The ride this year is my third PAC tour, and every time I look forward to the physical and mental challenge it brings. Each day will bring its own special challenges and rewards. After a few days I expect that the trip will develop its own rhythm. Some days will be solo rides where I can contemplate the ever changing scenery. On other days the miles will pass in conversation with my cycling companions.
I expect easy days and hard nights -- wet days and windy days -- scenic days and dreary days -- In the end I will be exhausted and renewed. I will be ready to face new challenges in my teaching with new strength and the knowledge that I can do it. Lord willing, my third PAC tour will not be my last. (Isaiah 40:31)
June 2: Bloomington
Every journey begins with anticipation and fear. My day began at 4:00 AM
and since I live near the start I rode away from my home in Skokie on my
way to Santa Monica CA. It was an odd feeling knowing I would not be
returning home from my ride. After joining the other riders we all rode
together down the lakefront to Grant Park where Route 66 actually began.
The weather was great and we were able to ride through and out of Chicago
without any problems. When we got out on the open road the wind picked up
from the south and we knew this would be a challenge. I was able to find
three other cyclists in the group with similar abilities, and through
cooperation we were able to complete the day. Whew! The wind was in our
face for hours and was at least 20 MPH. We finished the day after 10:39
hours of riding. The total mileage was 160 miles! We already met people
who were excited to meet us and tell us about route 66. We expect that to
June 3: Litchfield
The most important tv program for cross country cyclists is the weather
channel. After studying this channel we determined that today would be a
good day. It was. We faced strong headwinds in the morning, but after a
"fat-free" lunch at the Cozy Dog in Springfield, (corndogs and fries) the
weather shifted the the WNW and we were able to make better time. The
temperature was cool all day and that was welcomed. The old 66 road was
very bumpy in spots today. My hands and other parts are sore, so I will
sign off for today. If you are part of my exercise challenge I hope you
are sticking to your schedule. Oh yes, today I finished the ride in seven
hours of riding with the mileage being about 116 miles.
June 4: Gray Summit
As I rolled down the steep hill I noticed a sign that said "right turn 20
mph". A glance at my odometer revealed a speed of 40 mph. A quick braking
enabled me to negotiate the turn without a problem. A few miles later we
passed Six Flags amusement park and I reflected why such a place holds no
thrill for me. Cross country cyclists live real adventures not sanitized
pseudo thrill rides. But I digress - Today we traveled from the plains of
Illinois to the hills of Missouri. We were delayed by bridge construction
and busy roads, but the weather was great and Ted Drewes Custard in St.
Louis was worth the trip. I traveled 110 miles in 7:45 miles of bike time
(with delays 10 hours total) Tomorrow we climb!
June 5: Lebanon
The waitress at the Bopper restaurant reminded me of my Aunt Mildred. As
she took my order she remarked that the forecast for today was for rain
either tonight or tomorrow. Then she added that forecasters are always
wrong. I reflected on that remark about one hour later as I hurriedly put
on my rain jacket , and rode about 20 miles in heavy rain. The rain was
inconvenient, but at least the traffic was light and the road for that hour
was realitively flat. When the rain stopped the hills returned and stayed
with us the rest of the day. The country in central Missouri is rollling
hills and quite beautiful. One bit of excitement for the day was passing a
huge fire that turned out to be a motel (not ours). I rode most of the day
with Jerry, who is a very strong rider, and good company. We passed the
hours discussing the scenery, carbos, and other serious subjects. The
mileage for the day was 136 miles, and we climbed more that 5500 feet. Our
riding time was about 9:30. I am tired, satisfied.
June 6: Joplin
"Two pancakes $1.80, three pancakes $2.10." This menu was too good to be
true. After a quick 30 miles this morning a hot breakfast was welcome.
Besides pancakes I ordered bacon, hash browns, a large orange juice and
coffee. On these tours one must eat or die. Today was another hilly day
through central Missouri. It had rained all night, but after a few morning
showers, we were mostly rain free for the rest of the day. In addition to
hills, we also saw the return to headwinds for parts of the day. Did I
mention dogs? It seems the more remote the road the number of dogs
increases geometrically. Twice today we were chased by not one dog, but
6-packs of bellicose beagles and rowdy retrievers. It was a long day with
more than 10 hours riding while traveling 139 miles.
June 7: Claremore
The cue sheet informed us that today we would cover 118 miles and only
climb 1,000 feet. What it could not tell us was that there would be cool
temperatures and favorable winds. With flat roads and the wind at our back
my roomate Jack and I zipped along through Missouri, Kansas, and into
Oklahoma. After 72 miles and several dogs we arrived at our lunch stop,
Dewards and Pauline's restaurant in Vinita. For $3.95 we gorged ourselves
at the buffet that included mashed potatoes, crowder peas, fried catfish,
beef pot pie, stuffed cabages, a variety of veggies and lots of salads. We
hammered past the salads and went straight for the potatoes, peas and
catfish. All the food was great for the rest of the ride we felt more
like napping than riding. But we did not have to worry. The cue sheet was
off by 10 miles so after 108 miles we found ourselves at the motel in
Claremore at 1:45 PM. One other highlight of the day was riding on two of
the oldest sections of Route 66. These sections are only 9 feet wide and
make right turns through the countryside. Tonight we go to Will Rogers
home for a cookout! Yahoo!
June 9: Weatherford
"Go home! Bad dog!" Jack shouted at yet another dog that att
look wondering who had disturbed their quiet Sunday afternoon. "Just
trying to stay alive." I offered as we passed by. I did not stay for their
reply. The day began with record low temperatures and ended with the
termometer hovering at 80 degrees. I was going to write that the day began
with hills like a wrinkled carpet that someone slowly pulled flat. It did
do that, but later the hills returned. We were scheduled to eat lunch on
our own after 75 miles but when not suitable restaurants appeared we
were forced to continue riding and eat at the wildly popular Cherokee
Restaurant. The afternoon rolled by crossing old sections of Route 66 that
seemed to have a bumpy section at the bottom of every hill. I suspect
flash floods have at some point washed the next several days.
June 10: Shamrock
We rode the first hour debating why cement pavement dried faster
than asphalt after a rain. Much soul searching discussion ensued, but no
conclusions were reached. By the time that discussion had concluded we had
passed through some beautiful rolling countryside and seen the sun come up.
At the 15 mile point it was time for breakfast at Pop Hicks Restaurant in
Clinton. After a mildly greasy, but filling meal we headed off to Texas .
The terrain slowly changed from rolly hills, to sort of flat, to rolling
again. Lots of cattle and oil wells were observed. The lunch
Everyone in Deb's was friendly and genuinely interested in our journey.
When Jack commented on the delicious pecan pie he was eating, he was
immediately given a handwritten recipe. We rolled on down the road
counting our blessings by having a southeast
wind to blow us on our way. Along the way we passed through Erick and
Texola, two towns that have withered away since Route 66 closed down. We
saw more out of business motels, and gas stations than anywhere on trip so
far. At 2:15 PM we arrived at the "vintage" Texan Motel. We were glad to
be done early. When we arrived the temperature was 82 degrees. By 5:00 PM
it was over 90 degrees. We plan another early start tomorrow. The ride
today covered 104 miles and our climbing was 2660 feet.
June 11: Amarillo
Jack, Jerry and I were on the road early again, hoping to avoid the
afternoon heat. The first 20 miles were pleasantly flat and brought us to
Mclean, Texas for breakfast at the Cowboy Restaurant. The vintage waitress
was pleasant, but confused. and our order was mixed up with a group that
came in 15 minutes after us leaving us with a longer than planned breakfast
stop. Oh, well. Mclean has a beautifully restored 1930'sgas station that
we photographed. From that point on the day progressed smoothly with the
elevation slowly rising from 2300 feet to 3600 feet. Sometimes it was hard
to tell if we were going up or down. We passed the famous leaning water
tower in Groom. Why doesn't it fall over? Two ofthe supports are off the
ground! The day ended at 1:30 PM with a total mileage of 102 miles. Oh,
yes, the last few miles of the trip brought us past the largest number of
run down motels I have ever seen. In the space of five miles we passed at
least fifty of them. Thankfully, our motel was on a better side of town
and was clean and quiet.
June 12: Tucumcari
Today we had breakfast at the motel and then pushed off to see the Cadillac
Ranch at dawn. (The Cadillac Ranch is a "work of art" consisting of 10
Cadillacs half buried in the ground.) It was a major disappointment. The
Cadillacs were way out in a field and the ground was muddy making a closer
inspection impossible. So it goes. The first fifty miles today were
really flat. Visibility was many miles in any direction. Still we climbed
from 3600 feet to 4500 feet. At that point the so called Cap Rock ended
and we descended 700 feet to a valley and zipped into New Mexico. The
terrain became more buttes and rock formations. I noticed more desert
conditions. Several kinds of cactus. Because tomorrow is a big climbing
day I took it easy. Still, finished at 1:30 PM with the total mileage
today being 113. I used the new Camelback water system today and found it
a good idea.
June 14: Albuquerque
Well! It hadn't rained in New Mexico all year---until today. The morning
greeted us with a cold steady rain. The temperature was in the 50's.
Yesterday I had felt some pain in my achilles tendon and this morning it
got worse after the first 25 miles. With the steady rain and no chance for
the tendon to warm up I decided to take a ride in the van until lunch.
With my tendon taped and the weather better, I rode in the rest of the way.
The rain returned but it was not steady. I met my roommate, Jack, who had
been warming up in a restaurant for over an hour and we rode in together.
Apparently, several people experienced various stages of hypothemia during
a long descent in the rain. I was glad to be able to ride for part of the
day. That night I returned to my original shoes which I had changed a few
days ago. The cleats were a little bit different and perhaps that was the
cause of my tendon problems. At any rate, I plan to tape my foot for the
next few days. A footnote: Within two blocks of our motel the
re were three
tatoo parlors. We considered "Route 66, the mother rode" tatoos, but came
to our senses in time.
June 15: Grants
What a treat! Today took us through beautiful rock canyons and spectacular
scenery. Most of the morning it was cool with favorible winds. The
climbing for the day was 3,000 feet, but with only 85 miles, we did not
care. Jack, Jerry and I rode together and we arrived at the motel at about
1:00 PM. Next door to the motel was a restaurant that featured a great
buffet, including pasta!
June 16: Chambers
The morning greeted us with a calm 49 degrees! We rode off at 6:15 AM into
a beautiful morning and the Continental Divide. For 36 miles we rode up a
steady, but easy grade to the Divide at 7,275 feet. The rest of the day we
rode through beautiful canyons and reservation land. Because Route 66 was
replaced by Interstate 40, our route was near or on the Interstate. Riding
the interstate shoulder is not always the most enjoyable experience, joyable exper
the grades are not severe. We ended the day in Arizona and traveled about
112 miles. We met a friendly truck driver at lunch who was also going to
L.A. We asked to ride along, but he said that would be cheating. He will
be in L.A. tomorrow morning. It will take us another week. And on we go!