TAT 2020 roll call

Discussion in 'Americas' started by PackinDirt, Dec 22, 2019.

  1. sr248

    sr248 Adventurer

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    Hi everyone,

    I’m planning on doing the TAT this year in late June from NY to OR. I don’t have any trail experience, but I’m signed up for the 2-day enduro at BMW performance center in Spartanburg. I’m on the market for a bike specifically for the TAT. I’m looking at a 2015 DR200s and wondering if it’s an appropriate bike to be riding daily for 4 weeks straight. It seems like others have done it on CRF250 and KLX250. Just looking for some confirmation that the DR200 is not a bad choice.

    Thanks in advance.
    #41
  2. SATEX

    SATEX Long timer

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    It wouldn't be my choice, but they're reliable little bikes. If you're comfortable riding it, then it can't be a bad choice. You'll be pushing the limits of its power in the Colorado passes, but you can manage that by not over packing.

    Especially for Colorado and Utah, you might find it beneficial to change to a smaller counter sprocket, assuming that's an easy swap for that bike.
    #42
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  3. bikebuster56

    bikebuster56 Adventurer Supporter

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    Addapost - since you did the TAT last year, maybe you could enlighten us who haven't yet? Please tell us what you experienced, what you liked, didn't like, what you'd do differently, what you did that worked.
    Appreciate any advice you can pass along.
    Thanks
    #43
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  4. Bmcush

    Bmcush Wildman

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    Sounds good not sure when in August. Bullet proof you DR 650. Bought my son a near new 2009 and a few years back. Then a couple of years later, when the bike passed 10k miles, the ignition pick up fried, in the middle of nowhere. Six months later driving around town the countershaft seal popped out and he almost fried the engine. Around 2012 I believe the factory added a retainer plate to the seal to keep this from happening. For some reason this seal is under engine oil pressure... the DR is a great bike aside from a few weak areas. Scoured the internet on these topics.
    #44
  5. Addapost

    Addapost Been here awhile

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    I've been thinking of doing a ride report ever since I finished the trip in August, but.... you know, stuff gets in the way and I am really not a writer. I will say this, there are a couple fantastic TAT ride reports on this website.

    The primary advice I'd give is to go absolutely as light as possible. That is my personal philosophy. I would rather suffer a few uncomfortable hours in conditions I don't have the equipment for than carry heavy equipment for 30 days only to MAYBE need it for a couple hours on a couple days. But that is just me. I enjoy suffering.

    If you are going to buy a bike for the ride I suggest getting something as light as possible. I bought a 320 pound Honda crf250L specifically for the TAT. Lots of people use similar sized bikes- yamaha wr250, yamaha tw200, light KTMs etc. Bigger bikes can and do make it every year but in my opinion lighter is better. I did upgrade some critical parts on the crf. It performed fantastic.

    Second. Make sure the bike fits comfortable. Seat, suspension, riding position both seated and standing. Get all that stuff dialed. You need to be comfortable on the bike. Same with your riding gear. Make sure all that works, is comfortable and is broken in.

    Get comfortable fixing flats on the trail, not in the shop or driveway. If you are using tubes, bring extra tubes. The exception to my "light light light" mantra, I always carry two tubes one front one rear and when I use one I replace it ASAP. Between the 1200 mile Mid Atlantic BDR that my buddy and I did and the TAT where I was alone, I experienced 6 or 7 flats. Most of them were punctures. Nail destroy tubes. They cannot be patched or Slimed. Just toss it and put a new one in. A 21 inch tube will work in a rear 18" tire but not for long, it is going to fail in a couple hundred miles, ride slow and go find a new rear tube. Also, don't bother with heavy duty tubes. They will get punctured just like a normal tube but they cost more, weigh more, and take up way more space than the normal tubes.

    I packed like an ultralight thru-hiker. I did start out with some cooking gear for morning breakfasts and coffee but realized that was a mistake in just a few days. I mailed it all home. I took almost no clothes. Under my riding suit, I wore wool socks, a pair of surf trunks and a lightweight wool tee shirt. I carried a spare one of each of those in my kit. I changed every two or three days and washed everything every 4 or 5 days. I also carried one cotton tee and one pair of very light nylon Kuhl hiking pants to wear when doing laundry. All that was light and packed to the size of a football or so. Finally I carried a lightweight goretex rain shell and a lightweight Patagonia hooded puffy in case it got cold. My riding suit was picked specifically for very hot weather. I never used the insulation puffy to ride. I slept in it twice up high in Colorado but never needed it to ride. It was always hot. Can it get cold? It depends on when you go. July and August are going to be hot almost everywhere all the time. If you go later then think more about cold riding gear.

    Back to the camping gear. I mostly slept out. I used a hammock sleep system because I personally hate sleeping on the ground. I carried lightweight, compressible stuff that all weighed less than 12 pounds and packed tight. Like I said, I ditched the cooking gear. Cooking in camp is a REAL PITA in my opinion. It is one thing when you are hiking for days in the wilderness, but on a motorcycle you have to get gas twice a day. Where there is gas there is food. Restaurants, diners, chain restaurants, local restaurants, all kinds of great places to eat. I carried enough snacks to last a day or so if I got in trouble and had to wait for help but other than that I ate at restaurants. Eating at these places was a highlight of my trip. People ALWAYS talked to me about what I was doing. I loved it. In planning this trip I completely assumed I would be cooking at least coffee and breakfast every day. I even spent a couple bucks on upgrading some of my camp kitchen stuff. Nope nope nope, I realized that was a waste of time by the third day. Like I said I mailed it all home.

    The trip was not easy. I almost always had some problem to deal with. Some were minor annoyances others were major PITAs. You have to get in the mindset that things are going to happen that you are going to have to deal with. Once I accepted that I just rolled with it. There is very little "hard" riding, (though there is some very hard riding) especially on a small lightly loaded bike, the riding isn't the challenge. The time and distance is. 7000 miles on dirt is a really long way. Ten hours on a bike every day for a month is a really long time. Doing it is the experience of a lifetime.
    #45
  6. bikebuster56

    bikebuster56 Adventurer Supporter

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    Thanks Addapost, all good info.
    I've been debating about bringing a small backpack stove and the associated items, but after reading your advice think I'll do the same. Figure I can carry enough to snack on and drink to get me to the next fuel stop along the way. I will try to camp as much as possible, and reasonable, but I'm not at all apposed to getting a motel when it makes sense, like crappy weather or when I need ac to get a good night's sleep.
    I'm doing the standard DR650 mods and taking it over my big adv bike (tiger 800). Figure it's a good mid size bike with good power, reasonable weight, and good weight carrying capacity, and great reliability and mileage. Of course I'll carry a few spares like tubes, a pick up sensor, oil filters, and levers, but not much else.
    Only other items of importance I'll bring is a garmin 600, garmin Inreach, and a small table, besides my phone of course.
    Clothing .. like you, the bare minimum including a pair of lite weight tenny runners.
    Thanks for the advice addapost.
    Bill
    #46
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  7. Addapost

    Addapost Been here awhile

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    Sounds like a well thought out winning plan. I forgot, you reminded me. I started out with a small backpack with a hydration bladder and the two Patagonia jackets- the GT shell and the puffy. I ditched the backpack and bladder real quick, mailed those home with the cook gear. The jackets and water went in the luggage. Too hot for a backpack. Have a great time.
    #47
  8. tarhoo

    tarhoo Adventurer

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    I have things I think I can add here:

    First, I own a CRF250L and while it is clearly not for racing, it is capable and dependable (and not super expensive), and carries enough luggage to do the TAT. We have a place in Colorado and my son (who is not an experienced motorcyclist), feels comfortable on the CRF and uses it when we go camping. I think if you want something light and dependable for the TAT and don't mind not having real capacity to get above about 60mph, then it is fine and a good choice if you are not an off road guy. There are easy mods of exhaust/airbox/controller that are recommended for a bit more juice, but really you could roll it out of the box.

    Second, last year a friend and I did the TAT from NC to the Mississippi river on BMW R1200GSAs. These of course wildly violate the "lighter is better" idea, but I will probably use mine (a 2013 - last of the camheads) again for this year's TAT trip planned from the Mississippi to Salida, CO (leaving late May, PM if you are interested). There were only two times last year where I wanted something lighter and the distance probably totalled under 500 yards of difficulty. Both sections were mud/sand, not rocks. I think this is probably likely to hold true until we get to the rockies proper (when I will probably switch to something lighter - but this is planned for 2021). The reason both of us feel comfortable on the big bikes is that we attended the BMW school in Spartanburg. Seriously, it is awesome, and a total eye opener about how to ride the big machines off road. On morning 1, they rolled that beast out for me to get on and I nearly crapped myself thinking about riding it in sand/gravel/etc. By the afternoon of day two i was jumping it (not very high of course). If I were you I would wait til after the course to buy a bike. You might be convinced to go bigger, but even if you stay small you will ride better.
    #48
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  9. hassonater

    hassonater n00b

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    Hey all, can I get added to that list? I'm planning to start ~mid June and do the full thing from NC to Oregon on a CRF250L camping as much as possible. Pretty new rider and would be very stoked to link up with anyone else!
    #49
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  10. illgetthere

    illgetthere n00b

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    That route looks good - but maybe not for this trip. I am anxious to get onto the TAT proper so I am contemplating cutting over to the IDBDR from Wenatchee, then south to pick up the TAT. Probably will ride the WABDR to Wenatchee then, just slab it on Rt. 2 until it intersects the IDBDR.

    Thanks for the track - late summer to early fall you just might find me somewhere on it.
    #50
  11. boulet_boulet

    boulet_boulet Long timer

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    Warning: possible off-topic post here, but I checked in with the OP and he OK'd the post. If this turns into an unwelcome hijack, I can see about posting elsewhere.

    I won the proverbial lottery and got the go-ahead from work and home for a big ride. I'll be out ten weeks on a route that will include the TAT, etc, leaving from Maine on a DR650 on 4/30. The plan is to cover off-road and backcountry ground in the US and Canada at various elevations and latitudes and camping along the way.

    I'm not going to lie; this is going to be a (welcome) challenge for me, one that my past experiencing only partially has prepared me for. I am OK with riding and camping, but I have never done it for such a long stretch. Because I am camping across carious climates and even seasons, because I love logistics, and because I am going to do this as frugally as I reasonably can, I have been working on my pack list.

    I know, I know, I know, I know: pack as light as I can and I'll enjoy it more.

    Anyway, I am posting the current iteration of my pack list and welcome comments from experienced riders who have done a ride of this nature (TAT, TCAT, camping, etc.) and duration (more than a month). I am sure I'll get comments from others too, because hey, it's the internet, and that's fine too. Truly.

    I am posting this here because it seems like it might benefit others contemplating the TAT and I might benefit from others' TAT-specific experience.

    So here you go; fire away at my ridonculous packing list and tell me how I am doing it ALL WRONG. I can take it….really.

    Motorcycle packing list - long trip.jpg
    #51
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  12. EZ-D

    EZ-D Davidprej Supporter

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    Are you sure you need that book? I did the TAT last year without a book and enjoyed it much more than you will with the book. (JOKING!!!)

    That looks like a great list. Look forward to you doing all the thinking for me on this....uh, I mean - look forward to learning from your experience.
    #52
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  13. SATEX

    SATEX Long timer

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    First, I really like how your list is grouped by the bags the items will be in.

    Two suggestions: 1. Don't carry 2 days of food. Just carry what you need until the next town plus a few high density snacks in case things go a bit south. 2. Cut your clothing to no more than one "extra day." Pledge to be slightly less clean, and/or stop a bit more frequently for washing. You can also do some quick hand washing from available water sources and then strap stuff to the outside to dry.

    Critical ... make sure every article of clothing and anything made of fabric (tent, towels, tee shirts, etc) are synthetic. NO cotton. If you must have some wool, keep it to a minimum. Synthetics pack, travel, wash, dry, etc. better than anything else.

    Oh yeah. Skip the book. No reading material more voluminous than "pamphlets about famous Jewish sports legends."
    #53
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  14. Rips Millar

    Rips Millar capt. mediocre

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    all good advice, except have you ever really tied a wet pair of shorts to the outside of your stuff? that makes for a really dirty pair of shorts, assuming you are on dirt. imho
    #54
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  15. SATEX

    SATEX Long timer

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    I suppose I could have said to not use that approach is a dusty environment, but why deprive others of the valuable experience I had?
    #55
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  16. Grinnin

    Grinnin Forever N00b Supporter

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    How often you need to shop for food depends on what you're eating.

    For me, a box of oatmeal and a package of whole-wheat spaghetti forms the basis for breakfasts and suppers for a few days. I don't know many places to buy oatmeal, for instance, in quantities smaller than a few days' worth. IDK if @boulet_boulet cooks this way or not. I try to add fresh vegetables more often.

    If you're eating canned food, by all means carry as little as possible and you can probably get what you need at any small grocery and buy it in single-day quantities.

    That start date looks like it's long before farmers' market season.

    Food is one of the most "different strokes" topics in an activity chock full of different stroke topics.

    I agree about physical books. You can put a book or two on a smartphone and have it there "just in case" without carrying any extra weight or volume.
    #56
  17. Addapost

    Addapost Been here awhile

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    This is definitely a "ride you're own ride" thing but since you asked...


    I put together a solo ride of the 1100 mile MABDR + 7000 mile TAT last July. I was on the road, living off the bike for about 34 days. I got 10 hotels and camped the rest. I rode a small Honda crf 250 L.

    Great news! Your list can and should be cut by more than 50%. That will not make life harder as most people assume when things they think they need are taken away from them, it will make your life much much much easier and happy. Seriously.

    My packing philosophy was pack "as light as possible". Even with that I started the trip thinking I was going to be cooking at least two meals every day so I started with a full camp cook set like you have listed. Literally by the 3rd day I knew the camp cooking thing was a huge mistake. There is no need to cook food in camp. I quickly mailed it all home. There is nothing you can make that will be anywhere close to as good as what you will get in town. You are not hiking in the remote wilderness where you have to cook in camp, you are driving into town at least twice a day to get gas. Where there is gas there is food. There are diners, cafes, mom & pop local restaurants, chain restaurants. There are pancakes, french toast, omelets, deli sandwiches, cheeseburgers, lasagna, pizza, steak, salads, Mexican, beer, on and on and on. There are really nice people interested in what you are doing. Those people cook FOR you. They bring it to you. They clean up after you. They chat with you. Other people in those establishments will chat with you. There is cell service for your phone, often free wifi. There are bathrooms. Eating out in tiny towns was in the top 5 highlights of the trip. Eating in camp by yourself, cooking that crap, carrying that useless gear, cleaning that gear, shopping for camp food... those are all soul crushing experiences. I literally cannot recommend this enough- just leave it all home. Absolutely not needed. Bring a half dozen power bars to keep you alive if you have to wait a day for help.

    Cut your clothing (column 2) by 2/3rds. You do not need 3 pr of underwear, you do not need 3 pairs of socks. You do not need a bathing suit AND a pair of shorts AND another pair of shorts from the convertible pants. I would dump the bathing suit and gym shorts and take the convertible pants. Keep a COTTON tee shirt and the convertible pants. You can wear those when you wash your two dirty sets of riding clothes- underwear/socks/tee shirt once every 4 or 5 days. If they are the typical lightweight synthetic set you can use the shorts as a bathing suit if you feel you'll need a bathing suit. Dump the 2 pair of long johns. If you are doing this in July and August and you are wearing a real armored riding pant you will not need long johns. Seriously. There might be one or two chilly mornings in Colorado. MAYBE. Do one of two things on these mornings- suck it up and ride a tiny bit chilly for 2 hours or better yet, have an extra cup of coffee and hang out in the diner another hour until the day warms a little. That's what I did on the one chilly morning I saw in Ouray. Had a great conversation with an older guy who had divorced and retired and was living in a camper van traveling the country.

    Don't take the quart of oil. Again, you are going to a gas station twice a day. Seriously. If your bike leaks oil faster than that you need a new bike.

    Shoes. Not sure if you are listing two pairs of shoes there "sandals/running shoes". I didn't want two of anything at all (yeah yeah I know- "two is one and one is none" I do not subscribe to that. A credit card solves that problem if it arises). I wanted one single pair of shoes that would do all of the non-riding duties. They needed to be easy on/off for camp. They needed to be water proof to use in sketchy showers and swimming holes. They needed to fit well enough that I could hike in them 10 or 15 miles if needed. They had to look relatively cool (yeah that is a thing with me). They also needed to pack very small (I had the requirement that everything pack as small as possible). Sound like a unicorn? I had to think about it for a while then it came to me- Teva sandals. Friggin perfect. When I rated everything at the end of my trip they were one of the few A+'s I gave out.


    I strongly suggest wearing marino wool for anything next to skin. I wore a lightweight Smartwool short sleeve tee shirt under my riding jacket and marino wool boxer briefs under a pair of hiking shorts under my riding pants. Synthetic is horrible horrible stuff in every way. Marino wool is the gold standard for next to skin layer in any climate conditions. Seriously.

    The rest of your kit looks good to me.

    Okay that it. You asked :)
    Have a great trip.

    Edit: Oh yeah, what they^ said, leave the book home. You will not be reading.
    #57
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  18. boulet_boulet

    boulet_boulet Long timer

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    All interesting thoughts - thank you. A couple clarifications:

    I am riding in May, June and July. Actually leaving Maine on 4/30 when the temps during the day are pretty cool and I HATE being cold. We will be at higher elevations in the US and Canada, probably before passes are fully cleared.

    I personally eat vegetarian and lean heavily towards whole foods. That more or less rules out gas station food. I am also on a tight budget, which suggests cooking more than restauranting.

    Books: I'll probably just read on the iPad but as a librarian I am contractually obligated to bring reading materials on all outings. OK, not really, but I really do love camping and reading.

    Again, thank you for all of your tips. Much appreciated. I am eager to see how many I agree with when the trip is in the rear view mirror.
    #58
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  19. Addapost

    Addapost Been here awhile

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    Have a great trip!
    #59
  20. VStromNC

    VStromNC DNS/DNF

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    Totally Agree!!!!

    I bought like two weeks of dehydrated meals and did not use but one as rest of the time, we grabbed lunch/snacks when gassing up in town. Again, my group planned to stop at motels at night including specifically Super 8 or Motel 6 since these are relatively inexpensive if split by two and majority of these motels are older built so you can park your bike right outside your door.

    I also brought multiple riding outfits including pants but really did not need as we simply had our gears washed when we stopped at a local motel. The extra riding gears including pants can greatly add to the bulk that you are carrying. I did bring oil since the Husky 650 consumed slight amount of oil. I also brought a large can of chain lube but ran out toward the latter part of my ride. You will go through chain lube with thousands of miles to ride.

    I totally agree with @Addapost on wool socks. I think I bought mine from Dicks. An old timer told me about this a while back and I finally tried during TAT, my feet was always dry and comfortable. At night, you simply hang them and you can reuse on the next ride.

    Your list looks good.

    Jon
    #60
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