2019 TAT (CO-OR)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by z_ATX, Sep 16, 2019.

  1. z_ATX

    z_ATX Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2019
    Oddometer:
    12
    Location:
    Austin,TX
    My friend Jeff and I just finished the CO to OR sections of the TAT (Aug 24-Sept 4 2019) and I thought I’d post a summary ride report.


    About us:

    We’re both are 51 yrs old and live in Austin, TX. Both of us have experience riding but any off road riding was mostly in our youth. Primarily, we have been riding in the highways on Harley’s not dual sport bikes. We took many off road practice rides around the Austin area to get used to the KLRs. We also took to a MX park with some more aggressive trails, so I think we were pretty well prepared for newbies to Adv Riding.



    About our rides:

    We both ended up buying 2015 KLR650’s off Craigslist (stock). We added the common upgrades that we saw in other reports and videos; thermobob, brushguards, crash bars, skid plate, klrdash, pannier racks with soft bags, tail bag, tank bag. I’m 5’9 so I also bought an aftermarket seat that lowered the height ~1 inch. We both replaced the front and rear springs. There are more things but those are the big ones. I would recommend all of these. For tires we went with Dunlop D606. Since our first day was on pavement brand new D606 at highway speeds was interesting. They took a few hundred miles to break in but then we’re fine and very happy once we hit the dirt. The bikes also held up well. They probably could have used more power in a couple situations but they made it through everything we asked them to.


    Day 1 (Amarillo to Trinidad 328 miles)

    Our wives drove out to Amarillo from Austin with us so we could haul the bikes and save ourselves from 400 miles of highway. We left Amarillo in the AM and spent many hours of highway riding on very squirrelly brand new knobby tires. That was not fun. Once they broke in a little things got a little better. We joined the TAT in Branson, CO. We primitive camped after buying fuel and supplies in town.


    First problem: when I installed the thermobob on my bike I unwittingly had one of the hoses touching the exhaust pipe and it was slowly melting. I put about 1000 practice miles on my bike before starting the TAT, so this was just a ticking time bomb. Fortunately for me it melted through just as I arrived in Trinidad and I rolled into an auto parts store. They only had fuel line but the diameter was right. I replaced the hose, wrapped it with heat shield and used a zip tie to pull the hose away from the exhaust. That worked and no issues after that.


    Day Two: Trinidad to Cotopaxi (230 miles)

    This was really our first TAT day. The ride from Ludlow to La Veta was great; beautiful views and fun terrain. Our plan was to lunch in La Veta but it was a Sunday and everything, including the only gas station was closed. We jumped off the TAT and headed to Wallenberg for food and gas.

    Our intent was to ride as much of the TAT as possible but in situations where we were short on time or supplies, we would divert and rejoin at the nearest intersection without backtracking.

    We rejoined the TAT and then rode to Cotopaxi where we stayed at the KOA there. There are only a few primitive sites but nobody was there so we got our pick. There is a market and gas in Cotopaxi.


    Second problem: The speedometer cable broke at the hub on my bike. No idea what would cause that and aside from wasting time trying to figure what problem was, became more of a nuisance. I have a watch with GPS so I used that as my odometer to keep track with the with the roll chart.


    Day three (Cotopaxi to Lake City 188 miles)

    This was a beautiful ride and Marshall Pass was a lot of fun. The views are amazing and a definite highlight. There was a stretch in the CO Rd 12 that was a little technical but otherwise did not pose a lot difficulty. We camped on the opposite (non TAT) side of Lake San Cristobal at a primitive site. It was a cold morning and we woke to ice on our tents. We also had a minor bear encounter but he was just passing through.


    Day four (Lake City to Telluride 65 miles)

    We had pre-planned (guessed) our itinerary for each day and this was the day that we went off that schedule for good. We started with Cinnamon pass, I had on off going down the gravel passed the summit but nothing major. We then went to California and Hurricane but missed the turn(sign?) for Corkscrew and ended up rolling into Silverton.

    We ate lunch in Silverton but didn’t need gas since wed only gone 30 miles. At lunch we contemplated how to rejoin the TAT and a local said to go ahead and do Ophir as it was easy. It is not easy. The skree after the summit is very loose and in a loaded KLR was very slow rolling. I dropped my bike a couple times just trying to hold position. No harm other than the pain of lifting the bike.

    All of these passes had challenging sections with loose steep gravel and switchbacks going up and down. There were also a lot of Jeeps and OHVs to maneuver around. Everyone was very courteous but the traffic is still a hazard.

    We were glad to have completed these but not sorry to see those in the rear view mirror. We limped into Telluride and stayed in a hotel to recover.

    Day five (Telluride-Moab 189 miles)

    We rejoined the trail outside of Telluride and rode out to Dove Creek. Since we had a schedule to keep we decided we would make up some time. We ate and refueled in Dove Creek and then slabbed it to Moab. What we found in a lot of our redirects was that even the paved side roads around the trail were very enjoyable so we never felt like we were missing out.

    In Moab we missed an opportunity to connect with some fellow TX-TATers who arrived in Moab on the same day. We were in find campsite mode and then shut it down for the evening. Sorry Greg!

    Day six (Moab to Green River 132 miles)

    In reading different posts we had heard about the Utah BDR as an alternative to the desert run of the TAT and decided to divert. We ran the Moab to Dewey Bridge section of the BDR. This started out amazing but once we started up the Kokopelli sections the complexity increased substantially. This was a very tough ride but also with beautiful views and terrain changes.

    This was one of the highlights of the trip and there is a way to skip one of the difficult sections by staying on Sand Flats instead of Kokopelli.

    We again limped into town after a long hard day. We ate, fueled and camped at the Shady Acres RV Park. Basics but nothing fancy or particularly scenic.


    Day seven (Green River to Brigham City 304 miles)

    We again had fallen further behind schedule so we decided to pick our own backroads route but stay paved to make up some ground. My 90 year old grandmother lives in Provo so we plotted a course through there so we could say hi. From there we rolled up to Brigham City and camped at the KOA there. Not fancy but a nice family business and almost every site was filled. (Labor Day Weekend). We were treated to our campsite neighbors chicken dinner. There are also plenty of options for fuel and supplies. We needed it because we were going to push to Boise.

    Day eight (Brigham City to Boise 373 miles)

    We decided to cut the corner from Pocatello and ride direct to Twin Falls to rejoin the trail. This was a long day of both highway and then a moonscape of Idaho loose gravel for 200 miles. This was easily the least favorite day of the trip. We fueled in Twin Falls and then again in Duscene. We have friends in Boise so we rode to their house where we were greeted with food, showers and beds.

    Day nine (Boise to Unity Lake 181 miles)

    This was a fun ride. Slow rolling at times but scenic and with some different terrain. We got a late start out of Boise so we were running up against daylight so we jumped off trail at Ironside and went into Unity to get fuel. We camped at Unity Lake which offered sites with water and power. The scenery might have been better but there was a large brushfire that filled the sky with smoke.

    Day ten (Unity to Prineville 214 miles)

    A very fun ride all around. Nothing that seemed too challenging but offered some diversity and great scenery. We fueled and supplied in Prineville and then primitive camped along the Crooked River about 15 miles south. Very cool camping along the river. Overall, we were very lucky with our choice of campsites along the trail especially considering we didn’t plan where to camp, just that we were going to camp.

    Day eleven (Prineville to near Tiller 206 miles)

    Another great ride. Mixed log roads with some terrain sections. We fueled and supplies at the Shell station in Crescent (busiest little Shell station ever) and then rode until we were tired and could find a campsite. We primitive camped at Boulder Creek campground. Another riverside campground under some very tall trees. No services but we planned for that just based on the map.

    Day 12 (Tiller to Pt Orford 180 miles)

    We were concerned about fuel and were hoping we could get some in Tiller since the next gas on the maps was an extra 20 mile round trip off the trail up to Canyonville. There was no gas in Tiller but there is gas just south of Azalea on Quinces Creek Rd. There is also a restaurant where we grabbed breakfast. This was a fun ride and we could smell the finish line but this was not a day without effort. The last 30 miles of trail is not easy and after the past couple days without too much challenge, this was a fun way to finish. There is some terrain and switchbacks and occasional rockslide or fallen tree debris. The paved and packed sections on the descent also have a lot of potholes that you’ll need to be alert for. We stayed in a hotel up in Bandon which was near where we scheduled to pick up our Uhaul for the ride home.

    It was a great experience. We basically skipped all of the Utah TAT so I don’t know what we missed there.

    We were also extremely lucky with weather as we had zero rain which definitely would have slowed us down. We also did well with navigation and avoided going too far off track between using Sams’ maps, roll chart and tracks.

    We used just about everything we brought aside from spare parts and tubes which we split across the bikes just in case. We came back with extra dehydrated food because we didn’t have as much time to cook as we first thought. Our meals were basically coffee in the AM while breaking camp. Eat lunch or Linner in whichever town we fueled up while also buying a protein in a market. At night after setting up camp we’d cook the protein and throw it into one of those dehydrated meal pouches. Rinse and repeat.

    Trying to maintain a schedule was probably the only real negative as we weren’t always able to stop for too long for fear of having to ride in the dark. It would have been fun to spend another day in Moab but too much unknown was between us and Pt Orford I could have done with Ophir pass. The way up was fun but ruined by having to baby step it down that scree.

    We drove it all back home in about 40 hours on non-stop Uhauling. I don’t recommend this but We got home in time to relax at home before rejoining the rat race on Monday AM.

    Hope this helps and happy to provide more details as needed.
    #1
    motorchi, chudzikb, Diddly and 4 others like this.
  2. Shin1ichi2002

    Shin1ichi2002 Been here awhile

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    Great report! Only things missing are pics! Are you going to post any?
    #2
  3. z_ATX

    z_ATX Adventurer

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    E03226CD-5436-4911-B906-5906032FDAA4.jpeg Day 1 -primitive camp outside Trinidad with view of Spanish Peaks
    #3
  4. z_ATX

    z_ATX Adventurer

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    Day 2 - KOA at Cotopaxi

    5AEBAB78-D63E-4422-BDC1-3DFBA9E31DCC.jpeg Day 2 - getting closer to Spanish Peaks
    #4
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  5. z_ATX

    z_ATX Adventurer

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    Jul 22, 2019
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    EABE6118-2D8F-4053-AF64-76A308A71630.jpeg
    Day 3 - heading up Marshall Pass


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    Day 3 - campsite at Lake San Cristobal
    #5
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  6. z_ATX

    z_ATX Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2019
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    150576FD-A99B-4971-90AB-5838BA61DB18.jpeg E5F7FD16-2093-49D8-BEFB-0FD7F86A86CC.jpeg DE226758-D2F9-49E0-8520-12496B0AB3CA.jpeg

    Day 4 - We saw a bear and ride up some big mountains
    #6
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  7. z_ATX

    z_ATX Adventurer

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    Day 5 - descended the mountains and found Utah
    #7
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  8. z_ATX

    z_ATX Adventurer

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    Day 6 - Moab
    #8
  9. z_ATX

    z_ATX Adventurer

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    Day 7 was a slab day to my grandmothers.
    On Day 8 we found Idaho and a whole lot of nothing.
    #9
  10. z_ATX

    z_ATX Adventurer

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    Day 9 - Started with Boise Balloonfest and then we found Oregon(missed the sign) and watched the sun set on a distant brushfire
    #10
  11. z_ATX

    z_ATX Adventurer

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    Day 10 - I’m not sure if I can carry any more dirt. The trees are starting to get big again and a nice campsite along the Crooked River.
    #11
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  12. z_ATX

    z_ATX Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Day 11 - Lots of logging roads, some crater lakes and the last riverside camp
    #12
  13. z_ATX

    z_ATX Adventurer

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    Day 12 - A great last ride on the final map and making the coast.
    #13
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  14. GregDavidL

    GregDavidL Been here awhile

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    I enjoyed your report!!
    #14
  15. Diddly

    Diddly Bored of Directors

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    Looks like a great trip! Thanks
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  16. Fat Chance

    Fat Chance Been here awhile

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    Great report, thanks for posting.
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  17. jna

    jna Been here awhile

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    Awesome photos
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  18. trailrider77

    trailrider77 Been here awhile

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    Great report. I am also from Austin. I was camping in Sargents CO during that time. I ran across a group of TX-TAT folks along Marshall Pass on 9/1 (wonder if it was the same group). On 8/28 we rode out to the Silverton via Cinnamon Pass/Animas Forks. Got to ride thru the Ice Canyon south of Animas. From Silverton ride up the Million $ HWY to Ouray to Owl Pass and back to Sargents. Way too much slabbing for a KTM 500. Wonderful weather. TAT and BDR's are on my list next yr. Will instead be on a KTM 690.
    #18