Trans America Trail 2021

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Motochimp, Jun 23, 2021.

Tags:
  1. Motochimp

    Motochimp Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2020
    Oddometer:
    106
    Location:
    Bend OR
    I was gonna give it a couple days to get some rest and all my crap put away and then give a review on all gear. But since you asked, the 890 was great! Exceeded my expectations and handled everything the TAT could throw at it. Zero issue mechanically, not even a flat. Give me a couple days to recap everything and I’ll write a more detailed breakdown of the pros and cons, big bike or small bike. Thx for following along.
    slimy, snglfin, bikerjim2000 and 3 others like this.
  2. Bdmoody

    Bdmoody Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    98
    Location:
    Columbia, SC
    Looking forward to it as I plan my 2022 TAT as I retire. I definitely on the fence with bikes small vs. medium. The big one will go to AK in 2023 when purchased. Take your time. I really enjoyed the RR!
    Motochimp likes this.
  3. trialstech

    trialstech Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    126
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Enjoyed the RR write up @Motochimp ! We were a day or so ahead of you and I enjoyed reading your experiences as it slightly differed from ours but mostly the same areas. Let us know when you post your videos to YouTube or wherever. In my opinion the best parts were the passes in Colorado, and the western half of Oregon. The section from John Day to the coast was epic. If I ever do it again I'll likely do a similar plan (west half from Trinidad or La Veta) although there are some parts I'll skip and some places I'd like to add. Also I won't be on the little Trail 125 again!
    Motochimp likes this.
  4. Cam

    Cam Long timer

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2008
    Oddometer:
    1,113
    Location:
    Cape Coral FL
    I thought I might have missed the breakdown so something to look forward to. Thanks!
    Motochimp likes this.
  5. T3/T4 Hybrid

    T3/T4 Hybrid Lone Rider

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2009
    Oddometer:
    205
    Location:
    K-Town NC (BSG-62)
    Congrats on finishing and sharing your adventure!

    Also welcome to the club.
    Motochimp likes this.
  6. mtnbikeboy

    mtnbikeboy Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 9, 2011
    Oddometer:
    224
    Location:
    Longview, TX
    Does he have a RR going?
  7. MuckSavage

    MuckSavage A Piney Irregular

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2011
    Oddometer:
    954
    Location:
    Turnersville, NJ
    No, he does not
  8. Motochimp

    Motochimp Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2020
    Oddometer:
    106
    Location:
    Bend OR
    Agreed!!! Colorado was amazing, and I really enjoyed seeing parts of Oregon from the trail. That last section from Canyonville to Port Orford IMO could’ve been split into two days, but being so close to the finish line I just kept going. I really enjoyed following the Elk River, there were so many bitchin spots to camp along that stretch. Your RR was the highlight every night to read, your journey was amazing and your ability to break it down into story was the best. I’ve told myself the same thing, I would really like to hit Colorado again and just plan on hitting small hotels without having to bring all my camp gear, a lighter load of gear will make the experience that much better. Also, I wouldn’t mind hitting that Moab section again without the 109 degree heat. As I was riding along I always felt I would be able to catch you guys but you were on a mission making good time each day, so glad your journey ended well, there were a few times I had my doubts, absolutely amazing accomplishment. I kept thinking as I rode “those dudes came through here on loaded down 125’s, amazing!”
    Congrats on your finish, and yes, I definitely plan on a return trip to hit the some of the western sections.
    snglfin, teslaJ, rokon140 and 4 others like this.
  9. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2012
    Oddometer:
    3,153
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    I'd really like to do the TAT from Denver on West, then come back thru Cali and link the BDR's home...
    Motochimp and Jrushman like this.
  10. Motochimp

    Motochimp Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2020
    Oddometer:
    106
    Location:
    Bend OR
    Let me know when, sounds fun.
  11. BigBluKlr

    BigBluKlr Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2018
    Oddometer:
    261
    Location:
    Pittstown NJ
    Every time I get a bit down that I'm not using my bike enough, getting back into the woods enough, I read these RRs and I get recharged. Thanks for taking us on the ride with you
    BLucare, Motochimp and Critic like this.
  12. Phuket198491

    Phuket198491 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2021
    Oddometer:
    20
    Location:
    Ohio
    Really appreciate you recapping all of this...planning on riding the TAT in early September for the first time solo and your information has been invaluable. I'll definitely be also posting an RR to help others as you've helped me.
    Motochimp likes this.
  13. txmxrider

    txmxrider Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Oddometer:
    310
    Location:
    Wandering in the mountains somewhere
    Great ride report! I really enjoyed following along. You really had me on the edge of my seat with your Lockhart Basin segment! That was quite an accomplishment to ride that section on a big bike, especially since you weren't really expecting it. Congrats on a fine ride!
    teslaJ, BigStu and Motochimp like this.
  14. teslaJ

    teslaJ n00b

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2021
    Oddometer:
    3
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    So glad you made it without any major set-backs and had a great ride! It's been a while since I've been on a long and epic ride, you're inspiring me to plan another. If you're ever back in Asheville, hit me up!
    Motochimp likes this.
  15. Motochimp

    Motochimp Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2020
    Oddometer:
    106
    Location:
    Bend OR
    Will do, I'm pretty sure I owe you a beer.
    teslaJ likes this.
  16. Motochimp

    Motochimp Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2020
    Oddometer:
    106
    Location:
    Bend OR
    REVIEW:

    I've been home now for a week after being gone almost a month, there's been a lot to do regarding bike, gear, and catching up with friends and family. Also I've had time to look back at the incredible opportunity and adventure that has consumed me for 8 months. As I stated in my opening post on this forum, I've never not worked, matter of fact, I've never taken a vacation lasting more than 7 days. I'm not sure if this is normal for a 57 year old nor do I care, but I found myself waking up each day thinking... is this it? Is this what retirement feels like? For some odd reason I felt incomplete, so my search for adventure started. Since the day I began riding motorcycles I've really had a passion for riding, it was the one thing that really helped me through good times and bad. It was the only thing I did that really helped my wacky brain just relax and focus on the moment.

    So when I started thinking about doing something, it always came back to a moto adventure. After nerding out on the web for weeks I found this website. I found myself reading RR's for hours, Columbia, Mongolia, Africa, Baja... and finally I stumbled across, the TAT. I've never heard of it before but I knew this is what I wanted to do, something big, something I could measure, a test. So now that I've given the update on how I got here, I felt obligated to pass on what I've learned along the way, the answers to questions I had before I left, to help those after me choosing to tackle the Trans America Trail.

    BIKE:
    This was the first big question that hit me, and would stick with me until about a week before I left on the journey. I've seen the question asked so many times before, and all the different answers that would follow. None of these answers made me confident I was making the correct decision. My choice was my 2020 Husky 350 FE-S, or is this a perfect reason to finally pull the trigger on a new adventure bike, the new KTM 890 Adventure R. After reading so many RR's, I broke it down into 3 groups. The small bike group, WR250's and the likes. Mid-bike group, Honda, Kawi, and Suzuki 650's, the mules. Then there were the true adventure bikes, the twins ranging from 800cc to 1250cc. The guys on the small bikes always reported so much fun, the perfect size, never any mechanical issues except a flat tire. The mid-bike group seemed to be the majority here, the bike of choice, the perfect size for hauling 60 pounds of gear over Engineers Pass, but for some reason their RR's were always full of mechanical moments beyond flat tires, electrical, sprockets, carburetor, etc... Then there were the big bike group, but I was always a little concerned with these guys that have been riding big bikes for years and their apprehensions of "can I do the TAT on a GS"? Considering I've never owned or rode a bike bigger than 500cc, and I didn't have one of the mules laying around, I originally decided on using my 350. I bought the bigger tank, I bought Giant Loop bags that would fit, and succumbed to the fact that I would have to learn to fix a flat tire on the trail. It's worth noting that I've never had to change a flat tire in my garage let alone on the trail, that's what kind of pussy you're dealing with here, it always seemed like an easy $10 to have the Motoshop do the dirty work. The KTM 890 I had on order came in about 3 weeks before launch and gave me the chance to ride it on familiar ground. I took it out on some local trails, very intimidating at first, she was so wide at the hips, tall... and heavy. But right away I got comfortable with it and I knew that for 90% of this trail it would be the best choice, I would have to just make the other 10% work on the bigger bike. Also, the thought of using a tire plug kit on a flat tubeless tire made a lot more sense with my mechanical skill set, jacking the bike on a stand, removing the tire, removing the tire from the rim, removing the tube from the tire, and doing it all in reverse on the trail in 105 degree weather seemed horrifying. In the end, this bike worked perfectly, nothing was too much. Were there moments I wish I had my 350, yes. If I was going to do it all over again I would take the big bike hands down. I asked myself 100 times while riding the trail, would I rather be on my 350 right now, the answer 98 times was no. Am I saying the TAT is less enjoyable on a smaller bike, no, what I'm saying is if you're concerned about using a bike that might be too big like I was, my answer is if you're a skilled rider and you're not intimidated by the bigger bike, you'll be just fine. Which brings me to my next subject... Weather.

    WEATHER:
    I'm not sure there is a way to schedule your trip to hit the best stretch of weather, but it's definitely something that should be on your mind as you plan. Regarding my review of the best bike, shitty weather definitely changes the experience on a bigger bike. I was fortunate to get rain early on when most of the roads were paved, but I had small doses of rain in Mississippi and Oklahoma, enough to make me very aware that I would not want to be on these roads/trails on a big bike after a huge dump of rain. One factor is the tire selection, the smaller bikes not only weigh less, but you can have a more aggressive knobby tire which would make a huge difference in the mud. I had to go over Warloop Rd and Hurricane Creek Rd in a down pour, it wasn't so much technical, it was the slimy slippery mud that made that section hell. It took me 4 hours to get through that section, if it was dry I would completed it in about an hour and would've enjoyed it, I did not enjoy it in the rain. There were sections in Oklahoma that had a lot of rain a few days before I rolled through, so most if it was dry enough to not be a factor, but every once in awhile I would hit low sections of the trail that were still muddy and slimy, these sections were no joke on a big bike. But to be honest, I wouldn't have enjoyed these section any more if I was on my 350 loaded with gear. That Oklahoma mud is legit, and don't feel bad if you're struggling with it to reroute to some pavement for a few hours to get around it. Out west I don't think weather is as big of an issue, but I would be checking on weather reports as you go. Also, be aware of the heat. Out west you can easily go for 5 to 10 days of 100 degrees plus, and sections like Utah, Nevada and Idaho, there is no shade. So remember to prepare for the worst, if you have a mechanical out there, you'll need a lot of water.

    LODGING/CAMPING
    After geeking out on TAT videos for weeks I concluded that being the pussy that I am, I could camp 3 to 5 nights in a row, then find a hotel for a hot shower and a load of laundry. Remember, all I know is what I've been exposed to out west, also I have virtually zero experience camping in a tent or a trailer. I know, you all are thinking, this fu@ker has lived a sheltered life, no camping experience and he's gonna go on a 30 day camping trip, he truly is a dumbass. Just remember, I was looking for adventure, something that would get me out of my comfort zone. I wish I had a video of my first night trying to put my tent up, took me 40 minutes, so glad nobody was there to watch. Also, nobody informed me about the different types of camping, the rules, what the fu@k a camp host is... oh, and I need a reservation?! Let me just warn those who are not "in the loop" on how camping works, it's a cult. If you've never done it before, at some point you'll ask yourself, so for another $40 I can get a hotel room with a hot shower and air conditioning? Out west if you want to go camping, you ride down the nearest dirt road for awhile, find a creek with some shade, pull over and set up camp, that's it. I'm exaggerating slightly to make a point, but if you plan on camping east of Colorado, don't take it lightly, you'll need to be organized and prepared. This is what I've learned about camping: KOA's are awesome, very well organized, clean, good shaded sites for tents, always a small store for needed incidentals including laundry facilities, hot showers, each site has it's own power and water, and although they want you to make a reservation, I stayed on 3 of them and not once did I have a reservation. State Park campgrounds, these are one step below the KOA, most of the same without the convenient store, laundry facilities, and staffing. These you will definitely need a reservation or get there early before 3pm to grab something available. Then there are the first come first serve, some of these don't even have water at your site, minimal shade, no grass or landscaping. I will admit though, some of the coolest, most chilled out and interesting people I met on the TAT were in campgrounds. One more thing, the camp host is the gate keeper to how your experience will go, whether you get a good spot, maybe away from the main road, one with shade or not, that's if he agree's you can stay at all. I would recommend a good greeting like "I really like your hat" or "boy, am I glad to see you". This is their world and they are very proud of the their empire. So my 3-5 days of camping in row turned into a 50-50 split on hotel room vs camping, I was uneducated and wasn't prepared.

    MEALS:
    Just like camping I thought I would eat more on the trail so I packed 8 Mountain House pre-made meals that take a cup of boiling water, let it sit for about 10 minutes and boom, dinner is served. I packed 8 packs of Oatmeal that only needed boiling water as well. I figured these would last me for at least 2 weeks and then I could plan on getting more along the trail when needed. Also I would grab jerky, cheese, power bars at fuel stop as supplemental. Just like lodging, technically you could get hotel rooms and eat at small diners and restaurants along the way if planned properly without ever having to cook or camp. All I needed now was a tool to boil water. I found the Jetboil system was going to work best, boils 2 cups of water in about 2 minutes, very compact and lightweight. I brought a coffee cup and Starbucks instant coffee packets for my morning Joe, the Jetboil worked well for this as well. Once again, I probably over packed here, I only ended up eating 3 of the Mountain House meals and zero oatmeal. There are plenty of places along the trail to get food, out west not as much, but with a little planning it's not that big of an issue. It was always easy to find a great diner in town, just ask a couple of local people, normally the locals will all have the same answer.


    SAMS vs KEVINS
    Which is best... I don't know. Most people have a soft spot for Sam considering this whole thing was his idea, but it doesn't always mean you can't take a good idea and make it better. I purchased both, first I wanted the flexibility to use both on different sections, and secondly they're not overly expensive. One thing you'll need to consider and I think is more important than which map is the GPS device you'll be using to navigate the trail with. After a lot of web hours, I landed on the Garmin Zumo XT which ended up to be an excellent choice. The main difference between which maps you decide to go with is how they're loaded into your GPS device. Kevin sent an SD Card that slipped right into the Garmin and boom, there were the tracks coast to coast, some color coordinated Blue, Green Red for level of difficulty. For a techno dumbass I felt this was very much a plug and play system and I had no issue loading and following along. The different options regarding Blue Green Red I thought was a great idea as well, especially if the weather turned to shit, you could just grab a green route which wouldn't take you far off the trail and you don't have to waste time calculating a reroute yourself. Also, Kevin's came with these small 5x7 cards that easily fit into my tank bag. These small cards had the section mapped out with available fuel stops, lodging and restaurant options along the trail, this was very helpful and I took it for granted until I switched to use Sam's route from Utah through Idaho and into Oregon. Sam's routes were in a GPX format that came in a email which you had to download into your desktop and then downloaded into the Zumo XT, this wasn't too hard to figure out but not as easy as adding a SD card. Also, not all GPS units accept these GPX files so you'll need to confirm that before you decide. Once I switched to using Sam's, following the route was just as easy. The one thing Kevin could have done better was to add available camp grounds along the way that required reservations on his little section cards. I think everything considered these trails are very similar and cover pretty much the same routes, but there are some exceptions.


    GEAR:
    As I stated before, I have no camping experience so everything I learned was online and from friends that had knowledge. The best way it was explained to me is consider your needed items as if you were going to go backpacking for a week and every ounce you carry makes a difference. Now that might sound a little extreme but it's a good base to reference when deciding.

    Camp Gear: I purchased a light weight 2 man tent used for backpacking, very light and big enough to throw gear in if it was raining out. I ran into guys that used 1 man tents and they all wish the had bigger tents to put gear and items in at night. Also, 2 man tents only weighs a couple of ounces more. After reading some good reviews I bought a Zenbivy sleeping bag and pad system. Went a little large on the pad and bag, I definitely didn't want to be riding all day and not have a comfortable place to sleep. In hindsight I could've went with less bag and a smaller mat just for packing purposes. I think my coldest night temp was 55 degrees so I was a little overboard on sleep gear, but this system worked as advertised. I found an ultra small, USB chargeable air pump for pillow and mattress, named Flextail Gear, found it on Amazon, this device was amazing. Everyone I showed it to said the same thing, "I am getting one". I used a small REI inflatable pillow to lay my head on, it worked just fine. I used Jetboil to boil water for meals and coffee, this device worked perfectly every time, lightweight and compact. I bought a camp chair at Costco, small, lightweight, used it every night I camped, a great idea and gives to a place to sit and relax as opposed to a stump or log. One of the best items I brought was small packets/towelettes of Off! insect repellant, open the packet and wipe it on, total game saver against the mosquitos.

    Riding Gear: After a lot of online review, I decided to step up and go with Klim Baja S2 riding gear. I wasn't so concerned about waterproof/gore-tex gear, I wanted something very breathable but still had the needed protection, this gear didn't disappoint. Even on the hottest days it vented very well everywhere, even in my worst moment in Lockhardt Basin I didn't consider taking the jacket off, as long as I was rolling along it vented and performed amazingly well, actually I was very surprised with the performance. I wore this gear for 22 straight days, all zippers worked every time, never got sticky, very well made, you can tell it's a quality product. I purchased Frogg Toggs rain gear, extra large so I could slip it on quickly over my boots and riding jacket when needed. Although I rode quite a bit in the rain, and this gear worked flawlessly, it was probably more than I needed, I probably could've gotten away with a cheap brand, extra large jacket just to keep the rain off of my upper body. My boots were SIDI Gore-Tex adventure boots, these were expensive and I have zero regret with this expense. They fit like a glove, my feet never got wet, they were comfortable all day long on and off the bike. Every morning when I slipped them on they felt great. I purchased at Arai XD-4 helmet, I wasn't sure what to expect out of an "Adventure" helmet only because I've never owned one, but his helmet fit great out of the box, was well vented, and the flip down visor was excellent. I loved the flip down visor as opposed to goggles, this feature was awesome. If it got tight and slow, it would start to fog up, I would just flip the visor up and be good to go. Someone recommended to bring a pair of goggles as well and an extra pair of gloves, I never used either.

    Bike Gear: I started out with the factory tires on the 890, Continental TKC80's. These tires worked perfect on roads and in the rain, but on gravel roads were a little sketchy. I never really felt comfortable on gravel roads with these tires, and without nothing to compare them to I just figured it was a handling characteristic of the bike. After 2600 miles I got to Trinidad and swapped them for a Motoz Tractionator RallZ rear and a Motoz Tractionator Desert front. The TKC80's were still in pretty good shape, probably good for another 1500 miles or so. The difference between these 2 sets off road were huge! Although right away I could tell the Motoz set were much noisier on the road and a little squirrelly, the payoff on the dirt was well worth it. Without belaboring this point too much, these Motoz tires made me so much more confident on the dirt, so much more confident, to be honest I probably couldn't have made it up Imogene Pass or through Lockardt Basin on the TKC80's. I put the approximate same miles on these and they look barely worn, including the 100% on road, 300 miles back home to Bend. I swapped the factory seat for a Seat Concepts seat, although I had nothing to compare it to, the seat was comfortable but after 6 or 7 hours in the seat, my ass would always become uncomfortable by the end of the day. But it must be just a function of too many hours in the seat, because every morning when I mounted up the seat and my ass felt fine... at least for 6 or 7 hours. I carried a Dynaplug air pump that worked off the bikes battery and a Stop n Go tire plug kit in case of a flat. Maybe another testament to how well the tires worked, I never had a flat the whole time. I carried a small bag of tools, a few zip ties of different sizes, small roll of duct tape and electrical tape, never needed any of it. I had a small bottle of chain lube, about 4 or 5 times I stopped to spray the chain off and add lube.

    Clothing: 3 t-shirts, 3 pairs of riding socks, 3 pairs of undies, a 1/4 zip fleece pullover, 2 pairs of shorts, pair of thin sweat pants, pair of tennis shoes, pair of flip flops, Oregon Duck visor and a pair of sunglasses. Funny thing, I don't remember wearing the sunglasses at all.

    SOLO vs GROUP:
    My reason for going solo is my own. There were nights after a long bad ass ride I wanted to share my days stories with friends, sections of trail I wanted to share with friends, great food that I wanted to share with friends, and scenic views that would have been better shared with a friend. In the end I got what I was looking for, a quiet moment in my life that helped me appreciate where I have been, things that I've accomplished, and a reminder of how lucky I am to be a part of this wonderful world.

    If any of you future TAT riders have questions, don't hesitate to reach out and ask.

    For all that followed along, I hope you enjoyed it.
  17. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2016
    Oddometer:
    1,412
    Very well thought out summary, and helpful! Thank you for taking the time to think through what you did and how all the pieces fit together. Well done!
    papa ktm and Motochimp like this.
  18. Phuket198491

    Phuket198491 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2021
    Oddometer:
    20
    Location:
    Ohio
    One of the best summaries I've read and super helpful for someone like myself who is thinking about the TAT for later this summer. You've helped me tremendously in terms settling questions around the bike, gear, campsite logistics, etc.. Really appreciate it.
    Matt_S, BigStu and Motochimp like this.
  19. BLucare

    BLucare What could possibly go wrong?

    Joined:
    Oct 6, 2016
    Oddometer:
    4,005
    Location:
    Green Bay, Wisconsin
    Awesome write-up, MC :thumb Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and gear, etc. with us. I always appreciate readings reflections like this, even though no two are identical. It just provides more food for thought.

    That said, now that you've got the TAT done and dusted....... What's next? :ricky
    Motochimp likes this.
  20. Motochimp

    Motochimp Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2020
    Oddometer:
    106
    Location:
    Bend OR
    Great question! To be honest, before I committed to the TAT I looked at Baja very closely. I’ve been to Cabo a few times, love the people, food, vibe etc… couldn’t help every time flying down and back to look down and think riding this stretch of land must be glorious… ya, prlly Baja.
    BLucare and GringoRider like this.