My first adventure ride - the TAT

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by PittsDriver, Jul 4, 2015.

  1. cpallen

    cpallen Nearly Adventurer

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    Because us folks in the west are busy riding the BDRs?
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  2. NicorAdv

    NicorAdv Been here awhile

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    No silly, it's because the trails on the map are all marked with one way arrows pointing west. :)

    the real reason is because when maps first came out, something about the way roll charts were marked with milage.
    something like that, think posted here but you have to go back years searching for it.

    The reason might be posted on Sam's TAT site.
    Ask Bigdogadventures here on site, he will know.
  3. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    Thanks for the kind words! No matter what you fly, even tactical jets, there's just nothing else like a Pitts to feel like the plane is integrated with your nervous system. It's the most honest and fun bird there is to fly! Complete freedom in all dimensions.

    As for why only east to west? How anti-climatic would it be to ride 5,000 miles in the dirt only to find yourself in Andrews NC? There's also something about the way the TAT unfolds over the ride from east to west that always left something more exciting ahead. Maybe that's because I'm a right coast person with a lot of experience riding in the Appalachians but if I rode it from Oregon toward home, I'd definitely skip Oklahoma again and after riding the Ozarks, probably would just jump off the TAT and head for Kentucky and West Virginia rather than ride Mississippi and Tennessee again.
  4. flyinturbo

    flyinturbo Been here awhile

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    Since I live in AZ, I'd like to string along a few of the BDRs north, catch the TAT, then BDR back to AZ. I honestly have no interest riding east of the mountains! (besides, the west coast is the best coast!).

    The connection I have with my bird is just hope. Launching out over the ocean on a 12 hour flight, I'm hoping the rest bunks are comfy and the catering is good! LOL
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  5. ChrisP11

    ChrisP11 Adventurer

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    Great RR, hopefully I didn't miss this, but could you compare and contrast Sam's TAT to KevinGPS's? I'm trying to make preparations for my own trip, and the whole GPS/tracks discussion is confusing? Is one better/easier than the other? I see you guys had both, was that a great advantage and did you do a lot of back and forth between the two?
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  6. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    I can see why you'd say that about it being confusing but in reality, it's less of an issue than you might be led to believe reading everything on here. It's an adventure and if you can let go of the notion that you have to faithfully ride every inch of "The Official TAT Route" (which changes from year to year anyway), you'll have way less stress and open yourself to just seeing whatever comes along as you move across the country. We did use both though tried to follow Sam's as much as our time allowed. There's a sometimes energetic argument about the gpsKevin tracks vs. Sam's that usually revolves around ethical or moral judgements. I'm not going to comment on that except to say that paying for Sam's tracks and maps and getting his advice from numerous calls to him personally was a great value and made our trip better. The two routes are at the same for much of the TAT but there are key sections that are different. We had kind of a flexible attitude about which route we followed or even jumping off the track to make up time in a few places. Having both sets of tracks was helpful when we were looking to get back on the TAT. More options is always better than fewer when you have decisions to make about weather, route condition, your schedule, and your mood (sometimes any mud is too much mud, you know?)

    I strongly recommend talking to Sam about your choices and make your own decisions. Again, we were very happy we bought Sam's products from him. His paper maps were way better than the stuff you find on Kevin's web site and we used them often for planning for food and gas and camping.
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  7. ChrisP11

    ChrisP11 Adventurer

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    Thanks so much for that analysis. I guess I'm a little too OCD about things, but I'm trying to figure out the technical side of navigating with the two tracks (or one track for that matter). I just placed my order for a Garmin 78 today, and I understand if you order either set of tracks, you simply install a card in your GPS and follow the line? Can anyone comment as to how they navigated day in day out? For instance, can both complete tracks be loaded on the 78? This will probably all clear itself up once I get the 78 and start playing with it. I've used a 62 in the past, but never really got into loading tracks and in general just found it not to be as useful as I hoped.
  8. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    I used Sams tracks in my old gps62, but maps come in handy. I remember one occasion when the purple line split a fork in the road. The maps solved the problem. I find a GPS is like looking at the world through a small tube. The maps give you the bigger perspective and help you orient yourself. Which maps?....doesnt really matter. You can't have a "perfect" trip. Just go!

    I just returned from a 6500 mile trip out west. As i reviewed my trip, i missed some things. But i realize, at the time, i was making the right choices and had a great trip. Perfect, no, but still great.
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  9. trikepilot

    trikepilot Been here awhile Supporter

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    I just finished the TAT - 6100 miles NC to OR. Feel free to pepper me with questions via PM or we can hop on the phone and go over details.

    I ran Kevs tracks thru NC and Sams everywhere else. They both work fine, but Kevs are "nicer" in the sense that they autoroute more consistently and he has more waypoints (food, gas, lodging, etc...) on them. I chose Sams cause I wanted to do the ID/OR section.

    Regardless of track choice, buy the Garmin 100k TOPO and load that on your device. It saved my bacon far too many times to count. I had no paper maps and would do the same again in heartbeat. The 100k TOPO has WAY more detail than any paper map you might have.

    I had both tracks in my Montana but I could only see one at a time. I rarely flipped back and forth - mostly when I was trying to solve Sams autorouting issues.

    Again.... so much goes into GPS'ing your way across a trip like the TAT. Happy to help. But don't so narrowly focus on your GPS screen that you miss the scenery.
  10. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    That's exactly it with tracks - you just follow the line. Sometimes that's a bit tough to figure out and there were a few places where I'd ride down a road a few hundred yards only to discover that I'd chosen poorly at the last decision point. No worries, just turn around and go back and make the proper turn. With just one GPS I did find myself zooming in and out a lot. I'd keep it zoomed in to 500' or 800' resolution to pick up on turns and then sometimes zoom it out to a few miles to see where the trail was taking us or if there was a choice that made more sense to get around an obstacle.

    It's an adventure! Some of the best and most memorable moments are going to be when, tray as hard as you might, things are going to go wrong. It's all part of the journey!
  11. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    You also want to think about what you'd do if your primary GPS craps out on you in the middle of a twisty, muddy maze of roads in the hills with no obvious route to follow. I carried a back up GPS loaded with the same tracks and maps. One of the other guys installed a Garmin cradle on his KLR and so we had my back up online all the time for hime to keep me honest in my navigation.
  12. sieg

    sieg Wearing out tires......2 at a time, day after day. Supporter

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    Why TOPO maps, don't the regular maps have the same roads on them? And don't the TOPO lines clutter the screen. Don't have a Montana but would like one, I thought you could show more than one track at a time on it.?
  13. cwegga

    cwegga Been here awhile

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    I'm not trikepilot, but I would prefer topo maps or satellite photos because you can tell which mountain you are on by comparing the shapes of the lines to the mountains around you when you are places with no roads that are big enough to show on the map. There are many places in the west where roads and trails don't show up on street maps. You will be traveling on some of those if you follow a cross country route designed to avoid paved roads. 100k topo maps will let you navigate when not on "roads" and will also include smaller roads and trails that aren't on standard GPS road maps most likely. Satellite photo maps would be the best option, but would be too big to store on any portable device for that big of a route and wouldn't display well on lower end simple GPS screens.
  14. trikepilot

    trikepilot Been here awhile Supporter

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    Cwegga is right on. The base maps that come from garmin only show bigger roads. This map info is virtually worthless on the TAT where you will be out in the boonies. The TOPO 24k is the most detailed topo avail but you cannot get one for the whole US. The 100k you can get for $95 and it covers the entire US. It has great details but not so much as to be cluttered. But it has a VERY accurate map of forest and back roads once you zoom in. I was consistently dumbfounded that this "road" I was on that was more of a track thru the desert or woods was actually accurately displayed by Garmin.

    So here are some examples of what I am talking about. There are two images below that are screengrabs from Basecamp. They both show the exact same section of Sams TAT that runs thru NM. The first image depicts what you see if you just use the native road maps that Garmin provides with its devices. The second depicts what you see when you have loaded the Garmin 100K TOPO software.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I have a Montana and I have not figured out how to put both Sam and Kevins TAT tracks on the screen at one time. I did not try to work on it for too long as I just did not find it useful. The screen is too small to really use effectively. I did have my travel laptop handy with Basecamp on it so I could see any combinations of tracks that I wanted. With the tiny screen on the Montana you are either fully at macro or fully at micro view when you are navigating. When I was faced with rerouting I had to take out the laptop so that I could use the bigger screen to figure things out. The 100k TOPO software was a critical piece of my TAT trip and saved my bacon more times than I can count
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  15. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    Trike, the short answer, and it's an easy one, is that if you follow Kevin's directions and load his Garmin folder on your SD card, his track basically becomes part of the base map on your display and isn't really seen as a "track" that can be loaded or unloaded. It's just an overlay in the base map and it'll always be there from now on until you remove it from the SD card. Sam's tracks don't work that way with out some conversion work that I wasn't willing to undertake so I loaded them as traditional track data. On my zumo/BMW Nav V, it will allow you to load as many tracks as will fit but will only display 15 at a time. So you have to get used to setting the next 15 tracks you want to display and when you get near the end of that, pushing them off the display to make room for the next set.

    What I liked about this set up of having both is that even though we were following Sam's route, if we came upon a place where Kevin's diverged or merged again with Sam's track, it was automatically just there to see. It made some of our reroute decisions much easier when needed.
  16. motowest

    motowest Two-wheeled Adventurer

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    Nice report... thanks for sharing your adventure
  17. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    Thanks, glad you enjoyed it. I've heard from a number of people that have gotten out to enjoy the TAT a) without riding every inch of it; and b) doing it in stages. Every once in a while I go back and read some of my favorite TAT threads including this one just to relive it again. I'm thinking, in another year or so, I just might do this whole ride again.

    Since this TAT ride, we did a TAT-like ride from Maggie Valley NC to Cooperstown NY in 2016. In 2017, we did the SEAT track around Georgia, through the panhandle of Florida, and back up into the hills through Alabama. This year, we're doing a ride from LA to Anchorage leaving in a few weeks. That trip through the great white north in April should be a pretty epic ride and I'll try to post up a report when I can.
  18. Vic5491

    Vic5491 Been here awhile

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    How were the three rides you mentioned above? Links to RRs? Specifically, what was the TAT like ride from Maggie Valley to Cooperstown? I have not heard about that one.
  19. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    Here's my RR on the SEAT:

    http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/seat-tet-s-ride-report.1253115/

    On the ride from Maggie Valley to Cooperstown, I stitched together some of gpsKevin's TAT with the MAT1 track with the TPAT track to get up to the NY border and from there had intended to ride the MAT2 track but ran out of time and bailed out to see the baseball Hall of Fame. On the way back south, we went through Punxatawney PA on the day of the annual Phil Phest in September where they administer the elixir to Phil that keeps him alive forever. There just happened to be a filming crew there doing a movie about Groundhog Day and we ended up in it. If you watch Animal Planet on Feb 2, you'll see a group of dorks hanging around outside Phil's habitat and talking to his handler - that would be us. For some unknown reason, that kind of serendipitous stuff happens to us way more often that we have any right to expect. I started a RR on here but never finished that one. Maybe I'll cycle back to it sometime.

    We're leaving in about 2 weeks for the LA to Anchorage ride. That should be epic enough for a ride report if my muse blows in my ear.
  20. Vic5491

    Vic5491 Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the SEAT RR! And since I hate sand, it was very helpful to know where all of that was.

    Do you have the tracks you used on the NY run? If so, how about sharing them with us so we don't have to do all of the piecing together that you have already done.