Most dual sport/adventure riders know about the TAT (Transamerica Trail). The old TAT began in Jellico, TN (new TAT starts in Tellico Plains) and runs roughly 5000 miles west to Port Orford, OR. Having ridden most of the TAT, some of us thought it would be interesting to ride as much as possible on unpaved roads the other way to the eastern edge of the US. One of my riding buddies just loves to pour over topograhical and forest road maps and took on the task of finding us a "northeast passage". In 2010 we rode the lower part from Jellico, TN to Coudersport, PA and then im 2012 we finished up the second half from Coudersport to Van Buren, ME. The pictures that follow were mostly Rick's and are from the second half of the adventure. In some ways I felt this was a better trip than the original TAT. There are some really neat (and some challenging) sections on the TAT in the more mountainous areas but much of it (particularly Oklahoma which seems to go on forever) is flat, straight and well, dull. The MAT attempts to run national and state forest roads along the Appalachian mountains as much as possible, more or less paralleling the Appalachian Hiking Trail. It really is an awesome trip.
MAT 1 - Jellico, TN to Coudersport, PA
MAT 2 - Coudersport, PA to Van Buren, ME
Loaded up the bike in the back yard just to see where everything would fit - lotta stuff
Rick and Jim - Ready to Roll
Bill and Jon preping in Coudersport
Jim and Galen loading
We thought we might have to camp some nights so we were carrying tents and sleeping bags. Turns out that wasn't necessary - we stayed in motels, lodges or B&Bs every night.
Jim, Galen, George and Jon leaving Coudersport
Doesn't take long to hit dirt. Biker Bill on his KLR
Galen on the Tiger 800 XC
Jon on his DRZ400
George - DR650
Jim (yours truly) on the other DR650
GPS said this was the NY state line
Group Shot (Rick is behind the camera) entering the Empire State
Lunch at an Amish restaurant
Beautiful farming countryside
Lots of back country roads like this
Home for the night
Uh oh! Not the last gate we'll encounter though...
There was a way around
And this sign was on the north side - honest officer, there wasn't one coming from the other side
Lots of roads in NY were multi-use including ATVs and snowmobiles
Galen and TygerPyg
Biker Bill and the mighty KLR
Easy Rider Jon
Not bad in summer though
A rest in the shade
New York has some GREAT state forests
That's a CROC!
Love this type of thing
Another NY state forest - seems there was one right after another
There was pavement, of course. But Rick had tried to minimize it
New York refers to many of the roads in their state forests as Truck Trails
A little mud
For any of us this time
Even the big girl (800XC) plowed right through
More puddles later
DR650s love this stuff
Unloading at the Herkimer
Evenings were usually spent unloading, showering, lubing chains or whatever was needed followed by dinner and drink.
New York has back roads too
And wind turbines
My favorite sign
Some towns allow ATV operation on designated streets. This isn't one of them
This was a nice section
Bill's KLR was really loaded - probably close to 500lbs of bike and gear there
There were many scenic lakes and streams
Rick's first flat of the trip
And it was. This was one of the backtracks - there were several
Like I was sayin'
Which way'd they go?
This was a problem... BIG problem - The sprocket and keeper were nowhere to be found
Galen towed George's DR into the next town
We had to "rough it" there
This was expensive but oh so nice
We took a half day here for maintenance
When George's bike lost the sprocket a lot of energy had to go somewhere. The impact cracked the case just above the shifter
George rode my bike into the next town about 20 miles away and was able to buy replacement parts. I had JB Weld in my tool kit and patched the crack. It held fine for the rest of the trip.
Neat covered bridge
Bill took a soil sample here. Those are his tracks coming down the hill. Fortunately no serious injury other than pride.
Oh yeah, that's what I'm talkin about
This was a good section
Jon loves to strap on bottles of stuff
Yet another covered bridge. New England has a bunch of 'em
It seriously rained the night we were here
But we didn't need these
Primo old airhead
Unloading for the usual activities
I thought that was an ice cream flavor
Remember what I said about the rain - road washouts! - This was gooey stuff
Seems their idea of unpaved road maintenance is to dump some fresh mud on top and smooth it with a grader - not the best surface for motorcycles
What this? Another covered bridge?
Vermont - yeah they like their maple syrup up here
Nice back roads though
Don't go speeding on those ATVs now
More pressed mud road maintenance
Interesting lunch stop - Vermont folk are an independent lot
Talked with locals who had their own hydroelectric dam and sold their excess power back to the grid
Lots of hardpack roads
There was a bridge out just past here
Had to re-route (again)
Live Free or Die! Maybe we need some of that spirit now?
Getting pretty rural out here
The boys talkin bout the day
Breakfast stop - good one!
Some beautiful lakes up here
and lots more hardpack roads
uhhh, and some slow moving "heavy" traffic
Galen and TygrPyg
George and the repaired DR650
Biker Bill - truckin'
Descriptive New Hampshire signage
Needed to walk around some
Rick's DR still motoring like a champ
Looks like a trout stream to me
Not signed to highway standards - really?
Still great roads though
The end is near (we thought)
Not exactly a WELCOME TO MAINE sign but at least we knew where we were
Yo Billy, got any more room for luggage there?
Neat lunch stop
Guess we dipped back into NH briefly
Thank you very much
Official state line sign
Yet another lunch stop
Jon has cellular service! (pretty rare out in the boonies really)
Maybe we're in Andover?
Lotsa public lands on this trip
And lots of these little wooden bridges in ME
Being actively logged
Lots of shared use roads up here too
And low wetlands
And good hardpack roads
These roads are snowmobile routes in winter
I'm sure this freezes over and the ice fisherman drive out on the lake
Pretty old church
I didn't notice the No Motorcycles sign at the time. I'm pretty sure we rode on through anyhow
and more pretty lakes
Great place to stay
They had awesome pie!
Breakfast across the road - she was a memorable waitress
Gettin up here in the north country now
and more road maintenance
You could move right along on roads like this
Must be West Forks, ME
Bridges and mud - where have I seen this before?
Gotta love those little Slime compressors
Oh Yes, there was lots of this
Some parts were more rugged
Hey Bill, it's OK to go around those big puddles, ya know
Well, some of them anyhow - how come I got to go first?
The great north woods
Not much more than a jeep road here
There were hundreds of these little wooden bridges
Another gas/snack break
The 800 made a deeper divot here than the smaller bikes
But what we didn't know
that this road was barricaded
Although my GPS didn't think so
So we had to backtrack (again)
George does it correctly
And some of us just muddle through :)
But we found a different route
And arrived at the same location
Like we WOULDN'T yield to logging trucks
Some of the group got across before the train appeared
More pretty water
This was another nice B&B in Millinocket, ME
and, of course, pie!
Near the end of the AT
Bill and Jon split off here in Millinocket and headed back
and 4 of us (3 DR650s and 1 Triumph Tiger) pressed on
Rick's second flat on this trip
But we fixed it (again) and motored on
There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of miles of little roads like this in ME
They are maintained for recreational use - snowmobiles in the winter
An eagles nest I suppose
Not too far above the water table here
We did stay on the marked trails.
Finally - our northernmost turn around - Van Buren, ME
We rode back down and spent the night in Caribou then headed back home the next day.
But Rick (the routemeister) was not done with us yet. Much of the first two days of the return was unpaved
Still great riding and great scenery
Nice overnight in semi-rustic cabins
This looked interesting...
and was. Galen had the good sense to not tackle this on the big 800. He and I rode around and rejoined the others later
It was here, at the B&B Cash market in Fairlee, VT that the group split once again
Galen and George decided to take a more paved route home. Rick and I continued on his dualsport route
Some of it was pretty rugged, but passable
Some was really pretty
Dang - another one
This APPEARED on the GPS to be a way to bypass the closure
But not too far past the creek it got really steep and slippery. We had to turn back.
Encountered some flooded roads on the way home and had to re-route
And we're back ~ 2,500 miles later
My gear - about 60lbs of stuff
Kinda says it all...