Just Ride

Just Ride

Thursday, July 30, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 16

Two objectives for the day. Warloop rd & make it to Matt’s house in Broken Arrow Oklahoma.

220 miles for the day, 3,106 miles into the trip. 

By the way, did I mention that we made it to Oklahoma? Yes, we did some slabbing today - but, we finished up Arkansas by completing Warloop Rd (35.6549651, -94.1374556)
(the end of Warloop Rd)

When the sign says dead end. Man oh man. I happened to pick the wrong line one time. Tried to correct, but the clay was so slippery in the rain, my bike dropped out from under me. Paul made it through the tough area without dropping. 

However... Just before that was a big beautiful mud puddle that Paul and his bike decided to take a nap in.

It was funny because I was in front of him and kinda heard what I thought was a 'crash' through my comms. I tell him I'm coming back. As I'm pulling up, all I see is his bike in the water. I don't really see him (mostly because of the rain), I'm talking to him through comms saying "where are you". When I get off my bike, I realize, his leg is stuck under the bike. AHH - You're in the puddle still!!

We both had a good laugh and I got the bike off of him, we picked it up - all was well. No injuries, no repairs necessary. 

We accomplished both. Despite warloop rd. 

Strange theme today regarding technology and brain power. They both screwed up. Or more likely, it was both my fault... I wanted to keep track of the distance to Warloop as we started the day. So in addition to following the TAT tracks through the Ozark mountains, I also had the GPS route to the Warloop Rd Waypoint. It said "72 miles away" to Warloop Rd! I was miffed by this, but kept following the TAT tracks built by Sam. The GPS was constantly 'rerouting' itself until finally I realized that the GPS routing had the "avoidance" configuration set to avoid unpaved roads. Uh, yeah. As soon as I turned off the GPS Avoidance of Unpaved Roads, we had 16 miles until we reached Warloop Rd entrance.

Another challenge was getting to Matt's House - After Warloop Rd, we had made the decision that we wanted to get to Matt's as soon as possible. I put in his address into the GPS, which it didn't exist because he has a fairly new home. So I allowed the 'edit' the GPS made and figured we'd work it out as we got closer. Well, I didn't pay attention to the edits it made and then it said we had 220 miles to his house!! Blindly and probably not smartly, decided it was right. So we rolled out on the slab to Matt's house.

Eventually, I read a sign that said "Broken Arrow - 31 Miles" - while my gps said we still had 3 hours of driving to do. I told Paul that we need to get fuel and I need to look at my GPS and work out the issues... as soon as I pulled up my phone's navigation and realized that we were 30 miles away from Matt's house, we were both very excited to avoid more slab!

We're going to be here for a few days - maintenance on the bikes, cleaning our riding suits, etc etc.

Thank you to both Matt and Britany for kindly allowing two very smelly/dirty men to crash their beautiful home :)

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 15

The following picture of Animal sums up our day pretty well.

Tons of rain and many miles of gravel roads. Overall, it was a good day - I didn't ask for any undue excitement and we didn't get any. We completed 263 miles today (2,886 total for the trip).

This picture was taken of radar around 7:30am, that wreaked havoc on us all day :)

The majority of the day was spent riding towards and in the Ozark National Forest. The roads are just as I remembered them back in 2013 - easy to ride, nothing complicated, you can easily ride them around 30-50 mph depending on your comfort level.

The consistent rain decreased our picture taking - we only took a few when it wasn't raining. The views from the road atop the Ozark mountains are really awesome. 

Because of our odd start time, we ended up eating lunch before we arrived at the famous Oark General Store. We got our picture and a sticker and headed out... didn't stay long, they had other people to service. Unfortunately, COVID strikes again, didn't get to go inside... everything was served from the porch.

Paul did great today - he is still rebuilding confidence from yesterday's "Longest Mile"... The lip is healing, just a little swollen. (To Paul's Mom: He's doing great!)

I did get a couple videos from the day, I'll post them up later after I edit/upload to Youtube. 

Tomorrow is more of the same, though, we also know that Warloop Rd will also be part of tomorrow's fun. (35.66269, -94.07589)

As an update for the upcoming weekend - we are taking the weekend off for some much needed maintenance (new tires, air filters, and oil changes) and we need to do some laundry. Especially our riding suits - to say they smell is an understatement. We will be staying at a friend's house in Broken Arrow Oklahoma (Thanks Matt!)

Life is good.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 14

It was a late start due to a meeting. Then we started riding, normal day, just like any other. In fact, I kept thinking, not much to see out here in the backroads of Mississippi. Mostly farm gravel roads.

Before I get started: 240.8 Miles for the Day. 2,622 Total Miles for the Trip.

At one point, I even thought to myself, what am I going to write about? We've literally seen thousands of acres of corn, rice, soy bean. I saw a couple deer run out in front of me. On Levee Road (which is an actual Levee for a river), I had two deer running at full speed up and over the Levee. I saw them coming because it is SOOO WIDE OPEN. I slowed down, they literally jumped the whole road in front of me and everyone was safe. I kept riding and the deer went into the woods by the river.

I literally thought I would be relegated to talking about my equipment and things like that.

Mississippi Gravel Farm Road Riding Video:

We completed Mississippi with very little incident - However, I will say that MS-04 is a wild ride for novices like Paul and myself. We've got video of it, we'll be uploading soon. Until then, here is a picture of me struggling cause I was stuck in a deep rut and had a felled tree in my way. 

Here is the video..

But, I still didn't think MS-04 would be enough to fill today's post. 

We exited Mississippi and entered Arkansas as we crossed over the Mississippi River.

Upon entering Arkansas, we fueled up and hit the dirt roads almost immediately. As we all know, the TAT Sign-In in Trenton is pretty quick. I knew it was coming and was excited to be there again. Last time I was there was 2013 - I got this picture of the gentleman that towns the "TAT Sign-in" in Trenton.

Today, when I met with him again, I took a similar picture with him as I told him that I had met him the first time in 2013. He then proceeded to show me the following from 2013 (that is us on the right, and of all people... Sam Correro on the left!)

WAY COOL! He has been putting together books for every visitor on the TAT and we're in the 2013 book! 

As we signed the TAT Book for 2020, we were #125 and 126 today. The last visitor to sign the 2020 Book was July 24th. (We're 4 days behind you!)

We continued on after saying our goodbyes - immediately, more dirt/gravel. These are long / straight farm roads that run between massive crop fields. I assume corporate farming... We were running between 40-50 on these roads - wasn't difficult. In fact, as long as you didn't mind the 'looseness' of the ride, you could probably get a bit higher speeds.

Then we hit a couple roads that squelched our confidence a bit by hitting some loose gravel and small amounts of silt/sand. Slow down a little, stay on course. Build confidence back.

Then confidence gets blown away by a road (Phillips Rd 152 in Marvell, AR) full of powdery silt with deep ruts. Doing about 40 and all the sudden my bike is swerving left and right and I'm trying to get it to slow down without me going down. Finally, I get control. This happens to me two or three more times. In fact, I almost go down. I stop and sit there a minute to gather my composure. Paul takes the lead and I'm riding just behind him because the silt creates such a dust plume that if I was further back, I wouldn't be able to see anything.

Then Paul disappears in a massive explosion of dust. I hear him, but I don't see him. He's down. He hit a rut and it took his front tire from him and spun him around. He's sitting on the road and his bike is halfway  down the agricultural irrigation ditch. We lift it up and get it back on the road. We look at the road where he spun out.. deep silt. deep rut. Confidence completely blown. We were running about 25 when this happened...

We laugh and commemorate this location as Paul's
(34.6363133, -91.02622667)

With our confidence low, we start riding side-by-side at about 16. Literally saying to ourselves, we gotta get off this road. But, there is no end to this road and it is too far to backtrack. So we go slow. 

LESS THAN ONE MILE LATER (34.640870, -91.040864), I hear through comms some sort of strange noise - Paul isn't in my mirror anymore. Just another MASSIVE Plume of Dust/Silt. I'm calling out to him, he isn't responding at all. I slam on my brakes and run back to the confusing dust bomb.

Paul is sitting on the ground, he got blood on his chin and his bike is sitting next to him. He isn't speaking.

I was a medic in the Army way back in the early 90's - so I start asking questions. Attempting to discern the situation we have in front of us. He passes PERRLA (without me telling him what I was doing) - He's aware. We're all good. He's got a pretty decent sized hole in his lip, if I had the right tools, I probably would've put two stitches in it after cleaning it up. 

But we don't have stitches and it isn't worth cleaning it right there on the silty road. I find Brinkley, AR on the map with a hotel and a small clinic. We go straight there. Both riding slowly for the remainder of Phillips Rd 52. We both ride with our feet dangling to cover any 'blips'. This road is murder.

We make it to the Baptist Clinic in Brinkley. Door is locked. We knock, they answer and literally take 10 minutes just deciding if they'll see Paul or not. F'n Covid.. standing outside a clinic waiting to get taken care of... grr. As a past medical professional, I wanted to punch people.

I sat outside in the heat waiting while strange people kept driving by (the same guy three times) - I assumed I was getting scoped out. So I sit there and admire my motorcycle. (note Paul's bike in the background with the very broken windshield)

No stitches, they gave him a tetanus booster, some antibiotics, and some elastic/adhesive type bandages to keep his lip together. At this point, it was quite swollen. Upon arrival at the hotel, I get out the tools and take apart his windshield and throw it away. 

Needless to say, quite a day! Time to rest, heal, and tomorrow, rebuild our confidence and do it all over again!

Life is good.

Monday, July 27, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 13

LUCKY #13!! err... um... Day 13!

We finally made it into Mississippi! We started a little late today due to some meetings (all very good meetings) and ended a little early because the Mexican we had at lunch caused some tummy grumblings.

This is the transition into Mississippi!!

We clocked in at about 192 miles for the day and 2,381 total for the trip so far! Top speed of the day was 100mph on an actual TAT road. (No video evidence of said law breaking)

Speaking of law breaking. We never wear masks. Everywhere we go... they’re requiring masks. 

The back roads in Mississippi are pretty easy overall. There are some sections with sand that you gotta watch out for, but nothing crazy. The biggest problem is dust. Red dust. White dust. Dust dust. Of course, I’m not suffering any. Paul is eating my dust all day long. The red dust. The white dust. The dust dust. 

However, back in 2013, I rode TN, MS, and AR TAT maps - I had a small spill in the MS sand. I was going up a hill around 45-50mph, dirt/gravel one side, hit the other side of the hill and it was sand. deep. I was saying in the comms "I'm going down, I'm going down, I'm going down, I'm Down." It was pretty funny, the sand had my rear end swishing back and forth and eventually spun me 180 degrees. But that was 2013 and I was riding a KLR 650.

Here is the picture of us picking up the KLR from 2013...after my spill

Now, I'm on the KTM 790 and I've got a few more miles under my belt... doing much better off-road this time around. The Mississippi gravel/dirt roads are typically hard-packed with some loose gravel. My experience (limited as it is) with these types of roads, kick it up to about 40mph and roll! It is a little 'loose', but the bike is stable and you're comfortable and not working hard to ride. If you ride this stuff in first or second gear, those speeds will wear you out!

Back to 2013, I remember taking a similar picture back in 2013 on this bridge. 

So I took one on the same bridge today. (Note the continued use of Animal...)

Chased down a couple deer today, had a bird fly between me and my windshield, and had a few dog chasings. No worries. Also, no snakes today :)

Tomorrow, we'll finish up Mississippi and head into Arkansas! From what I remember about Arkansas in 2013, that took a little longer than Mississippi.

Someone mentioned that MS-04 is a pain in the butt due to sand - I probably remember that one... if I'm correct, we had to kinda crab walk with throttle to make it through. PAINFUL. We'll see tomorrow.

We did manage to wash some clothing this evening. But our helmets and riding suits deserve their own area codes for the smells that permeate their surroundings. 

We just ordered dinner (sushi) to be delivered to the hotel. Went across the street to the liquor and wine store to buy our wine for the evening. 

So that’s Day 13. Lucky number 13. 

Life is good. 

Sunday, July 26, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 12

GREAT DAY of riding! I'll admit that I screwed up to start the day, thought I had my GPS setup correctly.. after leaving the hotel in Lawrenceburg I ended up taking a left onto the tat track, when I should've taken a right. GPS doesn't tell you these things - so we ended up backtracking a little and ended up in a big circle. Oh well. 

190 Excellent Miles Today. 2,189 total since the beach in Nags Head, NC.

Many of the roads that we take start like this - which means it will be fun for us, bad for everyone else!

We started the day like all other days... eating on the curb of a fast food restaurant because of Covid. It really sucks actually, can't go in the restaurant. Walk through the drive-through. Order food, if they recognize you're there. Then sit on the curb while everyone drives passed you while you eat.

Closed / Blocked Roads
#1 - TN-19 - Tree Down, blocking entire road and most of the surrounding forest grounds. We did get passed the tree, but we had to ride down into the brush to do it. 
35.233178, -87.698547

#2 TN - 19 - Just a little while later, we ran into this. Which could not be passed at all. 
35.215187, -87.963487
We back-tracked a little, used Gaia to link us back up with TN-20.

TN-20 - Lots of great riding on TN-20!! Fast gravel / dirt roads. Multiple Creek Crossings. Just tons of fun. Overall, both Paul and I enjoyed today's riding more than any other day.

Earlier in the day, we were reminded to BE CAREFUL and AWARE of your surroundings... 
(not like me in this instance)
We were enjoying a creek crossing. I hopped off the bike afterwards to film Paul's crossing. Almost stepped on a copperhead - nope rope. Fortunately, I have riding boots on and it was a juvenile copperhead. He did strike at me - from what I can tell in the video, he got my boot. I'll admit, I don't like poisonous snakes and this one didn't like me either. Here is the video of my screaming like a little girl as the snake tried to attack me. 

Another fun part of TN-20 - Right next to a lake, these houses are amazing - but the road is CRAZY!

Paul Crossing the Creek - he caught me doing the snake dance!

We stopped for the night in Pickwick - Had dinner at Freddy T's (horrible service - blame covid?)

Overall and despite being attacked by a copperhead, it was a fun day!

Life is good.

Saturday, July 25, 2020

2020 TAT - DAY 11

VERY SLOW START TO THE DAY... Due to last night's fun, we slept in today. Then grabbed breakfast and decided to get a late checkout of the hotel for 1pm. So I slept more. Around 12:30 today, grabbed lunch at Cracker Barrel and got on the road. Because of the late start and the need to be in Tulsa by a certain timeframe, we decided to slab it today. We really didn't start riding until around 2:20pm because things were pretty slow at Cracker Barrel.. 

There are no pictures from today as nothing was exciting except the throbbing headache due to my own volition through copious libation. Which is a good suggestion to those riding the TAT - Don't Do What We Did. It won't go well the next day :)

Tonight, we're staying in Lawrenceburg, TN. We had dinner at Striker's Steakhouse - it was just ok. No wine tonight because... last night.

Tomorrow, we intend on heading into David Crockett State Park and connect into the TAT. Looks like from Sam's Maps, he has a waypoint highlighted called "Knob Creek Crossing" - we love water crossings!! 

By the way, something that should be discussed: I have an iPhone 11 something or other. It has not survived the mount on my motorcycle. Apparently, it has fallen victim to what I believe is iPhone-Shaken-Death-Syndrome. This is likely due to the other day's ride on the craziest of roads - Bald River Road. My iPhone will not allow me to open the rear facing camera (selfie cam) and has zero sound - can't listen to people talk, can't listen to music, can't hear when someone calls me, etc etc. All sound works IF I'm using bluetooth. Also, every five hours or so, the phone reboots itself *automagically*. I stopped by a Verizon store here in Lawrencburg - went through the process of getting a new one, lots of questions, account review, setting up my 'customer profile' at the local Verizon authorized dealer. Then finally the sales guy in there tells me the only iPhone 11 they have is an iPhone 11 Pro (not the max like I have) and it is GOLD.

Umm. no. I'm not walking around with a gold phone. So... I'll wait until Tulsa and suffer through the inconveniences that my current phone bestows on me.

Ok, last but not least, the mileage for the day: 156 miles (mostly all highway slab). Total for the Trip 1,998.7. Tomorrow, bigger / better day. Tonight, rest.

2020 TAT - Day 8 Revisited - Pictures from the Tail of the Dragon

2020 TAT - Day 10

Overall, we really had a great day.. there was a good mixture of road / gravel / switchback. We made some pretty good progress. We did find some minor discrepancies in the GPS tracks, though we were able to overcome them fairly easily and without major rerouting. It is Saturday Morning - 8:42am, we haven't started riding yet because we decided to go have some fun last night in Chattanooga. 

We completed 232 easy miles yesterday.. total for the trip now is 1,842.

A couple examples of the issues we found with the tracks were on TN-13 I believe.. we came across an area where the road that Sam must've ridden down no longer exists. But, we made the best of it and hung out at the following overlook. The grid coordinates for this spot and the error on the gps is 34.6519450, -85.3724050. From what I read, apparently this is the "Pigeon Mountain Hanglider Launch" location... WOW. To fix this issue, we backtracked to the first dirt/gravel road that we came to on our left (during back tracking) - maybe mile or two down the road. Took the left, it eventually (not really far) intersected back with the TAT route. I figured all this out by reviewing the maps in GAIA GPS on my phone... My Garmin XT was not a lot of benefit here until we were back on the right track.

Because of how nice of a view it was, we hung there for 20 minutes or so, enjoyed the view and some water. (yeah, we're drinking tons of water)

The second issue we came across was the fact that Sam's track took us straight to this gate. Note the sign saying Private Property - Shooting Preserve, No Trespassing. Well... it was all a little suspicious to us. Paul and I surmised or at least wanted to believe our made up conspiracy theory that this area and the roads around here are all connected to some sort of top secret government facilities. I believe we actually called it the Area 51 of Georgia! (ok, we're just making stuff up... but come on, it was great conversation over comms)
Grid coordinates for the location: 34.6402783, -85.4118883

We didn't break the rules this time, that gate was padlocked and there wasn't a way we could figure out how to get in. Routed around this by taking the "right" at this gate, which borders this entire property all the way to the end of the property - at which point you link back up with the TAT (and can see the other gate where the TAT would have exited). Rerouting was easy again... GAIA GPS to the rescue.

We had dinner at a nice restaurant, 1885 Grill in the St. Elmo area - very cool older part of town. Lots of brick buildings from a "few" years ago. It was good to see the place packed... probably not paying attention to the governor's mandate around capacity. (rule breakers!!) I had a steak and some wine. After this, we continued the party at a local establishment that we were able to convince to play our kind of music. Tool, Nine Inch Nails, and many other 'rock' songs. Which apparently was different for the crowd/entertainers as everyone kept commenting on our choice of music. 1885 didn't have a great wine selection, this was the best on the menu... we made due with 3 or 4 bottles (can't really remember)

One of the waitresses at 1885 had a strange tattoo, so strange that I took a picture of it. Paul and I called it the Bear molesting the princess.

Earlier in the day, we had just come down off of a mountain / dirt road and came to this great little property in Georgia. Looked like it had been there a long time, the property/buildings are typically used for weddings is what the lady in the store told us. We sat on the front porch with some candy bars and cokes we bought inside. There was a nice breeze and a great view in front of us. Nice and relaxing..

34.6308417, -85.4539200

I'm still lying in bed. But it is time to get up!!

Here are the rest of the pictures.
Lunch on a creek - the cinderblocks below cover the buried pipeline. Interesting spot..

An overlook we found riding down a really nice / curvy road.

We didn't need to, but we crossed this creek a couple times. Even got a video!

(rule breakers unite)