Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Pre-TAT Trip #2

Where's pre-TAT trip #1? Well, that was just me testing the new GPS out around Charlotte, nothing too exciting. As a matter of fact, pre-TAT trip #2 was rather non-exciting as well. But, I'm going to write about it anyway just to give my "blog muscle" a workout.

So, the goal here was to find public dirt roads that would actually lead me further west towards the current TAT trailhead in Jellico, TN. To shed a positive light on the outcome, let's just say that I found out where the dirt roads were not. I did, however, get 230 miles in on my dirt bike which exposed some areas that need attention and also gave me more confidence in my bike with all the new parts installed.

Areas that need attention:
1. Exhaust Guard by my right foot. Why? Well, I could take a picture I guess, but who wants to see a half-dollar sized blister on my heel? (How does one ride so far and not realize his foot is burning?)
2. Throttle Tube Why? More blisters on the hand keeping the throttle open. What I'll need is a throttle assist which clamps onto the throttle tube. This little gadget will let my wrist do some of the work rather than just my hands. (Once I get everything installed, I'm going to post pictures of all the mods)
3. Seat Why? Do I really have to explain? It's called monkey butt. And the stock seat is only slighty softer than my toilet seat.

Overall, that's about all that I figured out. The next trip will involve an overnight campsite, I'm sure that will expose many more issues.

But anyway, you may be thinking that my goal for this trip was unreasonable. And, you're probably right, but I just have too much confidence in my GPS unit. And, I was hoping some of the dotted lines would mean dirt, but apparently North Carolina is still concerned about horse carraiges being able to pass after a heavy rain (or maybe they just like giving road building contractors something to do, you know, pork-barrel, earmarks, etc.).

So anyway, I punch in Deal's Gap as my destination and make every adjustment possible to make sure it takes the most minor of roads available. It gives me a route and it looked promising, so I took it. I didn't intend to make it to Deal's Gap, but that's my first planned destination when I start the big trip in July (but, maybe not so much anymore, more on that later).

Here's the picture book version of how it went down:

Still in CLT here, but thought this would be a good shot, pretty big dog aye?

Waiting on a trail to pass, not too far out from the city at this point, obviously:

Somewhere near Stanley, NC I found this play pen, fun stuff but couldn't stay long, had to keep moving on:

The dirt above led to this ATV trail, didn't want to get shot, so I turned around shortly after this picture was taken:

I thought I had hit jackpot when I saw this, it would lead straight up a mountain:

...but it was Posted (by the government...):

Hey, just to warn you, the next time you have a body with you that you need to bury, don't go here or you'll have to call Jerry before you start diggin' (I guess we need permission before we do anything nowadays...):

My favorite shot of the day, running from a rain cloud. Only .5 miles of dirt here, no success:

Another .5 miles of gravel (don't forget to find another route after a big rain if ya needin' to haul your horse an' carraige, North Carolina is going to get this taken care of asap):

Welcome to Polkville, NC! Except if you're from out of town, then no, you're not welcome because your check is probably bad and we ain't trying to pay no credit card company some stinkin' percentage of our profits...

...we're going to pass those 2 pennies to our locals (the next gas station was 3.59 and they took credit, but apparently only if they knew ya, because they canceled my transaction):

Anyways, after I got "the boot", it was time to head back to Charlotte, and hey, why not hit unfinished hwy 16?:

Got about 5-7 miles of this road in, it was great. Even had a bunch of hill climbs along the way:

Stopped by Lake Norman for the heck of it:

And, the Panthers stomping grounds, this kitty is all meow and no scratch:

And that's all she wrote folks, 230 miles and no issues. The max MPH is off (I think...actually...yeah, it should be more like 175mph, yeah, that would be about right):

The track:

So, I guess I have to get some boring trips in first before I get to the good stuff. I think I've scouted out some long and legal dirt roads north of I-40, I'm going to try to do my overnight trip up that way, this could alter my initial destination since I'm pretty much free to choose where I want to go the first day. Day 2's destination of the big trip will be Jellico. But that's a long ways away, more planning and testing to come...