Hard to believe I just rode 9,739.6 miles in the past 49 days on a 411 cc Royal Enfield Himalayan motorcycle, but I did. A lot of it was pavement, but several thousand miles was dirt roads, gravel roads, and 4×4 paths.
Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway was wonderful – cool temps, nice curves, and good campgrounds. At the end of the Blue Ridge Parkway, I hopped on the Tail of the Dragon, a stretch of road that is 11 miles long and has 318 curves. Lots of accidents there (but not your’s truly).
Once complete with the Dragon, I then proceeded into Tellico Plains, TN, where I hopped on the Trans-America Trail (TAT). For the next 22 days I rode mainly dirt roads, gravel roads, and 4×4 trails across Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Idaho, and Oregon. The final destination – Port Orford, OR.
Along the way I managed to dump my bike several times, took one tuck-and-roll fall (in the mud), took many pictures, stayed in many good (and bad) hotels/motels, camped out a lot, and lost about 8 pounds. I also had some minor mishaps with the bike. At one point, the gas tank gasket was leaking gas onto my hot engine. Another time I lost my spare gas can, and the next day my spare water can. I also lost the nut to one of my turn signals – fortuitously, I found it wedged into the space between the spare gas can and the can holder. I also lost my homemade sign that I had dangling off the back of the bike, I’m giving it all she’s got, Captain. I think somebody took it, but no proof.
I found out how to stand on pegs for greater riding stability (I knew it before, but it was reinforced along the ride), how important good tires are, and how to properly lube a chain (something I didn’t do with the first chain, apparently).
On three occasions, I had the opportunity to ride with people from my past – a guy I knew in high school in Bangkok, Thailand, a guy from my college ROTC days, and a guy I knew from my elementary school days in Vientiane, Laos (he was in high school at the time). I also got to see some old friends from Bangkok and Laos along the way. All in all, a good trip.
If you ever plan on doing the TAT, here are some tips: take a dirt bike training course (I did); go for several hundred miles of training rides (I did not); take a tumbling class (I did not – it was all OJT); ride with a buddy, or ride a lighter bike. More tips in an article I’m writing.
TAT on and Buen TAT