Pair finish motorcycle trek across America

By Jane Stebbins, Pilot staff writer September 27, 2013 08:35 pm

Dan Mailoux and Brent Sanders of Ft. Myers, Fla., completed in Curry County last week a 4,500-mile trek on motorcycles on a trails that avoided most paved roads.
 

Brent Sanders and Dan Mailloux just arrived in Curry County from Tennessee.

Nothing spectacular?

The two Florida men started as a group of six.

The trip took 25 days. 

They drove 4,500 miles, on secondary dirt, single-path, gravel, Jeep, forest and farm roads.

They rode through dried-up creek beds, atop abandoned railroad grades, through mud, sand, snow and rain. They drove over mountain passes, along the edges of swamps, through forests, national parks and “more farmland than you can even imagine,” Sanders said.

They camped in parks, front yards, church grounds and the occasional offered couch or bed.

Five flat tires. Several engine break-downs. One broken leg.

And their first thoughts of the trip as they gazed over a bluff in Port Orford?

“Wow,” Sanders said. “But even before we could really look, a man came up to us to talk about our bikes.”

“Meeting all the people was the best part,” Mailloux said. “Small towns in small-town America.”

 They got their maps from Trans-America Trails (transamtrail.com), which provides riders with routes, GPS coordinates and sights to see along the way. Other maps can be procured for bicyclists who want to attempt a trans-country trek, as well.

It wasn’t all scenic routes and warm weather.

From the beginning, trouble threatened to derail their adventure.

Mailloux’s front wheel had a wobble in it. A man they’d met at a hotel worked on motorcycles … but didn’t have the parts. Those parts were six hours away in Memphis … so he loaned Mailloux his motorcycle to fetch them.

They met people through the common interest in off-road motorcycles; the two ride Suzuki Enduros.

A school teacher in Newkirk, Okla., (population: 2,317) asked them why they were riding through her small burg — a question they ended up answering to a classroom of students in an impromptu interview.

The class then prayed over them — and the teacher gave them $20 for the journey.

When one member of the group broke his leg when he snagged it on a boulder near Gunnison, Colo., the ambulance attendants said they knew the trails the men were riding — and outraced the group’s flagger at the end of the road to the accident site.

A man in that town offered to drive the friend with the broken leg back home — to the East Coast. 

A man in Pueblo, Colo., fixed one of the motorcycles — and then invited the riders in for dinner and gave them a place to sleep for the night.

Such is the journey of the Trans-American Trail for dual-use motorcycles, Sanders said.

“This trip has renewed my love for this country and its people,” he texted to friends and family members Wednesday. “It was the trip of a lifetime.”

They said if they had the time and money, they’d do it again, but try a different route.

Their journey completed, Sanders and Mailloux planned to coax their flagging motorcycles to  Crescent City to meet their support vehicle and then onto San Francisco before heading back into the sunrise.

Saunders said they’ve been humbled after seeing the bicyclists who ride the length of Highway 101.

“Here we are, thinking we’re so tough. …” he said. “Those guys are tough.”