Beautiful weather and the need for Interstate riding practice prompted this ride. Since June of 2013 Margaret has quickly excelled in her riding abilities. 5K miles in 9 months through many types of road conditions, riding through streams, dirt roads, gravel roads, rain, heat, and cold has been good for her. The one type of road she has not put many miles or hours on though is Interstate freeways. Interstate freeways are quite different than State and County roads. You ride at high speed continuously for hours and they have more vehicles and big rigs. They are usually not as scenic and enjoyable to ride either but for obvious reasons provide a faster route to get to your destination in a shorter amount of time.
This summer we will be taking a 10 day trip to North Carolina and Virginia to ride the Blue Ridge Parkway from end to end. And before you ask, NO! We will NOT be trailering our bikes there and back. Were figuring on 3 days to get to the southern most point where it starts in Cherokee, North Carolina, and 4 days to get back from where it ends at Waynesboro, Virginia. That leaves us 3 full days to ride the entire 478 miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway. In order to get there and back within that time frame we will have no option but to take the Interstates. Seven days of Interstate riding can be trying for a lot of riders. For this reason I want to get Margaret on some Interstate freeway rides before we go.
Sweetwater, TX seemed like a reasonable start on this type of bike traveling. Its 400 miles round trip and its Interstate riding all the way. Riding was going well until we got to Weatherford, TX. It was cool, the roads weren’t very busy, and we were cruising comfortably at 75mph. Once we moved past Weatherford to a point where the rolling hills disappeared and the tree line faded the wind hit. This wasn’t just some comfy little breeze either, this wind was gusting around 40mph out of the southwest and we were riding directly west. It’s one thing to ride straight into a strong wind but this was a continuous unrelenting cross wind. The entire ride to Sweetwater was a battle against the wind and it was difficult to maintain a straight line. I thought it might be a good idea to turn around but Margaret wasn’t having any of that, she said “I want to know I can ride in something like this before we leave. Once were days away from home I’ll have no option but to deal with it.”We had a light lunch at Jasons Deli while in Abilene. Its nice to eat light on a ride so you don’t get that bloated heavy sleepy feeling later while your riding. We found out later that someone had gotten into Margaret’s saddlebag while it was in the parking lot in Abilene. They stole a t-shirt, a small overnight bag, and all of the memory cards that we use for our GoPro and camera. I suppose it’s our fault since we still haven’t put locks on her bags yet. We could have moved that stuff to my bike but we didn’t. Lesson learned…
While in Sweetwater we visited the National WASP WWII Museum. This is a quick overview of what the museum is dedicated to as taken from their website: The National WASP WWII Museum seeks to educate and inspire all generations with the story of the WASP: Women Airforce Service Pilots – the first women to fly American military aircraft – women who forever changed the role of women in aviation!
The museum was wonderful and exceeded my expectations so if your wanting to take a ride through Sweetwater I would highly recommend stopping there. It’s built in a aircraft hanger which is perfect for the setting and filled with historical items, write-ups, and pictures. The staff is very friendly, inviting, and knowledgeable about the history of WASP. It took an hour to tour the museum and even though there is no charge we left a donation.
The ride back wasn’t nearly as hard as getting to Sweetwater. We still had a crosswind but now it came from the side and behind so we weren’t fighting the gusts so bad. If I had a sail to attach to the bike the wind would have easily pulled us all the way home! Texas State Troopers were heavy and in full force for most of the ride home. I counted 7 of them clocking motorists and handing out tickets between Sweetwater and Weatherford. At one point there was a white minivan that was riding a bit too close for comfort behind us as if we would speed up for their selfish sake. Not a chance. We maintained our 75mph which was the speed limit and it didn’t take long for the driver to get anxious to get past us. He was soon zooming around us as if we were standing still. It wasn’t much further down the road that we rode right past that same idiot as he sat on the side of the road getting his speeding ticket from one of those State Troopers. Yeah, it felt good to see that!
Our total mileage for Sunday was 403 miles. We also ate lunch, took a few pit stops, rest stops, visited the museum, and arrived back home in 7.5 hours. Not bad at all especially considering the sever wind conditions. It was a good trial ride for Margaret and she handled it quite well. We’ll be taking a few more Interstate rides like that before our Blue Ridge Parkway trip.