It’s been over a month since I made my last post so better get caught up since we launch TAT leg-3 this week. Lots to cover but will try to keep it brief.
I’ve delayed making this post because for several weeks there was a chance that a couple of our core riders were going to have to cancel. All four of the core riders (Mike, Terry, Steve & Woodrow) all work for the same company and we’ve had a couple of projects that were reaching critical phases thus meaning they had to remain to get it done. Only last week we got commitments from all four to make the trip. In addition, we have my son Jeff going again (he made leg-2 last year) and a newbie, Woodrow’s son (just turned 18). Total of 6 riders.
For the last month everyone has been getting their bikes ready and obtaining any gear they needed. Most of us had all the necessary gear from previous legs but Woodrow had to outfit his son from scratch ($$). We have all put new rubber on our bikes. Four of us are using the DUNLOP D606 front and back, which I’ve used very successfully on legs 1 & 2. They work well on pavement and off-road and seem to last several thousand miles. Of course we don’t really put our bikes and tires to any extreme off-road riding so keep that in mind. BTW, Matty is riding my Honda CRF 350-L I used on legs-1 & 2 and sold to Woodrow for this purpose. This will be my first leg on my highly modified KTM 350 EXC-F.
We have all had our bikes completely serviced either by the dealer or by the rider. Terry even broke down and installed a Scott Dampener and a ReKluse auto-clutch on his KTM 690. I’ve had my KTM 350 EXC-F equipped with the same for a couple of months and love them both. Jeff has the Scott Dampener installed and I think that’s all the mods since leg-2.
I’ve included a picture of Terry’s 690 and you should pay special attention to how clean it is. He had it detailed by an expert! How many dual-sport riders do you know that have their rides detailed just before taking it to the Utah desert? The day he took the 690 to have the bike serviced I rode it while he followed in his truck with Steve. Terry has added a Seat Concepts mod to this bike but he had 1.5” of extra foam put in the seat. His bike is already extremely high so when I got on the 690, I could barely touch the ground on my tiptoes and couldn’t even put up the kickstand. Steve had to come over to put it up so I could take off towards the dealer. Luckily I didn’t hit any stoplights for the 12-mile ride but when I did arrive at the dealer, Steve once again had to come over to put the kickstand down! Terry is a tall guy but he even admits he wish he hadn’t added that extra foam.
Loading bike day finally arrived yesterday so we all met at Terry’s to do the tasks, all except Steve which his out of town on one of those projects I mentioned earlier. He had taken his bike to Terry’s prior to his departure but it was up to us to get it on the trailer. Steve is due back later this week, just in time to get in the truck heading to CO. Terry leaves today for the project and doesn’t get back until Friday, the day before we fly to CO to meet up with the truck. As you can see, the logistics for this leg is very complex and more on that later.
Trailer loading took about 5 hours in 90+ temperatures. On leg-2 we trailered 5 bikes to Lake City, CO then rode back to AR. As a result, we knew 5 bikes would fit but now we have 6 bikes to carry, which was going to be a bit tight. We started loading bikes the same way as leg-2, which was alternating front to back. This left a gap between the bikes but after loading 3 of the 6 we quickly determined 6 would not fit using that approach. We unloaded 2 of the bikes and started loading them all in the same direction. At first we stacked them in like sardines (very tight) and it was obvious 6 would fit and even 7 if required. After loading the last bike close to the tailgate we went back and spaced out the other 5 to provide more room between each bike. We finally made all the last adjustments, added secondary lines for insurance and declared success.
In parallel to the work of bike loading, Jeff was tasked with fixing a short on Terry’s 690 in the auxiliary power outlet he uses to power his GPS. This was accomplished but in the shade of the garage while we were loading bikes in the sun. Jeff had a big fan blowing on him and a big red fan outside for the trailer work Terry bought at a local hardware store as the day heated up. Lastly Jeff fixed a couple of broken wires on the trailer lights to ensure all was ready for launch on Thursday morning.
If you haven’t read my many previous posts I’ll give you a quick summary of our TAT adventure to date.
Leg-1 from Atlantic Ocean (SC) to Little Rock, AR
Leg-2 from Lake City, CO to Little Rock, AR
3,000 miles ridden so far
Leg-3 from Lake City, CO to Salt Lake City, UT
With 2 day layover in Moab for local riding.
800 miles on TAT plus Moab local rides
Leg-4 from Salt Lake City, UT to Oregon Pacific Ocean coast
The four core riders have been on all legs and we hope to all finish early next year. Work responsibilities, available vacation days and keep the wife happy at home have dictated we had to do the TAT in sections. I would love to do it again end to end like I see so many do but that may have to wait until I retire at 71 the end of next year.
The truck, trailer, 6 bikes and 3 riders leave for Lake City, CO this coming Thursday. They pick up rider #4 as they pass through Okla City several hours later. They will stay one night on the road and arrive Lake City on Friday. The remaining 2 riders and the support truck driver fly out on Saturday to Gunnison, CO where the truck will pick them up for the hour ride to Lake City. Friday afternoon and Saturday will be used for some local riding to get Matty some mountain dirt experience. Weather permitting they may even attempt one of the mountain passes although current forecast is rain next weekend at Lake City. Rain or no rain he will get some dirt riding time because early Sunday we all head west.
Day-1 &2 - During Leg-2 everyone except Matty did some local riding in the mountains to include, Engineer Pass, Cinnamon Pass and Stony pass. By far, Stony was the toughest with Cinnamon next and Engineer the easiest. Although the TAT route goes over Cinnamon Pass we are going to use Engineer Pass for Matty then hook up with the TAT on the west side of the passes. From there we continue to Moab stopping for the night mid-way. The support truck will leave Lake City and drive direct to the first nights stop because there are no easy intercepts with the TAT route in this section.
Day-3 & 4 – We will stay in Moab and do local rides both days considering the heat constraints. We had to make this leg in July based on work commitments so of course that’s the hottest time of the year for UT. We plan on leaving Moab at daybreak both days and return in the afternoon, as the heat gets intense. This plan is of course very fluid and we will make our riding decisions on the fly when we get there. I would like to do the Shaffer switchbacks and some of the White Rim Trail, which is doable if we can stand the heat. I have several high detail topo maps of the area plus an ATV trail riding guide we will use to select our rides.
Day-5, 6 & 7 – We will stay on the TAT until south of Salt Lake City then head north to the SLC airport. We plan on skipping the ride over to NV through the desert even on leg-4 since none of us really want that experience. On day-7 after arriving at the SLC motel, we will load the bikes onto the trailer and party after a much needed shower.
Day-8 – Five of the riders will fly home to AR so they can go to work on Monday. One rider (me) and the support driver will drive back to AR with the bikes and arrive a few days later.
Leg 3 is a much shorter TAT ride than I had originally planned primarily because everyone wanted to experience the Moab area more than just riding through it on the TAT. My original leg-3 was to end in Boise, ID. Because of this shortened leg-3, leg-4 will be at least a 10+ day ride. The core riders and Jeff have stated they can all accept a longer ride if we start the planning now with a launch early next year. Since the Rocky Mountains are behind us I need to research what limitations are on the route from SLC to OR.
The attached map has us going through Cinnamon Pass but as I stated, we will start out through Engineer Pass and connect with TAT on west side.
I plan on updating my Blog every night while on the trail so until then: