A sportbiker on Route 66

Filed in America, Riding, Travel by on March 18, 2015 2 Comments

Whenever I told anyone that I would be riding a motorbike around America, the first ‘tip’ was to go to Route 66!

Being a sport biker at heart means that my machine and I are most at home on the track or twisties (canyons for the Americans). Hence Route 66 was never on my to-do list, why would I want to visit a straight stretch of road no doubt frequented by mid-life crisis riders on rented Harleys.

At the Route 66 Museum

After weeks of exploring some of the most scenic roads through Colorado and Utah (more on this in another article) fate had me in New Mexico with a need to head West, right on Route 66. In the interest of chalking up another item on my lifes’ to-do list, I checked my maps and found that my intended route would pass the same way

Oasis in the desert (fuel and water at huge markups but…no other alternative)

Modern Route 66 is made up of a mixture of multi-lane, interstate highways between Chicago and California. However what many don’t know is that original ‘Mother Road’ which was established in the 1930s is mostly dilapidated and runs along the newer highway. I decided that my best chance of finding pieces of the original Route 66 would be to pass through the town of Kingman, Arizona.

On a stretch of the original Route 66

What I didn’t know is that the town of Kingman, Arizona is in fact one of the main towns mentioned in the song “Get Your Kicks on Route 66” and as such, has a lot of nostalgia around town including a Route 66 museum.

A warm welcome to Kingman, Arizona

Once I rolled into Kingman, I started scouting out motels for my stay and found what looked to be an run down motel from the 70s complete with an outdoor pool. Above all, the location right on the Route and the name ‘Ramblin Rose’ gave me the Americana feel I was after.

Many parts of the original Route 66 are washed out beyond repair

I made the decision to relax in this hot little town for the better part of 3 days and was rewarded with one of the best experiences of my life.

Having checked in on a Saturday, I found out that my neighbour Jerry who lived in the motel (turns out a lot of Americans actually live in motels due to personal circumstances) liked to spend his Saturday evenings watching cars and bike roll by in front of the motel. So, naturally, I followed suit. Pulled out the chair from my room onto the ledge in front of our rooms on the first floor, legs up on the banister and watched life go by on the Main Street of America.

As the sun set in front of us, the silence of the little town of Kingman was broken by freight trains (also following the arterial) or by the low rumble of American classics and Harleys being brought out by their owners for a lazy Saturday cruise. Owning my own American classic at home, I could only imagine what it must feel like to roll down this road, top/windows down, letting the lazy V8 drag you along.

Sunset from the Ramblin’ Rose on Route 66

All the time, I was also learning more about the town and the road from my new friend Jerry, a retired architect who grew up in Kingman.

This magical night, paired with a subsequent visit to the Route 66 Museum, taught me that there’s more to this road than just hiring a Harley and wearing hacked up leather vests to blast up and down it. This road started off as a migratory vein for Americans trying to find a better life, became a major freight route, is the sole reason for towns such as Kingman being on the map, and more than anything else, the air on the Mother Road is dripping thick with nostalgia.

A day in the life of a traveler in the 1930’s along Route 66

A late lunch at a ‘Sonic’ fast food joint. Drive in bays and food comes out on roller skates!

Breakfast time at a popular diner in Kingman

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I take GSXRs to inappropriate places