Los Angeles to Albuquerque on Route 66, 2006

Get Your Kicks on Route 66

After a few pictures at the Santa Monica Pier, I said goodbye to my wife Yvonne and joined the Route 66 PAC Tour. As we rolled through Los Angeles early Easter Sunday in 2006, riders anticipated many adventures on the four week trek to Chicago. Key ingredients on this trip were cyclists with extensive touring experience, long rides in the desert, and even a little cyclocross. Route 66 offers a rich history and great scenery along the way.

America’s first highway connecting the second and third largest cities has a rich sense of history. I visited two Route 66 museums. In one of the hotels, we watched the Grapes of Wrath starring Henry Fonda. From the movie, we recognized the old Trails Arch Bridge spanning the Colorado River. We stayed in a few famous hotels, like the El Rancho in Gallup, and the wigwam hotels in San Bernardino and Holbrook. Although many cyclists seem content with their annual bike trips across Iowa or Wisconsin, some of us occasionally like to march to the beat of a different drummer. A bike trip on the Mother Road gives you a taste of what restaurants and motels used to be like before generic chain establishments proliferated. Route 66 opened in 1926 and it’s still hip. The words of Bobby Troup ring true today as they did a couple generations ago: “Won’t you get hip to this timely tip, When you make that California trip, Get your kicks on Route 66!”

Image map with links to pictures of Route 66 in California, Arizona, and New Mexico

3 Rt 66 States: CA, AZ, NM CA shape AZ shape NM shape

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Route 66 PAC Tour

Pac Tour specializes in fast bicycle trips across the country. They also run a desert training camp in southern Arizona for cyclists in February and March. Trip leaders Lon Haldeman and Susan Notorangelo have each biked across America more than seventy times. Both won the Race Across America, RAAM, in the 1980’s. Tim Olson , a friend in my early morning ride group, went on the first Route 66 Pac Tour in 1996. Back then it was a three week trip leaving in early June heading west from Chicago. Tim's group averaged well over 100 miles per day. They struggled across the Mojave Desert in strong headwinds and 110°F temperatures. The third Route 66 Pac Tour in 2006 sounded much better riding with the prevailing westerly winds and doing the same trip in four weeks instead of three. Except for a little haze around Los Angeles, it was sunny every day for the first eleven days. But people who completed the four week trip in 2006 said that it rained almost every day on the final week in Missouri and Illinois. Although I would have been thrilled to ride the entire Route 66 back to Chicago, my vacation time is limited. I arranged to finish the bike tour in Albuquerque, take the overnight train back to Chicago, and ride my bike home the last fifteen miles from Union Station.