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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by KenCM, Sep 13, 2016.
I really enjoyed this - thanks for confessing all your mistakes and for sharing what you learned!
Indeed Sir! Thank you for sharing. I especially liked this ride report because it focuses on your unique decisions, that the rest of us would experience. Great learning and contribution. I sure had a chuckle at your single track stranded section, especially when the locals zoomed by at Mach 4. Great story.
Ken, I just stumbled across this write up. Excellent job. I met Max and Matt this summer before they left on thier trip, they are great people.
As far as packing, you need to analyze everything very carefully. I noticed you packed Jeans, clothing is one of the most bulky items, you need pieces that serve multiple duties. My camp pants zip off into shorts. They are also a very lightweight material. My camp shirt had sleeves that easily rolled up. Coffee was/is a big stumbling point for me. I use the instant type to reduce volume. I mix Starbucks with a cheaper brand for a decent brew. I like cream in my coffee but that is too complicated on a bike, so I do without.
Through careful packing, I think I have gotten my tent camping setup down to 35 pounds or so. That includes the bags, a full kitchen, all clothing and some food. My hammock setup is a little over 20 pounds. For example, my first aid kit fits in an Altoids box. My inflatable pillow is the size of a pair of golf balls.
Lastly, use more bags and less waterproof boxes. Boxes are difficult to stuff into tight spaces and pack around.
If I may add: fellow ADV inmate B1 has created an extensive and highly detailed library of technical terrain riding skill sets in his online inventory. Most of you are likely already familiar, but in the case that some of you are not, it's there for the taking. I add this comment to round out the gear and equipment discussion. Without a doubt, this in an incredible ride and one I would like to duplicate in my lifetime.
Thanks for taking the time to write this up and share it. I appreciate your candor and honest style of writing along with your detailed packing pictures.
In regards to packing and bike choice this is all very personal. I find it interesting to see how different riders do it and as long as you are out there riding that is the goal. I don't think that there is any wrong way to do it and I found your choice of light bike with heavy load really entertaining to read about.
I tend to be very minimalistic and I like to travel on my bike with 30-40 lbs of luggage in 70 liters of drybags and mostly camp along the way. But that is the way that I like to travel and many other riders look at my tools and tell me I need another 50 lbs of tools and spares. It is all very personal the combination of travel goals, bike choice, spares, tools, and comfort items along with how the load affects the bike. Everything is a compromise and a guess.
Thanks again for sharing and I hope that next year I can read about your 15 day TAT run on the mighty Super Katoomer. That is a very impressive machine.
Awesome thread that I think can really help folks planning for their own TAT journey. I, too, rode the complete TAT (Ocean to Ocean - none of this Tellico shit!) and I rode it solo as well. I am gonna add a few of my thoughts to this thread but others can find my own trip report with its summary if they want details. Two main thoughts pop to my head...
First and foremost... you took way too much fucking "stuff" on the TAT. I cannot stress that less is WAY more on a trip like this. 90% of anything you think you might have left can be sourced on the trip with ease. The remaining 10% adds to the adventure and the retelling of the stories of the journey.
You wrote : "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." To all you planning the TAT and trying to pick the bike to ride - please take heed of this comment. It is dead-on accurate. Ride the biggest bike you can fathom taking on a trip like this, you wont regret it. Most of the TAT is dead-easy boring riding that behooves having a mile munching steed with you.
Putting these two thoughts together brings you to my pack out for 6100 miles over 30 (23 riding days).
As you can see... I went with big bike and damn near no luggage. 2 changes of clothes, some toiletries, tent and sleeping bag, a basic tool kit, laptop, electronics, food/water, shoes, sandals, and I am sure a few other things fit into such small baggage - just a Giant Loop. The top case was all segmetned out with foam and held all my technology - laptop, gopro stuff, external hard drive, etc... Go with bags - not hard side panniers. As for bikes... go with reliable and easy to fix. Sure an exotic euro bike might be enticing, but a Yam/Kaw/Suzi/Honda is gonna be alot easier to keep running if needed.
I never had a mechanical breakdown of any kind on the ride. No flat tires. I replaced a headlight bulb in CO. I never once had to buy gas where I was even remotely worried about needing to strain water or particles out of it. Someone asked about tires... stage anywhere from 3-4 tires across the US to do the TAT would be my advice. I destroyed two sets of Mitas rear tires - albeit on a 1200cc big bike with LIBERAL throttle use - on the TAT in about half the mileage it takes to wear them out at home. My theory is that consecutive 200+ miles days in 90-100+ degree heat on sharp gravel and dirt just eats tires more than you expect. Tires are a cheap way to make sure you enjoy the trip. Do not go stingy.
I camped every night except two in hotels, three at friends houses, one in a hostel, and one at the 3 Step Hideaway. I highly recommend the LJ bunkhouse in OK, the 3 Step in UT, and the Ravens Roost Hostel in Lake City, CO. Pirate camping out west was plentiful and I never felt unsafe.
Food... there are a thousand opinions on this. I developed my strategy from reading here at the forum and speaking to TAT vets. I brought NO cookware and eating ware of any kind. I brought a travel mug and an immersion heater for morning coffee which was Starbucks Via instant coffee if I was not eating out. I ate all my meals out at restaurants, diners, or similar. You can hit up a grocery store and buy your dinner fixins for say... $6-10. Then you need to pack extra water and ride out to camp. You have to set up the stove, cook dinner, eat, and then clean it all up. Or for around $10 you can go to the local diner and eat a meal that is fixed for you, cleaned up for you, and you get to hang with the locals and learn about the area.
But most importantly, go have an adventure and make sure it is your adventure. This is not Sam's or Kevin's or my TAT. This should be your TAT. Spending 3-4 weeks on a dirt bike exploring the backside of the US is an experience not to be missed. In the weeks and months after finishing the TAT, I told myself that I was not interested in a repeat. But now that 4mos have come and passed... I am already thinking about doing it again and how I would do it differently.
Because my tent was wider than that 18" trail on the side of the mountain
My packing was far less a personal "choice" than a last minute necessity.
In hindsight, I believe I made only two grievous errors in my preparation for this trip:
Assuming I would have no problems with the tires; and
Not actually packing the bike until the night before I left.
At that point, the only things I had to work with were what I had lying around the house (hence the Walmart duffel).
It's amazing the number, and magnitude, of stupid things a person can do yet still be modestly successful.
And I think the moral of that story is that it makes really good sense to just try stuff.
You're the first I've seen that can match my numbers from my 6670 mile, 23 day, OBDR, Divide and TAT~West trip that I took. My goal was 330 miles per day, but a 60 mile day fixing a GPS and a day lost waiting for wheel bearings took me down to 290 miles per day average with a 37.5 mph moving average. It's the really big days that are hard to get people to grasp...I had multiple days over 450 miles.
I don't see how I myself could run that pace with another person, especially if they were on an 1190.
Congrats on your your trip! So others don't have to search for your report: http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/“fancy”-rides-the-tat-–-post-grad-school-decompression-trip.1146920/
Prior to my TAT trip I'd never traveled overnight on a bike. Given my desire to do this again next year, I'm practicing that regularly now
Among the conclusions I've reached as a result are some that you stated above.
Instead of carrying so many spare parts (like a spare injector and fuel pump), I'm going to stage them (and the requisite tools) at home to be sent overnight if necessary. In the unlikely case of failure, this will add a day to the trip, but meaningfully reduce the load.
I will also no longer carry any food or cooking utensils of any kind (with the possible exception of a PayDay) and carry less water.
I mentioned LJ's Bunkhouse and am glad to see it on your list of recommendations. I haven't stayed at the other places you recommend but will add them as waypoints. Thanks.
So, after doing the ride, documenting it, thinking about it, and practicing for next year, I'm working hard to not take more than I really need.
and you're an engineer??....
Thanks. I hope to pick the pace up on the 1190
I found a guy locally that rides an Africa Twin that's a better rider than I am and 20 years younger.
I have my fingers crossed he can get the time off work as we've done a couple weekend camp/rides together and are both anxious to take a stab at this on the big bikes next summer.
I'm considering contingencies in case he can't make it.
The first is switching to soft luggage on the 1190 (which I might do anyway) so I can more easily pull it off if I need to pick the bike up myself.
The second is to use the R1200 GSA so I don't need to pick it up as far. Putting Anakee Wilds on that bike next week and going to start taking it off-road to assess the viability.
In my defense, I am an Electrical Engineer.
I'd be lucky to manage a 30 mph average on a big bike. The big bikes usually end up around a 20 mph moving average. 950 Super Enduro might be fun, fewer electronics to ruin a trip..crappy mpg's though.
I've had the thought of running the TAT to the Atlantic, turn around and do it again...Forrest Gump style. I try to put the thought out of my mind because that's sacrificing a bike, there was nothing left of my TE610 after that big trip...it was done.
I fully agree with you on the two GPS' idea. That's what I did and it saved my ass when one lost it's maps.
just bustin' ya'.... i'm IBEW, tho' i don't know shizzit.... new job at Frontier in Tampa, circuit tester..... i really think all your KTM woes were avoidable, just basic maintenance.... fork seals last a LONG time, you just gotta clean them out w/some 35mm film once in awhile.... sounds like an awesome trip, you just took way too much stuff.... we learn life thru suffering....
Elec engineer.... splains alot. But i can give you a run for your OCD money. I provide anesthesia and have OCD real bad. But i have 30 years of climbing and mountaineering experience where light is right.
Big bike is the way to go in my opinion. I chewed up miles on the Tenere - 267 avg with one day well over 400. Now my Tenere is set up quite different from most. I treat mine as the worlds largest dirt bike. The 1190 would be a good one to use. Check out Tragic Overlanders 2016 TAT report - he rode an 1190
2 GPS's? That is truly obsessive. I also strongly advocate the Montana. But make sure you have debugged and run it thru the mill in test rides before the TAT. Buy Garmins 1:100k topo maps to load in there. Those maps have all kinds of "roads" on them that aid in route finding. I also got a sub $200 Lenovo laptop that was all solid state to take withstand the abuse. Super tiny form factor as well. Basecamp was on it along with the 1:100k topos. The larger screen was a godsend for problematic re-routing.
Just rehashing this as i sit in the OR gets me excited to do another long ride
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Maxxis DesertIT's are really tough tires.... work great w/tubliss, really doubt you could kill a 140 rear on a trip like that.... the rear is real heavy, not really racy, but i'd definitly do it on that bike and a trip like that...
They don't make a 140. 120/100-18...2400 miles:
I'd never run the front IT, it looks really good still. I usually run an IT rear and a Dunlop MX front.
You ever ride at Croom?
I live down the street in Dade City.
yeah, i ride there alot... i just had a little 'tree incident' a month and a half ago at Highland Park, so i'm not quite back yet....