I’m a lucky guy. My assignment this year to lead Adventure Cycling Association’s inaugural Route 66 Bike Tour (http://www.adventurecycling.org/guided-tours/self-contained-tours/2016-route-66-the-mother-road-eastward/) came as a stroke of luck. I’ve never participated in a self-contained tour with Adventure Cycling, let alone lead one as a solo tour leader. And last spring’s van-supported tour of the Southern Tier, where I only co-led with an experienced leader (Paul Osika) was my first ever gig with Adventure Cycling. So to say that I was trusted to handle such a big job as this one is a huge honor.
Then the people who signed up for it turned out to be another stroke of luck. It’s a small group of five, they are mostly well matched for traveling together, and there’s a lot of collective touring experience in the group. I don’t think I could have dreamed of a better group to ride this thing with.
And this thing is amazing! At this writing, we are in Springfield Missouri taking a rest day.
We’ve seen spectacular scenery, met wonderful friendly people, experienced desert heat and mountain snow, had way more than our share of wild tailwinds, and we’ve paid for it with gulf headwinds. But the route … The Riding … has been more exciting and fun than I had guessed it could be. Yes, there IS a bit of interstate riding on the Route 66 tour simply because there are places where “66” was assimilated into the interstate right-of-ways, or there is no other option. And in other places, Route 66 became the lonely and barely used frontage roads paralleling the freeways. But the most fun sections are where the original Route 66 alignments veer from the freeways into the countryside and reveal the ghosts towns of old.
There are many, many places that the interstates have forgotten. It’s the theme of much of what we see on this trip, and in fact was the inspiration to the Pixar/Disney movie “Cars”. Perhaps you remember seeing the movie and the anthropomorphic characters Lightning, Sally, Doc, and of course … Mater!
They hung out in “Radiator Springs”, a once vibrant (yet sorta fictional) town that started to die when the interstate was built and bypassed the town. No one stops there anymore. That’s the true story behind many of the places we’ve visited, or simply passed by so far. I wonder if people get the same feelings of wonder when they visit places like the ruins in Greece.
Short on time and pressed on tour leader duties, I’ll save words for another post. But be assured, Route 66 has been a fantastic route to follow as a bicyclist. Just a couple weeks to the end!