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Discussion in 'Americas' started by emacs, Oct 9, 2013.
Sam is very responsive to inquiries. Ask.
Maybe slightly off topic, but I would encourage anyone thinking of doing the TAT for the first time to consider seriously using the roll charts, which Sam offers. Use a GPS for backup if need be, for detours, emergencies or just have it to find your way out if all else fails. One reason I like to do this kind of riding is to do it the old way, on the old roads, some of which are barely roads and barely used (the old route). The roll charts add more of a challenge and it tickles me to know that you can cross the country following turn by turn written directions. If you miss a turn you will know it shortly. Just have a good odometer that can be reset, turned forward or backward.
I think its terrible advice to use roll charts. They are a huge pain in the ass and if you forget to zero out your odometer or get turner around its more of a pain. In 2019 we have evolved enough to use cell phones and gps units. For first time adventure riders you should not try to make it harder on yourself. There is enough stress at time and having to switch paper roll all the time is just dumb. If you want to be tickled or want more challenge thats great for you but telling new riders to used a antique outdated way to navigate is just plain shitty advice.
Roll charts and paper maps...…….. that's saying carburetors, kick starters and drum brakes is the way to go for a noob. Just use that electric start and GPS for emergency back up.
This thread (I’ve read the first 100+ posts)has been really useful in helping me get my head round the Sam v gpsKevin/where should I start question which I was struggling to understand. Thanks.
Where I have ended up is that I’d like to give Sam his due if I can, but it seems this is not practical for me - am I missing something here?
To explain, for me at least a big trip has 4 stages:
2. Feasibility- will it work for me?
3. Detailed planning
4. Doing it
1. Dream/conceive. Here’s where I pick up the idea and add it to my bucket list. This happens typically through other rider’s tales and photos. I am a Brit who added the TAT to my bucket list 5 or so years ago, with a loose plan to do it to mark turning 50 (which I do later this year).
2. Feasibility. Here’s where I am now. Where will I start/end, what do I specifically want to see/do along the way, how long will it take (can I do it and enjoy it in the time I have available), what bike requirements etc?
My problem is there is nothing I can see on Sam’s website to help me with this route planning assessment. Just a picture of the USA with a few lines drawn on it and a load of map options I don’t fully understand - spurs etc. The site seems designed to sell me maps, not really to help me plan out my trip (which I need to do in order to see if it can work for me - at which point i’d buy the maps). It’s a catch22 scenario.
To illustrate the point I’ll compare this with two other trips i’ve done, the Route des Grandes Alpes (France) and Cape Town to Nairobi (Africa).
For The Routes des Grandes Alpes I paid my £10 and bought a paper map to help me understand the route and think about how I might do it. This was a simple, low cost start point to explore something I wanted to do.
As I understand it, to get the paper maps for the TAT I have to pay $278, which is a big (unrealistic?) investment when I don’t know yet if the trip will work for me (or even if these are definitely the right maps).
For my Africa trip i used Tracks4Africa. In some ways they seem more like Sam, as they are a business selling maps and apps to overland travellers. But they provide a free online map on the website for this planning phase (https://tracks4africa.co.za/maps/africa/)
This was a brilliant resource for me in getting through the feasibility stage of my Africa trip.
It was also a great resource in the detailed planning phase too. So when i did the trip, I was in their debt and I paid the £48.99 price for their Navigator App (even though maps.me and open source maps on my iphone were my primary source of on road navigation).
Sure I could have used their online maps for planning only and not bought their app. But I am not like that - I understand that if we take advantage of businesses like that they won’t be viable and hence not around when we need them the next time. We all lose.
So back to my question. Am I missing some feasibility planning resource that will help me on Sam’s website? Because if he doesn’t provide this, it seems the only feasibility planning information available to me is the gps files Kevin has shared (and for which I will be very grateful).
IMHO Sam's TAT is primarily a way to cross most of the US on dirt roads. There are some nice stretches, but high quality riding is a secondary consideration.
I have ridden the TAT and enjoyed it for the most part.
After doing the TAT I felt I could do a lot better job planning my own long rides. I like the planning and spend a few months on each ~10 day trip.
One of my main criteria is that the trip is a loop so I don't have to worry about how to get back to the start.
I also value quality riding over a geographic goal such as border-border.
I just finished it last week. I did it solo from Damascus to Port Orford. Unless I am misunderstanding your post here, I think you might be overthinking it a bit. People often talk about the "planning". In my opinion you not only shouldn't but you can't plan the thing in any kind of detail. The reality is this is the plan:
1. wake up each morning
2. pack your stuff on your bike
3. turn the gps on
4. follow the colored line.
That's it. That's the plan, you don't need to overthink it beyond that. At some point each day, usually twice, you'll need to stop for gas and some food. There is no way to predict months out when and where that will be each day, it's not possible. You will also have to figure out where to stay each night. That is also not possible to plan out weeks or months in advance. Just know that at a couple points in the day you need gas and food and a place to sleep. You will find those on the road each day as needed.
I agree with your sentiment to "give Sam his due." I purchased his GPS tracks for something like $100. In my opinion there is a lot (A LOT) of Sam cool aid out there and I am not drinking it. But he apparently conceived of this thing and that was a stroke of genius so I was happy to give him $100 for his gps tracks. But... I also downloaded Kevin's complete set (for free). I always had both open in different colors. I also had the Utah BDR tracks (free) open in a third color in Utah. Sam's and Keven's are very often the same in most states. When they were different I followed whichever set fit my needs right then and there. Sometimes it was Sam's, sometimes it was Kevin's. In Utah I did quite a bit of BDR.
I purchased one single state of Sam's paper maps to see if I wanted or could use the entire set. To be honest, in my opinion, they are a complete joke. They come with the roll chart paper which is idiotic. Roll chart?? Seriously?? Sinful waste of paper. The maps looked like a middle school kid's geography project that he scraped together the night before it was due. (Grade F) No thanks. I didn't buy any others and binned the ones I did get. Just make sure you have serviceable maps saved on your GPS and you will always find the next city or town on or near the route to get gas/food/motel etc. You will also almost always have cell service for at least some part of the day so Google is your friend if you need to find something specific like a motorcycle shop or whatever.
Good info here, Addapost, thanks.
I am guilty at times of overthinking!! The main planning for me is a) deciding on the route - straight TAT or modified? route to/from start/end point? and b) working out how long it will take me in total (i need to negotiate extended leave with my employer). How long did you take and did you ride every day?
I am thinking of flying into Toronto, picking up the trail wherever (i don’t need this to be seashore to seashore) and ending in Vancouver. I need a day in each of these cities to unpack/pack bike (planning on using Air Canada to ship my bike from the UK) and am thinking I would ride 5 days in 7 to give me time to stop and enjoy things/have a day off/contingency for issues.
I actually did the Mid Atlantic Backcountry Discovery Route to get from the New York/Pennsylvania line to one of the TAT "starts" in Damascus Virginia. All together, including 3 rest days, I was on the two trails for 35 days. That got me to the official "end" of the TAT in Port Orford. My average daily mileage was about 280 miles. The TAT from Damascus to Port Orford took me 25 riding days.
It doesn't look that far by interstate from Toronto to get on the TAT somewhere in the West Virginia/Virginia area, maybe 10-12 hours of riding? Looks like the same on the other end to get from Port Orford to Vancouver, about 10-11 hours. I would figure one riding day from Toronto to the TAT start, one riding day from Port Orford to Vancuver, and say 28 riding days for the TAT. Add however many rest days you want and your two buffer days at the two ends and call it 35 to 40 days total. If you really want to take 2 off for each 5 riding you'll be closer to 40 total.
One thing I did a couple times to "shorten" parts of the route was to have both Sam's tracks and Kevin's tracks running on my GPS in different colors. Most of the time they are the same but often they diverge for a while then come back together "down the road". When they did that I generally took the shorter option.
Good luck. It is a great ride.
I believe I read through most of this thread a while ago when contemplating which TAT packet to buy. While I would have preferred to support Sam, since I think this TAT thing is his baby, what tipped it toward Kevin's was the repeated mention of well marked gas stops on Kevin's route...in contrast to folks complaining about *not* being routed to gas on Sam's route.
I don't know for sure what Sam's does or doesn't have but I like the stuff I got with Kevin's package. I'm leaving this Saturday from CA headed for PA but will likely ride to Time's Square for a picture and some closure. Unless things have changed, I don't want to bother with the nonsense down at Battery Park - real PITA to get around down there.
Anyway, I agree with Addapost's description of "the plan"; that's pretty much how I'm going to play it. I've taken a lot of time agonizing over how to pack things and just had to settle on what got my necessities on the bike. I'm sure I'll get bored and/or frustrated enough to experiment with other packing schemes en route.
I'll likely mix in a little of Northern Traveler's "Northern Route" as it suits. I'm not even dead set on what I am and am not going to bother seeing. In the past I've typically picked a destination and attempted to make a beeline most expeditiously but that was when I was younger and on streetbikes. At all but 50 years old now, I have to discipline myself to not burn myself out and stay mindful that I'll be solo in the boonies. Much more risk than the pavement touring, but that's the draw for me.
"I'll likely mix in a little of Northern Traveler's "Northern Route" as it suits. "
Any suggestions for worthwhile sections? It looks like you're familiar with the Dakotas.
I’ve ridden the Northern Route from Iowa to Eureka, MT. It’s all good...but different. East of the Missouri River is farm country, mostly laid out in a grid pattern. West starts to get into big open rolling terrain.
I don't get the mixing a northern route with the TAT. They are nearly 500 miles apart until you get to northern UT, Idaho and Oregon.
I would say this is one of the best parts of the TAT, although we did the original one thru northern NV.
But maybe you are looking for a way to make a loop out of this and stay mostly on dirt??
The Black Hills and Badlands have some good riding, but that's all I really know.
I am considering a detour in Kansas that would take me to the northern part of the state.
Depending on weather in the south and/or how I feel about getting to PA, the NR will be a little more expeditious. I’ve spent plenty of time down in the Smokies, et al, so I won’t miss much I haven’t seen.
Never been through the Badlands though and all I’ve heard about northern NV sounds intriguing.
You’re right, I do intend to make some kind of loop; perhaps a figure 8.
I guess the bottom line is that I have no specific route-just some time and maps.