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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    Occasionally you come across some cattle.
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    A ranch house.
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    If these roads are the least bit wet, you are not going anywhere on two wheels (DAMHIK). If there is any doubt, stay on the state highways through this region.
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    In some places, ruts in the dried mud were 8" deep. These aren't too bad, but sometimes a rut will take one wheel but not the other giving you a little cross up as you ride.
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    Lots of cattle guards around.
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    State highways in this area were nothing to brag about, but at least they would be passable in wet weather. Even so, there are some slick spots as well.
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    One short section of switchbacks even had chip seal for erosion control.
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    State highway.
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  2. ajones

    ajones Left Blinker is ON

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    Great report! Do you have a section that you would like to re-ride or your favorite area?:ear

    AJ
  3. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I headed up into Long Canyon. I noticed there were starting to be some wet and slick spots on the road. I already had a few wake-ups when I unexpectedly slid a few times. The mud looks deceiving because back home mud that looks like that would actually give you better traction with the tires I had. Stopped at a cattle guard for a moment.
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    While I was stopped, a local rancher named Henry Brown showed up out of nowhere and stopped to chat. I told Henry I was passing through on a motorcycle trip on backroads. (Later Henry asked me if this was some kind of motorcycle route through there because they see bikes every now and again in the summer.)
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    I asked about some switchbacks going up a mesa. Actually, I could see them just ahead. Henry told me that it might be a little tough going up there (a few greasy spots) as it had snowed yesterday. Even if I made it up there he told me it would be "wet up on top". I guess I didn't know what "wet up on top" meant. A smarter man might have weighted Henry's advice a little heavier in his decison matrix. After all, Henry had been living here his whole life and had probably been up and down that mesa on everything from a bicycle to his truck over the years. Plus, I am sure he knows what "wet up on top" means. But, I was terminal. It was like one of those aviation accidents. "Yeah I know conditions are deteriorating, but I came so far and I am so close blah blah blah *crash*."
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  4. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Well, I told Henry I was going to give it a try. Off I go. I headed onto the switchbacks and didn't get 100 yards before the tires filled up and the bike went out from under me.
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    Henry had turned onto a different road. He must have seen me fall because here he comes to give me a hand.
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    Henry helped me get the bike up (a very welcome change to have help) and we talked a little more about the route. He said that maybe after another 150 yards or so, I would do better as it was more rocky on the slope. OK, I'll make it. (Another chance to turn around that I let go.)
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    Now that I knew the tires would fill up right away, I rode to compensate for that (to the extent I could).
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    I dumped it on one of the switchback corners where there was some heavy mud. I got it back up and rode it to the top.
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    Looking back over the edge.
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    Time to take a break. The wind was really blowing on top. I put my gloves down and ended up chasing them across the pasture. My bike shook and wobbled against the wind. I kept waiting for it to fall over.
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  5. flyinfuzz

    flyinfuzz 2 Quarts low

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    Great pics and words. Cow dog didn't look to happy to see you.To anyone on the East Tn Section of the TAT If you need to camp or need help PM me .I am near fairfield glade on HWY 101 just look for the B.A.T. Angus sign on the south side. Also bring plenty of tick spray them things are terrible this year.Hijack over back to the regular portion of our program.:clap
  6. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Well, I got going again on the muddy trail "up on top". Now I was falling down and didn't understand why. I wrestled with the bike to get it back up and the damn mud coated wheels would slide out sideways as I lifted. Even when I got them to stick, my boots would slide out over and over just as I got to the critical leverage point to get the bike up. Even a barrage of profanity didn't do anything to improve traction with my feet. If you don't think that blowing wind is ever a factor in picking up a bike, you would be wrong. The margins for getting it up were close enough without the wind pushing it back at me. This kind of mud doesn't just fill your tread, it continues to build up until you are rolling on about an inch of mud. The reason the lugs are showing is that my front fender is packed full and has scraped the mud off the tire. The reason I was falling is because it was like trying to ride in mud with the front brake on.
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    The rear tire wasn't doing much for me either.
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  7. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    That ranch dog was a "smiler" but it turns out it was a nervous "smile". He was really friendly. While I was talking to Henry he kept batting me in the back with his paw to get my attention.

    And thanks for stepping up!
  8. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    This is Long Canyon.
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    Here are the switchbacks to get me up on top.
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  9. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Well, I was up on top considering my options. I had some work to do to get anywhere at all. Even if I did get on the move again, I probably wasn't going to get far. Worst case is that I could have camped and waited a day for the wind to dry up the trail enough to ride. I could have tied my tent to some brush and crawled in my sleeping bag for a day. I had done it before - backpacking in the Northwest Territories while waiting for a flooded river to go down enough to swim my pack across. I had two bottles of water but would have been more comfortable if I had thrown an MRE (meal, ready to eat) into one of my panniers as I had no food. Damn! All of a sudden, here comes Henry. He crawled his FWD truck up the switchbacks to check on me! What a guy! Henry and I went to work on the front wheel. We couldn't get it to turn at all - either with bike power or by pulling on it with two hands. We went to work with a long screwdriver and a stick to get the mud out. If you look at Henry's truck tire, you can see how the mud builds up. Henry told me that he has seen it stop a horse trailer dead. The rear wheels on his wife's front wheel drive car have stopped that in the past too.
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    This mud must be the stuff they make adobe out of. It packs tight and dries hard. Big clumps of mud stuck to my bike all the way home - even in the rain. When I went to wash it off at home with a hose, I had to use something to scrape the chunks off - even with the water.
  10. blackbirdzach

    blackbirdzach Daily Adventurer

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    I've battled packed up tires on my XR before and it sucked...I couldn't imagine fighting muddy tires on a loaded up DL1000! :eek1

    Go Henry!!! :bow :bow :bow Sounds like a heck of a guy. I'm absolutely loving this report.
  11. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    The plan was to free the wheel and then ride around the pasture a little bit to clear the mud out. That lasted up until the next crash where we decided the fender had to go. We pulled the front fender. Even with the fender off, it was hard to get the packed mud out of it. The fender became cargo strapped to a box. I tried riding the bike in the pasture and it seemed to work fine. Henry said it was about 15 more miles of this stuff to get to Branson, CO. He thought if I stayed on the pasture I might make it but that I would have to get back on the road to cross the cattle guards. I took off across the pasture. It is a slow ride dodging cactus and rocks and bushes. When I got to a rock ridge, I had to take the road. Within a few yards the tires had filled and I was down again. This time the bike pinned one of my ankles under a box in a bad position where I couldn't get any leverage to get it out. Amazingly, as I was crashing I was accidentally hitting the horn button. As I lay in the mud trying to figure out what to do, here comes Henry again! He lifts the bike off of me and together we get it back up. I had mud on me from the top of my helmet to my boots. I am glad I had that radiator guard and oversize bash plate as they helped protect my radiator and oil cooler from the mud as I was running without a fender.
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  12. AngryScot

    AngryScot .

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  13. TomN

    TomN Long timer

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    Now it's getting good! :clap
  14. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Well, I give up. I told Henry that I now realized I had no chance of making it on the current route. I told him that as long as he was there I was going to try to get back down the switchbacks. Lemme tell you, it had to be bad up on top for me to be willing to switch it back down. Even after having been a paratrooper and a private pilot, I am still a little afraid of heights. Heck, I don't even like being 6' 2". I took Henry's name and address and heartily thanked him for all his help. Henry said he would follow me back down to make sure I made it. I pastured it back to the switchbacks and crawled down. On the steep slippery spots the bike took off on it's own a few times, but I kept it away from the edge. When I got back to the bottom, I waited to make sure Henry made it OK. Then I headed out.
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  15. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    A lot of people on here talk about karma. As I was motoring back down Long Canyon I thought about that a little. I thought about the times I went out of my way to help someone - not because I had to, but because I could. Maybe that banks you a few credits in the world. Why is it that all of a sudden Henry shows up out of nowhere to help me get through some tough times on this journey? Makes you wonder. . .

    Anyway, when I got to the end of Long Canyon Road, I stopped at Henry's mailbox and wrote him a short note thanking him again for the help and for being a great person. As far as I am concerned, he is THE highlight of this trip.

    I hope Henry gets a chance to read this thread - I think he will. If any of you feel inclined, it would be nice to post a few props for Henry (and people like him).
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    Jollyrogers likes this.
  16. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    Back on state road 325 trying to find some pavement to Branson, CO. Even this has some bad spots.
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    Here is my go around.
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    Something for the good idea file. A rail car on stilts for feed storage.
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    A little bit of snow still visible.
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  17. Drybones

    Drybones Fish bones are on my truck seat cover, too

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    What an adventure! Thanks so much for the full coverage reporting. I think it would be a very nice gesture on behalf of ADV'rs as a group if we give Henry Brown a personal note of THANKS!

    I'm a former pilot, too...I understand how the "get thereitis" mentality leads to trouble and occasionally disaster. Almost had a disaster, myself...luckily, it was just a hydroplaning slide off the end of the runway and I stayed upright...

    Keep it comin :clap

    on edit... I actually wrote this before I read your above post!
  18. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    I arrived in Branson,CO - the end of the TAT route for me.
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    It was cold and bleak and windy and there wasn't much there (except a "Cannonshot Was Here" card:evil ). No fuel here. I had to go another 40 miles. There is some closer if you head west.
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    The bike had seen better days.
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    I had about 2800 miles or so on this tire. I still needed another 1200+ to get home.
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  19. Cannonshot

    Cannonshot Having a Nice Time Administrator Super Moderator

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    It must not require much of a tower to get a microwave shot on these high plains.
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    There was a significant controversy going on about the Army trying to triple the size of one of its training areas.
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    I needed gas. I saw the town of Kim on the map about 40 miles up the road. There was nothing between here and there. When I got there, the single pump read "85 octane". Oh well. I got gas and went inside for hot coffee and a hot sandwich.
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    There was a big discussion going on about the Army thing. I thought it might be better not to mention my background and sit this one out. As I sat there I first realized how muddy I was. (Remarkable mud though, it really sticks.)
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    Refreshed and warmed up, I came back out to ride on. The bike looked a little rough. That mud stayed on all the way home - even in some rain.
    (Nice touch to have a little piece of tumbleweed blown up against the front wheel.)
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    Jollyrogers likes this.
  20. Dru

    Dru Hardly an Adventurer

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    Geez, that sounds like a tough ride to be doing alone! Amazing that terrific people like Henry exist! They are too few on this planet! Thanks Henry for taking care of our man Cannonshot! :clap