Shrinking The Planet – One Ride At A Time

Traversing The TAT (Trans-America Trail) Chapter 2

Time was indeed running out to complete our bike preparations.  Two similarly colored red unbreakable fuel containers lay on the concrete.  They were both supposed to be the same color but for some reason, one was bright red and the other was an organish red.   From the cold concrete, they stared at me like non-identical twins, begging me to take them along for the ride.  Oh well, at least we’ll be able to tell the two apart.  

I was in a bit of a panic to get them on the bikes; but how?  They were tall, slim and would be full of explosive gasoline.  I searched the lines of the bikes to try to figure out where I would fit two fairly large odd shaped canisters on a very small bike.  Normally, the back of the bike would be an ideal place for the fuel tanks, but that area would be consumed by our Giant Loop saddlebag crammed to the gills with our supplies for the trip.  There was no way that they were going to go on the front.  The front fender was only a couple of inches wide and lacked any real rigidity.  Besides, that space was already taken up with our spare tubes and tire tools. 

Where the heck was I going to put these absolute necessities?  I thought about manipulating the bracket a bit to mount it low and on the side of the bike. But the right side was consumed with the exhaust and the exhaust exit.  I wasn’t really keen on putting a fuel tank just forward of the hot exhaust and exhaust gasses.  The left side was available, perhaps I could put it there, with the bracket hanging the tank over the left side.  But the more I thought about it and looked at the actual position of the tank, the more I decided I didn’t like it.  I did not like it one iota.  As placed on the left side of the bike, it was in the perfect position to take the brunt of a fall.  We would be riding on unknown (to us) terrain, so the likelihood of dropping the bike onto a rock or gravel and piercing the plastic tank was a fair possibility.  I really wasn’t sure what to do. 

I admit, I was stymied for a few moments.  There really wasn’t any more space on the bike normally associated with where a fuel tank would be mounted.  Anger began to boil inside me for having not thought through this issue earlier and also for not being able to solve it correctly now.  It was one of those throw the wrench across the garage to feel better moments.

So as I stood in the garage, anger welling inside me, one of my fuel tank orphans stared at me from the concrete floor and the other waited patiently in my hand for a miracle solution.  Unfortunately none seemed imminent and the phone rang.  I put the tank I had in my hand on the tail of the bike and ran into the house to answer it.  It was a call about my real job and that didn’t make my mood any better.  

I finished the call as quickly as I could and hustled downstairs and into the garage.  When I got there I found a sight that changed me altogether.  There on the floor was the fuel tank that I had put on the back of the bike.  Lying next to it, was the plastic cap of the fuel tank broken into two large pieces.  I was mortified.  My concern about mounting the tank anywhere a direct impact was likely, was correct.  All I could then think about was Kim dropping the bike on the left side on a rock on the gravel.  Fuel spraying all over from a broken cap or a split in the tank as Kim lay trapped under the bike.  After seeing the cap lying on the garage floor in pieces, broken from a fall from about three feet on a non-moving bike, I couldn’t do it.  I just couldn’t mount the tank on the side of the bike.

If we were going to bring the extra fuel, it was clear that some sort of drastic measures would be necessary.  The tanks were designed to be used on ATVs and to be mounted upright.  Hmm… Could I mount them upright just behind the seat but behind the Giant Loop saddlebag?  It was this or nothing, and not having the extra fuel was out of the question.  So I proceeded to mount the tank in an awkward position, high but in the center of the bike furthest away from direct contact with the ground in the event of a drop or fall.  

It looked ridiculous.  Mounted straight up, rigid at full attention, the tank cried out for a better design.  But there was none to be had in such a short period of time due to my inattention.     Matched side by side, the two tanks stood on the bikes like sentries guarding the bikes and all the goods on them.  I felt foolish.  But it was the only way we were going to get extra fuel on the bike. 

In case you don’t know it, if you’d like to see any of these pictures in full size, simply click on one and you will be taken to a full size gallery where you can page by each picture you’d like to view.

I showed the mounting set up to some of my friends and some rightly chided me for the installation.  “I had to be kidding; Didn’t I know anything about center of gravity?”  He was right, the extra fuel weight would be up high and reduce stability.  But I did not have to fill the tanks completely to maintain a significant addition in range and in total the weight would be less than 15 pounds, tank and mount included.

Others offered non-tank solutions such as canteens filled with fuel held in panniers at the side of the front fuel tank or other similar suggestions, but I did not like other aspects of these suggestions and besides, we were out of time.  We needed to get going, Tracy and MaryLee were already on the road and headed towards Jellico, Tennessee for our meeting. 

It was time to load up the truck with our bikes and gear and head for Tennessee.  We only two days to make it to Tennessee in the truck and a total of two weeks (including the two days in the truck) to make it from there to New Mexico.  We’ll tell you how the trip went to Tennessee and the beginning of the ride in the next chapter.

One response

  1. itsmewilly

    I was good that you found out in time it was too risky to mount those tanks the way you first planned. It looked so funny those two tanks the way you did it. Curious if you ended up changing the set up later again.

    Like

    March 14, 2013 at 10:36 pm

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