March 2, 2015
Adventure Cycling is excited to announce the release of the Bicycle Route 66 Maps!
Maps are now available for Adventure Cycling Association’s Bicycle Route 66 (BR66). Embracing the spirit of “The Mother Road,” the new route follows the famous corridor from Chicago to Los Angeles on roads appropriate for cyclists, including sections of the historic highway. The route is covered by a six-map set, allowing cyclists to tour the whole thing or ride a few preferred sections to maximize their Americana intake. The 2,493-mile Bicycle Route 66 takes in sights from the Cadillac Ranch in Texas and America’s bread basket across Oklahoma — Adventure Cycling’s first route in the Sooner State — to the iconic deserts of the Southwest and the bright lights of Southern California and Chicago.
The maps feature turn-by-turn directions, detailed navigational instructions, elevation profiles, and services cyclists will need along the route. Cyclists can explore at their own pace the surviving pieces of architecture, abandoned bridges, landmarks, businesses, and historically important communities from the golden era of U.S. Route 66. “This route can be done as a camping tour in roadside campgrounds, however there are many unique motels along the route which make this a good credit-card touring route. Eating in the old cafes and diners is part of the charm,” said Lon Haldeman, an experienced Route 66 bicycle-tour leader.
We know you're as excited as we are to get out and ride Bicycle Route 66. To help with your planning here are a few things to consider when preparing for your tour:
Give yourself a minimum of two months to cycle Route 66
You’re cycling more than halfway across America, if you rush you’re going to miss some incredible sights. There are many museums, great places to eat, historically significant spots, not to mention the endless side journeys you can take to see things just a short distance off Bicycle Route 66. Any day spent on the Mother Road can be incredibly rich.
Best time to Ride
Going Westbound from Chicago? Spring departures (mid-April) are best to hit the desert before June; while autumn departures in September should hit the mountains before heavy snow. Both times should keep hot, humid weather in the midwest to a minimum.
Going Eastbound from Santa Monica? Spring departures in April/May are best before the desert heats up, mountains might still have snow but roads are clear. Cyclists might hit some humidity in the midwest; while autumn departures in late August/September are good as the desert cools but before there are heavy snows in the mountains.
While there aren't a lot of mountain passes on this route, across California, Arizona and New Mexico there is quite a bit of desert with few services, and especially in summer, significant heat. As with most long tours, we recommend starting with shorter days and building up to longer ones as your body adjusts to riding multiple days in a row.
Be sure to talk to locals
A huge part of the character of Route 66 is the people. Take the time to stop and visit with the locals. You’ll meet folks who’ve lived on Route 66 their whole lives, as well as young entrepreneurs trying to bring beautiful old motels and restaurants back to life. These stories will fuel your nostalgic experience while touring and lead you to discover funky out-of-the-way places.
Bring extra food, water, and rain gear
Don’t forget, Route 66 crosses most of America, and the weather can vary depending on where you are. Be sure to bring rain gear, and if you’re going in the height of summer, carry extra water and protect yourself from the sun. It will ease your mind to bring an extra half-day's worth of water and snacks when riding the longer desert stretches in the southwestern U.S.
Plan to visit a few of these iconic locations
The Blue Swallow Motel, The Blue Dome District, Oklahoma Route 66 Museum, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, The Powerhouse Route 66 Museum, Route 66 State Park, Joe and Aggies, Mr. D’z Route 66 Diner, Cadillac Ranch, Roy’s Cafe, Route 66 Drive In Theatre, Tower Station and U-Drop Inn, Laguna Pueblo, Cool Springs Camp, Motel Wigwam, Chain Of Rocks Bridge, Santa Monica Pier
To celebrate the release of our newest route we'll be giving away two complete BR66 map sets this week. For a chance to win a mapset, simply comment on this blog post and tell us why you are excited about the new Bicycle Route 66 or share with us any adventures you've had on the "Mother Road." We'll draw two winners at random on Friday, March 6. The winners will be contacted via email.
Share your experiences and stories with Adventure Cycling: firstname.lastname@example.org
Post by Lisa McKinney / Photos by Michael Clark and Lon Haldeman