My first adventure ride - the TAT

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

  1. One Less Harley

    One Less Harley OH.THAT'S GONNA HURT

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    That's a beautiful plane, my second favorite plane. P51 is 1st.
    #61
  2. Shivanshu

    Shivanshu Been here awhile

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    Good one pour more pictures. KLR is my favourite, though I still have to buy it.
    #62
  3. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    Isn't it everyone's? One of these days, it's on my bucket list to fly a P-51 or Corsair, or P-38 - one of the escorts that changed the war over Germany or in the Pacific.
    #63
  4. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    Tincup was closed when we left Salida. Most of that area around there was buried still in mid-June. Someday I'll get back out there on a smaller bike hauling less and spend some time romping all over that area between St. Elmo and Lake City. I also hear that Engineer Pass is quite a handful as well. We skipped it and turn down toward Silverton but I'm getting ahead of myself.

    The next parts of the ride took us on a TAT track that looped north of Salida and back into town. This was a very beautiful ride on reasonably good quality County dirt roads. This is where my buddies left me - stay tuned for the next installment :ear
    #64
  5. Tommyturtle

    Tommyturtle Been here awhile

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    As per Juno, I'd love to see the daily mileages/stops log too. I start the TAT in 3 weeks in Tellico Plains and I'm hoping to get the back broken/into Colorado reasonably quickly. I'm hoping to detour once in Co. and run the Heart of the West before dropping back to finish the TAT.

    Great RR and pics! :clap:clap:clap:clap
    #65
  6. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    You should seriously consider starting your TAT ride in Andrews. That first 81 miles that Sam's laid out is a very nice ride to get your TATitude on before heading out from Tellico Plains.

    Thanks for the kind words on the RR everyone!
    #66
  7. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    So skipping back a day on the trip, we did the TAT loop north out of Cotopaxi and back down into Salida. Sam had told us not to skip that loop and that it was a beautiful ride and he was right. We rose up into the hills and ambled along some fine unpaved roads over a few ridges and through a couple of really scenic meadows and met a guy named Bob. Bob was a guy doing the Trans Am Trail in a Polaris RZR with his dog. He looked to be about mid-60ish was it was his intent to do the entire TAT and camp along the way. Bob explained to us that when you travel the TAT in 4x4 RZR, you can carry a 10 man tent and a table and chairs. Bob said he loved the camping and if it was foul weather he'd just move his table and chairs in his tent and watch a movie until the weather improved. He looked pretty darn happy and self reliant but was using a set of maps that he'd gotten from Sam a year earlier. We passed along our intel from the new maps and Sam's advice and after chatting for a bit, he took off leading my 3 friends down the trail. I needed a few extra minutes to fuss with something and told them I'd follow. I had the route on my GPS but one of the other guys had a GPS with Kevin's routes loaded and I figured they'd follow Bob (who was on the TAT tracks) or they'd stop when they got to the first route decision and I'd catch up.

    I packed up my stuff and lit out haulin' ass to catch my friends until I came to a place where the reasonably well groomed road continued straight but the TAT tracks made a hard left onto a gnarly looking single lane dirt road. I stopped there for a few seconds and my first thought was there's no way they made this turn unless Bob led them there. I puzzled over what to do for another few seconds. If they went straight, worst case, they're at least together and we'll eventually figure out how to meet up if we're ever both in cell phone coverage at the same time again. If they turned then I'll catch them. And if I went straight off the TAT and they made the turn, then I'd be the one off course making things worse for myself. So staying on the TAT, I rode on for quite a ways and the road got muddy and rutted up and a bit more gnarly and I started thinking if crash back here there's no way they'll find me for several hours and I started getting ticked. After all, I'd only been stopping for them at every freakin' turn for the last 2,000 miles and the first chance they had to ditch me, off they went. The worse the road got, the more pissed I got. Until, I rode out into an open meadow that was maybe a half mile across and way over there, here comes my buds from my right on an intersecting path to the trail I'm on and I hear over the intercom sync up:

    Them, "Hey, how'd that happen!?"

    My reply, "Because you idiots didn't wait when there was a route decision and you left the TAT."

    After some venting and whining like school girl about how I could have been left for dead, my buds finally apologized and the ride went on - no harm done.

    There were some great views and riding on this loop and I could live here riding everyday in this area of Colorado:

    [​IMG]

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    #67
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  8. Outwardbound

    Outwardbound Been here awhile Supporter

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    How many miles a day did you make ?
    Did the daily distance thing go as planned ?

    Great RR
    Next Summer I'm retired. It's first on my bucket list
    #68
  9. 250Keith

    250Keith Been here awhile

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    Fun RR!!!!:clap I'm only on the third page. i'm in.
    #69
  10. Bronco638

    Bronco638 Nobody Home

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    I rode OK, NM and CO a few years ago and really liked OK. Granted, my 'weather timing' was perfect as I rode in mid-July, the temps were in the low 90s, I had a tail wind and low humidity. But ditching "400 laser straight, dusty, gravel road miles" for "380 laser straight, dusty, paved road miles" doesn't make much sense to me.

    Also not quite sure how you got on a locked gate road in NM. To this day, I can route myself along the TAT, in NM, by using Google Maps. There's only one spot where the TAT goes thru/near a ranch; it's where the notorious "biker route" hand-made sign can be found. :scratch

    I opted for a DR350SE and thought it was perfect for the TAT. I don't think I would have taken my DR650 (too heavy especially loaded). In retrospect would you have packed lighter? It seems like the bikes are carrying quite a bit of kit.

    Here's my DR at the Shell station in Newkirk OK:

    [​IMG]
    #70
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  11. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    It saved a day, maybe more, in the schedule.

    It was on a side leg noted on gpsKevin's tracks as a "red" i.e. more challenging route. After riding across OK, we were up for a challenge and it ended at the locked gate and determined rancher.

    [​IMG]

    My weapon of choice before we left might have been a DRZ400 or something similar but there was a rationale that made some sense behind all four of us riding the same bikes. I have one saddlebag loaded with all my bike maintenance and spares. One saddlebag is my personal items (clothes, toiletries,etc). And the top bag is all my camping gear. In retrospect, the KLR seems to be the perfect compromise for the TAT. It hauls like a mule and will cover just about anything. Pushing my, or the bike's, performance limits on treacherous tracks isn't high on the priority list when we're 3,000 miles in to a nearly 5,000 mile journey. So the KLR is a fine steady-as-she-goes kind of ride.
    #71
  12. pohnjarker

    pohnjarker Adventurer

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    great read!!
    #72
  13. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    Having gotten over Marshall Pass early in the morning, we stopped in Sargents where we'd been informed there was good eats. Maybe later in the day because all we found was a closed deli in a convenience store and I had one of those microwave breakfast sandwiches. While we were working out our route and eating, the cyclist walked in and we spent some time talking to him about his ride. Man, just when you think you're doing something epic, you meet someone like these guys who check out of their daily life to ride a mountain bike from Banff to Mexico in a race. Amazing.

    We made our way down toward Lake City but took a detour through an area called Powderhorn. I didn't snap any photos there and I'm hoping my buds will send along what they have because if I ever go mysteriously missing, this is where I'll likely be. There's a valley between the mountains there with a beautiful trout stream running through the bottom, aspens and evergreens everywhere on the hills - it was stunning. If I can get those losers to send me their photos, I'll post them up.

    We pulled up to a burger/BBQ joint and settled in for lunch which turned a bit more exciting that our normal road house lunch. While we were eating there, a very large man stumbled in the door and said to nobody in particular that he wasn't feeling too good. A couple of my friends jumped up and had the waitress call 911, got him to sit, and take an aspirin and get something to drink but this guy was going down fast. He ended up in the floor before the paramedics arrived and before we got our check, there was several paramedics, the town sheriff, and an emergency MD on the scene. They got him on a stretcher and off to the hospital and they explained to us that there was an ultra-marathon planned over the next day or two so the town was flush with EMT folks looking for something to do. This guy had been hiking up on the high ridges all morning and obviously wasn't up to it and the doc said that he'd probably hyperventilated and wasn't having heart problems. They thanked my friends for providing some muscle to get the big guy on the stretcher, we paid our bill, and hit the road again.
    #73
  14. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    When we set out on this TAT adventure, we'd decided before hand that we were not going to have the time to ride the entire way. We committed to a two-phase TAT adventure riding phase 1 in June and going back after the heat of the summer to pick it up again in late August/September. We thought we'd store the bikes somewhere for the summer, in a public storage unit if needs be and fly home from phase 1. We also weren't very sure how good a time we'd make on the trail so we left from home with nothing more than a hard stop date for when at least a couple of us had to be back home and productive again. When we left Andrews, we had 10 full days of riding ahead of us leaving one day on the back end to get the bikes stored and sorted, and catch a flight back home. We were hopeful for reaching Moab with a day to spare because we had a family member living near Provo that was going to store the bikes for us in a secure place and get us to the SLC airport.

    By the Friday when we were having lunch with the guy on the floor in Lake City, we had Moab and SLC in our grasp but it was going to be a push to get to Moab on the TAT and then get ourselves up to SLC. When we set out from lunch in Lake City we decided to take gpsKevin's green (easier track) to make some time and the next thing we knew we were climbing up into Cinnamon Pass following green bread crumbs on the GPS. I guess that's a confession that we had meant to go easy and found our way on the most challenging part of our entire journey by mistake. Funny how things work out because we all considered it the most awesome ride any of us had ever taken together to go over that pass. But quick it was not (foreshadowing of decisions to come).

    When the terrain started getting steeper, we knew this wasn't the easy track we thought it might be. We started seeing quite a few Polaris RZRs and apparently there was a 4x4 rally there over the pass and we must have passed a dozen of them going up.

    [​IMG]

    I stopped on the road going up and shot this brief video to show that getting bumped off the downhill side would be a bad day, I'm standing in the left track of the road when I shot this video.

    (click to play video):
    [​IMG]

    The road was narrow with lots of loose rock, some as big as basketballs littering the way and then there was the sharp uphill switchbacks that were often pretty rough as well. Somewhere along here I really started to love the fact that I'd put that -1 tooth countershaft sprocket on my bike and I was able to hustle on up to the top without a drop or close call. In fact, given that a week earlier none of us had any experience like this on heavy adventure bikes, I consider it quite remarkable that none of the four of us had a drop or close call all the way up. But I'd also say that it had our full and focused attention too.
    #74
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  15. poppawheelie

    poppawheelie Long timer

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    Tincup is definitely worth a visit. Be sure and visit the cemetery and find out why it's grouped into 4 separate mounds.
    Engineer's pass is easy if there's no snow on it. Only time I didn't make it is when it was covered in snow and slick ice.
    #75
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  16. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    Alrighty now, I've got some pretty bad video of a bit of our journey up to the top of Cinnamon Pass. It was shot on a dash cam type camera that was poorly aimed and hadn't had its lens cleaned, well, probably since we started the ride:



    It's hard to watch and you certainly won't hurt my feelings if you skip watching it but it's all I had. My GoPros were dead by the time we got there - shame on me. Here's us on the top of the pass:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

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    #76
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  17. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    We made our way down the west side of the pass taking the route into Silverton. It's not the TAT route but we'd all wanted to see the place and it was dinner time. We ended up at a brew pub watching the women's soccer team whoop up on the Chinese gals and had a chat about where we were headed next. We talked about camping north of Silverton, maybe up near Telluride but that would leave us with a very long day the next day. We'd probably have to skip a lot of the TAT between Telluride and Moab just to get there and on up to SLC by the evening the next day. Given that choice, since we'd run out of time anyway, we decided to hit the road that evening and ride by the most direct route to Moab. We got there late on a Friday night and let me just say that busting across the desert in the middle of the night on a KLR that gets a knobby induced tank slapper started at anything over 80 mph is an adventure in and of itself. But it left us with a whole day to sleep in, roam around Moab and see Arches NP, and motor on up to Provo to get the bikes secured.

    We were approaching Provo late in the afternoon and talking about all the crazy weather we'd seen on the trip from named storms in Mississippi and Arkansas to high gusty winds across Oklahoma. We'd ridden in some nasty hail on previous trips (they blame that on me) but someone said I must be loosing my "Rainman" mojo because we hadn't seen any on this trip. Not 5 minutes later, the sky started getting really dark and it smelled like it was going to be something special. It started raining on us hard enough for my buds to want to stop and put on their rain gear. Since I'm sporting a Klim superhero adventure suit, I'm just sitting there on the side of the road laughing at their antics when I start to see the weather bouncing off the ground around us - hail. OK, guys, let's get a move on. I can see blue sky just up the road. I'm sitting there while they're getting all dolled up in Frog Togs and it's starting to get painful getting hit with pretty good sized hail. Eff this, I take off and leave them behind and a mile up the road I'm in clear sky. I pull over and wait for them and after a few minutes, it starts to hail on me again and still no buds. So I crank up and take off again and get another mile or two down the road and stop. 5 minutes go by and finally they come riding up with some weird story about a car that was off in the ditch and people were stopping to help them. Check off the box labeled "Hail" for the phase 1 TAT adventure and I casually mention to them not to taunt me again on the weather.
    #77
  18. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

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    We ended up hustling through and skipping some of the last few hundred miles of TAT leading into Utah due to our schedule constraints. We were all looking forward to riding some of that and visiting the 3 Step Hideaway so when we go back out in a month or so, we're going to go back down and ride most of what we skipped before heading on out across Utah. Or that's the plan for now anyway.

    We were planning to head back out in mid-August but given the heat in Utah and Nevada then, I think we're now thinking around the first of September. When we go back out, we'll finish the ride to the Oregon coast which will be revisiting a place of great memories. Our first group ride together as a group was from Seattle to LA on the PCH and we all felt it was one of the most beautiful places we'd ever been.

    Here's the mileage and rough itinerary of our trip thus far:

    1st day Andrews to Tim's Ford State Park Camping, 280 miles

    2nd day Tim's Ford to Corinth Mississippi, 250 miles

    3rd day Corinth to Batesville - slowed by deep water and one nasty off - 180 miles.

    4th day Batesville to camping at Bayou Bluff in Ozarks, 334 miles.

    5th day through the Ozarks, one reroute due to blocked trail, and to Tulsa, 300 miles (we went here due to our decision to skip unpaved OK.

    6th day Tulsa to Boise City OK, 394 miles of very gusty, windy soul sucking riding.

    7th day included a side trip to Black Mesa, and dead end in New Mexico that rerouted, and a search for gas off the TAT, ended up in La Veta, mileage ??

    8th day La Veta to O'Haver on the Marshall Pass road, 204 miles

    9th day O'Haver Camp to Moab, 386 miles but we left the TAT north of Silverton and rode fast on pavement to get to Moab - as I mentioned our kitchen pass expiration was rapidly approaching.

    I also rode the section from Northern Virginia to Andrews and meandered on and off the gpsKevin's tracks, about 750 miles of riding over 2 days solo before day 1 mentioned above.

    So starting in Andrews, we did nearly 2,900 miles in 9 days of our modified TAT, skipping some gratuitous gravel including nearly all of Oklahoma and bypassing the TAT to the 3-Step Hideaway and going straight to Moab.

    I threw on a brand new set of tires in North Carolina - a D606 on the back and an MT-21 on the front. The rear is pretty well squared off and shot but the Pirelli on the front looks like it'll go the rest of the distance. New tires going on all the bikes before we start off again into the Utah play ground.

    One thing we're going to try to create is a more robust way of communicating with each other. The Sena intercom is OK for a 1/4 mile, even a half mile if it's wide open line of sight but when we're spread out on the trail that's not working. We're going to look into integrating a good quality FMS or GMRS radio with an SR-10 and hope we can get it out to a mile or two of range.

    The Delorme Explorer worked great for tracking the trip and reaching out to the home folks when we were out of cell coverage camping. It was comforting to know that we could have communicated with SAR resources if we'd needed it.

    The KLRs worked great and I'm not sure I'd change much about them or how we set them up. One thing would be a steering dampener but that's not going to happen before our phase 2 ride. The Wolfman luggage I had worked great - it was easy on/off the bike and stayed secure and dry during the worst weather and dropping it in a creek. My camping gear is a well sorted bit of kit that keeps me comfortable from freezing temps to 90+F nights.

    My friend's ribs are healing now that he's not tossing a KLR around all day. We started calling my Costco sized bottle of Advil our trail candy. I'll have to restock that for phase 2.

    That's about it for now unless I make some time to get through the gigabytes of video I shot. If I do I'll post it up here. Phase 2 starts around the end of August/early September to cross Utah, Nevada, California and Oregon. I know we're going to want to make a side trip down to Crater Lake so that'll be on the itinerary as well.
    #78
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  19. advmoto66

    advmoto66 Ride On!

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    "One thing we're going to try to create is a more robust way of communicating with each other. The Sena intercom is OK for a 1/4 mile, even a half mile if it's wide open line of sight but when we're spread out on the trail that's not working. We're going to look into integrating a good quality FMS or GMRS radio with an SR-10 and hope we can get it out to a mile or two of range."

    Take a look at these, I found these through another RR that went through Mexico on DS bikes.

    Here is the link - http://www.ruggedradios.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=763_764&products_id=1323


    #79
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  20. juno

    juno Long timer

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    Thanks for the updates and the mileage chart PD! That will come in very handy.
    That was a great report and I am looking forward to the second half!
    #80