For this past weekend, we had planned for me to take my first highway ride out to Pennsylvania to visit Jason’s family. All week, I went back and forth between riding Georgia and riding bitch with Jason. I hadn’t yet ridden on a bike more than a couple miles at a time at high speed. So, I thought about the 70-mile trek on Route 78, a six-lane highway, to a little hamlet on the Delaware River called Riegelsville. We talked about making pit stops on the way to take rests, since riding on a light dual-sport bike with semis can be taxing on a rider’s body. The wind pattern caused by the shape of trucks can push a bike out or in across a lane depending on where the bike is positioned near a truck. A rider would have to maintain speed while keeping the bike straight, using arms, shoulders, and body leaning against wind thrusts. In the MSF course, the instructor said, “Stay away from trucks.” Unfortunately, that’s virtually impossible on a highway like Route 78.
I’d only been to Jason’s family’s place once, and certainly didn’t know the roads out there. While I looked forward to the highway experience, I finally decided not to ride Georgia. So I told Jason that I thought it would be more fun to ride with him on his bike instead of have to constantly check for directions– less fun. All in all, I’m still an inexperienced rider. It’s better for me to ride my first highway on a more familiar route to a more familiar destination.
In addition, on Friday, about to make a turn onto my street where we live, poor Georgia died because of her under-sized battery. This added to my discomfort about riding long distance. We had changed the oil and bought a new and properly-sized battery, which was fully charged in time for the trip. However, it’s difficult to tell what else might cause problems with a bike that’s 34 years old, especially when taking a long distance ride.
It was a good thing I rode with Jason. We left at 1pm on Saturday, when traffic is lighter than on a Friday. (Columbus Day weekend.) In spite of the lighter traffic, the wind was blowing at 30mph with gusts coming from all different directions. I could feel the wind pushing us, and I watched Jason’s arms as he pressed to keep straight. His bike is also a dual-sport, but it’s at least a hundred pounds heavier than Georgia. It was a head wind. So, riding at 70mph, the wind felt like 100mph. Since I could see Jason working hard, I stayed still the entire ride, keeping legs and arms as close to the bike and to Jason as possible.
We took a break about 45 miles into the trip. Jason’s arms needed the rest, and I needed to stretch. The wind was so brutal, there was no way I would have been able to ride Georgia without getting blown across a lane. She’s too light and I’m too light.
I’m really glad I got my new helmet in time for the trip. Had I worn the old one that feels like it might lift off, I would not have enjoyed riding the highway at all. But the new Shoei helmet stayed put. I could feel the gusts coming at different angles, but the helmet is aerodynamic enough that it’s easy to resist the wind. I felt much more comfortable riding at high speed than with the old helmet. Now I’m really looking forward to riding the highways.