Today is a big day here at Val in Real Life HQ. My Nina is loaded and ready to roll to Arkansas for the Bikes, Blues, and BBQ rally in Fayetteville. I’m taking on this challenge with the support of Progressive Insurance and I’ll be sharing the journey as well as the excitement of the rally over the next 9 (ish) days.
This ride is a big turning point for me. I’ve worked very hard to ensure I would be able to handle this in light of the challenges I’ve faced this year. And I’m as ready as I think I can be under the circumstances.
Atlanta to Fayetteville…
I’ve been considering my route carefully. One of my bigger obstacles is the Mississippi River. You’d think in this day of modern transportation, that would be an after-thought but I’ve got limited options for locations to cross the mighty river. Memphis is the obvious crossing point but I’ve driven through in a car many times. And it’s a nightmare. On the bike? No thank you. Plus, it would require a fair amount of interstate riding. Also no thank you. My Guzzi is a great bike but it isn’t the ideal choice for long, wind-battering interstate hauls.
That leaves me with alternate crossing points 60-70 miles north or south of Memphis. I’m leaving both as options but I’m starting with the southern route through Alabama and Mississippi for my trip out. That will leave me the option of getting onto I-40 if I need to make up time due to road delays or challenging weather.
My hope is that I’ll be able to largely stick to secondary roads, though. Because I’m avoiding interstates as much as possible, I’m giving myself three days to make the trip there. It will make the ride longer in time without much difference in actual mileage. Since I also have a penchant for stopping to take pictures and grab geocaches, slower roads simply suit me better.
Bikes, Blues, and BBQ…
If I thought Overland Expo was overstimulating, the 400,000+ attendees of Bikes, Blues, and BBQ should prove quite a challenge for your resident motorcycling introvert. At the same time, I’m excited to step out of my comfort zone and see what a large rally is all about.
There will be a variety of events I’m going to check out… rides, a parade, music, vendors. I’ll be visiting the Progressive booth to bring you the fun that will be happening there. I know it will be a whirlwind few days.
And, confession time. I’m a huge sucker for barbeque. I have no will power whatsoever when it comes to delicious, southern, slow-cooked, yumminess. I’m drooling just thinking about it. So yes, I’ll be checking out the Progressive-sponsored BBQ contest with gusto! I may come back from the rally with a few extra pounds but it will be totally worth it.
Having this ride on my calendar has helped motivate me to train hard and dig deep even when recovery has felt elusive this year. Beyond my personal challenges, I am completely stoked that Progressive is getting behind a female rider. How awesome is that? Although the ranks of women riders is growing quickly, we’re still a minority in the industry and I give Progressive huge props for supporting us.
I’ve partnered with Progressive for the Bikes, Blues & BBQ rally and I look forward to sharing the journey with you from start to finish. I’ll be on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter during the trip and I’ll have all the details on the blog afterwards. You can also follow the #ProgressivePartner hashtag to keep up with all of the excitement.