TAT Bound or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Riding my Bike

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by blisske, May 19, 2016.

  1. bc361

    bc361 n00b

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    Awesome RR. Thanks for sharing.
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  2. blisske

    blisske Been here awhile

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    Just a heads up for anyone contemplating the TAT, but not wanting to fuss with a bike build; the DR650 from this thread is now for sale!!!! I will be putting the bike up on advrider classifieds this weekend, but wanted to see if I have any interest before hand. I'm still sorting out pricing, but this will be a plug and play solution for anyone wanting to take on the TAT. This bike was purchased new on December 24th of 2015 (it was a brand new 2014 model) and was purpose built for the TAT. I have no space in the garage for more than one bike at a time, so it needs to go to make room for the next project.
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  3. blisske

    blisske Been here awhile

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    It’s been nearly three weeks since I finished my trip and I’m finally caught up to where I can write this post ride summary. Would I do it again? Yes! Would I change anything? Some subtle tweaks, but nothing major. Was it a life changing experience? For me, not in the least. Did I learn anything? You bet I did.


    I won’t deny that I went off on this tiki tour in hopes of a bit of self-discovery. Did I make some discoveries? I did. My self-discovery was that at age 50, for me, there weren’t a whole lot of surprises. I know myself pretty well and I respond to situations pretty much exactly as I thought I would. No surprises whatsoever, for better or worse. :-)


    On to the fun stuff. Yes, yes, yes, I would do it again. Before we go and get too gushy, the trail isn’t perfect and it seems to me that there are a lot of variations, so I like to think of the TAT as more of an idea than an exact route. That said, I followed Sam’s route nearly waypoint to waypoint. The idea of the TAT is awesome, because it is a very personal thing and it is yours to make whatever you want. I wanted some alone time (I wanted to say quiet time, but that bike was so damn loud that I wore earplugs the entire 23 days!) and a bit of a reset from the day to day grind of office life. I got both on this trip as well as an appreciation for how big and empty this country is when you escape the population centers.


    I learned some good and bad things about America on this trip:


    · First off, people sure are friendly in small communities and they become less friendly as you pen them in to major urban centers. Colorado, my home state, gets the award for least friendly state I encountered on the TAT.

    · On the Eastern sections of the TAT, ditches appear to be what we here in the West call landfills. I have never seen so much trash on the sides of the road. It was like this until mid-Arkansas and Mississippi is the hands down winner for most road side trash of all the states I encountered. Oh, and from my informal survey, Bud Light is the favorite beer of litterers in the East.

    · There are still lots of beautiful empty and open places in the U.S.

    · There are no road signs anywhere that do not have bullet holes in them. Can’t they just give away some free paper targets with the ammo?

    · Gas station coffee can be hit or miss, but I actually had some great coffee at gas stations. Don’t expect to see many Starbucks along the TAT.

    · Oregon is awesome! I found it the most remote and challenging part of the TAT. Maybe because I haven’t spent much time exploring that part of the country, but also because the lack of cell phone coverage made it feel more isolated. I remember at one point near Death Canyon in Utah my phone rang and I took a phone call…in Death Canyon! Sorry Utah, I laugh at your Death Canyon.

    · America is full of fences and no trespassing signs.


    As far as things I’d change next time. I researched the hell out of the bike and gear and felt that it was nearly spot on (I’ll have more to say on that in a minute), but I didn’t look over the route too much. I would certainly download a wider swath of off-line maps to go with the GPS track next time and I would certainly study each day’s route and do a better job planning gas stops and lodging. I told myself that the lack of planning would make it more of an adventure, which it did.


    On the gear side, my iPhone 6 performed admirably as a GPS, but the display was nearly impossible to see in direct sunlight and that made for some backtracking and led to some profanity that may have seemed odd to a casual observer watching me slowly circle around any time I came to a fork in the road. I would certainly go for a GPS unit with a brightness setting that went to 11.


    The DR650 was great! At one point or another I appreciated every modification I made, but the seat and suspension upgrades were the most important. I do feel the lowered foot pegs saved me from a broken case when I dropped the bike in a stream and pushed the gear shifter in. The DR650 was a pretty low weight choice considering all the options out there, but I did notice the weight and that weight did temper my risk tolerance. Would I have continued on past the dead end in Oregon if I was on a WR250R? Maybe, but that low end grunt saved my butt a couple of times when I was bouncing up a steep hill and making bad choices on my line. It just kept on a thumping.


    Some final thoughts. You can certainly do the TAT in 23 days if you don’t run into any major issues, but should you? I found the daily mileage was too great and felt it more of a marathon than a vacation. Near the end, I was exhausted and I didn’t have time to explore. Some days I didn’t have time for a decent lunch. Oh, and the heat was nearly unbearable. I would suggest picking a lower pass in Colorado and doing the trail when it isn’t going to be triple digits in Utah.


    So, in summary, buy yourself a bike, get out there and ride the TAT!
  4. gluaisrothar

    gluaisrothar Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the post ride summary. Your overall thoughts and insights are very helpful. Much appreciated.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
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  5. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    All great stuff! Thanks Loads for all the pics and info during and after the ride! Ive got 4 bikes here but the DR650 is the one that goes out the most.
    8 years on it,its an 03 with 34,000 miles and has never broken anything yet. I think it has a TAT,and an IBCDR left in it easily. A friend and I just did a 450 miler to the northern CA coast and back on tuesday,the DR just keeps going. DSCF0685.JPG
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  6. LE Trainer

    LE Trainer Bad Buddhist

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    Great RR. As a man of similar age, I really appreciated your insights, especially at the summation. These trips don't change us so much as confirm us. As for the bike, if I didn't already have a 96 DR that doesn't appear ready to die just yet, I'd be all over yours.
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  7. blisske

    blisske Been here awhile

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  8. motopreserve

    motopreserve Been here awhile

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    Amazing RR. Thanks for sharing. I'm creeping up on 50yo and really appreciated reading your reflections on the entire process - from decision making to final thoughts and the spectacular adventure in between.

    I've got a '09 Husky TE610 that I occasionally flirt with selling, but reports like this and the dream of doing the TAT keep it firmly planted in the garage :)
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  9. Stevie4570

    Stevie4570 Adventurer

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    Thanks for sharing your ride! Well done.
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  10. thorpedo

    thorpedo Adventurer

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    I just bought a '14 this summer for the exact same purpose. Mine was lightly used with only 900 miles, and I'm scouring the classifieds for gear when I noticed you bike for sale... which led me to this RR. What an awesome trip, and exactly what I plan to do soon. I'm 54 btw. I should've just bought your bike and been done, but building is a big part of the fun!

    I'm almost exactly with you on mods and farkles... except I don't need the lower seat. But I am curious on your thoughts of the Laminar Lip windshield? I'm 6'2" and not real sure what will work. Did it cause any buffeting around your head?

    Thanks for the RR is was inspirational and very enjoyable read.
  11. Utah Bones

    Utah Bones Gas X ready!

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    Nice bike.
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  12. blisske

    blisske Been here awhile

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    I don't know if the Laminar Lip really did much for me. Speeds are fairly low on the TAT. For any highway riding I have done, the Lip does help, but it isn't the perfect solution. It reduces the wind on chest, but my head is getting brunt of wind. Buffeting not really an issue.
  13. Scottysix9

    Scottysix9 Shhh...

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    Why do you think this bike is worth the $7000 you are asking for it?
  14. blisske

    blisske Been here awhile

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    OK, to be honest, I think it's worth about $6500. However, you always put a little negotiation room in the price to make everyone feel good. ;) I have a simple formula that I use for gently used items; 65% of what I paid. Pretty nice depreciation hit I just took for someone on a bike that I rode for 30 days. Was it worth it to me? YES!!!
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  15. blisske

    blisske Been here awhile

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    The bike sold two weeks ago for the $6500 that I said I felt was fair. I immediately had seller's remorse and I have already started building the perfect TAT bike in my mind. I'm actually going to look at one this Saturday that is a 2012 with 3200 miles on it for the donor bike. I think I was pretty close to having the perfect bike with the exception of the luggage. I found the Wolfman luggage made for a very secure attachment to the pannier mounts, but the fastening mechanism was maddening and perhaps I could have gotten by with a size smaller pannier and rear duffel. I wasn't a big fan of the Wolfman tank bag either. The Aerostitch tank panniers, on the other hand, were sublime. I had the competition size. I think the new bike will have the slightly larger standard size. Great stuff!

    The other place I'm going to meddle with this build is at the engine. As we all know, there is no replacement for displacement. Straightaway I will be installing the 790 overbore kit from Procycle. Yes, you heard that right, I'm gonna make this next bike a stump pulling monster. I want torque. I want lots of it! Thanksgiving be damned, I want to start on this today!!
  16. blisske

    blisske Been here awhile

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    Hey Foot Dragger, what kind of windscreen is that you have on your DR there?
  17. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Its a Cee-Bailey I found used on ADV,is about as much windscreen as I want stuck on the ft of my DR. If Im riding mostly all dirt I take it off. I have a stock headlight shroud I have hauled to death valley so I can take the shroud/windscreen off and save it for the ride home,its only 3 small bolts to swap. The screen works ok for me @ 6' tall.
  18. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Wow,all that work on 1 DR,then sell it to get another DR. It was barely broken in!
    The more I ride my DR,the more I can see having 2 of them with different settups on each.
  19. Foot dragger

    Foot dragger singletracker

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    Well,now that things have settled and you rode the whole TAT solo,how much of the stuff you took along could have been left at home?
    I, like most people tend to take too much stuff. For dirt riding of course the less weight the better,each correction and steering effort is working around how ever much weight is added to the bike. I like to think I could do the TAT minimally with light backpacking stuff and just enough to get by.

    The lighter the load,the more fun! At least this is a theory of mine. Thanks for any help!
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  20. GRinCR

    GRinCR Oppressed Nomad

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    Love the TAT and the DR!

    :beer for sharing.
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