Honda CB500X

Out and About => Ride Reports, Trips, and Touring => Topic started by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:30:00 PM

Title: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:30:00 PM
Before I start, I would like to disclose that the following ride report has been assembled from a running blog during the trip itself, which was hosted on another website.

I have subsequently edited as appropriate those original posts made at the time (while endeavouring to retain the feel of the daily diary format) and added new and alternative photographs into what I trust will be a more succinct and entertaining ride report for you to enjoy here on CB500X.com


Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/photo_1_zpskiksggpf.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/photo_1_zpskiksggpf.jpg.html)


Setting the scene...

In 2008 I was lucky enough to get my hands on what was then the brand-new Yamaha XT660Z Tenere, and immediately shipped it from the UK to the USA where I travelled extensively for the next six months - criss-crossing the country and taking in as many of those 'must ride' dual-sport destinations as I could, bound only by the weather and my own (albeit limited) sense of self-preservation.

Together with exploring deeper in to the desert south west than I had before, fundamentally my intention was to ride as much of the Trans-Am Trail (TAT) as I could during the fall and spring of the following year, which inevitably meant chopping the route into more bite-sized and manageable sections.

I immediately headed to Colorado and was fortunate to ride the key high passes before too much snow had arrived, culminating with a spirited gravel-run to the top of Pikes Peak - that like Paradise, has now been paved of course. I then endeavoured to ride as much of the western TAT as El Nino would allow; and in the new year - after an entertaining and enlightening road-trip through the gulf-coast states - I eventually picked up the eastern end of the TAT and did my best to join up the dots...

It really was an epic trip - not only from the pure enjoyment of riding through such a huge variety of terrain, but that choosing to travel off the beaten track had in turn offered me what I considered was a unique insight (or at least a snap-shot) into more rural and small-town America.

For me it defined everything that an 'Adventure' ride should be - it's not just about the bike, or the scenery, or even the people you meet... but how it makes you feel. There is an overwhelming sense of freedom, a piquancy in not knowing exactly where you might stay that night... and when travelling alone, an overriding appreciation of your own self-reliance.


Itchy feet.

Since then I have been rather distracted by real life. Of course there have been compensations - plenty of dual-sport riding and the odd rally race - and certainly the opportunity to work with Rally-Raid Products over the past couple of years (initially on the LC4-50 Dakar bike project, and most recently the CB500X Adventure bike conversion) has allowed me to expand my riding horizons even further - but ultimately there is nowhere I'd rather be than out there somewhere, on two wheels...

Last summer, when John and I drew up the outline specification for a new kind of bike from Rally-Raid, I had just come back from a month in the US where I'd spent a lot of time onboard a new Honda CB500X. Despite an obvious road-going bias, I immediately saw the potential in the bike - not as an out-and-out off-roader or racer as such, rather more of a genuine 'all-road' all-rounder - something you could ride hundreds of miles if required, then confidently take on dirt-roads and Jeep-trails; and ultimately capable enough to tackle terrain that might otherwise cause you to think twice onboard a larger, heavier machine?

Certainly in comparison to my 660 Tenere, the Honda's parallel-twin cylinder 471cc engine is an absolute peach - smooth and lively, offering similar bhp and even better economy - which ought to make any highway miles far more relaxing (not that the Tenere was bad by any means). The CB500X's (comparatively) low seat height and compact dimensions means it immediately feels far more lithe and nimble, while a similar OEM spec to the Yamaha includes a 250+ mile fuel range, small faring and strong subframe makes it an excellent long-distance travelling companion.

When it comes to the dirt, our CB500X Adventure upgrades have been designed to offer similar capabilities (albeit with around an inch less travel and ground clearance that the Yamaha), and certainly ought to handle anything you might want to ride a 200Kg machine (plus luggage!) over on your own.

Having drawn these parallels, we both felt there would be no better way to comprehensively prove the capabilities of the new bike by embarking on a similar trip to that which I'd made back in 2008/09.

Of course from a personal perspective, it would also be an excellent opportunity to perhaps revisit some areas I may have quickly passed though before, find new and exciting trails that I'd had to inevitably forfeit in the past, and not least endeavour to ride the whole length of the TAT consecutively.


Introducing the 'Trans-Am 500' cross-country trail ride.

The idea is to try and visit as many of those 'must-ride' dual-sport and adventure riding destinations as I can within predefined time-frame.

Essentially I am allowing a month each way to cross the country and back again, using a mix of highways and byways, dirt-roads and trails. This won't be all about dirt, indeed the very nature of this bike means you ought to be able to enjoy the paved highway just as much as the trails, and choose your route accordingly.

Starting in May on the west coast in San Francisco, highlights during the initial west-east leg will include crossing through Death Valley off-road, and after a night in Las Vegas, taking part of old Route 66 in Arizona on my way to the Overland Expo in Flagstaff - for the official 'debut' of the CB500X Adventure in conjunction with our US distributor Giant Loop Moto.

From there I'll spend a few days in and around Moab in an effort to really put the bike through it's paces, before heading through Colorado on any passes that are open towards the end of May (possibly precious few if I'm honest, but fortunately I'll be back this way again a month later). I will also endeavour to complete an Iron-Butt Association '1000 mile in 24 hours' Saddle-Sore challenge en route for the east coast, where ultimately I will dip my metaphorical toe in the Atlantic Ocean at Virginia Beach VA.


The West - East leg (outbound): San Francisco CA to Virginia Beach VA.
(note. this is a very rough outline, particularly as Google maps tends to snap to major roads).


(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/Trans-Am%20500%20West-East%20-%20Version%202_zps9ioz8zo2.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/Trans-Am%20500%20West-East%20-%20Version%202_zps9ioz8zo2.jpg.html)


All being well, I intend to start the return leg around the 1st June - initially riding the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway and a visit to Deals Gap, before picking up the Trans-Am Trail in it's entirety all the way back to the Pacific coast.


The 'new' TAT.

As a number of you will be aware, over the years, Sam Correro (originator of the Trans-America Trail) has embarked on a series of updates and revisions to the original TAT route, typically where sections have either been paved or washed away, in an effort to provide a suitable alternative that remains true to the original conception of an off-highway crossing of the entire country.

What is particularly exciting for me is that my trip this year coincides with his most comprehensive re-working of the 'Trail so far, with a brand new western route between Moab UT, that now heads north via Idaho, before turning west again and connects with the original route through Northern Nevada, and ultimately the official end point at Port Orford, Oregon.


The East - West leg (return): Virginia Beach VA to Port Orford OR.
(similarly to above, this map is only a very rough indication of the proposed route, but hopefully indicates the new western TAT route).


(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/Trans-Am%20500%20%20New%20TAT%20-%20Version%202_zpsk8rtbegz.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/Trans-Am%20500%20%20New%20TAT%20-%20Version%202_zpsk8rtbegz.jpg.html)


This new route is not scheduled for release until later in 2015, so I am delighted, and indeed honoured that Sam has given me the opportunity to be one of the first people to actually ride the newly-revised Trans-Am Trail. Perhaps even more enthralling is that there is currently a sector of 'no-mans land' in Idaho that I may well need to pioneer myself, which ought to further add to the excitement!



A time line...

In exactly a week from today I'll be flying over to the west coast to pick up the very first production CB500X Adventure from the Giant Loop HQ in Oregon, together with some of their minimalist luggage of which I'm a great fan. Certainly my plan is to travel simply and light for the duration - which reflects the whole ethos of the CB500X Adventure project in general, and suitably echoes Giant Loop's motto: Go light. Go fast. Go far.

A more detailed separate post with my packing list will follow, but suffice to say that I intend to fit everything I'll need (including a basic camp) into a Coyote bag behind me, together with just a small tail-pack for my tools and puncture repair kit.

My official departure is scheduled for the 10th of May, when I'll be heading south from San Francisco for the first leg to Flagstaff AZ for the Overland Expo, where we will officially debut the bike to the press and the public over the weekend of 15-17th May.

Throughout the trip I will endeavour to update you all as regularly as I can, with plenty of photographs too of course! Certainly a significant change over the past seven years has been the almost universal introduction of WiFi in even the most remote restaurants, coffee shops and gas stations, although as you might imagine there will still be periods when I'll be out of range and have to be my own barista...


Follow me!

While this is very much a solo endeavour for me, it is reassuring to have the support of both Rally-Raid Products and Giant Loop - and indeed a key part of this marathon journey is to provide them with essential feedback that in-turn can be passed on to their customers.

In that regard, they both intend to keep an eye on me! - and I'll be using a SPOT tracker each day that I'm on (and off) the road, which means you'll also be able to log-in and track my progress across the country and back - oh the wonders of technology!

I'd be delighted if you'd join me on this new and exciting adventure - so please do subscribe to this thread for regular updates, and of course you'll also be able to follow my progress through the SPOT tracker... and I hope that I might even get the opportunity to meet some of you in person as well!

Oh, and finally, what about the little pink fella you might ask? - Piglet!

Yep, despite essentially retiring from traveling (he has a distinctly wonky neck now and a nose that is about to burst at the seams I fear), he will of course be joining me on this new, and hopefully 'most excellent' adventure. Let's just hope its not a bogus journey!

Toot toot for now!

Jenny xx
Title: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:33:45 PM
Thursday 7th May: Day -3

So after a couple of fraught days packing back home, I had a very pleasant flight over on a Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340 yesterday (a nice new plane compared to the 747 that usually flies this route earlier in the day), and it was barely half full too - which meant there was plenty of room to spread out over a couple of seats and try and get some rest...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1030275_zps2pfxe6il.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1030275_zps2pfxe6il.jpg.html)

I got a fabulous view of the bay and San Francisco itself as I came in early evening - you can just make out the new section of the Bay Bridge, Alcatraz Island, and of course the Golden Gate Bridge which I shall be crossing in a couple of days time to kick off the coast to coast journey east - after a stop on the Marin peninsular for the ubiquitous photo of the bridge with the city in the background of course! ;o)


Nerdy tech in Silicone Valley

I've spent today going through my cameras and other tech (photos and a more detailed description to follow shortly) - the plan is to try and travel as light as possible, with minimalist kit to reduce weight and general liability...

Certainly a significant change from the last time I undertook a similar journey (back in 2009) is not only one extra cylinder on the bike, but the availability of far more compact and modern tech...

I'll be using an iPad air to keep in touch with you all (rather than the clunky old Dell Mini 9, that while having the same size footprint, was 6 times as thick and 10 times as heavy it would seem!), and I'll be exclusively using my Panasonic Lumix LX7 which can produce excellent results from a compact camera, with far more creative control than the simple Fuji compact I used before (and ultimately lost somewhere in the Moroccan desert, during the Heroes-Legend Rally later that year).

I have also added another gadget to my arsenal this time - or rather John has - in the form of a Garmin VIRB video camera. This is Garmin's equivalent of the GoPro type of fixed lens rugged digital camera, but has a few nice additional touches - the battery offers up to 3h of recording time, and is actually the same type as fits the Garmin Montana GPS I'll be using - which means that there should always be a fully charged battery available for the camera, as the GPS will be hardwired to the bike (allowing continual charging) of course.

Not only can you select between filming in either wide-angle or a range of zoom levels, but together with a range of mounting options (including a neat RAM ball adaptor), the physical shape of VIRB also makes it far simpler to place on a rock or glove to get a nice stable ride-by shot.

It will also sync to my Garmin Montana GPS so I can take video and still photos remotely - when the camera is mounted on the bike or helmet for example - and it even has enough range (around 20ft) so that I can set it up as still camera and be in the shot on the bike without resorting to the self timer and running back and forth!

Maps and GPS.

The other significant difference is the GPS I'll be using. I'm still old school in that I prefer a dedicated GPS unit rather than software on a smartphone - and for years was very happy with my aged Garmin 2610 that saw me all over the USA (twice) and around Europe and Morocco. It was the perfect on-bike device in my opinion, other than the fact it had no built-in battery, so had to be hardwired to the bike and meant using (and therefore carrying) a mains adaptor if you wanted to programme it in a hotel room for example... it was also unkindly referred to by friends as 'a brick'.

While the Garmin Montana is still a physically large device, it offers the option of a dedicated Li-ion battery pack (that can be shared with the VIRB camera) or using AA batteries in an emergency. Ultimately, perhaps the nicest thing about the Montana is not only it's rugged construction, but the large touch screen and customisable menu/home page that works really well on a bike.

I bought the version that includes the built-in US TOPO maps in 100K scale, and have supplemented it with their City Navigator mapping for the whole of the country - allowing me to navigate in the traditional routing manner when hunt for hotels, food and fuel as required; while it still has a huge amount of dirt-road data which can also be routed along in exactly the same way. Alternatively I can switch to the TOPO maps for additional detail, and of course the TAT route maps that I have are a simple track log, that will work with either mapping set.

In addition to the Garmin which I'll be using for day-to-day navigation, I have a series of digital maps in my iPad to aid with route planning, although I admit I still prefer a paper map of each state, and a handful of highlighter pens for working out my initial route.

Therefore I'll be taking some key paper maps (Utah and Colorado particularly) with me, can buy additional ones on the road, and will post any back home any I no longer require - helping to keep weight and clutter to a minimum.

Before I leave for the official start on Monday, I'll endeavour to post up some detailed photos of the gear I'll be carrying before and after it's loaded onto the bike...

This will include my tools and spares, camping, comms and camera equipment, and those few personal effects I can cram into whatever space is left in my luggage system.

Piglet of course get's his own papoose ;o)

More soon!

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:39:03 PM
Friday 8th May: Day -2

It's been a couple of hectic days up in Oregon!

For me it started with a bit more of this:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsdsswkkqo.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsdsswkkqo.jpg.html)
photo. leaving San Jose for Portland OR

Swiftly followed by some of this:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsayxl9qtb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsayxl9qtb.jpg.html)
photo. flying over the Three Sisters on the way into Redmond/Bend.

... Although there was a slight delay at Portland while president Obama took off in Airforce One after a visit, causing the airport to lock-down for half an hour... Unfortunately I'd already boarded my plane, which meant I was denied another Starbucks while waiting!


Right, that is probably enough about planes for a while now - I hope not to have to see another until at least the end of June and the end of my trip, and am now free to travel with a washbag full of liquids, scissors, and not least a tool kit - having had to forefeit all of these during my transfer up to Oregon; and I have to say it is rather nerve-wracking riding a newly assembled bike over 500 miles with not so much as an allen key in my possession, but hey, I'm getting a little ahead of myself already...

Harold met me at the airport and I was soon introduced to the rest of the Giant Loop crew over a couple of huge pizzas for lunch, and later a few beers too - well, we had a big task ahead of us that afternoon!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsrwnpeewg.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsrwnpeewg.jpg.html)

Yes, there was still a little work to do shall we say, before I would be able to ride away the following morning en route for the official start point on the west coast, San Francisco.

Cont.
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:40:31 PM
Saturday 9th May: Day -1

Mileage today: 0 - 286.4

So to cut a long story short, Harold and I completely assembled the bike over the next 24 hours (pausing for precious few to catch a little sleep) from my memory, calculated guesswork and only a couple of phone calls to John - rest assured this process is all part of helping to produce the step-by-step instructions that will be dispatched with the customer kits - and once the finish touches of graphics were applied, we were all set to go by lunchtime on Saturday 9th May...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/11146573_10155563985850385_6385346381145154974_n_zps2krlhva6.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/11146573_10155563985850385_6385346381145154974_n_zps2krlhva6.jpg.html)

I have to say, I really like how the stripe kit works on the all-black bike!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/Ready%20to%20go_zpsty4f1zmh.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/Ready%20to%20go_zpsty4f1zmh.jpg.html)

Of course we couldn't sign off until project manager Piglet had also given his approval - and he particularly liked his new papoose!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0004_zpsmkugppq5.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0004_zpsmkugppq5.jpg.html)

So with a cheery goodbye and the well-intentioned promise to take good care of the bike, I finally hit the road around 1.30pm this afternoon, to embark on an initial appraisal and shakedown run prior to the start of the west-east leg of the coast to coast trip, on Monday (11th May).

Of course I'd barely gone 100 miles south on hwy 97 (initially rather dull if I'm honest, although it was lovely and warm and sunny, which makes any journey immediately more tolerable of course...) before the temptation to get some dirt under the tyres overtook me ;o)

I had originally planned to ride via the rim road around the west side of Crater Lake on my way south, but unfortunately the gates were still closed until next weekend (at the earliest) because of snow. Still, I know I'll be back this way again as the last section of the TAT passes close by, so fingers crossed I'll get another bright and sunny day to make the most of the surreal scenery up there...

Recalling there was an easy dirt road that ran parallel to the highway a few miles to the west, I poked around with the GPS on the fly and potted an interesting alternative that would allow me appraise the new suspension over some fast sandy and washboard gravel.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0010_zpsca7nkdih.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0010_zpsca7nkdih.jpg.html)
photo. Yep, turn right Clyde!

Everything was going swimmingly, and the bike was comfortable at 30 and even 40 mph (I didn't consider it prudent to try and go much faster, especially with not tools or puncture kit with me), until I noticed the headlight and fairing seemed to be vibrating rather more than it ought to over the washboard surface...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/DEFFAFFB-49CF-4718-BED7-75339D76FCC6_zpsjh3jqh3m.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/DEFFAFFB-49CF-4718-BED7-75339D76FCC6_zpsjh3jqh3m.jpg.html)

Sure enough, when I stopped to look it dawned on my that I had forgotten to torque up the two bolts that hold the support frame to the headstock, and the nuts had worked loose and together with both the bolts now, had disappeared.

I rather sheepishly limped a few miles further until I could eventually pick up a smoother dirt road back the main highway - still, it meant I got a fantastic view of Mount Scott (a volcano on the edge of Crater Lake) in my mirrors!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/F609E14C-A470-4455-B8C6-613590004A8F_zpscltvuomx.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/F609E14C-A470-4455-B8C6-613590004A8F_zpscltvuomx.jpg.html)

I ultimately hit the highway for another hundred and fifty miles before passing by the spectacular Mount Shasta once I'd entered northern California (at over 11,000ft above the surrounding plateau, you can see the peak from around 100 miles away - And I have to say when it initially appeared on the horizon while I was still in Oregon it was breathtaking...) This photo was taken from much closer, as I descended towards the junction with the interstate and decided it was time for a comfort break at the comically and appropriately named town of Weed. And I did!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/8A5EA35D-41A8-497B-AED3-069875604AA3_zpstb4frj1f.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/8A5EA35D-41A8-497B-AED3-069875604AA3_zpstb4frj1f.jpg.html)

So to end the day, I now find myself holed up in a Motel 6 near Redding - with some reasonable wifi, strange noises coming from upstairs,  and a little over 200 miles left to San Francisco in the morning...

Then it will be time to pack properly, and for the cross-country leg of trip to officially start at 8am on Monday, from Alice's Restaurant - where Skyline Boulevard crosses, most appropriately, La Honda road...

That is where the fun really begins!

Toot toot for now ;o)

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:41:34 PM
Sunday 10th May: Day Zero!

Mileage today: 291.3*

*66.9 miles of which is my Trans-Am 500 route, from the overlook of the Golden Gate Bridge, to San Jose, CA.


So just a quick update as I haven't stopped all day today...

Spent the night in a Motel 6 in redding last night, and ploughed on early this morning, well after the requisite stop for a morning brew of course ;o)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000055_zpszkda6bso.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000055_zpszkda6bso.jpg.html)
photo. It must be a genuine 'adventure' bike, look how seamlessly it bends into it's natural habitat...

Then it was a long shlep down the I5 towards San Francisco... fortunately the weather wasn't too bad on the coast and I was able to get the rather hackneyed but at the same time 'essential' west coast shot of the bike, and piglet of course - at the official start of the Trans-Am 500 today, 1.30pm on the 10th May 2015.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000065_zpst3hpycxs.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000065_zpst3hpycxs.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000075_zpsdkqbpfvo.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000075_zpsdkqbpfvo.jpg.html)

So a few observations from today... the bike storms along on the freeway, although personally I'm happier at around 70mph rather than pushing 80+, as it seems to start drinking fuel at higher speeds - not helped by strong headwinds all day unfortunately.

It also feels rock solid in sweeping high speed bends, and carving around the on and off ramp slip roads at intersections - I can't wait to get it up on Skyline Boulevard tomorrow, and later hwy 198 which is an absolute corker in the area ;o)

The suspension really is a dramatic improvement over stock - not that that was particularly bad, it's just now everything feels so much more controlled and stable - aided by the 19" front wheel over rough sections of road, and the general gyroscopic effect. Honestly, it feels just like a factory adventure bike now!

I was also really pleased with how well the Giant Loop Coyote fits onto the rear seat, and the 'solo' luggage brackets are the perfect location for the lower strap clips, while the forward straps work really well around the subframe tube just above the pillion peg hangers. I've ridden the best part of 600 miles so far on the bike, and the luggage is totally unobtrusive - so I'm really going to enjoy the next few weeks in that regard I feel.

So after the 'official' start today, I rode the grand total of 66.9 miles back to San Jose where I'll be staying overnight, before meeting Dave at Alice's for breakfast tomorrow morning - my preferred route is actually up Page Mill Road, rather than the usual Woodside (hwy 84), especially at that time of the morning, and the ride there ought to be great warm up to the day!

I have also managed to cram all the personal belongings I wish to take with me on the trip (including a complete camping set-up) into my Coyote bag, while my tools, first aid, a spare tube and even a small can of tyre lube all fit neatly in the Klamath tail pack.

To complete the 'three bag' system - essential snacks, Piglet and my iPad will stay safe in my Camelbak Blowfish backpack; while various pockets in my jacket provide safe stowage of regularly used items such as my camera/s, ipod, wallet and pocket journal book (yes, I'm still a bit old school in that regard ;o)

I'm sure things will shake themselves down over the next few days, as is always the nature of a trip like this, but I really trust that this time I've brought nothing unnecessary, while at the same time allowing for unforeseen circumstances, and having the where-with-all to effect any repairs (albeit temporary) to keep me going on my way...

I apologise I've not yet had time to photograph and put together a detailed inventory of what I'll be carrying with me - that will follow once I get some free-time* either at the Expo, or the following week in Moab...

(*unlikely I admit.)



One thing I am keen to appraise (and the initial feeling is good) is my new riding gear for this trip. Traditionally I have always worn Alpinestars boots and enduro gear, and exclusively Arai dual-sport and off-road helmets... However, I thought I would give various items from the Icon range a go this time, particularly as I like their new Raiden DKR jacket, and feel their Patrol boots could prove to be more appropriate for life on and off the bike, especially as I only have room in my luggage for one pair of sandals!

I'll endeavour to profile my current choice of riding gear over the coming weeks for anyone who's interested... one thing I will say is the Icon Variant helmet feels very comfortable and quiet (well it did when I was back home on my road bike). However, on the CB500X it appears that I am suffering a fair degree of wind-noise, and while I never thought the OEM screen was particularly noisy with an open face helmet, wearing a dual-sport helmet with a peak (such as the Variant) seemingly creates a huge roar over 70mph... I tried standing up and the noise immediately disappeared, so I might experiment with the screen height or even an add on lip before my 1000 mile Iron-Butt attempt towards the end of this month.

Stay tuned - it all kicks off tomorrow at 9am sharp!

Toot toot!

Jenny (and Piglet) xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:44:13 PM
Trans-Am 500, Day 1: San Jose to Ridgecrest CA.

Mileage today: 418.7

While yesterday afternoon marked the official start point of the west to east coast to coast leg, the Trans-Am 500 ride really got underway today at 10.10am this morning, after an overlong breakfast at Alice's Restaurant south of San Francisco, with my riding partner for the next couple of days Dave Lin from Bay Area apparel company ADVaddicts.com

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/Outside%20Alices_zpsk7nilylv.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/Outside%20Alices_zpsk7nilylv.jpg.html)


Joining us for breakfast, and indeed very generously buying for us too - thank you! - was ADVrider inmate Sparky831 who had ridden up on his own CB500X to see the Adventure conversion, chew the fat in general, and ultimately see us off by joining us in a spirited ride along hwy 35 (Skyline Boulevard) in and out of the morning fog.

Dave and I then took in more twisty roads via Santa Cruz, Hollister and Colinga where we filmed our spirited on-road antics; before sucking up a few miles of Interstate 5 in a effort to stay on some sort of schedule...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000091_zps2k4api9j.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000091_zps2k4api9j.jpg.html)
photo. Dave setting up the GoPro, on hwy 25 just before we turned on to 198 - two fabulous and traffic free roads in the region!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000093_zpsgknfxqjz.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000093_zpsgknfxqjz.jpg.html)
photo. Dave's shiny new 2014 model 690 Enduro complete with some choice RRP parts has been enlisted as the photo-mule for these initial couple of days...

Unfortunately, Dave's optimism with regard to the fuel range of his stock tank was ultimately all in vain when he coasted to a halt just a few miles short of the next service station at our turn off... Doh.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000101_zpsefylfnk4.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000101_zpsefylfnk4.jpg.html)
photo. I soon realised what must have happened and pulled over to wait...

Thankfully he had seen fit to fill his Rotopax can fitted to the soft-luggage racks, and it wasn't too long before he was on the move again... Phew!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0051_zpsfyjl3pqd.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0051_zpsfyjl3pqd.jpg.html)

Soon after it was my turn to have an 'issue' when my brand new GPS decided to freeze up as we entered the sprawling metropolis of Bakersfield. Fortunately I am now pretty familiar with the various routes through and around town, so rode on unguided until I was able to reboot it by removing the SD card and refitting it...

The upshot of suffering these various delays was that it was rapidly approaching evening now, so we elected to forfeit the planned Lake Isabella to Jawbone Canyon dirt-road sector today, rather stay on the stunning scenic hwy 178 and head straight for our scheduled stop-over in Ridgecrest - which is the last big town en route for Death Valley and the first big off-road test for the CB500X Adventure tomorrow!

Obviously if I didn't have to absolutely be in Flagstaff on Thursday morning, then we might have elected to camp along the trail and continue in the morning... But needs must for these first few days of the Adventure I'm afraid...

So while today was all about some twisty highway riding (and I have to say how utterly impressed I am with the way the bike now rides) and bagging some bike-to-bike video footage, things are likely to look a little more interesting once I start to travel off-road in the coming days and weeks...

More soon!

Jenny x
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:45:42 PM
Day 2: Ridgecreast CA to Las Vegas NV - via Death Valley.

Miles today: 253.5

The second day started nice and warm, now we were on the edge of the Mojave desert and heading for Death Valley.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000109_zpsbz6fzdsl.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000109_zpsbz6fzdsl.jpg.html)

Dave Lin from ADVaddicts and I had breakfast in good time and rode the 30 miles to Trona with our jackets already half-unzipped; before gassing-up the bikes, and filling up our backpacks with snacks and plenty of water - it was going to be 100 degrees F today in Death Valley itself.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000115_zpsftfot0gk.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000115_zpsftfot0gk.jpg.html)

Dave was onboard his KTM690 with RRP luggage racks and skid plate, plus soft luggage and extra fuel in a Rotopax - I guess a typical set-up for someone who wants to 'adventureise' a 690, and perhaps a good comparison for the CB500X Adventure - as loaded up like that the two bikes were a similar weight, and although the 690 does have appreciably more travel and ground clearance, conversely, that means a significantly higher seat than the CB of course...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0073_zpsqvm3d4vm.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0073_zpsqvm3d4vm.jpg.html)
photo. At the top of Mengal Pass DVNP. Two different solutions to a common 'Adventure' bike goal from Rally-Raid Products - the KTM 690 Enduro and the CB500X Adventure...


Initial Impressions of the CB500X Adventure off-road...

Overall, the ride through Death Valley (100 miles of dirt) was an excellent test of the bike's off-road ability - a little bit (well, a lot actually!) of everything: sandy tracks, rocky piste, steep rocky climbs and descents, fast gravel and a few technical challenges; before ultimately a final blast at high speed on the West Side Road right up the middle of Badwater Basin... Here the bike felt incredibly stable and composed right up to a (sustained) maximum of 70.7mph - I really can't imagine doing the same thing on a stock bike with 17" wheels!

The bike did feel a little jittery from the rear end at first on rough washboard trails - possibly a result of the short wheelbase/swing arm. Later in the day I turned down the high speed compression damping 2 clicks and it was much smoother - or that might just have been my increase in speed too of course ;o)

On the tight technical terrain the bike was excellent, very tractable and easy to manoeuvre. The only limitation really is the still relatively short travel suspension over rough rocky tracks - typically grapefruit size boulders - hard work on any 200kg bike of course, and you simply have to pick your line and adjust your speed accordingly.

Again, in the 'real world' on a bike like this, especially with luggage, I'd suggest something like 20mph is a realistic rough-trail riding speed, where 30mph or even more is perfectly possible if the rocks are not so large.

Where it does excel though is on faster sandy and gravel piste style trails - typically those found in the desert - here you could ride at 30-40mph or more and it felt very comfortable and stable. As long as you kept an eye out for whoops and bigger rocks etc. you can easily wick it up to 50mph or more, and it just seems to feel better at speed - just be mindful of hitting a big washout or whoop at that sort of speed on a bike with only 170mm overall travel...

It was also very easy to negotiate tricky rocky steps and climbs/descents - the lower seat night (together with the narrow tank between your knees) making things much easier in comparison to Dave on his KTM690 (loaded with luggage). And in such terrain you really can just put the bike in first gear and ride it like an automatic.

I have to say how genuinely impressed I am with the conversion. Of course having a hand in it's development I'm going to say that aren't I? But seriously - this bike feels transformed, and certainly very much what Honda should have done themselves perhaps, were they not chasing the more lucrative 'high end' market with the new Africa Twin, ahem.

These past couple of days have really shown what an excellent all-road all-rounder this bike has become. It was an utter joy to punt it down the twisty county roads in California on Monday, more than comfortably schlepping down the Interstate for a time at 80mph, and an absolute blast (and very confidence inspiring) once we hit the dirt for 100 miles through Death Valley itself... Honestly, I can't wait to get it to Moab, the Rockies, and of course the whole length of the Trans-Am Trail!



The day ended with a lovely (albeit very windy!) ride over the Spring Mountains into the Las Vegas valley, and of course I had to ride the CB up the Strip before heading across town to meet some friends for dinner...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0110_zpsmnzd8x0k.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0110_zpsmnzd8x0k.jpg.html)
photo. Hitting the Strip early evening is always fun, it's when the neon really makes the city come alive!

The Garmin VIRB I've mounted above the clutch lever (and remotely controlled by tapping the GPS screen) was an excellent way to capture a series of photos - the quality is excellent, and I'm really looking forward to using it more and more during the trip...

Toot toot for now - I have a little show in Arizona I need to attend!

Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:48:55 PM
Day 3: Las Vegas NV to Williams AZ

Mileage today: 269

Since Dave has to be back in San Francisco yesterday, we said our goodbyes at Furnace Creek in Death Valley and I continued on alone to Vegas where I was able to catch up on some well needed sleep and spent the following morning on some essential admin too.

Leaving Vegas at lunchtime with a Subway sandwich tucked in my backpack, the plan was to have a picnic at Christmas Tree Pass which is a dirt road just north east of Laughin and Bullhead city on the Nevada/Arizona boarder. Boy was it windy heading due south again - I tried adjusting the screen the higher of the two positions, but it didn't help much - I ended up tucking in like a road racer until I was able to turn east and onto the dirt.

Christmas Tree Pass is so called because of the decorated trees around the summit:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000207_zpsmy9n08gd.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000207_zpsmy9n08gd.jpg.html)

I came this way in 2009 and recall one main tree, plus maybe two or three others... Now the whole pass has dozens of trees decorated with baubles and tinsel - it's hysterical!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000211_zpszgzclnc9.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000211_zpszgzclnc9.jpg.html)
photo. eventually the decorated trees peter out as you descend towards the Colorado river that marks the Arizona boarder...

I also practiced with the VIRB on a helmet mount, as while the footage is great on the road, when riding off-road it vibrates a little too much when the camera is mounted directly to the bike. However, suffice to say I'm going to need a bit more practice getting the camera angles right, there is a lot of footage of my front wheel despite me looking well ahead on the trail. This still picture was at least bearable, the video was rubbish...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0133_zpsmts0tyqh.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0133_zpsmts0tyqh.jpg.html)


So crossing over the Colorado river at Laughin, I took a fast dirt road across to Oatman AZ, which is on the old part of Route 66. It is a typical desert tourist town, all cowboys and souviner tat shops, and there were a bunch of bad-ass Harley riders in town... Who turned out to be a group of French tourists!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000217_zpsbaekesrt.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000217_zpsbaekesrt.jpg.html)

Oatman is perhaps most well known for the wild Burros that roam the streets, and are usually more than happy to pose for the odd photo. So I took an odd photo with the fish-eye VIRB:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0161_zpsn7erpbbt.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0161_zpsn7erpbbt.jpg.html)


Getting my kicks...

After a tasty ice cream from the 'Oatman Hotel' (probably not a real hotel if I'm honest)... It was time to retrace part of the old Mother Road east towards Kingman, Peach Spings and Seligman, before picking up the I40 interstate that now replaces the original route to Williams.

The road out of Oatman is a blast, although the tarmac not particularly well maintained these days, so it was nice to be on an adventure bike (especially one with such quality suspension ;o) rather than a sports bike for example.

I passed a funky little fuel stop* and museum, and left another Rally-Raid sticker on their store window that is plastered with stickers from all over the world, and pressed on for Kingman where the Santa Fe railroad passes by...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0170_zpsjjx084k9.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0170_zpsjjx084k9.jpg.html)

*note. This probably wasn't a proper gas station any more either, if I'm honest  ;o)


Rather than pick up the interstate that bypasses Kingman, I followed the old Route 66 markers that take you through the middle of town, and rode alongside a huge double-stack container train though a winding canyon.

I mention this train because a little later as I approached Peach Springs, I saw there was a dirt road alternative to the main highway, that actually ran right next to the railroad... Sure enough there was that train again - so I threw caution to the wind and effectively tried to race it! It was like a scene out of a movie as I was hitting 60mph or so in an effort to stay ahead, and had a moment of panic when I saw a railroad crossing sign ahead...

Perhaps foolhardedly, I glanced at the driver of the lead engine (there were four - this train was huge!), and in a moment of movie madness, wicked on in a effort to cross the tracks before the mile long train thwarted my progress (in reality, even if it was a mile long, at that speed it would only have been by a minute or so of course).

I'd love to tell you that I lept the tracks like a scene out of The Dukes of Hazard - and I did, only it turned out that the main line curved away from the crossing, and this was only siding... Probably for the best ;o)


East-bound and down...

So after this messing around, it was getting distinctly dark by the time I entered Seligman and fuelled up. I have passed through this town before in the daylight, and it is a hotchpotch of original buildings, run down motels, and tourist and quirky hippy/arty shops - sort of like the 50s on acid. I thought it might be kind of surreal to ride through there in the dark this time, and it was...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000231_zpsrmdgqoma.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000231_zpsrmdgqoma.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000234_zpshql5kdbb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000234_zpshql5kdbb.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000237_zpsmwpiw6he.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000237_zpsmwpiw6he.jpg.html)

I'd hoped there would be a lot more neon at night time, but it really is a sleepy place these days... On the other hand, Williams about 50 miles up the road was buzzing with all the neon and tourist chutzpah it could muster. There was a huge Harley rally in town, which meant hotels were either full or pricey... I bedded down in one that at least offered free wifi and some semblance of what otherwise might be called breakfast.

I actually woke this morning to the sound of rain (and remembered that Williams is around 6800ft elevation) which is why I'm writing to you now, hoping it is just a shower...

Unfortunately the weather forecast for the weekend is not exactly promising, but at least set-up day for the Expo (today) and Sunday (when I'm due to leave for Moab) looks ok...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsmxxqnwie.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsmxxqnwie.jpg.html)
photo. look at those temperatures, and even snow for goodness sake! - I predict a rush on rooms in nearby Flagstaff!

I may not have particularly good wifi access over the weekend, and will of course be very busy (I hope) on the Giant Loop stand with the CB500X Adventure. If you're planning on attending the show this weekend, please do drop by and say hello. Just bring a sweater. And a raincoat.

Toot toot for now!

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:50:29 PM
Day 4: Williams AZ to Mormon Lake AZ - the Overland Expo West.

Mileage today: 68

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000271_zps0eewauq7.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000271_zps0eewauq7.jpg.html)
photo. It's big, it's black, it's unstoppable... and yes it's another obvious punchline: "and so is the train..." On my way out of Williams AZ, en route for Flagstaff.

I arrived at the site around lunchtime on Thursday 14th May, and helped Harold set up the Giant Loop stand on what was a lovely sunny afternoon... We were located at pretty much the end of the Moto village avenue, sandwiched between the huge Raw Hyde off-road school/tour encampment, and coincidently right next to ICON clothing who were displaying their new range of dual-sport and adventure specific riding apparel under the 'Raiden' branding.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000276_zpsr9cbydvu.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000276_zpsr9cbydvu.jpg.html)

I mention these guys particularly as Rally-Raid supported their promotional film project (that featured a pair of Triumph Tigers), and in return ICON have provided me with a selection of their riding gear to appraise during this trip, and which I trust will fend off the worst of whatever the weather can throw at me... and I was about to find out!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/Expo_zpsbkobfguv.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/Expo_zpsbkobfguv.jpg.html)
photo. Let's just say that the first couple of Days at the Expo were an endurance!

After a fun evening with a few beers around the campfire, it started to get distinctly colder, and Harold in his chivalry took the roof-tent, while I snuggled down in the back of the Giant Loop van in my less than winter weight sleeping bag.


Day 5&6: Overland Expo west

Mileage on show days: zero

The following day the rain started, followed by hail, and ultimately snow overnight too. To say conditions were bitter would be an understatement, but we smiled on through, although 12 hours of standing on my feet in the wet and freezing conditions took their toll, and I graciously accepted the offer of the kitchen floor of a cabin that Ray & Davin from ICON were staying in nearby - you guys really were a lifesaver!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000284_zpssudsnufo.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000284_zpssudsnufo.jpg.html)
photo. By Sunday morning we were living in a swamp!

Despite the weather, while Friday was a slow day, Saturday picked up with plenty of human traffic in the Moto village area, and I got to meet any number of interesting people over the next couple of days. Finally, Sunday dawned warm and dry, and much more the conditions we'd be lead to expect - I even ended up with a comedy sunburn after another full day on my feet.

So what about the bike you might ask? Well, I have to say the response was overwhelmingly positive from everyone I met during the weekend. We lost count of the number of times people asked if this was an actual official model from Honda, which was hugely complimentary - and at the same time, it was also humbling to see how many people already knew about the bike, and had specifically come to see it!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000289_zpsqlwdqrkb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000289_zpsqlwdqrkb.jpg.html)
photo. Rally-Raid had sent some new parts to fit for the show...

It was also really fun to meet up wiht a number of people that until now had only been internet 'forum friends' - and tried to make sure everyone went away with a couple of stickers that Dave from ADVaddicts has produced for me to take on the trip - a retro CB500X Adventure roundal, plus a really cool (well, I think) shield that personally I'll try and leave at what I consider points of interest along the route - kind of like a treasure hunt if you like?

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpswmirqkqu.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpswmirqkqu.jpg.html)


I also got the chance to look around a few of the other trade stands, and marvel (or in some cases 'wonder') at the elaborate camper conversions and extensive outdoor kitchen facilities that pack up into trailers and 4x4s, and couldn't help but wonder if all these guys do is park up and eat! It certainly made me appreciate just how little I've been able to pack and still consider myself comfortable enough for a life on the road.

Day 7: Mormon Lake AZ to Kayenta AZ

Mileage today: 198

Leaving the show late afternoon on Sunday, my intention was to ride the whole distance to Moab (approximately 300 miles away), but like all things, circumstances seem to have a habit of dictating both route and schedule, and ultimately offering something far more enjoyable than simply hacking through the dark and missing out on what would ultimately set the scene for the rest of the week in Moab.

cont.
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:51:42 PM
Day 8: Kayenta AZ to Moab UT.

Mileage today: 219

Having underestimated how long it would take me to ride to Moab (especially when you consider the hour time change between Arizona and Utah), I felt it wasn't fair to try and turn up at the guest house I was staying at after midnight; and coupled with the high desert cold as I headed north, elected to bed down in Kayenta just south of Monument Valley, and continue the last leg in the morning. There was only one hotel in town that wasn't fully booked, and while I felt utterly spanked at the room rate, I have to say it was very comfortable and a welcome rest after slumming it on floors over the weekend.

The following morning I got to pass through Monument Valley in all its glory, but the real benefit of my enforced stop-over meant I could at last embark on a trail towards Moab that I'd so far never had the opportunity or circumstances to ride: Lockhart Basin.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000306_zps926pn7c1.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000306_zps926pn7c1.jpg.html)
photo. Mexican Hat rock north of Monument Valley.


The fun begins!

Heading loosely along the route of the Colorado river for nearly 50 miles, Lockhart Basin trail actually has a county road route number, although over the years it has deteriorated considerably (particularly at the northern end closer to Moab), and features a number of tricky and technical rocky sections - although fortunately on the whole I'd be going down these steps in the direction I was travelling.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000313_zpskt3w6dqo.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000313_zpskt3w6dqo.jpg.html)

Having left my marker on a gatepost on the gentler section of the trail, I pressed on at a good pace, although a little unsure of what I might find. I was also conscious that rain had been forecast for Moab that afternoon, and was certainly a little wary of some ominous clouds that seemed to be following me north from the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000316_zps7dolak9v.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000316_zps7dolak9v.jpg.html)

I have to say that once again I was impressed with how the bike was handling the combination of rocky and sandy terrain - when the trail is smooth you can really pick up the pace, confident in the knowledge the bike will track in a sure footed manner over undulations and gentle whoops; while over more technical rocky climbs and descents, snicking it down into first gear and simply riding it like an automatic gave no cause for concern, and indeed it felt very balanced and easy to turn/make corrections, particularly when stood up on the pegs.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000321_zps1rvmojvb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000321_zps1rvmojvb.jpg.html)
photo. I loved this sticker when I saw it on Dave Lin's KTM during the trip through Death Valley, and was fortunate to be given one at the Overland Expo.

Of course inevitably this confidence became my undoing, although I would add that in this particular instance, I was perhaps being a little too careful and trying to inch the bike down on the brakes - rather than let it roll over the loose obstacles as I had been doing all afternoon:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000332_zpsw1gjcpka.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000332_zpsw1gjcpka.jpg.html)

Still, I had to get that 'first drop' out of the way, and fortunately all the extremities survived completely intact, despite not having any hand-guards fitted... I'd taken the original MX style ones off at the Expo in preparation for the BarkBusters that were due to arrive - fortunately I'd also fitted the shorty billet levers that John has sent me from the UK, and which have proved particularly resilient this week in Moab - yes, I've dropped the bike more than once now ;o)

What was especially revealing in this particular circumstance was just how damn heavy the bike is once it's laying on its side... Of course the tank was still nearly full of fuel, but I ended up having to undo the straps of my Coyote bag and flip it over the seat to remove enough weight so I could finally lift it back up on the loose and rocky surface. In that regard the banana style luggage really helped making removing and reattaching it easy - although I had to be dexterous to undo the strap on the underside with one hand while supporting the weight of the bike on my leg. A good incentive not to do this too often I'd say!

The sense of achievement on finally reaching the intersection with a familiar trail (that leads to Chicken Corners) meant I was nearly home and dry, and while I'd done my best to avoid the rain so far, I could see an almighty storm ahead of me as I headed over Hurrah Pass towards Moab...



Day 9 (Day 2 Moab): Seven Mile Rim

Mileage today (approx): 49

Having managed to avoid all but a sprinkling of rain the previous day, we took a gamble with the forecast and headed north of Moab and the Arches National Park to one of my favourite trails in the area: Seven Mile Rim.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000347_zpspbwain9p.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000347_zpspbwain9p.jpg.html)

This particular trail offers a varied combination of technical rocky terrain, fast sandy trails and some fabulous views from the top of the rim both north east, and south across Arches NP to the La Sal mountains in the distance. One particular highlight is an unnerving traverse along a slick rock face in the shadow of two huge rock towers (Monitor and Merrimac), and overall I felt this would be an excellent introduction to the variety of terrain Moab has to offer - to our friends who were visiting for the first time in their 4x4.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000348_zpsd822fvlf.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000348_zpsd822fvlf.jpg.html)

Of course for those of us who were riding motorcycles, the subsequent rain and even hail stones made the initial climb up the rocky rim interesting to say the least, and it continued to catch us out for most of the day, although the sun finally broke through mid afternoon...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0039_zpsqxwengyc.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0039_zpsqxwengyc.jpg.html)

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photo. The break in the weather gave a great view of the La Sal mountains...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000373_zpsdl3sqbiq.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000373_zpsdl3sqbiq.jpg.html)
photo. Before comprehensively dumping on us again!

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photo. fortunately things dried out almost instantly again.

So having toasted our respective successes that evening with another round of beers and burgers at the Moab Brewery, with the forecast now clear - I suggested we attempt a more ambitious trail the following day that would offer one of the best viewpoints in the whole of the area; and not least from my own point of view, really provide a serious challenge for the CB-X.

More soon...

Jenny x
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:53:13 PM
Day 10 (Moab day 3): Top of the World

Mileage (approx): 86

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1020967_zpsf0jqmrbn.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1020967_zpsf0jqmrbn.jpg.html)
photo. How did it get here, 2500ft above the valley floor? - It took some work I can tell you!

With the forecast clear and bright for the rest of the week, I wanted to show our 4x4 friends one of the best viewpoints in the area - from a precarious cliff face and a shear vertical drop of nearly 2500ft, offering stunning views over Onion Creek, Fisher Tower and on towards the Colorado river to the north, and the La Sal mountains to the south.

The trail is one of those featured during the Easter Jeep Safari week, although due to its distance from Moab (approximately 30 miles of highway followed by 15 miles of dirt road), the relatively short trail is not always top of a drivers/riders list. More fool they!

Originally designated a 'moderate' trail in the Charles A. Wells book of Moab, the exposed nature of the route means that over the years some serious rock steps and shelves have developed, so it is now rated as 'difficult' - although on the whole due to the relatively wide nature of the trail, bikes are able to navigate around some of the worst steps...  However as it turned out, some rock stacking was still required to see us all safely through.

So how about a few photos to illustrate what I mean?

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2232_zpsvpa8enca.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2232_zpsvpa8enca.jpg.html)
photo. This step was about 2 feet high, and needed a couple of rocks to create a ramp up so I didn't belly the bike.

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photo. While these ribs were not especially high, their diagonal nature meant you had to be very careful not to have the rear wheel slide along them.

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photo. Lisa on her Serow using a rock to launch up a concave step.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2245_zpsg8mpf13f.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2245_zpsg8mpf13f.jpg.html)
photo. A slightly different line and preloading the front end to help spring up the step.

The majority of the trail is broken rock slabs,  and the odd section of loose rock and sand mix. The climb up to the rim offers photographers an excellent view, which as a rider you only really get to appreciate on your way back down again!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2250_zpsa0zkxwyj.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2250_zpsa0zkxwyj.jpg.html)


Since the trail tends to take the majority of your attention, especially if you are to avoid a fall.

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It can get pretty relentless at times!

However, the view from the top however is so totally worth it!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2264_zps8pfqbnt7.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2264_zps8pfqbnt7.jpg.html)



Going back down again...

The return journey initially follows a different route in a loop, before joining the original trial about 1/3rd of the way down - effectively the loop is the eye of a needle. During the Easter Jeep Safari, they tend to run the loop in a clockwise direction, as the steps on the west side are more severe in the upward direction - presenting more of a challenge to the 4x4s.

However, I am not a total fool, so we elected to run the route in the traditional anti-clockwise direction to avoid any calamities...

Unfortunately, a momentary lapse of concentration meant I was able to categorically test the strength of the RRP Adventure engine guard, shortly levers, and the general robustness of the basic CB500X bodywork most comprehensively!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2293_zps8mlielnr.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2293_zps8mlielnr.jpg.html)
photo. Things started to get tricky on the way down, although this sector was actually totally rideable on the raised CB500X.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000433_zpsy4kyijfw.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000433_zpsy4kyijfw.jpg.html)

However, muscling the big bike over such terrain eventually started to take its toll on me, and approximately half the way down the west side, I gingerly edged the bike over a particularly steep step, followed by loose rock, and the inevitable happened (much as it had on Lockhart Basin), but with a far more dramatic result - as I was effectively ejected from the bike (rather than simply drop it), while it continued on its wheels for a few feet before dropping with a huge crash on its right side...

I immediately feared the worst, particularly as it had landed with all its weight on some very sharp and uneven rocks.

I have to say we were all amazed how little damage the bike suffered once it was back on its wheels... And without a doubt the engine guard bars had done their job exceptionally well and prevented the right hand cases from any serious damage - just a couple of scuffs - while the tubes themselves took the brunt of the impact:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000434_zpsj3u3ikvt.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000434_zpsj3u3ikvt.jpg.html)


I was also amazed that the front brake lever had survived intact after such a heavy fall with no hand guards fitted - a testament to the shape and strength of the shorty billet levers fitted I imagine? (Particularly since the bike had already been down three or four times on this side before the photo was taken).

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000439_zpsun4mxai9.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000439_zpsun4mxai9.jpg.html)


Indeed the only real damage to speak of was to the front right indicator - itself unbroken and still working, only that the plastic cowl surround cracked - nothing a dab of superglue couldn't fix ;o)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000436_zpsm8tkz5iy.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000436_zpsm8tkz5iy.jpg.html)


Even the huge OEM silencer only suffered a couple of minor dents - turns out Honda build this bike strong!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000442_zpsv4fuvh5r.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000442_zpsv4fuvh5r.jpg.html)


So after straightening the brake perch and tweaking the fork legs in their yokes (the only time I had to do this was after that particularly heavy drop), we continued to the end of the trail - with discretion the better part of valour over certain hazards ;o)

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Once back on the dirt road (that forms part of the 142 mile long-distance Kokopelli bike trail), it was a quick blast back to hwy 128 that runs alongside the Colorado river, and a spirited scenic ride back to Moab.

Here Lisa took the helm of the CB-X while I did my best to keep up on her 225cc Serow and take a few photos...

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photo. Back in Moab - time for another beer!


I have to say, today categorically proved to me the worth in having a slightly physically smaller bike, allowing you to tackle such terrain that might otherwise result in serious damage or injury if you were riding a 'full size' adventure bike... Yet at the same time it was a smooth and relaxing ride (at well above the legal limit should you choose) for those scenic highway miles... I honestly can't think of any other bike that can do both so well.

So what's next for the CB-X you ask? - stay tuned!

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:54:18 PM
Day 11 (Moab day 4): Onion Creek, Thomson Canyon and Hell's Revenge.

Mileage today (approx): 97

Since the previous day had taken us all longer than we'd expected (not least having the 4x4 Toyota FJ along, which dramatically changes the pace off-road), we elected to return along hwy 128 the following morning and take a more scenic trail ride/drive through the valley below Top of the World, that offers a real sense of travelling cross-country.

Onion Creek is so named because the wild garlic that grows alongside the water smells a lot like spring onions... The trail itself is a reasonably well maintained dirt road, that features numerous creek crossings, albeit it usually shallow, especially at this time of year.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000465_zpsv7ltjrba.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000465_zpsv7ltjrba.jpg.html)


The scenery as you pass through the canyon is like something out of a Wile e Coyote cartoon, full of strange columns and balanced rocks... While the odd burst of greenery can provide a cool and welcoming rest or picnic spot from the otherwise fierce sunshine.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000473_zpsnnwilzkg.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000473_zpsnnwilzkg.jpg.html)


It was fun to try and spot the 'diving board' promontory at Top of the World high up on the cliff above us, before electing to take the side trail that leads to the bottom of the infamous 'Rose Garden Hill' (another Easter Jeep Safari favourite) as a suitable spot for lunch. On arrival we were fortunate to witness a number of well prepared Jeeps attempt the climb, which is always fun to watch.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000481_zpsi3ttzpk3.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000481_zpsi3ttzpk3.jpg.html)
photo. Looks like an innocent quarter mile from a distance doesn't it? - the reality is a typically 30 degree or more slope full of loose rocks and shelf steps about 2/3rds the way up...

I would add that I have actually ridden down Rose Garden Hill on an XT225 in the past, and it was nerve wracking to say the least - so goodness knows what it must be like to try and go up this loose rocky climb on a one-wheel-drive machine - it was certainly not something I was going to attempt on the hefty CB-X... I may be crazy, but I'm not insane!!!



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Having left a TA500 sticker on a marker post at the trail junction, we continued to climb up into the foothills of the La Sal mountains, through the scenic Thompson Canyon, which in turn led to some stunning views across the valley below:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2446_zpsyhy7bgqx.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2446_zpsyhy7bgqx.jpg.html)

...Before returning to Moab via the Kokopelli Trail (and scenic Sands Flats Road) for what would be a fitting finale for our four-wheeling friends... The legendary Hell's Revenge slick-rock trail!


Hell's Revenge

Slick-rock - an abrasive sandstone surface which (on-the-whole) offers exceptional grip - isn't unique to Moab, but certainly there is nowhere else on earth where it is available in such quantity, and fundamentally, where you are actually allowed to ride/drive on so much of it!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000516_zps3etjvsve.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000516_zps3etjvsve.jpg.html)

While there are hundreds of square miles around Moab that feature multi-user trails, just to the east of the town is a huge plateau of slick-rock dedicated to recreational use, be it on two or four wheels, and powered by either legs or engines - marvellous!

There are three* key trails off Sand Flats Road - at the eastern end Porcupine Rim is primarily a mountain bike trail, that features an exhilarating single-track decent from the rim down to the Colorado river (and hwy 128).

*Four if you include the dedicated Slick-rock Bike Trail that shares much of the plateau with Hell's Revenge...

Meanwhile the motorised vehicles tend to play on Fins N' Things which features a variety of slick-rock fins and sandy trails, with a stunning backdrop of the snow covered La Sal mountains; and of course the daddy of them all: Hell's Revenge - which is just a stone's throw from the town itself, and particularly popular with the guided 4x4 tour companies as if offers an exhilarating roller-coaster of a ride up and down some seriously steep slick-rock slabs and fins.

Hell's Revenge also features some extreme optional hazards (and thank goodness they are optional!) such as the Devil's Hot Tub, The Escalator and Hell's Gate. If you have a little time it's worth looking up these on YouTube, you'll be amazed at the nerve (or is it stupidity?) of some people!

So for now I'll simply let the following photos illustrate just some of the terrain on offer - although typically it is difficult to impart the actual severity of some of the slopes!

Warming up on 'Baby Lion's Back' - a slick-rock fin just before the start of Hell's Revenge... In the past Hell's Revenge used to include the legendary 'Lion's Back' - a huge hundred foot high fin that was a nerve-wracking finale to the original trail. Unfortunately the fin has been closed for a number of years now (as it resides on private land, and not because of the infamous Chevy runaway... YouTube it ;o)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2518_zpsb2wihezy.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2518_zpsb2wihezy.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2519_zpsdb9swqt1.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2519_zpsdb9swqt1.jpg.html)


Before hitting the trail proper:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000517_zpssolol3ww.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000517_zpssolol3ww.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0049_zpsua4gisz6.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0049_zpsua4gisz6.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2550_zpski0ezdal.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2550_zpski0ezdal.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2554_zpscvqrhvwx.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2554_zpscvqrhvwx.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2572_zps9gkec8ew.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2572_zps9gkec8ew.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2581_zpsyguj1zbj.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/IMG_2581_zpsyguj1zbj.jpg.html)


Riding this trail late afternoon/early evening is my personal preference, as it means the temperature is more bearable, and the views particularly can take on an even more dramatic air (which I'm sure is why the sunset rides are particularly popular with the tour companies). Of course conversely it means the shadows are longer and visibility over some of the steps and other hazards a little more tricky...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000537_zpsl0xamhan.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000537_zpsl0xamhan.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000545_zps2egmazfy.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000545_zps2egmazfy.jpg.html)


And ultimately, as the sun began to set, it was time to head for the hotel and celebrate another successful day on the trails...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000532_zpsmm28jvcq.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000532_zpsmm28jvcq.jpg.html)


Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:55:26 PM
Day 12 & 13 (Moab day 5 & 6): Fossil hunting and the Fiery Furnace.

Having spent the past four days comprehensively putting the CB through its paces, it was time to kick back a little and enjoy the remaining time in Moab with my friends... and to experience what else the region has to offer.


Friday was spent riding a relatively easy trail (again on the CB-X), and looking for rocks and fossils.

Despite increasing environmental pressure to restrict use (and not just vehicular, but all users) - it is refreshing to see new trails continue to be opened up, offering greater access and helping to spread the load over a larger area.

One such multi-user route is the Fallen Peace Officer Trail - a 14 mile meander across an otherwise barren plateau, and which is actually rich with interesting rocks and fossils if you know where to look. The trail itself is dedicated to those law enforcement officers in Utah who were either killed or seriously injured in the line of duty:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000547_zpsvmu1mibd.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000547_zpsvmu1mibd.jpg.html)


The following afternoon we embarked on a guided hike through the Fiery Furnace in Arches National Park, and were able to immerse ourselves in these deep narrow canyons and simply wonder at the incredible geology that surrounded us!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000555_zpsjvqr0oyy.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000555_zpsjvqr0oyy.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0043_zps7ipfwxsl.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0043_zps7ipfwxsl.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0055_zps0iwz9ufn.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0055_zps0iwz9ufn.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0065_zpsvwhc03zs.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/VIRB0065_zpsvwhc03zs.jpg.html)

And with that, it was time for a final meal out, followed by some hurried packing and a wave goodbye early the following morning... Oh, and the liberal application of a few windshield stickers of course!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000554_zpsgabyilps.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000554_zpsgabyilps.jpg.html)

Then it was time for Piglet and I to load up the CB, and hit the road once more - destination unknown, but somewhere over the state line in Colorado we hoped...

To be continued!

Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 06:56:57 PM
Day 14: Moab UT to Montrose CO.

Mileage today: 147

Having finally caught up on my ride-reports after a week in Moab, it was time to head east and see what neighbouring Colorado has to offer...

... erm, snow drifts, swollen creeks and washed-out roads it would appear!

Certainly the continued winter weather this year and recent heavy snowfall at high elevations, meant that all of the unsurfaced passes remained closed as I was leaving Utah.

While I have at last moved into the 21st century with regard to digital mapping for this trip (although I've always tended to use a GPS for on-the-fly navigation and route amendments), bringing a paper map of both Utah and Colorado of this outbound leg of the trip would pay dividends over the next couple of days as a number of the dirt roads I'd intended to take had been washed out and closed... Using a paper map helps to see the bigger picture - as indeed these days there is almost too much information on the digital maps, with a myriad of trails and route numbers to try and comprehend into some kind of through-route!

Before I left Moab, I plotted a route using the traditional paper and [highlighter] pen method I'd employed previously when passing through this region:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsferejov5.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsferejov5.jpg.html)
photo. My primary nav gear for this trip is a Garmin Montana (with both TOPO and City Navigator maps installed), my iPad with both Google Maps and Maps.Me (and excellent offline/downloadable map resource) and good old pens and paper maps - this time including the excellent Butler* range of Motorcycle Maps, which effectively is like buying a map of each state where someone has already highlighted all the great riding roads for you!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsaflpxhht.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsaflpxhht.jpg.html)

*These are the guys who also produce the BDR (Backcountry Discovery Route) maps, which are another great resource - especially if you are touring on a bigger adventure/dual-sport bike.


My intention was to try and ride some alternative roads/trails to those from my previous trip, and fundamentally to try and stay below the snow line to avoid any unnecessary back tracking due to blocked or closed roads...

I would be passing through the La Sal mountains on the TAT return leg, and since they were currently covered in snow anyway, elected to make up some ground by taking the highway across the state line towards the comically named town of Bedrock - yabbadabbado!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpswsr7hqf3.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpswsr7hqf3.jpg.html)


Just south of here I spied an interesting dirt road in the GPS (it helps to have the map detail set on 'most' in such instances), and detoured alongside the Dolores River on a fast gravel road:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsmzb6qa0k.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsmzb6qa0k.jpg.html)

... and where I happened on this interesting historical curio, high up on the cliff face:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsuumhpbxg.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsuumhpbxg.jpg.html)

A reconstruction of a small section of the original 10 mile long suspended flume that was built in 1889 to provide water for hydraulic pumping as part of the Gold Rush mining in the region. Of course this being America, there is a detailed plaque opposite the site summarising the project, complete with the requisite website: www.hangingflume.org (http://www.hangingflume.org) - its certainly worth a read!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsiznnobyd.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsiznnobyd.jpg.html)

Since I had scheduled a stop-over day in Colorado Springs for maintenance (to hopefully coincide with a trip up to the top of Pikes Peak) later in the week, there was no immediate hurry to blast through Colorado - allowing me the luxury of time to explore some new trails (and as it turned out, revisit a few sections of the TAT I'd ridden before), while avoiding the snow-bound passes.

However, having planned to take County Road 90 between Naturita and Montrose that cuts out a huge chunk of highway, I was dismayed to find this a short distance before the pavement ended:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsjhkdxds5.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsjhkdxds5.jpg.html)

... which was sadly an indication of what was to come time and again over the next couple of days, as many of the dirt roads in the region had been severely damaged by torrential rain and flood water.

However, all was not lost - having found an alternative dirt road a little further south, I made it to Montrose just as the rain started, and ducked into a toasty motel across the street from one of the finest Mexican restaurants I can recall - their Premium Margarita was the smoothest I've ever tasted, and came with countless top ups from what can only be described as a bucket sized cocktail shaker - what a result!

Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:00:39 PM
Day 15: Montrose CO to Salida CO.

Mileage today: 143

A muddy Memorial Monday...

The following morning was spent on a very scenic section of hwy 50 that passes the Blue Mesa reservoir - again I was lucky to dodge a few showers in the distance, and elected to take a dirt road detour after lunch that looked interesting on the map at least...

... it was certainly interesting!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zps07figt8k.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zps07figt8k.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpseryrvzly.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpseryrvzly.jpg.html)

I don't think I have ever ridden on such sticky clay soil, even in the UK... The photos don't really do it justice, this stuff was like glue!

It was a balance trying to ride fast enough to keep the tires from clogging, but not too fast so that when the inevitable jam happened, there wasn't an almighty accident... I elected to stop just short of completely locking-up the front wheel, and removed the lower fender for safety - fortunately this is a less than 5 minute job with just a 5mm Allen wrench and an 8mm socket, and the GL Coyote straps provided the perfect place to secure the fender for onward travel:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsxjgzg7ka.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsxjgzg7ka.jpg.html)

I have to say, I was tempted to leave the fender off the bike once I rejoined the highway, as it does look bad-ass ;o) however, at the same time I was mindful of protecting the radiator, and the fact that the bare front wheel had thrown a lot of mud up in front of the engine.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsbxqbz730.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsbxqbz730.jpg.html)


Up and over...

I continued eastward on Hwy 50 and crossed the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass (elevation: 11,312ft):

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpseeg2pxm3.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpseeg2pxm3.jpg.html)
photo. Having winter/waterproof gloves with me was a godsend (and I'm sure will continue to prove to be on the return leg through Colorado), and I admit I was also wearing my jeans under my otherwise vented riding pants... Certainly riding in this kind of weather is far more pleasurable if you can protect yourself properly against the cold!

... before wizzing down the far side to arrive in Salida (a mecca for mountain-biking, and a typical stop-over on the TAT too) in good time to clean the bike, myself, and take advantage of the late afternoon sun to take a few photographs to help describe the kit I'm carrying with me (to follow in a separate post).

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsojygc3yi.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsojygc3yi.jpg.html)
photo. Clean and like new, which is more than could be said for the room! ...although to be fair the shower was first rate, and the bed comfortable... and I like to support independent motels where I can.

More soon!

Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:08:15 PM
My kit...

As a brief aside, I thought you might be interested in some of the gear I'm carrying on this trip? - in fact to be honest it is pretty much ALL the gear I'm carrying, as I have endevoured to pack just the basic essentials, while at the same time hopefully remain prepared for any eventuality.


First up, my tools and spares/bodge-it repair kit:

In an effort to maintain my modular packing system, and also to have all the tools and spares I might require on the bike at all times (particularly for those occasions I'm riding without my Coyote luggage for example), I have managed to fit everything into a Giant Loop Klamath tail/rack pack, that is a semi rigid waterproof bag that also has the facility to expand the lid upwards if an inch or two more room is required.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000360_zpsqjizahuz.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/P1000360_zpsqjizahuz.jpg.html)
photo. Klamath tail rack-pack on the RRP solo luggage rack - keeps everything contained and easy to hand, with the addtion of a compressor and jumper cables stowed under the seat.

Initially I packed everything in as tightly as possible, however the only drawback with the Klamath is that while it attaches to a rack or fender very securely, the lid is not lockable at all, so the contents are potentially vulnerable to theft if left unattended overnight for example.

The solution was surprisingly simple - Harold simply gave me a waterproof dry bag that fits snugly inside the tail pack, and allows me to quickly remove the inner bag each evening. It also works really well as a work mat to keep all your tools/bolts etc. together when working on the bike in the dirt.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpslgjrjdns.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpslgjrjdns.jpg.html)


The following is a list of the items I am carrying with me - it is a collection tools and spares that over the years I've found can keep you going and make any necessary adjustments out on the trail. I also consider that while the majority of tools are specific to the bike (sizes), I have also included one or two other items that are always useful should you run into anyone who is in difficulty.

1. Tool kit (details in a separate post below) - this kit has been assembled primarily as my rally tool kit, and is a selection of wrenches, Allen keys, sockets, and 1/4 drive compact accessories. On the whole I prefer to use individual tools for a job (particularly as in certain instances you need a wrench and a socket at the same time). There is also a Leatherman multi tool that can further double up as a second screwdriver as well as a knife and all important bottle opener ;o)

2. 3 x Motion Pro combi tyre levers/wrenches sizes: 22mm (my old Tenere), 24mm (CB500X) and 27mm (KTM), and which fit a number of other dual-sport bikes that I regularly ride with. I have also added the 3/8th drive adaptor in the 24mm size, so that I can use a 17mm hex for the front axle, plus a 17mm socket for the engine mounting bolts etc.

3. 1/4 inch fixed T handle - ideal for getting more leverage, and as a second tool. I use this a lot.

4. Spare tube. This is compromise size: 18" x 120 which should fit either the 19" front or 17" rear wheels to get me going again. I have also included a small bottle of tyre lube to aid fitting.

5. Cyclepump compressor (not shown, stowed under the seat), with a QR power tail connected directly to the battery. This tail usually runs the USB and 12v sockets on the bar riser, but can be swapped to the compressor as required.

6. Motorcycle size jumper cables (not shown, stowed under the seat).

7. Compact first aid kit. Meets FIM rally regs. and includes burn pads and cream, plus eyewash.

8. Small can of chain lube.

9. Small can of WD40.

10. A few pairs of latex gloves for messy jobs.

11. Compact multimeter.

12. Small rolls of gaffer (duct) tape and electrical insulation tape.

13. Bag of assorted electrical connectors, fuses, wire, nuts, bolts and other bodge-it parts.

14. Tube of Quik-Steel.

15. Tube of superglue ( in a poly bag just incase it leaks everywhere!)

16. Emergency foil blanket (another rally hangover, but potentially a lifesaver).

17. A selection of various size zip-ties.

18. The OEM front brake and clutch levers as spares.



My rally tool kit in more detail:

I have managed to contain everything below inside a Kriega Stash wallet, which is far more compact than a traditional tool roll, and is even small enough to fit a jacket pocket if desired.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpssb8qs4sq.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpssb8qs4sq.jpg.html)

The majority of the tools are part of the 1/4" 'professional' socket set from Halfords (in the UK), which is of high quality and often on sale at a good price. I have supplemented these with various compact wrenches and a folding T handle, plus a simple Leatherman 'Kick' model (now sadly discontinued) which offers just the essential knife, screwdrivers, bottle opener and thin-nose pliers/wire cutters. I also keep the regularly used size sockets on the various handles for easy access, and have an adaptor that allows me to use a 1/4" driver/handle with Allen, Torx or screwdriver bits as needed.

1/4" ratchet handle.
1/4" folding T handle.
1/4" 4 inch extension bar.
8mm ring wrench.
10/12mm open-ended combi wrench.
13mm ring wrench (with ratchet ring end - nice ;o)
14mm ring wrench (borrowed, as I forget mine!)
DRC spoke wrench (that comes with a selection of different size tips)
Leatherman Kick.
1/4" drive 8/10/12mm sockets, plus 13/14mm and a 6mm ( for carb jets).
3/8"drive 17mm socket and 17mm hex for front axle (these fit together very neatly of course!)
1/4" adaptor and a section of bits inc. 3/4/5/6/8mm Allen key, T15/20/25 Torx and a flat blade and Phillips screwdriver.
Pencil style tyre-pressure gauge.
Maglite Solitare torch.
Various valve parts - cap, core, lock nut and core remover.
Cable repair kit with various nipples.
Spare chain split link/s.
More electrical crimp connectors, fuses, mini zip-ties and latex gloves.

Cont.
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:12:39 PM
Camping equipment.

While it is not my intention to camp all that often, at the same time past experience has taught me that having a basic camp with me can pay dividends - either if something unforeseen happens and I have no choice but to bed down on the trail; or simply if I see a spot that looks nice (and fundamentally will be warm!) and fancy sleeping out under the stars for a change.

On my previous travels, I have tended to use two 35(ish) litre dry bags strapped ontop of one another on the rear of the seat (one for my camping gear, and one for my personal belongings) - keeping the bike nice and narrow.

However, while the weight itself is not particularly large, physically it can make getting on and off the bike a little tricky - and more often than not I needed to resort to the 'McGregor goose-step' and either hop towards the bike with my right leg extended, or else step up using the left hand peg stirrup style.

However, last year I used a single 'banana' style bag for the first time (a Giant Loop Coyote) during my trip from the UK to the Hellas Rally in Greece; and while I was hotelling it all the way, felt there would actually be plenty of room for a small camping kit too, along with the few clothes I'd elected to take for when off the bike.

Therefore I have tried to minimise the size of my camp kit, while still having the basic essentials to cook, wash and sleep with.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zps3rasiew1.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zps3rasiew1.jpg.html)


1. Big Agnes Seedhouse2 tent. I love this as it is so compact when packed (approx 14" long) and is big enough for me and all my gear to be kept inside. Fundamentally it is self-supporting (ideal on hard ground), and can be used as just a mesh bug-hut without the fly sheet if the weather is particularly warm.

2. Big Agnes Air Core inflatable mattress. I had finally had enough of my 2" thin Thermarest, and bought this as a replacement. You do need to blow it up (like a lilo), but at around 5" thick when inflated, it is far more comfortable and offers better insulation too.

3. Summer weight sleeping bag (in an Exped dry bag). Yes it's thin, but it bundles up really small and I don't want to camp in the cold anyway!

4. Jetboil cooker, and Spork.

5. Folding pocket knife.

6. Camping towel.

7. Petzl head torch.

8. Earplugs (in a Kinder-egg case)

9. Lighter.

10. Small packet of wet-wipes.

11. Toilet roll and hand sanitiser (in a ziplock bag).

12.  Ortlieb 2 litre water bag.

13. Nalgene bottle full of ground coffee (of course!)

14. Roll of small plastic trash bags (that can double as emergency waterproofing too).

Cont.
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:14:24 PM
My riding gear.

Finally for now, I thought I would introduce you to my riding gear.

Again, previous experience has taught me that keeping things modular is the key to packing light - with items that can often double up, both on and off the bike.

As I'll be riding pretty much every day this trip, and typically on the bike itself for most of the daylight hours - as such, my personal clothes only need to be the bare minimum - a few sets of underwear, a coupe of spare T-shirts, plus what I consider is a complete change of clothes that if I had to, could double up as on-bike wear - well, at least as far as the next shop where I could buy a replacement for anything damaged. This is essentially a pair of 'action' sandals (note. I would usually take a pair of lightweight trainers/sneakers as they are slightly more robust - but hey it's summer, and space was of a premium this time), some lightweight jeans and a wind-stopper fleece zip-through jacket - which is also smart enough to wear out in the evenings to all but the fanciest restaurants (and which I can't afford anyway ;o)

As I will be riding at some pretty high altitudes during this trip (and possibly some inclement weather too), I have also brought a set of wicking base-layer long-johns and a long-sleeve top - which can always double as pyjamas too of course. I have also included a thin (but insulating) fleece pullover - as a useful mid-layer, and again, smart enough to wear away from the bike too.


As far as my outer layer goes, in the past I have been a staunch advocate of Arai helmets and on the whole Alpinestars riding gear - usually choosing their lightweight enduro style jacket and pants, and supplementing those with a waterproof shell pullover and rain pants for really crappy weather.

I also much prefer the shorty style of riding boot, and always travel and trail-ride in Alpinestars Tech 2s, which are essentially the ATV version of the Tech 3 MX boot... Hell, they are so comfortable I've even been known to race in them with some appropriate shin-guards too!

So I was faced with a dilemma for this current trip. My current riding gear was getting really tired, and I really wanted a jacket that would be waterproof without the need for an additional over jacket; but at the same time also be lightweight, have plenty of pockets, and vented enough for muscling a big bike around on the trails during the early summer months across the USA.

I have therefore chose to break form the norm and try a selection dual-sport specific riding gear from US based apparel company ICON. More usually known for their road and retro street riding gear, I've always liked their range of shorty boots; and so was keen to try a selection of their new lighter weight all-road and trail-riding gear, which is sold under the Raiden branding.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zps9hdfs6i7.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zps9hdfs6i7.jpg.html)

The gear I've chosen is the DKR jacket (with the thermal liner removed - if its cold I can layer my windstopper fleece underneath instead), and as this jacket is cut pretty large, it means there is a enough air circulation inside when the vents are opened for riding in hot weather; while it is properly waterproof and includes full armour, without being overly heavy. There are also loads of handy pockets (I have my little OCD routine of a place for everything when I'm on the road), the option of an external drink bladder pocket; and it also has a really useful rear pocket ideal for maps and spare gloves - and actaully large enough to stow my waterproof over-pants too. So far I am really impressed with how it's stood up to everything.

Because I will be riding in high temperatures a lot of the time, I've elected to wear the lighter weight Arakis vented mesh pant - again cut large enough so you can wear them over thermals or even a pair of jeans if you need to layer up (...and I've included my trusty A'stars waterproof over-pants as a precaution for really wet weather!) I really like these pants as they have a high waist (so they sit comfortably over the wiastband/belt on any jeans underneath), and leather panels on the inside to protect against snagging on footpegs or burning on the exhaust for example.

Two pairs of gloves - one summer weight and vented, and one waterproof and insulated (...these have been a joy during the past couple of days in Colorado, especially as I didn't have any hand-guards currently fitted.)

Their Patrol shorty boot - a long term favourite design of mine, and the reality is even better - they are properly waterproof (well, until the water is deeper than the top of the boot - that's a story for a little later on ;o) -  yet flexible and comfortable to wear off the bike too. I'm going to buy a pair in brown too, before they stop making them!

As I say, I have never worn anything other than an Arai helmet off-road (and racing) until this summer, and would have bought the latest Tour-X (XD4) in a heartbeat were it not for the fact that they can be noisy at higher road speeds. I therefore thought I'd complete this outfit with an ICON Variant helmet, which I'd heard good reports about; and I have to say, is very comfortable and quiet - well, it certainly was when I tested it on my road bike back home...

However, I have found there is quite a lot of wind noise/roar when I'm riding the CB-X, which I feel is most likely as a result of the air moving between the stock screen and the angle of the peak on the helmet, as I've found the CB much quieter when using a regular road helmet rather than a peaked adventure/enduro style. Similarly I've found the Variant helmet is also more than acceptable when riding a regular (non faired) dual-sport bike, so I really think it is the interface with the CB's screen in this instance. Ah well, ear plugs and iPod for the Iron Butt it is then!


So that is pretty much my gear - other than a few tech bits (camera/s, iPad, cables, chargers) in a Kriega Kube bag, and my trusty Camelbak Blowfish that doubles as a daily snack store, map holder and not least a snug papoose for Piglet!

If you have any questions about anything in my packing list, please ask away and I will of course do my best to clarify on any element...

Normal programming will now resume ;o)

Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:15:31 PM
Day 16: Salida CO to Colorado Springs CO.

Mileage today: 157

After a good nights sleep, but a rather lacklustre breakfast, I planned to head for Colorado Springs (or possibly stop in Cripple Creek overnight), so that I would essentially have the whole of the following day (Wednesday) to head up Pikes Peak, hoping that at some point at least, the weather would be on my side...

Since the sun was beaming down, I was itching to get off-road again, and knew there was a network of trails to the east of Salida that would see me high, but not too high, and hopefully dry.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpschsojxhx.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpschsojxhx.jpg.html)

Heading up County Road 175 (this is the TAT route into Salida when heading west), I spied an alternative trail in the GPS ominously named "Dead Horse Gulch", and since it also had a County Road number, vowed to give it a try on return journey in a couple of weeks' time... and continued up and east, into the hills:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpswwy9h8us.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpswwy9h8us.jpg.html)
photo. This is why people come to Colorado!

As the trail climbed higher, I noticed a number of trees down across the trial - fortunately the County Road route had been [semi] cleared...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zps9dmjw5fn.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zps9dmjw5fn.jpg.html)


I also left a subtle marker for anyone passing in the opposite direction on the official TAT trail:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpse5q1olmm.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpse5q1olmm.jpg.html)


Despite having a blast on the [reverse direction] TAT route, I was also keen not to let all these lovely side trails pass by on my outward ride - after all, I had the whole day to go only 150 miles or so to Colorado Springs, so it was time to have some fun, and trail-ride at ten thousand feet!

However, the joy was relatively short-lived when I found that the side trails had not been cleared in quite the same way as the main County Road:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zps0dhwgptr.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zps0dhwgptr.jpg.html)

Skipping over the smaller fallen saplings was easy enough, but as the trunks became progressively bigger, the limit of the ground clearance soon became apparent:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zps3cby4hkx.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zps3cby4hkx.jpg.html)


Again prudence  and not wanting to heave a 200+kg load off the deck at 10,000ft, meant I elected to unload my luggage, stack rocks, and bop the bike over unladen:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zps1aitdgs6.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zps1aitdgs6.jpg.html)


Pleased with my progress, only a few hundred feet higher and I was faced with this:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsweqcms7k.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsweqcms7k.jpg.html)


Sometimes you've just got to call it quits and choose an alternative route - this was only playing after all ;o)

Fortunately my GPS showed a multitude of alternative trails that would take me back to the main forest road, and despite the odd set-back...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsfsxp4ktg.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsfsxp4ktg.jpg.html)

...I spent an enjoyable couple of hours high on the mountains - both literally and metaphorically - it really is a joy to ride here!


Unfortunately later in the afternoon, I found that the weather had once again left its mark, with many of the dirt roads up to Cripple Creek currently closed for repair:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsswadkkgn.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsswadkkgn.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsk3keielp.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsk3keielp.jpg.html)


Whichever route I tried, it seems that for the moment at least, I'd be thwarted:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsqmidunqc.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsqmidunqc.jpg.html)

Still, I'd be coming back this way soon enough, and I still had Pikes Peak to conquer tomorrow of course!


Day 17: Colorado Springs CO - Pikes Peak.

Mileage today: approximately 71

I arrived bright and early, on what would have been the perfect day to make the ascent - only to find a big illuminated sign saying the road was blocked by snow from mile marker 13 to the top. Dammit!

With further storms also forecast for the afternoon, I forfeit my alternative plan of riding up to Cripple Creek via Gold Camp Road, and instead spent an extra day preparing the bike for the 'big ride' scheduled for Friday 29th May - and my attempt at a 1000 mile in 24 hours 'Iron Butt' marathon - getting me significantly closer to the east coast, and in turn the start of the real purpose of this particular trip, and that is to navigate the latest incarnation of the Trans-Am Trail in it's entirety!

So please excuse me if I duck out early this evening - as I'm going to need all the sleep I can muster if I'm going to make it though the next 24 hours!

Toot toot!

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:17:58 PM
Day 18: Colorado Springs CO.

Mileage today: approximately 20.

Iron-Butt pre-prep and general mid-trip maintenance...

Having no choice but to forfeit my ascent of Pikes Peak this week (closed the last six miles due to snow), I endeavoured to use the time wisely to prepare the for the Iron Butt ride - scheduled for Friday 29th May.

Now you might think there was not a lot to it, just get on your bike and ride - over 1000 miles, in less than 24 hours - seems simple enough right? - and I certainly intended to use this format as a way to get a lot further east more quickly than what might otherwise typically take me three days riding (I like to stop and smell the flowers, and drink the coffee ;o)

Of course if you actually want a certificate (plus the all important patch and pin badge) from the IBA (the Iron Butt Association - try putting that on your resume, it ought to make for an interesting few moments in any subsequent job interview ;o) then there are certain rules you need to abide by, but essentially you need a start witness, a time, date and location receipt to confirm your start position (typically a gas station receipt), a log of your refuels (similar receipts) to help confirm your route, and a similar witness at the other end to confirm your arrival...


Fortunately I was scheduled some mid-trip maintenance at the workshop of Motominded in Colorado Springs. For those of you unfamiliar, these are the guys who make the headlight conversions for dual-sport/enduro bikes to typically mount some pukka LED lamps in the OEM masks, dramatically improving the lighting performance of your bike.  Their most popular design is incorporating a Baja Designs Squadron into the stock KTM headlight mask, which is something that works particularly well on the KTM 690 for example.

Chris who runs the company also shares the workspace with Ned (Neduro) who as many of you will be aware produces the excellent Double-Take rear view mirrors, that utilise the RAM ball mounting system, allowing you to multi-position the mirror and easily fold it out of harms way for more gnarly going - although at the same time, they are pretty near indestructible anyway!

I already use these on a couple of my own dirt/rally bikes, and while the stock CB500X mirrors had stood up to a handful of tip-overs so far, I thought it would be a good ideal to try the Double-Takes for the rest of the journey, particularly the return leg on the Trans-Am Trail. The initial impressions are good (baring in mind the typically higher road speeds I'll be riding the CB), with just a little more vibration compared to stock - the flip-side of course is they won't come loose and spin round (this has happened with the stock mirrors on rough ground!) or potentially break in the event of a fall.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsuhbugjf4.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsuhbugjf4.jpg.html)


The other thing I added was a pair of BarkBuster Storm hand-guards. Again these are my personal favourites these days, with a nice deep hand shield to keep the weather off you (this would pay dividends during the second half of the Iron Butt, believe me!), and a strong aluminium backbone to protect the levers and your hands.

Initially I/we have been a little concerned about how well the supplied mounting brackets fit around the front brake hose particularly on the CB500X, but I have to say that the supplied kit that includes replacement bar-end weights (meaning the hand-guards mount a little further out now) actually fit pretty well if you mount the inner clamps this way around:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsef8udeh8.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsef8udeh8.jpg.html)


All this prep is primarily to help protect the bike during the return leg, which will see a lot more off-road riding than I'd immediately be experiencing on my final blast to the east coast. However, the primary reason for the scheduled stop (other than socially, and for an excellent hamburger with the boys) was to finally fit the production fork internals to Giant Loop's US demo bike...

To recap, to ensure we had the bike built in-time for the Overland Expo on the 15th May, we sent just the longer damper rods themselves for the stock forks (together with the longer TracTive springs) but without the all-important valve shim stack fitted. Once the production parts were in John's hands, he built-up a second pair of forks (which we had, and was the simplest way for me to change them somewhere on the road), and sent them to Motominded as they have the perfect workshop facilities, that did I mention, is only a stone's throw from a excellent gourmet burger restaurant ;o)

Swapping the fork legs over was the perfect opportunity to also install some protection for the exposed stanchions - and while initially we considered some neoprene sleeves, personally I don't like the way they fit very tightly against the stanchions - as they can trap any dirt behind them and potentially scratch the chrome... Instead I invested in a pair of old-school rubber gaiters (a bargain at 16 bucks!), which if nothing else ought to endear us to the KLR crowd ;o)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpskir1kuv1.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpskir1kuv1.jpg.html)


The final prep was to install a neoprene shock boot around the otherwise exposed TracTive rear shock. Similar to the radiator guard (and their very neat Tail-tidy conversion), Rally-Raid are more than happy to recommend the R&G Racing boot as a suitable measure - although ultimately I believe John is considering designing a more traditional dual-sport kind of hard mud-flap (the main problem is the lack of suitable mounting position on the non-ABS bikes).

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsojchhnna.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsojchhnna.jpg.html)


(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsks5y7aln.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsks5y7aln.jpg.html)
photo. Boot is the perfect length to still allow access to the rebound adjuster.

So, with the chain lubed and adjusted (and the head bearings simiarly snicked up as they'd started to settle after the past 2500 miles of hammering), the bike was ready to go... I guess all that remained for me to do was try and get an early night, and meet Chris the following morning as he had rather generously agreed to get up at 6am to be my start witness - thank you!

Cont.
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:19:30 PM
Day 20: Colorado Springs Co to Evansville IN - the Iron Butt ride.

Total mileage today: 1009

"The rain on the plain, started driving me insane..."

6 am. Having packed the previous night, all that was required was to stuff Piglet into his papoose, down a tepid and rather insipid cup of motel coffee, and head out onto the almost empty streets of Colorado Springs...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsu38mzg8v.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsu38mzg8v.jpg.html)


My official start time was 6.41am (Colorado/Mountain time), and Chris saw me off onto hwy 24, which would lead to Interstate 70, my home for the majority of this jaunty endeavour...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpswrejr7fe.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpswrejr7fe.jpg.html)


There would be a lot of this to start with:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsftqrja0x.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsftqrja0x.jpg.html)


Eastern Colorado is BIG SKY country. If you look at a map of the state, there is a mark'd line where the Rockies end and the plains begin - its almost as if someone forgot to draw the rest of the detail in!

West Kansas is very much like east Colorado, other than a time change one hour ahead - more big sky, and little fluffy clouds...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsjidegctk.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsjidegctk.jpg.html)


Once across the state line though, It seems the God-squad and anti-abortion activists had been spending their hard-earned subscriptions on countless billboards... I wondered if I should actually stop and phone the presumably not toll-free number to find out exactly what this 'truth' about the lord is - as I'm surprised a revelation of this magnitude has not made the headline news!

Actually, it was kind of nice to see a jolly Jesus smiling along the way - it reminded me of a church sign I saw in Georgia on my last cross-country journey east: "Drive carefully - God wants you to get home safely".

The anti-abortion crowd were a little more hard-hitting and direct: "Don't Abort, Adopt." is a reasonably well-meaning message... however, I admit I started to wonder with some incredulity at "Adoption prevents Abuse!" - what on earth were they implying?! (presumably not that the citizens of Kansas might abuse unwanted children!)

I passed the halfway point (actually refuelled at mile 517) at Topeka KS, and planned to celebrate with a five-shot espresso in Starbucks, that shall henceforth be known as 'The Mighty Quinn'...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpswwhqbndz.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpswwhqbndz.jpg.html)
photo. "I would ride five hundred miles, and I would ride five hundred more..."


The weather had started to cloud over by now, although thankfully it was still nice and warm; and I was happy enough bopping along with an eclectic mix of Eurythmics, David Lee Roth and Katie Melua.

Kansas City was tedious however. I hit the city at rush hour, and endured endless tailbacks... goodness knows if they can allow lane-splitting in overcrowded California, they could certainly introduce it here (and everywhere!) I even did my best to demonstrate the procedure to the assembled masses a couple of times when frustration got the better of me ;o)


Once I crossed into Missouri (with the requisite "I guess we're not in Kansas anymore Piglet" muttered under my breath - well, it still amuses me), the rains came. Biblical rain.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpshrpxbw6t.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpshrpxbw6t.jpg.html)
photo. Spitting rain soon became a torrential downpour...

It was both torrential and tedious, especially with the truck spray as they thundered on down I70.

For those of you familiar with the UK, I still had the equivalent of riding from Edinburgh to London, in the rain.

This analogy is particularly apt as the highway east of Kansas City is two lane (each side) and full of roadworks - just like the A1. Oh, and just to make me really feel at home, they purportedly have speed cameras in the work zones too - not that I could actually ride much above the posted limit anyway in these conditions, and now with fading light...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsghc6vexq.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsghc6vexq.jpg.html)


The weather got worse as I crossed into Illinois, and there was still 106 miles to go, it was dark, and we were certainly not wearing sunglasses by the time I filled the bike for the final stretch, at nearly midnight local time.

Suffice to say I made the thousand mile mark at 1.07am on the 30th May, after a mercifully dry dash over the last 50 or so miles into Evansville, Indiana.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zps3ns1n1xl.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zps3ns1n1xl.jpg.html)


Once I'd obtained my final fuel receipt (time, date and location of course), I had racked up a total of 1009 miles in 17h 35m - which included a good couple of hours of rest stops along the way.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zps9r935g2a.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zps9r935g2a.jpg.html)


It's by no means a record of course, but a personal achievement none-the-less, as I have never ridden quite this far in one session.

And I have to say the little CB was amazing. There came a point when I stopped caring and just wanted to get there, and it never once complained. I was also [personally] very impressed with the stock seat. I admit I started to wriggle at about mile 700 or so, but I fear that was primarily due to the amount of rainwater that was pooling in my crotch area ;o)

The stock screen also seemed to work well enough (in the low position, with a couple of 1/4" spacers on the upper mounting bolts to angle the screen more steeply). It's certainly not perfect noise-wise by any means, but bearable at 70-80mph, particularly when Katie Melua is crooning southing sounds in your earphones... Ahhhhhhh, Katie ;o)


So, a few facts and figures for you number nerds out there:

Official start time: 6.41am in Colorado Springs.

My plan was to stop for 5-10 minutes every couple of hundred miles (so almost exactly each time I'd need to fill up), plus have a longer break of 20-30 minutes to roughly coincide with breakfast, lunch and wherever/whenever dinner may be...

I admit I did not eat particularly 'well' during this marathon - McDonalds (free wifi) and Starbucks (tedious log-in wifi) sandwiches I am almost ashamed to say - but all useful (if somewhat empty) calories...

The first big stop was at mile 177 for fuel and breakfast (30 mins).

The time zone changed soon into Kansas, which meant my halfway point was a refuel at 517 miles, and a late lunch in Topeka at 3.49pm - so about 8 hours in total, and a little over 7 hours riding - I was kind of on-target still.

Then came the traffic (Kansas City), followed soon after by the rain. And boy did it rain!

I started to try and mentally break the remaining journey into bite-sized chunks, something I could relate to from back home, and that I'd all done with some regularity at some point or another...

Edinburgh to London (400 miles)
Newcastle to London (300 miles)
Leeds to London (200 miles)
Birmingham to London (100 miles)

Having not elected to put my rain-pants on (although wisely had put my iPad in a ziploc bag in my backpack at least), I was soon soaked through to the skin on my bottom half - but at least it was warm rain (unlike the UK!) The only real problem was once it got dark and the spray from the trucks (mostly passing them, but some passing me), oncoming headlights, and the general surface water made things nerve-wracking to say the least!

After the last refuel (and another 30 minute rest) at Mt. Vernon Illinois, I rode the last hundred miles with no music and no earplugs just to try and stay focussed...

I finally hit the thousand mile mark a few miles north of Evansville Indiana at 1.07am local time (so 12.07am Colorado time) and collected my final gas receipt at 1.18am, 1009 miles covered in 17 and a half hours, with a riding time I estimated of a little under 16 hours - so in effect an average of 60mph*

*indeed, according to my GPS log, the overall average was 57.3mph.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsxxoanhvt.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsxxoanhvt.jpg.html)


Now to submit that paperwork to the IBA - certainly that second half in bad weather makes me feel I really earned it!

Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:21:09 PM
Day 20: Evansville IN to Richmond KY.

Mileage today: 250

So what on earth happened after the Iron Butt you might be asking - yes, it has almost been a full week since I embarked on the marathon journey from Colorado to Indiana, and I have to say it really feels like a lifetime ago already!

While it was a personal challenge for me, and also an excellent test of the long-distance ability (and comfort) of the CB500X; it was also an ideal opportunity to get a lot further east in a short space of time - helping to keep me on schedule for the overall trip, and not least to give me a little margin for any bike maintenance prior to my return journey west.

Although I didn't drop off to sleep until nearly 3am on Friday night/Saturday morning, I didn't feel all that tired when I woke with just enough time to grab a cook-your-own waffle from the breakfast bar before they stopped serving at 9am.

Indeed I momentarily considered knocking off another 500 miles that day (my destination of Roanoke VA was 538 miles away according to the GPS), and thus cementing a "Bun Burner" ride of 1500 miles in 36 hours - but quickly considered that I'd actually had enough of flogging both myself and the bike on endless interstate and major highways, and that it was time to ride some twisties again.


Cruisin' Kentucky...

Fortunately Kentucky, just over the Ohio River boarder with Indiana, is full of delightful rural roads, and very reminiscent of south-western France I thought? I tapped in a few via points and let the Garmin Montana guide me diagonally eastwards on the minor roads, in glorious sunshine!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsj0yansex.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsj0yansex.jpg.html)
photo. This was the last bit of main road I would see today - and the weather in Kentucky was sunny, hot and humid...

I have to say, there were some very impressive and undoubtably expensive houses south of Evansville as I worked my way eastwards towards Fort Knox (with half an intention of visiting the military museum there) on old hwy 60. However, on reaching the edge of the huge facility, I was both conscious of a huge dark storm cloud that was hovering overhead, and coupled with the fact that I was starting to feel a lot more tired than I had first imagined, decided to press on and try and find a hotel in good time that evening.

Again, simply relying on the GPS to provide an interesting route (with encouragement with a few via points manually inputted where I saw an interesting road), I quite by chance happened to pass through Hodganville, which is where Abraham Lincoln was born!



Day 21: Richmond KY to Roanoke VA

Mileage today: 378

Sunday scratching...

It had turned out that by staying on minor roads, that Roanaoke was a lot further away (both in time and mileage) than I had imagined, but still I intended to make the most of this glorious weather, and almost traffic free roads though the Appalachian mountains - perfect!

I can honestly say I can't remember a time I've ever had more fun on the road on a bike - and that includes riding my Ducati Monster in the Swiss Alps!

Virginia really does have some world class riding, and the little CB was in it's element here, carving corner after corner, with enough drive to constantly keep a smile on your face, but not enough that might get you out of shape on unfamiliar roads.

I was deep in the rural heartland of Virginia (a dipped in and out of West Virginia too), and not only were the roads mercifully traffic free on this sunny Sunday, but it was a joy to be able to fill the tank of the bike and get a halfway decent slice of pizza and a hot chocolate for under fifteen bucks (that's less than ten quid to us Brits!)

I was also in no doubt I had entered the bible belt:

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photo. It is indeed the eternal question...


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photo. I bet you just read that in a Mr T voice too ;o)


Despite riding mile after epic mile of backroads, that is not to say that Sunday wasn't without its fair share of rain too - goodness knows I got dumped on twice during the day, and the first time it was so immediate that I didn't even have time to pull over and don my rain-pants before I was utterly soaked.

Fortunately my timing was spot-on, and the rain showers happened during a brief respite from the particularly enjoyable intestinally twisty route I'd programmed into the GPS, and therefore I got to ride the best of the roads in glorious sunshine.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpshldho1ad.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpshldho1ad.jpg.html)
photo. The river might be considered 'Dismal' (actually it wasn't, it was beautiful!), but the road wasn't - another epic Alpine ride through the Appalachians!


When I finally reached Roanoke that evening, I was both tired and elated. It had been an intense couple of days in the mountains - 250 miles yesterday and not least nearly 400 miles today - straight after the thousand mile Iron Butt.

I landed an excellent deal at a motel on the outskirts of town (complete with laundry) and used the time to properly recuperate. I was now less than 300 miles from the east coast, the half way point of this trip now tantalisingly close, and my tires pretty much shot to pieces.

cont.
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:22:35 PM
Day 22: Roanoke VA to Virginia Beach VA - the end of the eastern leg.

Mileage today: 309

With the forecast not particularly good for the next few days, the plan was to hit the east coast as soon as possible, and then try and sort some replacement tyres before I headed back west too far - especially as I intended to ride the length of the Blue Ridge Parkway, and take in a few of the roads around Deals Gap before finally starting my dirt ride west on the Trans-Am Trail, so would certainly prefer fresh rubber to make the most of those inital highway miles.

Personally I feel the Continental TKC80 really is the best 'all-rounder' tyre for this sort of bike, and indeed during the development of the Adventure kit for the CB500X, John and I exclusively used the TKCs as we feel the compound and profile really optimises the balance between spirited on and off-road use. Other tyres are available of course... ;o)

Wanting to avoid the major highways as much as I could, I headed east for the last time, again on more minor roads (included a gem outside Roanoke called Dickinson Mill Road - I mention it if you're passing as there is a TA500 sticker somewhere along it's length ;o), and again enjoyed the tranquillity of the rural countryside, as I did my best to dodge the rain clouds, adjusting my route on the fly as I wound my way eastwards, towards the coast.

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photo. I had to stop and photograph this house - reverting to nature it would seem... I'm sure it could tell a lot of stories (including the one when a stuffed pig on the first CB500X Adventure in the US stopped by...)

More notable roadside memories from that final day heading east was a modest house with two shiny MGBs parked outside - I presumed the anglophile had bought the second one as ready supply of spare parts ;o)

Detouring onto a major highway to fuel up, I passed a huge billboard rather bizarrely asking: "Is it time for your screening colonoscopy?" Complete with a head and shoulders photo of a cheery looking nurse (presumably donning her rubber gloves just out of shot)... and pondered the popularity (and indeed wisdom in some cases!) of putting your face ten feet high on a roadside sign in an effort to promote your company. Certainly the most comical example was for a law firm that featured three (presumably) lawyers/partners in the firm all wearing dark sunglasses - looking like the Reservoir Dogs!

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photo. Fuel is wonderfully cheap in Virginia - regular costs the equivalent of £1.50 a GALLON! (around a quarter of what we pay in the UK).

I finally reached Virginia Beach on the Atlantic coast at 7.05pm on Monday 1st June - three weeks after I'd left Alice's Restaurant south of San Francisco on the west coast.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsht2bulwb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsht2bulwb.jpg.html)


It was with a degree of melancholy that I purchased my VB sticker for the front of the CB-X - after all, while this was quite an achievement, at the same time, technically it meant this trip was already half over...

Fortunately the immediacy of the internet and my penchant for a triple espresso meant I was able to cheer myself up no end once I'd checked my email in a Starbucks, by celebrating this modest milestone with a slap up meal at a lovely fish restaurant on the north of the peninsular (that had been recommended to me via a message), and ultimately took comfort in the fact that the best was probably still to come!

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Certainly the journey east had essentially been an elaborate [series of] proving tests of the all-round cabability of the bike - both as a personal assessment, and to also provide valuable feedback to those peope who had developed the Adventure specification modifications.

I had effectively ticked all the key boxes - having ridden it over fast desert pistes and slow rocky technical terrain; embarked on a marathon high-speed highway haul and not least plenty of twisty backroads too - and through every element and atmospheric condition: high altitude, low altitude, heat, cold, wind and rain, and even snow!

What was immediately clear (and had become increasingly so as the trip went on and my familiarity with the machine increased) is how these modifications really have transformed the basic bike - making it so very much more capable off-road, while at the same time not at all compromising it's entertaining on-road abilities - indeed the high quality suspension actually means the bike feels even more composed and stable on the highway than before.

As I sat there supping the last of my Margarita, I had every confidence this would be the perfect bike for my much more personal journey back west, along the Trans-Am Trail.

But first there was the small matter of two worn out tires to replace, together with a number of invitations to enjoy a little more of what the eastern side of the country has to offer. I just hoped the rain would stay away.

Of course it didn't.

But that is a story for another day...

More soon!

Jenny x
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:24:36 PM
Tuesday 2nd June Day 23:  Virginia Beach VA to Roanoke VA.

Mileage today: 301

So, a few numbers before we continue the story...

On reaching the east coast, according to my daily log (via the GPS) I'd ridden 4770 miles from when I picked the bike up in Bend (with just 773 miles on the clock), and so effectively the official west-east leg of the Trans-Am 500 route from San Francisco to Virginia Beach was 4259 miles, including that week in and around Moab - and therefore pretty much what I'd imagined (ie. around 4000 miles to cross the country).


Trans-Am 500 part 2: the way back west...

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photo. My official start point for the return leg was the Lynnhaven Fish House restaurant on the north shore of the First Landing peninsular above Virginia Beach. This is where I had my celebratory meal the night before, and I can confirm that even shellfish taste better when wrapped in bacon ;o)


First Landing (now a State Park) is notable for, well, you can probably guess by the name actually - is where the first British settlers arrived in North America in 1607, and established a permanent community that was in effect the foundation of the British Empire.

The surrounding bay provided a huge natural harbour, and Virginia itself became a key gateway to the rest of the country and remained an independent British colony until you guys got a bit shirty about all that stuff in 1776... This little historical nugget certainly explained the huge number of towns, cities and counties in the surround area that share their name with a British counterpart.

Being over 400 years late to this particular party, I instead busied myself with the far more pressing matter of sourcing some new tyres for the Honda. Fortunately I'd received a couple of good leads via the ADVrider forum - where local knowledge suggested that a BMW dealer might be my best bet to find some actually in stock.

Sure enough, a few phone calls lined me up with the correct sized rear at an independent garage in Charlottesville that afternoon, while I could get a new front TKC fitted at a main dealer in Roanoke the following morning - which rather fortunately was right on the Blue Ridge Parkway (that I intended to ride in its entirety over the coming few days anyway), and not least was the location of that very comfortable and affordable hotel that I had already stayed in - result!


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photo. I'm a few hundred feet under the bay here, heading north towards Hampton - who knew they'd only build a bridge half way across, and the rest was a tunnel!


A social butterfly...

En route I stopped off briefly in Richmond to say hello to ADVrider Champe who was keen to see the bike, and we'd arranged to met at a cool little independent vintage bike shop on the outskirts of town - and who made me very welcome, thank you!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpswwohoien.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpswwohoien.jpg.html)
photo. Velocity is full of cool and quirky stuff - and is one of the very few Royal Enfield dealers in the USA!

It was then on to Charlottesville a few miles further west to meet up with Anton who runs Virginia Motorrad (an independent BMW specialist) who was able to fit my rear tyre while I waited, and we were joined by fellow ADVrider Ted who'd been such a help (via email) in suggesting Anton in the first place, and was also keen to check out the CB500X himself - again, thank you both for your help and hospitality!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsiducwtgt.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsiducwtgt.jpg.html)


With a suitable new rear boot fitted, I still felt there would be time to make a start on the Blue Ridge Parkway - particularly now, late in the afternoon, with the sun setting - it would be the perfect time to embark on the initial leg to Roanoke and take in the stunning scenery.

Of course the Parkway essentially runs along the backbone of the Appalachian Mountains (for 469 miles in total), and is typically at 3000+ feet elevation for the vast majority of its length. Ted had warned the weather had been damp all day, and sure enough, as I climbed higher towards the entrance gate, the fog closed in, and the rain came down:

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photo. It was already raining harder than it looks here... Very disappointing.

However, not one to shirk from a challenge, I pressed on:

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But to be perfectly honest, there was no joy at all when often I could barely see 30 yards ahead of me, never mind anything of the scenery despite the odd break in the fog when the elevation dropped occasionally:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsmjy2vruw.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsmjy2vruw.jpg.html)
photo. It was actually proving pretty dangerous up there in the fog, especially with bends like this...

Unlike those heavy and almost tropical showers I'd experienced at the weekend, this was that horrid cold rain that soon chills you to the bone. Coupled with alarmingly poor visibility at times, this soon became more that just a test of physical endurance - it was bordering on dangerous. Ultimately after about an hour (and barely 50 miles), I decided to take a side road off the mountains and head straight for the hotel. Well, this is supposed to be fun, right?

Cont.
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:25:40 PM
Day 24: RoanokeVA to Asheville NC.

Mileage today: 292

Sadly the weather the following morning was no better than the evening before - there were meant to be mountains somewhere outside my hotel window, but I was damned if I could see them.

Having scheduled my front tyre fitting for first thing, I donned my waterproofs and dragged across town hoping that somehow the sun would break though and lift this cold dank blanket of fog.

An email offer to join a bunch of Asheville based ADVriders a couple of hundred miles south and across the state line in North Carolina was a very tempting alternative. Asheville is also right on the Blue Ridge Parkway, so perhaps I could pick up the road further south if the weather was better...

It wasn't. Well, not by much anyway - I did try and join the Parkway as I crossed the mountains into North Carolina, but it was to no avail, and I ducked off once again into the relative balm of the lower elevations.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zps2sfx7ylg.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zps2sfx7ylg.jpg.html)

However, the resulting and rather tedious interstate journey was ultimately well rewarded with an excellent fun night our with a great bunch of fellow ADV riders - gassing and chewing the fat until nearly midnight, while actually eating outside on a restaurant patio. You know I think I could get to like the weather here in No' Calina!

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photo. We initially met at the weekly Bike Night at the Wedge Brewery - if you're ever in town I can recommend their beers, and you might just spot another TA500 sticker ;o)


With a break in the weather forecast for the following day, a handful of us had decided we should meet up the next morning at a local independent bike workshop: Moto Vicious (run by James and Sean who I'd been introduced to the night before) - this was one cool hang-out!

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photo. A bike shop. With a breakfast bar. With a Moto Morini on it - who'd have thought it?!

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photo. It was a beautiful workspace, full of quirky machines. This CB750 is going to become a sidecar outfit!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zps4qf2kw1h.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zps4qf2kw1h.jpg.html)
photo. These guys can work on anything. But it seems the more odd-ball the better!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsifmbp0vo.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsifmbp0vo.jpg.html)
photo. When not working on bikes, they also make really cool stuff out of old parts - and everywhere you look there is some curio and some lovely retro memorabilia!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zps5uzaofio.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zps5uzaofio.jpg.html)

Cont.
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:28:50 PM
Day 25: Asheville NC to Knoxville TN.

Total mileage: 235

With stickers exchanged and a cheery goodbye, I then teamed up with Shane, Alan and Laura (all of whom had made various excuses to take the day off work) and we were rewarded with some fine weather in which to ride various (and arguably the most impressive) sections of the Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville, together with some excellent side roads and dirt trails that wound their way up and down each side of the mountains - such is the benefit of riding with the locals ;o)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zps1lthdnhh.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zps1lthdnhh.jpg.html)
photo. ADVrider Anatic (Shane) on the BRP - I have him to thank for introducing me to such a great bunch of people, and really look forward to visiting you guys again in the future!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsvok9ookb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsvok9ookb.jpg.html)
photo. The Blue Ridge Parkway south of Asheville NC even includes tunnels!


(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsgee7iiiu.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsgee7iiiu.jpg.html)
photo. By early afternoon, the sun had well and truly broken through...


(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsxjof08r1.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsxjof08r1.jpg.html)
... and we were rewarded with some mercifully empty roads and stunning views! This was the Parkway I had come for!


I eventually waved goodbye to the remaining Ashville Massive somewhere between Hoontown and Canerville ;o) - and rode the remainder of the Parkway at a much more sedate pace, pausing briefly at the final mile-marker 469 just outside Cherokee on the southern edge of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsky9txgsd.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsky9txgsd.jpg.html)


I have ridden through the park once before, and recall it was a tedious procession of tourist cars and RVs on a single lane 30mph limited road, albeit the view sideways at least was very pretty as you might imagine.

However, more importantly I was but a stone's throw from some of the best biking roads in the region; and not least the infamous Deals Gap and the Tail of the Dragon: Highway 129.

Now it seems to be done-thing these days to say the Dragon is 'crap' and that there are better roads in the region, blah blah blah... and it's true there are some stunning alternatives that surround the sinuous crossing between North Carolina and Tennessee...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsy4j2smue.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsy4j2smue.jpg.html)
photo. Looks like the perfect (if somewhat rather obvious) spot for another TA500 sticker Piglet...

But there is a reason that this particular 11 mile section of highway 129 has the reputation it does, and thats because it is, quite frankly, an awesome road to ride!

Of course you have to choose your timing wisely. You don't really want to be riding on a weekend afternoon amongst the parade of pirates on their bedecked behemoths... Nor fighting for space (and the inevitable attention of the local constabulary) with the squids on their battered street-fightered sports bikes.

The locals tend to ride on a weekday, early in the morning; or alternative towards the end of the day in the early evening light - after everyone else has already gone home. Similarly this is my favourite time to ride anyway, particularly on such a scenic highway when the fading light somehow makes everything seem all the more richer in colour.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsfxslwi6c.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsfxslwi6c.jpg.html)

Having wound my way up to Deals Gap on the beautiful lakeside ride along neighbouring hwy 28, I hadn't realised that the resort motel would be quite as busy as it was (it was only Thursday after all), even at this time of year... and with no vacancies at all, I elected to continue north and try and find some affordable accommodation nearer to Knoxville.

Of course this also meant riding the Dragon in what were now perfect conditions, cool evening breeze, dry road, no traffic whatsoever. What a way to end a fantastic day of riding in one of the most beautiful parts of the country - and also a the perfect way to wrap up what had been a week of excellent road riding in general.

But I'd come this far, and this way in particular, for a fundamental reason. My mission, which I have chosen to accept, is to ride the Trans-Am Trail - the brand new 2015 revision Trans-Am Trail no less! - in its entirety!*

*or at least as close to possible as the weather will allow at this time of year...



Day 26: Knoxville TN to Murphy NC.

Mileage today: 140

Of course to get south towards the start of the TAT today meant riding the Dragon again, this time in the opposite direction - and once again I was blessed with a mercifully traffic-free run back up the hill (plenty of traffic coming the other way mind you). I did eventually catch up some slower vehicles just a mile and half from the top, so simply pulled over and let them get far enough ahead so that the remaining run would be clear...

Because of my late-ish start this morning, and general meandering around the myriad of fantastic roads in the region, coupled with the fact I wasn't sure how long the initial new stages of the TAT might take, I elected to find a motel early this afternoon - embark on a little laundry and to get completely up to date with my ride report - and which in turn, would allow me have the whole day ahead of me...

It all kicks off tomorrow morning in Andrews NC, and I will of course do my best to take you all along for the ride... So please, do join me for this final chapter of the Trans-Am 500 ride!

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:34:41 PM
The 'new and improved'* Trans-Am Trail: 2015 edition

*Now fortified with extra trails, including TWO new States!


Day 27: TAT Day 1: Andrews NC to Monteagle TN.

Mileage today: 248 (TAT: 225)

So in an effort to try and update you all as regularly as possible while I'm riding the TAT over the next few weeks (not least as I may well be camping a lot more regularly where circumstance allow, both to save money, and also because I actually quite fancy it now that it finally feels like summer at last!), I will try and keep my words brief, and hopefully let the photos do the talking instead...

That said, I feel I really ought to set the scene at least, and describe my first Ten hours on the TAT into Tennessee today!

As part of the ongoing revisions to the Trans-Am Trail (the original concept of course was a full coast to coast crossing of the USA on dirt trails and minor roads), the originator Sam Correro has also been busy extending the original distance to incorporate two new States: North Carolina at the beginning, together with Idaho towards the end (as an alternative to the hot and dusty desert trails in Northern Nevada).

The original start of the TAT was in Tellico Plains TN, which rather neatly coincides with the end of the fantastic Cherohala Skyway (hwy 143 in NC / 165 in TN), that in turn leads from the hub of fantastic riding roads around Robbinsville in North Carolina.

Indeed, if you plan to ride all the way from the east coast, then the 469 mile Blue Ridge Parkway also ends not far on the other side of Robbinsville, therefore linking up the TAT route very neatly with some beautifully scenic* road riding before you get down to business in the dirt.

*when it's not teeming down with rain of course...

Having stayed in Murphy the night before it would be a short hop back up the highway, where I could also refuel the bike and top up my rucksack with snacks and water.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zps8cljigls.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zps8cljigls.jpg.html)
photo. I'm sure the spelling and punctuation pedants amongst you (and indeed I am one) will be having palpitations at this sign... fear not, I did diplomatically point out the errors to them before I left, otherwise it would be heartless of me to post it here.


North Carolina

So with my initial destination set as the corner of 2nd and Locust street in Andrews, I selected the first of a series of Track routes that were stored in my GPS, and soon Piglet and I would finally be on our way!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsi653uzid.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsi653uzid.jpg.html)


The first trail section is a terraced gravel road that climbs high into hills. It was already pretty warm down in the valley, so the shade from the trees (under which I was riding most of the morning) together with the ever-increasing elevation, was a welcome relief:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsetvlonfw.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsetvlonfw.jpg.html)

As the trail wound its way north towards the Cherohala Skyway, it dipped down into a beautiful valley that was dotted with holiday homes - some rather fancy:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsw4wii2fw.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsw4wii2fw.jpg.html)

... an others not so much. But hey, even a ramshackle caravan is paradise when it's in a location like this!


Having joined hwy 143 briefly for a few joyous bends, the trail then descends to the north just before the official start of the Skyway section. Again, it is more a scenic gravel road than a hardcore trail, but a beautiful way to break yourself into the journey ahead - there will of course be plenty of more challenging riding to come over the following weeks.


Tennessee

Topping off my tank and grabbing a sandwich for lunch in Tellico, I was soon back on the TAT proper, and spied this sticker on the back of a sign as I turned off the main highway:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsalnc5wms.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsalnc5wms.jpg.html)
photo. seems some fellow Brits had been here before me...

So I of course also marked the start of the Tennessee section in a similar if slightly more subtile manner:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsrjiflspd.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsrjiflspd.jpg.html)


Again the dirt started soon enough  (I love those 'Pavement Ends' signs!), and this time was a little more rocky and technical, and was soon followed be a series of shallow creek crossings...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsfkxtm4nv.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsfkxtm4nv.jpg.html)


One crossing in particular I recalled from a photo I'd seen in a ride-report, and was aware that the angled slab rocks below the surface can be both slippery and uneven. I played it safe and walked the bike though, and although my feet were subsequently soaking - it was actually a welcome relief from the humidity and heat.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpssmuzjwer.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpssmuzjwer.jpg.html)


As I had essentially started the TAT a couple of days later than I had originally planned, I endeavoured to try and cover as much ground as I could today - if only to give me some margin for a little later in the trip.

One of the criticisms of the original TAT route in Tennessee is the large proportion of tarmac vs. dirt, coupled with what appears to be a rather convoluted route on minor rural roads simply to avoid major highways.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zps6sajjqal.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zps6sajjqal.jpg.html)

I have to say, while I was enjoying the afternoon immensely, I can see their point - and I know that Sam has been taking steps to simplify the Tennessee route in an effort to keep you moving westwards... Certainly if you zoom out on the GPS you can see that despite the myriad of twists and turns you are almost always heading west... and just when you might feel be getting a bit bored of all this rural pavement, he throws in an absolute gem such as switchback climb up Daus Mountain Road - truly a highlight of the day!

If nothing else, today had already highlighted just how perfect a bike like the Rally-Raided CB500X is for what is fundamentally going to be the core of this whole two-month endeavour. It was wonderfully surefooted over the dirt and gravel sections; more than manageable during the creek crossings; and an absolute blast to ride on the tarmac when you might otherwise be cursing your choice if onboard a more traditional dual-sport thumper.

After all, the Trans-Am Trail isn't just about the dirt. It's about crossing the country on the road less travelled. I couldn't help be think that Piglet and I had made exactly the right the choice.

Toot toot for now!

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:36:15 PM
Day 28: TAT Day 2: Monteagle TN to Counce TN.

Total mileage:261 (TAT 244)

So I'm bopping along more minor roads through the rural heartland of Tennessee, wondering indeed if there is any dirt at all on the Tenessee TAT sections, but enjoying myself in any case on the eager CB... particularly as today I've got Sophie B. Hawkins right beside me (or more accurately right inside my head, so good are my Skullcandy earphones ;o) when I see this sign at the side of the road:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsylpee0ay.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsylpee0ay.jpg.html)

A company that makes cake and candy? I was like a moth to a flame!


As Bill the owner explained how they make their signature Whiskey cake with Jack Daniels, it dawned on me that I probably wasn't all that far from Lynchburg (although I had presumed I was now much further west as Lynchburg hadn't felt all that far from the North Carolina boarder last time I was here)... On returning to my bike, I zoomed out on the GPS and of course it turns out that Lynchburg is barely a mile away from the TAT route at this point - duh!

So it seems that Sam has done his best to add an interesting side-bar to anyone who might be getting a bit bored with all the tarmac TAT through Tennessee (although again I would suggest that is purely perception, and very much down to your choice of bike ;o). Either way, the last time I was here I thoroughly enjoyed the [free] guided tour around the Jack Daniels distillery, and would recommend it to anyone.

On this sunny Sunday afternoon the carpark a the distillery was heaving, and anyway I had a far more pressing need to find some lunch as I'd forfeit breakfast this morning:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsmkolxot1.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsmkolxot1.jpg.html)
photo. I can certainly recommend this place if you're in town, great pizza and coffee!

The town square was also busy with bikes and tourists - and that litter bin is a genuine Jack Daniel's whiskey barrel!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsifcgz70v.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsifcgz70v.jpg.html)

On my way out of town I had to stop for this ubiquitous photo:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zps3my4auft.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zps3my4auft.jpg.html)
photo. And yes of course I have almost exactly the same photo of my Tenere from seven years ago ;o)


Back on the TAT, and it seems that Tennessee has saved all it's real treats for the latter half of the route; and once you start riding the 4th and 5th sectors, there is a lot more gravel and dirt, and plenty of fords and shallow river crossings too - one particularly wide one that took a lot of nerve with a number of people enjoying the afternoon at the water's edge.

In fact this series of creek crossings and fast dirt roads reminded me very much of the first couple of days of the Dakar route in Argentina - especially as I seemed to have a sizable audience at each crossing - thankfully the surface beneath each ford was not slimy or too rocky!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpskgknqicz.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpskgknqicz.jpg.html)
photo. This was actually a far more minor one, a little later in the day...


During the afternoon I passed though a particularly scenic section (on Wisdom Road) that had a myriad of side trails that were clearly a play area for 4x4s, while next to the river would make a lovely camping spot were you so inclined...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpshhuea20k.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpshhuea20k.jpg.html)
photo. This view from the bridge is very close to another TA500 sticker ;o)


(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsvz8jkwne.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsvz8jkwne.jpg.html)
photo. No, I'm not going up this side trail - it was actually far steeper than it looks!

...but I quickly pressed on, mindful that I still had a long way to go if I was going to make Mississippi by nightfall - which was my intention for the day.


Unfortunately, the vast majority of Tennessee seems to be owned by someone (ie. there is not a lot of public land were you might comfortably wild-camp, and not a lot of formal campgrounds either, not along the TAT route anyway), and I felt this was illustrated quite poignantly by the disparity between the wealth of the inhabitants.

All along the TAT route there were some very sizeable and pristine houses, that at the same time shared the immediate locale with some very poor property indeed. It was interesting that in most cases the plots of land were a similar size, but that like a real-life game of Monopoly perhaps, having the wherewithal to actually build on it is another matter...

As I pressed on west, I was conscious I was rapidly running out of light this evening, although it was the most beautiful time of day to be riding - again the scenery reminiscent of rural southern France, or indeed the South Downs in the United Kingdom with which I have a particular afinity.

As I stopped at the final switch over point for Tennessee between sector five and six, I simply had to get Piglet out for a photo here:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsdku8ebgy.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsdku8ebgy.jpg.html)

With only 60 miles of Tennessee left to go, the search facility in my GPS showed a few hotels not that far away from the TAT route itself, and now it was a race against time to reach somewhere suitable to sleep before the sun went down.

It is a race I lost... although If I'm honest, it's worth losing simply to witness a sunset like this:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsurt3pnjj.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsurt3pnjj.jpg.html)


So I am currently just a stone's throw from the State line between Tennessee and Mississippi now, and my intention is to finish off this last sector in the morning, then go and meet the originator of the Trans-Am Trail, Sam Correro who lives just off the TAT route himself; and find out a little more about his latest revisions, and how I may even be able to help him prove the currently unfinished 'no mans land' in Idaho - I can't wait!

Toot toot for now!

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:37:51 PM
Day 29: TAT day 3: Counce TN to Oxford MS.

Mileage today: 200 (TAT 161)


Only 161 miles of TAT today? Well let's just say it was a day of two halves...

I got back on the road in good time this morning, after a delightful breakfast at a traditional diner/BBQ shack 'R&Bs' on the main road though Counce (note. for those contemplating the TAT themselves, Little Andy's Motel is right next door, and right on the TAT route itself - I'd have taken a punt on this place last night but at the time could only find the prices for cabins, I understand they do offer regular rooms too).

Counce is on the south side of Pickwick Dam, a huge structure blocking the Tennessee river and creating a sizable lake/reservoir on the east side. I only realised this in the morning when I rode back over the bridge to finish the short loop of the TAT that I had forfeit the night before (in the dark) - and I'm glad I did as it was a pleasant little trail through the peninsular, past a number of holiday homes on stilts - perhaps they are worried the dam might one day burst?!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpshl4vwo8a.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpshl4vwo8a.jpg.html)
photo. The bridge above was reminiscent of those in Florida that rise sharply in a big dipper style to allow ships to pass underneath.

Leaving town, there were some very pretty properties interspersed amongst the TAT (aha, see what I did there?)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpslg1bqxuf.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpslg1bqxuf.jpg.html)

Quickly followed by some more dirt as I approached the Mississippi boarder:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsvisxdgfy.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsvisxdgfy.jpg.html)
photo. Quintessentially American - I love these railroad bridges... Can you spot the TA500 sticker?!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsnqs2axuz.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsnqs2axuz.jpg.html)
photo. There is more water in this photo than in the whole of California right now...


Mississippi

My plan for the morning was to detour off the TAT a few miles (don't worry, I'd be picking it up from where I left off later) and go and meet the originator of the TAT route, Sam Correro - at the nearby Lake Hill Motors: a Honda & Yamaha dealer on the outskirts of Corinth MS.

I have to say, this really is a must-see place to visit if you are ever in town (or riding the TAT), as not only is it a huge motorcycle (and UTV/marine) dealer, but the owner has a fantastic collection of classic bikes in a side wing of the showroom!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpshsqwx907.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpshsqwx907.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsfg6l8rz7.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsfg6l8rz7.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zps1nxqdufu.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zps1nxqdufu.jpg.html)

A lot of rare early Hondas (and Yamahas), including a first edition Goldwing, a '69 CB750 and a lovely '66 CB350 that is no.8 of the original production run! There was also a handful of interesting road/race bikes including an ultra rare Ducati 916 with the homologate 955cc engine (#2 of only 30 made) together with some great vintage machinery from the US, UK and Europe too!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsvppfmnki.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsvppfmnki.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zps8lkhp8aq.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zps8lkhp8aq.jpg.html)

Priceless! (Some of them, literally!)

They guys at Lake Hill were also very keen to see the CB500X I was riding, before Sam went through a few options with me for the currently uncharted sector/s in Idaho.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpshdzpamb4.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpshdzpamb4.jpg.html)
photo. Others may follow (and copy and modify now the original route is in the public domain), but Sam Correro is the originator of the concept of the Trans-America Trail, and continues to modify and improve/offer alternative options as each year goes by.


Currently I will be riding the new revisions to Colorado, Utah and now up into Idaho too - and there are further revisions due to be introduced for Tennessee and Mississippi next year...

Indeed, Sam was keen to point out that there simply isn't a direct dirt route through the more eastern states, and that people who embark on the 'Trail ought to consider that the TAT is an all encompassing journey across rural America - offering some unique insights into life of the beaten track.

And I would tend to agree wholeheartedly with this - afterall, it really shouldn't matter whether it is dirt or tar (or more often broken tar) under your wheels on a journey like this - it's all good, particularly if you're on the bike that rides really well on both... ;o)

Obviously there is some world class dirt and trail riding included (especially once you cross the Mississippi river), but for me personally, to catch a glimpse of small-town and rural America (and indeed witness just how poor some of it is) was very much an eye-opener - and during a journey of this length, it really illustrates the diversity of the people, architecture and terrain that encompasses the United States.


Yeah, but you guys want to see some photos of the CB-X on the dirt don't you? - well ok then!


Mississippi mud-pie...

Having loaded up on way more calories then I would ever need in a single day - with the largest milkshake I think I have ever consumed (seriously, this bad boy was like a pint and a half of ice cream and fruit!), I rejoined the TAT and continued south and west... Right into an almighty rainstorm.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpspykoagdj.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpspykoagdj.jpg.html)

Fortuntely the trail was drying almost as quickly as it got soaked, but the problem was an inch or so of slimy mud on top of otherwise hard-pack soil - with no chance of the tyres digging in, rather simply clogging...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpscmkcrjlw.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpscmkcrjlw.jpg.html)

In certain circumstances, the weight of the bike can actually be a benefit, helping it to dig in and stay on track.

Unfortunately, today was not one of those circumstances, and inevitably when the slide comes, it comes fast, hard, and heavy:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsgtaqjast.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsgtaqjast.jpg.html)


I have to say, I really did struggle to pick the bike up here (They're only heavy when you have to pick them up right?) - since the slick mud meant I couldn't get any purchase to lift it off the deck.

I eventually resorted to using a strap (removed from my Giant Loop Coyote) around the lower hand guard, to lift it enough so I could get my foot/shin under the bike, then lever it up with my hands on the bars... Believe me, I tried every other option - and it's circumstances like this which make a mockery of the 'approved' way of lifting the bike by walking it backwards - that might work on a boxer-twin in a parking lot, but not out here in the real world...

So having got utterly filthy, I continued gingerly on, desperate not to drop the bike again.

Ultimately, once the TAT crossed a major highway, early that evening, I elected to 'find hotel' in the GPS and get myself, my clothes, and bike cleaned up... then rest, and reassess the weather forecast for the coming days - this would be no fun at all otherwise; and I so wanted to complete these eastern sections of the TAT which I'd had to forfiet due to bad weather before in 2009.

Cont.
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:39:30 PM
Day 30: TAT day 4: Oxford MS to Clarendon AR.

Mileage today: 250 (TAT 232)

Fortunately, despite an almighty thunderstorm directly over Oxford (that was so loud it woke me up in the middle of the night!), the sun had come out by the time I'd surfaced and got my soaking wet gear (now dried, as it had been liberally spread around the hotel room overnight) packed back on the bike.

By chance I'd chosen the exact same town to stay in that fellow ADVrider Madscientist (Mika) lives and works, and again the miracle of modern travelling that is the internet meant we were able to catch up in person for a quick coffee before we both went about our respective business of the day.

For me, it was to get the hell out of Mississippi before any more rain came! At the same time, I really wanted to ride the complete TAT, which from here forms a southern loop before heading west across the river into Arkansas.

I have to say, the ride today was a delight in every sense - the trails had dried just enough not to clog the tyres, keeping the dust down and at the same time offering good grip and traction, while allowing the bike to slide (if you wished ;o) on the wet gravel corners. I was merrily making up time today, enjoying the scenery and the wildlife:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zps8z08mksr.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zps8z08mksr.jpg.html)
photo. I'd started seeing these little guys on the road yesterday (and this one I stopped and moved as he was just sitting there, waiting to get squished!), and at first though it was a roaming pet... Once I'd seen half a dozen or more I realised these box turtles are wild... In fact one was positively sprinting across the road in front of me!

I also saw a very dead Armadillo (you see a lot of these), and a sizable snake that was doing it's best to leave the rear of it's tail under my front wheel (sorry fella, I trust it will grow back...)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpstyjgoknv.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpstyjgoknv.jpg.html)

As I got further south, the trail sections started to come thick and fast - mainly gravel still, which was a godsend if I'm honest after all the overnight rain.

Looking at the GPS track, I spied a curved road that was effectively the southernmost point on the entire TAT - an a suitable spot for another daily* TA500 sticker I thought!

* I'm intending to leave at least one per day on the route, as a kind of treasure hunt...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpspoyymvnr.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpspoyymvnr.jpg.html)


Once I started heading back north and west, there was a perceptible feeling that the TAT really was beginning to cross the country now. The trails typically leading one into another (with just a few hundred yards of pavement between), and occasionally they did get a bit more sticky - in fact this series of puddles actually had snakes in too!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsroo86k7n.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsroo86k7n.jpg.html)

But on the whole it was a fast and enjoyable scenic ride - again reminiscent of a fast rally stage, and the CB really was in its element here, able to track with utmost stability at speeds as high as 50 or even 60 mph on the smoother gravel... The modifications Rally-Raid have made to this machine really make it sublime - honestly, it now rides like a $12,000 bike rather than a $6000 one!


Mid-afternoon, I stopped by this old water tower (that like so much of Mississippi has been engulfed with Kudzu - an ivy like plant from Japan, that was introduced originally to help prevent soil erosion, and is now rampant everywhere!)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsyzagnyio.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsyzagnyio.jpg.html)


As I was snapping away, I spied a pair of (obviously) fellow TAT riders coming towards me in the distance...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpst4cyxpik.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpst4cyxpik.jpg.html)

Riding the ubiquitous KLR and a DR650 between them, they had been on the road roughly the same time as me, and so too had been caught in the crappy weather yesterday. Planning on (wild) camping the whole way to Oregon, we chewed the fat for a while before they graciously let me go on ahead (which I admit I was keen to ensure as I didn't want to be riding in anyone's dust)... Hope to see you along the trail again over the next couple of weeks guys!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpskqhgtwta.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpskqhgtwta.jpg.html)
photo. More Kudzu...

There weather really had cheered up now, as had I... and it was a joy to barrel along in open country:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpstcs7djv3.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpstcs7djv3.jpg.html)

Taking in the amazing scenery that Mississippi has to offer:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsa4gcom1b.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsa4gcom1b.jpg.html)


I finally crossed over the Mississippi river on hwy 49 around 5.30pm:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsxyigslte.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsxyigslte.jpg.html)

...and considered how much further I might be able to ride into Arkansas that evening - not wanting to ride in the dark, and fundamentally, find a hotel in good time this evening so I could get up to date with this report.


Arkansas

It was too early to stop in Helena West Helena (crazy name, crazy town/girl?!) just over the bridge. So pressed on into the setting sun...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpscvzartay.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpscvzartay.jpg.html)
photo. The first TA500 sticker in Arkansas...

Sam had mentioned a couple of 'TAT Stops' west of him. And sure enough, I soon saw the signs for this little gem near Trenton AR, and stopped in to sign their visitors book.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpstujfr3yc.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpstujfr3yc.jpg.html)

Although the building was locked, a chance meeting with the owner who was riding by on his CRF250L revealed some useful information about the trail ahead - there had been heavy rain, so a short three-mile section might be still impassable (fortunately it wasn't, as the sun had tried the trail a little, and combined with some heavy farm traffic passing that day, had created two defined solid ruts in which I could ride - phew!), and that there was a perfectly reasonable independent motel a few miles further west in a sleepy town called Clarendon, which is where you'll find me right now!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zps4v17bxtp.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zps4v17bxtp.jpg.html)
photo. It's old school and basic, but quintessentially American - a real Mom&Pop place... I love it!

So, I think it's about time I considered some sort of breakfast somewhere, then it's time to hit the trail again... Destination the Ozarks!

Toot toot for now!

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:41:22 PM
Day 31: TAT day 5: Clarendon AR to Russellville AR.

Mileage today 233 (TAT 216)

Today was a minor milestone, in that having crossed over I40 this morning, I have now completed all the eastern sections of the TAT that I missed in 2009 due to the appalling winter weather (instead I did the tourist thing: The Jack Daniel's Distillery Tour - excellent! / rode through the city limits of Nutbush - 25 is no longer the speed limit ;o) / and donned my blue suede shoes to walk around Graceland in Memphis - it's smaller than you'd think...)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpshribzgo3.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpshribzgo3.jpg.html)

But, hey, I'm getting just a little ahead of myself again...


I left Mom&Pop's place in Clarendon, topping up on fuel and water at the gas station next door (the girl behind the counter was really sweet and filled my camelbak full of ice too - very welcome!), and immediately rode over a stunning bridge, followed by a raised highway above the bayou:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsf455pexm.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsf455pexm.jpg.html)
photo. View from a bridge (can't take any more...) - the old middle bridge is the railroad, and behind is the new highway bridge being built. Having paused for this photo on the old road bridge, I can see why - the whole thing positively shook when the trucks thundered past!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsqzthywke.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsqzthywke.jpg.html)

There followed a quick succession of arrow straight gravel and grass roads - a warm up for what was to come in Oklahoma of course - and I crossed over I40 where just north there was a series of dedicated camping sites (worth remembering, and marking in my GPS for any future trip).

On the whole the sites had been left free of litter (although I ended up collecting a few items and donating a trash bag to one site - hopefully setting a good example), but I did wonder at who left these behind - and perhaps more importantly, why?!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsngozttem.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsngozttem.jpg.html)


My recollection from the last time I was here was a series of dirt roads through shady woodland - and sure enough the trees were still here... But there seemed to be a lot more tarmac, and where that had run out, the trails were now wide gravel roads - and moreoften the large chunky type of gravel (not the lovely smooth and fast pea-shingle from yesterday), which tended to squirm under your tyres and required constant attention to maintain your trajectory...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsrxhynjhq.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsrxhynjhq.jpg.html)
photo. This was the nice fast smooth stuff, but a lot of the trails had deep chunky stones on them instead, and the resultant ruts (from large trucks and farm machinery) making things rather more sketchy to ride on...

I have to say, for the first time on this trip I was disappointed. Not that it wasn't still fun of course - I'd really got the suspension on the CB-X dialled in now, and the thing positively rails in fast conditions like this (although today was also the first day where I could really have benefitted from a steering damper being fitted) - but that my expectations of Arkansas had been so much higher...

Last time I remembered creek crossings (and one particularly wide river that I wasn't prepared to try and cross on my own, so found an alternative way around), and rough(er) dirt tracks that meandered through the forests.

Six years on and it's as if the local authorities have embarked on some huge road development and bridge-building exercise? It's still pretty, but in all honesty, you could drive your car along these trails nowadays.

I would add that I am currently only about halfway through the Arkansas leg, and it is possible that my memory is not what it was, and the best of those trails is still to come (later today I hope!)... However, I do recall one section named 'Granny Gap Road' that I'm pretty certain was much more of a trail the last time I was here... I left a TA500 sticker on a new bridge that I'm sure used to be a ford!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsvyp0vxii.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsvyp0vxii.jpg.html)
photo. A sense of deja vu. I'm sure I rode though this river on my Tenere!

I have to admit I treated today very much like it was one long rally stage - and certainly now I was deeper into rural Arkansas, the trails (well, unsurfaced roads) were almost constantly interconnected - punctuated by a short stretch of tarmac and the odd oddity:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsgfujz1mz.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsgfujz1mz.jpg.html)
photo. This was someone's front garden... I was speechless!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsmxnpx7oy.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsmxnpx7oy.jpg.html)
photo. And incredulous. This is the kind of ignorance we're up against people!


I stopped off at the Dunham Gas & General Store in Scotland (really?!), and continued north and westwards though the Ozarks... It had been 93 degrees F in Beebe (at around 300ft elevation), but up here, and later in the afternoon at least, it was 105 F!

The increasing elevation and tree cover offered some respite, and I seriously considered stopping here and camping in the forest - imagine waking up with that view!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsicmgm6jd.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsicmgm6jd.jpg.html)

But since I felt the onset of a migraine, elected to continue to a highway and find a motel instead...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpsqenh8b4d.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpsqenh8b4d.jpg.html)
photo. As the evening drew in, I made like Batman (on the Batcycle ;o) and headed for the comfort of another motel...

Ultimately, it was a 15 mile ride south to Russellville (where there are any number of chain hotels, plus the all important Starbucks ;o), on some beautiful backroads - and I have to say, was an utterly enjoyable end to the day to be back on a twisty highway onboard the Honda - I am so utterly in love with this bike now I can't tell you!

Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:44:50 PM
Day 32: TAT day 6: Russellville AR to Van Buren AR.

Mileage today: 233 (TAT 185)


Having ducked off the trail a few miles south to find a shower and a comfy bed, I was delighted to find that now I'm a little further west, Motel 6 can still be had for around $40 a night, including free wifi (almost ubiquitous amongst chain motels these days, although some Motel 6 franchises still charge you $2.99 on top...)

This was perfect excuse to get on with some admin - and when I say 'admin', I mean upload some pictures to the photobucket - but primarily to upload a triple espresso into my system courtesy of Starbucks the following morning ;o)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsyp3xl2zf.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsyp3xl2zf.jpg.html)
photo. En route to my morning fix, I'd picked up this hitch-hiker (on the screen bracket) - in fact it's quite possible he'd stowed away since the forest the day before!

Heading back north, I just had to stop and photograph this church sign that I'd spied the evening before:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zps0wxewqss.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zps0wxewqss.jpg.html)
photo. Looks like Gollum did their spelling!

Soon I was back on the 'Trail, and enjoying some higher elevation riding on a winding rough road - a welcome change after all that tyre-shredding gravel from yesterday...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsp3aqal0a.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsp3aqal0a.jpg.html)

I'd got the distinct feeling that this was the section in 2009 where I'd taken an excellent side trail which had ultimately ended in a wide river crossing (and I mean river width and depth, not just a creek), so was keen to see if I could find the other side of it once I'd hit the highway again...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsg9yivwsi.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsg9yivwsi.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpssly0cr1r.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpssly0cr1r.jpg.html)
photo. I also left another TA500 marker at the end of the first dirt section - there is a huge network of trails in this area, and plenty of camping too!

Sure enough, I started to get distracted by a few of those 'beautiful people' in the Ozark bar I recalled when I passed this way before...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpszanpjdss.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpszanpjdss.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsx4diej4g.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsx4diej4g.jpg.html)
photo. Looks like someone wasn't quite so lucky on this side trail...

However, all this flirting made me realise that on the whole they are fickle friends, that if you're not careful, are more likely to dump you - in this case, in a river:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsy7vsod61.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsy7vsod61.jpg.html)
photo. I can't be certain until I check my GPS track from 2009, but I'm pretty sure this is close to the point that stopped me on the other side...

And that ultimately, all this whole experience had made me nothing but feel dirty and hot and sweaty... Ok, that's enough bad metaphors now - ed.


Early afternoon I stopped at the Oark Cafe for an excellent lunch (chicken quesadillas were the special, and very tasty they were too!)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zps2qxtrkcd.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zps2qxtrkcd.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsuwaz0whf.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsuwaz0whf.jpg.html)
photo. I of course left a couple of stickers on there door too, and bought one of theirs for my bike...

Then with a full belly, but only a quarter of a tank of fuel (I later realised) it was back onto the trails with aplomb and to see if I could make the Oklahoma boarder before nightfall...


Into the woods...

I have to say, if it's interesting (and by that I mean slightly more technical riding) you're after, then the TAT really picks up after the stop in Oark. That is not to say there isn't plenty of alternative routes and trails already in this region, rather the main TAT route through here is primarily on well maintained gravel roads - great for making progress on (particularly if your bike is fitted with awesome suspension ;o), but not necessarily the challenge some riders might be expecting?

Certainly I recall taking much more time coming through here last time, but now I was breezing along, under the shade of the trees, catching the occasional glimpse of the valleys below as the trail once again wound higher into the hills.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsooi771jo.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsooi771jo.jpg.html)
photo. I have to say, this was a particularly excellent deviation/option from the official TAT route. I saw on the GPS screen that this trail essentially led to the same highway as the TAT, just a couple of miles further north.. so having stayed on the TAT until the end, I returned to this point on the new trail, then rode it in the opposite direction just to prove it both ways. It is certainly worthy of a TA500 sticker!


Now one thing I have learnt when riding around the USA is that when a sign says 'Road Closed' they tend to almost always mean it, for one reason or another. Of course my desire to try and stay as close the TAT as possible (an unblemished record so far this trip) meant that I to cannot confirm or deny that I went around a particular gate - but would add that it was clear that some people already had, implying this particular route was still passable, by bike at least ;o)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpspsc9anys.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpspsc9anys.jpg.html)
photo. This really was the only reason for the sign/gates. Goodness knows how long it will be until it is repaired.

I pressed on on the official route still, and sure enough, came across a less permanent, but far more ominous sign:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpsv8j8tpiw.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpsv8j8tpiw.jpg.html)

And can confirm that just a few miles further on (after the trail crosses Hurricane Creek on a concrete bridge) that at the time of writing, the TAT is officially blocked by a landslide at N35 42'395, W094 01'641 - it's going to need a machine to move this little lot:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpso2bhyu9n.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpso2bhyu9n.jpg.html)
photo. The eagle-eyed amongst you may notice that is my bike on the far side... I'm coming to that...

But not this machine - this is going to need a machine to clear it too!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsvl9jl7si.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsvl9jl7si.jpg.html)
photo. I just hope the driver wasn't in the cab when the tree came down!


So having looked at every possible option (including zooming in using the Garmin TOPO maps in my GPS) to find an alternative route past, I had no option but to retrace my original route back past White Mountain (lovely view from the top btw.)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsgbhpnhu9.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsgbhpnhu9.jpg.html)

And ultimately work my way around to the other side of the landslide, for the photo above. Therefore, technically I have personally covered every inch of the TAT route so far... and so has the Honda, less than about 100 yards ;o)

From here I was able to continue on the TAT, and as a fitting finale for the day, rode the absolutely corking Warloop Road section down into Mountainburg, close to I49.  I mention this specifically as there is a 'Dead End' sign at the start where it leaves the tarmac. They lie*

*Well, if you are on an all-terrain bike at least.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsabz4nrzd.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsabz4nrzd.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zpsltrdav7w.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zpsltrdav7w.jpg.html)


I finally gassed up south of  Mountainburg - having almost been running on fumes (4.05 gallons), and considered my options now it was 7.30pm in the evening. The sun was still high enough for one more trial I thought, and that way I could at least finish the AR03 leg of the Arkansas TAT, leaving the final sector up and into Oklahoma in the morning...

More soon!

Jenny x
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:47:52 PM
Day 33: TAT day 7: Van Buren (Fort Smith actually) AR to Pryor Creek OK.

Mileage today 160 (TAT 124)


So being a creature of habit (and looking to preserve my budget as best I can now...) I rolled down the road approximately 11 miles from the TAT route, to the town of Van Buren where there are plenty of chain motels, intending to stay at the Motel 6 which tends to offer the best value...

Problem.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zps4lq7egvk.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zps4lq7egvk.jpg.html)
photo. Unfortunately this particular example had burnt down a couple of months previously...

Fortunately I had 3G signal so looked for alternatives - but they were either fully booked or much too expensive. Ultimately I ended up riding another 20 minutes (in the dark now) further south across the Arkansas river to Fort Smith - ah well, it was clean and comfortable which is the main thing.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpssswsmaoj.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpssswsmaoj.jpg.html)

The following morning the shelp north through the middle of town and back across the river to Van Buren was primarily to grab a breakfast at Starbucks... Unfortunately, similar to the previous evening's accommodation, when I arrived at my intended destination, all there was was an empty building in the process of refurbishment - twice denied!

I elected to press on north and rejoin the TAT, and put this sorry interlude behind me.


It was an enjoyable ride on minor roads and gravel trails again, although I was conscious that the past couple of days on all this harsh gravel had effectively destroyed my tyres - particularly the rear - and in all likely hood they would need changing again before my intended stop in Moab in about a week's time.

I was also wary that the chain was needing increasingly regular adjustment now (every two to three days, whereas I only needed to adjust it once on the west-east leg), and that the brake pads too were starting to show signs of some over enthusiastic riding this past week or so...

Finally, I was almost certainly going to have to perform the 8000 mile oil change once I got back to Colorado Springs - not that it appeared to need it (the oil in the sight glass each morning had remained at the same level, and the colour was still golden around the edges), nevertheless, I was mindful this was a borrowed bike and I ought to stick to the prescribed maintenance schedule in order to preserve its longevity. The motorcycle dealers of Colorado were going to be making some money out of me in the next few days I feared.

But back to Arkansas, and hopefully soon Oklahoma, as all this endless gravel was starting to get a bit tiresome - probably the lack of breakfast (and fundamentally caffeine) had already started to bring on a migraine, and I was starting to become both tired and irritable.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg13_zpsrhdd0meu.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg13_zpsrhdd0meu.jpg.html)
photo. Good advice! - and something I was shortly having to pay heed to within 24 hours...


Oklahoma!

Crossing into Oklahoma lifted my spirits considerably, not least because the 'Trail became more narrow, winding and undulating, and well, simply more 'trail' like!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zpsdt22h6oj.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zpsdt22h6oj.jpg.html)

I recalled the western half of the Oklahoma TAT is effectively one long high-speed blast along farming access roads, as much of rural OK is divided into effectively a grid: each a mile square, and often changing between sand, grass, dirt, gravel, mud, tarmac, grass, sand, mud, mud, gravel, tarmac, gravel, gravel - every mile, and every minute... like the different levels of some endlessly looping video game!

But here in eastern Oklahoma, things were far more interesting than I'd remembered - very pleasant tree-lined trails, affording welcome shade from the fierce midday heat (again something not helping my migraine I was sure), and all the while a sense of heading north and westwards.

I was also looking forward to meeting up with ADVrider ThrottleMeister (John), who lives just off the TAT route, and as a hugely experienced overland traveller himself, regularly hosts fellow motorcyclists needing a place to stay overnight.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsjovlx006.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsjovlx006.jpg.html)
photo. The 'meister met me on his trusty XR in neighbouring Salina. "We're on our way home dear..."

I have to say, it was an absolute joy to spend the evening with this newly extended family (they have a six week old baby boy, who was an absolute angel all evening), and a few friends - chewing the fat about this and that (bikes, and breast feeding!), and generally not worrying to much about the following day for a change.

Despite not going to bed until the early hours, I actually felt very well rested, and eternally grateful for all their wonderful hospitality - it certainly was just what I needed after seven full days on the road, and ultimately helped to overcome that nagging migraine - thank you!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpslzivwtkk.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpslzivwtkk.jpg.html)
photo. John's workshop is an Aladdin's cave full of weird and wonderful machinery, bikes, boats and even an RV (which I got to sleep in!) I left a TA500 sticker on the workshop fridge door - but you don't get a T-shirt for this particular one - since if you're lucky enough to see it, then you are almost certain to have already been rewarded with some excellent hospitality!

Cont.
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:49:39 PM
Day 34: TAT day 8: Pryor Creek OK to Ponsa City OK.

Mileage today: 236 (TAT 227)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/At%20Throttlemeisters_zpsj4ezplos.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/At%20Throttlemeisters_zpsj4ezplos.jpg.html)
photo. A silly photo after a lovely breakfast, and some wonderful hospitality - thank you!

After dragging my heels over an equally enjoyable breakfast, I eventually had no choice but to brave the weather that was still distinctly damp after a heavy overnight downpour, pausing just once more briefly at their local bike shop Cycles Unlimited (again located just a couple of miles off the TAT, and perfect for tyres, oil and any other sundries you might need while passing by) to say hello to the owner: 73 year-old Eldon Rix - a real character - who was interested in seeing what had been done to the CB500X.

As I rejoined the TAT, I was initally concerned that the rain might again play havoc with my progress, much as it had in Mississippi - turning an otherwise hard-pack trial to an inch or more of slimy mud, and which would be utterly tedious if not effectively impassable, particularly with the amount of miles I had ahead of me today.

Fortunately, most of the rural dirt roads that interlink between the fields and pastures here are of the 'all weather' variety, in that they seem to drain well and have a mixed surface of dirt and compacted gravel that still offers plenty of grip, even when damp. Thank goodness!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsip9udbr3.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsip9udbr3.jpg.html)
photo. This is the kind of dirt the CB500X Adventure loves! - fast smooth gravel roads, with plenty of grip - the bike tracks straight and true at fifty, even sixty miles per hour on the TracTive suspension, and handles very much like a big rally bike in such conditions - honestly, the ride is sublime!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsba5koh4o.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsba5koh4o.jpg.html)
photo. Crossing over I44 on the Trans-Am Trial this morning, and the first TA500 sticker of the day...


However, while the dirt roads in general coped with soaking much of the rainwater away, in addition there had also been some extensive flooding in the region - with many creeks and rivers bursting their banks and spilling over the surrounding countryside, creating huge lakes in some places...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zps9kjajoyx.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zps9kjajoyx.jpg.html)

Sure enough, I soon happened on this:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpswpslokzi.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpswpslokzi.jpg.html)

I briefly considered wading in and checking the depth, as it initially only appeared to be about a foot or so deep - however, I also wasn't sure quite how far the flooded section stretched, and it if got deeper at all - certainly trying to turn around halfway across would not be feasible once committed.

Therefore prudence suggested the only option was to plot an alternative route around, and try to rejoin the official trail a little further along. In this particular instance I backtracked along the trail route to view the blockage from the other side, much as I had done with the landslide in Arkansas a couple of days previously...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsn6tferbe.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsn6tferbe.jpg.html)

And similarly it was utterly clear there would have been no way though - in fact you can just see the bush sticking out into the road that was in the previous photo, meaning not only was this stretch nearly a quarter of a mile long, but the water on this side was flowing with much greater force.

Hoping that is was simply a one-off occurrence on a particularly low piece of land, I continued to follow the route north and west with a degree of optimism, as the dark clouds were breaking, and I could even see a little blue sky.

Unfortunately, this optimism was short lived, when faced with another closure - I didn't even bother to ride past and take a look at this one...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zps7cpnwqwz.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zps7cpnwqwz.jpg.html)

Resigned to the fact that I was going to have to miss some sections of the trail out anyway, I soon decided there was no point in trying to ride to either side of the blockage, just to say I'd stuck religiously to the official route, as it would be both time consuming and ultimately pointless.

Indeed, Sam Correro himself suggests it is very rare (indeed impossible) for anyone to complete the TAT route inch-perfectly in its entirety, since inevitably a route of such length is going to succumb to various closures and blockages, while as this trip had already shown, even passage over an otherwise open section can still be very dependent on the weather at the time.

I took comfort in the fact that at least I'd been able to ride every part of the TAT right up until that landslide in the Ozarks, and fortunately, the grid network of roads and trails that cross Oklahoma means it is relatively straight forward to pick an alternative road/trail that still essentially shadows the original route.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpstquzqzps.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpstquzqzps.jpg.html)
photo. Other delays are of a more temporary nature...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsp6ap80lj.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsp6ap80lj.jpg.html)
photo. Although after a couple of minutes or more, you do start to wonder how long this damn thing is!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsjxsbmdmu.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsjxsbmdmu.jpg.html)
photo. At last!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsqrguo4tu.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsqrguo4tu.jpg.html)
photo. I elected to fill up with fuel here - ironic that it was currently surrounded by the stuff!


As the afternoon wore on, with the sun out and the trails drying, I started to think the worst was perhaps behind me...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsleelw1mg.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsleelw1mg.jpg.html)
photo. A pretty spot for the photo that I feel really exemplifies this part of the TAT route...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsvtlmgocv.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsvtlmgocv.jpg.html)
photo. ... so much so, I felt this one particularly deserved another sticker...


The TAT actually heads north west through the huge Osage Indian Reservation, but unfortunately it wasn't long before even the highways too were closed due to flooding:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpspxdmsx4r.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpspxdmsx4r.jpg.html)
photo. This is not a boat ramp, there is a road under there somewhere - though goodness knows were it goes, and how long its been under water!

And another:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsoon2ytz3.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsoon2ytz3.jpg.html)

Fortunately some of the trail route was elevated, so at least the water was either side of this one:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsyttbjiud.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsyttbjiud.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsodfanpwp.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsodfanpwp.jpg.html)
photo. "Of course I remember when all this was fields..."

Soon followed by another damn flood!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsfpw1vbex.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsfpw1vbex.jpg.html)
photo. It was almost as if Oklahoma is reverting to swamp!


I tried my best to pick up the official route again as soon as I could after deviating, But all too often had to turn and retrace my steps back and further along the grid... At one point I considered fitting neon lights to the wheels, as my GPS track-log looked like a scene from Tron!

As the afternoon drew to a close, I once again joined a tarmac section of the TAT, and ultimately made a bee-line for a suitable stop-over.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsmzpnt4bz.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsmzpnt4bz.jpg.html)

Tomorrow is going to be a long day on the panhandle... But at least the TAT is resoundingly heading due-west now...

"Don't worry, we'll soon be back in the mountains again Piglet!"

"But then won't we have snow to contend with mama...?"

"Ah, quite possibly, yes..."


And no doubt that will be a whole new adventure in itself!


More soon!

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:51:02 PM
Day 35: TAT day 9: Ponsa City OK to Liberal KS.

Mileage today: 299 (TAT 287)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsdprnjbh9.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsdprnjbh9.jpg.html)
photo. Heading north on a traditional American Main Street through Newkirk after refuelling to rejoin the TAT route...


For the first time on this trip, the TAT route was starting to become familiar to me - at least I recognised some of the road names 'Bender Road' (how could you forget that one? - "Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?") and the general straight-line nature of the 'Trail route between each square mile of farmers' fields.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpshvzusub6.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpshvzusub6.jpg.html)
photo. As I rejoined the TAT, I was glad I'd made it this far yesterday - since this train was parked right across the trail route and going nowhere!

Inspired by the train, it wasn't long before I placed my first sticker of the day:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsnajf8uk2.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsnajf8uk2.jpg.html)

... and no matter how many times I do it, I still get a kick out of crossing these un-gated railroad tracks (and particularly the more disused ones):

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zps5idwgdiz.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zps5idwgdiz.jpg.html)


Personally I don't mind the monotony of these Oklahoma sections - not when you're licking along at a good pace and fast smooth gravel. However, to mix things up a little, from time to time Sam seems to send you either north or south a mile or two to an alternative trail, and one in particular (Noble Road) was is far worse condition than I'd been riding that morning - rocky washouts and sandy mud - made sketchy by the recent heavy rain.

After fish-tailing through a couple of sticky sections (luckily I might add!), the trail started getting flatter and much wetter, and now I knew what to look for...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsftzrsakg.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsftzrsakg.jpg.html)

... and quickly learnt that the best way to avoid dumping my arse on the ground was to hop off, and actually walk/jog the bike through using first gear on little more than tick-over to keep the weight of the bike moving forward.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zps8xkhgxls.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zps8xkhgxls.jpg.html)

Fortunately on the whole each wet patch was separated with a nice dry (well, drier) section, allowing me to get back up to speed and fling the packed mud from the tyre treads...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zps99fb3xsl.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zps99fb3xsl.jpg.html)

However, inevitably it became prudent to once again remove the low fender to avoid an untimely stop due to clogging:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsjvpoe7hr.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsjvpoe7hr.jpg.html)


This was rapidly becoming not much fun to be honest. Not only was progress desperately slow, but the fear of dropping the bike and getting even more filthy picking it up was all the incentive I needed to try and find an alternative parallel trail west - good job I was in the Matrix!

Of course a number of the cross-trails get even less use than the main east-west roads, where at least I could ride in the compressed ruts of farm vehicles that had been before me; and it continued to be slow progress all the way to Wakita, where I took a welcome break for some lunch.

It was now getting distinctly hotter and drier the further west I was getting, where the afternoon sun and wind (a lot of wind) had seemingly dried the trail surface making progress far more surefooted and enjoyable.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpszpywgp0j.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpszpywgp0j.jpg.html)
photo. The east-west roads tend to have names, the north-south numbers. I was pleased the TAT actually followed "500" for a while!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpslrv1glrf.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpslrv1glrf.jpg.html)
photo. So much so that I had to mark the moment with another TA500 sticker ;o)


Having fuelled up again where the TAT passes though Alva (including embarking on a somewhat optimistic jet-wash of the bike in an effort to remove the pounds of mud now clinging to it everywhere), I really enjoyed the sector west of here that deviates from the arrow straight nature of the previous hundred miles, and winds its way though cattle pasture and remote ranches - in fact very much like a rally stage I thought!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsgqyf1c34.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsgqyf1c34.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsdcdlodlz.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsdcdlodlz.jpg.html)

The elevation here (around 2000ft) was also welcome too, as it is both a little cooler and affords some lovely views over the plains to the north and south.

However, as the afternoon wore on, and the trail once again straightened out for the sprint down the panhandle, in the distance I spied something a little more ominous:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zps2r6oxzgb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zps2r6oxzgb.jpg.html)

Despite having ridden over two hundred miles already today, it was reassuring to see that a lot of roads still had the same names - and that fundamentally they are continuations of the same, and therefore remain ordered in the same grid format.

Once again I embarked on a little Tron-like navigation around the grid, in a effort to get south to a tarmac highway before the inevitable downpour came, and welcomed the road signs saying Logan, Leflore and Kiowa like they were old friends!

I made it to the highway (approximately six miles south of the official TAT route), to witness this storm about to dump exactly where I would otherwise have been riding...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsboq1exd6.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsboq1exd6.jpg.html)

On both sides, as the 'Trail route actually crosses over hwy 64 and loops south:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsbbkolkxh.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsbbkolkxh.jpg.html)

It was a surreal experience to effectively be riding right between two almighty downpours - grateful I'd elected to break for the relative safety of a paved road while all around me chaos ensued!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsjdoaey9g.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsjdoaey9g.jpg.html)


Note. It was interesting that on these latter sections of the TAT I was often following a pair of motorcycle tyre tracks, both fresh and clearly riding together - and wondered if it was the two brothers I'd met in Mississippi who were now a little way ahead of me perhaps? - I just hope they didn't get caught on the trail (or even camping) in this brooding bitter storm.

I didn't manage to avoid a soaking completely, but it was mercifully short, and having passed through the worst, was optimistic that beyond (and certainly tomorrow) the TAT would continue to be passable at least...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zps75apcxpj.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zps75apcxpj.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zps0zgkqrmz.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zps0zgkqrmz.jpg.html)


More soon!

Jenny x
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:53:01 PM
Day 36: TAT day 10: Liberal KS to Walsenburg CO.

Mileage today: 364 (TAT 349)

Kansas

By the time I rolled into Liberal in Kansas (rather than liberal Kansas, which is kind of an oxymoron), I'd ridden a sniff under 300 miles today, which illustrates just how straight and fast the TAT through the Oklahoma panhandle can be in comparison to the previous few days, and indeed the days to come once I get west of the Rockies.

It is actually a nice 'break' so to speak, and personally I feel has a charm all of its own razzing along at 50+ mph on the dirt and gravel roads, of which I knew there would be plenty more to come today before I reached New Mexico...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsnlrecvqm.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsnlrecvqm.jpg.html)
photo. Liberal's one (and only) claim to fame is that this is where Dorothy started her trip to Oz from... Here is a bronze statue of a fictional character.

Note. Technically the Trans-Am Trail doesn't pass through Kansas itself, but it runs so close to the boarder, and Liberal is really the only place for miles that there is any accommodation and other services.


Oklahoma - again!

Back into Oklahoma and back on the trail, and things were rapidly becoming familiar now - ironic really when there were so few landmarks of course!


(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsvfinmpti.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsvfinmpti.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsalj4u8cj.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsalj4u8cj.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsloaua9zf.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsloaua9zf.jpg.html)
photo. Some of the ruts were deep! Fortunately I'd been blessed with a few days of sunshine in western OK, and the trail had dried sufficiently to negotiate around the worst of them.

But other than the odd detour a mile either south or north on the grid, the rest of Oklahoma flashed by without incident, with a refuel in Boise City (recommended) before the long remote leg through New Mexico and into south eastern Colorado.


New Mexico

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpspewqbcuy.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpspewqbcuy.jpg.html)
photo. Crossing into New Mexico: "Look Piglet, there is a mountain in the distance!"


(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpskaridckh.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpskaridckh.jpg.html)
photo. Approximately half way through the NM stage, just before the climb out of the valley through Long Canyon... I took a very similar photo back in 2009 of my Tenere in this same spot, only to notice through the lens that my rear tyre had gone flat. Would this photo jinx this trip too? - not today at least...

...tomorrow however, well, that's another story still to come ;o)


As luck would have it, when I got a puncture here last time, a pick-up came by and the driver who owned the farm in the valley below said I would be welcome to use his tyre machine in the barn there! However, since I'd installed a skinny front tube in the rear tyre, I'd elected to stay on the highway until I could get it properly fixed, and missed out on the TAT route to Trinidad in 2009 - so was keen to see what lay in store this time around...

I can confirm it was a joy - a nice mildly technical climb up the canyon side (which would be almost impassable in the wet I imagine), followed by more fast sweeping gravel roads all the way to Trinidad.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsnzctujzr.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsnzctujzr.jpg.html)
photo. The scenery only gets better and more dramatic from here on!


Colorado

The Colorado TAT initially starts by heading due west just north of the NM/CO boarder. Again, I treated this fast gravel section very much like a rally stage (as I had been all day really, breaking each individual sector into a 'stage', and daydreaming that actually, in the right event at least, the CB-X could perhaps make a passable rally bike - moreso if it could go on a serious diet... Stop me now!)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zps5qjz0lm7.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zps5qjz0lm7.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg18_zpsbfhbj9db.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg18_zpsbfhbj9db.jpg.html)

I passed by the Addams Family home on my way to find coffee in Trinidad, and was soon out the other side heading north now:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg16_zpsf1apcmdt.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg16_zpsf1apcmdt.jpg.html)
photo. The sign had said 'Road Closed Ahead', but I took another gamble and it paid off this time...


(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg19_zpst7ghfewf.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg19_zpst7ghfewf.jpg.html)

I have to say, without a doubt today was the best day of the trip so far - a sense of really travelling across the country (four different states today: Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico and Colorado), the bike riding perfectly in these dry, but not too dusty conditions, and the epic scenery unfolding all around me:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsjirp9hbu.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsjirp9hbu.jpg.html)
photo. Always my favourite time of day to be riding...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zps5av45bpy.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zps5av45bpy.jpg.html)

As the sunlight slipped away, I pressed on towards La Veta CO hoping to find some accommodation... The one halfway decent looking place was closed (there was also a nice looking B&B, but figured that would bee too expensive for my now modest budget), so elected to break from the TAT when it reached hwy 160, and head east for Walsenburg, where there would be more options.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsxk2kwplb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsxk2kwplb.jpg.html)
photo. Fortunately I got away with just a licence check and a ticking-off for going into the 55 zone a bit hot... an (ex)rider himself, we actually ended up chatted for about 10 minutes about bikes in general and the trip I was taking!

I took a punt on a quirky looking independent motel, and it paid off - lovely people, great value, and wifi of course... The perfect end to the perfect day!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg21_zpspqw2onfs.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg21_zpspqw2onfs.jpg.html)


Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:55:02 PM
Day 37: TAT day 11: Walsenburg CO to Colorado Springs CO.

Mileage today: 201 miles.


Walsenburg just kept getting better and better!

I'd had a great value meal at a Mexican restaurant last night, and excellent coffee and peanut/chocolate slice for breakfast at a local coffee house, and spied these little curios outside an autoparts store on the way out of town:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsawzru8ve.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsawzru8ve.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpssvxzwzjo.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpssvxzwzjo.jpg.html)
photo. I didn't realise these were still made... 2015 model Rokon 2WD bikes! - now with front suspension too!

Back on the TAT, on another perfect sunny morning...

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photo. If you've ridden this section of the TAT, then you'll not fail to have noticed this lovely old church...

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photo. If you've not yet ridden this section of TAT, you totally should! - and I've even left a little marker for you ;o)


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As the trail climbed steadily towards the mountains, I was revelling in the scenery, and enjoying the cooling breeze after what had been some pretty warm days at lower elevation this past week...


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photo. I celebrated breaking the 10,000ft mark with a selfie-timer photo with Piglet... and hey, no snow!


Since the bike was now technically over-due it's 8000 mile oil and filter change, plus my rear tyre was pretty much down to the carcass again, I'd arranged to deviate from the TAT, and overnight in Colorado Springs (back with the guys at MotoMinded/Double-Take Mirrors) and fettle the bike.

The most obvious pause point on the TAT was at the Hardscrabble Ranch (junction of hwy 165/96) south of Canon City, were there was a lovely alternative trail heading north right into town (lovely camp spot at Oak Creek if you're passing through btw.)

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photo. The shame of a life on the road... But their real-fruit milkshakes are delicious - part of my five-a-day right?!

Being back in Canon City, and needing to head for Colorado Springs, meant the perfect opportunity to try the Shelf Road (CR-88) up to Cripple Creek that had been closed due to weather a couple weeks back...

It was open - yay!

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Unfortunately at about mile 20, the creek was in full flood - the photo really doesn't show the full force of the water here, but prudence meant I had no choice but to turn around... The alternative might well have ended in disaster!

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photo. It was only perhaps a foot or so deep, but it was an absolute torrent. A 4x4 ahead of me had turned around too. I've got nothing to prove by trying to walk a bike through something like this - but conversely everything to lose if it had got washed away...

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So, returning to the highway once again (it's a lovely road out of Canon City, but really, I'm getting a bit bored of it now!), I drove by the start of the alternative road (CR-67) up to Victor - yep, still closed at mile 5 - and thought I'd simply cut my loses and get to Colorado Springs in good time to make a start on the bike service, and not least get a new rear tyre fitted...

And how prophetic that turned out to be!

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photo. Yep. Thats a flat.

As I was heading uphill on hwy 115, I felt the power sapping away, and sure enough, going into a bend, the back end started walking unnervingly... I knew this feeling.

Not relishing the idea of changing a tube at the side of a major highway (or anywhere if I'm honest!), and particularly as I'd planned on getting the tyre changed anyway once I got to Colorado Springs, I elected to press on the twenty or so miles into town, gingerly riding along the hard shoulder on the now completely flat tyre:

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... it was a little unnerving, especially when traffic passed, but at the same time I was impressed how well the bike continued to ride on the fat flat tyre, and wide rim presumably also helping stability in that regard... and I was able to maintain a reasonable 30mph (and sometimes a little more, although again self-control was required in an effort to try and preserve the tyre from overheating and popping off the rim).

I'd phoned Chris at MotoMinded to explain the situation, saying I was happy to continue riding in, while he stepped up and arranged to have a new tyre waiting for me when I arrived at his local dealer Apex Sports*

*I mention these guys not because they fitted my tyre for free or anything like that (they didn't, I paid the going rate, plus bought oil, a filter and a new heavy-duty inner tube as the original was toasted after that ride in), but fundamentally as when I'd visited them last time, Steve the sales manager and I were chatting about the CB500X and the Rally-Raid Adventure conversion kit, when a customer came in... Steve told me the customer was so impressed he has subsequently bought a brand new 500 and is planning on fitting a Level 3 kit too!

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Suitably re-shod with a new TKC80 (mechanic Jeff Grace is a Pikes Peak hillclimb racer btw. and is racing his Triumph up there next week!), and it was time to head back to MotoMinded HQ and finish of taking care of the little CB...

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photo. This many dinosaurs died so I could bring you this ride report - I think we should thank them!

Tomorrow would be a big day - the Peak is open all the way to the top!

more soon,

Jenny x
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 07:57:05 PM
Day 38: TAT day 12: Colorado Springs CO to Salida CO - via Pikes Peak.

Mileage today: 229 (TAT 105)

It would appear that America's mountain is growing, or that the sea is receding, or that simply GPS and other modern forms of altitude measurement are more accurate these days...

Certainly when I was here last time in 2008 (and still according to the sign at the summit), the top of Pikes Peak is 14,110 feet above sea level; however increasingly there is reference to it being 14,115 ft on newer merchandise and printed publicity material - a cynic might suggest they will probably change the sign once all the old gift shop stock has been sold... ;o)

Either way, it's a bloody big hill that is for sure!

Last time I rode up here it was on my 660 Tenere on a crisp October morning, the last six miles or so still a gravel road, and the temperature at the summit around -10 degrees, with a wind chill far lower than that... Indeed, I recall my ignition barrel froze once I'd removed my key (not that there was anyone else up there to steal the bike anyway!), causing some concern I might not be able to get back down again - as it was, I was probably there for all of 15 minutes...

This time, I was here in the middle of June, a week away from the start of the annual Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, and although the weather was much warmer, there was ironically more snow on either side of the road than there had been for many years; and fundamentally the road is now paved all the way to the top, and populated by a steady stream of tourist vehicles (of which admittedly I was one of course...)

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photo. On the official start line of the PPHC course just after mile 7...


Fortunately most drivers of larger and slower vehicles (that is pretty much everything other than a bike then...) tend to pull to the side when they see you in their mirrors, allowing you to skip past (ahem) where appropriate, although technically apart from one two-hundred yard section I spied, the whole of the 19 mile road to the peak is double yellow lines... but hell, I didn't pay twelve bucks to stare at an SUV tailgate!!!

Going up:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpseq0kjokb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpseq0kjokb.jpg.html)

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At the peak:

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photo. My GPS was still trying to get a fix, even this close to the satellites! (It eventually got to 14,083 - so pretty accurate ;o)

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It was also much warmer up here than last time - like a mild day skiing at the end of the season for example... In fact one guy rode his Goldwing up here in shorts and a t-shirt (no helmets required in Colorado either of course...) - he must have been bloody freezing by the time he arrived mind you, and I noticed he put a jacket on the ride back down ;o)


Going down... (Mr Tyler ?)

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photo. Despite lots more traffic on this beautiful summer morning, most of the time the ride was uninterrupted - perfect!

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photo. A token hay-bail to stop the Hill Climb racers firing off the cliff... Like the Isle of Man TT, you can't imagine this race would ever be considered today if it hadn't been going for a hundred years!

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Having stopped for two of my favourite food groups (coffee and ice cream), out of the four on offer (the others being pizza and wine) at The Winery at the base of Pikes Peak, I then foolishly detoured through Manitou Springs - a delightful resort town, full of funky shops, plentiful restaurants and copious amounts of stop-go traffic... When will they allow filtering in Colorado too?!!!

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photo. One of the original steam powered engines that pulled the train up the Pikes Peak COG railway.


It was now nearly 3.30pm in the afternoon, and I was still fifty miles from where I'd paused from the TAT route the day before. I really wanted to pick up from where I'd left off, and at the same time try and get back on some sort of schedule, as I had tentatively arranged to be in Moab UT by Friday evening (and would almost certainly need a new front tyre by then, which could only be fitted on Saturday morning, or else wait two more days until Monday...)

Although I had no fixed destination for that evening, at the same time, the only realistic stopping point on the TAT route would be Salida CO (another expensive town for accommodation), and even that might be a tad ambitious starting so late in the day...

It was time to get a wriggle-on Piglet!


Back on the TAT...

Despite the ongoing threat of an afternoon downpour, I managed to dodge the worst and was soon back on the TAT and up in the hills once more...

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photo. I'm almost certain these mountains were the inspiration for the Colorado licence plate background!

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The TAT south of Cotopaxi (on hwy 50) was primarily on fast and wide gravel tracks, allowing me to make good time; and once heading north again into more familiar territory, the trail started to climb into the forest, before levelling out on a high pasture platau and subsequently offer some fantastic views of the Rockies in the distance - it truly was a glorious time of both the day and year to be riding here...

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At one point I even witnessed two sizeable brown bears a couple of hundred yards ahead of me crossing the trail, and immediately ground to a halt and grabbed my camera (fortunately the tight turning circle of the CB-X was not necessary at this point) and I watched for what was probably less than a minute if I'm honest, before they ran higher into the hills...

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Pressing on again, I rejoined the section of trail that I'd ridden out of Salida a few weeks previously, and not wanting to retrace my steps unnecessarily, elected to take an alternative route down off the mountain and into the town itself - the ominously named: Dead Horse Gultch 4WD Road - and hoped this wouldn't turn out to be another 'Rubicon' moment...

It started off pleasantly enough, a winding narrow (Jeep width) trail through the trees - far more fun than the official TAT descent on another wide gravel road here - and before long became a narrow shelf road:

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Still no problem on a bike, even a 430lb one loaded with luggage...

As the descent continued, it started to become much more rocky, with the odd shelf step and loose rock that took all your concentration, particularly in the fading light. Fortunately these 'hazard' sections were punctuated with a more gentle and forgiving trail surface, and in turn afforded wonderful views down into the valley and over Salida itself:

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photo. The perfect end to another perfect day on the trails - I love Colorado!

As the evening drew to a close, I'd made it down unscathed, rolled into town, and hunted out the least expensive hotel I could find at that late hour:

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I wouldn't say it was the best, but they had a cool sign, the owner was a character, and they had a laundry on-site... and these things start to matter when you've spent forty days on the road!

The other guests were equally quirky - I so wanted to try and grab a candid photo of the old couple who were lodging next to me - he looked for all the world like Santa Claus in a Hawaiian shirt, and she, well, lets just say a black lace blouse, fishnet tights and six-inch platform stilettos were a sight to behold so early in the morning! It was nothing if not an experience. As Dan Walsh might say: These are days that must happen to you.

Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 08:00:14 PM
Day 39: TAT day 13: Salida CO to Ouray CO.

Mileage today: 179 miles.


Salida is a great hub for all sorts of out-door activities, particularly trail riding/driving/hiking and mountain-biking (and is also close to some great skiing in the winter), and typically attracts a cool and laid back crowd who subsequently demand funky shops and good coffee.

I was also able to find a traditional bookstore (ie. one without a coffee counter!) that sold the ubiquitous hipster accessory - a Moleskine pocket notebook to replace my currently full original... Result!

It was also a joy to stop by and say hello in person to a couple of long-time internet friends Duke and Tami Sheppard - who are regular performers on the local music scene; and a shame that I was now in effectively such a hurry to make it across Colorado and into Utah in less than two days - with essentially the most technical sections of the Colorado TAT still to come!


Ch-ch-ch changes...

The original TAT route (that I rode in 2008) used to head north out of Salida, and cross the Continental Divide via Hancock and Tomichi passes. These days, those trails are not county maintained, and consequently have a relatively short window of opportunity in any case. Therefore the current TAT route now crosses further south, over the 10,842 ft Marshall Pass - and while it might have been fun to also ride the original passes, there was not even the option with so much snow still covering many of the peaks in the region.

And once again I have to say, Sam Correro really does know how to hunt out the nice trails! The latest TAT revision initially follows Poncha Creek, that itself was overflowing onto the trail:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpschzuyumb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpschzuyumb.jpg.html)

The climb itself up the pass was no less interesting either, and an excellent alternative that ought to be open for a lot longer in the season.

Crossing over hwy 50 at Sargents, the TAT then heads up the valley towards Tomichi Pass, before turning off to cross a lower elevation pass (Black Sage) and head south west for Lake City and the especially scenic Alpine Loop...

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photo. In general, Piglet likes to emerge from his papoose to pose for a photo at each summit...


En route to Lake City, the official GPS route led to a trail a few hundred yards off the main gravel road, but which turned out to be closed (presumably the county expects everyone to just stay on the main gravel road these days...). However, I felt confident to continue on an established two-track trail nearby that wound into the hills (and I could see by the GPS would join the TAT again a few miles further on) - and considered that this is exactly the sort of riding this particular bike inspires and encourages you to do - explore!

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photo. This trail is not on the official TAT, but an excellent scenic detour - I marked it in a suitable spot with a TA500 sticker of course!

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photo. Those big mountains were getting ever closer - a delightful location south west of Lake City.

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photo. Starting up Cinnamon Pass. Despite being one of the the highest passes in the region (at 12,640ft, the 2nd highest of the TAT route - just pipped by California Pass a few miles further west) and the residual snow, the sign at Lake City said it was open... Which certainly ought to bode well for the subsequent route west, I thought.

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photo. "Alan! Alan! Alan!"

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photo. "Oh, it's Steve..."

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photo. The snow was still pretty deep towards the summit - fortunately the county plough this route (and the northern Engineer Pass too) to try and get the Alpine Loop scenic (4WD) drive open as early as possible in the season.

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photo. "Hey Mum - we've been here before!" But going in the other direction last time, and on a mission to establish the rescue of a 4x4 that was stuck in a snow drift!

Certainly this section of the TAT was instantly familiar, and I'd made good time to the junction at Animas Forks, with plenty of daylight left to attempt the subsequent passes - California & Hurricane - that are part of the onward TAT route...

Unfortunately, starting up California Gulch towards Red Mountain, It was soon clear that my luck had run out:

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photo. You can just see where the snowplough has stopped ploughing...


Returning to Animas Forks, I had two options now: the first would be to head south down the valley on a dirt road to Silverton - not a bad option, as the town is close to the continuation of the TAT route; only there was a distinct lack of accommodation there as I recalled... and it would be dark in a couple of hours.

The other option was to head north towards Engineer Pass (that in turn leads back to Lake City as the continuation of the Alpine Loop), and take an alternative trail down to hwy 550 near Ouray, where there was plentiful (albeit expensive!) accommodation showing in my GPS.

For the second time today, my feeling I was on just the right bike to take a gamble meant I headed north of course ;o)

It started off gently enough, and fundamentally I knew the trail would lead downhill, and ultimately exit on a highway - so was confident there would be no 'Rubicon' moments here either.

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Pretty eh?

This is before it got a lot narrower, a lot steeper, and a lot more rocky! In fact in places it felt more like the Top of the World trail I'd ridden in Moab a few weeks before - rock steps, drop-offs, and loose rocks that had been kicked up by 4x4s coming up in the other direction... Oh, and the added bonus of numerous stream and creek crossings where the snowmelt was running down the mountainside...

And the Honda lapped it up!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zps6rpxafjs.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zps6rpxafjs.jpg.html)

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Confident I could find somewhere half-way affordable to stay, I rode a twisty few miles down the highway into Ouray, and spent the next hour desperately trying to find somewhere that was either a) open - all the cheap places were mysteriously closed... b) had vacancies - anything halfway decent and moderately affordable was fully booked... and c) Not $300+ a night - I know this is a trendy spa town, but some of the prices were ridiculous*!

*The cheapest place I found that didn't have a No Vacancy sign was $160 (plus tax)... But it was now almost dark and I resented paying anything like that much for what would only be a few hours sleep in any case now...

So, for the first time on this trip I can tell you I had no choice but to break out my tent (although I've used the air mattress and sleeping bag a few times of course), and pitch up in the town campsite.

It was actually more than acceptable to be honest, and not only saved me from a huge dent in my remaining budget (I still have at least 10 more days on the road I reckon), but fundamentally staying in Ouray set me up for an early morning ride up one of the best roads in the region: 550 - the 'Million Dollar Highway' (the switchback section over Red Mountain Pass being part of the TAT route), and which in turn might feasibly see me in Moab in less than 24 hours after all.

More soon!

Jenny x
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 08:02:14 PM
Day 40: TAT day 14: Ouray CO to Moab UT.

Mileage today: 273 miles.


One of the benefits of camping is that you tend to wake up with the sunrise (well, unless you've had a heavy night drinking beforehand ;o), and for the first time on this trip I was on the road well before 8am.

Of course I then found the perfect spot for breakfast (a new place 'Roast & Toast' on Main St. Ouray) that really set me up for what was likely to a long day on the trail - destination Moab Utah.

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photo. One of the more memorable breakfasts I have had on this trip, and for all the right reasons too - I can recommend the 'Hungry Hippie' sandwich - scrambled eggs, avocado and beansprouts on toasted whole-wheat. Topped off with a large espresso and cinnamon roll of course!

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photo. So long Ouray, you crazy little toy town!


Hwy 550 is one of those 'must ride' bike roads, and for good reason - not only is the scenery utterly epic on either side, but the pavement itself is a sinewy snake up and over a series of high passes that are a joy to ride on any bike - and can see why Sam felt it essential to route the TAT over Red Mountain Pass to give you an excellent taster*

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsuhilsyuu.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsuhilsyuu.jpg.html)

*I have also ridden the southern section of 550 heading north from Durango to Silverton in the past, and can utterly recommend you ride that sector too if you have time... and in turn Durango is also the start of one of the most epic stream railway journeys you can take in the USA, if not the whole world - as the train clings precariously to the side of a cliff hundreds of feet above the Animas River on an old mining route, all the way to Silverton and back.

Pausing at the pass to add to the burgeoning sticker collection on the county boundary sign:

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It wasn't long before I was back on the dirt, and heading up and over Ophir Pass.

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Ophir Pass is probably the least technically difficult in this region, however, due to it's elevation (11,789 ft) and remoteness, is often one of the last to be opened to traffic each year... and was certainly still closed when I'd passed through Colorado heading east only three weeks before.

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photo. Fortunately this pass had been ploughed the whole way through now, and the trail surface smooth and easy to ride.

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photo. Piglet was very much enjoying all this high elevation sunshine...

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photo. ...and dramatic scenery!

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photo. The view back up the pass from the village of Ophir - you can just make out the shelf road cut diagonally into the side of the mountain.

Ophir itself seemed to be a sleepy ski-town, full of (presumably) holiday homes... There was certainly no store or gas available here - and indeed this whole section of the TAT from Lake City west feels very remote - and it would appear your only options for fuel are a slight detour off the route at either Ouray or Silverton on 550.

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photo. Presumably a souvenir from a less than successful pass crossing at some point...


A short blast up a section of another corking bike road (hwy 145 over Lizard Head Pass) soon saw me back on the dirt again and heading resolutely west now - decreasing in elevation and the weather getting even warmer as I headed towards the Utah border.


Utah

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photo. I recall this view from when I rode this section of the TAT in 2008 - for me it defines that transition from the mountains and into the desert...

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photo. I have almost exactly the same photo of my Yamaha 660 Tenere here on the boarder between Colorado and Utah... I thought back then what excellent all-road travelling companion that bike had been; and similarly, the CB500X with the Rally-Raid Adventure kit has honestly already exceeded all my expectations as a true all-rounder...


The TAT here heads due west to the town of Monticello on hwy 191 (approximately 54 miles south of Moab), and is the perfect place to fuel up, grab a sandwich, and even a bed for the night depending on what time of day you arrive... I mention this particularly as although Moab is only about an hour away by road from here, the TAT route is actually twice the distance and a good afternoon's ride from here, and it would be a huge shame to miss out the ride through the La Sal mountains, and not least the spectacular view of the Moab Rim that you first glimpse through a break in the trees from around 8000ft.

The current TAT route follows an easy dirt road through the mountains across Geyser Pass, and I am familiar with this area as it is a beautiful alternative ride if you want to escape the summer heat of the Moab valley below... I was also pleasantly surprised to see the TAT turn off the main gravel road and onto what looked like a little used (but still totally open and legal) two-track ATV trail up into the hills - excellent choice Sam!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsfcnzxxaz.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsfcnzxxaz.jpg.html)
photo. A pleasent surprise, this shady OHV side trail is actually part of the TAT route.

However, all too soon the route then reverted to the wide rocky access road that was rather disappointing in comparison to the interlude that had promised so much... On reaching a familiar track junction, I elected to ride some of the alternative OHV trails, and quickly realised that the original TAT route I had ridden in 2008 actually used these side trails as the main thoroughfare!

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photo. I recalled this view from the first time I rode here, and while the current TAT route does offer a similar glimpse from the main gravel road, I find this original route through the mountains far more technically and visually pleasing...

Having plenty of time that afternoon to explore, I continued to ride some of the alternative trails, and prove what was the original TAT route...

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photo. Back in 2008 this small creek was solid ice, and I had to tentatively walk my bike across... Now they've built a dedicated bike/ATV bridge - perhaps its time for Sam to reinstate the original route?


Personally, I prefer the La Sal Pass crossing to Geyser Pass (La Sal is slightly more technically challenging, and typically far less busy with day-trip 4x4 traffic heading up and out of Moab), and if you are in Moab for a few days, then it is a lovely day ride to loop through both, and incorporate some of the OHV side trails too.

As I descended out of the mountains, the familiar view of the Rim was slightly shrouded in haze:

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And I followed the last leg of the TAT into Moab on Sand Flats Road (that passes through the Slick Rock playground plateau to the east of the town), keen to cool off with a pint of Dead Horse Ale at the Moab Brewery, and celebrate the last 14 days' successful navigation of the Trans-Am Trail.

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photo. although Sand Flats Road is essentially a sandy through-route to access the trailheads (and campsites) on either side, it is also an impressive entrance into Moab in it's own right...

Planning to stay in Moab a couple of nights over the weekend would mean I would essentially get a full 'rest day' before the final big push west - which would include the completely new sections of the TAT through Utah and now Idaho too!

More soon, I guess I'd better get back on the trail eh?

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 08:06:43 PM
Day 41: Moab UT - rest day.

Having enjoyed effectively my first full day off since the beginning of this trip (even then I spent the morning getting a new front tyre fitted, and having a great chat with Fred at Arrowhead Motorsports) I spent the afternoon hermit like in my air-conditioned hotel room catching up on admin and the last few days' reports, and fundamentally it was nice not to have to repack my luggage, load up, and move on for more than 24 hours...

I'd also used this time to sketch out the last week or so of my trip (and I say 'sketch' rather than plan, as you know how these things can go!), and it made the most sense to only ride as far as Green River (approximately 70 miles north of Moab) tomorrow, as that would set me up nicely for the following day, where I hoped to cross the vast majority of the new TAT route through the middle of Utah, and end somewhere where I could find some accommodation - as even at elevation, it was going to be HOT out there...


Day 42: TAT day 15: Moab UT to Green River UT - via Kane Creek Canyon.

Mileage today: 124 (TAT 72)

This might have been technically the shortest distance on the TAT so far, but my choice to ride one of my favourite trails around Moab - Kane Creek Canyon - made this undoubtably the toughest day so far...

Of course there are any number of trails close to Moab that I could have ridden en route - and indeed the TAT itself includes Gemini Bridges - an 'easy' trail according to the guides (again a little like Sand Flats Road, it is a lovely scenic access to the trailheads of some far more technical OHV routes), before heading up to Green River on a series of fast flowing dirt roads, which would be welcome in the afternoon heat.

So rather than load up my luggage straight away, I elected to ride solo a short way down hwy 191 to the southern end of Kane Creek:

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photo. Hole n' the Rock is a quirky tourist attraction with a cave house and petting zoo... but for me it marks the turn off to one of the best trails in the area!

I specifically mention starting at the southern end and working your way back towards Moab, as in recent years this trail has deteriorated significantly, and there are now some serious rock steps to negotiate - at least in this direction you are going down most of them...

The trail starts off innocently enough, with a lovely ride criss-crossing the creek:

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As you decent deeper into the canyon itself though, it starts to become a little more technical, with rock steps and drop offs, before what I'd say is the first major hazard (really, the photos don't do it justice):

Half way down:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsyjyglzhw.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsyjyglzhw.jpg.html)


At the bottom:

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Worth noting is that prior to this section there is another large rock step that over the years has become essentially vertical as the sand and stones below have been dug away (this is a very popular trail during the Easter Jeep Safari, where it is run one-way in the other direction ie. uphill), which means once you're commited, there really isn't any going back if you're on a big bike* like this... memories of the Rubicon came flooding back, although at least I sort of knew what to expect here, as I have ridden this trail a number of times (in both directions) in the past.

*Yes, the observant among you will notice that the 'little Honda' has suddenly become the 'big bike' again in this environment!


There follows a shortish section of shelf road - itself a very dramatic if not too technical ride, before the worst section of the trail:

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photo. The bike might look tiny here, but it feels huge when you have to manhandle it down something like this!

Both here and the previous creek crossing steps section is manageable with a careful selection of line, and in this instance, essentially walking the bike down over the larger rocks to try and avoid dropping it. Believe me, it was over 100 degrees F here, and even walking down the rocks to reccy a line and back up again sapped all your strength.

I had already stopped any number of times already to rest, drink plenty of water, and chow on an energy bar. I freely admit that despite these efforts to manage my energy, I was beginning to feel light-headed in the heat; and with little opportunity for shade I really had to dig deep and try my best to stay focussed - there was still a long way to go.

After the rocky descent, there is at least a little respite with a winding trail offering a little tree shade, that criss-crosses the creek again, dozens of times - I love this section!

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I eventually emerged from the creek itself onto slightly higher ground, although the heat is still so oppressive with the air hemmed in by the huge valley walls:

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Believing I was now home and dry (well the reality is drenched in sweat, but you appreciate the metaphor), I pressed on at a good rate, dispatching the odd rock step and drop-off with renewed enthusiasm...

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Unfortunately, I had forgotten about one short (uphill in this direction) section of slab rock, that has a series of stepped ribs running diagonally across the trail. In a 4x4 it presents little challenge if I'm honest, but on a bike, each step is essentially the length of your wheelbase, and there is very little chance of maintaining momentum and traction to see you up them in one hit, especially on a bike like this. The fundamental problem is that if you get it wrong at all, your rear wheel slews along the diagonal step and you end up either at completely the wrong angle (with no room to manoeuvre the bike, unless it is light enough to drag around), or worse, dumping it on the ground.

Trying to pick an alternative route to the one I have ridden on my usual Moab steed (a Yamaha XT225 Serow - don't laugh, they are perfect for the trails around here!), I made a real mess of things, and having dragged the bike backwards back down the steps, had to sit for a good while in the shade of a rock - and promptly sat on a cactus! It was a good job that Piglet was safely ensconced in the backpack as there was a LOT of swearing (not that he hasn't heard all those words, and the various combinations thereof before of course ;o) - partially due to the pain, and partially due to frustration. It had indeed been rather ambitious to ride this particular trail on a 400+lb bike in the searing heat of the midday summer sun.

Of course I'm sitting here writing this report, so you know I eventually made it out - and miraculously without dropping the bike either - although it was as much by luck and brut-force as anything else. I honestly can't imagine any other 'Adventure' twin being quite as capable or manageable in those circumstances - even the KTM 950/990 would be a massive handful in those conditions, and you'd have to be an exceptional rider to navigate that big tall bike over some of those steps without dropping it at least once. I imagine a 1200GS could quite possibly kill you.

I wouldn't say that this trail tested the absolute limits of the bike itself by any means, rather the conditions tested my own personal ability and stamina to the absolute maximum. I would usually be ashamed to admit a visit to McDonalds... But I absolutely murdered one of their fruit smoothies when I finally rolled back into town along the Colorado River road:

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photo. The little arch high up in the cliff that overlooks the Colorado River is accessible from the top via the legendary Poison Spider trial - one for another day perhaps...


So, having collected my luggage (eternally greatful that I hadn't attempted riding Kane Creek fully loaded!) and picked up another 'trophy' sticker for the windscreen - boy did I earn that red one today! - it was time to get back on the TAT...

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photo. A steep shelf road climbs up from the main highway at the start of Gemini Bridges trail...

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photo. ...and offers a spectacular view over the highway and back towards Arches National Park and the La Sal mountains... So long Moab, until the next time ;o)

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photo. 'Goony Bird Rock' is a local landmark on this trail... The surface itself a mix of rocky hard-pack and soft sand.

Once north of hwy 313 (that leads into Canyonlands NP), the TAT route follows Dubinky Well Road and a series of fast gravel hard-pack (in dry conditions at least) - a welcome relief from all the effort put in earlier today...

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photo. The oversize windmill that used to run the pump at the Dubinky Well site.

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photo. Heading north towards Green River just off I70.

Finally, a well earned burger at Ray's Tavern in Green River:

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I was fortunate to find a lovely independent motel at a great price in Green River (the Sleepy Hollow Motel if you are ever in town), that is right next door to the Green River Coffee Co. which again I can personally heartily recommend, although if you read the reviews on Yelp you'd probably never go there - lets just say the service is a little more surly than the typical sycophantic sucky-up that Americans are used to in Starbucks ;o)

But hey, that was breakfast tomorrow, right now, I really needed to sleep!

More soon,

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 08:08:14 PM
Day 43: TAT day 16: Green River UT to Delta UT.

 Mileage today: 320

Other than a minor route change in Colorado, today would be the first of the 'New TAT' sections west of the Rockies.

In the past the TAT through Utah has essentially followed the main east-west interstate I70 from Green River all the way until the intersection with the main north-south thoroughfare I15, west of Richfield.

I have ridden some of this section west (before heading down hwy 72 to Bryce Canyon on my previous trip), and it was one of those sections where you do start to wonder if it might not be better just to have stuck to the highway (typically just a few miles to the north or south) to avoid slogging through the sand and dirt... particularly in the heat of high summer.

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photo. Starting out bright and early from Ray's Tavern... Yes I know my camera is doing its funny thing with the edge of the photo again...

Sam has certainly taken a number of key steps to address this criticism here - although initially you may wonder why the route now heads significantly south (towards Horseshoe Canyon to the west of Canyonlands NP), before looping back to cross I70 at a point only 26 miles further west than you started this morning!

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photo. No kidding! Fortunately it has been bone dry for a good few days in this part of the country...

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photo. A mirror-like water hole, and sedimentary rocks that are typical in this part of Utah.

It is a nice fast desert piste loop, and if you want to know what it feels like to be a desert racer, a fun way to wake yourself up in the morning...

However, at the same time, while I have tried throughout this trip to avoid being critical of any particular element (hell, I'm just happy to be out here riding!), I must admit this felt like a lot of miles - 110 no less! - for no real reward (usually Sam throws in a gem of a view or an interesting landmark), yet the only really interesting section* (that I strongly recommend btw.) is the latter part that passes by Temple Mountain - both an interesting ride and historical site - where the vast majority of uranium in the US was mined for initially Marie Curie's cancer treatment experiments, and latterly bombs and submarines. Take from that what you will with regard to human nature.

*Personally, were I not intending to follow the TAT in its entirety, in future I would simply head west out of Green River and take hwy 24 to the Goblin Valley State Park turn off, which is Temple Mountain Road. That said, in the interests of fairness, I can see why Sam has included that initial southern loop, as it makes it less of an obvious detour (and highway shelp) to incorporate the Temple Mountain section.

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photo. The road past Temple Mountain - 'Temple Mountain Road' no less - is a lovely ride and I'd suggest includes more than enough fast desert piste to satisfy your needs right now... There will be plenty more of that in the next few days for sure...


That's swell!

Fortunately your reward for the first couple of hours of desert pounding is the utterly spectacular ride through the San Rafael Swell, as you feel dwarfed by the huge monoliths on either side, pass by the original bridge over the San Rafael river (the only remaining suspension bridge in Utah btw.) and a wall of petroglyphs at Buckhorn Draw... all wonderful stuff!

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photo. The bridge is technically closed to all but foot traffic now... I guess you could pose your bike on it if you wanted... but I respected the signs.

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photo. Piglet was relieved when I explained that 'rock art' didn't mean that Axel Rose had attempted impressionism with his own feces...

The new TAT route now heads west at much higher elevation, through the main Manti-La Sal National Forest... (there are additional pockets of that same National Forest south of Moab and around Monticello too of course) affording a cooling breeze as long as you keep moving, which I did.

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photo. I love this sign - it's as if they just couldn't be bothered to even drive up there and measure it!


There is another questionable detour (hark at me, all critical today!) up Cottonwood Canyon and back down Miller Flats Road. It is very scenic, and with plenty of camping opportunities and what looks like a host of OHV side trails too - so worth considering if timing coincides with you needing to camp, or if you have a few days to explore off the main TAT route for example - but if you are on a mission to cover some ground today (as I was), then the best is still to come...

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West of Joe's Valley reservoir is an excellent climb up to the summit (10,200 ft, and still the odd pocket of snow), with the trail (Orangeville Rd) lined with trees. I noticed a couple had been carved with names and dates, and subsequently realised that the whole avenue of silver birches had been similarly adorned... Personally I thought this was very poetic, and wondered if the elders had also been quick to judge those Petroglyph painters many hundreds of years ago ;o)

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Just when I thought the day couldn't get any better, the sector west of Ephraim was undoubtedly the highlight of the whole route today. A narrow winding trail that worked its way up through a canyon, before offering a roller coaster of a ride and a real sense of crossing the country on a road less travelled.

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photo. The trail west of Ephraim exits through a dry wash - Mellor Canyon Road - lovely!

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photo. What the hell?! - a gate! My first in nearly 9,700 miles (well, not counting the road closure in Arkansas, ahem...)

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photo. It had been a long and dusty day... But with a real sense of travelling across the country.

Having passed under I15 (that heads south for Las Vegas and ultimately LA), I got the distinct feeling that I was now getting closer to home, and ultimately bedded down in Delta to prepare for some more big miles in the desert the following day.

Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 08:09:25 PM
Day 44: TAT day 17: Delta UT to Wendover UT.

Mileage today: 270


Today would be all about the desert - but unlike yesterday's early morning sojourn south, the run from Delta to the Nevada boarder gave you the overwhelming sense you were making good progress west now.

It really did fell like a proper rally stage today. Right out of town the trail started with a broken two-track, punctuated with a number of dry mud holes that could catch you out (and potentially spit you off if travelling at speed and not paying attention). The trail had no choice but to detour to avoid a significant aquaduct (reminiscent of riding in Morocco here btw.), before picking up a fast smooth gravel track right through the mountains... and ultimately exiting Dome Canyon across a huge dry salt lake bed - utterly mesmerising!

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photo. Right out of the gate the first sector west of Delta was fun fun fun - although it was a good job I noticed this barbed-wire gate in time!

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photo. The view back east from Dome Canyon Pass - part of the historic Central Overland Trail pioneered by Capt. James H. Simpson in 1859.

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photo. Winding down Dome Canyon - this is a lovely sweeping ride at up to 6600ft elevation, I can see why Sam chose this pass rather than the more southern or northern routes...

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photo. ...not least for this 'big reveal' as you exit the canyon and blast across a huge salt flat!


Taco time...

Two and half hours later, and I rolled across the UT/NV boarder at that stalwart of the western TAT, the Boarder Inn - one of the very few opportunities to refuel both your bike and yourself out here (next services 83 miles says the sign, and that was back from where I'd come from) and marked the occasion with a suitable surreptitious placing of a TA500 sticker ;o)

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photo. Don't be silly, this would have been far too obvious for a TA500 sticker... it's meant to be a treasure-hunt you know!

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photo. The Boarder Inn just over the, well, boarder with Nevada - offers food, fuel and accommodation. Oh, and slot machines of course!

This is essentially where the new route converges with the original TAT (that took a more southerly route through the desert), but rather than head into Nevada and diagonally* northwards towards Oregon, the new route now heads directly north along the boarder (on the Utah side in the main), for another 150+ miles of high speed desert piste.

*Now of course the geometry-ists amongst you may be wondering why the TAT now essentially takes in two sides of a triangle to reach the same destination? - Well to mess with your minds even more, it now effectively double backs on itself and heads east again before going up into Idaho too - but that is a story for another day, like tomorrow to be precise... ;o)

Anyway, I make a particular point of the mileage here, as it really is essential to fuel up at the Boarder Inn, since the following sector really is very remote, with a real sense of solitude and wilderness, and the next fuel is not until you reach Wendover up on I80.

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I have to say, the Honda really did eat up the miles here. Without wanting to sound like a broken record, it's conditions like these that really illustrate just how good (and worthwhile) the TracTive suspension upgrades are. The bike would track with complete stability at 60, even 70 mph on the faster wider gravel/dirt roads, and never once felt like things would get out of control.

Now I realise that you can ride pretty much any bike at around 50mph (the typical sweet-spot for washboard btw.) on a graded dirt road, particularly on the right tyres... However, what is fundamental about the rally-bike derived suspension and heavy-duty spoked wheels (and the 19" front wheel) that is part of the Rally-Raid Adventure kit, is just how much margin for error and the unexpected it now gives you...

Of course 'only' seven inches of travel means you can't ride this bike with utter impunity, but fundamentally the increase in travel over stock coupled with high-quality well-controlled damping means that hitting a rock ripple, wash-out or pothole doesn't cause nearly as much concern as it might otherwise, and it really does soak up such hazards in a very impressive manner. I would even go as far to draw the analogy of riding a big-bore rally bike at close to maximum speed... Of course you won't be going as fast on the CB-X, but it's weight and composure really does give you a taste of what it feels like to pilot a big race bike through the desert, just at a slightly more modest speed.

But back to the trail right?

Having wound though the boarder mountains on the old Pony Express route (interesting fact: although the Pony Express is synonymous with the Wild West, in actual fact it only ran for little more than a year until the trans-continental telegraph network was completed in 1861), Sam then utterly nails the new route with an excellent detour from an otherwise highway section, with a lovely little-used two-track trail into the wilderness - very reminiscent of trail riding in Wales for example.

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Then just when you think it can't get any better, the route turns 90 degrees right onto an even more minor trail that deteriorates further...

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...in fact it doesn't look like anyone has been down here in a LONG time, with one or other of the two-track ruts completely washed away in places, creating bike swallowing gullies if you are not careful to plan ahead and swap from side to side in good time!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsxkoistwt.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsxkoistwt.jpg.html)
photo. Honestly, this is the other rut!

There was a feeling of really pioneering a new route here, but then of course remembered I was technically the only (other) person with these latest TAT tracks - although I did begin to wonder if Sam had sent me down here as a guinea-pig perhaps!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpsnjn4a1zi.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpsnjn4a1zi.jpg.html)
photo. After a short stretch of tarmac, it was back onto the dirt again on another faded trail... This track junction shows the importance of GPS when navigating in more open terrain, as you would have to be bang-on your odometer to ensure you didn't miss this left turn?

Emerging onto hwy 93 (technically now in Nevada of course), I passed a tree full of of shoes, caps and other personal items (including rather bizarrely, a false leg, complete with sock and shoe!), and recalled a similar, albeit much larger, tree on hwy 50 east of Fallon - it must be a Nevada thing ;o)

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photo. Junk as art...

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photo. It can be surprising what you find if you poke around!

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photo. OK, so some stickers will be easier to find than others ;o)


Hwy 93 leads straight into Wendover - useful if you're pushed for time and need fuel/a bed for the night, and affords a lovely view across the salt plains that host the Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway strip.

However, if you have time (which I did, and would have made time anyway) there are a couple of detours into the dirt to the west of the highway that form part of the new TAT route too. Having ridden the first (all too short) section and embarked on the second sector, I opened the TOPO maps in my GPS, and sure enough saw there was what appeared to be a connecting through route that offered a far more interesting alternative than having to dip back onto the highway...

With plenty of daylight left, I then rode this interconnecting series of trails (ultimately in both directions to prove the route) to fill in the gap so to speak; and was rewarded with an excellent series of wide dry river valley crossings and undulating two-track, rocky climbs and descents, and fast sandy gravel... and almost all the while with a distant view of the shimmering salt plains in the distance.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsstcddd86.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsstcddd86.jpg.html)
photo. The 'missing' section I was able to successfully prove actually goes around the west side of Wildcat Peak...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsmrkjjba5.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsmrkjjba5.jpg.html)
photo. ...and crosses through three dry river canyons!

Honestly, this seventeen mile sector had a bit of everything that makes desert riding such a joy, and if it is Sam's ultimate intention to effectively bypass Nevada in subsequent editions of the TAT, then I would suggest retaining this little corner as a sweet swan-song - what a way to end the day!

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photo. Emerging back onto the highway for the final few miles into Wendover, I would like to take this opportunity to mention a few personal supporters: ADVaddicts for their fine retro T-shirts, ICON for their Raiden riding gear, and Double-Take Mirrors for allowing me to debut their brand new design of dual-sport/adventure bike mirrors... I can confirm they suffer a lot less vibration than the original round design, and also stay put when riding washboard trails at speed - you also get a much wider field of vision too!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsownaus4g.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsownaus4g.jpg.html)

More soon!

Jenny x
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 08:11:27 PM
Day 45: TAT day 18: Wendover UT to Tremonton UT.

Mileage today: 200* (TAT 176)

*explanation below...

So now where were we? - oh yes, Wendover - a typical splash-n-dash fuel stop (and not much more) off Interstate 80, on the boarder of Nevada and Utah; which these days is a motley collection of motels and casinos, and historically - as anyone who has seen the World's Fastest Indian will recall - is the closest town to the Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsxss5uvra.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsxss5uvra.jpg.html)

As part of the ongoing revisions to the original TAT route, it would appear that Sam has tried to incorporate (where possible at least) a number interesting 'side shows' en route - or at least only a mile or two off the route (such as the Jack Daniel's Distillery in Tennessee) - and this new section through northern Utah particularly, includes a couple of worthwhile distractions to help punctuate the primary journey west.


Bonneville Speedway

Certainly for anyone embarking on the TAT over the summer (when Colorado ought to be free of snow), then passing through here in early September ought to coordinate nicely with Speed Week on the salt - although conversely you'll probably find every hotel room is fully booked of course!

The TAT itself heads north past the end of the Bonneville Speedway access road, a 3-mile dead end highway into the middle of flats, that is used for access to the paddock when the racing is on.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zps9w01vxcj.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zps9w01vxcj.jpg.html)

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photo. Unfortunately the salt was still far too wet to ride on, but beautiful to look at nonetheless...

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photo. ...and with some visitors using it as a beach instead!

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photo. This guy didn't need my help with a photo, so I took the opportunity to mark the occasion with a sticker or two instead ;o)

Inspired by the location, I did my best to max-out the CB-X on my way back down the paved road, and was therefore slightly disappointed when I barely broke 90mph (according to the GPS) -  but then I was running TKCs at 25psi, into a strong headwind...


Back on the TAT and it was like being back in the future - or rather the past - yesterday in fact, as once again this sector is especially remote, curving north and east for nearly 100 miles around the top of the Great Salt Lake - with a real sense of being alone.

Fortunately the majority of the trail here is fast desert piste track, with the occasional 'hazard' such as a wash-out or rocky dry river crossing to help concentrate the mind - and in between offering plenty of time to contemplate how with perhaps a few choice 'R' mods, then the CB-X could actually become a half-way reasonable rally bike after all - in the right event at least?

I stopped for a picnic lunch at the junction of Emigrant Pass and Rocky Pass, just north of crossing hwy 30, and looking at the GPS, wondered why Sam hadn't routed along Rocky Pass instead? - although the clue is probably in the name if I'm honest.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpseoq3xg9n.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpseoq3xg9n.jpg.html)

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photo. the trail over the pass was a winding 'grade road' - that is what I call a trail cut into the desert with a grader - the surface a combination of sand and gravel interspersed with a few larger stones, rather than a traditional hardpack or rolled surface - and where a little speed is actually preferable to stop the front end digging in and having to fight it the whole time.

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photo. for a moment I thought we'd arrived at Stonehenge!

The trail then starts to follow the old railway grade towards Promontory Summit, which is ultimately where the Union Pacific and Central Pacific Railroads met in 1869, completing the first trans-continental railroad in the United States.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpsgnh9vbgo.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpsgnh9vbgo.jpg.html)
photo. en route to Golden Spike I thought this rock looked like a huge dragon, trying to eat the CB-X!



Golden Spike

Here is a handy hint for any new TAT travellers: when you rejoin the pavement, you need to turn immediately right if you want to visit the Golden Spike site - otherwise you might confuse the visitor centre (about a mile off the TAT route itself) for a small farm in your peripheral vision, and ride on for another 11 miles before you reach the end of that sector, that coincides with a road sign at a junction that says Golden Spike 11 miles, back the way you'd just come... "Yes Piglet, I was expecting to see some trains soon too... oh."

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zps25dfszlm.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zps25dfszlm.jpg.html)

Arriving back at the visitor centre (it's a National Park btw. so you'll need a pass, or pay a $7 entry fee - that I have to say is TOTALLY worth it, especially if you are a steam-train nerd like me, erm, I mean Piglet ;o), and as luck would have it, the 20 minute movie was just about to start (it runs every half hour), and even better, my late afternoon arrival coincided with the two engines being steamed-up and driven back down the line to their overnight storage shed. Sheldon Cooper would just sh#t!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg16_zps6suzgtli.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg16_zps6suzgtli.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg17_zps9tmjoifm.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg17_zps9tmjoifm.jpg.html)

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The two engines on display are not just replicas of the originals - but fully working replicas (built in 1979) that were painstakingly constructed within a quarter of an inch of the original dimensions. They are simply stunning!


(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg20_zps9yktwrm8.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg20_zps9yktwrm8.jpg.html)
photo. Inside no.119

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg21_zpsozf29xqg.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg21_zpsozf29xqg.jpg.html)
photo. Inside Jupiter


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photo. A [replica of the original] special tie was incorporated and the final sections of rail from either side joined at a special ceremony in 1869, using a primary spike forged from solid gold!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg23_zpsazls2rfd.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg23_zpsazls2rfd.jpg.html)
photo. Piglet even got to sit on each engine, but he didn't get to ride... denied!


Best of all, each afternoon (at 4pm), the engines are fired up and returned to their storage house a few hundred yards down the short section of railroad that has been relaid (after the original track was dismantled during WWII, in turn having already been bypassed by a new route that crosses a causeway along the top of Great Salt Lake a few miles to the south of here).

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg24_zpsazzuy2lo.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg24_zpsazzuy2lo.jpg.html)

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Did I tell you I love trains?!

A visit to Golden Spike to see the engines run really does time perfectly if you've overnighted in Wendover (as I had), and in turn, Sam has rather thoughtfully routed the TAT close to Tremonton UT, that offers a number of affordable motel options, and some halfway decent eateries too - result!

Jenny x
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 08:12:46 PM
Day 46: TAT day 19: Tremonton UT to Ketchum ID.

Mileage today: 344 (TAT 326)


I really enjoyed my stay in Tremonton - I can recommend the Sandman Hotel on main street, and was in awe of the size of the dessert portions in The Grille restaurant just up the road - truly an epic cheesecake to round off a perfectly enjoyable day all round!

And you certainly know you're getting into farming country here - as I rolled out of town the following morning through what was effectively an auto mall of tractor and combine-harvester dealers!

A few miles into the TAT and as the route passes under the Interstate 84, I saw a lone Toyota FJ with what was clearly a flat tyre...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpszh8yk2ne.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpszh8yk2ne.jpg.html)

Stopping to see if I could be of any assistance (and going by the current head-scratching going on, felt I could quite possibly be...)  it turned out that their tool kit was missing one vital section of the jack handle, and they couldn't raise the vehicle to remove the wheel.

Rummaging through my tool kit, I was able to fashion a makeshift alternative using a Motion Pro lever-wrench, and a 17mm socket, and between us we soon had that tyre changed over in a flash ;o)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsgogdsn7s.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsgogdsn7s.jpg.html)


Crossing into Idaho was a particularly low-key affair...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsjsyhcphn.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsjsyhcphn.jpg.html)

Although the welcome party had at least made some sort of an effort:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsc51ybyw5.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsc51ybyw5.jpg.html)

And certainly the first (of three) sectors that Sam had already proven in this brand new addition to the TAT was little more than a series of farm access roads, reminiscent of Oklahoma in that regard - pleasant enough (in fine weather at least), and a breeze on the smooth and comfortable CB-X.

But at the same time, you couldn't help but think that it was simply a means to an end (to get further north, to the fun stuff) and that ultimately, and especially on a bike like this which is so good on the highway too, that it might have been preferable just to blast up the central valley highway and give yourself a little more time in the mountains perhaps?

But at the same time, I was aware that I had been effectively entrusted to prove this new section of the route from an independent perspective, and therefore felt it my duty to ride the route in it's entirety wherever possible -  which is something I had endeavoured to do throughout the trip already, and indeed would continue to do so if only for my own personal sense of satisfaction.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsaboxsuki.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpsaboxsuki.jpg.html)
photo. this was an interesting, if not wholly necessary deviation from the main road that ran up the centre of the Arbon Valley.

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photo. No really, that is the trail!

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photo. Ripley Road was an entertaining sprint along a roller-coaster of fast gravel - a surface that is not alien to me of course...

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photo. These things are just weird!

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photo. I feared delirium was setting in when the rocks started to look like faces! - it was time for some lunch!


Things started to get a lot more interesting after refuelling (myself and the bike) in American Falls.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsdmvf6ytx.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsdmvf6ytx.jpg.html)
photo. roadworks meant I passed next to (rather than over) the dam at Snake River, still a rather more successful navigation than Evel Knievel in that regard...

The agricultural access roads gave way to a proper single lane 'Jeep trail' as I entered the Craters of the Moon National Monument (and Preserve) - featuring the sort of surface that would turn to gumbo at the slightest sniff of wet weather, as the countless 4x4 ruts would attest.

I'd enjoyed the odd cooling shower from the irrigation sprayers that overshot onto the road while passing through the agricultural region earlier in the day, but now I was out in the desert proper again, and the heat was intense. I turned onto the wonderfully named "Bear Trap Emergency Road" and once again was able to maintain a good pace on the hard-packed dirt, grateful in that regard for the dry conditions at least.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpszyzb7rfu.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpszyzb7rfu.jpg.html)
photo. I liked this... and I cannot lie.


Arriving in Arco late afternoon, I was faced with a dilemma. I'd already completed two of the three sections in Idaho - not least as the conditions had been relatively flat and easy going all day. I was hot and thirsty, but at the same time, the later afternoon sun and promise of a long warm evening meant I was itching to continue up and into the mountains now - after all, this is really why Idaho has been included in the TAT, as the scenery is simply beautiful in this particular part of the country.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zps1nfeinml.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zps1nfeinml.jpg.html)

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photo. Winding my way up to Antelope Pass...


(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsuvxnafcp.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsuvxnafcp.jpg.html)
photo. At the summit.


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photo. Crossing the plateau on the far side.


(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zps0xm4dczq.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zps0xm4dczq.jpg.html)
photo. The final decent into Ketchum.


It has been a fantastic evening ride with some stunning panoramas, and indeed I'd actually been able to complete all three [confirmed] sections of the Idaho TAT in one hit, which in-turn meant I was now in the perfect position to embark on my exploratory run tomorrow... But here I was at 8.10pm (and the damn Starbucks had closed at 8pm) in the centre of what was clearly the most expensive town in the whole of Idaho! Ketchum is a very much a resort town - skiing in winter and spas in the summer, all clean and pristine; and I had no choice but to head a few miles further south to find some more affordable options for accommodation.

Unfortunately the next town south (Hailey) was hosting a huge cycling event that evening, so everywhere was full - and even the main street/main highway had been closed off for the 'celebrations'... fun for sure - and even moreso if you'd already got a reservation that evening, but I was getting increasingly concerned where I might be able to stay tonight.

I eventually found a campground even further south (in Bellevue - and I mention it specifically as it really is the only affordable option I could find that was still within reasonable distance of Ketchum), and bedded down for what I admit was only the second time in my tent so far this trip.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg15_zpsbywpckdo.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg15_zpsbywpckdo.jpg.html)
photo. Cute office and quirky owners of the Riverview RV Campground. It's basic, but has showers and a laundry, and perhaps most importantly an excellent local breakfast spot "Brandie's" just around the corner - apple and cinnamon stuffed French toast? - oh go on then...

It had been a long, but thoroughly enjoyable day - well over 300 miles, and the vast majority on unsurfaced roads and trails. As I snuggled down in my simple camp, I was actually pleased that for once I didn't have access to the internet, and that instead I could concentrate completely on plotting my proposed 'proving' route for the following day, and endeavour to get an early night for once too.

More soon...

Jenny x
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 08:14:00 PM
Day 47: TAT day 20: Ketchum ID to Jordan Valley OR - proving new route.

Mileage today: 268 miles


There are very few times I have felt sick to my stomach.

Even lying on my back in the Atacama desert with a shattered tib & fib, waiting for the helicopter while counting out just how many hundreds of euros it had cost me per mile to race the first five days of Dakar 2011 (I put a conservative estimate on about €100 per kilometer if anyone is interested) did I ever feel as distraught as I did at that moment sitting in Brandie's restaurant, waiting for my breakfast, and fearing I had just hard-reset my Garmin Montana and wiped not only the past six week’s worth of track logs, but all the waypoints, and fundamentally, the remaining Nevada and Oregon TAT route that would be required to finish the ride.

Thinking it would be a good idea to clean the screen with a damp napkin, I must have pressed some corner of the screen at the same time as turning it on, and while I was sure I'’d pressed ‘cancel’ when prompted, the device rebooted back to factory settings with the message ‘'all user data cleared’'. Panic was not the word. To make matters worse, in my desperation I must have selected the wrong language too - as everything was now in Danish or something?! - fortunately the symbol style menu and my familiarity with the machine meant I was able to get it back to English at least, and ultimately found that while the basic settings had all reverted to standard, fortunately my waypoints and tracks were still in the memory after all - thank goodness!

I really don'’t even remember eating in-between spending the next 40 minutes reprogramming everything so that it was effectively back to the way things were the day before - and so sought solice in a Starbucks once I’'d arrived back in Ketchum, prior to embarking on my proving trip through the current ‘no-man's-land’ that Sam Correro had yet to incorporate into the new TAT route.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsf3zermf2.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsf3zermf2.jpg.html")
photo. Ketchum is so damn trendy, that even the Starbucks’ walls are made of perfectly stacked logs!

Rather than simply follow a pre-existing route in my GPS and make notes as and when something caught my eye, today I was mindful to make far more detailed observations and distance measurements (for example) that I could pass on to Sam to help him ultimately join up the new Idaho TAT sections with the remaining route.*

*Note. I had taken the decision to prove a route from Ketchum west and south west, to ultimately join up with the existing TAT route through Northern Nevada and into Oregon - particularly as those sections are both some of the most technically interesting and scenic, and of course well established and proven. However, I understand that longer-term, Sam intends to prove an alternative route directly west into Oregon and bypassing Nevada all together…. Personally, I feel it would be a shame to miss out on what is arguably some of the best sections of the current TAT - but then these trails are not going away anytime soon, and they remain as an option of course.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsmijg5jxj.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsmijg5jxj.jpg.html")
photo. This is an obviously refuel (even if it’s hard to see the pumps themselves ;o) as you turn off the main highway in Ketchum onto Warm Springs Road - before heading off into the mountains again.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsf0ooa9gq.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsf0ooa9gq.jpg.html")

The route west here follows a primary trail/forest road (NF227) that runs alongside a creek for many miles into the mountains, before reaching a small town (with food and camping, but no fuel that I could see): Featherville, around 84 miles later.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsczoqabzx.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsczoqabzx.jpg.html")

This was perhaps the nicest trail I'’d ridden in Idaho so far - a good hard-pack surface, winding it’s way alongside a picturesque creek, followed by a lovely switchback climb up and over a modest mountain pass - surrounded by a stunning backdrop of craggy peaks and lush forests. Coupled with the cooling breeze and scent of freshly cut pine trees, this ride was soul-soothing. There were also plenty of opportunities for camping all along the valley - perfect TAT material!


On reaching Featherville, I elected to try a route north and west out of town, via a high pass along the ridge of Trinity Mountain - as I felt this would be a particularly spectacular way to head ultimately south towards the town of Mountain Home (an obvious refuel, food and hotel stop should that be required).

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a sign saying the Lake road was closed due to snow, but figured it was either talking about a different section, or that the sign just hadn’'t been removed - there certainly didn'’t seem to be any snow on this balmy day at the end of June.

Approximately 40 minutes later I was faced with a locked gate. Damn it, this is the road they meant after all. However, it had appeared some ATVs had picked their way around the gate and logs on either side, so I figured that someone had just not opened the gate this week (it was a Friday, and I'’m sure they'’d be opening for the weekend…, right?) so promptly skirted this barrier and continued on.

Three miles further and my heart sank. Inevitably three seconds later the Ranger flicked on the blue lights on the roof of the truck, and I knew I was in trouble.

I explained [honestly] that I'’d presumed the gates just hadn'’t been opened prior to the weekend, and had followed the other vehicle’s trails (that'’s no real defence I know), but it turns out that this wasn’t just a snow gate, but that the road itself has a seasonal closure and didn'’t actually open for another two weeks (15th of July).

Fortunately my contrition coupled with a UK driving licence - and recalling my previous experience with the CHP with regard to a speeding ticket, knew to avoid their subtile passive-aggressive line of questioning about how long I might be remaining in the country - I managed to avoid what otherwise would have been a nasty ticket and a serious fine.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsd83nkctk.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsd83nkctk.jpg.html")

Hell, the guys even gave me an OHV map and suggested a nice alternative route south before I followed them rather sheepishly back down the trail and was let out of the gate - God bless the Parks Service!


Reboot

Unfortunately, this intervention meant I had effectively wasted more than an hour and a half, and once I returned to Featherville for another cold drink, elected to plot an alternative exit that had essentially been suggested by the Rangers. I have to say, it really didn'’t disappoint - and felt it was a more than acceptable inclusion to the TAT - with a fast and flowing gravel road that skirted the beautiful Anderson Ranch Reservoir:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsi6xujsgx.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsi6xujsgx.jpg.html")

Again, with plenty of opportunities for camping along the shore, together with a suitable fuel/food/camping/motel spot: the town of Pine at the head of the valley.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zps2xi0myyq.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zps2xi0myyq.jpg.html")
photo. My route crossed the dam at the foot of the Anderson Ranch Reservoir, before winding it’s way up a steep dirt road to join the highway….

Endeavouring to ride as much dirt between there and Mountain Home (without being too convoluted of course), I included a couple of nice trails away from the highway that included part of the long distance Oregon Trail emigrant route, and ultimately led right into town past gas, food and lodging - good job Jenny!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpszeavul0m.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpszeavul0m.jpg.html")


A day of two halves...

It was now 4.30pm... too early to stop really, but would I have enough daylight to reach my ultimate destination of Jordan Valley - the only place that was anywhere near my intended route south west, that ought to have fuel, and hopefully some sort of accommodation?

Certainly this next sector was likely to be very remote - more than a hundred miles of desert, although the plan was to stay on established dirt roads at least...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsfx4q2dwd.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsfx4q2dwd.jpg.html")
photo. It's got a road sign, I mean, how tough can it be, right?

Fortunately, other than a slight backtrack to avoid a private ranch, my GPS led me on a fantastic 'shortest route' across the desert, that incorporated the wonderful "Antelope Ridge Road":

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zps6vlninbk.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zps6vlninbk.jpg.html")

A little-used single-lane trail, with some tasty wash-outs, marred only perhaps by rather too many wire-fence gates... but still more than worthy of a TA500 sticker ;o)

As the evening drew on, the gravel roads grew wider and faster, offering the opportunity to witness some stunning scenery in the fading light...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpsli37ikyo.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zpsli37ikyo.jpg.html")

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg13_zps6yf3z3zv.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg13_zps6yf3z3zv.jpg.html")

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zpsx33lieio.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zpsx33lieio.jpg.html")

It had been a long day - more than 12 hours in the saddle, and the vast majority of the riding on unpaved and off-road.

I rolled into Jorden Valley hoping the "Sahara" motel listed in my GPS would be as romantic as the name suggests:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg16_zps7uuaeifb.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg16_zps7uuaeifb.jpg.html")

It wasn't.

It wasn't even open, and clearly hadn't been for some time.

Indeed it appeared there was only one other establishment in town, that also doubled as a gas station (thank goodness) - and I admit I did have second thoughts when I first saw the frontage:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg15_zpsp8cskjeq.jpg) (http://"http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg15_zpsp8cskjeq.jpg.html")

But actually I have to say, it was very comfortable inside (the windows were on the other side ;o), although once again, wifi was unavailable so any online reporting was going to have to take a back seat for another day. But hell, after these past couple of looooong days, I was grateful for the opportunity to enjoy a shower and a decent sleep.

More soon!

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 08:15:03 PM
Day 48: TAT day 21: Jordan Valley OR to Lakeview OR.

Mileage today: 281miles*.

*(129 miles proving, 77 miles TAT, 75 miles to fuel and hotel).


With no internet to distract me, I was up and away early the following morning, after a very tasty breakfast sandwich (double sausage, double egg!) and hash browns at what appeared to be the only restaurant in town... and that somewhat bizarrely also offers windscreen repairs, albeit on an adjacent site.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg17_zps9zt76dem.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg17_zps9zt76dem.jpg.html)
photo. I love these old signs, especially when the establishment is still actually open!

What with the doubling up of the gas station/motel combo too, it seems there really isn't anything this small town can't do to keep you on the road - a real little oasis in the desert!

Over the past couple of days proving, I had essentially entered a series of waypoints into the GPS in the general direction I'd wanted to follow, and let the 'shortest route' calculate what I'd hoped would be a through route - it's a procedure I have relied on many times in the past, and on the whole, Garmin doesn't disappoint.

Today was likely to be yet another 300+ miles (if I were to make it to my intended, if slightly ambitious, stop-over in Lakeview OR), and in anticipation of some slightly more technical riding once I reached northern Nevada (and picked up the original TAT route), had initially been content with a morning shelp down hwy 95 to keep me on some sort of schedule.

However, zooming into the GPS maps revealed a series of dirt roads almost immediately out of town, that would effectively shadow the main highway south and west, but ought to be far less monotonous... and as it transpired, actually threw up some utter gems en route!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpscrsafe5x.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpscrsafe5x.jpg.html)

I soon realised that I'd stumbled on the old ION highway (I.O.N being Idaho, Oregon, Nevada) - an historical trade route that clearly was never much of a 'highway' as such - with often the only indication there was still a trail at all being a pile of rocks stacked to one side or a cutting through the scrubland, and punctuated by the odd gate (usually wire) to show it was once a road:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpslapckek5.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpslapckek5.jpg.html)

West of Arock (barely a town, but it did have a post office!) the trail essentially disappearing into pasture:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsfv4wdroc.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpsfv4wdroc.jpg.html)

...thank goodness for GPS to keep you on target for the next random gate:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpstntq43yw.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpstntq43yw.jpg.html)
photo. I see the Oregon farmers use the same hinge supplier as the Welsh do...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zps46bmcqtb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zps46bmcqtb.jpg.html)

Eventually the trail rejoined a series of slightly more established dirt roads, and crossed over hwy 95, before continuing on the old ION highway route that cut through the desert.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zps6haud3c9.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zps6haud3c9.jpg.html)
photo. honestly, the trail runs just to the left of this water trough!


I had ridden nearly seventy miles already on all but abandoned trails this morning, before crossing the paved highway once again and picking up the wide and fast gravel Whitehorse Ranch Lane that would essentially take me all the way to Denio Junction where I could possibly* refuel, before rejoining the official TAT route that runs through the remainder of Nevada.

*It was a slim chance I know based on recent TAT reports, but I wasn't unduly concerned as I had only covered 129 miles since refuelling that morning (and the CB500X has at least a 250 mile range), and was confident I could break for the highway (140) at some point during the afternoon, to splash-n-dash somewhere before rejoining the TAT en route for Lakeview...


Fire in the disco!

Pausing at a track junction to plot the final approach to Denio, I noticed a faint burning smell that seemed to have been following me for a while now...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zps8tmcwyml.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zps8tmcwyml.jpg.html)

Closer inspection revealed that my effectively off-piste navigation this morning had resulted in an amount of grass and seeds collecting around the exhaust catalyst, and that after this prolonged high-speed run along the gravel, had started to smoulder rather alarmingly!

With visions of Paulo Goncalves in Dakar 2014 fresh in my mind (where his HRC Honda Rally bike caught fire in similar circumstances due to combustable debris collecting around the exhaust headers) I swiftly loosened the bash plate fixings, allowing me to pivot it down and clear the offending cinders before any further damage occurred...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsorufpzhk.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsorufpzhk.jpg.html)
photo. Yep, that could have been a close call!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpska6nsu1y.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpska6nsu1y.jpg.html)
photo. The final approach to the Fields-Denio Road (hwy 205) just north of Denio itself.


Denio - denied!

Rolling into Denio Junction itself (blink and you might miss it), it was about that time that breakfast wore off, so I stopped at the store/restaurant (and small 8 room motel that is part of the complex*) for some sustenance...

* A somewhat generous term perhaps, but for want of a suitable alternative...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsd549qxcr.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsd549qxcr.jpg.html)

... and despite the presence of a pair of pumps, sure enough, fuel had not been available for quite a while now.


For information: the Denio Junction site has recently been taken over by new owners - and they have every intention to get fuel back there as soon as they possibly can, and re-open the restaurant too. For the moment however, there is just the motel and the general store/bar, that really only offers cold drinks and ready meals - still, any port in a storm eh?

Therefore, if you do require fuel either immediately, or to top-up in regard to the onward and very remote journey (at this point Lakeview is still 115 miles away, and that is by road - the TAT route is appreciably further still), then Fields which is approximately 25 miles to the north of here is currently your only option... so my suggestion for any subsequent TATers, would be to continue on the Whitehorse Ranch Road all the way to where it meets hwy 205, and juice up there before heading south to Denio.


Anyway, I intended to trust to luck and my optimistic fuel gauge, and crack-on with what is arguably the 'best' section of the current Trans-Am Trail - the remote wilderness crossing west of Denio.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zps7xem6vnn.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zps7xem6vnn.jpg.html)
photo. Back on the the most remote section of the TAT with what was barely half a tank of gas... what could possibly go wrong?

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsvatjiq6b.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsvatjiq6b.jpg.html)
photo. A beautiful (and moderately technical, in a downhill direction) pass a short while after leaving the highway behind... this is what we'd come all this way for Piglet!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg15_zpssxl10edh.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg15_zpssxl10edh.jpg.html)
photo. The afternoon would be filled with a lot of this - lovely little-used two-track across the desert...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg13_zpsdq5mbvpp.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg13_zpsdq5mbvpp.jpg.html)
photo. Plenty of this - rocky and rough climbs crossing ranges of mountains, and a real sense of travelling across country...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zpsuqcotvrc.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zpsuqcotvrc.jpg.html)
photo. Stunning panoramic views both ahead and behind you... and an overwhelming sense of being, alone.


The TAT route essentially passes through the huge wilderness that is the Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge - over 900 square miles of high desert that is managed habitat for all manner of horny and thorny creatures.

I was really enjoying the afternoon's ride - climb after climb (some quite technical for a big or loaded bike), winding my way though the mountains, witnessing antelope, burros and even some wild horses. There was potentially show-stopping creek crossing near the historic Virgin Valley Ranch (through the ominously named 'Mud Creek' no less, that had burst it's banks onto the trail itself), followed by some more epic trailage as the route switchbacked over more mountains...

Then without warning, I was on my arse. And perhaps more disconcertingly, the bike was on my leg:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsoljwonce.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsoljwonce.jpg.html)

It was one of those stupid crashes - and I admit that unlike the other times the bike had been down during this trip (precious few, thankfully), this was not 'a drop' or 'laying it down' - this was a full-on proper caught-me-before-I-even-had-a-chance-of-saving-it, crash.

The rear wheel had caught a protruding rock and it had kicked up and hooked the whole bike sideways - essentially low-siding me down the trail. Fortunately I was only travelling at about 20-25mph at the time, but even though, I imagined I was lucky not to have hurt myself - especially when the whole weight of the bike landed on my left leg and foot.

Of course my immediate reaction (other than to wiggle my toes and flex my ankle to ensure nothing was broken) was to grab the camera from my jacket pocket and take the above photo, as I know you guys would want to see it ;o)

It was only then that I became a little concerned that I might not be able to wiggle my leg free as my boot was comprehensively hooked up on the pillion peg bracket, and sandwiched between the bike and the hard rocky trail.

With all the incentive of Piglet about to grab the Leatherman and go all 127 hours on me, I eventually managed to lift the bike by kicking the seat with my free foot, and then by dragging my trapped foot back and forth until I could pull free - grateful that the Giant Loop bag had actually taken some of the brunt of the initial fall, rather than my leg being potentially crushed by the full weight of the bike, and provided a valuable gap to help wiggle free. Phew.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsbuu9jsbk.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsbuu9jsbk.jpg.html)

I was also thankful that I had not been able to fuel up at Denio, as this bike with a full tank would not only have potentially caused more serious damage to my leg/foot, but it would be an even bigger bastard to lift back upright - as it was, adrenalin soon had the CB righted. A quick inspection and I was amazed how well the bike had crashed - sure the left hand-guard had rotated slightly, and the tip of the gear lever also bent back a few degrees - but fundamentally there was no damage to the bodywork, nor turn signals, and the [OEM] handlebars remained as straight as ever. Good job Honda!

I have to admit, the tubular wings of the Rally-Raid engine guard had taken a beating in this particular instance, but then that is what they are there for, and fundamentally there was no damage to the engine cases - which is the primary importance of course. Had this little episode not been enough to prove the strength of the engine guard, as I was using my tyre iron to lever the bent gear shifter back into line, I heaved a little too heavy, and since the bike was standing almost vertically upright on the uneven trail, it promptly fell over onto the other side. Bugger... that is both hand-guards scratched now. During all this reinstatement and realignment, I also noticed that there was a tiny weep from the lower radiator hose near the gear lever, so in true MacGyver fashion, effected a repair using my air-mattress puncture patches and some duct tape. It worked!


The great escape...

Of course now it was getting late in the afternoon, and once the fuel light started flashing at around 220 miles (experience had taught me this still means there is around a gallon left in the tank, but whether all of that finds it's way into the fuel pump is another matter of course), I realised that there was no way I would make it to Lakeview this evening - not off-road at least, since there was still at least 85 miles of TAT route to ride.

I took the decision to break for the highway at a suitable point once the TAT route got close (about 7 miles away) from hwy 140 - figuring I could return and continue once I'd refuelled.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg16_zpsp0sqzdkp.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg16_zpsp0sqzdkp.jpg.html)

My 'escape trail' while not part of the official TAT, was more of the same, and would have been immensely satisfying had I not be so concerned about my remaining fuel now!

Rather than the wide gravel road I'd been expecting, my route out was another narrow and little-used two-track trail, which I rode at barely tick-over in an effort to save fuel. Once I hit the highway, I realised there was still 35 miles to go to the nearest town that purportedly had fuel - Adel - and rather than enjoy the magnificent highway that wound it's way down a sheer bluff cliff face at speed, I rode like a lemon at 50mph hunkered down over the tank in an effort to reduce wind-resistance (and boy, it was windy), all the while wondering if a) I would actually have enough range in these conditions, and b) if the gas station would actually be open when and if I managed to get there.

It was a painfully long journey - the road seemed endless and I was sure my odometer was on some kind of go-slow... I eventually rolled into a haphazard collection of tumbledown buildings, which you wouldn't even consider was a town were it not for a sign announcing your entry, and thankfully, there on the far edge of town was a ramshackle store with a brace of pumps outside.


Once I'd refuelled (4.1 gallons, so technically I still had almost half a gallon left) and guzzled my own gallon of Pepsi, I figured that 7pm was too late to head back to the trail this evening, particularly as I didn't really relish the prospect of wild camping after such a long and arduous day.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpse0qaljpd.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpse0qaljpd.jpg.html)
photo. I'd busted my arse enough already today, so elected to find a comfy bed, and continue the TAT in the morning. note. RRP power bracket also doubles as an excellent cup holder!

I wimped out with another 35 miles of highway (but boy, what a great highway 140 is to ride!) all the way to Lakeview, where I knew there was plenty of accommodation options, food, and as it transpired - a super duper coffee stand - just what I needed! The TAT could wait until tomorrow...

...to be continued.

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 08:16:08 PM
Day 49: TAT day 22: Lakeview OR and back to Lakeview OR.

Mileage today: 174*

*(103 miles TAT, 71 miles to return to where I'd left off...)

Lakeview Oregon is one of those 'full service' towns (that is one offering an range of food, fuel, accommodation and various mechanical / workshop / bike shop facilities if required) that happens to be right on the TAT route. It also happens to have an outstanding coffee (and fruit smoothie) hut on an otherwise abandoned lot opposite the Chevron gas station - something I was unfortunately not aware of until tomorrow's ride report...

So having woken early (and I mean bloody early, like before 5am thanks to not switching my phone ringer off and a text coming in from the UK), I grabbed a modestly sized but exquisitely prepared portion of French toast, washed down with a rather lacklustre brew coffee, and set about my business of the day.

Since my intention has been to ride the TAT in its entirety wherever possible, the plan was to retrace my extended road-ride from yesterday, and pick up the trail where I'd left off in the middle of the Sheldon Wildlife Preserve - to complete the official route into Lakeview, even though it would mean I would find myself back in this same spot at some point later that day.

In fact in order to set the scene a little I ought to add that prior to breakfast, I'd checked out of the hotel, and immediately embarked on the journey back east via what looked like a tasty trail out of town - and due to my still groggy state, almost came a cropper in some deep tractor ruts that had hardened in the muddy surface. To compound my agitation, right at the end of this trail was a locked gate onto private property. I therefore felt on balance, the day would probably be much better after a decent breakfast, rather than grabbing something at the gas station/diner in Adel which had been my original intention...

On returning to Adel* I topped off with fuel (having already covered more than 70 miles since I was here the evening before), and ducked into the store to stock up on trail snacks. A couple at the bar overheard my accent and it turns out that he [Allan] had moved here from Yorkshire (UK) a few years ago, and with his wife Barbara set up a cabin and camping facility: hartmountaincabin.com just a few miles north from here. I mention this specifically as useful information for anyone else intending to ride the TAT through here and would prefer not to wild camp (although I would add that there are dedicated primitive camping sites in the Sheldon Wildlife Refuge should you have enough fuel with you to stay on the trail) - as it ought to be feasible to stay on the TAT until the signposted turn-off north for Adel; and to ultimately fuel, feed and slumber without taking quite as long a detour as I had done.

*please note I have purposely avoided making such obvious Adel[e] jokes as: "Chasing pavements" back to Adel, or "Adel was '21' miles away, or, "Rumour has it" that there was fuel in Adel... or that the CB was so fast that despite the damp roads I "Set fire to the rain" etc. etc. and apologise now for not being able to resist adding them after all.

So, back on the TAT (via a slightly different trail south of hwy 140, that was perhaps even more impressive than my escape route the evening before), and after riding just a few miles from where I'd exited yesterday, realised I was now riding the exact same sector I had (albeit in reverse) back in 2008.

Sure enough, these sights were instantly familiar (I will resist posting the original photos from 2008, but believe me they are almost exactly the same ;o)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zps83w6qpmj.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zps83w6qpmj.jpg.html)
photo. I am almost embarrassed to post this one, as I'm sure everyone takes the same photo who passes by here...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpss05wvxii.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpss05wvxii.jpg.html)
photo. Similarly, the switchback decent as you exit the Sheldon Refuge is instantly memorable - what a view!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsjvkr2fid.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsjvkr2fid.jpg.html)
photo. I also have exactly the same photo of Piglet hanging over this sign, although since it was November last time, he was in slightly warmer clothes back then... same pattern Buff mind you!

Indeed, riding this sector of the TAT towards Fort Bidwell (where it dips, momentarily, into California for a few miles) felt eerily familiar, despite the years...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsmmk1rrhb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpsmmk1rrhb.jpg.html)
photo. This dry lake crossing is just after you pass through an abandoned (or not?) farmstead...

Before climbing out of the valley and into the forest south of Lakeview:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zps3o2d7foh.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zps3o2d7foh.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsyssvmvr7.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsyssvmvr7.jpg.html)

Whether it was the familiarity, or simply the amassed tiredness (compounded by the lack of sleep the night before), I increasingly felt detached from the whole procedure - like it was some strange dream sequence - and worse, almost as if I was going through the motions for the first time on this trip. Hell, I even recognised a clearing in the trees that had been filled with snow the very first time I'd ridden in Oregon (on my XR650R in 2007, when I'd also passed through this way, not knowing it was actually the TAT back then...) and on reaching Lakeview mid-afternoon, scoffed down a burger and shake at the local drive-in, and thought the best course of action was to probably book back into the motel again, and get a proper night's sleep.

My head hit the pillow at 4pm, and it was the best night's rest I'd had in a long time.

More soon!

Jenny x
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 08:18:09 PM
Day 50: TAT day 23: Lakeview OR to Crater Lake OR.

Mileage today:325* (TAT 239)

*total to hotel - including lap of Crater Lake.


Today marked my 50th day on the road since leaving the Golden Gate Bridge on Sunday 10th May - the official start of the Trans-Am 500 ride (even though I'd actually ridden over 500 miles from the Giant Loop HQ in Bend OR to get to that point the day before of course).

I have to say, 14 hours sleep had really reset my body clock, and I was all packed, checked out and raring to go before 8am. It was at this point that I stumbled on the oasis that was the Fastbreak coffee hut, and spent a delightfully extended pause for breakfast on this sunny Monday morning, sitting on a picnic bench on their lot, and plotting the final few days' schedule...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zps1zsrcjbh.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zps1zsrcjbh.jpg.html)
photo. I can certainly recommend their wildberry and protein smoothie, oh yes!

Looking at the overview route in my GPS, the current TAT appeared to be very similar to the route I'd ridden (albeit in reverse as I'd started on the coast) back in 2008 - so it would be interesting to see if there had been any [minor] changes, or that like yesterday, things would appear instantly familiar...

One thing was certain however, while it might only have been three hundred and fifty or so miles (by road) to the coast now, it would be totally unrealistic to expect I would finish the TAT by this evening (having already overshot my original target of yesterday, the 28th June).

Therefore with the pressure essentially off now, it was time to recalibrate my expectations for the final few day/s, and simply enjoy the rest of the ride... Indeed, there was a nagging sense of sadness in that this trip was almost over, and that the routine in which Piglet and I had become ensconced, would be rudely returned to the real world.

The ride out of Lakeview takes in such delights as the Warner Creek Correctional Facility (a very 'open' prison by the look of it), before heading into some delightful forest trails that were a joy to ride:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsszsppz6t.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg11_zpsszsppz6t.jpg.html)
photo. Once again I marked what I felt was a particularly enjoyable trail as a recommendation to others...

...and on reaching Silverlake (I'm sure this place used to have fuel?) crossing hwy 31, knew I wasn't far from the impressive Fort Rock (yes, it's a rock, shaped like a fort... and a bloody big one!)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zps5gx4zn6b.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg12_zps5gx4zn6b.jpg.html)
photo. indeed!

However, while I can vividly remember riding past here on a previous trip, I couldn't recall passing the rock when I'd ridden the older TAT route in 2008 - and sure enough, the current route actually turns due west a few miles short of this impressive vista - so I've included a couple of photos from 2007 to show you what you're missing ;o)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/OTR%20pt1%20fuji%20267_zpszi4bznnv.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/OTR%20pt1%20fuji%20267_zpszi4bznnv.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/OTR%20pt1%20fuji%20273_zps1mjo2ljf.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/OTR%20pt1%20fuji%20273_zps1mjo2ljf.jpg.html)


Again, I will come to Sam's defence here and suggest that you can't possibly incorporate everything into a single cross-country journey, and that arguably the trail that heads west is far more 'interesting' than an otherwise endlessly straight gravel road that takes you past Fort Rock.

Furthermore, in this instance particularly, you really aren't that far from the site - so you could always detour and rejoin the TAT a little further on... and this very much illustrates the primary purpose of the TAT, which is not to insisit that you follow it exactly inch by inch (something that this trip, or at least the weather this trip, has proved is all but impossible), rather you ought to view it as guide - that not only incorporates some excellent and often little-visited points of interest, but also sets you up nicely for your own additions should you desire?

Certainly the ride through the heart of the Deschutes National Forest towards Gilchrist was hugely enjoyable - albeit often sandy - and I was looking forward to some lunch before refuelling and pressing on towards my own intended side-show from the main TAT route, the epic Crater Lake.


Missing in action...

A trio of chicken tenders, a bucket of coke, and a huge ice-cream may not be the food of champions, but it certainly sorted out my grumbling tummy. However, on returning to my bike (that had been parked outside the restaurant just out of view) I was dismayed to see my tail-pack was now missing...

My immediate reaction (being British) was that some bastard had stolen my tail-pack, which, as you are probably aware from earlier reports contained ALL my tools - yes, every single one - I didn't even have my Leatherman or 5mm allen key on me should I need to make any minor adjustments, never mind a major repair.

Incredulous that they had not bothered to take my $400 helmet (that was sitting on the tank between the handlebars) nor indeed the Garmin VIRB camera that was attached to a RAM mount next to my left mirror - either of which would have been far easier to lift in an instant - I soon realised that not only was the tail-pack missing, but also half the rack that had supported it over the last 11,500 miles or so...

I took back those initial curses when I realised that the rack itself had seemingly sheared where it mounted to the subframe brackets (well, unless some oaf had simply wrenched the whole thing off of course), and figured that actually I'd not noticed it was already missing when I'd dismounted and gone inside - a hungry belly and the lure of fried chicken and ice-cream my excuse for this lack of rudimentary observation of course - and that should I retrace my steps, that somewhere, back down the trail, I would find the remains at least, of my chattels...

Having made a minor adjustment earlier while out on the trail, I knew the last time I was certain I'd had the tail-pack attached... so retraced the GPS track-log back into the forest, hoping that some 'helpful' passer-by had not actually moved it* to the side of the trial (where it would be more difficult to spot of course), or worse, taken it upon themselves to move the bag completely - into town for example.

*I mention this specifically as a reminder for anyone else who trail-rides regularly - by all means move an item out of harms way (for example, in the past I've found a camera in a pouch in the middle of a trail - that would almost certainly be destroyed should another vehicle run over it), but please leave it in a really obvious position, as almost certainly the owner is likely to come back to look for it, especially if it is an expensive or essential item - of which my tool kit was certainly both!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg13_zpsvbncokh0.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg13_zpsvbncokh0.jpg.html)
photo. Fortunately this little-used trail meant my pack was exactly where it had fallen.

The sense of relief was immense I can tell you, everything was intact (well, apart from the broken tail-rack of course), and I was doubly grateful that I had not cut short the straps on my Giant Loop Coyote bag, and that I could effect a satisfactory solution that would allow me to continue without fear that I'd lose the bag again:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zpsi2alxsvl.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zpsi2alxsvl.jpg.html)



Crater Lake

The TAT route actually skirts north and west of Crater Lake by about 15 miles. However, it is well worth the detour, especially in late afternoon as the scenery is simply spectacular in the early evening light.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg15_zpszhlmhznm.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg15_zpszhlmhznm.jpg.html)
photo. You really think this need not be said, but when you stand on the rim (which is anything from 500 to nearly 2000ft above the water), you kind of see what they mean...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg17_zpswty6pfih.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg17_zpswty6pfih.jpg.html)
photo. I have a similar photo of Piglet on the XR650R from 2007 here - taken a little earlier on a perfectly calm day - when the lake is like a mirror and reflects the surrounding peaks perfectly - it is a surreal optical illusion to effectively see the sky below the mountains!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg16_zpsb4qjfi8i.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg16_zpsb4qjfi8i.jpg.html)
photo. The little fella loves this lake, as do I... Here you can just see Wizard island, which is a volcanic cone protruding from the depths of the lake (the lake is nearly 2000 ft deep, and is the crater left by a collapsed volcano), and there is another smaller cone under the water, that is actually 1500 ft below the lake surface!

My original plan was to ride the rim road, then head down to the campground in the valley below, as there are very few affordable options for accommodation close by.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg18_zpsnczc9gta.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg18_zpsnczc9gta.jpg.html)


(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg19_zpsyfxdmp7r.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg19_zpsyfxdmp7r.jpg.html)
photo. Piglet got to ride in the front of the jacket like old times, for the lap of the lake...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg20_zps1iuftmuk.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg20_zps1iuftmuk.jpg.html)
photo. Although I have been here twice before, this was the first time I'd ridden completely around the lake - and the alternative views can be breathtaking...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg22_zpsvqvktaix.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg22_zpsvqvktaix.jpg.html)

And as the evening drew on, I figured there might be an opportunity to get one last photo at the rim edge as the sun went down:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg23_zpsgjtyqvdy.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg23_zpsgjtyqvdy.jpg.html)
photo. Perfect timing! - as the photographer who was sitting close by confirmed by giving me a thumbs-up when he saw me scoot into position for this photo!

It was such a perfect evening, that I decided to forfeit the campsite, make the most of the fading light, and take a few more photos before ultimately heading down the highway to find a motel...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg21_zpsbn82wfkb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg21_zpsbn82wfkb.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg24_zpspdktkllf.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg24_zpspdktkllf.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg25_zpsdnrsslde.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg25_zpsdnrsslde.jpg.html)


More soon!

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 08:26:15 PM
Day 51: TAT day 24: Crater Lake OR to Glendale OR.

Mileage today: 239* (TAT 178)

*in total to hotel in Grants Pass.


Despite riding well over 300 miles yesterday (including my indulgence around Crater Lake of course), I was still over 200 miles from the coast, by the shortest route on road...

Of course I was looking forward to another day (at least) on the forest trails, but at the same time, I was so tantalisingly close to the end that I was getting impatient - particularly as I'd been on the road over seven weeks now, with only two full days* not actually riding the bike at some point...

*and this was the weekend of the Overland Expo in Arizona, which were instead long days on my feet, and still talking about the bike!


Funny story before I leave: I checked into the Whispering Pines motel which is at the junction of hwy 97 and 138 (that leads to the Crater Lake north entrance) - a quirky place indeed, but perfectly comfortable and great value. There was wifi access, but it worked better outside the room (and nearer to the office), and the owner said she'd put a citronella candle in the room incase any midges followed me in as I retired...

There was the remains of a tea-light in a jar on the table, but a lovely looking new candle on the nightstand - perfect. I dug out the lighter that was buried in my camping kit, lit the wick, and went into the bathroom to brush my teeth.

Next thing I know, the smoke alarm is screeching the place down, and I dash into the bedroom to see the 'candle' has become a molten mess of goop that is bellowing acrid black smoke! Turns out it was a battery operated night-light which I'd just set fire to...

Having no choice but to pull the battery from the smoke detector (don't worry, I replaced it properly the following morning), I hit the sack, wondering how I might explain my clumsy mistake.

The following morning over a delightful breakfast of freshly home-made muffins (she must have been up all night making these little buns of joy!), I confessed and presented the sorry remains:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg26_zpscyknca2j.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg26_zpscyknca2j.jpg.html)

She burst into fits of laughter and said "Don't worry, you're not the first..." reached behind the counter and pulled out another where someone had done exactly the same thing! I imagine this will be the start of quite a collection ;o)


The motel reception is shared with a 'general store' - although it is more a museum of retro packaging to be honest - some items clearly of indeterminate age, interspersed with such delights as Ghirardelli Chocolate Squares that may or may not have been past their sell-by date too (not that I'd care of course!)

This one particularly made me smile:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg28_zpsi3uqnvn9.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg28_zpsi3uqnvn9.jpg.html)
photo. Every generation gets the superhero it deserves...


Anyway, it was almost certainly time to hit the road now, and I rode the twenty odd miles back to where I'd left the TAT the day before - juicing up the CB-X at an independent fuel station near Diamond Lake (again I mention it as fuel is relatively few and far between in these parts).

Almost immediately I was climbing up through a burn zone in the foothills of the Umpqua National Forest:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zps8f1v712z.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zps8f1v712z.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsmhoekv8h.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsmhoekv8h.jpg.html)

... enjoying the cooling breeze and the shade of the trees (well, those that still had leaves on of course), and some stunning views across the labyrinth of valleys below:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg31_zpsr6b2gxw0.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg31_zpsr6b2gxw0.jpg.html)

However, at the same time I was conscious that inevitably, traversing these forest terraces meant you ended up covering a lot more ground than you might otherwise - and indeed, after a rather frustrating detour (due to a closed road), I ended up on the shore of the South Umpqua River having taken four and a half hours to cover the last 110 miles...

To make matters worse (and purely from the point of research you understand), I tapped my start point into the GPS and it 'shortest' routed me on what I'm sure would have been an equally scenic alternative, that even incorporated the initial TAT trail, before following alongside the creek  - on what I'd presumed was a continuation of the paved minor road I was now on. That would have saved me over two hours riding this morning, and is certainly something I would suggest to subsequent travellers, should you be wary of your schedule at this point.

Still, I'd come to ride the whole Trans-Am Trail, and I wasn't about to take any short-cuts now!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsx5fdzxgp.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsx5fdzxgp.jpg.html)
photo. The shade from the trees (and general altitude) was welcome as the day got hotter...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsm2ktoanf.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg2_zpsm2ktoanf.jpg.html)
photo. 'Heavy plant crossing' - I managed to sneak round this minor landslide on the verge...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpspyw123hh.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg3_zpspyw123hh.jpg.html)
photo. These stripped-bark trees were particularly stunning in the afternoon sunlight...


Heading back into the forest, Sam then came up with an utter masterpiece of a trail - although I would add it was not really for the faint hearted!  Indeed, when we'd discussed those sections where options available (he does offer an alternative 'big bike' route for certain sectors of the TAT, especially here in Oregon), I was adamant that I'd want to prove the CB500X Adventure could handle the tougher 'dual-sport' routes he had logged...

And this climb was a killer - it started off as a rough ATV width climb through the trees, before emerging on an open ridge line that seemed to get more and more gnarly as it climbed ever upwards. On a big bike loaded with luggage, it would take all your concentration and resolve - as one over enthusastic twitch of the throttle on this loose and rocky surface could easily have the bike sideways - or worse, on it's side - which would be extremely difficult to recover from and keep going - you'd be far more likely to have no option but to turn around (which itself could cause all manner of difficulty on this steep slope), ride back down to the plateau, and have another go - if you dared.

Fortunately, I had already come to trust the utterly predictable fuelling and traction of the CB-X implicitly - where time and again (especially in the technical terrain I'd traversed in Moab) it had literally saved me from either a stall or fall, and I simply snicked it into first gear, held a steady throttle and rode it like an automatic - letting the supple TracTive suspension once again prove it's worth many times over as I clawed up this climb.

Just when I though the worse was over, the trail turned hard right and climbed straight up the fall-line - criss-crossed with a myriad of gullies caused by rain run-off. Jeeeez, I honestly could not believe how I made it up there! - and reaching the top, marked my GPS with an expletive, and the trail itself with a TA500 sticker on a suitably placed rock:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsdembzkrj.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpsdembzkrj.jpg.html)

Seriously, send me a photo of your 1200GS next to this rock, and I'll personally send you a prize!

I took a moment or two to chow a Clif bar, and simply take in the stunning view that was reward for all this effort. I also considered just how perfect the CB had been over the last couple of miles: anything physically larger would have been a real liability (unless you're 6' 6" and an utter riding god of course); while a typical big-bore thumper, for all their comparative lightweight and manoeuvrability, are prone to cough-stalling in such circumstances if you are not careful. In comparison, the low seat, supple suspension and sweet soft power delivery that are key attributes of this bike were an absolute revelation - and allow you to take such liberties and get away with it, first and so far, every time.

Later that afternoon, as the TAT route reached interstate I5, I decided that rather than press-on into more wilderness where I would almost certainly have to wild camp somewhere out on the trail (don't forget there are bears in these woods!), I would dive into Glendale and see what accommodation options were available locally or at least close by - figuring this way I would have the whole of the following day ahead of me to complete the TAT, fundamentally in the daylight. No point in taking risks this close to the end I thought, especially as my laundry was in dire need of refreshment too!

As it turned out, the one and only motel in Glendale had long since closed, while the next option a few miles further south on I5 looked like I might well have made the National Morning News had I stayed there... Ultimately I sought solace in the familiarity of a Motel 6 a further fifteen miles down the highway (in Grants Pass) - well, that is also what this bike is so damn good at after all ;o)

More soon!

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on September 03, 2015, 08:27:32 PM
Day 52: TAT day 25: Glendale OR to Port Orford OR.

Mileage today: 454* (TAT 119.5 miles)

*including final liaison to Bend OR that evening.

With a Coyote full of clean undies (these things are important you know!), I hit the road early, planning to stop for breakfast at the delightfully eclectic 'Morningstar Coffee House' in Glendale, where I had already sampled their fine coffee and tasty smoothies the evening before, while deciding where I might stay...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsp22av4qs.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsp22av4qs.jpg.html)
photo. As if you really have to ask?!

Those of you who have been following this tale since at least the Iron-Butt ride east (goodness that seems like a lifetime ago now!), may recall I contemplated a five-shot espresso to celebrate the 500 mile mark, somewhere between Kansas and Missouri...

Well, as chance would have it, on the Morningstar menu was the mighty 'Krakatoa' - that was indeed a quintet of their short sharp and fundamentally strong rich house blend - just what I needed to set me up on this, the final day of the Trans-Am Trail!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpse3hpbe3j.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg5_zpse3hpbe3j.jpg.html)
photo. That's five straight shots of espresso in a 12oz cup!

The initial ascent out of Glendale was another corker - really, Sam has saved some of the best trails 'til last - although anyone who regularly rides in this part of Oregon will probably tell you, you can't really fail to find some cracking trails in this part of the country.

However, you can find some that are ultimately (or at least currently) closed.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsantssaol.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpsantssaol.jpg.html)
photo. This was on the ridge at the top of a particularly delightful climb - what a way to start your morning!

As I began my decent from the ridge (above), I rounded a corner and there, about fifty yards away was a big-ass brown bear. I mean properly big - he seemed to take up half the width of the trail, and would certainly have been taller than me on his hind legs!

Fortunately he turned on his heels and trotted down the trail in the opposite direction - although of course this was exactly the direction I also wanted to go... I gingerly proceeded, and once I was pretty sure he was out of sight, pressed on around a sharp corner in the trial - and came face to face with a locked gate. A quick look at the GPS showed a number of alternative trails that appeared to ultimately join up with the way I wanted to go - although when I recounted this incident to Lisa later that evening - she laughed and imagined that the bears were dragging all manner of other gates closed too, in an effort to box me in: "Fire up the barbecue mama bear - we've got another live one!"

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpskvodnkjy.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpskvodnkjy.jpg.html)
photo. I tried a number of alternative trails that were in my Garmin TOPO maps installed in my GPS, but all of them petered out or were blocked.

Having spent a good hour or more on dead end trails, I eventually took an alternative route down the mountain and back into Glendale. Resetting my GPS track log for this final leg, the network of surround dirt roads and trails revealed the perfect alternative route through that would join up just a mile or two from where I'd had to turn around anyway.

The dirt emerged onto a minor paved road that ran alongside Middle Creek, and the moment I saw the railroad track I immediately felt I'd been here before:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsvyq3v97r.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg9_zpsvyq3v97r.jpg.html)
photo. I have a photo from 2008 of my Tenere in exactly the same spot (facing in the opposite direction of course).

Increasingly the surroundings felt familiar now, and I wound my way west through lush green forests, punctuated by the occasional sign that I'd recalled from those years before:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsxzgpg0em.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg10_zpsxzgpg0em.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg13_zpsyyyqm6mh.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg13_zpsyyyqm6mh.jpg.html)
photo. this trail was ultimately blocked by a much larger fallen tree a little further on - in fact in the gloom it looked like a sleeping stegosaurus!

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zpsj3c2pn84.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg14_zpsj3c2pn84.jpg.html)
photo. Giant Loop typically name their luggage products after Oregon's regions and landmarks.

There were a few subtile differences to the route that I remembered from 2008 (and subsequent overlaying of my GPS track logs show where short sections of trail that were once included are now presumably closed?); while one particular sign (that points the way to the Mt. Bolivar hiking trail) that I am almost certain was originally on a dirt trail, is now alongside a paved single-lane road - such is progress.

I also noticed that the original exit to the coast (along China Camp Road) was now clearly marked as 'road closed', and the latest TAT route takes you further north along the ridge before ultimately joining the highway a few miles up the coast from Port Orford.

Almost without warning, the trail was over - and I emerged onto the scenic Elk River Road, and subsequently the Oregon Coast Highway (hwy 101):

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg15_zps88047aqu.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg15_zps88047aqu.jpg.html)

A short ride south was all it took to reach the official end of the Trans-Am Trail:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg16_zpseahn6p6j.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg16_zpseahn6p6j.jpg.html)

2.39pm on Wednesday 1st July 2015 - the end of the western leg.

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsrpz7zhmj.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg1_zpsrpz7zhmj.jpg.html)
photo. The official end point is right here... I didn't think to go in and ask if they did a souvenir sticker or pin badge or something!

I then rode into the heart of town, and out to the harbour with the aim of getting a suitable shot or two with the ocean in the background:

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpscdnpdpkm.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg6_zpscdnpdpkm.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpshuwmi2ix.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg7_zpshuwmi2ix.jpg.html)

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsluibeapb.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg4_zpsluibeapb.jpg.html)

Pausing briefly to chat with a fellow adventurer (who was in the middle of Kayaking the length of the Pacific Coast from Seattle to San Diego!), there really was nothing else for it now, but to find a suitable spot for a celebratory lunch.

Oh, and of course consider what I might do now?


Denoument

Inevitably if you arrive in Port Orford, on your own, in the middle of the afternoon, on a windswept Wednesday, you can't really expect a great sense of occasion. And I have to say that a rather insipid selection of prawns (at least the fries and the raspberry fruit-pie were good) at the Crazy Norwegians restaurant didn't really give cause for celebration either.

Of course I realised that while the TAT itself was now over, there was still a way to go until the Trans-Am 500 adventure was truly finished. 335 miles to be exact.

I'm sure the majority of people who typically ride the TAT in a pair or more end up drinking the afternoon away and ultimately retiring to a local hotel to sleep it all off... but I suppose I considered this achievement was really only part of the bigger picture (that had not least incorporated the whole ride east too of course), and felt there was still unfinished business that if I were lucky, could be wrapped up this evening after all.

Heading up the coast, and directly into the wind it appeared, it wasn't long before I had to dig out my sweater that had not seen the light of day since Mississippi! I pressed on into the early evening - the coastal traffic left behind as I finally headed inland at last, and out of the wind.

As the sun slipped gently down behind me, casting a long shadow forward - I realised this would be for the very last time.   I'd loved riding at this time of day, every day, for the past seven weeks. And I'd loved riding this bike. God how I'd loved riding this bike - it had been fu*king phenomenal if I'm honest!   Yes I'd had a hand in the development of the specification, and subsequently the initial testing too back in the UK - but this was the acid test, the real-world proving - and it had exceeded even my own expectations as a true all-rounder - a genuine 50/50 road and trail machine that fundamentally compromised at neither, and more importantly, had proven itself to be an utterly faithful companion throughout this massive adventure.

I admit, I even shed a few tears when I realised tonight would be the last time I'd be riding this bike, the last time we'd be looking for a hotel, unpacking our modest belongs, taking a shower, drinking a vending machine soda, and maybe finding time to share a few thoughts and photos with you all...

(https://images.weserv.nl/?url=i656.photobucket.com/albums/uu281/ktmmitch111/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpseymt01z7.jpg) (http://s656.photobucket.com/user/ktmmitch111/media/CB500X%20Adventure%20TransAm%20500/image.jpg8_zpseymt01z7.jpg.html)
photo. The final ascent over the mountains before Bend - crossing MacKenzie Pass under a full moon - the perfect end to the perfect day of a perfect trip on the perfect adventure bike. Goodnight.

Jenny xx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: Grim Rider on September 03, 2015, 09:41:09 PM
What a great adventure Jenny, very jealous  :001:
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: Xo on January 24, 2016, 10:35:40 PM
I agree with Grim very much!  :462:  :431: :745:
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on March 12, 2017, 01:36:10 PM
Following on from above, if you enjoyed this ride report and/or want to re-live some of the highlights, there is now a condensed video version of the AV seminar I presented last summer at various Overland events in the UK and USA - here on Rally Raid's sister site: www.CB500XAdventure.com

Grab a coffee (tea, or beer) and enjoy the next 23 minutes!

Jenny x
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: Susi_X on March 12, 2017, 02:18:35 PM
"video is restricted"...
 :157:
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on March 12, 2017, 03:02:26 PM
*Originally Posted by Susi_X >>>> link hidden <<<<
Guest - The above link is visible to MEMBERS only. Please Register or Login
"video is restricted"...
 :157:

Yes, hang fire - it appears there is a tech glitch at the moment.

I'll let you know when it's sorted!

Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on March 12, 2017, 06:02:19 PM
Right, the cinema ought to be open for business again now...

www.cb500xadventure.com

Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: Susi_X on March 12, 2017, 06:36:35 PM
 :028: :028:
great !
thanks for sharing
 :020:
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on August 12, 2017, 07:48:13 PM
If anyone is interested in finding out more about the Trans-America Trail, I took part in a special feature on Adventure Rider Radio recently…

http://www.adventureriderradio.com/adventure-rider-radio-episodes/2017/8/10/riding-back-roads-in-america-gravel-gnarly-trails

Jx
Title: Re: Trans-Am 500 - the seven year itch
Post by: JMo on October 14, 2017, 01:35:53 AM
There is a nice summary of the above trip on Bennetts BikeSocial online magazine this month:

https://www.bennetts.co.uk/bikesocial/news-and-views/features/travel/rally-raid-cb500x-honda-adventure-trans-america-trail

Together with an in-depth company profile about Rally Raid Products:

https://www.bennetts.co.uk/bikesocial/news-and-views/features/bikes/rally-raid-cb500x-adventure-uk-africa-twin-g-310-gs

...and a test of their latest UK LEVEL 3 demo bike (by Nathan Millward) here:

https://www.bennetts.co.uk/bikesocial/reviews/bikes/honda/rally-raid-honda-cb500x-review-adventure-bike-touring-off-road

Jx