Trans America 2020 on a Yamaha WR250r

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

  1. veriest1

    veriest1 Minimalist Gear Hoarder

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,982
    Location:
    Central Tejas
    Pete, I'm between Ft. Worth and Wacko. I agree, the BIBE region is probably the best over all but there are some real gems in my backyard and on down South into the Hill Country. Butler sells a map of that area down there for a reason!
    RacingBlue likes this.
  2. JoToPe

    JoToPe JoToPe

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2014
    Oddometer:
    266
    Location:
    Burleson, Texas
    Great RR - been reading since day 1! Sometimes the best rides have breakdowns, reroutes and rain days that throw off the schedule. Now that you know some parts wear out, those will be the ones you check more carefully or carry spares. My KLR has a spare clutch cable zip-tied along the OEM cable just in case. Looking forward to the epilogue.
    RacingBlue likes this.
  3. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Hey y'all! Figured I pushed it off for too long, here is the Epilogue/TAT rundown. The Epilogue will just pretty much be a picture dump, the rundown is probably what you guys are interested in.

    Epilogue

    I woke up that morning, the 27th feeling like an absolute trainwreck. In my state of relaxment, all the pain my body had endured showed up and I felt like complete trash. Mentally, I was exhausted. But I still had like a week of van driving left, all the way back to Rhode Island.

    We loaded up the bike that morning and were greeted by the owner of the Castaway Inn. He had heard of the TAT, but was fascinated by someone actually doing it. I told him that there were a lot more than me finishing here, and he was so impressed by it he is going to consider giving TAT riders a discount if they stay there. I'll throw in my recommendation for it, it was a really nice stay, I had an ocean view and the bed was so comfy ater a month of riding.

    After Port Orford, the plan was simple. We would drive to the Redwoods, then drive West home.

    I checked off another bucket list item by hugging a Redwood.

    [​IMG]

    From the Redwoods, we turned East, stopping at Lassen Volcanic National Park.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I hiked out to Bumpass Hell, which stinks way worse than Yellowstone in my opinion.

    [​IMG]

    From Lassen we went back to Salt Lake City, spending the night there. The next day we crossed Wyoming, then saw Chimney Rock in Nebraska.

    [​IMG]

    Western Nebraska is very beautiful. If you are in the area, ride Highway 26 at sunset.

    [​IMG]

    At Ogallala we encountered the worst electrical storm that I have ever been in. From Nebraska, we crossed Iowa and saw some family in Chicago. I made a new best friend as well.

    [​IMG]

    From Chicago, we went to Indiana Sand Dunes, then Cuyahoga Valley, then decided to push it all the way home in one day, getting home at 3am. Not too many pics from either of those two parks that I feel worth sharing to be honest. I read scary stories to my dad for 5 hours to keep us entertained from the Ohio border to home. It honestly went by very fast, but my voice was so hoarse.

    And there we have it. Home for the first time in over a month. It feels good....but I can't say I'm still not consumed by wanderlust. Someone mentioned the NEBDR, if I'm still in New England by the time the leaves start to change, I might get some cold weather gear and do that to see the fall colors. For now I gotta work on job prospects and start working on editing my 400 gigabytes of GoPro footage.
    BLucare, mbabc, EmmEff and 6 others like this.
  4. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    RacingBlue's Trans America Rundown

    So for this I'm going to just basically write a stream of consciousness. I'll go over the bike specs then answer a bunch of questions that I think one might have. If I missed anything, feel free to post a question and I'll answer it.

    What gear did you have?

    For a jacket and pant combo I had the Rev'It Airwave 3. Originally purchased for the Texas heat, this gear was the perfect choice for the TAT. Even in the heat of Utah or the Expanse, I never once felt overly uncomfortable. The only problem with them is that they were light gray and are now filthy.

    For a helmet I had a Shoei Hornet X2. I've had this helmet for a few years, and it is pretty comfortable.

    For boots I had Sidis. Now the model I'm not to sure on, I can't find my boots online so I'm going to guess I had an older model of the Crossfires. I recommend these boots, they were very comfy to walk around in, and they are very sturdy.

    What luggage did you have on the bike? Did you ever feel like you ran out of space?

    For the saddlebags, I had the GiantLoop Coyote Saddlebag Rolltop. In here I kept my tent (REI Half Dome 2), my sleeping bag, my airmattress, my inflatable pillow, and a week's worth of clothes. It got tight in there, but it fit and was very sturdy. You only have to make sure that the straps don't touch the hot pipes because they will melt, a few of mine fell victim. I never had any problems with water or dust getting in there, and as long as you make sure that they are tied tight they won't make you feel claustrophobic on the bike.

    For the tailbag I had a Nelson-Rigg RG-1050 Trails End Tail Bag. I tied it onto my luggage rack and it never really came loose. As for space, it could unzip and expand. In there I had my toolkit, my hygiene/first aid kit, a towel, flip flops, Vans, a towel, a sweatshirt, sweatpants, and laundry pods. I had to really stuff in there for it to fit, but it was perfect. I tied my rotopack to the top. My only complaint with this was that when a lot of dust got onto the zipper, it made it really hard to close. No worries, you just have to clean it out.

    For the tankbag, I had a Nelson-Rigg Trails End Tank Bag RD-1045. In here I kept my GoPro batteries/extra charging port, cliff bars, beef jerky a journal, a multitool, and a bottle of hand sanitizer. The space was good, but this thing came loose very easy and would flop around the bike. Eventually I got sick of retying it and just let it flop.

    Anything that didn't fit in this was put in my backpack.

    Honestly, whatever you do for luggage, just do soft luggage.

    So What Didn't Work?

    Aside from my sprocket and radiator, the only thing that didn't work on my bike was the Eklipes Cobra Ultimate Motorcycle USB Charging System. I don't know if this thing got wet and that's why it went, but after like four days of riding it just broke. It had good reviews too, maybe I just had a lemon. I replaced it with whatever they had from O'Reillys, and that made it all the way to the end.

    Oh, and I went through 6 USBC chargers for my Garmin InReach. To be fair, one of them got killed on Lockhart Pass during a fall. Someone posted a battery pack solution for it way back when, and I'm looking into that for my next ride.

    What electronics did you have on you?

    I had my laptop, a GoPro Hero 8, and two Anker battery packs. All did very well on the trip.

    Clothing requirements?

    Bring both warm whether and cold clothes. During the hottest, it got up to 110. The coldest? In the 30s. You need to be prepared for both these things.

    What weird thing that you brought were you glad to have?

    The cable saw. They're less than $10 at Wal-Mart, and it saved me hours of rerouting. Just buy one, they take up no space.

    Did you feel like you had too much or too little?

    Too much, next ride I'm going to go as minimalist as possible. What would I leave behind? My vans, I should have just rocked the flip flops. I could have done with less snacks, and my hygiene kit was a little too big. Though that doubled as a first aid kit, so better safe than sorry in that department. I probably could have had less clothes, but there came a point on the trip where I was smelling pretty ripe.

    I have to ask, how was the trip with COVID?

    This one is for you @Vandergraf!

    This trip, and most other motocamping trips, can easily be done with social distancing. Checking into hotels was very easy, everyone was behind a sheet of plastic. Camping I never really got close to everyone, every time I went into a store I had a mask on. Every hotel I stayed at was extremely clean, most restaurants are doing takeout/drive-through only. The ones that had open dining rooms stunk of cleaning products and had everyone sitting apart. The only exception was the BBQ joint in Winchester, TN, that place was packed but still was being heavily cleaned. However, canned food is real cheap and you can avoid restaurants altogether.

    Basically it comes down to this. Are you comfortable using a public restroom during COVID? If you so, then you can go on the trip. Stick to smaller campgrounds, or even do some dispersed camping if you want even less interaction.

    What did you use for navigation?

    A combo of the Garmin InReach navigation (which shouldn't be used for primary, and OsmAnd Maps, which was a free app with a $7 subscription for a year of unlimited maps. These maps on my phone did wonders and got me out of so many jams. They were very detailed, I never encountered a road that didn't appear on the map. Only problem is that in the hot weather the phone would begin to have a few problems. If you are going into hotter places, I would have a Garmin Montana or similar device as the primary, and use the OsmAnd as a backup.

    What was the best state on the ride?

    Colorado. Easily Colorado. It was some hard riding, but the views are so worth it. It was incredible. I would put Utah as second, I probably would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had no problems.

    Least favorite state?

    I'm going to go with a hot take here with Mississippi. I didn't do the whole thing, but honestly the forest bits I did do weren't exactly the best. sure, the roads were kind of fun, but nothing in Mississippi stood out from the rest of the states. The Delta was cool, however the poverty there was a bit jarring. The people were absurdly friendly though, as they pretty much were on the whole trip.

    This isn't a jab Mississippi as a state or the people who live there, I'm talking in terms of the Trans America Trail.

    Any times you have ever been scared on the trip?

    Yes. Three times, and only once was I scared of the people.

    West Virginia, while full of wonderful people on the trip, was also very scary. I never felt as remote as I did in the hills of West Virginia, and I'm being completely serious here. I've tried to explain this numerous times, but I just can't. It doesn't help when a real life mountain man is warning me about Hillbillies. That pretty much turned them from an urban legend of sorts into a real threat. I never had an encounter with the mean variety, and I hopefully never will. My advice for West Virginia is be careful on any detours. There are people there who want to be left alone, and do not take kindly to visitors.

    The second time I was scared was camping Great Salt Plains State Park. I think it was just nerves that night. I was the only person camping there and hearing coyotes howling is a bit creepy. I'm big into the paranormal too, so thinking about stories of ghosts and skinwalkers certainly wasn't doing well for my nerves. This fear can pretty much be avoided by:

    1. Not reading scary stories.

    2. Seeing another person within a quarter mile vacinity.

    Thankfully, that was the night I was on FaceTime with some friends so they helped keep me from not huddling in my tent waiting to get eaten.

    The third time was in Lockhart Pass when I thought I was stuck. That is pretty self explanatory.

    Should you bring protection?

    Yes. Whether that be bear spray, a big knife, or a pistol (which I recommend), you should be protected in some capacity. There are many things to be scared of in the woods, people are one of them. Pretty much any animal you will encounter on the TAT can be scared off, even the black bears. Just don't get between momma and the cubs. Remember those scary stories I read with my dad? All of them were supposed to be true. A few of them came from the subreddt r/BackwoodsCreepy. About half of those had to do with people on people interactions, including a story with a news article linked about a crazy man who killed someone on the Appalachian Trail.

    Now that being said, I never felt like I needed to use my method of proection. Another thing to note is that rules on carrying guns varies from state to state. Off the top of my head, Oklahoma and Idaho are both Constitutional Carry states, which means anyone can conceal carry within their borders. Not all of the states are, and you have to make sure you aren't breaking any local laws that could land you in serious trouble.

    How about the bike?

    The little 250 that could did awesome. It beat those mountains up with no problems, despite a decent loss in power.

    Perfect size for the trip to me is anything between a 250-650. Only thing lacking with the 250 was the top speed on the highway, but I made it there, didn't I?

    Favorite Food?

    Oark Cafe, hands down. Burgers were fantastic, pecan pie was ethereal. But the brewhouse I went in John Day was also very good, favorite beer I had on the trip by far.

    Feel free to ask more questions, these were the only ones I could think of.
    87warrior, BLucare, 1jonjon and 18 others like this.
  5. Jedi2Rider

    Jedi2Rider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 19, 2014
    Oddometer:
    312
    Location:
    Hokkaido, Japan
    Hello RacingBlue,

    Thanks for the epilogue and rundown. Been looking forward to it. Great to have such first-hand advice.

    Just a quick question from the epilogue...when you say you were driving West from Port Orford back home to Rhode Island, did you mean the "other" West, otherwise known as East? :jack Just ribbing you a bit...I think your mind was stuck in permanent "West" mode while on the TAT, and you could only think of one direction! West...West...West!
    Aces 6 and RacingBlue like this.
  6. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,273
    Great summary, and good on you for getting it done, a lot of people canceled plans for trips based upon the virus. You got it done! And for writing it all up, we all thank you...
    Jedi2Rider and RacingBlue like this.
  7. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    That might be the worst grammatical mistake of the trip :lol3
  8. Jedi2Rider

    Jedi2Rider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    May 19, 2014
    Oddometer:
    312
    Location:
    Hokkaido, Japan
    East...West...North...South...whatever!!

    Don't confuse me with details! THAT way!! :loco
    RacingBlue likes this.
  9. i4bikes

    i4bikes Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    661
    This is one of the best RR I have read any where and I looked for it everyday. Good luck with what ever you want to happen.
    As your finding out traveling is a addictive lifestyle.
  10. BadgerND

    BadgerND Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2020
    Oddometer:
    14
    Location:
    Bismarck, ND
    Great report, RacingBlue. I agree with the others who have said that you shouldn't go back and edit your RR. It's better as is.
    RacingBlue and Jedi2Rider like this.
  11. Solaros1

    Solaros1 Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,259
    Location:
    Roswell, GA
    Not to put ideas in your head (right) - but when I was traveling around Europe back in 1978-79 I met a guy who had bought a cheap moped in Amsterdam and he rode it all over Germany, France and Spain until it died somewhere in Northern Italy. At that point he just leaned it against a wall and walked away from it. He had a great time on an investment of about $75 plus gas. It was a very slow tour but he got to see a lot of the small towns that very few tourists get to visit. I always thought that he had a great idea.
  12. buckthedog

    buckthedog Eastbound and down

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2011
    Oddometer:
    752
    Location:
    South Mississippi
    As a former man of your youth, (I am still a man, just the youth part has departed) this report gives me hope that there are more young men and women like you out there, living, doing, being driven to do more with a (probably mostly) sensible head on your shoulders.

    I think that the influx of smaller, more affordable yet capable bikes hopefully will get younger folks out there doing this as well as camping, backpacking, hiking, as I did. Despite it only being a month or so, you have grown exponentially, as travel does that to a man.

    As your audience we've been captivated by not just your pictures, but your words, and your story, both written and unwritten. I am convinced that whatever path you choose in life, you will succeed.
  13. oldschoolsdime92

    oldschoolsdime92 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2012
    Oddometer:
    117
    Location:
    ohio
    WAHOO! You made it! Fantastic ride report. It has made my morning coffee much more enjoyable. Thank you for taking the time to do this ride report. Appreciate you allowing me to bug you on instagram as well =)
    RacingBlue likes this.
  14. oldschoolsdime92

    oldschoolsdime92 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2012
    Oddometer:
    117
    Location:
    ohio
    I have no doubt in my mind, that you will succeed at whatever you do. This ride report confirms that. Once you make a plan, you stick to it, follow through and do it to the best of your abilities.
    RacingBlue and buckthedog like this.
  15. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    And I always looked forward to your comments! You always had very helpful advice or at the very lowest an uplifting comment.
  16. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Funny, my cousin was talking about going to Eastern Europe, buying a Yugo, and driving it on a tour until it died. Both ideas are awesome.
  17. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Nah no worries, always love talking to new people! Feel free to drop me a line anytime.
  18. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Oddometer:
    127
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    I really appreciate this, thank you! Here's to hoping I can continue to captivate you guys.
  19. Solaros1

    Solaros1 Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2005
    Oddometer:
    2,259
    Location:
    Roswell, GA
    Most of my epic trips took place in my twenties, you're off to a great start. Keep it up and I hope you continue to share your experiences. I didn't get to Europe until I was 26, I really wish I'd gotten over there when I was 23. Travel is one of the most rewarding experiences any of us can have.
    RacingBlue likes this.
  20. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2009
    Oddometer:
    2,051
    Location:
    Durham, North Carolina
    Have your adventures while you are young and life hasn’t gotten in the way.