Just Ride

Just Ride

Saturday, August 8, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 23 - Aug 6th

Written on Saturday, August 8th (Day 25)

Interestingly enough, MANY people have texted me, including my mom - why no posts? You ok? We're good - Day 23 we camped without Internet and Day 24... you'll just have to read to understand.

Ahh, another late start. Had a few meetings to deal with - then on the Trail!

I won't have any videos to this post because we have bad internet right now...

It was a good day overall, we knew we wanted to camp, so we kept that in mind all day. Our goal - camp by a river/creek/some sort of water. We also got to ride our very first 'pass' in Colorado.

140 miles for the day, 4,183 total.

I’m writing this a couple days behind because 1. No internet where we camped (ahh… relax, no connection) 2. Day 24 was a mess.

Ok, now onto the important stuff. This was the first day of some challenging riding (for us). There was one section that was quite rocky - boulders and such that we both agreed it was great to complete. But we should’ve practiced on Hurricane Road earlier in TN or MS or wherever it was :)

Riding across the tops of mountains in Colorado is quite breathtaking. The views are something that we’ll keep with us through our memories and our pictures forever. Everyone should visit Colorado…

More riding: Our very first “pass” - Marshall Pass was completed today! Anyone know what Marshall Pass represents? The Continental Divide! 10,842 feet above sea level at the sign. I remember seeing 10,900 on my GPS.

A very cool thing happened sometime after Marshall Pass, as we were coming down the mountain - which in itself was a great ride. We ran into a Cattle Drive by two Cowboys and approximately 30-40 head of cattle. The cowboys, were a sight to see, the two of them and one dog did an amazing job getting the herd to go up the hill and out of our way so we could pass by them. We of course waited patiently with our motors off so as to not disturb their organized efforts. As the cowboys started pushing the cattle up the hill, we started up and ‘helped’ the drive by pushing some of the cattle in the right direction.

For lunch… UGH, we decided to go to Lake City. Unfortunately, we got caught in a one lane traffic jam. They were spreading tar and gravel on paved roads. Uh… ok. We gas up and grab four big waters for drinking and cooking - we had some water left in our hydration packs and my hiking bottle. Note, this will be important for Day 24 as well. 

As we entered Gunnison National Forest, we were looking for a spot to end our day. On my GPS showed a “picnic table” symbol just ahead of us - wasn’t sure what it meant, but figured we would check it out as it was around 3:30 or 4pm. Roll up, no one there, it is labeled “day use”, but was a perfect spot for some primitive camping. There were signs in several spots stating "Pack In, Pack Out" - It is sad that people need to be reminded.

We setup camp and begin the cooking process. This time… I DIDN’T CATCH THE PICNIC TABLE ON FIRE!!! :) Ramen noodles for dinner - we picked them up the day before at a gas station / market in a small town. We also had a couple cans of tuna, beef jerky, and some fig newton cookies. After dinner, we listened to some music and checked out our surroundings. The river and the wall of rocks surrounding us really gave us a good feeling about the spot we had chosen. 

We were harassed a little by a Forestry ranger because of how we parked our bikes - which was close to our tents in a ‘non-parking’ area. When we explained that parking them over in the ‘parking area’ (I say that in quotes because there wasn’t a parking area, just an area you could tell by the felled / carefully placed trees they didn’t want people to park) - that our bikes could be at risk for theft. He looked at us and I could tell he understood the logic. He then made the statement “only ride the bikes on the dirt”. Both Paul and I had a good chuckle at that as he left. “It is all dirt - where else would we ride?” Anyways… great evening. 

It did get quite cold - somewhere in the mid-30’s. My Big Agnes sleeping bag with down in it was PERFECT. I stayed warm all night - with one caveat. As long as my body parts stayed on my blow up therms-rest backpacking mattress, i was warm. Every couple hours, I would awake to a body part (arms mostly) that had some how come off the mattress and ended up on the ground. Gotta understand how down sleeping bags work - they build warmth because of the ‘layers’. However, if you’re laying on the down directly and you compress it, it will not provide warmth. That is why the air mattress is a necessity. 

I woke up around 7am, starting taking apart my part of the camp. Was so cold, I put on my motorcycle jacket, gloves, and wore my neck gaiter around my ears (yes, I’m a Floridian). 

Sunrise on the mountains. 

Pack In, Pack Out.

Life is good.

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.

Monday, August 3, 2020

2020 TAT - Day 20

279 miles for the day and 3,670 miles for the trip - The theme of the day, how many cow patties can I run over on the roads. But seriously, there were a number of cows on the road today :)

For those that don't know, I own a very small 20 acre ranch in Brooksville, FL - we have three cows (more specifically two heifers and a bull). Riding with the cows on the road today brought great joy - I was smiling and laughing at them the whole time. Paul even commented on how 'giddy' I seemed. I thoroughly enjoyed riding my motorcycle straight through the many herds of cows on and around the roads here in Oklahoma!!

Animals:Jack Rabbit, Buffalo, Reindeer, and a Coyote. Which reminds me, the coyote was lucky to see me first - had I known what he was, he would've probably not made it to see another day. I was grabbing for my Glock... I could probably write another blog "things jerry killed on the TAT" :)

I pulled out the drone today. we were in such a great spot with some interesting terrain. Though, I can't upload videos today (did I say that we are in Boise City, OK? Matt says they can't spell WiFi), here is a shot of Paul and I on the ground.

Here is a view of the road we were riding

Was able to upload one video from my GoPro: (apologies now for the angle - I'm trying new things with the GoPro)

I couldn't help but think about the small towns today. Every single one of them - minimal opportunity, mostly cattle support or oil/gas. Everyone is very friendly that I've spoken to and most everyone waves at you - sometimes ecstatically. 

I almost forgot to mention - I am a HUGE fan of "Real Beef Jerky" by Robertson's Hams. I've been buying this stuff direct from them forever. They are here in Marietta Oklahoma - well, for the first time since I've been in Oklahoma, I found some of their spectacular Beef Jerky at a Love's gas station. (Love's has even branded it - but I know the truth) - it can be found directly at Robertson's

I have finally claimed a piece of the TAT! Paul has had a number of 'oops' here and there sporadically across the TAT (bridge and a couple times on a road in Arkansas). I had mine on this two track cattle road in deep sand. Kinda just laid on over while going about 11 mph up a hill. See below, that is me pointing to the hill that I now own.More specifically, I own the back side of that hill. "Jerry's Hill" - 36.9502053, -101.1869315

I have certainly found a new appreciation for Oklahoma - not the cities. But the vast openness of Oklahoma appeals to me. @nancysherman, I did see 2,386 Acres for sale out there... :)

Speaking of little towns... sitting here in Boise City, Oklahoma! Wow, very little town. We've got us some fine accommodations here at the Townsman Motel. The local Wine and Liquor store was able to provide "Josh" Cabernet Sauvignon. 

Paul and I were researching work and drinking wine. It is what we do.

More pictures from the day:

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.

Saturday, August 1, 2020

2020 TAT - Days 17 and 18

Paul and I stayed at a friend’s house in broken arrow from Thursday, July 30th  to Sunday, August 2nd. 

We’ve been relaxing. Drinking wine. The bikes were getting their routine maintenance and new tires. We washed clothing. We washed out our helmets. We washed our riding suits. We did some catchup work. 

We are now ready to get back on the Trans America Trail!!