Allen Beck and Auggie Ensley spent the last year of their two-year friendship planning for a trip that a little over 100 people have completed.
The Trans-America Trail is a rugged 5,000-mile journey, stretching through Tennessee, Mississippi, across Arkansas, into Oklahoma and New Mexico, through Utah and Nevada before turning through California into Oregon. Though Beck and Ensley have ridden dirt bikes on portions of the trail separately prior to knowing each other, it didn’t take them long once their friendship was established before planning began to ride the trail from one end to the other.
“We met two years ago up on the trail, never knew each other at all,” Ensley said. “Got to talking one day. We probably rode together for about 6 or 8 months before we started talking about the trail.” Though riding the entirety of the Trans-America Trail for the first time, long distance adventure riding is not something new to the pair, with Beck making a journey to Mexico and Ensley venturing to Alaska more than once. No matter how many lengthy solo trips the two of them made, the Trail called to their sense of adventure and the love of riding.
The trip took them through the most ruggedly beautiful and vacant terrain.
“We would go for miles and not see anyone,” said Beck, an Iron Station resident.
“You forget how vast and desolate the land is past the Mississippi River,” Ensley said.
With their only companions at times being wild horses and grizzly bears, Beck and Ensley camped most of the way through the trail, setting up tents in locations that varied from the open wilderness to a small city park. Dotted along the trail was the occasional homestead where, according to both Beck and Ensley, people were more than accommodating of the trail riders.
“People were so nice,” Ensley said. “They’d go out of their way to help you.”
Oftentimes the two would stay in cowboy cabins and abandoned homesteads, tucked into the landscape of the Midwest from a time that most people have forgotten.
The arduous four-week journey took the pair on portions of the original Oregon Trail and paths that were carved out by the Pony Express. They travelled next to cattle drives, rode across the salt flats and through walls of 6-foot-high snow that had been freshly plowed by bulldozers. Beck went through three sets of tires to make the trip. Trekking through mud, snow and three blown tires, Beck and Ensley rode through a portion of the American landscape that few people are able to boast. Ensley logged the journey, posting pictures and updates of their trip on an adventure riding website, while Beck frequently posted pictures to his personal Facebook.
Though the pair is just recovering from the excursion and getting back into the routine of everyday life, both say they plan to ride it again.
“It was grueling,” Beck said, “but it was worth it.”
For more information on the Trans America Trail, visit www.transamtrail.com and for more information on the Beck/Endley ride, visit www.advrider.com.