I actually got up early for once. It was going to be a big day; I needed to do 230 miles of trail, two legs, to get down to Battle Mountain, NV. The first leg was 82 miles down to McDermitt, NV where I would fill up and then a major 149 mile leg down to Battle Mountain, NV.
I opted once again to change in the Porta John and use the facility while I was in there. I will say the 8 remaining squares of paper had me a tad worried… but it was all good.
After that the morning went flawlessly. On the road by 7:45 and rolled into the gas station in McDermitt by 10:15.
Ran into a guy riding the TAT on a 70’s Honda CL350 in McDermitt. He had just stayed at the motel I’d read was disgusting; he confirmed it. He asked me who’s tracks I was following; we were both following GPS Kevin’s tracks. He had met Kevin in Sargents, CO; sitting at the head of a table wearing his “Official TAT Route Inspector” shirt and the table was filled with other advriders who were basically worshipping him for his tracks. He claimed to have asked Kevin why the tracks lead nowhere at times or in dangerous directions other times. The response he got was something along the line of: I want you to follow the tracks and depend on them; I choose where you go.
(Didn’t grab my own pic during our encounter; but I wanted to include one so I lifted this off of advrider from a group that met him a couple weeks back in Colorado)
He said Kevin was the kind of guy you just hated in high school and given what he’d been through since their encounter he said if he met him again, he’d punch him out. That didn’t sound promising but we gave each other a heads up of what we was ahead and we both left pretty depressed.
I headed off down the road a few miles before making another random left into the desert; again winding past the same scenery I’d seen the last couple of days. The trail ultimately dumped out into a ghost town.
I rode out of town and met back up with the trails, where the tracks decided to get messy again. Weird turns, dead ends; you know, the usual.
Here’s one of the major problems. The tracks will make a 45 degree left hander off the existing track into open country. Usually this isn’t an issue except many of these areas have signs prohibiting cross country travel (meaning traveling off existing paths) because of the significant fire risk. My bike has a spark arrestor in the exhaust but I’m not particularly keen on potentially causing a wildfire so I stick to the existing trail and just try to work my way back to the track. Over the last week I’ve seen the damage and I don’t want to chance it.
These reroutes happened all afternoon. A turn into no man’s land, a 3 mile go around, another turn and a 10 mile go around, followed by another and a 30 miles around. Finally I dumped out onto a paved road but I wasn’t on it long. It took a turn back off-road shortly there after.
I got about 1/2 mile down the track and a guy pulled up on a brand new Honda Africa Twin. They just released these in the USA this summer; the bike was spectacular.
He was from New Zealand and had bought the bike from a dealer in North Carolina June 1st. He’d been sort of riding the TAT ever since with his wife on the back; accept they’d taken a “small” detour to Alaska in the middle. He’d left her in Boise, Idaho with friends while he went back down to where they had left the TAT and he was trying to finish it before summer was gone. He was actually heading to Boise that day to pick her up. He said the road ahead turned to talcum powder again, ran right into a cow pasture and then through an area that had recently been burned. He’d picked up the African Twin 8 times in the section he’d guessed was maybe 10 miles. He’d put 18,000 miles on the bike since June 1; he liked The Doctor too and mentioned he’d put 31,000 miles on a DR650 in South America a few years back. Talk about making you feel like you trip was nothing. I wished him luck and told him it was getting cold in Oregon; he shrugged and said it’s cold in Alaska. Yea, I guess it is…
I went off down the track and no more that 1/4 mile down the path I was in the talcum powder sands. Miserable, absolutely miserable. The track made it’s way down a couple mile section of desert then approached a fence. It’s difficult to tell from the GPS tracks which side of the fence you need to be on but it looked like I didn’t need to go through the gate so I hung a left and went off into talcum powder sand that was twice as deep as before. I got about 100 yards down this track and it became obvious that I was on the wrong side of the gate. I back tracked to the gate, opened it and went through only to ride a mile or so down the road right into a herd of cattle. The sand disappear and became cow crap. There are not many times you wish for the deep sand to return; however this is one. I went straight through the herd and through a puddle; I’ll let your imaginations run wild over what the puddle was like. I guarantee you it was worse than what you are thinking…
I got to the other side and sure enough I was headed the wrong way! Back through the puddle, into the cattle herd, made the turn I’d missed and went right through another unspeakable puddle. Three cow puddles in a row…
I headed down the track, which was still powdered sand, up over a crest and into the area that had recently been burned. It was a complete other world. I followed that another 5 miles until it dumped me onto another washboard road (roads with 3″ high bumps spaced every 6″-8″ apart). The last few hundred yards had some abandoned cars that looked like that didn’t make it out before the fire.
I road the last 30 miles of washboard road into Battle Mountain, NV. A major civilization by comparison. I decided to grab a hotel, take the next day off and hole up for a day. Just relax.
I stopped at a Royal Inn that was conveniently located next to a pizza place. I ordered a large pepperoni and a six pack of beers. Time to relax. I didn’t bring a bottle opener though…
Aaaand I got to use my Volkswagen first aid kit for the first time this trip…I cut down my pizza box to fit the mini fridge and grazed the blade of the knife. Man that thing is sharp…