Trans America Trail / TAT 2021: HONDA TRAIL CT125 Edition

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by anelog272, Jun 15, 2021.

  1. anelog272

    anelog272 Some Guy Rides

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2020
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Final Pre-Ramble - TAT Eve

    I’ve spent the past two weeks trying to tie up every loose end that could be tied. I’ve tried to fix it so that work stuff will bother me as little as possible while I’m on the road - which I feel sure isn’t going to work. This is the longest I’ll be away from my wife since freaking 1998. This is the longest I’ve been away from my kids since they were born (other than my oldest daughter who made it to one semester of college before Covid hit). I’ll be honest. Taking a month to do something like this feels very selfish. And it makes me wonder why my family is so cool. Are they trying to get rid of me? Or are they just the coolest humans I know? It’s clear that they absolutely don’t understand why anyone would be excited about five weeks of discomfort, dirt, stink, and severe ass-soreness.. But they’re excited for me because they know how excited I am. I’m going to miss them.

    I’ve got my shit together as much as I can get my shit together. I’ve cross-checked my psychotic spreadsheet gear lists against my gear. I’ve tried to think of what I’ve forgotten (which of course is not possible). At some point you just have to say - okay - let’s go. Right?

    I know that thousands of people have done the TAT. It’s not like I’m going to the moon or something. But it feels like a major life event. Thousands of people have climbed Everest too. That doesn’t make it any less epic if you’re someone who does it. I don’t think anyone in human history has ever been on their deathbed and said, “I sure wish I hadn’t attempted the Trans America Trail…” Except for everyone who’s ridden through Oklahoma, apparently.

    I hit the TAT tomorrow. Thanks for inventing it Sam. Thanks for the inspiration Ed and Kiwi Groms. Thanks for making this ridiculous bike Honda. I’m going to do my level best to post some reports and photos here along the way. Send me and my bike Little Ugly Homefry some good vibes.

    Hell yes!
    #41
  2. Motochimp

    Motochimp Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2020
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    160
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    Bend OR
    Good luck to both of you and enjoy the view along the way. Your story is an epic one and I look forward to following along. I leave a few days behind you guys, if all goes well maybe we cross paths somewhere along the trail. Have fun, life is an adventure.
    #42
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  3. Klinc207

    Klinc207 To PERU!

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2015
    Oddometer:
    360
    Location:
    Up here or down there.
    Riding along!
    #43
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  4. Thunderbutt

    Thunderbutt Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2016
    Oddometer:
    301
    Location:
    Clearwater, Fl & Hiawassee, Ga
    Just a heads up, I watched a YouTube video the other night from a guy who crossed the Tallulah River West bound into Charlie Creek Rd.
    A road crew with a bulldozer had scrapped part of the road leaving slick red clay. His knobby tires had filled with the clay making the tires like slicks in the mud. The crew also tried to level out some of the craters and spread stone in some of the areas. Good luck on the ride, I am in for the report..
    #44
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  5. Joris van O

    Joris van O Been here awhile

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    Sep 11, 2015
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    Netherlands
    Those bikes will make it to the Pacific no doubt. Have fun and good luck! Keep us updated if you can find the time ;)
    #45
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  6. cb200t

    cb200t Been here awhile

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    Jun 26, 2012
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    Zanesfield, OH
    This is awesome! Good luck, and hope you're having fun!
    #46
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  7. sledrydr

    sledrydr Been here awhile

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    Sep 28, 2012
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    Iowa
    These are the exact reasons to take this little bike! Enjoy your experience and forget about being in a hurry or on a schedule. Looking forward to the story.
    #47
  8. Alfred_Bham

    Alfred_Bham Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2008
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    North Georgia
    @anelog272

    Are you taking the route that takes you into Georgia near Ellijay??

    if so, , when do you expect you’ll be there. I have a CT and I’ll try to talk my buddy who also has a CT125 into meeting up with you.
    #48
  9. Aikenrunner

    Aikenrunner Adventurer Supporter

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2019
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    Aiken South Carolina
    Following along!
    #49
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  10. anelog272

    anelog272 Some Guy Rides

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2020
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Asheville, NC

    DAY 1 June 23, 2021
    FROM: Asheville to Somewhere South of Reliance, TN (Lost Cove Campground)
    MILES: 219
    HOURS: 9:20


    A motorcycle gives a wise man time to think and a fool something fast to sit on…”
    - Some Guy, June 23, 2021



    This implies that I think of myself as a wise man - which is absolutely not the case. No one knows the depths of my dumb-assery more than I do (proof in just a second). But it does sort of sum up why I love riding a motorcycle.

    In Australia, the aborigines have a tradition of sending their youngsters out into the wilderness for months by themselves when they get to be 11 or 12 years old or so. They call it Walkabout. The idea is that they’ll have some sort of spiritual journey to help them figure themselves out and to help them transition into adulthood. I liked that idea and I’ve always referred to my motorcycle excursions as Rideabouts. I’m it for the same thing. I want a mind trip. And I’m still vaguely looking for a way to become an adult. I love nothing more than having hours and hours to stomp around in the swamp of my own head. Having that much time by yourself forces you to think of weird and interesting things. I mean - what else are you going to do?

    [​IMG]

    I left Asheville, NC at about 8am for a boring 2.5 hour drive to Robbinsville, NC where I’d planned on hopping on the TAT. I did hop on the TAT as planned - but I hopped on heading the wrong god damned direction! Many of you would never in a million years have shared this info. You are not my people. I have no shame. Fortunately I realized my mistake. Unfortunately that was 20 miles down a rough road. Good lord man! What is wrong with you!? But at least I didn’t accidentally go home. I might have taken this as a bad omen. Like - a “turn around and go home right now” sort of thing. Instead I made a U-turn and got back on track. Following a GPS track is a skill I need a bit of work on.

    [​IMG]

    Once I got going the correct direction - I had a great day. The weather was perfect and I enjoyed a leisurely ride through Telico Plains and did a bit of stressing about Witt Road. John and I did the SM500 not too long ago - and we made it across all of the water crossings with no problem. But I knew that if I went under water on the first day out that my confidence would be obliterated. I’ve been anxious about it for days. The first crossing was way deeper than I remember it being. We’ve had rain the last couple of days so this makes sense. I probably looked like a hippo on a pogo stick, but I made it across with only one boot half full of water. I look at the boot half full, not half empty. The next crossing wasn’t bad at all. Then I got to the edge of that evil as hell crossing with those weird rocks with the satanic grooves in them that take your front tire and do whatever the hell they want with it. Made it through and I said out loud, “In your fucking face Witt Road you son of a bitch!” It’s the happiest I’ve been in awhile. Well - all day at least.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The rest of the day was uneventful and filled with gorgeous roads. Nothing too technical. Some rocks and ruts and twisties. I passed through Reliance, TN and found Lost Cove campground and setup camp. I’d passed some guys in Jeeps along the way and they ended up at the same spot. They asked me about the bike and loved the idea of taking it cross country. They were doing a run on the TAT from West Virginia to somewhere in Georgia.

    I threw the days footage on a hard drive. I can already tell there is no way in hell I’ll be able to edit on the road unless I have some motel nights. And even then I’m not sure it’s possible. And I’m realizing as I write this that I won’t be able to upload it from my phone. No service here anyway.

    [​IMG]

    I ate a disgusting dried vegan meal of Tex Mex Savory Bowl (the savory part is a lie) and had a sip of bourbon (which was quite savory.) The vegan meal had the texture and taste of what you’d expect to find in the stomach of an ostrich after an ostrich autopsy.

    [​IMG]


    It’s about 8pm and that seems like a decent enough time to read a book on my phone and go to sleep.


    #50
  11. anelog272

    anelog272 Some Guy Rides

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2020
    Oddometer:
    108
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    DAY 2 June 24, 2021
    FROM: Reliance, TN to Lafayette, GA
    MILES: 224
    HOURS: 11:06



    “Who has not felt the urge to throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence?”
    -John Muir


    Okay - that’s the end of the quotes I think. But I came across it the other day and it hit home. Had a nice night at the campground and laid down pretty early. Read a little and tried to make myself sleep as early as possible. Woke up at 6am and had a great cup of coffee. I almost ditched the Aeropress last minute - and I’m glad I didn’t. A decent cup in the morning can really get you straight for the day. Had a vegan fig bar too. This vegan thing. I’m really trying to keep it up during this trip - but at some point I may have to eat the face of a four legged creature. My daughter has been bothering us for years to stop with the animal products and she finally convinced us in March. Honestly - it really hasn’t been that big a deal. I miss cheese and eggs. I don’t really miss the meat much - until I start thinking about hot wings or bbq. God damnit - now I’m thinking about hot wings and bbq. I’ve got some cholesterol issues and I’ve tried everything. Gym three times a week. All sorts of different diets. No change. Or - it goes up. The triglycerides are my worst numbers. After a month of plant based - the numbers are down dramatically. And I mean dramatically. So - if it gets me another year or two of hanging out on earth, what’s the big deal? And why am I talking about this in a ride report?

    Got on the road a bit before 8. I take too long getting my shit together. I don’t know the name of the little town (it might have been Copperhilll?) you come to first. It’s on a river, there’s a bridge. Cool looking little place. I stopped there for gas and thought about finding a coffee shop for some wifi to check in on work. I should have done that. But I thought - I’ll keep going and stop at a McDonalds for a coffee later and get some work done. Not being familiar with how the TAT works yet - I didn’t realize that I would pass through no town large enough for a McDonalds. There was one thing I needed to take care of, so stopping somewhere this morning would have been a good idea. Fail.

    Holy crap, Sam is a genius. Evil at times, but a genius. Today got technical. At least it was technical for a man of meager riding talents such as myself. Lots of rocks and ruts and fun. I don’t know if this can be right - but I swear I did 95 miles of continuous dirt in one stretch. Is that possible?

    I stopped for lunch overlooking a lake which Gaia said was called Indian Creek Inlet. The world famous chef in my pocket had prepared another fig bar. It was delightful.

    [​IMG]

    I thought I was well away from Smokey Mountain 500 territory, but I kept seeing things that looked familiar to me. Like this.

    [​IMG]

    I knew I’d been here before - but I really thought I had traveled beyond the SM500. And as someone who got on the TAT heading the wrong way - this made me nervous. I kept thinking, “Oh shit - I left an SM500 track in Gaia and I’m following that to who the hell knows where…” But it turns out that I was still on roads shared by the TAT and SM500. Sure felt like I’d ridden farther than that.

    [​IMG]

    The rest of the day was amazing riding with few incidents. Little Ugly Homefry is just a tiny chugging monster. She’s getting the crap beat out of her and just doesn’t care one bit. You just can’t tell me that these bikes aren’t capable enough for this sort of trip. They are. At least for two days worth. Talk to me in another couple of weeks. But there hasn’t been a time I’d want any other bike so far. A true delight on the rough stuff and fast enough for 98% of the pavement. The worst part so far was getting from Asheville to the TAT.

    The least fun so far has been the damn devices we all carry around. I had tested all of this beforehand with no issues. But the Duraforce phone would not charge on the bike’s usb ort no matter what I did. So it died and screwed up my Gaia tracking for the day. But I started it again on an old backup iPhone. Then the old backup iPhone kept saying that the device wasn’t compatible with the accessory. I had to unplug it and plug it back in constantly and it drove me nuts. If anyone has any advice on how to fix the Duraforce Pro (it’s a pro not a pro 2) or ways to set it up to make it more efficient somehow and/or some kind of override for this dumb iphone problem - let me know! I’d love to throw all the electronics off a cliff. But then I think about trying to use a map for this and I instantly stop complaining about the devices. I’ve never tried roll charts - and that sounds kind of cool. But I’m sure those have their drawbacks too. As it is - I’d say I missed 1 out of every 4 turns using the GPS. I can’t wait to see my crazy straw track.

    And the other thing it seems I’m going to have problems with is finding a place to camp. Before I left I was trying to plan out each night in advance - but several folks on ADV Rider said that was impossible. And I agree. Things happen and there’s no way to pre-plan where you’ll be each night. Someone suggested that the best way to find somewhere to sleep was to just stop at lunchtime and do a bit of google map searching.. Unfortunately hat’s not working out for me so far. I had zero cell service pretty much all day long. And I just don’t get how you’re supposed to go about it. I mean - I look on Gaia to see if there are any camping spots listed. That I can do. That’s how I found the spot last night. But Gaia really isn’t made for that and there’s not much listed. But using google maps… I mean, if I have service I can absolutely type in “camping near me”. That I can do! But for the life of me - I can’t figure out how to tell if anything that pops up is anywhere near the TAT track I’m on the way down. I know I’m missing some simple piece of information here. Suggestions appreciated! Even right now, with wifi and a laptop open - I’m searching along the route for tomorrow and I found David Crockett Campground which looks to be something like 200 miles away and 10 miles off the TAT. But that’s all I see. There’s an easier way that I don’t know about. Anyway - I’ll head toward the campground and see what happens. I’m also worried that they’ll be full - it’s a Friday night. And camping seems to be all the rage these days. Or maybe I won’t make it that far. Anyway - I thought I’d pass a camping spot in the dirt on the way to where I am now - and for the last three hours of riding - nuthing! And I’m just not quite to the place where I feel comfortable pulling into the woods wherever I happen to be to setup camp. Seems too dicey to me and too easy to be on private land. I’m okay with a spot that looks like it’s been camped at a ton before. I can tell I’m going to struggle to figure this out each night when I’d rather just keep riding. I need an assistant in some high tech office tracking my Garmin and figuring it out for me.

    So then it was 4pm. Still no cell service strong enough to do anything. I could get on google maps, but it wouldn’t search anything. Just a white screen. Then it was 6pm. At this point - I decided a motel was in my future. I had really wanted to get to Jasper but I was worried I was going to get caught in the dirt in the dark. And in the dirt in the dark is something I don’t want to do. I don’t think I could have handled setting up my camping crap even if I could find a campground - which I couldn’t. So I hopped off the TAT, finally got service and filled up with gas. This was where I lost the key to my bike. I have tried to be super organized. Everything has its spot. Fig bars are in my left jacket pocket. Wallet is in my left pants pocket. My iPhone goes in the inner jacket pocket. All pockets must be zipped at all time (after the iPhone decided to hop out on a ride up Stoney Fork - another story). The key ALWAYS goes in my right jacket pocket. However after I went inside to pay for the gas (it was an old school gas station situation) I came out and couldn’t find my key. First I thought - well - I accidentally gave the gas station guy my key with the money. What an idiot. However - he didn’t have my key. (Unless he slid it in his pocket so he could ride my bike home later.) I looked everywhere and started to panic a bit. Because - what the hell would I do if my key was gone? Before I left home I'd actually thought about bringing a spare hidden somewhere. But why on earth would I need to do that? Then I thought for sure that I’d laid it on the gas tank and closed the seat on it. I was ready to force it open. And then there it was under a glove on my pack. God dammit my good man! We have detailed, structured procedures around here. RIGHT JACKET POCKET! Anyway - now that I’ve told you where everything goes… If you find me passed out on the side of the road somewhere, you’ll know where to get whatever you want to take. I suggest left jacket pocket (fig bar).

    I ended up in LaFayette, GA at a motel. And now that I’ve tasted the sweet sinful nectar of a motel, it’s going to be difficult to go back to my plan of camping. I like camping. The whole ritual of setting up is satisfying. And it's affordable. But in a motel with wifi I was able to get my work shit done, catch up on emails, check in with home, upload my ride report from yesterday. Write today’s ride report. Transfer footage to a hard drive in air conditioned comfort. Poo in a toilet. And most importantly take a shower. I mean - I’m only on day two and I needed two showers to get the stink off. So I don’t know. I really don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on motels over 30 days. But for sure every three days at least. That’s just going to have to happen. I should have gone to find something to eat - but LaFayette isn’t renowned for their vegan cuisine as far as I know. Instead I had toasted peanut butter crackers that I’d gotten at a gas station (which surely contain horse hoof of some kind) and another fig bar. All this fig action is going to turn my colon into a waterslide. How’s that visual? Wait - I’m thinking of prunes. Sorry - I can’t take the visual back now. Actually I looked it up - figs are high fiber like prunes. I’m glad we got that sorted out. I need to concentrate on food and water a bit more. I just get into ride mode and I don’t really care. But I don't want to find myself passed out in a ditch at some point having someone going through my pockets with efficiency - like they knew in advance where everything was.

    [​IMG]

    I told the dude at the motel that I had to grab a ground floor room because I didn’t have the strength to lug my gear up flights of stairs. He said I could have the “Jacuzzi Room” if I promised not to use the Jacuzzi. I swore an oath to him right then and there that being of sound mind and body (although I am sound in neither) that I pledged under penalty of death not to use the Jacuzzi. This was oath that will not be difficult for me to uphold. I almost stepped on a scrambling lizard when I walked into the room. If you’re looking for a good room for your honeymoon or 50th anniversary, this might work for you. Tell them Ang sent you.

    [​IMG]


    Anyway! Today was incredible. I guess this is my job now for the next little while. Get up and ride all day. Finally found the perfect job. The pay sucks though.
    #51
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  12. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Long timer Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2008
    Oddometer:
    47,650
    Location:
    Pittsburgh PA
    1: I have tried to do trip reports while riding, it is really difficult. It starts to feel like it becomes a chore. If you run low on time, keep the updates simple and do a more detailed report later.

    2: It will be helpful if you get comfortable with the idea of just pulling off and sleeping somewhere, even if it is private property. The majority of the property owners out there do not care if someone sleeps on the edge of their property and you should be able to tell when you find the ones that do care. The property will be lined with signs and fencing. If you pull off the road near dusk, find a spot off the road far enough that no passing car will spot you, cover reflectors with a piece of clothing (sometimes jackets are reflective). Then get up at dawn and start packing. No camp fire. This will get easier, the further west you go but we have traveled all over the east coast, while camping. I was probably the one that suggested checking the map at lunch, just look at your GPS, many times rivers will have access points for fishermen. I have slept under bridges. Rivers are usually the best places to find quiet camping because roads are usually kept a distance away, in case of flooding, that will leave a buffer zone for camping. I have tried asking gas station attendants, in the evening, if they knew of good camping spots but only couple times did that work out well. Once, they said to just camp in the city park, down the street, the police are fine with overnight stays. The other time they said the abandoned house next to the gas station was theirs and we could just stay in the yard.

    One rainy evening, we spotted this abandoned house, we wheeled the bikes inside and it was dry enough inside to camp. It was a really great spot. Someone had cleaned the house out, 20 years ago, so all we had to do was sweep some leaves out to make a good place to sleep.

    #52
  13. Madscientist

    Madscientist Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    300
    Location:
    Oxford, MS
    Entertaining report so far! Keep it up.
    #53
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  14. Krabill

    Krabill Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2005
    Oddometer:
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    Tulsa, OK
    Loving the ride report! Feel free to PM me if you need a place to crash on your way through Tulsa.
    #54
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  15. trialstech

    trialstech Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2006
    Oddometer:
    148
    Location:
    South Carolina
    Yeah the USB port we installed on our bikes has a really low output. I didn't know you got a duraforce phone now. When we were on the SM500 that's what happened to me - the USB output wouldn't charge that phone. I ended up putting the phone in it's "Eco mode" or whatever the low power setting is called and then tweaking it more to get it to use the least energy while still running GPS. Also, I installed that alternate USB port with higher current output now so I think I have enough. Good thing you have the inverter as backup looks like you are using it in one of your photos.
    #55
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  16. JMo (& piglet)

    JMo (& piglet) Unicorn breeder

    Joined:
    Apr 1, 2007
    Oddometer:
    9,273
    Location:
    California
    I'd echo what Yinzer says - it's early days still, and certainly once you get a bit further west it will be much easier to fid some cool 'wild' camp spots just off the trail rather than have to hunt for official campgrounds the whole time. I'd also suggest there is no shame in dipping into a motel every few days to freshen up properly and recharge.

    And although it's a bit late for you now, I'd also suggest anyone else considering the TAT to invest in a dedicated GPS unit for navigation (road-book roll-charts really are for Rallies only... ;o) - while Phones can work well enough these days (other than potential issues with camera image stabilisation if you have it mounted on your bars and are riding thousands of miles of rough roads, and especially with only 3.9" of travel in this instance), I would not want to trust my primary communication device - and these days camera too - to navigation duties as well.

    While it can make sense to have some items be able to fulfil multiple roles on a trip like this, some essentials are still worth separating, and a dedicated (properly water and shockproof) GPS unit means that your phone doesn't potentially suffer damage or even the indignity of not charging properly for when you really need it. The phone can always be used for back-up navigation and as a google device of course, but something like a Garmin Montana is a much better GPS for navigating a multi-terrain trip like the TAT.

    2-cents, to go towards your next motel... loving your story so far!

    Jenny x
    #56
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  17. dp064

    dp064 Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2019
    Oddometer:
    622
    Location:
    Nashville
    The term 'awesome' is certainly overused these days... really, if everything is awesome then nothing is awesome. This blog, however, is an exception to the overuse.. it really is awesome and a very interesting/entertaining read! I'm sure it requires a lot of effort to maintain the posts but it's certainly appreciated!
    #57
  18. SwampyDeadHead

    SwampyDeadHead Been here awhile Supporter

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2020
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    690
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    Tampa, FL
    Nice report and great writing style. Two thumbs up.
    #58
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  19. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

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    Dec 23, 2012
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    3,225
    Location:
    Denver, CO
    More power to you being a vegan, that's something I'll never do willingly...
    #59
  20. i4bikes

    i4bikes Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2007
    Oddometer:
    688
    with what I know now I agree but each to their own. Rock on, I'm more interested in your trip but I guess food is part of it.
    #60