Trans America 2020 on a Yamaha WR250r

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RacingBlue, Jun 26, 2020.

  1. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

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    110
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    Austin, Texas
    You are the best, thank you so much!
  2. overlander

    overlander Gravel Travel Tours Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2003
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    956
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    Wicheetaw, KS but longing for Texas
    There was a bridge out yesterday that I got stuck in forcing me to do a long detour. It was due to forest fire damage. It was WAY before Azalea though. BTW Racing blue, I started supper without you! Just a teaser! When can I expect you to arrive?

    Attached Files:

  3. Jedi2Rider

    Jedi2Rider Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Hokkaido, Japan
    Go GO RacingBlue!!! You're almost there!

    No hurry, take your time, enjoy the last part. We're rooting for ya! :ricky
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  4. V@lentino

    V@lentino Inspektor

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    Great report racing blue, just on page one skipping to chime in. Nice pics and penmanship, digital that is. Keep on keeping on, I'm hooked, going back to page 1, carry-on please.
    :lurk
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  5. Aces 6

    Aces 6 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over

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    That's a GPS Kevin route no?
    Don't think Sam's hits that.
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  6. 1MUDDY1

    1MUDDY1 Got a Hose?

    Joined:
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    Georgia, USA
    Hey Blue, Its Doug and Danny you met the day you did Engineer pass ( the guys on the Big bikes).
    We were right on your tail until Monticello Utah, thought for sure we'd run into you there but never did.
    We're back in Georgia now safe and sound. Glad we ran into you on the TATT and really enjoyed your report.
    Best of luck in the future and hopefully we'll cross paths again.

    (maybe "Dalton Highway")

    Cheers
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  7. Oh2RideMore

    Oh2RideMore Long timer

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    1,699
    Location:
    St Louis MO
    "Pretty neat. I didn't look to see what was in those cans, and thankfully there were no snakes. I actually haven't seen many snakes on this trip, only one in Oklahoma and one in Arkansas. I'm definitely expecting to hear a rattle at some point though. I'm not too worried about a bit though, I don't think they can get through my boots."
    Stopped at that exact cabin ruin on kokopelli trail in 2015. Here is the cabin, and this what I saw inside. [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
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  8. Jmatt

    Jmatt n00b

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    Jul 27, 2020
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    1
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    Massachusetts
    I really enjoyed this thread.

    Mod note
    this scammer has been banned
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  9. JHpowderhound

    JHpowderhound Been here awhile Supporter

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    Feb 28, 2014
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    255
    Location:
    Jackson, WY
    Did you make it?
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  10. OUTLAND MOTO

    OUTLAND MOTO And then suddenly....

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    I second that!
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  11. The Goatsmith

    The Goatsmith n00b

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    North Texas
    Hey man, my wife and I were the couple you met near the top of Engineer on the DR and the 250L Rally! Great RR, and congrats on the amazing trip!
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  12. Jedi2Rider

    Jedi2Rider Been here awhile

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    May 19, 2014
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    Hokkaido, Japan
    +1
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  13. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

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    Jul 10, 2019
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    Austin, Texas
    Sorry for the delay, here are days 30 and 31.

    Day 30

    Day 30 actually starts at 4:30 in the morning, not because I started riding then. No, that's when I woke up and realized I was about freezing to death. I sent a friend a Snapchat, and in doing so checked the temperature with one of Snapchat's widgets, and realzied it was 43 degrees outside of the tent. I went to the bathroom at the campground, which was so nice and warm, and chilled there for a few minutes just enjoying the heat. I returned to my tent and I tried to bundle up as best I could, then fell back asleep. When I woke up at 7:30, it was warmer, but still pretty chilly. I slowly broke down camp and ate breakfast, taking my time to make sure that when I actually did start riding. Today's destination was another shorter one, I was going to get to Crater Lake to meet my dad and camp with him there. He managed to reserve the last site in the entire park, and I wasn't going to pass that up.

    When I finally got going, I got gas in town in Prineville, then hopped on the Crooked River Highway for the first leg of the day. This road was absolutely immaculate. The sweeping corners and smooth pavement meant for a real fun ride. I saw maybe five other motorcycles tackling this thing, and for pretty good reason.

    Unfortunately, I was stuck behind this guy for 3/4s of it.

    [​IMG]

    See, I love my 250 so much. It is the perfect bike for this trip, except when you get on a road that has a high speed limit. I was fast enough to get right up behind this guy, but not fast enough to slingshot around him in a safe manner.

    After crossing the dam, there was an uphill section that turned into two lanes. The guy pulling the trailer slowed up into a corner, and I downshifted and used all the power I could to pass him on the hill. At the crest, the road went back to one lane, but I was in the home stretch. I was ready to enjoy this ribbon of tarmac.

    [​IMG]

    Not four miles later the TAT turned onto dirt and I was off tarmac. That's just the way life goes sometimes. At least the dirt was smooth, and the long straightaways made for some easy terrain to just cruise.

    [​IMG]

    Eventually, the forest went away and I was back in the barren plains. It was starting to warm up, but I was still pretty chilly. Maybe mid fifties or even sixty degrees at this point. The wind was blowing just enough to get a serious wind chill.

    [​IMG]

    I started to slightly climb, and eventually got a view of those snowcapped mountains I saw the previous day.

    [​IMG]

    I wondered if I was going to get into that kind of terrain. It certainly didn't look like it as I kept going through the sage filled plains. Eventually, the forest came back. It was really cool, all of the sudden there was this green line on the horizone. It wasn't a gradual change, it was just immediately forest, and it was a pretty thick too.

    [​IMG]

    This section of the TAT was on forest roads the whole time, diverting into some very narrow, UTV friendly trails. Every so often I would encounter a cloud of dust, evidence that I wasn't alone out there. I never saw one though, the only two people I saw were two dirt bikers parked on the side of the road looking at a map.

    [​IMG]

    While these roads were very fun to ride through, they were very easy to make a wrong turn in, and I did a couple of times. The other really interesting thing about this section was how the roads would go from white dirt to red dirt, alternating every few miles.

    [​IMG]

    I wondered why this was the case, then I'm assuming I got my answer when I crossed into the Newburry National Vocanic Monument. this area was obviously a very volcanic landscape once upon a time, evidenced by Crater Lake.

    [​IMG]

    Once I crossed into Newburry, I started to make my way downhill. The road was very nice and smooth on one side, and on the other was one of the craziest ruts I've seen on the trip.

    [​IMG]

    God help me if another car was coming up, as I wasn't about to go drive into that rut for anyone. It tapered off at the bottom of the hill, and rejoined tarmac in the form of CR 21, which was again, an absolutely goregous road, and again I was stuck behind someone. This time it was a biker on a Harley who reaaaaally didn't know how to handle a corner on a motorcycle, it was almost comical. Thankfully, the roadside scenery was beyond flattering, winding between mountains and lakes. I pulled over a few times to snag some pictures.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    (East Lake)

    [​IMG]

    I turned on my last bit of dirt before heading into La Pine, a forest road titled "Newburry #120". The road was very similar to the trails I was on earlier today, this time however boasting some rollercoaster-like up and down sections that had me standing on the pegs the whole time. The twelve year old in me wanted to see if I could get air, but I was less than 500 miles from the Pacific at that point, no way was I going to do something dumb and risk it. Newburry #120 cut down to FR 22, which road all the way into La Pine.

    I got lunch at the Harvest Depot Restaraunt, which had some of the biggest chicken strips I've ever seen in my entire life. After eating an entire chicken, I made my way across the street for some gas.

    Now, this gas station was a bit weird. There was one line of pumps, with nozzles on each side, like normal. However, the side I chose was basically one way. You couldn't go around whoever was in front of you because there were these little barriers. When I pulled into my spot, I was behind one car. They finished before me, and I thought I was in the clear for when I finished just to jet out.

    All of the sudden, the King Tool of the trip drives right up and plops himself right in front of me, so now I have to reverse to get out.

    [​IMG]

    Really? Are you kidding me? You couldn't, I don't know, not block me in? I really wanted to say something, but I'm not a very confrontational person, so I just begrudingly, backed out of the lane and headed towards the TAT.

    I hopped on yet another really fast moving dirt road and made my way past Crescent City. This road was really nothing special, it had a few spots of loose dirt and was pretty much just a straightaway.

    After passing Crescent City, I crossed 58 and hopped on 6020 to something called "Windigo Pass."

    Now, if you know what a Windigo is, you know that it is absolutely terrifying. So obviously, Windigo Pass should either be two things:

    1. Infested with Windigos.

    Or

    2. Be a very formidable pass.

    Hoping the name was just in tribute and not a warning, I made my way down 6020, and onto the pass.

    [​IMG]

    I know techincally it is, but giving this thing the same lable as Engineer Pass is being a bit disingenous. The road surface was very smooth, no real blemishes to note. Most of the times the roads were really straight, and until you got to the summit of the pass the curves were very light.

    [​IMG]

    There wasn't even a sign at the summit, at least not one that I saw. There wasn't even that good of a view of Windigo Butte. Before I knew it, Windigo Pass was behind me. I was starting to notice that the trees were getting considerably tall.

    [​IMG]

    Remember when I said I felt like I was in the West? I wasn't anymore. I felt like I was in the Pacific Northwest. Looking back, that line was crossed at Newburry Volcanic.

    The really cool thing about Windigo Pass is the three mile straightaway at the end. It made for a very cool photo-op.

    [​IMG]

    After I crossed Windigo Pass, I turned on some tarmac and made my towards Crater Lake. I met my dad just outside and loaded the bike in the van. You see, I have a National Parks pass in my name. I can get in to any for free. I figured if I was going to hit three (which I did in Moab), it was worth it, and it has seriously been worth it. However, you can only get one vehicle in with the pass, so I figured we'd just roll in together. It just made financial sense.

    One thing I didn't really expect about Crater Lake was how tall it was.

    [​IMG]

    We climbed and climbed, reaching the rim. We walked up to the rim, and looked out.

    [​IMG]

    This place is absolutely breathtaking, and worth the detour 100%.

    [​IMG]

    The views here are just astonishing. The water is so blue it is almost mind boggling. Crater Lake is seriously one of the most impressive things I have ever seen in my entire life. It wasn't Grand Canyon level, but it was up there.

    We set up camp in Mazama campground and was greeted by this next to you site. Wonder what happened here, spontaneous human combustion?

    [​IMG]

    We then swung over to Beckie's for some dinner, including a slice of that pie you guys recommended. We had burgers, and got two slices of apple pies to go. We went back up to the rim, this time on the south side, and had dessert while watching the sunet.

    [​IMG]

    I had 240 miles from where I left off at Windigo Pass to Port Orford. Certainly not the shortest day, but after two easier days I thought I was rested enough and if I got up early enough I could push.

    After some hemming and hawing, I decided on what my plan was: I was going to finish the TAT.



  14. Jedi2Rider

    Jedi2Rider Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    Hokkaido, Japan
    Hemming and hawing...yeah right!
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  15. veriest1

    veriest1 Minimalist Gear Hoarder

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
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    2,896
    Location:
    Central Tejas
    Glad things seem to be going well for you now. Those are some great photos of Clear Lake. :getiton
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  16. overlander

    overlander Gravel Travel Tours Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2003
    Oddometer:
    956
    Location:
    Wicheetaw, KS but longing for Texas
    I’m betting he met some South American beauty of a waitress and they’ve taken off together! His poor dad is probably waiting there at Port Orford wondering...
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  17. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
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    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Day 31

    July 26th, 2020. Exactly one month ago to the day I was sitting in a parking lot in Ripley, West Virginia, a wide eyed greenhorn ready to take on the most famous dual sport trip in the Contiguous 48. Now I was in relative spitting distance from the end, having covered over 5000 miles already.

    The day didn't exactly start with a bang. Again, I woke up really early and really cold. Though it was a lot colder than the previous day, so cold in fact that I felt it was a necessity to break out my foil blanket and turn myself into a baked potato. There was no cell service at the campground, so I couldn't see the temperature. It had to be in the 30s, I was in utter agony.

    After the foil blanket was broken out, I went soundly to sleep, and when I woke up at 7:30 I was nice and comfortable. I reluctantly helped break down camp, and my dad and I went back up to the rim, this time the eastern route, to see the sites we missed before unloading the bike. The water on the lake was like glass as Phantom Ship reflected under the morning sky.

    [​IMG]

    We left the park and I unloaded my bike, then headed up to where I left the TAT at the end of Windigo Pass. I rode about a quarter of a mile on tarmac from the point I finished yesterday, then turned onto FR 4790 and into the Umpqua National Forest.

    [​IMG]

    The forests were thick, I couldn't see maybe ten feet into them, but the roads were awesome, at least the ones I were on. Every so often I would pass an offshoot that was covered in debris and downed trees. Sure, I had the cable saw in my backpack, but I wanted to make good time today so I was hoping that I wouldn't run into any. Plus, I had a potential of three roadblacks I had to navigate my way around. Needless to say, I was pretty nervous about how today was going to go.

    [​IMG]

    The air was cool, not uncomfortably cool either. A far cry from my near antarctic simulation a few hours earlier. After a few miles navigating through the forest, I began to climb.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The climb was very gradual, and the wildflowers dotting the road were a nice touch. Then I rounded a corner and came across this laying in the road.

    [​IMG]

    Sure, I could drive right around it, but it was a pretty scary reminder of the danger of landslides in the area, as well as potential blockages on my route. I went around and then made it to what I think was the top. The view was fantastic.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The air was so clear, I could see for miles and miles. I figured if the mountain riding kept up long enough, which it looked it did, I would be able to see the Pacific at some point before Port Orford. Just the thought of that seaside village was enough to get me butterflies in my stomach. After winding around the ridgelines, I finally began my decent back down into the valley.

    [​IMG]

    The roads back down were not that steep and the curves were not sharp. For the first time in a long time, I was able to just cruise my way down a few thousand feet. I rejoined pavement on South Umpqua Road, another windy yet fast paced ribbon of fun that ran next to the river of the same name. However, the thick set of trees on the embankment made it next to impossible for me to get a picture of the thing. I had to sit on a one lane bridge to get this shot.

    [​IMG]

    The road ends in a town called Tiller. Just past it, down a highway, was the next section of dirt on the TAT. I kept on chugging, preparing to stop and get gas in Azalea, when three miles down the road I came across this.

    [​IMG]

    This must be the bridge out that @overlander brought up. No worries, I'll just look at my map and find a trail that will get me to the other side. As I sat there pouring over my map, an SUV with two ladies pulled up next to me. "Are there any other ways around?" they asked.

    I shook my head, realizing that I had to turn around. I told her so, and the driver pointed at the passenger, who I'm assuming is her mother, and said "she agrees, and she's my map." Turns out, they were also trying to head to Azalea.

    We both reluctantly turned around, and I rode the Tiller Trail Highway all the way to Canyonville. I had lunch at Papa Morgan's Family Restaraunt, which I would highly recommend as the food was delicious and the staff was so friendly.

    After lunch, and for the last time on the trip, I got gas. I spent some time chatting with the attendent about GoPros and Red Bull gear before taking a perilous ten mile trip down I-5 towards Azalea.

    [​IMG]

    This was honestly pretty terrifying. I got revenge though, there was a pretty steep hill and the 250 blew past the semis.

    I rode into Azalea, hopping on Cow Creek road and into the second half of the TAT.

    [​IMG]

    I followed this road for a while, before turning on dirt again. I began to climb up onto another ridgeline. I can't really describe it, but this whole area smelled sweet. It was a very farmiliar smell, but I just couldn't put my finger on where I knew it from. Either way, with the views and the smells it was an amazing combination. It was, however, blisteringly hot. It had to be in the eighties or nineties.

    [​IMG]

    I kept on going, rejoining some hardball on the ridgeline. Before I hopped on dirt again, I saw this sign.

    [​IMG]

    My heart skipped a beat. I was getting closer and closer. I had a whole cluster of butterflies in my stomach now. The dirt was just a quick section, cutting through the prehistoric looking forests of the Pacific Northwest.

    [​IMG]

    I rejoined tarmac, and descended down from the ridgeline. I think I had less than a hundred miles to go at this point.

    [​IMG]

    I didn't know the exact mileage to the end though. I was navigating to the point where I would turn off of the TAT and do my detour of the construction (big thanks to @Retired 18Z for helping with that one).

    Here is the route for anyone who wants to recreate it. Instead of taking a right on NF 33 and going towards Powers on the TAT, I instead took a left and headed west. I followed the tarmac until I got to Agnes Pass, where I then turned onto NF 5325 and rode that until I rejoined the TAT.

    I was a little nervous about NF 5325, it was coming up as a dotted line on my maps, and those roads have been pretty hit or miss so far. All those roads that I saw were blocked with trees? Those were dotted lines. I envisioned taking hours to get through there, hacking away with the wire saw and getting into Port Orford after the sun went down. When I got to the start of the road, I took a deep breath and went in, expecting the worst.

    It was wonderful.

    [​IMG]

    The views were fantastic as well, one last treat from Oregon before the coast.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    When I rejoined the TAT, I opened my GPS and for the first time I set my destination as Port Orford. I had 29 miles to go from that point until the finish. All those miles until this point, I was going to make it.

    The TAT had one last surprise up its sleeve though. At 25 miles to go, I felt a pop when I squeezed in the clutch, all of the sudden there was no tension. Well, there was a little tension, but it was pretty obvious that the clutch cable was fraying.

    At 21 miles I rejoined tarmac, running next to the Elk River. The clutch cable was not in good shape. I pretty much had to dump the clutch to leave this spot, there was that little tension in the cable left.

    [​IMG]

    15 miles to go...

    I began to replay the events of the last month in my head. The mechanical pain of my chain falling off, the charger failing, my brakes failing, and my radiator leaking all over the desert. The difficult, like Engineer, Corkscrew, and Lockhart Pass just pushing me and my riding to the absolute limit. It was some of the hardest riding I have ever done, I wanted to give up so many times. Yet here I was.

    10 miles to go...

    I thought about all the people I had encountered. From the fellow riders, to curious locals who took an interest in what I was doing, to C and A in North Carolina who fixed my bike, and to the lady who prayed over me in a McDonalds parking lot in Georgia and comments on every single one of my Instagram posts (which is so heartwarming). I cherish all these encounters, they helped make the TAT what it was.

    3 miles to go...

    I sat at the intersection of Elk River Road and Highway 101. The clutch cable was absolutely knackered, my body was sore, and it was very chilly. As if on cue, my favorite U2 song, Stay (Faraway, So Close!) came on. I took a deep breath, and turned onto 101 and headed into Port Orford.

    [​IMG]

    I could smell the salt in the air, a scent I had grown so used to growing up in Rhode Island. I was near the Pacific Ocean, the largest body of water in the world, and one I had never laid eyes upon before. Two miles down the road, I saw this sign.

    [​IMG]

    I hade made it, Ripley to Port Orford. After all the shortcuts, detours, breakdowns, and reroutes, I totalled 5402 miles. There was only one more thing to do.

    [​IMG]

    There it was, my first eyes on the Pacific. Now, I just had to get down there some how. I took a turn towards the Castaway hotel, I saw a beach down that way coming up the hill. That has to be the one, right?

    [​IMG]

    Errrm....nope. Try again.

    [​IMG]

    There we go!

    [​IMG]

    Is there a more satisfying view on the TAT than this?

    Next thing to do, get that picture of me standing in the Pacific. I took off all my riding gear and socks, and walked over to the water.

    [​IMG]

    Oh my goodness was it cold. But I was on a mission. This picture wasn't good enough for me, I had to one up everyone else.

    3...

    2...

    1...

    [​IMG]

    I had worn my swimsuit under my riding pants the whole day just so I could do this. I didn't care that the air was cold, I had planned on jumping in rain, shine, or even snow. Just not lightning, that is dangerous. That being said, my goodness was this cold.

    I ran back to shore, dried off, and after waving to a guy I thought was @overlander up on the bluff, I went over to the Castaway hotel where I met my dad.

    [​IMG]

    You know, this is not the most ridiculous I've looked while riding a motorcycle.

    After showering and changing into some normal clothes, I texted @overlander, who was still in Port Orford, and told him I finished. He swung by the hotel and we all decided to go grab a bite to eat at Redfish. I had the special, which was halibut over glass noodles with shrimp and a coconut curry sauce.

    [​IMG]

    Let me tell you, it was seriously the juciest fish I have ever had in my entire life. Absolutely delicious. The three of us stayed till well after closing, just talking about life and listening to Overlander's awesome stories. At 9:30 at night, we called it a day and bid farewell, vowing to meet up again and do some more riding. If you ever have a chance to hang out with him, take it. He was seriously the coolest dude I met on the trip.

    I went back to the hotel, thought about writing the RR, and just decided not to. I was exhausted, my body was beat, and mentally I just wasn't there. I figured I'd let you guys squirm a day to build up tensions before the grand finale. I hope there are no hard feelings, you have all been a wonderful audience. At some point, maybe not tomorrow but perhaps the day after, I'll write an epilogue post and do run down, just for anyone who finds this thread a year from now and is planning a trip.

    Two years ago, I was sitting in my apartment in Austin, Texas when I had an idea. An idea that turned into a dream, a dream into a plan, and a plan into a reality.

    [​IMG]

    I finished the Trans America Trail.
    spdtrpl, mbabc, Bluuk and 44 others like this.
  18. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Oddometer:
    110
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Sam's did not hit that, unless I bypassed it somehow.
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  19. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Oddometer:
    110
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Glad to hear the rest of the trip went well! I was stoked to meet you too. Funny thing you mention the Dalton, I've been toying with the thought of Alaska for a few years now...
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  20. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Oddometer:
    110
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Thank you! I hope the rest of your trip went well, always nice seeing the little bikes getting some love on the tough stuff.
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