Just Ride

Just Ride
Showing posts with label TAT. Show all posts
Showing posts with label TAT. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 22

218 Miles for the day, 4,042 for the trip. Milestones... over 4,000 miles ridden since day 1, we also went over 10,000 feet above sea level today!

Paul and I discussed the day as it was winding down - riding was pretty easy overall. nothing too technical, nothing too challenging, and none of it hit on any major phobias. 

We left from Trinidad, CO and immediately stopped by Topar Racing to fix my left-handed mirror. Within 45 minutes, they had a new attachment fab'd and ready for my mirror. After-which, straight to the trail. Topar is literally on the trail, just on the outskirts of Trinidad. Call them in advance and they'll have anything you need! Paul and I took a nap in the cool shade while we waited on the fabrication of my new mount. My helmet made for a good pillow... 

After the maintenance work, we started hitting dirt. fast and dry with minimal "gravel-sway". Easy riding... 

We visited another National Forest - San Isabel. 

We did do a little slabbing today - there were about 60 miles that we should've been on the TAT that we skipped because we needed to get to the hotel so I could complete some work. But even that ride ended up being awesome. 

For the first time during this trip, we surpassed 10,000 feet above sea level - we stopped to commemorate it with this picture: (38.001167, -105.198233)

Dinner at "Quincy's" (I think) in Salida, Colorado - when we asked about their wine selection, they told us they sell one red wine from a local winery, the price was $15.00 a bottle. We asked for Vodka and Jack Daniels (not mixed together!)

More pictures from the day - I'm pretty exhausted... 

Life is good.

2020 TAT - Day 21

Another Late start. Necessary, but good, meetings.

The pinnacle of today was through the culmination of transition. Earlier this trip, Paul and I in one of our many different and varied conversations while passing time riding discussed 'how states got their borders'. No definitive answer, though he did mention he once watched a documentary on the subject. We surmise that terrain is more likely responsible for borders than any other reason. It is this transition between terrain that defined today's ride. 

Starting near the end of Oklahoma (Boise City), flat and beautiful, built with an ingrained monotony. To a slow and building undulation of hills and scattered but abrupt breaks in terrain, New Mexico defines itself through a subtle crescendo of change. The culmination is that of the rockies in Colorado, the truly awe-inspiring landscape that delivers a deeper connection with change through palatial-like tectonic explosions of terrain.

154 splendid yet metamorphic miles today. 3,824 miles since Nags Head, NC.

After our meetings, breakfast at the Blue Bonnet Cafe in Boise City Oklahoma. Recognizing that we didn't fit in with the "regulars", our waitress asked us if we'd sign their TAT book. She knew immediately by our choice of attire and our 'steel horses' that we were TATers.

I was glad to sign the book, which has a map of the TAT for this part of Oklahoma as the cover. I opened the book, earliest signatures date back to 2014. Six years of TATers eating breakfast, lunch, and possibly dinner at this little Cafe. Then, the signatures start a steady decline around 2016, with a very empty space for 2018, 19, and 20. Not sure of the cause, but a very recognizable gap. 

After visiting the Bunk House, Paul suggests that maybe when the Bunk House recognized the increase in motorcycles back 4-5 years ago, they started catering more to TATers than the little cafe and word spread - this is the stop. So, the lovely people at the Bunk House won a battle that they may not have known existed. The battle for attention through good marketing and great customer service.

Paul and I stopped in to introduce ourselves and say hello to the Bunk House. Then we continued on to the end of Oklahoma.

You can't tell it, but this picture below represents the end of Oklahoma and the beginning of New Mexico. I say that because there are no signs, there are no specific borders, there is simply an imaginary line and a soft transition of landscape that delineates Oklahoma to New Mexico.

Here are a few more shots from New Mexico, where not only the landscape changed, we immediately witnessed a small family/herd of antelope's running across the plains of north-eastern New Mexico.

As we continued riding through people's property by way of a public transit system called dirt roads, we both couldn't help but think what it must be like living out in the plains. There is minimal in the way of support, grocery stores are miles and miles away, supplies and food must be stored and prepared for as you can't just drive 10 minutes to the local hardware store. Both Paul and I said that we could spend winters out here for a couple months - this came about because we found 8,000 acres for sale in the valley. 

Bring out the "Mountain Goat"

As we drew closer to the border of Colorado (by our route, we only spend about 70 miles or so in New Mexico) the transition is easily marked by the climbing of a rocky, tempestuous mountainside. We both do fine, but in my mind, this road, this mountain, this climb represents a change in our ride and in the TAT. We're both novice off-road motorcycle enthusiasts, but we use the skills we've built and we conquer the climb - but not without lingering thoughts. 

Part 1 - Rocky Climb

After taking a break, we complete the climb with Part 2

During the break, I see some sort of a cat walk out right in front of me. As I was pulling up, it slowly creeps out of the crevice it is hiding in. Pauses and looks at me. Doesn't appear to have any confusion to the current situation. He starts to slowly move up the hill and away from me. But continuously looking back at me. I'm speechless as I know it is considering the two options in life that most wild animals have. It isn't close enough for me to completely identify my feline friend, though I narrow it down in my mind to one of two things - Lynx or Bobcat. Though, after further consideration, I lean towards Lynx.

We come across yet more and more cows on our trusty trail. This of course, continues to bring great enjoyment for me as cows are truly interesting animals (you only know this if you spend time with them, instead of just eating them - which I also enjoy).

Other animals encountered in today's eventful 150ish miles: Multiple deer, a prairie dog, and many turkey vultures.

Pause for effect. Another State-line Crossing - NM to CO Complete!

Something to bring up related to maintenance of the motorcycle - Prior to the trip, I upgraded my mirror to the nice breakaway mirrors that provide better configurability and visibility. Yesterday, my left mirror broke off at the base - not sure how as there was no accident etc. Just the use of cheap aluminum where steel would have probably been the better choice for longevity of an adventure aftermarket mirror. I've spoken with Topar Racing here in Trinidad, CO - I'm to come by at 8am and they'll see what they can fab up to support my need for extended-rear-facing visibility.

Let's go back to the mountain climb. A couple things: I'm a novice off-road motorcyclist - I've made this abundantly clear. But, I also have a ridiculous fear of heights. Both things like this mountain climb tests to no end. I also know that there are many many more of these in the upcoming days. We will cross some of the highest passes in the United States - off-road. With continued deprecation and diminishment for deep feelings for heights, we will overcome. 

More pictures from the day:

Remember, life is all about perspective.

Life is good.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 19

All Oklahoma!

We left Matt and Britany's (Broken Arrow, OK) around 8 or 8:30 (can't remember exactly) and rode due north to catch the TAT as soon as possible. Great riding today! I was really worried because I was reading some other TAT reports that were showing devastating mud conditions! One guy on the TAT FB page literally blew up his clutch in the mud. (BMW).

I told Paul early on, if we were in mud for more than an hour, we'd exit stage right and find happiness.

Wasn't necessary. Most of Oklahoma has dried out and we had a great day of riding very long, mostly straight, dry (with minimal dust), dirt/gravel roads. 

In fact, they were so good, I think my top speed on dirt/gravel today was about 65. average speed was around 42mph. We accomplished 266 miles today and have 3,391 total miles since Day 1.

No one went down today, though there were a couple times where the dirt/sand hinted at disaster.

I spent some time behind Paul today, catching some of his improved riding skills!

We did hit some mud today... it was more comical than anything. Even with our new tires, it was so deep that we'd move inches while the actual rear tire was spinning around 15 mph (or so - it is an estimate... I was paying attention to my feet and my forward progress, not the speedometer)

We don't think we'll finish Oklahoma tomorrow - just too many miles remaining. By end of tomorrow, we should be real close to New Mexico, which means, we're very close to Colorado as well. (NM is a very short stay...)

No wine today... 

Life is Good.

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.