Trans America 2020 on a Yamaha WR250r

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

  1. Robco

    Robco Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
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    35
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    Marion,nc
    Harpers Cycle are good people, Billy will take care of you, and Hitting A LOT of the breweries in Asheville is always a good idea! :-) Be safe and have a great trip!
    #41
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  2. GtiKyle

    GtiKyle Been here awhile

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    Tacoma, WA
    Great pictures, and really enjoying how thorough you're being. This looks like a great trip. Keep at it :)
    #42
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  3. dirtmarine

    dirtmarine Been here awhile

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    Jul 21, 2014
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    311
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    Kansas City
    What device are you using to write this narrative, laptop, etc.? I did the TAT from Andrews out to Trinidad CO in my truck about 4 years ago. Had dinner with Sam and his wife in Corinth, MS. Did not have the experience for a dirt bike trip, or thought so. Had a Yam 250 at the time and it will do great at the CO altitudes. Now I have a maxi-scooter and wondering how to create a parallel route to the TAT using tarmac and good gravel. I lived in CO mtns for 40 years so familiar with much of the western route. Live south of KC in the country now and TAT goes through northern AR and OK only an hour or so from me. Let me know if I can ever be of help in that part of the TAT. Paramedic experience so can patch you up if needed:-). God speed.
    #43
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  4. sperduton

    sperduton Been here awhile

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    Lebanon Township, NJ
    Good report so far
    #44
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  5. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Adventurer

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    Jul 10, 2019
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    Austin, Texas
    I am using a laptop. I went back and forth on bringing one, but I'm going to try and get some job resumes out and work on the rough draft of a novel while I'm doing this so I figured why not. I have it in a waterproof bag, within a plastic bag just to be safe. It has been easy posting with wifi, but once I get really out there I'll probably be less and less consistent with updating the RR. Thank you for the offer. With the way things are going so far, I'll probably be in contact!
    #45
  6. dirtmarine

    dirtmarine Been here awhile

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    Jul 21, 2014
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    Kansas City
    You're doing great juggling all these things with writing your blog, etc. I did the great loop solo a few years ago and had a little Asus mini "laptop". It was a POS and I wrote from a motel at night after being on the water and wind all day. It is not easy when you're looking for food, concerned about equipment, navigation, weather and getting some sleep. You are a good writer so keep it up. Very interesting.
    #46
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  7. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Oddometer:
    29
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    North Carolina is actually cursed.

    Day 5

    Woke up nice and early, hangover free I should add, and did all my checks on the bike. Chain was good, tire pressure was good, oil and coolant levels were good. The fork seals were in order, nothing was leaking. My electrics were in good shape, the headlight, tailight, and blinkers all worked. After seeing that front sprocket I was determined to make everything was in good shape. I played around with a breaker bar and learned what 90 nm felt like on the rear axle. To be quite honest though, I'm a bit OCD about exact measurements so when I do the tension I will probably try to do it in an Autozone parking lot so I can borrow an actual torque wrench. It's essentially free and I can have peace of mind. If there isn't one, I'm confident in my abilities to do it.

    I had my dad look over the bike after I looked over the bike and he gave it the ok. I said goodbye to him (again) and headed. My goal for the day was to slab it to Andrews and rejoin the TAT there for a bit, then take on the Cherohala Skyway. It really sucked to miss what looked like some good trails, but I have like 4500 more miles of dirt trails to go. I just wanted to ease the bike in and feel it out to see if there were any problems before I was back to thundering down trails. Thankfully there weren't any, and everything was smooth sailing. It felt really, really good to get on the road.

    I drove throught Maggie Valley and man was it pretty. I could honestly live here, I'll keep it in the back of my mind when I'm rich.

    [​IMG]

    I got lunch in Bryson City at McDanks and made a reservation at a motel in Ducktown TN, then headed into the Nantahala. I didn't take many pictures, as beautiful as it was, because there weren't really many places to pull over. I had the GoPro off because I wanted to save the batteries for when I got up to the Cherohala and then Tellico for the classic TAT. Annoyingly, there were lots of white water rafting buses that were going really slow. I couldn't complain too much I guess, I've been on those buses a few times (not in the Nantahala).

    [​IMG]

    Would you trust anything that came out of this machine?

    Now here's where things go bad. I stopped to get some gas, then started the bike back up and attempt to get going again. I turned on my power plugs, and rolled back towards the road. I noticed my InReach screen was blank. That happens when it's not plugged it, it goes to sleep to save battery. The plug must not be plugged in fully, it has come out a few times on the trip and had done so already that day. I unplug it and plug it back in, then look over at my phone on the other mount and guesss what, it isn't charging either. I felt a pit in my stomach, you have GOT to be kidding me. I turn off the plug and turn it back on again. Nothing happens.

    [​IMG]

    The culprit.

    I strip the bike of the plastics and check the fuse for the plug. It looked fine, so I started the bike back up to see if it was working, spoiler: it wasn't.

    I tried to look up and see if there were any motorcycle shops around that would have one, but I was pretty far from any. I called my dad and asked him what I should do. He said somewhere like Autozone might have something for a cigarette lighter. I found an O'Reillys in Murphy and called them to see if they would have anything that matched the description. They actually did, it wasn't for motorcycles but it might work, and they had one left in stock. I told them to hold onto it, put the bike back together, and legged it to Murphy.

    Got to O'Reilly's, and while it wasn't perfect I felt that I might be able to get it work.

    [​IMG]

    The black wire was a lot shorter than wanted it. I know you can ground it anywhere, but I felt most comfortable grounding it to the battery.

    [​IMG]

    I needed more wire. I ran to an Advanced Autoparts across the street, got some, as well as a wire cutter, a crimping tool, and some electrical connectors and endcaps. I pulled the bike around the building to sit in the shade and got to work.

    I got the wires together and began the tedious task of threading them through the bike. When I did the original plug, I did it the same time I did the new three gallon gas tank, so it was real easy to get it through. This time, not so much.

    [​IMG]

    Lots of muttered cussing later, the wire was through and wasn't touching anything that would melt it. I attatched the ends to the battery, took a deep breath and started the bike.

    [​IMG]

    Success! The only problem is that it is hot all the time, which means I have to remove my cigarette plug or else the bike will probably drain because it has this tiny blue light. Not that I wasn't not going to do this anyway, but now I really had to make sure. Nonetheless, I was pretty proud of myself for working this fix out.

    So now it was time to put the bike back together, and after carefully stuffing wires back under the frame, I got everything on. I sliced my finger open somehow, so if you want to clone me there is a parking lot in Murphy, TN where you can find a DNA sample.

    Despite this victory, I was in a pretty sour mood. I was on a TAT trip, and it had been nearly three days since I really did anything on the TAT. By the time the bike was back together, it was four, and I decided just to go to Ducktown. On the way, I got caught in the rain and by the time I got to my motel I was just downright pissy. I checked in, threw all my stuff in a corner, stripped out of my riding gear, and took an hour long nap.

    When I woke up I called my family, vented and yelled to them about how life ain't fair and the world is mean (Sturgill Simpson, anyone?) and then went out to get food. I went down to Copperhill, TN and got some delicious Mexican food at Habanero's Fresh Tex Mex. At first I was wary about Mexican food in the middle of Tennessee. I went to college in Texas and spent my four years eating some absolutely delicious Tex Mex. The place had good reviews (and was also one of I think three Mexican places in this tiny town.) It was absolutely delicious. The place was run by what I assume was one family, and they were so sweet and friendly. I got the cheese steak tacos which I inhaled, and then went back to my motel.

    The new plan is to get up very early, go back up to Tellico Plains and start the classic TAT, then finish the day in Dalton, GA. The day after that, I will be trying to make it to Tim's Ford State Park and finally camp. That is, assuming nothing else breaks. And honestly I probably could have gone without it for the day, but I figured with the O'Reilly's having one in stock I might as well try. It really sucks to miss the Cherohala Skyway. I thought about going back, but I don't think I have the time. While I do currently have no job lined up, I do still have to go help my sister move into college in mid August, so I do have a soft deadline. But my dad and I talked and said that we are going to get some road bikes and do that and Trail of the Dragon, among other things.

    I've said this a few times before in the thread, but I'll take the time to say it again. Thank you all for tips and tough love. I know this is a chaotic RR, but the advice you guys have given me has been great. Hopefully I can actually deliver on a ride report, instead of "RacingBlue's 1000 Ways to Impede Progress" report.
    #47
  8. SOLOKLR

    SOLOKLR Back to work

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2006
    Oddometer:
    665
    Location:
    Green Valley, AZ
    At least the new power port has a lid. Keep rolling, you're doing fine, it's not an adventure if nothing breaks.
    #48
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  9. i4bikes

    i4bikes Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    646
    That little blue light probably is LED and will draw almost nothing. IMO you will only need to unhook it if you let the bike set for days.
    Press on, so much to see and do in that area you can't see and do it all even if you stay there for a couple of weeks.
    Good Luck and have fun.
    #49
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  10. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,175
    Oh man, you are getting adventure in spades!
    #50
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  11. KYwoodsrider

    KYwoodsrider Been here awhile

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    Mar 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    508
    Location:
    central KY
    Take the time and ride the Cherahala if the weather is nice. You won't regret it.
    #51
  12. Baggi'tard

    Baggi'tard If I don't answer I'm ridin' or shootin' Supporter

    Joined:
    Sep 20, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,382
    Location:
    Farmhouse Inn, Tellico Plains, TN
    If you can buy a power cable for your Garmin, do it, avoid having to use USB power, it will probably let you down again.. USB and other power plugs are not "all-weather" as they claim when things are plugged in. You won't be the first or last to have that issue. Garmin provides weather proof powered mounts and cables for a good reason.

    Next time you need a tow or provide a tow, "attach" the tow rope to a footpeg. Bike to bike is footpeg to footpeg (opposite sides). And by attach I mean hold it in place with your foot, that way you can let it go if you need to. By attaching it to the forks you lost all control as you figured out.
    #52
  13. Ginger Beard

    Ginger Beard Instagram @motopossum

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2008
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    13,378
    Location:
    FLAT Lander
    FYI, it never stops raining in Ducktown:lol3

    IMG_20191019_161715.jpg


    Good on you for sorting through your issues as they present themselves.
    #53
  14. veriest1

    veriest1 Minimalist Gear Hoarder

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2011
    Oddometer:
    2,875
    Location:
    Central Tejas
    Awesome ride!

    I like to use trailer connectors or 2 pin SAE connectors for my stuff that I want to be able to unplug from the bike. Has been working well so far and they're easy to source. Gives a "universal" and pretty robust connection. I've wired a USB charger to one a couple of times then ran the USB part into my tank bag.
    #54
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  15. liv2day

    liv2day Life is about how you handle Plan B Supporter

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2016
    Oddometer:
    2,189
    Location:
    Sherwood, Oregon
    Definitely in for this one, look forward to following along being a fellow 2-fiddy rider as well as wanting to do the TAT at some point in the future. Really cool you Dad was into helping out, hope to do the same for my boys when they're old enough.

    Keep the knobby side down, have a couple pages to catch up on :D
    #55
  16. Robco

    Robco Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Oddometer:
    35
    Location:
    Marion,nc
    "vented and yelled to them about how life ain't fair and the world is mean (Sturgill Simpson, anyone?)"
    A Sturgill fan! I saw him in Asheville in February before the world went crazy!
    Keep on trucking, it's all part of he adventure!
    Just watch out and don't be "King Turd":rofl
    #56
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  17. PittsDriver

    PittsDriver Fuse lit.... Supporter

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2012
    Oddometer:
    913
    Location:
    Annapolis, MD
    I'm really interested in how this trip unfolds for you. I did the full TAT in 2015 on a KLR650 that has since been passed on to another inmate. Thinking about doing it again, my choices are a WR250R and my 1200GS. So, how this works for you on the 2fiddy is going to be good information for my next assault on the TAT.

    Great report and photos! Keep 'em coming!
    #57
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  18. 75bronco

    75bronco Long timer

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,055
    Location:
    East TN
    Man, if your chain was that loose, check for swing arm for damage and make sure chain slider is holding up.
    Yamaha part number for slider is 3D7-22151-00 if u need one
    #58
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  19. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Oddometer:
    29
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Day 6

    Hold the phone people, WE ACTUALLY GOT SOME RIDING DONE.

    I left my place at the Ducktown Copper Inn at 8:40ish am without having any breakfast. I just wanted to get to Tellico Plains and get back on the TAT. Before I go on, I just want to say one thing about the Ducktown Copper Inn. Their big thing was their high speed internet, there were like 6 signs. I could not get both my phone and my laptop to connect to that wifi. I did have LTE so I powered up my mobile hotspot and wrote yesterdays RR that way. Other than that, the place was really neat and clean.

    I arrived in Tellico Plains around 9:20 and had a cliff bar for breakfast in the parking lot. It was a really nice view, and Tellico was a cute little town.

    [​IMG]

    The lot looked out over the road to the Cherohala Skyway. The weather was nice, the bike felt good, and the road was right there. I decided against it though. As much as I wanted to, the Skyway would be so much better on a bike with some kick than my WR250. I didn't do this trip to hit the twisties, I did this trip to tear up some dirt. I'll be back though. I have friends near here, so I'll use it as an excuse to go visit them.

    I finished breakfast and got started on the TAT. This was the classic TAT, and I knew what was coming. The infamous Tellico water crossings. I've heard mixed things about them, from stories about how easy they were to some guy dropping his bike and effectively ending his trip right there. The thing I loved about riding this section was that the dirt started pretty much immediately, and lasted almost all the way to the McCaysville. After a few miles of dirt right near the start, I finally reached them. The first one was pretty simple, like the one in West Virginia on Day 1.

    [​IMG]

    Water crossing #2 was a bit different.

    [​IMG]

    As you can see the water was half murkey and half clear, making it somewhat difficult to pick a line. I didn't want to pick the wrong line and hit a huge rock. I wasn't a stranger to deep river crossings and how they felt. I actually did one on my FZ-09 near Pedernales Falls State Park in Texas. It was on a low water corssing after a storm and the water was actually deeper than expected, but the FZ-09 powered through. I took a deep breath, and drove forward.

    I made it! I was relieved, but I knew I wasn't done yet. I came across water crossing #3. This one was infamous for the deep grooves formed at the bottom of the rock.

    [​IMG]

    This one was definitely the trickiest, as the line I picked hit a groove and I bounced to the outside. But I made it through, albeit my feet were SOAKED. For the rest of the day, my boots and socks could only be described as...humid.

    Oh, there was a water crossing #4 but it paled in comparison to the first three.

    [​IMG]

    The rest of the TAT to Copperhill/McCaysville was obviously the site of a recent storm. The road was littered with all sorts of debris, whether it be small branches, leaves from trees, or big logs like this.

    [​IMG]

    It would pretty much be like this until I reached Dalton, but thankfully no debris was blocking the road completely.

    The other problem with the section to Copperhill was that the storm had washed away a lot of the dirt and gravel on the road, leaving it looking like this.

    [​IMG]

    Now, this actually wasn't as bad as it looked, but when its going on for over ten miles, you get a bit frustrated. Remember that shoulder injury I talked about earlier? It REALLY flaired up today because of how much I had to fight the bike. More on that later.

    I rolled into Copperhill around noon, stopped for lunch at the Katz Cafe. I got a BLT and a sweet tea, which was absolutely delicious. When I went out back to the bike, an old lady came up to me and asked me how far I was going. I told her Oregon, and she was delighted because she was from Oregon. She said she was a rider at some point in her life too, and just wanted to tell me "God Bless" and have a safe trip. I thanked her and she went away. People are so nice. I popped a few ranger candy, aka ibuprofen, then noticed that Copperhill was actually a happening little town, way busier than it was when I got dinner there the night before.

    [​IMG]

    I got gas and headed back out, my eyes set on Georgia. I entered Tumble Creek and the Cherokee National Forest, and was greeted by this a "Road Closed" sign. I decided to go past it, there was a chance that even if a car couldn't get through the road, the bike could. And I was right! In fact, a car could have gotten around it, there were just two "road closed" signs sitting on opposite sides of a bridge about seven miles into Tumble Creek. I'm assuming the road was flooded at some point, because the bridge itself was fine.

    [​IMG]

    On the other side of the bridge there was a man playing with his kids at his truck. He flagged me down, and wanted to ask me about the conditions on the other side. I told him that it was rocky, but totally doable in his truck. He asked me if that way went to Copperhill, and I said yes, that is actually where I came from. He asked me if I was on the TAT, and I said yes. Then he told me that if I go through Boise, ID (which I will), that I should hit up his parents for a place to stay. He gave me his number and his parents number, and sent me on my way.

    The road conditions in the Cherokee were the same as before; rocky with debris in the road. I had plenty of footage of this kind of road on my GoPro, and turned it off and started to crank some miles. God I wish I didn't, because at one point I rounded the corner and came face to face with a mama black bear and her three babies. I scrambled to get the GoPro on and filming. As I drove by, they scrambled into the woods, and the mama bear turned and locked eyes with me. Those weren't the first bears I've seen, but it is always special to see them. Unfortunately, all I have to commeorate the moment was this.

    [​IMG]

    Those black shapes are in fact bears. You can see mom's ears from behind that tree.

    I kept motoring through the Cherokee, my eyes peeled for more bears and my GoPro ready to capture them. I never saw any more. Maybe I'll see some tomorrow, but I won't hold my breath till I hit Idaho and the Sawtooths.

    So this bit takes some explaining, so I've screencapped part of the map. Please don't be mad, Sam, I just need to explain it.

    [​IMG]

    At the red circle there is a T intersection. To the right is the TAT route, in yellow. To the left is a road that will take you to Alaculsy on the border with Georgia, which joins back with the TAT. The purple is a contiuation of Big Frog road, which I left to go to the red circle. I turned right and tried to go on the TAT. I was greeted with this:

    [​IMG]

    No worries, probably like the last "road closure." I'll just go around it.

    [​IMG]

    Yeah....nope. This closure was actually justified. No worries, I'll go down the other road to Alaculsy. I turned around and headed my way back, passing the intersection where I turned on, and then saw this:

    [​IMG]

    Oh God, please no. PLEASE be a sign about the washout down the road. I kept on riding and.....

    [​IMG]

    Somehow this one was worse than the last one. There was actually a spot to the left of this picture where you could have dropped in and driving in the creek, but I thought that would be just about the stupidest idea ever. I changed batteries in the GoPro and had a quick snack before rerouting. I looked back and saw that off the Big Frog road I came off of, there was Big Frog road that would lead to Alaculsy. I went back to the start of that and half expected to see a "road closure" sign. Thankfully there wasn't, and I rode it all the way to Alaculsy.

    This road was the worst one of the trip, think about everything I complained about previously and amplify that by 10.

    [​IMG]

    This was basically the whole thing, and this part wasn't even that awful. My shoulder felt like someone was jamming a hot needle into it, but when I got to Alaculsy the road became smooth and the pain subsided, for the most part.

    [​IMG]
    (Jack's River, Alaculsy)

    [​IMG]

    Truck drawn buggy, anyone?

    [​IMG]
    (Cisco)

    From Alaculsy, I went to the Cohutta Wilderness Area. The roads were a bit better than before, with a lot smoother gravel. But after six days of being on the TAT, a dream finally came true. On these rural ridgeline roads, the trees parted and I finally got see an overlook of where I was. I wasted so much time at each one just staring out at the expanse of Georgia below me.

    [​IMG]

    Georgia, more like Gourgia. Get it? Get it? Oh god it hasn't even been a week and I've already lost it. Cohutta was absolutely awesome and a welcome respite from atrocious road conditions in Tennessee. I left the forest and made my way to Chatsworth. I got gas there, and then rode the next 30 miles of the TAT towards Dalton. At some point, a road sign told me I was on the original Trail of Tears, which I thought was interesting. I am wondering if I get on it again once I get towards Arkansas and Oklahoma.

    [​IMG]
    (Chatsworth)

    I saw this beautiful piece of property as I went along. If I ever get rich I want something like this. I got to Dalton and rode Highway 41 towards Calhoun, where I got a place to stay and am writing this now. I unpacked the bike, then road to get dinner at Cookout. I saw this absolute legend in the drive through.

    [​IMG]

    Got dinner, drove back to my hotel, and settled in for the night. This is the last night I'll be in a motel for a few days I hope. I'm going to try and camp tomorrow once I get into Tennessee. Should make good time tomorrow, the mountains are behind me and I can keep a higher average speed. It felt so good to be riding, and the weather was great despite the report saying thunderstorms. I should be able to keep up the RR as long as I have a plug some LTE to get hotspot. If not, don't fret if you don't hear from me for a day or two. I'll try to be in the thread and talk to y'all, but you might not get the full day writeup.

    The bike ran really well, and the new chain and sprockets felt good. I'll probably give it a lube tomorrow moring or at lunch, then adjust the tension if needed when I finish the day. For now, I'll just lather my shoulder in icy hot and watch South Park.
    #59
  20. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
    Oddometer:
    29
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Looked it over and didn't see any damage, I'll keep this on hand though. Thank you for the tip!
    #60