Separate names with a comma.
Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by anelog272, Jun 15, 2021.
thanks for the support and checking in, Sim
Little disappointed that the TW200 didn't make the short list of consideration. Trail capable, a bit better highway capability, but still looks like a one-man Shriner parade, if that's what you are after (and apparently you are...).
Looking forward to the ride report.
This is the best worst idea we've ever had. There will be a warm shitty can of beer waiting for you in Branson, CO. Forward ho brother!
You're right - I have no clue why the TDub wasn't on our radar. Seems like a fun as hell bike.
Pre-Ramble Part Three - The Smokey Mountain 500 Shakedown
“We’ve got a long way to go and need a long time to get there…”
The Himalayans we’d ordered came, which meant that unfortunately, we had to pay for them. Really shitty how that works, isn’t it?
But by this time, we had pretty much committed to taking the CT125s on the TAT. I love the REH (LOVE!) - but after riding it a bit, I can’t imagine taking something that heavy on any rough trails. Maybe someday when I’m a better rider. But it’s nowhere near as forgiving as the little Hondas.
The Smokey Mountain 500 was meant to be our final shakedown for the TAT. We’d pretty much settled on our gear, or packing strategies, our filming equipment, and riding gear… But we wanted to test it all out in a real situation that would be somewhat similar to what we’d encounter on the Trans America Trail. But also - the SM500 is an incredible ride.
For some details on this trip, John posted a ride report at:
And there are a few videos on YT. Here's Day 1:
Not only was this a fantastic, scenic, beautiful, and epic route. But it was incredibly informative and helpful. We learned a ton. Starting the TAT without having done this would have been a grave error. Of course - starting the TAT at all may end up being a grave error.
As always, the CT125s were amazing on everything except for getting to the start of the trail and getting home. On the 55 mph roads - let’s be honest - it’s miserable. You’re blocking traffic, people get pissed if you can’t find a spot to pull over to let them pass… It’s just kind of stressful and it’s not all that fun. I don’t remember seeing many scenes of Ed March going 35mpg up a hill with 13 angry cars behind him. Because who wants to see that I guess. But on the dirt. On the twisties. Through the water crossings. Amazing. We rode for 10 to 12 hours per day and our asses didn’t fall off. The bikes swallowed everything that was shoved down their throats. The only real mishap was when John came down hard on a rock and bent his frame. which threw his foot brake out of whack. After getting home, it took him a few weeks to figure out how to fix it - but a friend helped him get it straightened out.
Other than that, we had a complete blast. And my confidence in the dirt has gone up plenty since Hurricane Creek. Am I competent? No. Am I getting closer to not being a complete disaster? Yes. Tentatively.
I learned quite a few things. First - filming and editing on the road is going to be much tougher than I thought. In fact - it's probably impossible. I have to film much less and be much more discerning about what I shoot. It took 2 hours to load the first day's footage onto a hard drive. That’s not sustainable. It’s still up in the air - but I may not be able to edit and post videos as I go, which is what I’d hoped to do. I’m not going to sweat it. If I can I will. If I can’t - I’ll edit when I get home. We’ll see.
I also learned that my sleeping bag was not up to the task. I froze on night one. That’s been replaced. I also learned that my tool kit was not at all right. I’ve fixed that and made it much smaller. My side bag broke - and I’ve replaced that as well. Other than that - everything worked. There was nothing I needed that I didn’t have. And other than a small saw and a survival knife - there wasn’t much I had that I didn’t need.
I think John learned a few things and is making a few changes as well. I’m sure he’ll comment here about what he’s got going on.
We’re going completely stock. Well - John got some knobbies for his (I’m using the stock tires to start with and hope to change them along the way somewhere) and I had some foam put into the seat because my ass is delicate. But no sprocket changes or suspension mods or big bore kits or anything else. I mean - it’s a Honda. Why mess with it?
All in all - we feel fairly ready for the epic ride.
I plan on leaving Asheville on June 23 or 24. I haven’t decided on where I’m going to pick up that TAT yet. My thought is that I’ve done most of the roads in this region already - and the ones I haven’t done I think I’d like to save for day or overnight trips when I’m home. John just texted that maybe we should do Outer Banks to wherever I start at some point so that I’ll have officially done the entire route coast to coast. As much as I’d like to do it all in one trip, I can’t carve out more time and I don’t want to have to rush through - so that sounds good to me. Like someone commented - there’s no TAT Ticket to be punched and you don’t get a certificate of completion. Doing it however you want is fine. For now - I think I might slab it to Cherokee, NC, and hop on the TAT there through Telico Plains. And then get to wherever I get to that second day, the third, and so on until I hit the ocean (fingers crossed). I’ve tried to convince John to quit his job and start with me - but for some reason, he’s not going for that. Probably because his job is pretty awesome. Originally he was going to haul his bike in a rented truck to Amarillo and then ride to Branson, CO. But he decided to ship the bike and fly to Amarillo. Here’s his bike being picked up a couple of days ago.
He has an epic solo two-day ride from Amarillo to Branson or Trinidad where we’ll meet up. I have a feeling I’m going to be extremely glad to see him. From there - we’re off to Port Orford.
Looking good fellas!
fwiw. there was a good reason that Sam picked Tellico Plains as his 'officially start' originally - you're soon on the dirt with the Witt Rd. water crossings - and that makes perfect sense to pick up the current route there if you're starting out from Asheville, particularly if you're already familiar with a lot of the trails and minor roads in NC. As a thought, if you're filming this whole escapade for a series, then maybe consider a run over the Tail of Dragon on the CTs before you finally head west? - that ought to get you a few YouTube hits ;o)
It looks like your shakedown test of gear went well, although perhaps reconsider putting anything on those racks over the headlights (and the racks themselves) - it will be interesting to see how they hold up over many thousands of miles of rough road riding, although I appreciate the load you've got on there is not especially heavy, having anything there might become tiresome over time.
I'd also suggest sharing whatever duplicate gear you have (other than underpants of course!), and in general you'll find you need far few clothes than you might think for this trip... A few changes of underwear and some items to layer with, plus a properly waterproof outer layer - be that your riding jacket/pants or a simple pullover smock/rain pant combo you can stash in your luggage. You'll almost certainly ride in the rain at some point, it will be cold some nights, and similarly it is going to be baking hot in many places - so a few simple layers is the key to remaining comfortable.
In Australia we call these “postie” bikes because the postmen used them for years. They are an institution. I also have an RE Himalayan which is great but I concur, they are not for rough single trail. They are great for two track and gravel roads, not great for highways either. The ‘postie’ is an ideal choice, light and durable. Basically what millions of asians ride….in thongs with bald tires on muddy tracks, carrying the rest of the family. You guys are in for a great adventure
Pre-Ramble Part Four
First an ADV Rider question. Is there a way to size the photos in posts?
Also - I think I’m being so long-winded because there’s a ton of anxious energy happening as I get closer to starting the ride. I swear to God I’ll stop these long rambles soon. I leave in a couple of days - so I won’t be able to babble so much even if i wanted to. Anyway - apologies…
Here’s a bit of backstory on my motorcycle history.
My first motorcycle was a green plastic battery-operated bike which was a predecessor to Harley's Livewire.
Then came the Honda Trail 70 at about 10 or 11 years old. The feeling of adventure and freedom that little bike gave me was astounding. It also instilled in me a love of ugly as sin motorcycles that endures to this day.
When I turned 16 I bought a Honda Shadow 500 and when I was 17 I was riding it straight through a green light and someone coming the other way didn’t see me and made a left turn directly in front of me. My body and bike totaled their car. I spent a few days in the hospital with a broken ankle and some minor injuries. I got lucky. My bike wasn’t so lucky and I decided to use the insurance money to purchase a creepy 70’s Chevy Van with spoilers on the hood and a framed Jack Daniels old no. 7 mirror on the wall inside. You could fit a keg in the van and have a rolling party, which was important in rural Newtown, CT in 1984. The accident scared me and I shied away from bikes for a bit. But just for a short bit.
A couple of years later I bought the larger 750cc version of the same bike. (I liked those Japanese Harley rip-off bikes…)
I’d moved to Columbia, SC to attend college and then hung around to play in various rock bands. I rode all over the South throughout my twenties when I wasn’t touring. After the last band got dropped I moved out to Los Angeles to chase a girl and to try to make some money for the first time in my life. I got into the film business and got married to the girl I was chasing (the one who started this whole TAT thing). I finally got rid of the last motorcycle I owned (a Suzuki Intruder) about 20 years ago when my wife and I had our first kid. Seemed like the responsible thing to do. Here’s a photo of it after years of sitting unused. I had a hard time letting it go even though I liked the Shadows better. I used that 60’s convertible Plymouth Valiant in the background to help ease the pain. But we all have to grow up sometime - right?
Over those 20 years of not owning a bike, I’d rent one a couple of times a year just to have a chance to get out there and clear my head. I rented Harley’s mostly, because that’s what was readily available, and because I love riding them. After moving from Los Angeles to Asheville, NC in 2006 - I started renting adventure-style bikes so that I could explore the many fire roads in the region - and I fell in love with that ability to see an unmarked trail on the side of the road, and take it.
I like having some sort of weird goal attached to my rides. For three years, every time I rented a bike my goal was to get over the Smoky Mountains from NC to TN without using a map or GPS (compass only) and without getting on a highway. Not impossible of course - but it was much harder than it sounds! So many of those mountain roads just peter out to nothing. And without Google Maps - you don’t know that until you’re at the nothing. And I very much enjoy not knowing until you’re at the nothing.
For the longest trip I’ve done to date, I had a similar goal. I chose Gaspé, Canada as a destination (because the word Gaspé sounded cool to me) - and again the rules were - no maps, no GPS. I could only use a compass. But I was allowed to get on the highways. That trip was on a giant Harley (which my ass remembers being just a wee tad more comfortable than the CT125). That was a 2,500-mile epic ride and I did eventually make it to Gaspé which didn’t quite live up to its cool name. But I was incredibly happy to be there all the same and I saw some incredible scenery, had several run-ins with giant moose (meese? What’s the plural of moose? Google says the plural of moose is moose. That’s disappointing somehow.)
But now - the kids are old enough where my flying off a treacherous mountain road and plunging to a violent and glorious death wouldn’t be that bad. I mean, it would be bad. But I wouldn’t feel completely guilty about it. Of course, I’d be dead, so feeling guilt probably wouldn’t be a high priority anyway. What I’m getting at is - I’ve gone from owning zero motorcycles for the past 20 years to owning two motorcycles in the last three months, and I like the trend.
We did actually - you mentioned VanVan I mentioned TW200, but then suggested the XT250 instead. Anyway - it's on now!
Since the SM500 the only real changes on my setup is I had some Shinko 241 tires installed (2.75" front and rear). I'm not 100% sure that I need them, maybe the stock tires would have been fine, but they were inexpensive so I decided to give it a try. I also added a second USB charger Optimate (https://amzn.to/3zEVKvY) with a higher current output which I think will fix my charging woes.
Other than that, since I'll be flying to start out west I'm working out my luggage and travel situation. The tricky part is going to be figuring out how to meet up. Once Ang gets on the road a couple days we can get a better idea of when this may happen. I have a little bit of flexibility of a day or two I think - assuming my flight can be transferred if a seat is available.
Unfortunately we haven't been able to hook up again for another prep ride because of work or in a couple cases some bogus weather forecasts calling for rain that never happened. My bike has been shipped so now it's just a countdown to departure.
Big trip on a small bike!!
I’m in for the read
So much better than heading the opposite direction.
I can only handle one at a time; but for me, the ideal # would be “3” to own at once.
Fellow Western NC resident here. I just finished 2000+ dirt and backroad miles on a KTM 690 and was wishing for bigger bike in some places and a smaller one in others. Right off the bat you're eliminating one of those wishes! Can't wait to see how this goes.
I have both a brand new 2021 XT250 and a CT125 Trail. After riding both on dirt roads and on steep terrain, hands down the XT250 would be my choice for the TAT. The CT is a blast to ride and play around on but it’s pretty miserable in rough terrain that’s hilly. I can’t imagine loading the CT down with enough gear to travel the TAT and have it be fun. On a stock CT125 anything over 20 miles an hour pretty much beats you to death in rough, rocky terrain. The CT also has limited room to slide around and be comfortable on long rides (that damn bar on the rack). The XT250 definitely has much more room on the seat to move around and stretch out. I’m speaking from experience here, I also have lots of other bikes both large and small including Honda Groms and Monkeys and ride mostly TAT like terrain. I would definitely take a Honda Grom over the CT125 Trail if I had to choose a small bike for the TAT, it’s much more comfortable and also more capable with a manual clutch. I’m not knocking on the CT125, it’s really fun and would be a perfect bike to zip around in an oceanfront (we took Honda Monkeys to Daytona bike week this year and had a blast) area or someplace with sealevel flat terrain. Riding the CT125 at steep hilly altitude is not the best place given it’s low horsepower, semi automatic clutch, and weak suspension on rough terrain. I envisioned myself riding the TAT on my CT125 but quickly changed my mind after riding it in that type of environment a few times. Bottom line, for long distance travel the CT125 has poor ergo‘s, weak suspension, and it’s extremely under powered and slow. Our 2015 Honda Grom runs circles around the CT125 on dirt roads and trails. I don’t mean to
Drag down this post, that’s my humble opinion based on my experiences with all of the above mentioned bikes. Family ride photo for attention.
I think you're probably right. When we were looking around I sat on an XT250 and I could tell it would be way way more comfortable right away. On the other hand, we did three 10 hour days on the Smokey Mountain 500 and that was some rough and fairly steep terrain. Not Colorado steep of course, but... We thought the CT125s did great all things considered, even with everything completely stock. We had them packed the same as we will for the TAT and they didn't feel overly squirrely. Anyway - there's no doubt the XT250 would be better suited. We'll find out how terrible a decision this was soon. I leave tomorrow!
Also - let me know where to get the cool fold down box if you get a chance!
Where is the fun in taking the most capable motorcycle?
Really looking forward to this ride report. Good luck fellas!
Very excited for both of you, I can’t wait to follow your adventure. I’m sure no matter what you’ll have a blast. FYI I do love my CT125, I probably ride it more than I ride my other bikes. Travel safe and keep us all posted.
Ant crates, you can find them on Amazon. Very nice crates, I highly recommend them.