It was a cloudy mid-June day in Los Angeles as our flight was about to take off. I had 16 amazing days ahead of me. This was going to be the ride of a lifetime. This is the top of the bucket list for thousands of riders. The two days prior to the trip have been pretty nervous. There are things to pack, to finish up and work and home, and just put the mind at ease to fully enjoy what is about to happen. We landed in Chicago and the journey was about to begin.
Route 66 is a dream road. If you ever get a chance to read about it before the tour, I highly recommend getting more familiar with it. It was an iconic road that for many reasons didn't withstand the changes or time and technology. We left a lot behind, a lot of beautiful history that we can still revisit on the original Route 66. Great effort went into the building process, but it was not meant to be for long. An interstate highway system was introduced just a decade after the completion of fully paved Mother Road. 2,500 miles from Chicago to Santa Monica are full of great riding time, iconic places, and fantastic people you meet on the way and the ones that travel with you. This is the ride that changes lives. This is the time for reflection and for making new plans and goals in life. This is also a great achievement. All this was just a few days ahead of me and I was fully prepared to fully enjoy what was about to happen.
As we picked up our bikes, everyone could feel the excitement in the air. The weather promised to be on our side for at least the beginning of the journey. The trip across eights states gives you the full experience of different climates and road conditions. Our June tour was very pleasant for the first half with the cool breezes and the fresh smell of cornfields in Illinois and Missouri. After the first few days everyone rides in better formation and gets used to the motorcycles. Each day is full of stops in iconic places.
Throughout the whole journey the road we travel on is still in good condition. Often we were riding on what now is called the service road and which is just a dozen feet away from the major highway. But this used to be the main road back in the day. Strong winds might be an issue and Oklahoma is probably the toughest weather segment besides Mojave Desert. You need to watch for the road and people riding behind you, beside you, and in front of you while avoiding the road cracks and the wind. The beauty of heavy Electra Glides is both in the comfort and the weight. Depending on your ride, these conditions will have a different effect on you. There is only a short span of the rough road, but in reality it just adds to the adventure.
It’s a popular question about what to pack for the two-week tour on Route 66. For the guided tours the answer is simpler. There is a van that is always behind the group and that carries your luggage, cold drinks, ice, and other needed essentials. As you prepare for the trip, plan to bring a lot of layered clothing. Rain gear is strongly recommended, however you can purchase it when you get to Chicago. The temperatures will vary greatly and elevations will change. Prepare yourself for intense days of riding. This two-week trip is different from the short daily rides you might be used to. Other essentials include cooling bandanas, riding gear from boots to quality helmet (EagleRider provides half shell helmets), digital gadgets such as phones and cameras, and personal essentials. There will be enough stops to do additional shopping but anything more specific will need to be brought with you.
The tour group was fantastic. Everyone was friendly and fun regardless of the language barriers and bike preferences. There was mutual respect between everyone. Being part of the group and reaching this milestone together seems to be more fun than just getting to hotel by yourself each day. It’s also a great bonding time with other riders. We were to dinners together, had inside jokes, and learned from each other. Because the tour was so big, we had two groups with individual tour guides and van drivers. The tour guides definitely enhance the experience in major ways. Every part of the trip is planned out to each stop on each day. Everything is in perfect sync any unexpected situation is handled well. The tour guides accommodate for any language barriers and our group has German, French, and Spanish speaking guides. EagleRider takes a lot of pride in selecting the best guides to lead each group. With so many tours hitting the road during the season, it really takes a lot of work to plan the best guides for each group.
First few days of riding were very fresh and everyone was anxious to keep moving forward. As we reached Oklahoma, the realization of what was happening started to sink in. Somehow the thoughts become much deeper and it’s truly a reflection time on life accomplishments. By the time we got to New Mexico, we were ready for a much-needed day off. Santa Fe is one of the most pleasant surprises on the road with its small city streets and little shops where you can find anything from hand crafted jewelry to leather goods. This is one of the best stops for shopping if you like handmade things.
Next, we had an amazing day of stops at small Route 66 towns and the breathtaking sunset at Grand Canyon. By that point everyone was speechless. It’s the monumental beauty of nature and the realization of the upcoming accomplishment that leave a very strong impression. To mix this up a bit we headed to Laughlin and Las Vegas for overnight stops. There is not much time in Las Vegas, so if there is something specific you want to do, you need to plan for that ahead of time.
The last stretch of the tour has some of the best riding segments. Angeles Crest Highway is a fantastic 60-mile ride in the mountains before heading down to Los Angeles. The last two days are possibly also the hardest. We cross the Mojave Desert, where the temperatures get so high that it takes a lot of physical and mental work to get through the day. It’s also difficult because you realize that the trip is about to end and that is the last thing you actually want to happen. The 1.5 weeks on the road with the now friends for life cannot pass without leaving a mark and it is the last day and the farewell party when you have to say your goodbyes.
Route 66 tour is a milestone trip. It is the ride that celebrates some of the major life events. This trip is a dream for thousands of riders around the world. It requires a lot of financial and family commitments, but in the end it blows all your expectations away with its beauty and overall organization of the guided EagleRider Route 66 tour. 2,500 miles, eight states, and three time zones are no small trip, but it is the one you’ll remember forever.
Guided Tour Link: http://www.eaglerider.com/motorcycle-tours/guided-motorcycle-tour/route-66-motorcycle-tour
Self-Drive Tour Link: http://www.eaglerider.com/motorcycle-tours/self-drive-motorcycle-tour/route-66-motorcycle-tour
By Anastasia Petukhova