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The TransAmerican Trail  

by Ken Hunter
Originally Published in the IAMC Newsletter, September 2015

Some roads are fun to ride, some are challenging and some will overwhelm you with scenic beauty but few do all  three like the TAT (Transamerican Trail). 

A question everyone asks is  when to ride.  Assuming you  are riding from east to west,  the earliest starting date  would be the middle of June.  Mountain passes in Colorado  will not be open until the last  week of June and possibility  not until the first week of July.  And even then, the passes  that will be open will be  limited.   

Also June can be a wet month  from Arkansas to Oklahoma, and there are roads that become impassable because of the mud.  Even the best knobby ?re will ball up with  mud; but if you want to become a tornado chaser, that’s the time to be there.  One evening in western Oklahoma  there were tornado threats and it put down 8 inches of rain overnight.  Those are the mornings you sleep in, do a little bike maintenance and laundry because you’re not going anywhere on roads until they start to dry out.  Fall  would give you the best weather but then you will be riding in more dust and looser sand when you get to the  western states. 

My riding consist of three different areas, the physical challenge of the ride, the scenery, and the people you meet  along the way.  On a typical day I get up and ride for about an hour and will then stop for breakfast.  I enjoy  finding that restaurant where the locals hang out.  In Mississippi I had stayed near the town of Clinton, and the  next morning, after traveling about 50 miles, I can to a small town and decided it was time for breakfast.  Finding  no restaurant, I hit the general store to grab something to eat and drink. 

Out front some locals were sitting around, so I asked if they minded my joining them.  After sharing what I was doing, one women who had to be in  my age range (late 60’s) ask were I had spent the night.  I told her I had camped just out side of Clinton,  Mississippi.  She then looks me straight in the eye and replies, “You know, I need to get there some day.”  FiPy  miles away, and she hadn’t been there   I couldn’t help but chuckle a little.  She replies with a smile, “You know I  could travel but my kids would miss me.” 

What the TAT is great for is the varied landscape you get to ride through.  From Tennessee above to Arkansas  below. 

Then there’s Oklahoma.  Almost wished I had cruise control on the DRZ.  They say it’s the only place while sitting  at the kitchen table having breakfast you can see who’s coming for dinner. 

The same is true for New Mexico. 

If you are looking for something a little more  challenging, this would be a great time to take a  side trip to Hancock, Bear Pass, or any of the other  passes in the area.  This is in the area around of  Buena Vista. 

Then we’re back to that type of country we are  use to, the Colorado Rockies.  

The ride through Colorado is typical forest service  and mining roads.  Well used by jeeps, the roads  are easy to navigate. 

If you are looking for something a little more  challenging, this would be a great ?me to take a  side trip to Hancock, Bear Pass, or any of the other  passes in the area.  This is in the area around of  Buena Vista.  

Cinnamon Pass was cleared about a week before I arrive.  

After crossing  Geyser Pass,  we’re in country  with which most  of us are familiar – the sand hills  outside of Moab Utah. 

It’s the next day’s ride that I  consider the  most  challenging.  Up  until this point I  was so into the  ride that I was  actually  disappointed  when it was time  to call it a day.  After riding from  Moab to Salina, I  was so happy to  get off the bike.   I was exhausted. 

I’m still smiling under the helmet in this picture only because I did know what the day was going to be like.

You can see in this  picture that the sand  is still somewhat  firm.  I just can’t  imagine what it must  be like later in the  year after a multitude  of vehicles have dug  it up. 

This is part of the stair steps leaving out of the Canyon.  From here it was  lots of sand, more sand and stair steps our of one canyon leading you  into another. 

 Then it was on to the Paiute Trail. 

 In places it was loose enough to keep your  attention. 

Then you’re back to  wanting cruise control as  one rides past Sevier Lake  (Dry). 

What a great road to have all to yourself. 

There are places that  are little used, and  your track gets a little  hard to find.  

I’m guessing that  many of you  reading this have  been here.  It is all  that remains of the  town of Hamilton,  Nevada. 

Those tracks you are looking at in these pictures are a piece of history.  They are part of the Lincoln Highway built  in the late 1920s.  It was the first transcontinental road running between Central Park in New York City to Hyde  Park in San Fransisco.  I felt like a piker riding through there on a modern motorcycle.  I couldn’t imagine what an  adventure it had to be in a 1920s car. 

The picture below was one that surprised me the most.  I haven driven many times through McDermitt, but I  never envisioned that the mountains to the east held the beauty they did.  

From the looks of the rut I don’t think I was the first  on this part of the trail. 

The coming of the coastal mountains.  

When I find a road like this to ride my smile is almost too big for my helmet. 

Close  enough to  the coast  that one  could smell  the ocean.  

The beach on Heads State Park in Port Orford, Oregon, at the end of the Transamerica Trail.

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