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Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by skierd, Aug 27, 2009.
Nice report so far, subscribed and love to hear about rides on the little guys
Day 4 - Start of the TAT
Got a decently early start today, earliest hotel checkout of the trip. The water main in Jellico had burst overnight, leaving me without a shower for the morning (fortunately I had taken care of it the night before after enjoying the pool and hot tub and utilizing the guest laundry). One thing I found neat about the Days Inn Jellico though, unlike most hotels that have their room bibles hidden in a drawer, theirs were out and open on the table when you first walked in.
An interesting touch imo. Even though I'm not particularly religious, I thought it was a neat little personal touch.
And we're off! It was hot and muggy as I expected TN to be, that would change soon enough however...
One neat thing about eastern TN: the pavment and gravel are the same color. Made for some, uh, interesting riding with the early morning sun peaking through the trees distorting your view.
Also got my first big lesson of the trip: you never know whats around the corner on these roads. I had several encounters like this on the trip, slow down for the curves fella's.
First bit of water!
Neat old studebaker(?), in someones front yard on the trail
Right around here I had another insight: bring a quiet bike for this as you'll basically be going through someone's front yard all the time and you really don't need the extra power. This isn't a race and the only opponent is the distance.
I also had my first reroute near here. Sam's maps (or my Mapsource interpetation of them) had me going down someone's driveway. It took a little while to get rerouted out of the neighborhood I was in, but pretty shortly I was back on the little purple line on the Garmin.
Oops, time for another detour, this time intentional! Saw this forest access road off to the side and decided to get some mud on the bike.
Passed this little roadside cemetary, very quiet and very pretty spot.
Right around Wartburg, TN, where I stopped for my first TAT gas stop and subway sandwich (seriously, there were subways EVERYWHERE! I'd be in a town that basically consisted of a post office, a co-op, and a gas station, and there would be a subway in the gas station. Fricking weird...), the skies opened up on me. I had planned on detouring to the nemo bridge rail road tunnel, but the weather changed my mind.
Fortunately I had a covered place to change into my rain gear. Unfortunately my rain pants leaked like a seive. Soggy butt most of the day, which got better when I had to stand and it all ran down into my boots.
Old and new:
Well... this is the south...
Time for another reroute! It finally stopped pouring, at least for a while and I was motoring down this nice smooth wonderful gravel road when I looked down and noticed my Garmin had me turning. To where? Left of course, on a little road I didn't see that even existed when I first went by.
Screw it, its an adventure, lets see where this goes. After all, this is a road. Right?
Oh wait it gets better...
Uh... hell no. Time to backtrack. Learned my second lesson: do NOT trust the Garmin over the actual conditions on the road. There were exactly three times that it was correct in taking me down a path that eventually faded out of existence, once was Warloop Road in Arkansas and twice was on county roads in the Oklahoma panhandle.
As I got back to the nice groomed gravel road, it started P O U R I N G again, found shelter at a gas station, I took refuge inside and got the bike out of the rain as best I could.
After about an hour, the skies cleared and I was able to dry everything out except my boots over the next few hours by riding.
Be sure with Pure!
I loved these little roads nestled on the old railroad grades, usually with a rock wall on one side with a creek on the other.
Finally, I came to this nice river. I recognized it immediately from other ride reports for the TAT, but noticed no one ever stopped to enjoy themselves like the locals did.
Screw that, I'm two days ahead of schedule and need a snack break anyways. I stripped out of my riding gear, put on some shorts and waded across to the far shore to eat and relax. Had a nice little conversation with one of the families that were there enjoying the summer sun one last time before school started.
After a while of watching everyone else play, it was my turn!
That was a LONG crossing, and fun! The water was only about mid-shin deep and while the surface was smooth it was kinda slick and filled with big holes, the best place to go was on the little ridge of rapids and stay STRAIGHT on it.
Back on the road!
Getting late, time to find a campground. Fortunately I was very near Rock Island State Park. Nice little detour for the dam closure... Not sure which of YFF's are responsible, but I got a nice laugh from it!
All set up!
And here's the Hennessy Hammock:
Most comfortable thing I've ever slept in outdoors. With the camp pad underneath in a 40 degree down bag, I was comfortable down to the mid 40's. With just the bag underneath me as a mosquito barrier, it was still as comfortable as one could be on a HUMID 80 degree night. You're literally just floating, and since the hammock is cut assymetrically to the cord you actually lay mostly flat. Its a little fussy to set up as you need to have good tension and tree's just so apart, but it was a life saver to not have to find a piece of level ground in the mountains... it was also a PITA to use when I wasn't allowed to use the trees in Mueller State Park in Colorado. It works well enough as a bivy sack, but my back much prefers hanging in the air in my little bear burrito.
At night, I hung my riding pants and jacket outside of the hammock from the center line, under the tarp near the entrance, with my boots underneath where I could step into them. I could hang the next days clothes from the centerline on the inside above my feet and generally had as much room inside as I would in any other 1 man tent, but with the benefit that I plenty of places to put everything.
Only other thing I had with me for camping was a little coleman peak1 single burner stove I found at Walmart for $20, a pot, a fork, and a sierra cup. Didn't need anything else, as all I would otherwise do after camping was check the bike over and write in the little notebook I brought to remember what I saw and did. After eating and writing, I went to bed (usually just as the sun was setting) as riding 12 hours is tiring.
I ate about 10 meals on the while camping, which usually consisted of boil-in-the-bag rice (hence the stove), fresh salsa or a handufl of mixed vegatables, and a packet of the ready to eat chicken or salmon or tuna, with a cliff bar and a banana for dessert. Cheap, very tasty after a day on the trail, very filling, and healthy. I just ate out of the pot I cooked the rice in and all the cooking supplies fit inside the pot except the fuel can, which was stuffed in between the hammock and sleeping bag on the side bag to protect it. The sierra cup was used mainly for a tot of rum or bourbon.
As I was setting up to eat dinner, I heard an animal coming up behind me:
Cute little guy was aparently a runaway that liked the campground so much that anytime he was returned to his family he would promptly escape and come back. Nice little guy, very friendly and happy! All in all, thanks to the fire to dry my boots and gloves, and camp showers, it was a nice day on the trail.
Bun-bun - uh, maybe? I think Bubba's is right there, never really looked honestly. I'm across the street from Kenilworth Mall and work in the mall and eat far too much pizza from Italian Gardens to go anywhere else. Plus they deliver, so I don't care where they're located.
Fantastic trip and ride report so far. Keep it coming.
enjoying the heck out of your RR, skierd!! wow!
Keep it coming dude, great RR
Excellent RR. Waiting for the next installment.
Day 5 - More Tennessee
Up at dawn again and on the road by 7:30am. Some of my favorite riding was early in the morning before the world had woken up...
Not that there was much to be woken out here. One of the nice things about this route is the rarity of being around other vehicles. I saw just enough cars, trucks, and tractors to keep me honest coming around corners, beyond that I was mostly alone on the road (and loving it).
Lots of Tennessee has been paved unfortunately, and they're working on paving more of it all the time. One of the few bits of gravel left:
And the first brown moment of the trip:
Looks innocent right? Just a stream rolling over concrete? Nope, this was the first of the infamous TN water crossings. I think at one point I was perpendicular to the road it was so slick, made it across though! Seriously, think wet ice with slimy snot on top, coated in teflon, and you're getting close.
A short while later I decided to take a breather under a pair of bridges. There was a boat ramp leading down to the shore where there was some nice shade, so I stopped and ate a quick snack and relaxed.
More water... very gunshy now going across, but this one turned out to be nothing.
Saw this one out of my mirror as I went past, so I had to go back and try it too. This was deeper than any of the other TN crossings, and was rough getting across as it wasn't paved or covered in smooth stones like the others, but I had traction so it was pretty mild overall. Fun through.
More of this endangered species
Another false alarm...
Uh oh, here we go. I've seen this one before.
Stopped, got out and walked it. Just as slick as the first one, except the bottom was smooth river rock covered in slime and moss. As slick, if not slicker. Found a place I thought was a little less slick and decided to try to ride it across...
Was it trials perfect? Hell no! But my ass stayed on the bike the whole way and it moved across under its own power. And didn't go down.
Another false alarm, pretty routine.
Under the Natchez Trace
So I'm feeling pretty good about myself. Making good time, no crashes at the slick crossings, and its a beautiful sunny da.... wait what the hell is that.
Ah dammit... This was by far the worst of the crossings. I've seen so many ride reports of people falling on this one, like just about everyone. I wasn't about to join the club so I walked it again. Slicker, faster moving water, and deeper. But I made it just as easily as the last one.
TAT - 0, me - 3 ... for now. The trail would get her revenge later...
Ended the day in Savannah, TN and grabbed a hotel because my boots were soaked again and I wanted to dry them out and take a hot shower. Also the skies started threatening t-storms, and I did not want to be out in it if I could avoid it. Regardless, I was happy to be almost out of Tennessee and with luck I would be in Arkansas tomorrow. 330 miles today.
Great report and shots. Love it.
So how is the seat on that WR? Your daily mileage is pretty good for a small bike and I see you had a black sheepskin on it. Do you think that helped a lot? Did you change the gearing on the bike from stock? How does the bike keep up at hiway speeds?
Great report, can't wait for the rest.
The sheepskin helps a lot in my opinion, at least on longer rides. I don't use it around town, just when I know I'm going to be riding all day. Works just as advertised I guess, the wool keeps the seat cooler and more importantly about 1/2" wider side to side yet doesn't get in the way off road. The seat itself is fine for my butt, but it does take a few thousand miles to break in (and for your ass to break in to it).
Stock gearing is 13/43, I went to 13/47. It'll crawl at 5mph in first gear and cruise all day at 65mph on the highway with that gearing. I never had to really fight to keep it in the 60-65mph range, but with a 20+mph head and cross winds at times plus gusts it got interesting occasionally in the plains.
This rawks, keep it coming. Great to see you doing it on a small displacment bike.
Yeah, that's the place. I lived down the other side of Bosley, down near Eudowood(sp) plaza when I went to TSU.
'course, this was in the '80's.
Does the WR250 have a 6-speed trans?
yep, fuel injected too.
Ifin I can get my legs to grow a little in next year or so may
have to have one!!!!! Might anyway!!
LOL Like the part where the garmin leads down the rabbit hole -- reminds me of the part in Zen & the Art of Moto Maint where he describes that exact situation.
Thanks for the scoop on the Hennessy, been on the fence about those for a couple years. BTW this will add 10 degrees to the first half of the nite:
Day 6 - Get me the hell out of Tennessee and get to the big river
Woke up with a decent hangover thanks to eating at a decent restaurant called Uptown the night before (http://www.uptowntn.com/home.asp), ended up drinking a bottle of wine with dinner after a 2 beer appetizer.
Thats ok though, it decided to pour down rain first thing in the morning, so I slept in a little.
Waiting out the storm
Cleared up, mostly around 10:30 and I was on the road by 11.
Oops, not quite yet. About 20mins later, another storm rolling through, ended taking shelter at this body shop:
If you're ever near Savannah, TN and need body work, stop in and see these guys. Very nice, old school run type shop and were very nice to let me cower in one of their bays, stink up their waiting room, and read their magazines.
I ended up dodging storms all day, fortunately the trail swung me between and around the rest of the rain and I stayed dry the rest of the day.
Western TN was such a disappointment. Why? They're paving it. 80-90% of TN was paved, much of it was obviously in the last few years as well. The last 70-80 miles were almost completely paved and treeless (I guess from logging?) and as such it was kinda miserable riding. Fortunately, just before the border, it turned back into dirt... and then suddenly...
turned red. Welcome to Mississippi!
Got my first taste of how the roads would be for the next 300+ miles: 2-8" of dirt and gravel dumped on the road and left to sit. Great for cars, great for drainage too I guess, not so great for a motorcycle. At least the storms kept the weather cool...
Had another brown moment, or more accurately a black and yellow moment, shortly after taking the above picture. I hit a bee at 40mph, stung me in my neck when I hit it, went down my jacket, and stung me 3 more times before I could stop the bike and get the little fucker out. No more (stinging) insect encounters after that, though I did run into a june bug (bounced off the armored knuckle on my gloves, and it still smarted) and hit a few big horseflies along the way. I started wearing my 'stich scarf to keep the bastards off in the buggier area.
Most of Mississippi was pretty nondescipt fields and country lanes. As I approached the River, it got better though.
Thanks to another ride report, I bypassed the first of the two main bridge closings without incident. Then I came to the other one that most people say you can ride over (gotta love all the tire tracks).
Note the kudzu reclaiming the road... I decided not to risk it, there were a bunch of loose nails on the former bridge surface and I didn't trust my riding abilities that late in the day to get over the assorted bits of lumber other riders had used to get across, especially since the detour was only a few miles.
Getting flat... and hot...
Here's something I was really looking forward to, riding the levee roads:
Easy riding, but fun because you're so much higher than the surrounding land. Great views and cool to be off the main roads again.
Back on the highway and there... can you see it?
Ahh.. the bridge to the west, across the Mississippi River! But for now, tonights destination is in sight:
Stayed at the Isle of Capri casino. Can't beat $40 a night, my low for the trip, with an included all-you-can-eat buffet and comp drinks if you gamble a little. Also can't beat the parking, right up front at the hotel entrance:
My night ended up costing me about $15 total as I won $25 on the slots.
The food was decent at the buffet, wasn't expecting much for the price honestly. Got to see a bunch of country ass people, and the absolute fattest family of four I've ever seen. Each, individually, was so fat that they couldn't sit at the same table together, the mom, dad, son, and daughter had to each get their own table to fit their disgustingly fat asses. And the mountain of food each required, of course.
I was less than pleased when the fire alarm when off at 4:30am, but all in all it was a decent place to stay, considering the price. There certainly wasn't anywhere I'd trust to stay in Helena, Arkansas, just across the river, thats for damn sure.
Great ride report & looking forward to reading more!
Interesting that you don't hate the stock seat. I spent maybe 4 or 5 hours on mine (WR-X) today, and was really happy to get home and off the bike this evening. Overall, I think the stock seat is too soft. Is the sheepskin making that big a difference for you?
Those pictures look familiar.
This picture is actually that parking lot right there by the bridge on route 80.
This one was from about a year ago when I was riding with a friend up there.
There are some beautiful places on the blueridge parkway, I'll ride a lot more of it some day, after all I'm not too far from it!