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

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

  1. analyze

    analyze n00b

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    Are these durable enough to survive the TAT? I would probably keep a 2L mounted right behind my license plate
  2. Ninjafreak

    Ninjafreak Been here awhile

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    How many miles did you say you rode on the TAT? If you did 5500 in 3 weeks that's averaging 260 miles a day, 7 days a week, carrying that load with multiple tire problems? You are the MAN! :bow
  3. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    Here's where I got my gas bag: https://giantloopmoto.com/product/gas-bag-fuel-safe-bladder/
    Fuel bottles consume space whether there is fuel in them or not and you need quite a few of them to hold any real volume of fuel.

    I have no idea what mileage I get. I am still working on assessing the GPS tracks and reconciling finances. I'll have an overall MPG number when that's done and I'll post it then.
    I do know that on tarmac at 70 - 80 MPH I really burn through fuel but on dirt at 30 - 40 MPH I do a LOT better - probably twice the MPG.

    Edit: The KTM consumed approximately (I have the total cost but not the cost per gallon so I've used an estimated avg cost per gallon) 135 gallons for the TAT part for a 46 MPG average. In reconciling my credit card statement to get this information I can also say that my average lodging cost was $111 per night.
  4. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    The bike's odometer read 6,339 for the trip, but that included 159 miles from Port Orford to Eugene; so, the total for the TAT part was 6,180.
    The hour meter showed 168 for the trip, minus 3 to get to Eugene is 165 for the TAT.
    The TAT part took 22 calendar days, but the bike was down for 2 for repairs so 20 riding days.
    So, 309 Miles Per (riding) Day and just under 38 MPH average for the entire trip.

    For comparison, my leisurely return took 7 days, was 3,270 miles (467 MPD) and took 83 hours of run time for an average speed of 39 MPH.

    I know I can do this route in 15 days, but I want to do it on my KTM 1190 ADV R; so I need someone along to help pick up the bike.
    Allucaneat likes this.
  5. cBJr

    cBJr Adventurer

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    Thanks for the great RR. This was a great read. :photog
  6. CONKSO

    CONKSO Been here awhile

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    Great report! Refreshing perspective (kind of boring reading the same old, "then we railed whoops all day" type of reports) and I love the honest assessment of your gear and the challenges of the trip. I learned a lot from your report and totally enjoyed reading about how you handled all the curveballs thrown at you.

    I totally understand your new single track policy.

    Last spring a friend and I did a ten-day Baja ride which included some single track trails that are widely reported on here. One of them was the Window Rock trail outside of Bahia de los Angeles- from most of the reports here you'd think this was a fairly simple trail as far as Baja single track goes. My buddy and I had the GPS track for the trail and decided to go for it- lucky for us we unloaded our bikes (drz400s with desert tanks) in Bay of LA (BOLA), got up early and took it on. Riding this trail with loaded bikes, while do-able, would have been miserable. As it was, it took us all morning to get through the whole thing and by the time we got back to BOLA we were toast.

    I've got huge respect for the moto folks who flash these single track trails- personally, I learned that I need to be in way better physical shape and that I need to work on my slow speed bike handling skills. The trail was very cool (the section out by the actual Window Rock is achingly beautiful) but was technical enough for me, at my riding level, to not be a relaxing enjoyable ride- especially since there was no knowing what kind of climb, drop or rock obstacle I might have to deal with right around the corner. So when you spoke of your single track experience- I'm with you on that.

    Thanks again- great report.
    cal08 and jrsmall0221 like this.
  7. zonth

    zonth Been here awhile

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    Yep, seen some guys doing some long endurance rides through Australia with them. Conditions would be same if not worse.
  8. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    Your comments made me realize I haven’t included enough of the little things I originally intended, so here’s some more of that stuff.

    With respect to physical conditioning… I am NOT in especially good physical condition, although I’m probably in better than average condition for my age (57). A few years ago I got on a bicycling kick and was riding just shy of 10,000 miles a year. I’d dropped 50 pounds but have gained back 20 since I switched from providing the motive power for my two-wheeled conveyances with my legs to simply twisting my wrist. As a result, my current weight is 190. I’m 5’ 8” (as my daughter’s height mark on the door jamb climbed, mine slowly fell – WTF? So here’s a tip: avoid growing old if you can).
    During this trip, there were many occasions on which I simply stopped and rested. I previously mentioned that I was just barely able to pick up my loaded bike. On one occasion, it took about 6 attempts because the wheels were sliding. I had to stop and rest between attempts. I also had to say, more than once, to Jake and Rob while they were helping me “Sorry guys, but I need to take a few minutes.”
    Unfortunately, with age, comes lower limits on physical ability. One thing I discovered while bicycling is that not paying close attention to hydration dramatically magnifies that problem. So I have a hydration pack in my jacket and I use it.


    Height… My height, or more appropriately lack of height (I have a 30” inseam), means that all stock dirt bikes are inches too high. The KTM I rode on this trip was dropped 2” by a Race Tech dealer (custom wound springs). That makes a HUGE difference at low speeds. My wife’s 450 is dropped 3”. I should have taken her bike.
    I categorize the ways the bike ends up horizontal on the ground as either “crashes” or “drops.” Drops occur below a few MPH, crashes are anything over that.
    I only had one crash on this trip - from paying more attention to the GPS than the road. I had several additional incidents that could have been crashes but didn’t turn out that way – like the low-side bounce-and-go and once I went off the road when outriding my vision (there was a turn after a knoll) and I was just lucky I didn’t hit a rock or cactus.
    But I had numerous drops. Dozens. The overwhelming majority of those were due to my being unable to get good footing in time.
    I only bottomed out the suspension twice. The first time because I didn’t know what the limits were and the second time because… well… I was just plain having too much fun to care.


    Diet… My normal diet is well-balanced. Enough so that I don’t bother with any vitamin supplements. I did have the foresight to pack and take a multivitamin each morning on this trip, but I did not give enough forethought to this issue. Many of my meals were at gas stations because I didn’t want to take the time for anything more. Many of my meals were at gas stations because I didn’t want to ride to dinner and the only thing within walking distance of the motel was a gas station.
    Many of the motels I stayed in were… substandard by my normal measure and their free breakfast was… ummm…. wanting. Some days I went without breakfast because while when checking in they gave a time breakfast would be available, it wasn’t ready by that time (a mechanism to avoid having to supply as many folks with breakfast?)
    Not yet sure what I’d do differently if there is a next time.


    Those yellow pills… I thought someone would ask about those yellow pills in my first aid kit (on the second page). Those are amoxicillin in case of sinus infection or other bacterial issues. Fish Mox to be more precise.


    Tetanus… I made sure to get a tetanus booster before leaving.


    The return… I was so focused on making my westward journey that the only preparation I made for my return was a non-refundable down-payment on a bike to ride back and a confirmation from a dealer a few hundred miles down the road that they could do the first service. I paid dearly for not paying more attention to this. The things I would do differently are so numerous that I will only mention some of the more significant.
    I had not considered a return route. So my initial basic plan was to ride east to the Rockies and then ride south and enjoy the mountains. That changed when I left Jackson, WY. The little snowflake in the display was on and I could only ride for one hour before I had to stop for an hour to warm back up. My plan quickly changed to “get to sea level as quickly as possible.”
    I originally planned on riding back in the same gear I rode out in. But I had discovered how very inconvenient that gear is – especially if you’re only on the road. So I purchased new gear. I could have saved a lot by having the foresight to ship the gear I already had. I didn’t want to spring for yet another set of really good gear, so I only spent the dough for a descent waterproof jacket but not waterproof pants.
    The undergarments I had worked great at those same temperatures at slower speeds while I was active on the bike, but not at out-west, wide-open spaces, no one around speeds.
    Then there was the fact that I had never done a long road trip by myself. I’ve done a number of multi-day trips with my wife, but she will only ride about 400 miles a day. When I drive, I stop once every 500 miles for fuel and I typically drive 12-16 hours a day. Not on a bike. After 500 miles it was no fun and so I would just stop because I could. I averaged less than 500 miles per day on the return.


    Lodging… I don’t often travel in ways that result in my staying at motels/hotels. So I knew very little about the differences between them. I discovered that Holiday Inn Express hotels typically have a guest laundry and free breakfast while plain Holiday Inn hotels typically have neither. Nor was I familiar with which were typically less costly and which more. So I simply stayed at the first place I came upon. By the time I parked the bike (especially later with my wooden kickstand) and took off gear, that was the place I was staying. I paid from $60 a night to $275 a night (Jackson, WY – last room – family guest quarters). So my ignorance and unwillingness to shop around cost me.
    Also, I stayed in motels on the order of 30 times. I probably could have stayed for free a few times if I’d joined a chain’s program and made a point of staying at those places.


    Coffee… I roast coffee beans from around the world and each morning grind and brew a couple cups of coffee that I very much enjoy. I have a hand grinder and portable drip for when I travel and I use them. So, I packed all of that for this trip plus a fuel bottle and MSR WhisperLite. What a waste of space! I didn’t have time to monkey with all of that – especially since I wouldn’t have cream since all the dag blame Mini Moos I’d packed had burst open and “ripened” in my luggage.

    Permethrin… I sprayed my footprint and tent before leaving. Didn’t want either a fever or spots from the Rockies.

    Terrain… I used Google Earth to examine much of the terrain I would be covering. I also looked at topographic maps. With respect to riding a motorcycle over terrain, there’s simply no way to know what it’s going to be like until you are in it. You can’t tell how hard-packed dirt/sand is from a picture at distance. You don’t notice a little 10’ stretch that’s so tore up you need to go into trials mode at 1 MPH to get through. You can rarely see gates and you surely can’t tell if they have locks on them. Nor can you see No Trespassing signs.

    Cameras… I originally purchased an Olympus TG-4 Tough camera to take on this trip as it was waterproof plus shock-proof to 7 feet. But it broke months before leaving when it slipped out of my tank bag that I was carrying but hadn’t closed - a drop of 2 feet. I fixed it by dropping it from the same height on the opposite side, but didn’t trust it after that so I bought a Nikon AW130 (Nikon’s equivalent) – which is what many of the photos I’ve posted were captured with. Most of the remainder were taken with my cell phone (Samsung Galaxy S7 Active). A few were taken with the camera on the Garmin Montana. All were dramatically reduced in size by reducing the JPG quality. The photos posted represent more than 80% of the photos I took. In other words, I didn’t do much photography beyond documentation. This was a decision I’d made the year prior when I wore a GoPro and carried better gear. It just takes too much time (while riding and after riding) to do decent photography for aesthetic purposes. I almost took a Nikon S9900 for greater flexibility, and I’m glad I didn’t as I’d never used it due to unpacking/packing requirements to keep from destroying it given the dust and water.

    Cell Phones... I normally carry a Galaxy S7 Active on the ATT network. For this trip I added a Samsung J3 on the Verizon network. Both are in Otter cases, but unlike the S7, the J3 is not waterproof. I simply placed it inside of a zip-lock bag and that worked out great.
  9. oldtrucks

    oldtrucks Been here awhile

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    [QUOTE="KenCM]
    I originally planned on riding back in the same gear I rode out in. But I had discovered how very inconvenient that gear is – especially if you’re only on the road. So I purchased new gear. [/QUOTE]

    Nice write up, I love the kick stand! Easy to over pack especially when riding alone and you think through all of the variables and obstacles you may encounter. I wish I could roll out with just my gear and a credit card but I too lean toward contingency planning on longer trips.

    I really don't think you over packed, there had to be room for your heavier gear for the return trip. While $275 might seem pricey, it may have been a true bargain in Jackson. We just paid $95 for a KOA Cabin with nothing but walls and a couple of bad beds
    Fddriver2 likes this.
  10. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    I took some things I wouldn't take again (like coffe-making gear), but all of that represented less than 5% of volume and weight.
    I took some things I didn't use (spare fuel pump), but I'd take them again as insurance.
    I didn't take some things that I will if there is a next time and those weigh more and consume more space than the stuff I'd leave behind - so I'd be heavier and bulkier next time.
    I'd work out the luggage situation better - somehow.

    That $275 was a discounted rate. I had two bathrooms, two bedrooms, a living room and a kitchen. It was the only room left at that place and I'd already stopped at 3 other places that had no vacancies.
    Just reconciled my expenses and the average cost for lodging per night was $111.
  11. boomhwr

    boomhwr Been here awhile

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    Just curious where the sheriffs office wouldn't try to help? Leaves a bad taste for me.
  12. ob1quixote

    ob1quixote Long timer

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    Sheriff's office did help. The forestry folks didnt.
  13. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    To be clear, I made a BIG point that I did not REQUIRE assistance and that it was just a matter of convenience.
    The forest service told my wife that they would respond if I REQUIRED assistance.

    My location was at the very edge of a county cut off from the rest of that county.
    As best as I can determine, the fastest route to my location from Ketchum would have been a 3 hour drive one way.

    I am not at all surprised or upset by either the forest service response or the response from the Blaine County Sheriff's Office.
    I am immensely grateful to the Elmore County Sheriff's Office.
    Wind_Rider likes this.
  14. Kyron

    Kyron Oncler Inds

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    Thank you for a great RR

    I'm looking forward to doing the tat someday soon
  15. GENTLEMANJACKKNIFE

    GENTLEMANJACKKNIFE Come back with a warrant.

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    Thanks for the excellent RR KenCM. Entertaining AND informative!
  16. barko1

    barko1 barko1 Supporter

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    :clap
    coffee grinder
  17. barko1

    barko1 barko1 Supporter

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    Congrats and taking on the big adventure and being resourceful in seeing it through:clap. Sowhat happened to the 450 and what did you ride home on?
  18. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    About a month prior to leaving I decided I would return by riding back on tarmac.

    I knew I wanted a BMW R1200GS w/low suspension, so I contacted the nearest BMW dealer to Port Orford (European Motorcycles of Western Oregon).
    They had one, and we went back and forth for a couple weeks on a variety of details (mostly to cover contingencies), then finalized a deal.
    Working with Mickey at the dealership was an absolute pleasure. Of the dozen or so dealers I've dealt with, the only one to rival their service is the Ducati dealer in Ocala, FL (Melillimoto).

    I made a non-refundable down-payment and they held the bike for me.
    I waffled back and forth on whether I wanted to trade the 450 in or not, but in the end I just didn't want to deal with shipping it back and bringing it back up to snuff - so I traded it in.
    (My wife has an identical, but newer, 450 XC-W that was lowered 3" as opposed to the 2" the one I rode was that she virtually never rides, so I figure if I ever need one...)

    Since the bike was new, I needed to arrange for the initial service so I contacted the BMW dealer in Boise, ID and they agreed to fit me in with priority if I provided 24 hours notice.
    When I completed the purchase, I called my insurance company and then I called Big Twin (the Boise dealer) and they gave me the first appointment the day after next.
    I left Eugene the next morning, rode the 450 miles to Boise, and the next morning took the bike in for its initial service.

    BMW.JPG

    Why the R1200 GSA?
    In part, because I'm thinking about doing some Iron Butts next year and had figured I'd get a GoldWing for that, but my wife recently got one of these and after riding it... well... I'll just say I prefer it to a GoldWing across the board with the possible exception of cost of ownership.

    BTW, all of the cases were full to bursting - even after shipping back my camping gear, spare parts for the 450, first aid kit, z-drag, etc...
    I couldn't ship the fuel bag or the fuel bottle for the stove and I chose not to ship the tools (due to their weight) - so those were in the cases.
    Those cases don't hold as much as they look like they should :)
    RG1984 and airborndad like this.
  19. docgonzo

    docgonzo Old Gadfly

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    Nice report.
    Two observations. 1st, you must be an engineer or a school teacher. The obsession with details is profound.

    2nd, to enjoy motorcycling, you must be able to feel the road. Your motorcycle was way overloaded, making it actually quite dangerous and unwieldy.

    When traveling, you need something warm, waterproof gear, a couple of pairs of underwear, and a teeshirt. Everything else you can buy cheap on the road, and disposed of stuff you don't need when necessary. Just saying.
    davesupreme likes this.
  20. KenCM

    KenCM Been here awhile Supporter

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    Actually, an Engineer that was also a college professor who taught Engineering :)

    Back on the first page I mentioned that I'm more a "destination" kind of guy as opposed to a "journey" kind of guy.
    Enjoyment wasn't really a part of the plan for this trip.
    RG1984 likes this.