Southwest Ride 2019 - Route - Day 1Last minute cold icy weather in the central San Juan mountains forced me to change the first two day's route to aim at the eastern slope of Colorado. This meant a full day's ride to Amarillo which is a not the most enjoyable route. I decided to wait a day to see if the weather would change but it did not. So I took off on a Sunday morning riding a route that took me to Brownwood, Sweetwater, Lubbock and finally Amarillo.
As always, it takes a kick in the pants to get started. The totality of what I am about to do is in my face and uncertainty is high. However I eventually climb on my bike and start the ride north. The first 100 miles or so are relatively nice. Highway 183 runs on the edge of the hill country, which provides a nice rolling ride with 75mph speed limits. I was not too far on my way before it became clear the bucks were rutting. Oh wow, it never occurred to me that delaying until the middle of September exposed me to more deer than usual. Texas hill country deer ignore motorcycles for the most part. I have been able to ride, albeit slowly within feet of them and they don't move. However, the thought of larger kamikaze deer up north entered my mind. They are out at all times of the day. Oh well, too late to think much about this.
At Brownwood, I seemed to have made a habit out of stopping for lunch at Taco Bell. I really have no idea why. The people in Brownwood are nice and there is always someone who asks where I am from and going. This time it was an older guy who looked very familar who was riding an ST. I continued my break in the air conditioning for a while before getting back on the bike for more. Fortunately, it was a little cooler this week. The temps were holding in the low 90s which is quite acceptable.
From Brownwood, it gets a little more dreary in places. The growing presence of petroleum wells and wind turbines continues until they seem to be mixed in with the mesquite trees everywhere. I have ridden through this area at night time and it is trippy. Hundreds of high red lights blinking in unison is mesmerizing. Making my way to Sweetwater, I must be mindful of a couple of speedtraps. Oddly, on this day there were many Texas State Troopers patrolling the roads. Most were not running radar though and would catch me by surprise with their stealthy paint jobs. Eventually, I made it into Sweetwater, filled up and kept going. The next leg to Lubbock is especially crappy. It's 116 miles of oil wells and mesquite trees. It is also the hottest area of Texas I must travel through. There must be a basin around the town of Post, Texas because it routinely runs 5-10 degrees hotter than anywhere on this day's route. Post Texas was originally created as a Utopia by C.W Post, the cereal guy. It really is hard to imagine living in this area without air conditioning. Seems like that would be enough to break up "Utopia".
Fortunately, not to far north of Post, one steps up onto the Edward's Plateau. This has a nice effect of lowering the temperature and humidity for the rest of the ride into Lubbock. From Lubbock, it is another 120 miles to Amarillo. However, the country side changes into the southern plains. Grassland and agriculture dominate the landscape. I grew up working on a farm so I pay more attention to the farms and equipment more than most people might. The farming techniques in the panhandle are much different than central Texas and incredibly interesting to observe. There were several large grain elevator complexes along the way with freight trains taking on the product. As much as I complain about riding through this area of Texas, I enjoyed this part quite a bit. It was getting cooler and the sun was getting close to setting. Eventually, I made my way into Amarillo and headed west on I-40 for a few miles until I found an acceptable Hotel to stay in.
Ouch, the first couple of days hurt a little. After taking my stuff up to the room, I helped myself to a long hot shower. After that, I walked to a nearby Arby's and had a roast beef sandwich. I had been craving one for a couple of weeks, so this was a nice treat. It was not too long after that that I found myself back in my hotel room content and ready to go to sleep. As I lay there drifting off, it felt good to be on the road again. Away from the insanity of civilization. Just me and my motorcycle.