TAT 2020 by a new ADVer

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by mallen416, Sep 5, 2020.

  1. Jedi2Rider

    Jedi2Rider Been here awhile

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    Me too! Same reasoning.

    I don't think you're at the good part yet. It's definitely after Battle Mountain! I think it was basically between Denio Jct. and Lakeview if I recall.
    #21
  2. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

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    Goo gone will take most anything off. Can be found in most auto parts stores. Great reading so far!
    #22
  3. mallen416

    mallen416 Adventurer Supporter

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    If I recall correctly from a map that I saw, Sam's old route stayed more in Nevada and went right through Denio whereas Kevin has you up into Oregon north of Denio before you drop back down into Nevada and a bit of California. Hopefully I get to do some of, or at least the landscape is similar to what you remember being the good part.
    #23
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  4. mallen416

    mallen416 Adventurer Supporter

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    DAY 9:

    When I woke up on this morning I could I already tell I didn't quite make it away from the storms. The skies looked like a gray blanket over everything, you couldn't even see separate clouds, it was all just gray. The skies proved inconsequential for the first part of the day, very gray but no rain. I passed by the TAT Shack and swung in to see what it was all about.
    IMG_20200826_123736.jpg

    I wasn't staying long so you guys get a fully geared up selfie.
    IMG_20200826_123859.jpg
    Just before lunch time the rain started. I was just about to the Oark Cafe and would push to there to get a bite to eat and hide from the rain for a little bit. The Oark Cafe is pretty famous as far as restaurants go along the TAT, it's always being recommended as a must stop for a burger. I was really looking forward to finally testing it out and it was definitely on the better end of burgers, but not the best I've ever had. The highlight of the stop was meeting Wes and his green DRZ (Klx400). He was doing the TAT from West to East so it was nice to get some pointers about the western portion from him.

    I bid safe travels to Wes as he headed to the TAT Shack to wait out the storms for a couple of days and I headed towards Oklahoma to try and run away from them. Before I could make it to Oklahoma I had one last challenge in Arkansas, Warloop Road. The road didn't start off too bad, but there was a couple spots where you went down hill over some pretty big rocks and drops. I made it through fine, but I'd say it was the hardest section yet apart from maybe Hurricane Creek road.

    I just crossed over into Oklahoma when it was getting time to set up camp. It was still raining and I still didn't feel like setting up camp in the rain so I headed a few miles north and stayed in a cheap hotel near Siloam Springs.

    275 miles


    DAY 10:

    I wasn't really looking forward to Oklahoma, I haven't heard a lot of great things about this portion of the TAT. A lot of people say It's all straight, dusty, boring gravel roads that could be worth skipping on the highway. I had already told myself going into it that I was going to stay off the highway and find the beauty of Oklahoma, I think having this mindset going in really helped. I was pleasantly surprised by my first taste of Oklahoma. The riding was still through the outer portions of the Ozarks, which didn't give you huge changes in elevation, but had a nice forested setting. I saw more big game animals through the first 6 hours of Oklahoma than I had anywhere else.

    At about 3:00 in the afternoon I emerged from the middle of a forest and all of a sudden I hit the Oklahoma everyone else was talking about. It was such a sudden change, behind me nothing but forest as far as you could see, and in front nothing but fields for as far as you could see.

    IMG_20200827_143939.jpg
    It's tough to see but that's all forest in the background

    IMG_20200827_144026.jpg
    From the same spot, only fields in front of me.

    Not long after I got into the fields, I ran through some rain for about 45 minutes. This time I enjoyed the rain for the cooling effect that it had. Almost all day besides for that 45 minutes was sunny and mid-90s, I'm used to the heat so it didn't really bother me much. The remainder of my day was spent riding down straight gravel roads, one stretch was almost 40 miles in a straight line.

    I know some people will camp out in the fields as far away from farm houses as they can, but I didn't want to camp in someone's field and have them roll up on me. Unfortunately, and I hated to do it when the weather was nice, that means a hotel for the third day in a row. Luckily Alva had a hotel I could stay in for only $35, nothing fancy but I'll take cheap over fancy every time.

    378 miles


    DAY 11:

    Most of the day was spent pounding out miles through Oklahoma. It was Friday and I had tires waiting in Trinidad I wanted to get on the next day while the shop was open so I had some miles to get through. Until early evening I was flying through more Oklahoma roads that mostly looked like this. IMG_20200828_171109.jpg
    The picture makes it look kind of soft, but it's almost all fast hard packed dirt and gravel.

    I made it to New Mexico that evening but first some thoughts about Oklahoma... As I said before a lot of people skip Oklahoma and call it boring, I'm very glad I didn't skip it. In the first section It was easy to see what made this state nice, there was plenty of woods through the Ozarks, winding forest roads, and lots of animals. The further you get into Oklahoma, the more Oklahoma it becomes. I won't lie and say it's not straight dusty roads, because it definitely is that, but that doesn't mean there isn't a certain type of beauty and enjoyment to be seen and had. It was fun to really put down the miles and just cruise through these back roads without seeing anybody for hours. There's something peaceful about just cruising through fields that really helps calm your mind and give you time to just think. I would highly recommend anyone doing the TAT not to skip Oklahoma and just go into it with the right mindset.

    As I entered New Mexico there was a definite change from flat fields to at first small hills, and then pretty soon bigger hills and buttes. Also no more than 5 miles from the border I saw my first of many pronghorn, I saw a couple dozen in the 70 or so miles I was in New Mexico. There was one hill not far into the state that when I came over I was met with a view that let me know this is definitely New Mexico and not Oklahoma anymore.
    IMG_20200828_183406.jpg

    Plus a crummy photo of my first pronghorn
    IMG_20200828_172544_1.jpg

    Not too far before hitting the Colorado border, Kevin's tracks had an option for a hard route. I figured going into this trip I would test most of these hard routes out, what's an adventure without a little challenge. I had already taken a couple of these hard routes and had good luck with them, not too challenging but a step up from most of the TAT. This was the toughest part yet, very rocky with some good hill climbs and lots of loose dirt. I was a little over halfway through when I hit a locked gate, it sucked but wasn't all that surprising after what I've heard about some of Kevin's routes. Now while the way in was tough, it had started to rain just before I hit the gate. This surprise rain turned loose dirt and rocks into mud and slick rocks, It gave me a few close calls and a lot slower trip back to the main route.

    At this point I had lost a good amount of time to this hard route and although it was getting dark I wanted to make it a little closer to Trinidad so I could get there early and get my new tires on. I made it about 2 miles away from the Colorado border before I called it a night and found a nice spot to wild camp again. When I went up the hill climb you hear about in some ride reports towards the end of New Mexico it was dark, but compared to the mud and slick rocks from earlier it seemed like a breeze.

    409 miles
    #24
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  5. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Just read through first two pages and I'm definitely in for the rest of the report. Serious props to you for taking this adventure on given your age and experience, there are many times I wish I had done something similar when I was just out of school before the job and life took me down different paths. Won't be able to do the TAT until I retire at this point.

    Nuts that you rode from Yakima to start the TAT, but a cool, crazy kind of nuts. And it's great to see you tackling the challenge on the WR; have the same bike and it's been incredibly reliable for the last 10k miles of my rides.

    Keep the knobby side down, look forward to what comes next @mallen416!
    #25
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  6. Jedi2Rider

    Jedi2Rider Been here awhile

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    Dude, you are seriously pounding out the miles! Hats off to ya.

    According to your GPS, what kind of average speed you running at?

    I like your attitude about Oklahoma. For me, the magic of the TAT is to go all the way across America, and to see and experience it in a completely different way. It's essentially recapturing the spirit of the pioneers, and that's a fundamental part of our history. When I cross Oklahoma next year, I will continually be thinking of them in their wagons doing maybe 20 miles a day...and they didn't have the luxury to complain or skip the muddy parts! So, no, I don't want to skip it. I want to experience it so I have just a little taste of what they did.
    #26
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  7. mallen416

    mallen416 Adventurer Supporter

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    My thought process was it's either now or in 40 years before I get the time and lack of other obligations to do this trip.
    #27
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  8. mallen416

    mallen416 Adventurer Supporter

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    According to my GPS, my average moving speed is right around 31mph currently. That's one way to think of Oklahoma and other tough parts as well... I had the opportunity a few years ago to spend a few days replicating the pioneers trip and I can't imagine doing that for months.
    #28
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  9. mallen416

    mallen416 Adventurer Supporter

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    Day 12:

    I woke up to what was a beautiful sunrise, just like most things pictures never do justice.
    IMG_20200829_063005.jpg

    I had about an hour and a half to go until I hit Trinidad where I would swing by the shop to get my tires, and maybe have them do an oil change depending how much they charged. When I arrived the shop said that my tires never came. This was quite the shock to me, I had watched the tracking up to when it said out for delivery. Apparently FedEx forgot to load my tires on one of their trucks somehow and due to it being close to the weekend it delayed but delivery by 5 days. There was no way for me to go pick my tires up from their hub so it was either stay in Trinidad for two more nights, or find some other tires locally.

    After calling around I managed to find a set of TKC80s that would work at a shop about half an hour away. Not necessarily my preferred tire, but they should get the job done. That shop couldn't fit me in until 1:00 so I hunkered down in a McDonald's since it was raining. Most of you probably already know this, but just in case, always buy tires online if you can because local shops will totally rip you off. The shop charged me almost twice what I could buy the tires for online, at least the labor wasn't too bad, something like a hundred bucks for installing both tires and an oil change.

    After I got my tire situation figured out, I was on my way. More easy gravel roads for most of the day. I passed through a small town called La Veta and was surprised to see a deer standing on the corner right when I rolled into town. I think I saw a dozen deer throughout the town in people's yards and just walking through the streets. This is the kind of town that would like to live in.

    I have sentimental affection for sunflowers so I really enjoyed the end of Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Colorado roads because you saw a lot of this
    IMG_20200829_171527.jpg

    I'm typically not one too take pictures of national forest or state signs or anything like that, but there was a nice spot that looked like it was made to park a bike right in front of this sign so I had to stop. I camped in San Isabel about 45 miles past La Veta at 9000ft elevation, the highest I'd ever camped.
    IMG_20200829_194813.jpg

    Even with the tire hassle I managed 221 miles
    #29
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  10. GelandeRoadie

    GelandeRoadie Been here awhile

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    Really enjoying your RR, nice job and thanks for putting in the effort. I too like the wide open expanse of country that to many can appear boring as well as the more typical post card type of scenery, beauty can be found in many places and the peace is not to be taken lightly. Safe travels.
    #30
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  11. Long Trail

    Long Trail ADV Ready

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    Thanks for the RR, really enjoying. I find it hard to pass up any story involving the awesome WR250R! The fact that you rode yours from the west coast to the east coast only to turn around and do it again on the TAT is truly spectacular.
    #31
  12. mallen416

    mallen416 Adventurer Supporter

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    DAY 13:

    A lot of the day was spent riding through National Forest on forest roads, at least when I wasn't making bad route choices. Those bad route choices were thanks to my it's not an adventure if it's not a challenge attitude. Up to this point I had taken almost all of Kevin's hard routes and not had much issue besides for the one locked gate in New Mexico, that all changed on this day.

    Nice and early in the morning after I was just getting into my groove I came across the first hard option for the day and decided to take it. It turns out that this one was all single track, my first experience with real single track. I realized pretty fast how much I rely on being able to move around a bit in grooves from car tires that are much wider than motorcycles, I had trouble at first staying in the single track rut. Just as I was starting to get better at that I came to some crazy steep, sharp, downhill switchbacks with big drop-offs in the middle of the turn. If I decided to try and go down these there was no coming back up, I surprisingly made the rational decision and turned back around.

    Later in the day I came across another hard option, this one had a name, Rainbow Trail. I figured what the heck the last one I may have been too hard, but I've had good luck besides for that so I'll try this. The direction you're heading has you starting where I believe most people finish this single-track trail. This section of the trail was full of rocks and roots that created large steps when you were going uphill, which I was most of the time. The rest of the ground was either loose dirt, or loose round rocks. I made it about 3 miles in and had one too many drops, so I finally turned around and managed to make it back out without dropping it once. After some research later in the day I found out this trail is recommended for dirt bikes only, not dual sports, and this section was the most challenging. Oops, live and learn I guess, at least everything else should seem easy compared to this.

    I was too focused on the riding and didn't get any pictures of either hard route. A LOT more time was lost than I would have liked on less than 15 mi of travel. The rest of the day was pretty unassuming, like I said earlier just a lot forest roads. I did end up passing the Continental divide while going over Marshall pass which was pretty cool.
    IMG_20200830_193349.jpg

    Not 5 minutes after I took that last picture I looked over and thought I saw a moose... "Wait, that can't be" is all that I thought to myself, but after doing a double take that was definitely a moose. It threw me off since I didn't think there were moose this far south. I later learned that they were reintroduced about 20 years ago and had taken off possibly a little too much in population.
    IMG_20200830_192515.jpg

    I ended up camping about 25 miles passed Salida, this night at around 11,000 ft elevation. This was a rough day, the single track really beat me up and I was frustrated with myself for trying to stick with it for a little too long. I went for a half hour or so jog to try and clear my head and let me tell you, running is a lot harder at that high of elevation, I was sucking air the whole time.

    189 miles


    DAY 14:

    *No pictures, I was too busy regretting my choices

    More forest roads to start the day, not a bad thing after the day before. It was nice to be able to just cruise on some roads without being constantly challenged past my abilities. Around noon I made it into Lake City and had a few different options of ways to take from there, I could go Kevin's route over Engineers Pass, Sam's over Cinnamon Pass, or Kevin had a route marked Alpine Trail. I had read in a few ride reports people recommending to take a day to do the Alpine Loop around Lake City and figured that is what Kevin's route must be. I was more wrong than I could have imagined.

    Not too long after jumping off of the pavement, Kevin's tracks led me straight into a stream that I rode through for a couple hundred meters. Unfortunately the far side that I was supposed to exit was washed away and had a couple foot step up to get out, that wasn't going to happen. As I was turning around I got stuck in the mud and slick rocks at the bottom of this stream. I tried lifting the rear wheel and moving it where I could get a bit more attraction, but it still wasn't enough. Luckily some park rangers were fishing not far from me and with a little help from them pulling on the winch rope that I brought I was able to get out. Apparently the motorcycle trail didn't go in this direction but turned before the stream, no idea why Kevin took this way.

    That was just the start of my troubles. Alpine Trail, unlike Alpine Loop was all single track again. The first few miles weren't too bad and I was thinking it's not what I was expecting but it was still enjoyable. And then I hit the switchbacks, again I did research after I took the trail and apparently there are over 100 switchbacks, many of which are recommended to do three-point turns through. I made it halfway before there was a spot to bail out, which I did as soon as I got the chance. It was going to get dark soon so I started making my way back to Lake City so I could do the passes the following day, I stopped at Arrowhead Lodge for the night. I really wanted a hotel since water had gotten inside my boots when I got stuck in the stream, and my clothes were drenched in sweat from Alpine Trail. It worked out perfectly too, there was a fireplace in my room that I dried my gear out in front of.

    172 miles


    DAY 15:

    I really needed this day to go well, two days before I had what I thought was going to be the toughest and worst day of the trip, and then the day before it got even worse. I was tired, sore, and just wanted some fun riding that wasn't going to punish me and my bike anymore. I'm still very impressed with how well my bike handled all of the abuse and drops of the prior 2 days, running as smooth as the day I started just with some new cosmetic "features" and one less windshield that I managed to crack in half. I got a good night's sleep and didn't get started until 11:00. It was all maintained gravel roads back to Lake City, where I arrived just like the day before around noon.

    I had decided the previous night to do Engineers pass, take the roads south to Animas Fork, then do California, Hurricane, and Corkscrew passes. I got this idea primarily from reading the ride report that was done by RacingBlue. I headed out of Lake City and got on my way. I really wondered while doing this why everyone doesn't take a motorcycle, I was cruising past every sort of Jeep, truck, side by side, and ATV. It felt good to be back someplace that I felt I could truly enjoy riding. I made my way up engineers pass without issue. As was suspected, after the last couple of days this seemed like a breeze.
    IMG_20200901_135836.jpg
    Some pictures from up on Engineers pass
    PANO_20200901_140416.vr.jpg

    I headed down to Animas fork, and then went through the other three passes. These were even easier than engineers pass and I stopped for a second to enjoy the view but didn't take any pictures. Corkscrew pass seemed as though it would be really fun to go the other direction through, going up through the corkscrew. When I arrived at the bottom I ran into a group of local riders who had just went through some of the passes as well. As we got to talking I was explaining how from here I had the choice of Ophir, Inogene, or Black Bear pass and was recommended Imogene as they said it was about the same difficulty as Engineers and had better views than Ophir.

    So I headed on to Imogene Pass and started my trek up. Maybe I was just tired from the other passes, but I think those riders lied to me, this was a decent bit harder than engineers pass was. I had one drop on my way up and it wasn't even while I was riding. I followed what I thought was the road, but actually led me to a dead end without a good spot to turn around. I hopped off my bike and started to roll it backwards where I could continue on my way. As I was backing up my foot slipped and me and my bike went down, no damage and an easy recovery so not a big deal, but worth mentioning. It was definitely worth the view though, you could even see Telluride in the distance.
    IMG_20200901_165413.jpg

    I made my way down Imogene and into Telluride to see what it was all about. This town was amazing! All sorts of small shops, tons of options for food, and I talked to lots of interesting people. I think I saw as many mountain bikes as cars while I was there, I'll have to come back with mine someday. If it wasn't for the harsh winners that I'm sure they get, I would be tempted to make a move out there. After a great pizza I headed out for the last bit of my day, ended up about 15 miles past Lizard Head Pass where I got another night of free camping. By the end of the day I had forgotten about the troubles of the previous couple of days.

    133 very fun miles
    #32
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  13. Thinwater

    Thinwater Been here awhile

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    Percy! That man was a pleasure to meet!
    #33
  14. Thinwater

    Thinwater Been here awhile

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    What Date was DAY 1
    #34
  15. mallen416

    mallen416 Adventurer Supporter

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    August 18th
    #35
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  16. sperduton

    sperduton Been here awhile

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    What model windshield were you running and do you like riding the bike better with or without the windshield?
    #36
  17. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

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    I think you made the right move doing Imogene over Ophir. I liked Ophir, but the view of Imogene definitely made me regret choosing otherwise.
    #37
  18. WalterMitty2

    WalterMitty2 Been here awhile

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    Awesome ride report. I"m a small bike owner too (CRF250L) so I love your choice in bikes as well.

    What GPS app are you using on your iphone?
    #38
  19. flashbang

    flashbang Adventurer

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    Enjoying your report I also rode a small bike on the tat. An xt 225. Everyone told me it was too small but it made it thru.
    #39
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  20. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

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    Great updates @mallen416, even with the lessons learned on attempting the single track and getting mired in a stream. While that kind of stuff sucks in the moment, it's generally good fodder for laughs later on. And even better is the ability to say you gave it a go.

    The passes of CO look amazing and it's an area I'm looking forward to riding some day. Think I could probably spend multiple days just riding up and down the passes there; sounds like plenty to explore. And great to hear about the positive experience in Telluride! Have to wonder about tourist-fatigue in some of those towns, glad to hear you enjoyed it.

    Look forward to the next update!
    #40
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