Serving the High Plains

Chix on 66 tour stops in Tucumcari

About 40 women on motorcycles made an overnight stop on Saturday in Tucumcari as part of a two-week cruise on the length of Route 66, called Chix on 66.

Participants said they've enjoyed the journey so far, except they wished an unusual heat wave that began almost on Day One would back off a little.

The trip, which began from the Harley Davidson Museum in Milwaukee on June 10, was organized by the women-focused Riveter Chapter of the Antique Motorcycle Club of America. The journey is scheduled to end June 25 at the Santa Monica Pier in Santa Monica, California, near historic Route 66's endpoint.

In Tucumcari, just past the halfway point of Route 66, participants cooled off in their rooms at the Blue Swallow Motel or Roadrunner Lodge Motel or snacked on pizza brought by Mayor Ruth Ann Litchfield while oil changes or other work was done at the CCMS shop.

Marjorie Kleiman of New Jersey said hot weather has dogged the group almost from the beginning of the tour.

"It's been hot," she said. "I guess it's warm out here anyway, but it's been nearly 100 nearly every day while we're on the motorcycles."

Cheryl O'Brien of Georgia said during their run through St. Louis, her smartwatch indicated the "real feel" temperature - which accounts for humidity - was 117 degrees.

"It just got hotter the further we went," she said.

Regardless, both said they enjoyed their unique experiences on Route 66.

Kleiman said while she and O'Brien were catching some shade from the broiling sun in Shamrock, Texas, a woman from a nearby bank came running out to offer two bottles of cold water.

"I guess she'd been following our Facebook page," Kleiman said. "People have been hearing about us all along the route."

O'Brien said another woman offered to bless their motorcycles during a gasoline stop, which she and Kleiman gladly accepted.

Kleiman said the Riveter Chapter and Chix on 66 tour give a lot of "self-empowerment" to motorcycle-driving women.

"The trip has been absolutely fabulous," she said. "So many like-minded women out on the open road ... it's loosely organized where we meet at the same place every night, but we're on our own on the road."

Before their trip, two female motorcycle technicians explained in Zoom videoconference seminars how to change their oil and perform other mechanical work, plus advice on road-trip preparations, so breakdowns are kept to a minimum.

Those same technicians have accompanied the group.

"Those girls have been working their butts off," Kleiman said "They were up until four this morning installing a new ignition in one of the antique motorcycles. But so far, everything has been able to be fixed."

One of those techs, Tracey Cordes of Grand Rapids, Michigan, was changing oil on motorcycles on Saturday afternoon in the CCCS shop.

Cordes said her days during the tour are spent "riding and hydrating."

Most of the Chix on 66 participants are middle-aged. But nearly all would be hard-pressed to match the riding experience and self-confidence of 81-year-old Betsy Morgan of Mansfield, Ohio.

Morgan, relaxing in the shade outside of her motel room, said she was a farm girl who began riding motorcycles at the age of 12 when her father bought a service model for $25. By the time she was 17, she was winning driving rodeos in cars.

As an adult, one of her jobs was in law enforcement.

"I could outshoot most of the men on the range," she said. "I did combat shooting with the state patrol."

As for her first long foray on Route 66, Morgan said it's been "fabulous."

"I'm not a drinker or a smoker or a chatty Cathy, so I'm getting along fine," she said. "It's been wonderful, but hot. We just stop in the shade, get some more water and more hydration pills, and we survive."

Morgan began riding to a three-wheel motorcycle a few years ago due to its greater stability, but she keeps a two-wheel Harley in her garage because she still can drive it.

"I'm gonna have them take my picture on it: 82 on two," she said. "It's been a fun life, but you need to keep going."

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