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Born again worker bee
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208 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi,

After finishing the Blue Ridge Parkway, and spending a bit of time in and around the Smoky Mountains, I made my way across to meet PaulR at Jellico, to start the Transamtrail - an 'Off pavement' trail from NE Tennessee, to the Pacific coast in Oreagon:

http://www.transamtrail.com/

We set out on the trail together the next day, leaving the town of Jellico, after a fuel and photo shoot. The gentlemen I asked to take the photo below, wore a straw hat and blue dungarees, was incredibly thin, had yellow peg teeth and shook in an alarming way. We thanked him for his help and we pushed onto the trail as he returned to sitting in his parked pickup.



Riding through the steep wooded valleys of Tennessee, we past by wooden shacks all of which in various states of disrepair, but all evidently inhabited. Around these shacks lay littered all manner of junk and rusting vehicles. They combined with the claustrophobic nature of the woods, hills and heat, to give a quite sinister air to the first part of the trail. In the backs of our minds we were ever cautious that this was the land that the film “Deliverance” was set in. The woodland was dense and remote, and was the type that the words “Do it Jed, do it”, followed by manic laughter and faintly audible whimpers, would not seem out of place. We pushed at a reasonable to good pace, punching out of the woodland and into the rolling lowlands of middle Tennessee as soon as we could.



Trail through the woods:


Paul gives the thumbs up for the trail:


State Park Capsites are cheap or free and have good, clean, hot showers:


The trail traverses a few streams and bogs in southern Tennesse and Northern Mississippi:






After a couple of days, I wheeled South from the Trail and took a diversion to the Barber Motorcycle Museum down in Birmingham, Alabama, whilst Paul pushed one to try and finish the trail before his Visa ran out. The Museum was setup by a local Diary Tycoon with a passion for motor sports and boasted over a 1000 motorcycles, the largest collection of Lotus cars in the world and its own race track. The place was a motorcyclist’s wet dream. There were bikes from across the world and across the ages, but by far, the greatest numbers of Marques represented were from the UK: Triumphs, Nortons, BSAs, Ariels, Vincents, JAPs, Royal Enfields, Sunbeams and even a Hesketh. It was beautiful to see so many fine bikes conceived and built in the UK, but sad to be reminded that the glory days of motorcycle manufacture have subsided for now.

See the photos at: http://www.photobox.co.uk/album/3717538

Back on the trail a couple of days later, I passed from Tennessee, down into Mississippi. Almost immediately the road surface changes from compact dirt tracks, to trails that had been covered with a thick layer of loose gravel. Twisting trails that had once been a joy to ride on suddenly held potential traps of deep gravel and sand everywhere. The smoothly, twisting nature of the bike had now been unbalanced and the riding conditions became much harder. Ride too slow and the bike would drift through the gravel, starting a slowly increasing oscillating wiggle in the back of the bike where the majority of the weight was. Without adjusting the speed, this wiggle would increase until it threatened to spit the rider off. Ride to fast and you risked over shooting corners, hitting the odd oncoming car or hitting a particularly deep rut of sand or gravel and entering the land wiggly bike again.

Gravel road:


Along the trail I passed through an Amish area. The houses were void of cars and the fields held people in matching blue smocks working the fields by hand or using carts:



Despite the ‘challenges’ of the road surface, the Mississippi section of the trail was completed with little or no incidents. It offered low lying countryside, covered by woods and as I got nearer to the Mississippi river, swamps and cotton fields. After a night in one of the many low grade casino hotels (“Vegas Action, Southern Style”) that line the banks of the Mississippi, I started out across a massive bridge and rode into Arkansas.

Viewed from a map, Arkansas is a grid of roads and tracks, intersecting at 1 mile intervals. Many of the roads are tarmac (more so than Mississippi), though there are still a high number of gravel roads, surfaced in the same bike friendly manner as their Mississippi cousins.

“Straight Roads?” I thought to myself, “Easy Riding.”

The last thing I remember was the bike suddenly and violently entering wiggly bike territory. I tried to scrub the speed off with the brakes and the engine, but the wiggling was so violent I was thrown backwards. As this happened, my right hand, which was more than likely grabbing on for dear life to the handlebars, was pushed back. The fact it was also gripped to the accelerator meant that the bike lunged forwards again and BANG.







I now know what happens when I am ‘restarted’. The process includes:
Regain consciousness.
Check for spinal damage / leg damage.
Jump up, throwing goggles and helmet on ground.
Notice there are two guys standing near you, looking vary scared/concerned asking you stuff.
Check vocal chords. Say “****” several times.
Re-check legs.
Pace about.
Regain hearing.
Confirm to the scared looking guys that everything is fine.
Clean the contents of a pannier from across the road.
Drag pannier out of a ditch, 20 feet from where the bike is laying.
Go to dry pannier and take out camera and photograph bike.
Wait for Sheriff, Deputies, Ambulance and Tow Truck.

So, here I am. Sat in a motel in a town called Forest City (population 15,000ish), aching but in one piece, with my bike in the local Honda shop, waiting for a diagnostic on the state of the bike.
:oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops: :oops:

From what I could see, the bike was in pretty good condition considering. Apart from a bent handle bar and mirrors, some cracked fairing and a bit of bending on the front sub-frame that clocks hang off, the bike seems to have survived. The engine bars and panniers appear to have soaked up most of the impact.

The plan is to wait here for a few days (hence the length of the report), rest my aching body and pride, get the bike fixed up and head back out onto the trail.
 

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Wing Commander
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14,437 Posts
Crap new Mark. Glad you're OK. Hope the bike mends fast. Take it easy for a few days.
 

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Registered
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2,343 Posts
What an adventure!

Glad you're ok and the hard reboot worked just fine :)

Where do you plan to go once the bike is fixed?
 

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Registered
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1,207 Posts
Hope they get the bike sorted soon Mark. Glad you're OK. Keep us posted - no pun intended.
 

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Registered
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4,811 Posts
I started reading this with jealousy about the countryside, roads and tracks you ride. Now it doesn't look quite so great! Seriously, in the long run you'll look back with pride at this adventure, even if you're aching at the moment.
 

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Born again worker bee
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208 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Cheers lads. It's doesn't appear to hurt when I laugh, so I must be on the mend!
:D

By the looks of things I should be back riding west on the trail sometime during the later part of the week - fingers crossed.
 

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Wing Commander
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14,437 Posts
fingers crossed.
Are you sure that wasn't what caused the problem?
 

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whys the rum always gone?
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17,680 Posts
:shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: :shock: bloody hell ive never seen a handle bar that mangle with the rest of the bike looking not so bad :shock: :shock: :shock: it looks like you got off light mate hope it gets sorted quickly . up until that point it looked like a great trip :D
 

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whys the rum always gone?
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17,680 Posts
markincyberspace said:
Whealie said:
fingers crossed.
Are you sure that wasn't what caused the problem?
:)

...I take it back, it does hurt when I laugh.
:lol: :( :lol: :( :lol:

whealie your a bad man stop it :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: :lol: cant you see the lads in pain :wink:
 

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Wing Commander
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14,437 Posts
whealie your a bad man
My eight-year-old daughter told me the other day: "Daddy, when people fall over, it's funny. When old people fall over, it's even funnier". To her, even Mark is getting on a bit (and he must be more than a decade younger than me).
 

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Born again worker bee
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208 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Whealie said:
whealie your a bad man
My eight-year-old daughter told me the other day: "Daddy, when people fall over, it's funny. When old people fall over, it's even funnier". To her, even Mark is getting on a bit (and he must be more than a decade younger than me).
You're not that old Wheelie.... :wink:
 

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whys the rum always gone?
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17,680 Posts
ouch :shock: good that your up and running though :D
 

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Wing Commander
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14,437 Posts
Battlescars. Think of them as trophies until you get home.
 

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Huh?
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2,328 Posts
Good luck, Mark, this has the makings of an epic RR! :D

Glad you got the fall over and done with, now you don't have to worry about when it's going to happen :wink: These bikes look better with a bit of gaffer tape, anyway.

Let's have some more when you're feeling up to it.

-Simon
 

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Wing Commander
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14,437 Posts
Mark, Mark, come in Mark. Are you back up and running? I hope you didn't break your camera in the off. we want to see more pictures.
Or is the perennial problem with off-road trails - no wireless broadband in the countryside?
 

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Born again worker bee
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208 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
[crackle] Whealie, this is Mark over[crackle]
[crackle] Lots of pictures, yes.[crackle]
[crackle] Internet availibilty pretty good.[crackle]
[crackle] Strange noises from Engine Final Drive [crackle]
[crcakle] Sounds like something is loose in the the gearbox [crackle]
[crackle] Going to try and get it checked today....may have some time on my hands for photo uploading [crackle]
[Crackle] Over and out. [Crackle]
 
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