Marilyn Across America

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by fletcherguitar, Dec 6, 2019.

  1. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
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    92
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    Arizona
    upload_2019-12-6_9-48-27.png


    Preface


    Travel by two wheels is like a song. The road, like lyrics, takes you somewhere. Sometimes, to a place you weren’t expecting.


    Stay tuned for day 1.
    #1
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  2. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter Supporter

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    I'm tuned !!!!!!
    BigDog
    #2
  3. haystack

    haystack Just ride

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    :robin:strum:drums
    #3
  4. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

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    Apr 15, 2014
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    Marilyn gets around.



    Line many on this site, motorcycles come and motorcycles go. "Marilyn" has certainly worn more than one set of clothes, but no matter her attire, she has faithfully taken me on ride after ride, through the lower 48, British Columbia, Alaska and New Zealand.

    Pavement had always been her dance floor of choice, but in 2015, inspired by Mark "Big Dog" Sampson, Marilyn donned a pair of knobby tires, shook aside her old tarmac ways and pointed a 21 inch front wheel towards the Trans-america Trail.

    A relationship was ending. A career was in flux. I needed a new horizon, and thanks to Mark, I knew just where to find it.

    There is a song called “Rusty Cage” with a lyric saying: “I’m gonna break, I’m gonna break my, I’m gonna break my rusty cage and run.”

    So, run we did. Marilyn was now a 2008 Yamaha WR250R.



    upload_2019-12-8_17-50-39.png


    Stay tuned for a first day on the T.A.T. that would prove to be the perfect beginning to the nearly perfect ride.

    Attached Files:

    #4
  5. borderlinebob

    borderlinebob Been here awhile

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    I’m tuned.

    .:strum
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  6. Aikenrunner

    Aikenrunner 18 KTM 690 Enduro, 14 CB500X RR Supporter

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    I'm following.
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  7. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona
    A motorcycle rider walks into a bar. The perfect beginning for a joke. This motorcycle rider walked into a bar/restaurant after having ridden 141 miles of boring pavement from Atlanta, Georgia to Tellico Plains, Tennessee and doesn’t find a punch line. Instead, he finds a fellow off road rider. One who has not only ridden the entire Trans-America Trail, but who offered to put me up for the night and share his experience of riding the Trail.


    A huge thank you to Rick!


    Meeting him was just one of several chance encounters during this ride that convinced me not only of the goodness of people, but of the truly small world of off-road riding enthusiasts.


    Rick's garage (Image 1) and house (Image 2), overlooking the Little Tennessee River. The perfect way to begin the Trans-America Trail. Rick had years of off-road experience. I had one month. His advice: “Ride carefully and E-mail me if you make it”. That was an e-mail I wasn’t at all certain would ever be sent.

    The view from Rick’s property. The perfect start to my ride.

    upload_2019-12-9_17-33-42.png
    Before meeting Rick, I had spent the day riding from Atlanta, Georgia to Tennessee. It was a day where I learned that while the WR250R surely shines off-road, its interstate highway manners are not the stuff of legend. I should have taken back roads. Lesson learned. The Trans-America Trail, at the time began in Tennessee. After my ride it was extended. Today it begins at the Atlantic Ocean, making it a true sea to sea ride.


    On the second day of my ride, Rick led me from his house to the start of the T.A.T. I noticed that he rode with a confidence and ease that I wisely didn't try to emulate.


    Once on the trail, he waived me alongside, lifted his visor and said, “Have fun, and good luck. Let me hear from you. Especially if you make it. It's sort of late in the season.”


    The look on his face, said it all. Good luck rookie. But he was polite about it. And yes, it was late in the season to be heading towards the Rocky Mountains. I was going to need a fair amount of luck to avoid early snow near the Telluride, Colorado section of the route.
    #7
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  8. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
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    Day 2 on the T.A.T.

    Tennessee measures four-hundred and thirty-two miles from the Blue Ridge Mountains of its North Carolina neighbor, to the Missouri River, which defines its eastern border.


    In this section of the route, the gravel roads are well maintained and lined with trees of all sizes. The sheer magnitude of tree types as it winds through the state is mind boggling. Short leaf pine, chestnut, oak and a hundred-forty-seven more varieties provide both shade and peripheral structure to the rural roads.


    This section of the trail is smooth and welcoming, providing an easy, get to know you sort of feeling for both motorcycle and rider. A perfect way to begin a long dual sport ride.

    upload_2019-12-13_5-13-1.png
    Riders making early morning or late afternoon miles are likely to see white tailed deer, racoons and perhaps a red or grey fox.


    The route passes a log cabin. It’s six miles from paved roads. It’s old. It’s quiet and it was for sale when I passed though. The cabin is approximately 80 miles west of Jack Daniels’ distillery.
    upload_2019-12-13_5-13-23.png


    Just where everyone wants to live.
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    Day 2 ended reluctantly. I had ridden through approximately two-hundred miles of Tennessee bucolic scenery. I could easily have ridden longer. The bike was flawless. The newly installed seat by a company called Seat Concepts was very comfy. The gravel roads were easy and the sun was shining, temperatures in the high seventies. I liked this sort of travel. The pace was slow enough to enjoy the show as it unfolded through the visor.


    My previous experience with motorcycle travel had always been in a sport touring vein. Riding with intensity. It was a mix of hard charging corners and slightly excessive speed. This off-road ride quickly became alluring in its own right. No more did I care about speed. In fact, speed became something to avoid, knowing very well that my abilities were more in line with the stop and smell the roses variety than anything remotely resembling a race.


    I didn’t need a race like pace. I didn’t need to ride like I was going to a fire. I needed a slow burn, an inner billow to fuel the forge of change.


    Hours and hours working through the differences of trail condition, watching the sunlight filter its rays through tall Pines, easing the throttle on and off, using front and rear brakes, standing to lower the bikes center of gravity when necessary; all of these efforts big and small were gradually grinding away the stresses of past decisions. Like a grist wheel turning cereal grain into fine flour, the road was polishing the ragged edges of an inner dialogue filled with tension, always seeking reasons, answers.


    I tell myself to ride and not to worry about miles, or destination or failure. Just ride. Those tall Pines and the light they filter are reason enough.
    #8
  9. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona
    Day 3 on the T.A.T.

    The T.A.T. briefly dips southward into Mississippi. I’m sure it’s a straight flush kind of state, full of open road scenery and happy people. For me, Mississippi dealt a losing hand of Mud. It was the kind that sneaks up on you like a bitchy brown witch, her broomstick ready to fly up your....exhaust pipe. Mississippi back country, after a gentle rain, is a tease. Looks like a babe. Acts like a witch.


    There had been a light drizzle last night, nothing really impressive; the pavement is now bone dry. These rural dirt roads used that drizzle to coat themselves in a nice slippery layer of slime. Just when the section ahead seems dry and firm, even at a slow twenty-five miles per hour, holy mother of Jeee-zus. Feet down for outriggers, handle bars sideways, whooaaa. Well, you get the point. No crash. But close. If someone had filmed this day, it would have looked like a cartoon character.


    Stop. Re-group. Plot an alternate course. Ponder just what an overloaded two-wheel, top heavy S.O.B. this motorcycle resembles. In undressed form, it’s normally not too heavy, but loaded with camping gear, stacked high, it would be unwieldy to pick up after a mud slide. So, I decided to lighten the load; by shipping home twenty pounds worth of shite. The Brits like that word. Shite. Emphasis on long “I”. Like bite. And the bike, with less shite will be almost right.


    So, tonight, in western Mississippi, I rolled the bike, right, into a hotel room and the weight reduction surgery was completed.

    upload_2019-12-13_23-15-57.png



    Liposuction without the expense. I shipped home the jet boil cooker, the folding cup, the plate, two weeks’ worth of freeze-dried food, spare front and rear wheel bearings, large tent, two pair of jeans, five T-shirts, spare chain, huge winter gloves, spare camera and a host of other small useless tidbits.


    Today, before finding the hotel, while in very rural Mississippi, I came across a rural cemetery dated 1843. It’s located mid arch along a winding section of a laid back dirt road. Its occupants long ago having left this world.

    upload_2019-12-13_23-16-55.png

    The first motorcycle was invented in 1885. Those souls in the Mt. Pleasant cemetery never rode one. Nor drove a car. They rode horses. They walked. They grew their own food. Few had the luxury to imagine free time. What would they think about a man riding this machine past their final resting place?


    Along the road of life, it's best to pursue your own imaginings early and often. Eternity is waiting. Peaceful though the resting place may be.




    #9
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  10. Ladybug

    Ladybug Bug Sister Supporter

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    Subscribed :lurk
    #10
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  11. i4bikes

    i4bikes Been here awhile

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    I'm in. Like my TAT reports.
    #11
  12. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter Supporter

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    18D61C12-D319-4E29-AA8D-113383C2C750.jpeg Hey Jeff,
    Me and Debi were at Sam Correro’s house the last few days and I was telling him about you and pointed him to your story.......so hope he reads it when he gets time. 80 years old and busy as a beaver.
    I love the TAT sign in his front yard (ground zero).
    Headed south down thru Mississippi today......will look for your muddy tracks.:lol3
    Be headed West later.
    #12
  13. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona
    That is such a great photo of you you guys. He is an inspiration for sure.

    Samantha and I are hanging out in Arizona, mostly on the golf course and on a quarter horse, for Sam.
    #13
  14. Fireman1000

    Fireman1000 Long timer

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    Location:
    Gray GA
    Looking forward to riding along.
    #14
  15. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona
    day 4 on the T.A.T.

    upload_2019-12-19_8-3-16.png

    Somewhere along the route from Mississippi to Arkansas there is a sign. Who wouldn't want to live on bugger hollow.

    Today, I stopped for gas at a small rural store.


    “You pass them loggin’ trucks?” That’s what the white-haired gent at the gas station asked, as I paid him for three gallons of high-octane unleaded gas.


    “I did,” I replied.


    “Just cleared some of my property.”


    “How long have you owned the land?” I asked.


    “Been in the family for ‘bout a hundred years I guess.”


    He then asked me two more questions. Was I riding the Trans-America Trail (T.A.T. for short)? And, what was Georgia all about, after eye balling my license plate?


    I had said, “Yes,” and added, “Peaches, humidity, Yellow Jackets, bulldogs and other exaggerations.”


    The lady behind the counter then asked me to sign a ledger. A list she had begun after they noticed a string of smelly, over packed motorcycle riders, buying gas, then darting down the gravel road beside the rural station. Eighty-two riders had signed the ledger, with four columns; name, city, date and type of motorcycle. Two were a couple, a husband and wife from London, England. Most of these riders travelled in groups of two to three. All beguiled by the beauty of back road America. Hundreds more had surely passed and not signed the leger. Looking back, I don’t even remember where this occurred. But I’m glad it did.


    As we spoke, she said she often wondered how many of the eighty-three names had reached the end of the Trail, in Coos Bay Oregon.


    Then she smiled, saying, “I guess everyone reaches the destination they are meant to reach.”


    I bid her goodbye and wondered where my own ride was destined to end. the last time I was in this state, I had a triumph wedged to the back of a truck camper.
    upload_2019-12-19_8-0-35.png

    It was a fine way to travel, no campground or hotel needed. But, I digress.....


    Arkansas calls itself “The Natural State” and the eastern Arkansas Section of the Trans-America Trail proved the slogan true. The trail was remote and lined with trees. Some of the tree lined roads had just been strewn with freshly laid thick gravel. Gravel is natural. Gravel, if deep, is deeply natural. Deep gravel deeply sucks. When freshly laid, it deeply sucks on steroids.


    Riding a motorcycle on freshly laid thick gravel, for this rookie off-road rider was an experience in goofiness beyond measure. The front tire bobbed and weaved like a prize fighter just before he hit the canvas head first.


    I felt like I was being teased and tested as if I had time travelled directly into an old television kung-fu episode.


    “When you can take the gravel from my butt, grasshopper, you are ready.”



    Weeks later, a fellow rider who I met at a gas station looked down at my tires.


    “What air pressure are you running in the gravel and sandy sections?” He asked.


    “I think the tires are rated at 35 P.S.I.” I reply.


    “No, I mean, how much do you lower the pressure for the gravel and sandy sections?”


    “I’ve never lowered the pressure.” Says I.


    He tried to smile. He tried not to laugh. He didn’t really know what to say so he just nodded politely. I didn’t know enough to know that lowering the tire pressure creates a larger footprint for better traction in sand and gravel.


    I must admit. I rode the entire T.A.T. with about 35 pounds of air.


    Who knew?

    upload_2019-12-19_8-5-30.png

    This tire was five hundred miles from destruction. I had should have known. Rookie mistake.



    I’ve heard expert riders describe special techniques for riding deep gravel and deep sand. It’s taught in the CIA, Special Forces, MI-6, and the Israeli Seals. James Bond knew. The Terminator knew. I do not.



    After careening thirty or so miles through the gravel, I realized I wasn’t going to make my hoped-for evening destination of Clinton, Arkansas. And no, before you ask, I don’t know if it was named after Bill “Ahh did not have motorcycle relations with that woman,” Clinton.


    I decided to use a little-known southern riding trick. Approach road. If it’s fresh gravel, find a different road Bubba.


    Many roads parallel the T.A.T. Find one. Navigate back to T.A.T. Still deep gravel? Re-route. It worked for me.


    There was one particularly joyous section on this day’s ride that wasn't gravel. It was deep sand. I slowed way down and gassed it and dug myself a nice trench.


    Slow. Slow and slower.


    Yea, I know the experts downshift, rev it, and raise the front tire when riding sand. Ever notice how many broken bones the experts have?

    Maybe my mood was soured just entering the state. My ex was born there. Enough said. Arkansas can have their natural. As long as it’s packed down firm. Until then, find this boy some asphalt. Or fly me straight to the next state along the T.A.T., Oklahoma.

    The roads are as smooth or smoother than those of Tennessee and it’s easy to let one’s mind wander and one’s speed to increase. I nearly T-boned a wild turkey as I came around a corner. The air was filled with foul language as I rode past. (I couldn’t resist that.)


    I think Mr. Correro was having a good chuckle when he drew the route through Arkansas. When viewed from above, it resembles a maze drawn by a demonic twelve-year-old. It runs south, then west, then north, then back south, then just for the fun of it, turns east. After a couple hours of this, I pulled over, took out a street map and scratched my head. An easy detour off the T.A.T. would have me out of this state in no time. Maybe I could still make the high pass in Colorado before snow fall. During the paved road detour, I was once again reminded that making fast time on a small motorcycle wasn’t something I enjoyed. I was longing for a heavier bike.


    Careful what you wish for.


    Once I made it to Colorado, I would fall in love once again with the WR250R. I simply wanted my cake and to eat it too. Little did I know that fate soon had a larger motorcycle in store.
    #15
  16. Davidprej

    Davidprej Davidprej Supporter

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    Some of the best writing on this site. As the great Steve Martin said, "Some people have a way with words and some...oh, not have way". You sir, 'have way'.
    #16
  17. TaZ9

    TaZ9 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 29, 2007
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    Location:
    Northern Colorado
    Hi Jeff,
    I looked at your profile page and realized that we had meet at Bigdog's award ceremony at 3 Step.

    Mark and Sam are great guys and have inspired many of us to get up, get out and explore the amazing outdoors from the seat of a motorcycle.

    I knew you were a talented singer/entertainer, but didn't realize you were also a fellow advrider. I will follow along as it is winter here in Colorado and I too have a WR250R and have ridden western sections of the TAT.

    Ride safe,

    TaZ9
    #17
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  18. fletcherguitar

    fletcherguitar Marilyn Across America

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2014
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Arizona
    Hello taz9

    Big dogs evening was a special time. And hes a heck of a guitar player.
    #18
    TaZ9 likes this.
  19. TaZ9

    TaZ9 Been here awhile

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    May 29, 2007
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    Northern Colorado
    The show that you, Mark and the girls put on was great fun.
    #19
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  20. Ladybug

    Ladybug Bug Sister Supporter

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    I wish I had known about Big Dogs evening. I would have made the effort to be there. Oh well, I'll get to 3-step once of these days and I might run into Big Dog again somewhere.

    I'm sure enjoying this report. Keep the good stuff coming, I really like how you are telling the story of the things you learned along the way.
    #20
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