently, but it was never dirty enough to warrant changing prior to an oil change.
    I used the stock air filter over which was placed a sand filter over which was placed a sand cover.
    I only ever needed to clean the sand cover - the filters remained pristine.

    Each time I changed the oil there was a little more material on the magnet. This is what it looked like on the 3rd change. I presume that is clutch material?
    OilMagnet.jpg
    #25
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  6. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    I obtained and installed a gas filler filter from Italy that allegedly stops even water from entering the tank.
    I had no fuel problems.
    Except... I had to trickle gasoline into the tank due to the low rate at which the filter passed the gas.
    It took about a minute per gallon.
    Upon completion of the ride I removed the filter and did not see ANYTHING inside the filter - water or otherwise.

    The same company offers a slightly more coarse filter that will pass water but no particulate and doesn't slow the flow significantly.
    I'd probably opt for that one in the US.

    GasFilter.jpg

    I was told that KTMs are prone to fuel pump failures so I carried both a spare fuel pump and a spare fuel injector - plus the rotating ratchet drive that more easily facilitates replacement of the fuel injector. I didn't have any fuel system problems and so didn't use any of that stuff.

    I also didn't require the spare spokes and nipples I carried.

    Of course, I didn't need them BECAUSE I was carrying them :)
    #26
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  7. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    Here's my first aid kit. All of this was placed in a one gallon ziplock freezer bag.
    I made at least two mistakes with my first aid kit.
    The first was I brought too many of each item of things like bandages and wipes. That stuff is readily available at drug stores and even gas stations and I could have carried much lower counts without sacrificing preparedness.
    The other mistake I made was packing it all in a single bag. I should have packed things more commonly required like band aids, alieve, and antibiotic ointment a separate more readily available pack. I ended up actually buying each of those three things rather than dig them out.
    FirstAid.jpg
    #27
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  8. Redhook

    Redhook Adventurer

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    I'm doing the TAT next year. Thanks for the informative report.
    #28
  9. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    With respect to navigation...
    I purchased Sam's GPS tracks and maps and decided to follow those.
    I first combined his tracks into a single track, but my Garmin Montana's operation was painfully slow when displaying a track with that many points.
    So I broke that single track into about 80 tracks, which I named sequentially from start to finish as KTAT1, KTAT2, etc...

    The Montana can only display a limited number of tracks simultaneously (I forget the number, it's around 20).
    So every other morning or so I would turn off tracks I had already covered and display upcoming tracks.

    The reason I broke it into about 80 tracks was that I used a DeLorme InReach and wanted to display my planned course on the DeLorme MapShare site.
    I discovered that site was capable of importing tracks of only a limited point count so that established the maximum number of points per track and the number of tracks turned out to be about 80.

    You will notice there is a second empty Montana mount in the picture below.
    I started the journey with only a single Montana.
    Half way through the ride I procured a second Montana (with camera) and this picture was taken with that one.
    I got the one with the camera only because it was on sale for about the same as the one without (from GPS City).
    The camera is crap and I came to avoid using it despite its ready availability.

    Out of necessity for seeing both the big picture and detail I was constantly zooming in and out.
    Hitting the small part of the screen for zooming in gloved hands repeatedly in rapid succession is not easy and rarely worked well.
    When you touch the screen in the wrong place the unit changes to a different screen and then, in addition to the zooming, you need to hit the spot to get you back to the correct screen.

    During this journey I rode off the road three times - once early on due to my constant efforts of zooming in and out.
    After a couple days struggling with the thought of spending the dough on the second unit and trying unsuccessfully to find an alternative, I decided it was far cheaper than the damage that would almost certainly result from not having it as I was not willing to slow down simply to zoom in and out.

    I was also almost killed when, after missing a turn in the middle of nowhere, I turned around without thinking carefully enough.
    I had just gone around a curve on a dirt road when I noticed I'd missed the turn.
    Given I was in the middle of nowhere and there was no one else around, I simply did a U-turn.
    Within one second of completing my U-turn, a pickup truck came around that curve in the middle of the road going at least 60 MPH.
    Had I made my U-turn one second later, or had he been there a second earlier, I'd of been a hood ornament.

    I was very careful where I made U-turns for the remainder of the journey.
    Also, I was relieved that with the second GPS the number of turns I missed dropped by about 80%.

    I wish I had used this setup from the start - it worked swimingly.
    I displayed the big picture on one and kept the other zoomed in and life was very good.

    For what it's worth, I have a number of GPSs from 3 major manufacturers and highly recommend the Montana for this type of riding.
    I have the version with the topo map included and I purchased and download to an SD card the City Navigator map.

    MontanaCamear.jpg

    For backup, I installed the DeLorme Earthmate app on my cell phone and carried Sam's paper maps.
    I also carried a RAM mount for the phone (not mounted, just in case).
    The paper maps were bulky.
    I mentioned this to another TAT rider I encountered and he suggested taking photos of them - doh!
    In Colorado I shipped a small package home of a few things I no longer needed, including the maps I'd taken photos of.

    I could never have navigated this course using the phone without significant loss of time.
    Referring to paper maps would have been even worse.
    The apps I have on the phone simply are nowhere near as efficient as the Montana.
    This realization was another reason I decided to get the second Montana - it served as a backup in case one failed.

    Oh... you can see a bag of Cheez-Its wedged between the headlight and the bag on the front. I found that by loosening the straps on that bag I had a convenient storage area for snacks.
    #29
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  10. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    One of the mistakes I made was not thoroughly testing everything before needing it.
    I don't generally ride a dual sport at night, but in preparation for the TAT I had a BD headlight installed by my dealer.
    I first turned it on at dusk one evening on the TAT and discovered two problems.

    First, only the running light and the high beam worked - the "normal" position did not.
    Second, and more importantly, it was directed for aiming anti-aircraft guns or perhaps bird-watching owls.
    So I had to go to a hardware store and get a bunch of spacers and longer bolts to push the top out far enough that the light would hit the ground.
    I also had to hack up the shield and remove the protective light covering as seen in the photo.

    I ended up aiming the headlight very low in a failed attempt at being able to use the brights for normal night running.
    The high beam cone was too large and so the few times I was riding at night I had to switch from high beam to running lights for oncoming traffic.
    That sucked.

    BDHeadlight.jpg

    As seen in the photo below, earlier in the ride I was using a fender bag. I ended up removing that after properly aiming the headlight. Not because it blocked the light - there was ample light to go around - but because the straps flapping in the breeze and in the light created a bizarre light show effect that really drew people's attention. I didn't want the attention - most especially on those few occasions I was using the light.

    FenderBag.jpg

    I was only seriously concerned once. As it was getting dark one evening I had chosen to ride the 30 minutes to a motel rather than camp. When I got there, there were no vacancies and I had to ride an additional 40 minutes further from my course on a freeway to get to one that had a vacancy.

    The following morning I got up and left well before sunrise in order to get back to where I left off nice and early so as not to lose any more time.
    The freeway ride was in the pitch black and mostly with only my running light so as not to blind others and that was so dim as to be all but useless.
    As I'm cruising along at 70 MPH to minimize the chance of getting rear-ended, I have just enough light to read a sign on the up-slope mountain side of the freeway - it simply stated "ROCKS."
    If there were any on the road, I fortunately didn't hit them.

    They say the way to boil a live frog is to place it in a pot of cool water and slowly turn up the heat.
    I repeatedly found myself being boiled in this manner - one small thing after another ultimately leading to potentially huge problem.
    #30
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  11. one-track mind

    one-track mind Next time I send a damn fool, 
I go myself.

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    Excellent write up! I watched you from your start in GA to Port Orford! Jealous as hell!! Definite for me when I retire. Just as a note on the fingers drying out. Yes, the dirt will do that especially with a little sweat mixed in. Plus you got to remember once you cross the Mississippi heading west. The humidity drops like a rock.
    #31
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  12. tonyjuliano

    tonyjuliano Grumpy Santa

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    Nope...
    #32
  13. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    I'll play...

    Rings? Cylinder wall?
    #33
  14. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    I took care of business in the evenings and mornings in either the one pair of shorts or one pair of jeans I'd brought depending upon the temperature.
    You can see my footwear in the picture. It was light and didn't take up any bag space.
    I'd leave space in the pack for my shorts so I could change into riding gear after loading the bike and then just stuff them in the top of the pack.

    FlipFlops.jpg

    I once stopped for a drink on the side of a mountain and noticed one of my sandals was missing.
    I was upset with myself for not better securing it and removed the other one in frustration prepared to fling it off the side of the mountain.
    As I raised it in my arm and took a step toward the edge for a good throw, I noticed in my peripheral vision the one I thought I'd lost had just slid down the bungee and hadn't been visible until I stepped around the bike.
    Really glad I didn't fling that sandal.

    About a week later, a bungee holding one of the sandals was melted through and I actually did lose it.
    I was only a day from the end so I lived with doing everything in my riding gear.
    Damn, those were nice sandals :(
    #34
  15. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    I wasn't the only one strapping their footwear on the outside.
    BikeBevy.jpg
    #35
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  16. BMW-K

    BMW-K F800GS FTW!

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    I'm in for the long haul. Good stuff so far!
    #36
  17. tonyjuliano

    tonyjuliano Grumpy Santa

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    More than likely...

    That bike was designed to be run hard for a couple of hours at a time, not for days and days on end. I'm sure it needs top end attention after almost 6500 hard miles in such short timeframe, with the minimal maintenance it received along the way - along with the enormous load it carried.

    Maintenance on those bikes is usually dictated by hours of use, not thousands of miles ridden.
    #37
  18. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    I was fine-tuning my packing for the first week.

    Among the things that changed:
    The hatchet moved from the tank bag to the bag on the bars. It was actually more accessible there (you never know when you might need to fashion a kickstand).
    I forget what started in the bag on the bars, but in the end it contained the hatchet, flushable wipes, and a duece of spades trowel (used only once on a mountaintop after hours of trying to find a way off - the road on my route was closed due to a huge fire).

    After the first week, I didn't carry any snacks or drink in the tank bag. That resulted from a combination of factors. I had to stop for fuel every 3 hours or so and every gas station had snacks. I had emergency food in my survival gear, so I quit carrying snacks. Also, I didn't actually eat them very often. I think that Payday was in there 3 days before it was consumed. My initial routine was fuel and two drinks. I'd drink one right off and consume the other the next time I rested which was usually every hour or so. The temperature and humidity dropped substantially after the first week and so too did my consumption of fluids. I was able to remain sufficiently hydrated between my hydration pack and one drink when I fueled. I tried jamming the drink into the bungees on the back but after losing two drinks I stopped that. I also jammed empties into the bungees (for disposal at the next fuel stop) and never lost any of those.

    That tank bag also contained a spare pair of eyeglasses (in addition to the spare pair I carried in my jacket), camera and one of my cell phones (I had removed those for this photo, which was taken for a friend who, upon hearing details of my packing, indicated I was ready for anything but a zombie attack. I wanted a clear shot of the hatchet to show him I had indeed considered that as well). There was also a bendable tripod for the camera and a two AAA cell flashlight. I ultimately moved the camera to one of my jacket pockets and the cell phone to one of my pants pockets. That was the absolute best spot for the flashlight and that flashlight was one of the most used things I took. It was handy for checking oil in the dim morning light and I had to use it to hike off a mountain one evening when there was no moon.

    I mentioned "one of my cell phones"... My cell carrier is ATT. A few weeks prior to to this trip, I'd ridden the Blue Ridge Parkway and Skyline Drive with my wife and had noticed there were MANY places where my cell didn't have coverage that others' did. So I bought a Verizon cell phone outright and signed up for a plan I could cancel when the trip was over. There were indeed many places east of the Mississippi where I had coverage with Verizon that I did not with ATT. There were no places where the opposite was true. But out west it changed. There were relatively few places where one carrier's coverage was superior (although Verizon's was slightly better) - there was only coverage near interstates and communities.

    TankBag.jpg

    Among the things that moved INTO the tank bag were tire plugs and the tool for inserting them. I had a lot of tire problems (only the rear) and ended up using about 15 of those tire plugs. I was running the TuBliss system so could plug a tire rather than take everything off the bike, take the wheel off, etc... This is why the tire repair stuff moved into the tank bag:

    Digging.jpg

    Thinking my tire woes were over, I put the plugs into the plastic toolbox, which was in the Wolfman saddle bag - the access to which required taking off the big bag. That turned a 5 minute job into a 50 minute job.
    Those were my last two plugs and I had to use them both to fill the gash in the tire. Without plugs I was sweating until I got to the next hardware store - where I bought a package of something like 48 of them. I ended up using nearly half of that package.

    That toolbox... I had tools in a tool roll and some tools in their own cases (chain tool, Motion Pro multipurpose metric tool kit, etc...) but there were a number of little things left over like a multimeter and spare parts like a length of chain and fuel pump and supplies like JB Weld that I didn't want to just dump loose in my bags. I originally placed those things in couple little cardboard boxes but within days those boxes deteriorated from the constant motion to the point of being useless. I found that toolbox at Walmart for $5 and moved everything from the cardboard boxes into that. It was the perfect size for both what I needed it to contain and for fitting into the saddlebag.
    #38
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  19. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    Here are the contents of the toolbox:
    silicone rubber
    multimeter
    tube patch kit
    rim locks front and rear
    fuel injector
    stainless ties
    electrical tape
    fuel pump
    spark plug
    spokes and nipples
    two lengths of safety wire
    JB weld for metal and plastic
    emory cloth
    some chain
    two master links
    spare fuses
    Toolbox.jpg
    I purchased the silicone rubber a few days into the ride to fix the plastic pieces on the end of the earpieces of my eyeglasses which were slipping off leaving the pointed metal end of the earpieces jabbing me.
    I knew the silicone wouldn't adhere them, but thought it might sufficiently gum them up to keep them from coming off and that the silicone might come in handier than other alternatives.
    That was the smallest tube of silicone the hardware store had.
    The silicone didn't work and a few hours later I bought some super glue at a gas station that did work.
    That silicone became one of the most valuable supplies of the entire trip later.
    #39
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  20. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    Bird Strikes

    About a month before this trip I was riding with a couple friends. One moment I was cruising along at about 50 MPH and everything was normal and the next I was struggling to stay on the bike and keep the bike on the road.
    Turned out that a young adult Sandhill Crane had flown up from the side of the road and struck me in the face. I never saw it until I went back to see what had hit me.
    My initial thought was that someone had hit me with a baseball bat or tossed a bowling ball at me.
    I normally ride with my face shield open unless there is dust or bugs and it was open (I wear eyeglasses).
    The bird probably weighed about 12 pounds.

    Other than busted glasses, a small cut, a sore neck, and headache I was unharmed.
    It did take a few hours for the headache to subside.

    So when, while riding the TAT, I saw a small bird (house wren size) fly into my immediate path, I tensed for impact.
    I was going perhaps 60 MPH.
    The bird struck me in the upper left shoulder.
    Ha! I have hit large insects with greater impact - literally.

    Bizarrely, two days later another bird that size struck me in the upper right shoulder.

    Other than one unseen dirty bird that managed to bomb me from altitude (it's payload struck my right cheek) I didn't have any other bird issues.
    #40