Big Bike Solo on the Trans-Am Trail (TN-MS-AR-OK-NM)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Cannonshot, Apr 27, 2007.

  1. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Just finished a solo ride of the eastern portion of the Trans-America Trail on my DL1000. Had a hell of a good time.
    [​IMG]

    (Please be patient . . . much more to come.)
    #1
  2. Lobby

    Lobby Viel Spass, Vato!

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    :lurk
    #2
  3. blackbirdzach

    blackbirdzach Daily Adventurer

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    Ya ain't kidding man. Any report with Cannonshots` name on it is gold. :bow :bow :bow
    #3
  4. Mojave Jack

    Mojave Jack Time - two edged sword

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    Can't wait...this should be good...Love the DL1000, almost bought that instead of my DR650...if possible, please include details such as tires equip...Look forward to this PanAm!:clap :clap
    #4
  5. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Most everyone around here knows of the Trans-America Trail. In case some have not heard of it, here is a short intro.

    Sam Correro laid out a primarily off-pavement motorcycle route that spans most of the country. (By the way, Sam has my respect, admiration, and thanks - to the extreme - for the work he has done.) He makes roll charts and maps available through his web site at www.transamtrail.com .

    Here is how Sam describes the route.
    " It is a route using dirt roads, gravel roads, jeep roads, forest roads and farm roads. Dropping down into dried-up creek beds. Riding atop abandoned railroad grades."

    Here is a "big picture" map of the trail.
    [​IMG]


    I rode about 2100 miles on the route. Here is the breakout for the portion I rode by state:
    Tennessee 600 miles
    Mississippi 217 miles
    Arkansas 472 miles
    Oklahoma 750 l-o-n-g miles
    New Mexico 65 miles of heaven (sort of - maybe a little bit of hell too)
    #5
  6. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I'll make sure to pass on what I can - including the anxiety of trying to get 4000 miles out of that rear TKC 80.
    #6
  7. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Departed from west of Milwaukee, WI for about a 12 hour/600+ mile ride to Jellico, TN. Jellico is on the KY-TN border in eastern TN.

    [​IMG]

    Hit my first freeway traffic jam only a few miles from home. Took to other roads. This was going to be a long day.

    Stopped for breakfast near the WI-IL border. Thought I'd wait out Chicago traffic. (Didn't work. I still got caught in a clutch slipping, toe touching extended traffic jam there as well.)

    The DL waits while I eat a leisurely breakfast. This was when she was still clean and had those crisp new tire treads.
    [​IMG]

    After that the trip to Jellico was routine. I stopped every now and again for fuel and hot coffee. It was a cold ride. I left my electric fleece home as I was going to ride the south and didn't think I needed it (one of several mistakes I made).

    As I rode across the very flooded Ohio River I noticed four Apache helicopters simulating an attack on a boat or bridge on the Ohio. This seemed odd because it was in the downtown Louisville area. Maybe it was a demonstration(?). It would have been great to catch a few pictures as they were really making some aggressive moves. However, I was doing the best I could just to ride (and sneak a few looks) in the tight end of day traffic.

    Got down to Jellico in the dark and checked in the recommended motel. I was pretty chilled once the sun went down. Had a reservation but didn't need it on a weekday. If you stay there, try to snag room 104 or 106 as you can park your bike right in front of the door (for convenience).
    [​IMG]

    I loaded up the roll chart for the next day's ride and got organized so I would be able to start when it got light. Off to bed. (Yeah, thats right . . . a roll chart on a DL1000. I had to mount it to one of the mirror stems.)
    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. blackbirdzach

    blackbirdzach Daily Adventurer

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    You rode all the way down on the TKC's??? :bow I still don't understand how to use a roll chart, but I need to learn since I want to do at least some of the trail this year. Looking forward to more! :freaky
    #8
  9. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    While they lasted, the TKCs were great on pavement.

    Now is probably as good a time as any to confess that I never turned the roll chart once. After the first day, I never loaded another one.

    When I got the maps from Sam, I drew the route in MapSource and laid it against topo background maps in my GPS. (That is, with the exception of New Mexico where I forgot to load the background maps so I only had a dotted line to follow through the most remote part of the trip. Another mistake, but all worked well.)

    [​IMG]

    I broke the track I drew into 500 point segments. It was something like 20+ segments. I really liked following the track:
    -It was easy.
    -No roll chart to turn.
    -No odometer to keep track of.
    -You could see the shape of the road to anticipate things like turns that might be just over the top of a rise. You could also see a "good section" coming so you could gear up to enjoy it.
    -With the orientation set so that "up" was the direction you were heading, there was little thinking to do other than follow the track on the moving map.

    The trackline is the way to go. You still need to get the maps. They are very valuable for planning, finding "go-arounds" (if required), and for seeing where the gas stops are or when you are passing near a town. I kept uncut versions of the roll charts in a binder and reviewed them each night to see if there were any warnings or other good info on them.

    I kept maps in document protectors on the tank bag map case and followed the track line. Easy stuff.
    #9
  10. JcbKarl

    JcbKarl Been here awhile

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    Man, this is so cool you did this part of the trail on a big bike. Looking forward to reading more. The helicopters you saw in Louisville were part of a day long annual affair called "Thunder Over Louisville" where they have all kinds of military aircraft doing demos during the day and then a huge fireworks show at night. I went once and was pretty blown away by what I saw an F-14 do.

    It's a good thing I didn't know you were doing this trip or I would have wanted to go with you as you went by.
    #10
  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    And you would have been welcome . . .

    My apologies to some folks I know that might have wanted to tag along. I had originally planned to do the trip a little earlier this season [probably a good thing I didn't as the weather was poor(er) then than it has been lately] but I had an unexpected medical problem come up. This kind of put things on hold as I had some doctoring to do. I didn't know I would be able to leave until the day before I actually went. Hard to make plans with others in a situation like that.

    On the other hand, riding alone gives you great flexibility and you don't have to takes turns eating dust. You just have to really make the right choices with regard to risk management. Keeps you from doing stupid stuff you might otherwise do.
    #11
  12. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    :thumb :lurk
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  13. rokklym

    rokklym one man wolfpack

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    I was wondering what you were up to Bryan! Glad you got your medical situation sorted out enough to ride. I sent you that CD today b.t.w.

    Looking forward to seeing your pics, I know they are going to be amazing!
    #13
  14. gosling1

    gosling1 Been here awhile

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    Looking forward to your ride report as a buddy & I are going to do the TN & MS segments of the TAT starting next Friday, May 4th. I'll be on a '95 Triumph Tiger and he'll be on a KTM LC4. Curious as to the road conditions. Have heard mixed comments on the Eastern segment. Was hoping it'd be fairly dry so I can avoid the photo below! :cry
    #14
  15. leahyz

    leahyz Gigantic Tool

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    I'm ready... bring it on. I'm going to try a bit of it late this summer or fall if i get the chance. I would be on the 12GS. Likely i'll get Tenn only as I don't have a lot of continuous time to burn on the trip.

    :freaky
    #15
  16. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Once I get my stuff together I'll post a bunch of pix and comments that will answer your questions. Many (most) of the water crossings are treacherously slippery - and I had the benefit of low water. There is also the matter of a little water moccasin problem I'll cover later on. I'll try to cover TN and MS in the next two days.

    If you are leaving next week, you might come across a few of these . . . I know I kept running across them along the way. :evil (some magnetic versions turned up on gas pumps, ice machines, etc)
    [​IMG]
    #16
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  17. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Tennessee is one of the best rides I have been on. It is perfect for a big bike. Whether it is gravel or pavement, much of eastern and central TN is a constant ear to ear grin with twisties, elevation changes, and often a seemingly constant manipulation of the controls. In fact, it is a pleasure to get some straight roads once in a while just to relax a little.

    Gravel in this area is crushed from layered sedimentary rock so it has the sharp edges that allow it to compact very nicely and is much like pavement.

    There are probably a lot of people with larger bikes who haven't considered the TAT east because they think a medium sized dual sport is required (400-650). I strongly recommend that interested big bike riders get the maps for Tennessee and Arkansas and that they consider some rides on the TAT routes. It took me less than two days to cross TN. Another entertaining big bike trip would be to ride the TAT route and some scenic paved routes in the Ozark region of Arkansas.

    I've heard some say that there is too much pavement in TN (perhaps 85%+ is paved). There is a lot of pavement, but it is mostly good stuff!

    I'm sure many others have ridden bigger bikes on these routes and can add their wisdom and comments as well.

    (The only drawback to TN is that the water crossings are extremely slippery and that there is the potential for high water at the crossings sometimes.)
    [​IMG]
    #17
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  18. Thumpercrazee

    Thumpercrazee Long timer

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    Looks like a great ride. I love my Strom also and feel many under-estimate its abilities. Looking forward to your entire report. Thanks for sharing.

    TC:D
    #18
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  19. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    This morning I left Jellico and headed out on the route. I did about 400 miles. This single day covered two of the roll charts (a two day ride). I like to knock off a big chunk early in a trip so I have time to dawdle if something particularly interesting comes up later on.

    It was cool and foggy when I started out.
    [​IMG]

    The roads in the far eastern section are mostly gravel and they twist and wind through the low mountains.
    [​IMG]

    There are some neat switchbacks.
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    The road surface is generally good but there are a few rough spots and some large pieces of broken rock around.
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    There are a few bumps to look out for. The suspension/clearance on my DL is nothing like the DRZ. The things you would ignore on a DRZ are matters of interest on the DL. Most of the rough spots are the result of erosion across the road.
    [​IMG]

    Generally things are good. There is not even that much wheel hopping washboard in this area.
    [​IMG]

    The fog was kind of neat but it eliminated any spectacular views out over the hills.
    [​IMG]

    Bridges varied from poor to OK. This is a good one - it has rails. Many dont.
    [​IMG]


    Be careful, a couple of the bridges along the route have steel plates as a road surface. The nature of things in these hollows is that there is usually a sharp turn to get onto the bridge. Smooth steel in a lean might not be good.
    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. GB

    GB . Administrator Super Moderator Super Supporter

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    Is that what the TAT looks like? :tb
    #20