Arrived in Tellico Plains Tennessee during a torrential downpour and it pretty much didn't stop all night. I got the 10x10 up and everything unloaded. Shortly after, Corey rolled in on his venerable Suzuki DR650 from Murfreesboro TN and got his tent site set up. Thursday night brought a HUGE thunderstorm and MORE rain. Friday morning found the camp site a mud hole. We went to grab our obligatory pancakes and sausage breakfast and met up with our 3rd team member Rodney riding his new (to him) KTM 950SE beast.
We decided to take it slow on the day one since both Rod and I are on our bikes for the first time. So we hook up with an organized ride that quickly turns UNorganized! While leaving the camp group, a BMW GS rider goes down in front of half the group, blocking the road. We sat and waited until he got his bike up and decided it was ok, while we watched the group leader and others ride out of site never to be seen again. So we send someone back to the "map room" to get the route. He doesn't return, so we send someone after him. The first guy returns and now we're waiting for the second guy! UGH!! Within the first 2 miles, the newly appointed group leader stops twice, so I wave to Rod and Corey to follow me. I load in an old route in to the Garmin and we're off.
The route was good, with a some nice forestry roads and twisty back roads. We wound our way down to the Georgia border and up on the mountain over looking Lake Ocoee for some great views. After riding around in circles for a while (is there no way OFF this mountain??) we ride back to base camp, ending a great first day.
Day two was pretty awesome. The three DualSportJunkies amigos plotted a nice, long primarily dirt ride up through the Cherokee National Forest. Trails were perfect and the weather was awesome! The amount of nice dual sport routes in this area of TN/NC/GA is amazing! Great warm-up for the TransAmerica Trail ride. When we arrived back at the base camp, the famous MMM Obstacle Course was in full swing. Some of the skills of these guys riding the large bikes (GSA's and KTM 990's/1190's) is crazy!! They were riding them like 250's and some even got through the course WITHOUT putting a foot down. Mad skills and BIG COJONES!!
Both Corey and Rod turned out to be excellent riders and partners! I struggled getting used to the KTM 690 the first day. Still need a steering damper (LOTS of front end wiggles) and bar risers to get the ergos correct for me to stand up comfortably. Also, the throttle is REALLY twitchy! Nothing like the KTM 640 Adventure I've been riding for years. Loved the agility and light feel of the 690 compared to the 640 "Pig". The power was nice too! No issues with the removal of the emissions/airbox/SAS systems. Bike ran flawlessly :)
We're planning another "warmup" ride before the TAT launch in August, so stay tuned!!