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Old 01-16-10, 07:14 PM   #1
climbhigher
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Off-Road TransAmerica Trail (TAT)

I am looking for a primarily off-road (or at least not paved road) route across the US. I see a motorcycle route called the TAT that seems to be the only option for something like this. Does anyone have any information about bicycling this route or any other route like it?

Thanks for your help,
Jim
Tampa, FL
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Old 01-16-10, 08:30 PM   #2
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Jim,

Can't help you, but did search out TAT after reading your post. Very interesting. Here's a pic from the gallery.

Hopefully jamawani will look over the route and advise.




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I am looking for a primarily off-road (or at least not paved road) route across the US. I see a motorcycle route called the TAT that seems to be the only option for something like this. Does anyone have any information about bicycling this route or any other route like it?

Thanks for your help,
Jim
Tampa, FL
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Old 01-16-10, 09:26 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by climbhigher View Post
I am looking for a primarily off-road (or at least not paved road) route across the US. I see a motorcycle route called the TAT that seems to be the only option for something like this. Does anyone have any information about bicycling this route or any other route like it?

Thanks for your help,
Jim
Tampa, FL
Haven't ridden this, but it's tempting..... If I could carry enough water in the western states: http://www.discoverytrail.org/

Cross-country, non-motorized, mostly off-road; seems to fit the bill for what you're looking for.

-- Mark
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Old 01-17-10, 11:13 AM   #4
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Ive ridden about a 3rd of the the Trans Am Trail on a moto. It follows forest access and farm roads. Little or no single track. The route is designed with a motorcycle in mind not a bicycle. On a moto the route is a bit contrived especially in oklahoma and kansas and east. In order to stay "off road" the route follows impractical zigs and zags sometimes miles in the wrong direction to maintain its purity. that is fine on a moto because the miles roll off much faster but a bike would be frustrating. Town stops which are sufficient for a moto trip would not offer the support necessary on a bike...like tubes, and bike parts. Out west in the beautiful spots you would be surrounded by the yip yap and the buzzing of speeding quad and moto rider and off-roaders. The roads become rutted and pitted through areas which are popular havens for people to romp on nature. I have long since fallen out of favor of enjoying nature by running over it, yet that is the crowd the TAT caters to.

Last edited by cosmo starr; 01-17-10 at 11:15 AM. Reason: i forget how to spell...
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Old 01-17-10, 12:32 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by climbhigher View Post
I am looking for a primarily off-road (or at least not paved road) route across the US. I see a motorcycle route called the TAT that seems to be the only option for something like this. Does anyone have any information about bicycling this route or any other route like it?

Thanks for your help,
Jim
Tampa, FL
West of the Mississippi, it would be relatively easy to do a ride that would follow only dirt roads with minimal pavement. The Great Plains is a grid system of roads and you'd only have to go a mile or so away from any paved highway to find a dirt road. You could probably follow the Lincoln Highway corridor and be reasonably sure you'd have access to services on fairly regular intervals.

The problem I see with the TAT for motorcycles is that there are long stretches in the west (from Arkansas west) that pass through some very sparsely populated areas. Finding water in the Oklahoma Panhandle would be problematic not to mention Utah and Nevada.
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Old 01-18-10, 07:33 AM   #6
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Great Feedback - another question about American Discovery Trail

Thank you everyone for the feedback - it is very helpful. It sounds like the American Discovery Trail is a better option that I didn't know about. Has anyone biked that? I see where it says a number of sections are either too difficult for a bike or are closed to bikes (wilderness areas and such). Do these areas impact the ride much or add much distance to the already almost 5,000 mile trip?

Jim
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Old 01-18-10, 09:41 AM   #7
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Thank you everyone for the feedback - it is very helpful. It sounds like the American Discovery Trail is a better option that I didn't know about. Has anyone biked that? I see where it says a number of sections are either too difficult for a bike or are closed to bikes (wilderness areas and such). Do these areas impact the ride much or add much distance to the already almost 5,000 mile trip?

Jim
There are ways around the wilderness areas. Most of them wouldn't add too much to the trip since the wilderness areas aren't really all that big. I would point out that the Discovery trail uses paved roads in many areas. Their route through eastern Colorado...both north and south...use paved road ways. However, when the route hits the mountains of Colorado, it gets mean. Looking at the route information on the ADT on-line, much of the Colorado mountain route would require a mountain bike and would be rather gnarly riding without a touring load. There are better routes to use but even those are probably going to be much better on a mountain bike than a touring bike. Most all of the routes that use a dirt road to get over our high mountains aren't all that smooth.
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Old 01-18-10, 12:17 PM   #8
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Jim,

Hopefully jamawani will look over the route and advise.
Who is that jamawani person?
I hear that it is a Hindi word for a yogurt jug.

About TAT and an off road East to West. It looks like the TAT is very round about - plus services are few and far between. Remember, that a route chosen for motorcycles - especially a remote route - may be very inappropriate for bicyclists.

From the Atlantic to the Mississippi there are excellent backroads - many unpaved - along the North Carolina/Virginia and Tennessee/Kentucky borders - then you can cross the Mississippi on the Dorena-Hickman ferry. Similarly, there's some excellent remote riding on the Arkansas/Missouri and Oklahoma/Kansas borders - - provided you miss Branson.

In the West you need to be aware that the number of crossing points of the Rockies and the Cascades is limited by wilderness areas - where bicycles are prohibited. But there are delicious national forest roads too numerous to mention that follow canyons and streams with all the free camping one could want.

From southern Colorado, I would head northwest - either on the Great Divide Route or via Crested Butte and Meeker to Green River, Wyoming and up the Greys River. There are fabulous back roads running east and west thru Ketchum, Idaho. Then you can ride southeastern Oregon, crossing the Cascades at Emigrant Pass.

The options are endless, provided you allow yourself a few miles of pavement. Don't get too hooked on avoiding any and all pavement - since it will be hard approaching a town on dirt only - and you will need to hit towns every now and then to resupply.
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Old 01-18-10, 09:06 PM   #9
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Thanks again

I am listening and appreciate the thoughts. FYI - I am definitely taking a mountain bike since that is all I ride these days. I would probably also be taking a BOB trailer so maybe not great for any terrain too gnarly. I am fine taking some paved roads especially if they are lightly traveled - just wanted it to be mainly non-paved.
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Old 04-07-10, 02:26 PM   #10
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I know this is a couple months after you posted this but I am pretty sure this is the site you're looking for: http://www.transamtrail.com/ This is a trail for off road motorbikes. It starts in Oregon and stops in Tennessee. The pictures in the photo gallery look like it could be a lot of fun to ride on a mountain bike!

Tiff
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Old 04-07-10, 03:58 PM   #11
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The motorcycle tat trail listed above has a western and eastern section. The eastern section is easier (I think similar to the continental divide trail). The western side is much more technical according to reports on the motorcycle forums.
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Old 04-07-10, 04:33 PM   #12
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Just FYI, one of the things I've noticed about the new Google Bicycle Map feature is that in large sections of the U.S. it seems to favor unpaved roads over paved roads.

This is a pretty cool feature, in my view, because prior to this you either had to piece together your own county maps or hunt and peck. I don't even think Google maps choosing "walk" had such a strong preference for unpaved roads. To try this out, go to Google Maps and plot a route from Kansas City to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Toggle the directions back and forth between "by car" and "by bicycle," you will see what I mean.

As Jamawani said, in lots of the country the rural areas are just a big grid of unpaved roads, so it's not like it's hard to find your way -- but with Google Maps you can plot a route for hundreds of miles and "drag and drop" the route to either favor or avoid paved roads.

A lot of cyclists seem to be complaining about this, arguing that most bike tourists choose paved routes, so you might want to look at Google before they change it.
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