Two bikes, one jug, Zero DSR - 2ERide the 2021 TAT with an electric moto coast to coast

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Am.E, Aug 8, 2021.

  1. longslowdistance

    longslowdistance Long timer Supporter

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    Great RR, thanks!

    Regarding disappointing regen drag on the FX:
    I've owned 4 electric motos from 3 manufacturers including 2 Zeros. All had adjustable regen coasting that could be set to far exceed normal ICE engine braking - BUT this works only at speed/high rpms (single speed drivetrains), fades to zippo at slow speeds/ low rpms - like when easing down a steep Colorado pass, or simply coming to a stop, regardless of the setting.

    Zero regen braking is on-off not lever pressure sensitive, pretty mild, and similarly fades to nil at slow speeds.

    It's different in a hybrid car, because they have multigear transmissions.
    mtnbikeboy likes this.
  2. surferbum

    surferbum Long timer

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    A good write-up with great pictures (and gpx file) can be found here too.

    White Rim 2.0
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  3. mtnbikeboy

    mtnbikeboy Been here awhile

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    Ok, this makes sense. I wonder if a higher RPM motor with a higher gear reduction would provide more regen at low RPMs? But then one might have added issues/maintenance with the geartrain.
    Do Zeros have any gear reduction between the motor and front sprocket? I may also be getting too far into the weeds for comments in a ride report.
  4. GoneToPlaid

    GoneToPlaid Ludicrous Speed

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    mtnbikeboy: this is the nerd TAT report, no worries. Zeroes don't have any gear reduction other than the final (belt/chain) drive from the motor to the wheel. LiveWires and Energicas have gearboxes before the final drive. HD specifically wanted the gearbox there so it would make more noise! As a mechanical engineer, I like Zero's simple approach the best. The best part is no part.

    On regen: The PMDC motor, controller, and battery are all capable of producing just as much torque in reverse as forwards. The motor is powerful enough to throw gravel from 0 RPM, and it could brake just as hard. One limit is weight transfer - when accelerating you have more load (and so more traction) on the drive wheel, but when braking you have less. So Zero limits the regen available to ensure that simply rolling off the throttle never breaks traction. They also taper off the regen below somewhere around 10 MPH, to help the rider to make a smooth stop. These are reasonable choices for Zero to make, for rider safety and drivability. But they are all done through software, not any physical limit of the drivetrain.

    I use the Custom drive mode with the braking regen maxed out, and the coasting regen set to zero. This lets me coast down gradual hills efficiently, without having to focus on cracking the throttle to get to a neutral point (energy neither going in or out of the battery). On the Electric Motorcycle Forum, some people have modified the motor controller settings, and added a left-hand regen lever to provide variable, and more powerful, regen braking. I'd like to do this too, but I ran out of time before the TAT trip. Some people have added reverse, which would be really useful when backing out of a downhill parking spot. The motor controller is a SEVCON and is similar to ones used in forklifts, etc. It supports a number of functions that Zero doesn't use.

    Mostly, though, regen isn't that big a deal with EVs. It's easy to do and nice to have, and extends range a little bit but it's hardly decisive.
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  5. ROAD DAMAGE

    ROAD DAMAGE Long timer Supporter

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    Maybe you nerds are over thinking it with all the REGEN braking!

    There MUST be a simpler way? :scratch :dunno :augie

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  6. MrBob

    MrBob On a whim Supporter

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    I had one of those for my 56 Buick. :-)
  7. drdubb

    drdubb OFWG Supporter

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    The Zero Truck is at TPS in Raleigh this weekend. Food trucks, rides, etc. Maybe you should Zoom in.
  8. longslowdistance

    longslowdistance Long timer Supporter

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    Apologies for further nerding out here, but I'm learning from your deeper understanding. IIUC (and maybe I don't), what you are suggesting is the the motor could be be put in reverse to create low speed drag similar to ICE engine braking in first gear. The moto would still move forward, with gravity/momentum overcoming the reverse "thrust". Interesting idea. That would require power of course (reduce range). Would that also be hard on the motor? I was advised not to use a little throttle as a hill holder, for example at a stop light, because that's somehow bad for the motor. Or so I was told.
  9. GoneToPlaid

    GoneToPlaid Ludicrous Speed

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    Not quite. I just mean that the motor can also be an equally powerful generator. If a bike can do 0-60 in 4 seconds, the motor would support doing 60-0 in 4 seconds, putting most of that kinetic energy back into the battery. Without active traction control, regenerative braking that powerful would be dangerous because a rear wheel skid would be likely.

    With older motor types, throwing it in reverse did work and was used in some vehicles. This did use battery power and heated up the motor. Many diesel/electric locomotives dump this energy into huge resistor banks when braking, especially downhill. No energy recovery, but it saves the brakes.

    Yes, a stalled motor is 0% efficient so hill holding will heat it up. It's fine for a few seconds but I agree you wouldn't want to do that for a long time.
    iatethepeach likes this.
  10. Am.E

    Am.E Been here awhile

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    2021 TAT – UT Part 2

    I’ve been through the desert on a bike with no gas

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    It felt good to have no one to pass

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    Its electric, and it goes pretty fast

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    But I’m not too sure if the batt’ry will last

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    I remember riding a somewhat slow road out of the north side of Moab just as the sun was coming up. The road itself wasn’t too difficult, but we were riding directly into the rising sun, and couldn’t see a damn thing. Once in the canyon, we could appreciate the neat environment.

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    The roads were fast and dusty into the Green River KOA for a charge stop. The lady in the office was funny; she insisted on loudly telling everyone we’d paid $10 to charge, but let us charge for free. The Zero delay factor also struck again; we met another cool overlander who had traveled extensively around the world for several years by moto, and like so many others, was only home in the states because of Covid.

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    Found a shady spot for lunch. Kevin is mighty happy with his leftovers that he’d packed next to a nalgene bottle full of ice.
    The road into Hanksville was long, lonely, dusty, and often very sandy. There was no shade all afternoon, almost no other traffic, and almost nothing at all besides a flat sandy road and some scrubby brush.

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    There were even some surprise sand dunes.

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    Hanksville is a good 20 miles off the route, but we had to make the diversion in order to charge. Just a few weeks prior, the area had gotten a freak rainstorm that caused severe flooding, and the evidence was still present in Hanksville. The hotel across from the campground was completely destroyed, but the campground and restaurant were managing fine, and the weather was warm enough to camp.

    Plus, we had a mission to go to Mars. The Mars Desert Research Station is just outside of Hanksville. It’s not open to the public, but you can go in the several mile long dirt roads to a viewing area.

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    The riding between Hanksville and Ephraim was surprisingly varied, and really knocked it out of the park.

    It started with great southwestern scenery, including petroglyphs from prehistoric people.

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    This way to I-70
    There was an amazing road through a canyon. We stopped for lunch at a picnic table in a park, and the only shade we’d seen in a long time.

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    After diverting 10 miles off route to go to Huntington to charge, the scenery changed yet again, with a surprise alpine pass over 10,000 ft. There were pine trees and aspens, and the start of fall colors. You could have told me we were back in Colorado.

    We camped at around 8000 ft of elevation just outside of Ephraim. This campground even came with some quality free entertainment. (These guys have ridden all over the west, and were riding the TAT west to east through Colorado).

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    I didn’t really know what to expect out of Utah, and I have to say, this section of riding surprised me. There was great scenery, interesting riding, and decent weather all day. Well played Utah, well played.

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    Turned out to be scenic and ended with a really enjoyable smooth curvy dirt road that was fun to ride
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    It was windy and flat the closer we got to the border with NV. We charged in Yuba State Park, and then again in Delta. The headwinds notably affected the range on the Zero. Leaving Delta, you can also see the cosmic ray detectors every so often from the road.



    Utah posed what we assumed would be the biggest test of range for the Zero on the TAT. The section going north from The Border Inn to Wendover NV/UT (it’s a town on both sides of the state line) would be 160 miles between charge points, the longest yet on the trip. The section after that between Wendover and Tremonton would be even longer at 180 miles, a distance we think is theoretically possible. Both legs would require a painfully slow “hypermiling” speed in order to make the distance. Remember, with EVs the slower you go, the farther you go.

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    We started the 160 mile leg to Wendover with a 30 mph limit. The roads, naturally, could have supported double that speed. Utah is really, really big at 30mph.

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    Then the magic happened. The wind was out of the south, and there were times when we were riding in the exact same speed and direction of the wind. We’ve only ever experienced this once before, in Banff National Park in 2014, and it’s a really strange experience if you’ve never felt it before. We were riding in what felt like completely still air. There was no sound or force from the wind whatsoever, which just does not happen on a motorcycle. We could cruise at 40 mph, stand up on the bikes, and not feel any wind at all. It was bizarre. It was far windier when we stopped than while riding.

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    The pony express historic sites provided some much appreciated entertainment on an otherwise empty bit of gravel road.

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    The tailwind made the 160 mile leg a piece of cake. We followed the route exactly, taking every small 2 track diversion from the main road, and even saw a small herd of wild horses at a distance in NV. By the time we got Wendover, there was still enough battery to spare to go proper road speeds on the paved road going into town.

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    The tailwind probably saved at least an hour. We got to Wendover so early we had time to go see the famous Bonneville Salt Flats that afternoon for a suitable amount of goofing around. The wildfire smoke blowing in from much further west made for hazy viewing. It was so thick you could actually smell it.

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    The ride across the northern side of the Great Salt Lake into Tremonton did not go nearly as well. The weather was nothing like the forecast, which called for highs in the 70s, sunny, and winds from the west/northwest.

    The day started with temps in the 40s with a strong headwind from the north, and an uphill climb, which made the range estimate look not very promising. At 150 miles to go, we had 154 miles of range, which is a pretty close margin.

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    While there isn’t much out there, I loved the effort to post information about the trans-continental railroad, which is certainly an interesting bit of history. I like that Sam chose to occasionally route the track down the old railroad grade, which is now just a gravel road.

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    At 120 miles to go, the range estimate said 100 miles, which would obviously be a problem. Then came the rain. We hadn’t dressed for temperatures in the 40s and rain. We saw the clouds, but didn’t stop in time. There was no shelter. We were shivering and down to T-shirts while digging out layers from our side bags in the cold and windy spitting rain. I have heated gear, but Kevin didn’t add that to the Zero, and couldn’t afford the power anyway.

    At 100 miles to go we had an estimated 102 miles of range, and the route had started to go more east, so we weren’t fighting the wind as much. There was also a decision to make. We could divert on the paved road to a small hamlet that probably has level 1 power that someone would let us use. It would take hours, and it was raining that way. Or we could chance it and try to make it Tremonton without diverting from the route. We decided to take the chance.

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    There is very little out there, and we didn’t see any vehicles at all for over an hour. Surprisingly, the scenery was better than I expected, and I think I would have enjoyed this part of the route under better circumstances.

    We were properly cold and tired as we hit the paved road and passed by the Orbital ATK rocket garden with 8% battery showing on the Zero’s dash, and 20 miles to go.

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    Spotting unsecured level 1 plugs and charging on the side of the road in the cold in view of Orbital ATK, as one does. Sorry to whoever owns this meter, we stole 10 cents worth of power while we took a break.


    We pulled into our destination several miles beyond the 0% battery indicator. The high temperature had never gotten over the low 50s, and we had battled wind and occasional rain the whole way. The entire 185 miles had been ridden at 20-25 mph (it was miserable). It was like riding the bike in limp mode all day (limp mode is what happens when the battery is very low, limp mode limits speed and power to try and keep the bike moving rather than just stopping). Kevin is determined to never have to be towed because he ran out of battery, and just managed to nurse this one to the finish line. As far as we know, that’s the farthest distance between charging we’ll have to go in order to complete the TAT.

    Personally, I think I should get some credit for not just leaving him to his hypermiling obsession in the cold and the rain. I could have easily taken myself and my heated grips and heated vest into Tremonton hours earlier, and would have been cozy and warm most of the afternoon. It crossed my mind once or twice. This was definitely one of our hardest days on the road.

    That’s it for Utah. We rode over 1300 miles and spent 10 days in this state, including several in Moab. On the TAT, Utah definitely earns the prize for most diversity of experience.

    After a much needed rest and work day (office work, we’re self-employed, and still have some obligations while we’re traveling), it’s on to Idaho.

    Cross posted from here.
  11. CorreCaminos

    CorreCaminos Adventurer

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    Do you ever run the Zero with headlight off in remote areas? Would that extend the range significantly?
  12. Am.E

    Am.E Been here awhile

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    Yes he turned the headlight off, but no, its an LED light, so the difference is not really significant. The model says on that leg it was good for 2 miles. I guess it depends on your definition of significant, 2 miles is a lot of pushing! :lol3
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  13. anelog272

    anelog272 Some Guy Rides

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    Goofballs Unite! Enjoying this. TEAM CT125 cheering you on!
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  14. Mad_Rabbit

    Mad_Rabbit Adventurer

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    What a great read! I did some riding in UT last year on a Vstrom (including the White Rim) and agree it wins for diversity, some of my favorite days on a bike ever. Best of luck with the rest of your journey, sounds like you're almost there! :lurk
    Am.E likes this.
  15. Sneeze Juice

    Sneeze Juice Been here awhile

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    Excellent RR!

    I’ve been waiting to see someone attempt this. I hate doing 8-10 hour days in my Model Y. Highly inconvenient on various trips I’ve made. Couldn’t imagine the anxiety on this!

    Can’t wait to read more though!
    Am.E and Old Voyager like this.
  16. Am.E

    Am.E Been here awhile

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    2021 TAT – ID

    Our Idaho portion of the TAT started with motorcycle maintenance. I had hoped that the new set of tires at the start of our TAT adventure would last the entire trip, but by the end of Utah, it was clear that my front tire was not going to make it. (Since when does a front tire wear out before a rear?) Also clear was that Kevin’s chain was toast. He needed a new one ASAP. We found both at Pocatello Powersports in Pocatello ID.

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    There was also a choice to make. Sam has a loop through ID that provides two east/west routes across the state, one to the south, and one a bit further north. Given that we both don’t like deserts, and love the mountains, we easily decided that despite adding a bit of distance, we’d much rather see what the northern route has to offer.

    Heading west out of American Falls, ID started with 20 miles of potato fields, which we found to be a delightful confirmation of Idaho stereotypes. It was harvest season, and there were dump trucks everywhere full of potatoes. There were tater harvesting machines in the fields actively digging up potatoes. There were tater hoppers, tater conveyors, and tater tents with tater sorting. Over-all, there was just a lot of tater-tech.

    Then suddenly were on a scrubby 2 track in the desert. I know this was supposed to be neat because it goes through Craters of the Moon National Monument, and the volcanic rock is cool, but honestly, this section was a slog. There was 50 miles of rutted, slow 2 track. It was a bit hot. Maybe we were just tired this afternoon, but this was not my favorite part of the TAT.

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    Arco ID is the home of the first nuclear power plant. We did the tourism thing, including Craters of the Moon and the EBR1 museum with the nuclear powered jet engines, back in 2012, so we breezed through this time.

    After Arco, the landscape changed quickly as we headed into the mountains. There were hills, and trees, mountain passes and gorgeous views, and I loved it.

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    “Not suitable for passenger cars 3 miles ahead” Hmm.
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    We stopped to charge at the Sun Valley resort, and found the chargers in the back of the valet lot, well away from the main traffic areas. They might be for guests only, and we were definitely not guests. As we sat and ate a picnic lunch on the grass while Kevin monitored the charging, a maintenance guy rolled slowly through the lot in his truck. We thought maybe we were about to get kicked out, but after a long stare, he smiled and gave a thumbs up. We had to leave anyway, the charging stopped working part-way through, and we never determined why. We went to another charger in town (that only had one plug), and the bike charged fine.

    Challis National Forest. Sawtooth National Forest. Boise National Forest.

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    Featherville, ID is a very small location in the mountains in central Idaho, and was a question mark in our plan. We had to charge there in some way, or we weren’t going to make it. The internet was not clear on whether there is 50A available, and we were told over the phone that there were no RV spots available. It turns out there is 50A, although we could have slow charged since we were spending the night somewhere in the area anyway. After a short conversation in person, we were kindly allowed to charge for free at an empty 50A spot with no water hookup. Since we were allowed to fast charge, we backtracked a short way and camped at one of the many excellent national forest campgrounds along the road on the way in.

    This is where we also got to meet yet another TAT rider, a solo woman riding the entire route. I hardly ever get to meet any other women riders (even though there are tons of us out there), so I really enjoyed meeting another woman who likes this weird adv overlanding thing like I do.

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    Our campground near Featheville connected to ATV trails.
    The mountainous bits of Idaho might be my favorite portions of the entire TAT. It’s outstanding, and we had nearly perfect weather, even if it’s getting a bit cold to camp. I definitely have to get back here to ride the Idaho BDR, I did not want to leave.

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    Idyllic lunch spot by the river


    Riding out of Featherville in the morning had us fully bundled up, and by the end of the day we were in full summer mesh mode. As an east coast resident, the huge elevation changes and temperature swings out here never cease to amaze me. The layers go on and off so much more often out here.

    The TAT goes by this amazing, giant, and nearly empty reservoir going towards Boise. The expensive floating docks were just lying on the ground well above the trickle of water in the bottom.

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    We diverted into Boise to charge, but maybe that was a mistake. We got caught in urban traffic. The first charger we went to was the often troublesome Schneider brand, so of course it was fussy and German and didn’t work. We had to go to a grocery store and run errands. We couldn’t find lodging anywhere in the greater Boise area or even in the city for less than $300/night. There was some sort of battle of the bands event in the area. Progress was much slower today than we had hoped. Oh well. The owner at the Riverside RV park in town took pity on us. When we told her we were traveling on motorcycles, she said she normally doesn’t take tent campers, but let us camp for free. Amazing. I’m still grateful for the save on one of the few occasions where we were having trouble finding a place to stay. Hot showers, and coin op laundry, which was desperately needed at that point.

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    Boise might be a neat place. There was some sort of large community flag football event at the sports complex next to the campground under the Friday night lights. In the morning, there was a really neat and well attended autocross event, visible from our campsite. We definitely stopped by on the way out.

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    There were people jogging and riding bicycles everywhere, including outside of town and all the way out past Emmett. The fat tire e-bike trend is in full swing here. There was a farmers market in Emmett, and we rode by a RC plane club. People here like to get out and do stuff, it’s neat.

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    spotted at a random roadside stop in western ID


    Leaving Idaho provided more agro-tourism, only this time it was onions (and the ubiquitous ranching). The dump trucks were piled so high, onions would fall off the top at every corner. Road onions everywhere, I could kick them with my feet at stop signs; we joked about filling the saddlebags.

    There was a fast, easy if sometimes dusty ride to our last charge and lunch stop in Idaho at Farewell Bend State Park. The camp host eventually rolled by in his golf cart to come talk to us, but all he really wanted was to tell us his story and how proud he is of his wife and her accomplishments in nursing. It was very sweet. (You’d think we’d get better at explaining why there is a tiny sprinkler spraying on the motorcycle, but we think it might be better to just make up something even more ridiculous than the truth.)

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    The trees have mostly been gone for a while again, and it’s back to a dry, nearly desert landscape.

    Idaho went by too fast. We have more time than most to ride the TAT, but it’s still too fast. I think I’d like to take at least three months, and take more side trips.

    Oregon is the last state on the TAT, we’re nearly there!

    Cross Posted from here.
  17. Am.E

    Am.E Been here awhile

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    If anyone wants to meet up before we leave Oregon, pm me. I swear I had some convos about that with people a awhile ago, but I can't find them.
  18. talk2debra

    talk2debra Adventurer

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    Fascinating RR. Good going on the 180 mile hypermiling into Tremonton. After completing the TAT to the Pacific coast, what are your plans for the return to NC?
    Am.E likes this.
  19. JMarkK

    JMarkK n00b

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    I am so enjoying your write-up! Found you by way of the TAT Facebook group where I lurk (I only have an old Yamaha Seca, not suitable for the TAT, but someday…) the first time you were mentioned there. I feel like I am witnessing history in the making.
  20. aaronosaurus

    aaronosaurus Adventurer

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    Great write up of an amazing trip! It would have been nice for Rivian leave level 2 charges every hundred miles like they did for the Long Way Up :rofl
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