Back on a bike, and back in the USA! My TAT trip, 2018

Where you've been and what you done
Post Reply
UKJeeper
Posts: 26
Joined: Tue May 22, 2018 11:32 am
Location: Essex, UK
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 25 times

Back on a bike, and back in the USA! My TAT trip, 2018

Post by UKJeeper » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:21 am

Hi. Brief back story: Used to ride, a long time ago (22 years), both for fun and for work (courier in Los Angeles) until I began to run out of luck, and into cars, several times in the space of 6 months. On my last trip to the ER I decided to hang up my helmet for the sake of myself and my young family.

Nearly a quarter century later, I took 'voluntary redundancy' from my job in the UK, and found myself in a position financially and timewise, to have an 'adventure'.

I'd always wanted to complete a trip from one US coast to the other, and have travelled the US, in part, several times before. I've piloted helicopters and light planes up and down various states, driven an RV from Connecticut to California (in 5 days), but always for someone else and on a strict schedule.

This time it was going to be for me, on my schedule, my term's. But how?

I considered options such as Route 66, but the idea of endless hours of freeway pounding didn't thrill me or fill me with enthusiasm. Then I read about the TAT. And that did 'float my boat'. It clicked.

Initially I considered doing it in my Jeep Wrangler. I had plenty of 4x4 experience both in the US and UK, having gotten into Jeeps when I got off bikes. But it didn't quite seem 'right'. Then my Lady suggested I do it on a motorcycle. That maybe it was time to ride again.

So, I signed up to take my UK bike tests and started to look around for which motorcycle I should use, eventually reading about the CB500X and how it could be turned from a mediocre commuter bike into an affordable ADV vehicle. Which brought me to Rally Raid and their various upgrade options.

My initial plan involved buying a CB500X in the US and picking it up at the beginning of the journey. Fortunately this became problematic due to the requirements to register the bike in my name in the US. I say fortunately as I realise now that jumping on a motorcycle, after 22 years with only 5 hours of practice for the UK licence, to ride 5000 miles, would have been a bad idea.

So I looked around for a UK CB500X, which is when Jenny (Morgan) told me about Rally Raid selling an ex demo bike. After a bit of back and forth over which parts to include and the price, I picked it up the day after passing my test!

I chose to take the Air Canada method of shipping the bike, as financially it is at least as good, or better, than sea freighting with the advantage that it flies with you and is instantly available on arrival (in theory anyway, I'll get to that) rather that the 6 weeks of no bike while it cruises the Atlantic.

So, booked the flight, for me and the bike and began the paperwork. Only to find that the only company who insured visitors and their vehicles to the US had pulled out of the market recently. Fortunately the broker I was working with found another option and the trip was back on!

After a couple of last minute panics over the EPA import certificate and the Canadian Eta visa, I rode the bike down to Heathrow and Air Canada cargo.

Image

And the next day we were on our way! Arriving at Montreal I dashed off the plane and watched to make sure the bike was a) actually on the plane and b) still in one piece. Fortunately both were true. AC did a great job.

Image


Once I'd successfully passed through customs I took a taxi to AC cargo on the other side of the airport. Only to be told that I'd have to go back to the terminal and convince customs to release the bike. Turns out the day after Canada Day is also a public holiday, so there were no officers at the AC cargo building and they are only supposed to sign off on perishables and live animals.

So, back to the terminal, and out with my best begging voice. Success! BACK to AC again with the all important stamped paperwork, and I was reunited with the bike!

As my phone provider had decided not to play nice with the Canadian cell service's, I had no Google maps to navigate my way down to the US border, but years of couriering had given me a good sense of direction and I was able to 'old school' my way south. Where I dealt with my second set of customs officers in 3 hours. Who, fortunately, were as helpful as their Canadian counterparts and I was on my way in 20 minutes!

Image

By this time it was late o'clock, so I rode until my initial excitement (omg I'm here!) wore off and tiredness hit me. And stayed in Plattsburg overnight, where I was asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

Image

Early start the next day and with the sat-nag set to my friends house in Massachusetts I set out on my first full day of riding in the USA (after 22 years...). I avoided the main highway, instead picking route 9n. A very good choice as it turned out. It runs down the side of Lake Champlain and Lake George, providing spectacular views over the water along empty twisting well maintained roads .

Image

Eventually finding my way to my friends house, in West Stockbridge, Mass.

Image

The following day was July 4th, so spent the the day being shown around the area, going up to Mount Greylock, having a bbq at their cabin by 'Stockbridge Bowl' (the nearby lake) and making the colonials do a double take at seeing the British flag on Independence Day !

Image

Image

Back on the road the next day, with my sights set on my next stop, my Sister in laws place way down in North Carolina. I chose route 7 over the main highway, again a good choice as it passed through several iterations of 'small town America' on the way to White Plains, NY where I took time out to visit my Father in Laws grave and say "hi".

Image

Image

Then on into NYC, via FDR Drive into the heart of Manhattan, dodging the yellow cabs and hordes of Izombies to arrive at Times Square for a quick pic before continuing on Liberty Park where I tried, unsuccessfully, to convince the park rangers to put my bike on the waterfront for a pic with Lady Liberty. So I had to settle for an 'over the hedge' shot at spot down the road.


Image

Image

Leaving NYC I headed south, through New Jersey on fairly nondescript highways to Cape May and the ferry to Delaware, where I spent a pleasant 1.5 hours (and a beer) with the other biker using the boat. He proclaimed he was taking "a long road trip", to Gettysburg... And was slightly amazed to hear my plans.

Image

Off the ferry and yet more highway miles. Boring for the most part unfortunately as it was just monotonous highway pounding, but with not terrible views down through Delaware and Virginia. Eventually finding somewhere to crash for the night in 'nowheresville', getting a solid 9 hours of sleep.
Opening the room door at early o'clock I was hit in the face by yet another hot, humid day and resolved to find a solution to my being slowly cooked in the Alpinestar Andes jacket and thick gloves I'd been wearing. (and also realising my Vango Banshee tent had fallen off somewhere between Lewes, DE and the hotel :(
)

So I rode down to Norfolk VA, and found a bike shop, picking up a Bilt Charger MX (mesh and armour) jacket and MX gloves, along with some chain lube. SUCH a difference. No more overheating and not having to ride in just a base layer t-shirt (not safe). Breakfast at the pancake house next door, then more highway pounding to Arapahoe, NC, to find my In-laws and my base for the next couple of days.

Online tracker:

http://www.shareyouradventure.com/map/7 ... otorcycle-

To be continued...

User avatar
PHILinFRANCE
Posts: 4757
Joined: Wed Aug 24, 2011 5:35 am
Has thanked: 712 times
Been thanked: 353 times

Re: Back on a bike, and back in the USA! My TAT trip, 2018

Post by PHILinFRANCE » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:37 am

i'm in 8-)
I'M HERE FOR A GOOD TIME NOT A LONG TIME



http://dordogneholidayvillas.com/properties/chez-jax/




User avatar
Tramp
Posts: 6742
Joined: Tue Jul 06, 2010 6:04 am
Has thanked: 70 times
Been thanked: 151 times

Re: Back on a bike, and back in the USA! My TAT trip, 2018

Post by Tramp » Sun Jul 08, 2018 10:55 am

Cool a ace ride report.... How you finding the cb500x after years off a bike... Smooth as a silk i hope.....

UKJeeper
Posts: 26
Joined: Tue May 22, 2018 11:32 am
Location: Essex, UK
Has thanked: 5 times
Been thanked: 25 times

Re: Back on a bike, and back in the USA! My TAT trip, 2018

Post by UKJeeper » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:00 am

Just checking in. Currently in Collingwood, TN at 04:30 loading up on carbs n coffee ready for the day ahead. Had a late start to the trail yesterday as I spent a 1/2 day in Lynchburg TN doing the Jack Daniels distillery tour and walking round town.
Then ride down to Huntsville, AL to find a new rear tyre. Mine was totally done, but I'd had no luck finding a TKC80 at any store along the way. Fortunately Cycle Gear in Huntsville had one. But... they don't remove the wheel. So, I strapped the bike to a tree in the parking lot, shoved an old car wheel under the engine guard and pulled the bike wheel off!

As I started late, I ride on till sundown, and then kept riding. Rode 20 miles of the TAT, including 4 stream crossings, in the dark. Fortunately the £20 LED lights kick ass. Even got some good video, pics. But I really need to get my hands on a pc with a decent broadband. The WiFi I've used so far sucks.

Pushing on today. Had an invite to meet the fella who created the TAT, Sam. Should get to him in a couple of days.

Tracking site:

http://www.shareyouradventure.com/map/7 ... otorcycle-

User avatar
OnHellas
Posts: 1251
Joined: Sat Oct 18, 2014 2:12 pm
Has thanked: 33 times
Been thanked: 142 times

Re: Back on a bike, and back in the USA! My TAT trip, 2018

Post by OnHellas » Wed Jul 18, 2018 12:15 pm

Thanks for sharing your story.

Can you enlighten me as to the US road insurance. Broker name and underwriter please.

I used Motorcycle Express in 2016 and could well be returning next year if we make it around OZ and New Zealand.

Thanks in advance.

Post Reply

Return to “RIDE REPORTS”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 17 guests