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

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

  1. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    My original plan was to ride sun-up to sun-down and camp if I wasn't near a motel.
    I ended up camping only one night :(
    In the east, there were always motels nearby.
    In the west, I was plagued by shock and tire problems that kept requiring that I get to a town (AFT fluid, tire plugs, etc...) and once there, a motel was nearby.
    There were a few nights where I just chose to stop riding a little early for the convenience of the motel. My rear end simply wanted a bath tub.
    This picture was taken after I'd dropped the tent in the morning.
    I had not brewed any coffee up to this point in the trip (and none afterwards) and I decided that since I'd carried the beans and gear thousands of miles I was going to have some whether I wanted it or not.
    Here's a tip... don't bother packing Mini-Moos creamers unless you put them inside a hard case. They had all split open and their contents had been "aging" for several days before I discovered that fact. Not a pleasant aroma.
    I ended up camping here because at sunset I was still hours in any direction from anything but dirt, grass, and some peculiar birds.
    Oh... that big blue splotch is a tarp. I literally grabbed it as I was leaving home and it turned out to be immensely useful.
    I covered the bike with it in the evenings and on this terrain, I am convinced that both my tent and its footprint would have been punctured without that tarp under them.

    dhilt and The_Scottsman like this.
  2. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    It does indeed add up quickly.

    You are absolutely correct on the extra fuel.
    Same with the sewing kit. Just needed the nylon thread an a couple needles.
    I did need the nail clippers (must be the buttermilk (inside joke)) and used them twice on hands and feet so as to not start shredding socks or gloves.
    Pillow - agreed
    Camp Chair - agreed
    Z-Drag - had I stayed off the single-track, I agree. However, I did remove the luggage first and I don't believe it was humanly possible to get that bike up on that terrain without it. It was literally all I could do to get it up with the Z-drag. Having said that, given my experience, my new rule is NEVER take single-track when loaded unless I am already familiar with it or unless someone I trust assures me it is reasonable.
    Gloves - I started with 1 lightweight pair and 1 waterproof pair. The waterproof pair failed but I carried them to the end for warranty repair/replacement. I got a medium weight pair because I was wearing the lightweights all the time and after 8 hours or so the seams were bothering my gentle hands :) So I wanted another lighter weight pair to switch off with
    2 GPS units - The cell phone was useless for navigation by comparison and it was both safer and faster having both. To each their own, but I'm always riding with 2 from now on.
    Hatchet - I always carry a hatchet. I even carry one in my work briefcase.
    Trowel - agreed.
    I will detail the issues I had with TuBliss later (working on getting more information from them before writing in detail about the issues), but I needed the rear rim lock when I had to replace TuBliss with a tube. I actually carried a spare front and spare rear tube in addition to the high pressure TuBliss tubes because there is no way I would try to replace those in the field.
    Survival kit - It came in VERY handy. I'll detail later.
    Laptop - I had to work during this trip and I require the laptop to do that, otherwise I wouldn't of had it.
    Tow Strap - It went unused, but I figured if I did need a tow I could wait for someone to come along. I'm undecided on this. I suppose I could cut off a length of my Z-drag if I needed a tow strap but that'd be an expensive tow strap.
    First Aid - I came to the same conclusion :)
    Bungees - I had a couple Rok Straps in my tank bag. Never used them. That's 85 pounds of crap bungeed on the back. I did abandon the fixed length bungees for flat adjustable bungees and I found those invaluable. A better thought-out luggage system might alleviate the need for them.
    The_Scottsman likes this.
  3. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    So here's a list of things that I would not take if I did this again next week:

    Dehydrated food
    MSR Stove
    Fuel bottle
    Collapsible pot and cups
    Coffee Grinder
    Coffee Filters
    Collapsible coffee drip thing
    RAM phone holder
    First Aid items in quantity like band aids
    Gas Bag
    Sewing Kit
    Spare air filter (surprisingly easy to wash in hotel sink with shampoo)
    Knowing the route, I'd leave the Z-drag behind and simply stay off the single-track
    Paper maps
    Fender bag
    Camp chair
  4. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    Here are some additional thoughts on luggage...

    My initial research narrowed down my luggage selections to Wolfman and Giant Loop based upon others' experiences.

    I acquired my luggage over time, testing one thing at a time.
    For example, I had a pair of Wolfman tank panniers but they covered the holes in the gas tank that allow air to flow through the radiator. Plus the right side was prone to drooping close to the exhaust and I burned the bottom out of my first pair in a crash. So those didn't work out.

    I did not want hard luggage as I usually crash at least once or twice a day and I worry about both damaging the luggage beyond repair and it damaging me.

    A couple guys I rode with for a while on this trip (http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/two-ktm-500s-on-the-tat.1159944/) had Giant Loop and I looked at replacing what I had when I reached Gunnison with Giant Loop gear but it would not have meaningfully increased my carrying capacity or (more importantly) lowered the center of gravity.

    I do prefer one feature of the Giant Loop which is having the exterior waterproof shell. I was very fortunate with weather and didn't have to deal with rain much, but every time it did rain everything in all the bags that wasn't inside its own waterproof bag was soaked.

    Two days prior to leaving I thought everything that didn't fit in the other Wolfman bags would fit in the duffle (although I hadn't actually tried doing it) and I would just bungee that and my tent bag on the rack. It was profoundly foolish of me not to spend a lot more time on this a lot earlier in the process. It worked out in the end, but I was simply lucky.
  5. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    Fork Seals

    I did not know that fork seals could leak. Had I known, I would have replaced mine prior to this trip because I had been abusing them terribly for nearly 2 years prior.

    One morning, as I was preparing to head out, someone pointed to my front fork and said "I think your seals are leaking." I asked if that was a problem and received no definitive information so I sent a few inquiries to friends via text messages and headed out.

    Later that day I received a reply from a knowledgeable friend who said "STOP! That's a BIG problem. If they dry up, the bushing can heat up and seize and then the forks won't move at all."

    I asked what to do and received recommendations to use a business card or feeler gauge to clean behind the seal if possible and injecting Ford ATF fluid through the vent hole in the top with a syringe to keep them wet.

    I rode for two days stopping every hour to squirt AFT fluid into my shocks trying to limp to someplace to get them repaired.

    That put a real crimp in my style until I made it to Trinidad, CO where tire problems conspired with the seal problem (which had gotten so bad that everything I put in immediately ran out).

    The combined issues necessitated renting a U-Haul, driving 3.5 hours to Gunnison, having the forks fixed and new TuBliss high pressure tubes and tires put on both wheels, then driving 3.5 hours back to Trinidad in order to pick up the trail where I had left off.

    I spent a fair amount of time asking folks what I need to be prepared for and none of them told me about the fork seals. I'm guessing it's not a common problem.

    I lost two full days plus $450 for the U-Haul rental (plus $20 for the U-Haul guy to pick me up at the hotel) plus $200+ for two motel nights. I think the cost to repair the forks was on the order of a couple hundred bucks. Wish I'd have known to have that done before leaving.

    Edit: The shop I went to was Gunnison Motorsports. I called them a few days before I was going to be there to see if they could do the work quickly for me even though I couldn't tell them exactly when I'd be there. They said to give them as much notice as I could, but yes, they would attend to my repairs promptly. It turned out that I was only able to give them less a day's notice, but they fit me in the following day at 9 AM. They fixed my fork seals, put new TuBliss high pressure tubes in front and rear, and mounted my new tires - I was out in only a few hours. They did a superb job and even let me use their workspace to solder in my newly acquired GPS mount. Thank you Fritz!
  6. mwysuph

    mwysuph n00b

    Sep 15, 2016
    Just joined the site but am loving reading these RRs.

    KenCM, I'm especially getting a kick out of reading about your growing pains with life on 2 wheels. Great stuff and congrats on a great ride!

    But I got a question about your rear tire. You say you had issues and by my quick math you went through almost 40 patch kits??? That doesn't even seem possible. Can you explain? I run tubeless on my mtn bike but am clueless on the Tubliss setup for motos.
  7. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL

    I had my dealer install the TuBliss system on both my front and rear wheels several months prior to leaving on this trip.
    I was hopeful that having TuBliss installed would dramatically reduce the potential problems with wheels.

    What I discovered is that there are a number of things I very much like about TuBliss, including:
    * When I had a tire puncture, I could simply plug it. No need to remove the wheel, no need to unload the bike. I had a total of 8 punctures in my 2 rear tires on this trip and that aspect was absolutely wonderful (except the one time the damn plugs were buried in my luggage).
    * When a puncture occurred, I could keep riding at 0 PSI until I was at a convenient place to deal with it. A number of times punctures occurred at very inconvenient locations for repairs and I simply kept riding until I found a good spot to do the fix. In one case that was about 20 minutes later.
    * I could adjust tire pressure across a much wider range (maximum all the way down to 0 PSI) to modify tire behavior to better match terrain. I ran tire pressures from between 8 PSI to 25 PSI depending upon the terrain and it was really nice being able to do that. The extra traction on mountain passes and on single-track on the side of mountains was confidence-inspiring.
    * Small punctures are automatically sealed by the tire sealant installed by default.

    Unfortunately, my early positive experiences with TuBliss left me with a false sense of security and I made absolutely NO provision for tube problems.
    Fortunately, when a problem did occur, I happened to be riding with Matt and Max (the two KTM 500 guys from the link in a posting above) who had a spare tube and rim lock they loaned me.

    We had pulled into a gas station and Matt noticed a hissing sound coming from my rear wheel. A few seconds later, the rear tire was flat. Turned out there was a crack at the base of the high pressure valve stem.
    It was hot and we didn't want to work on it in the sun and next door there was a wrecker service that was closed, but Max walked over to see what he could see.
    In the front of the wrecker service building was a liquor store. A customer was walking out who talked with Max briefly, made a call on his cell phone, and a few moments later the guy in the pink shirt in the photo rolled up on a Harley.
    He opened the shop, let us use his tools, and helped with the work.
    He absolutely refused to accept anything from me for his assistance.
    What a genuinely nice guy!
    He owns the wrecker service, a bar, and the liquor store in the front of the wrecker service building.
    The front of his shirt says "Lick 'er in the Front"


    It was a lot easier working on the bike inside and using the lift.
    I would never have wondered over to a closed shop, so what I learned from Max is that there's great potential value in exploring possibilities rather than making assumptions (this part is for Max only: Max, I'm not sure that extends to areas with No Trespassing signs).

    Back to TuBliss...

    I kept the high pressure bladder with the intent of sending it back to TuBliss and asking them what happened. A few days later I cut up the high pressure bladder to effect a tube repair and (I am embarrassed to say) left the rest of the tube on the side of the road. That is the only intentional littering I did on this trip (I left my kickstand someplace but that was an accident (aluminum is biodegradable isn't it?)). I can't tell you why I left that damn tube other than after two hours of frustration and anxiety 17 miles from nowhere I wasn't in my right mind.

    I called TuBliss a short while ago and got my just reward. The first thing I was asked was if I still had the tube so they could take a look at it. Doh!

    At any rate, I had a nice conversation with Jeff at TuBliss who filled me in on a number of things. The net net is this: TuBliss works great if (but ONLY if) you follow their instructions precisely! If the instructions are not followed precisely, damage can occur that does not become a problem until sometime down the road.

    Here's an example: in order to not place undue stress on the valve stem, you must work the tire on the rim starting at the rim lock and working a particular direction. When I tried replacing my front tire, I worked the wrong direction and when I was done the valve stem was leaking.

    Here's another: rubber is an organic material and so can "bruise" which weakens that spot. It is also subject to stress from heat cycling. So the high pressure tube getting pinched or stretched can result in a system that works initially but fails prematurely.

    I will continue to use TuBliss on my dirt bikes, BUT... I will do all the work myself because there's just no way to know if you might have a problem down the road if someone else does it and the proper steps are numerous and detailed.

    I encourage anyone with questions about TuBliss to call Jeff and talk with him.
    Sertguy, Allucaneat and The_Scottsman like this.
  8. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    Stay tuned.
    I just posted some TuBliss stuff, but am waiting for a response from MotoZ on my tire problems before posting about those.
  9. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    On roads being closed...

    Prior to the incident I am about to describe herein, I encountered approximately a dozen "closed" roads.
    In all but one case, I simply rode through the "closed" road.
    The only one I couldn't get through would have required Evil Knievel jumping capability as about 50 foot of roadway was simply missing over a river.
    But even in that case, re-routing was a simple and minimally time-consuming matter.

    However, this road closure cost me about a day and a lot of grief.
    I learned a lot in the process.

    About 30 miles back I ignored a "Road Closed 34 Miles Ahead" sign.

    Pfttt! That's not going to deter me.

    Hmmm. I think they are serious. But it looks like I can still get around.

    Woo Hoo! A little rough, but no worries.

    Forum software limits the number of pictures to 4 per post.
  10. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    Rut Roh. This could be a problem. I got off and walked through that water around the bend to the actual problem.
    It never got more than waist deep, but there were serious issues at the other end that simply prevented my going that way.
    Damn! Back I go 34 miles.

    About 4 miles back I notice the trail and a sign.
    Yippee! Motorcycles allowed.
    That trail looks like no problem.

    And the map shows that it connects to another that comes down on the other side of the washout.
    I notice the bear sign, but no worries - I'm gonna be long gone by dusk.

    Planned track in yellow. My actual track in blue.
    Moving from right to left.
  11. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    I was boiled like a frog. That nice looking trail became narrow first and then got rocky and steeper to before I realized I could no longer turn around.

    My front wheel got uncomfortably close to the edge so I stopped. It slipped off while I was trying to back up.
    I tied off the bike with 440 cord first thing then took off the gear then rigged up the block and tackle then pulled the bike back up.
    Fortunately, the plants have good roots as that's what the uphill side was secured to.
    Once back on the path, I put the rope over the bike to the underneath footpeg and dragged it until the wheels stopped against the hill and then pulled it upright.
    KLRalph and Allucaneat like this.
  12. Pantah

    Pantah Jiggy Dog Fan Supporter

    Oct 25, 2004
    Scottsdale Arizona
    I am enjoying your odyssey immensely. And I'm learning something too. I have run several long distance dirt road trips and camped while I did them, but nothing like the TAT. I started that in my fifties and am in my late sixty's now. Most of them were on a KTM twin, but the recent big trips were aboard a Yamaha wr250r.

    On your gear:
    -I always carry three sets of gloves. I have been caught in every type of weather and used them all. During mild weather I use MX gloves, but during really tough weather I use Grandoe textile ski gloves. I also have a pair of waterproof medium temp Black Diamond mountaineer gloves I wear with heated liners.
    -I always carry a chair. I have two and the latest is a small REI chair called a flex-lite. It packs 4.5X15 inches and weighs a little over a pound. My small tent is tall enough I can sit inside and read while I wait out a storm (pretty common). I use a Big Agnes air mattress and a little air pillow that packs the size of a pack of cigarettes. The air mattress about the size of a paperback novel. I also bring a JetBoil for heating water for coffee or tea. No sweetness or added stuff. I usually have a couple Mountain Home packets too, but I only use them when I am stuck somewhere. These are remarkable little comforts to help make the trip easier.
    - I use tube tires and can can change them on the road, and I have many times in AK and the Yukon. I carry two extra tubes, but have never used them. I run higher tire pressures to avoid pinch flats and extend tire wear. Of course I have all the tools to make likely repairs but they are pretty carefully selected because of weight. Even epoxy in case I hole a case, which has happened to a friend riding with me in the Yukon. Amazing what you can patch with a little epoxy and an aluminum beverage can.
    - I might try and get one of those Z drag things. For me even a 300lb bike is hard to pick up when it is bars-low on the downslope side of the trail.
    - I am pretty light on clothing and all of it is synthetic, light and dries overnight after hand washing.
    - My whole kit weighs in around 35lbs. It fits in two Wolfman waterproof panniers, a Wolfman duffel and my tank bag. I know the weight because I have carried it aboard flights were they weigh it at check-in.
    - One Montana GPS plus a Spot tracker. I wear a hydrator on my back and pack some extra water bottles too. Basic hygiene stuff plus aspirin, which I sometimes pop in the morning like some golfers do.

    Yours is a very unusual type of RR and I think it is very helpful to even the most experienced riders. After all, no two long adventure rides are the same! But I will say before I attempt such a ride I start with new consumable parts like sprocket sets, tires, and even fuel pumps and clutch slaves for the KTM twin. I try and have my suspension serviced at least every two years too. It makes a big difference in comfort and handling, but I think your fork seal problem is just one of those things out of the blue. Very fun read! Thanks!
    enduro16, Folly1, crash a-ron and 4 others like this.
  13. msteward

    msteward Long timer

    Sep 14, 2015
    Spanish Fork, Utah
    I bet you ate that payday right after that.
  14. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    I wish I'd had my Payday!

    I only made it three-fourths of the way around that trail before it started getting dark. It was very slow going.
    It was hot and tiring.
    After hauling that bike up I was exhausted.
    I came to a huge rock outcropping across the trail and didn't trust myself to make it over without going over the edge in my current condition.
    So I leaned my bike up against the mountainside, grabbed my "survival" pack off the back, put my helmet under the bike, and started walking out.

    I had all the camping gear I needed but nowhere to set up a tent as the trail for a mile behind and I didn't know how far ahead was only about 18" wide.
    I was not prepared to carry my pack and the camping gear and so it was only the pack that went out with me (I did take the time to grab my GPSs but left everything else).
    I put on some Deet, put on my Pak Hat, and started walking.

    I was carrying a DeLorme InReach and knew my wife was watching, so I messaged her that I was OK but had chosen to walk out while I still had light.
    It was only a few moments before I realized that the trailhead came out on the road 17 miles from anything and it was extremely unlikely I'd see anybody because of the road being closed.
    So I messaged my wife and asked that she try to contact the forest service or sheriff's department, tell them it was NOT an emergency, but that it would sure be nice if someone could pick me up.

    As the sun went down, it started getting a bit chilly and I was still soaked from the waist down from having walked that river over the road.
    There was no moon that night and it was pitch black long before I made it to the road. Glad I thought to bring that little flashlight.
    That's about the time I remembered that damn bear sign on the board where I'd entered the trail.

    The forest service told my wife that if it wasn't search and rescue they weren't interested.
    Where I was going to come out was in the county on the OTHER side of the washout so that sheriff's department couldn't help.
    She managed to talk the Elmore County (next county over) Sheriff into sending a deputy (Brian) who was going off duty to pick me up on his way home. I just had to wait 2 hours.
    Thank you Sheriff Layher and Deputy Brian!

    Brian drove me to a little... not sure what to call it... collection of 4 buildings - a bar, a restaurant, a little store, and a few motel rooms.
    By then it was around midnight but I was able to get a room from the bartender.
    I propped my boots up on the heater and my pants too then cracked the door open so the heater wouldn't go off.
    In the morning, my pants were dry and my boots (to my pleasant surprise) were almost dry.

    In the morning, I walked to the restaurant just before Pat, the proprietor, opened. I told him my plight and he said: "There're a couple young bucks that ride dirt bikes on those trails that come in here most mornings." This left me with the impression they were a couple high school kids.

    About 30 minutes later, Jake showed up. Turned out he and Rob were around 30 - one had served in the Marines and the other the Air Force. I bought him breakfast, we looked at a map, and I described my plight.
    He gave me a ride back to his place and recruited Rob, his neighbor, to assist.
    He rolled out an ancient Honda 650, fired it up, and said "Hop on."
    He was not wearing a helmet, nor boots, nor gloves, nor any other form of protective gear.
    Rob rolled up in full motocross regalia.

    I had my riding pants and boots on but my jacket was on my pack on the ground and I decided to leave it because it was so damn bulky.

    I hopped on the back of Jake's 650, and off we went.
    I was momentarily perplexed as to how to grip his waist until I decided that the best way to deal with the holstered 1911 on his side was simply to place my hand over that and use it as a grip (not the gun's grips, the entire gun and holster).

    As we were rolling down the road toward the trailhead, he informs me that he used to ride that bike up from 29 Palms on leave and so he'd changed the rear sprocket to something quite a bit smaller than stock. Therefore, our minimum speed on the trail would be about 20 MPH.
    I had a hard time walking out on that trail and I only made like 1 or 2 MPH on the bike!
    I thought I was walking back in, but realized it would be impolite to make him and Rob wait at my bike while I took an hour to walk in.
    So I just hung on.

    That ride was the most frightening time on this entire adventure - more so even than when I actually rode over the side on the way out (yet to come).
    I must have offered to get off the back of that bike 5 or 6 times after we started up that trail.
    He worked that clutch, but our speed was never under 10 MPH and often more.
    I remember thinking "there's got to be mountain goat genes in this boy's system"

    Jake and Rob helped me lift my bike up and we managed to get my bike past theirs so they could follow me out.
    I was embarrassed with my slow progress and figured it was just a mental issue holding me back, so I decided to try to release my inner mountain goat.

    A few moments later they watched me ride over the edge and tumble about 50 feet down the side - which at that location was nothing but rocks - fist size and up.

    Rob was at my side before I could get out from under the bike.
    I held my thumb up to let them know I was OK, but he was somehow down there at the same time I held my hand up.

    For the next several minutes I listened to them talk back and forth in surprise:
    "He's OK?"
    "Yes, he didn't break anything!"
    "He can't be OK. Never seen anyone fall like that and not break at least one rib."
    "I know, I can't believe he didn't break even one rib."
    "Not even a single rib?"
    "Not a single rib. Can't believe it."
    "You sure he didn't break a rib?"
    "You OK?"
    "He looks OK. Don't look like he broke any ribs."

    Then they started about the gas tank.
    "The gas tank split?"
    "Don't look split."
    "You sure, never seen a bike fall and tumble like that and not rupture the tank."
    "It's still got fuel in it. Don't see any leaks."
    "Wow, the tank didn't split AND he don't have no broken ribs?"
    "How we gonna get that bike outa here?"

    While they were looking down below trying to figure a route out for the bike because there was no way that only three of us could get that bike up that hill without disassembling it and carrying the parts up, I started breaking out the Z-Drag.

    When they turned around and Rob saw me with the gear he said "Look at that! That's some Charles Bronson shit there!"

    Since I was the heaviest, my job was to clamber downhill with the end of the rope while they "walked" the bike up the side of the mountain on its wheels.
    I'd tied the rope to the nylon strap that was on the front forks that was there for yanking the bike from the front.
    These two guys were in excellent shape. That rope is static line. The block and tackle had two pulleys on each end. I weigh 190 pounds. The slope was about 45 degrees.
    It took a good 15 minutes of immense struggling on all our parts to get that bike back up to the path.
    The biggest impediment was the size of the rocks we had to get the wheels over combined with the steep uphill of course.

    The only injury I sustained were some very minor scratches on my left inner arm (no riding jacket).

    I fell one more time before reaching the road on a steep rocky downhill into a stream.
    Laying in the cold water actually felt good.

    I wasn't too worried about leaving all my stuff there overnight because, while I had seen tracks on the trail, it was obvious that it was rarely used.
    But shortly after getting the bike and me out of the stream, as I was standing on the path next to my bike trying to recover enough to get back on, 3 young guys (late teens, early 20's) came whizzing up from the road and went by us like we weren't even there. One yelled "Hey Jake" as they went by and another said "That's a load" to me. All 3 had chainsaws on the front of their bikes (it took me a minute to figure out what those things on the front of the bikes were). I am still awed at the speed with which they navigated that damn rocky slope.

    Neither Jake nor Rob would accept anything from me. I offered to buy them a beer but Jake was banned from the bar so that wasn't going to work. When I got back to that little restaurant for lunch, I left something on credit with Pat for each of them.

    It was a genuine pleasure meeting people in the rural west. Every single person I met was considerate and giving of themselves.
  15. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    I chose to ride the 450 because my perception of the TAT was that there would be a lot of difficult terrain and I could make better time on a smaller bike.
    Less than 1% of the terrain was of such a nature that the smaller bike was an advantage.
    This is an example and was another frog boiling.

    The approach had few rocks, wasn't steep and was a full lane wide.
    After the first turn, it narrowed, got a little steeper, and a little rockier.
    After the second turn, I remember yelling at myself out loud "DON'T STOP! DON'T STOP" right before the bike went kinda sideways and I stopped.
    Then I snapped this picture.

    I estimated the angle as at 30 degrees by eyeballing something up the trail at then pacing it off.
    I later checked the topographical map and saw I went up 1,000 feet while moving forward only 3,000 feet.

    I was unable to get back on the bike and ended up walking it up under power.
    I first hiked to the top to see how bad it was going to be - ughh.
    Then I messaged my wife that I wasn't injured because I knew my progress would look like I was mortally wounded and crawling.
    It took on the order of two hours to get to the top of that "hill."
    I stopped to rest several times - as much for the clutch as for me.

    KLRalph likes this.
  16. Blaise W

    Blaise W Long timer Supporter

    Jan 19, 2010
    Tucson, AZ
    Our group just went thru there and the Fairfield ranger told us that the route you took was NOT a good idea for a loaded adventure bike. She was a trail rider and evidently knew what she was talking about. We elected to detour, and glad we did! Thanks for posting on this as I would have always wondered what we missed. Now I know!
  17. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    On Estimating Transit Time

    Before leaving, I wanted an idea of how long it might take to complete the ride.
    I looked for ride reports with high quality metrics and gathered the fastest times for the various sections and then plotted those on a US map.
    The number in the black circles are hour estimates between their associated hack marks.
    The numbers in the green circles are day count estimates.
    I guessed at the sections for which I didn't have data.
    I considered this an absolute shortest transit time estimate.
    It came out to 15 days.
    I figured if I did it in 20 days or less that would be good.
    It took me 22 calendar days, of which I was down for 2 for repairs - so, 20 riding days.
  18. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    Had I bumped into her in Ketchum, I'd have probably detoured.
    But after investing the time to go that 34 miles in... well... I'm too pig-headed to not have tried it my own self.

    That experience cost me enough time that, as I stated before, I will NOT take to single track on a loaded bike unless I know for certain what it is like.
  19. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    An Observation

    A LOT of the roads on the TAT are quite sandy.
    And there are stretches of sandy roads that go on for miles and miles.
    There are also some short stretches of VERY deep sand - as in beach-deep.

    I don't like sand, but because of where I live I am forced to ride on it all the time and so have become reasonably comfortable on it.

    If you are planning on riding the TAT, do yourself a favor and get comfortable on sand.

    I encountered a number of riders who clearly were not comfortable on sand. Some paddled through it and others detoured around on tarmac. That's OK I suppose but the former really slows you down and the latter kinda defeats the purpose.

  20. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

    Jun 9, 2014
    Near Dade City, FL
    A Mistake I Made More Than Once

    My days were full, so I often only had a vague awareness of the terrain I would be covering that day. I would always carefully check the weather in the evening and again in the morning. And, I would look at my route on the map for the following day each evening. But looking at the map is different from carefully studying it - which takes time. By the time I got to looking at the map I just didn't have the energy to study it.

    When it got to be around 4 PM, I started looking at the GPS trying to figure out where I might stop for the evening.
    When estimating how far I could make it before nightfall, I would use my rate of progress for the previous few hours since I didn't know enough about the terrain coming up.
    On a number of occasions that turned out to be a gross overestimate.

    I suspect a useful approach might be to identify particularly difficult areas ahead of time and remember where those are.
    For example, on the route prior to the Craters of the Moon National Monument I was averaging between 50 and 70 MPH. That average suddenly dropped to something like 15 MPH.

    Which reminds me, I previously mentioned a bizarre little bird without elaboration.
    In the Craters of the Moon National Monument, these little birds would fly on the path ahead of me for a short while then peel off and one of their brethren would take their place.
    They reminded me of dolphins swimming next to boats in the ocean.
    Allucaneat and Cryoman01 like this.