Excellent article riding The Mother Road with the wife in tow. It's on one of my "Things to do before you die" list.
Reckon I'd rather go on something like my Pan but like you say it's gotta be done on a Harley and the speed limit looks like it's 55 on most of the roads. How much weight did you put on with all the greasy spoon diners along the way? Nice one.
No, the speed limits vary a lot, much as they do in Europe, a lot of the interstates have 75mph limits and you can ride them at 85mph without worrying. I rarely felt hindered by the speed limits, no more than in the UK anyway, though having a magic licence which they can't endorse does help of course.
Funny how that one trip is on so many bike riders' 'must do' list - that's why I did it, to see if it could live up to all the expectations, but even so I was very surprised by just how much it exceeded mine. Do go and do it, you won't regret it.
I did do a few greasy diners but actually it's not difficult to eat reasonably well, and if you order one child's portion for the two of you, you don't over eat by too much...
I really enjoyed reading your article and it has re-fired a desire to go and do this trip at some point. I too was wondering how the speed limits affected you however as you say the general mood of the trip seems to 'Click' quite nicely with them.
One thing I'm curious about too is how you found the Electra Glide. This was almost certainly one of your more comprehensive stints on one and I'd be eager to hear what you thought of it.
Clearly it is the right bike for this type of trip and the setting suits it rather well but how did it actually cope two-up with a trip like that and over that sort of time period? After all you spent long enough on it to get to know it's idiosyncrasies pretty well. I'm tempted to hire one back in the UK for a couple of days and try it properly for myself but as an ownership proposition I'm not sure. It strikes me as something of a one-trick-pony.
My wife and I recently had a 17 day/3300 mile tour of California and the South West USA, including a few hundred miles of Route 66.
Apart from a short twisty section north of Oatman, it was pretty tedious. The Mojave Desert section was very straight, boring and ridiculously hot (45C). Williams is a lovely little town though and the gateway to the south rim of the Grand Canyon.
The USA has some fabulous riding and awesome National Parks; don't waste your holidays on Route 66
As Kevin says, speed limits aren't really an issue, except when the road is seen as challenging or a viewpoint in a National Park is approaching, when the limit can drop down to 35, 25 or even 15mph. The Park Ranger can do you for speeding as well and in Mesa Verde one of them also had a side arm, pepper spray, handcuffs and a Tazer, so I wouldn't argue with them..
The key with Route 66 is not simply to ride the road and look at what comes up, (although even that works very well on much of it) but to make a point of visiting the host of interesting things on the way. You did happen to ride a dull desert stretch anyway, so there wasn't much of interest there either. But treating R66 as a trip in itself, and doing preparatory work and research or going with a guide, for me at least made it the single best bike trip I have ever done. I certainly wouldn't judge a 2400 mile route on the strength of a casual excursion along a short section in a desert.
Without the background research (or reading Steinbeck...) it's just another piece of road with nothing to distinguish it aside from 'Historic 66' signs now and then. But I came away with a huge number of pictures and experiences, more than for anything similar I've ever done, and all I want to do is go back...
It's better to travel than arrive and I agree a bit of prep work can make all the difference between eating a soggy sandwich by the side of the road or stopping at a characterful historic diner not a mile up the road had you of known.
These are the other must do rides, this side of the pond (top three reachable in the same vacation):
Blue Ridge Parkway, VI to NC (469 miles of scenic beauty):
Deals Gap 'The Dragon', NC to TN (11 miles and 318 curves!):
Cherohala Skyway, TN to NC (53 mile scenic road that cost $100,000.00 to build):
Beartooth Highway, MT to WY (128 mile mountainous ride):
Ouray to Durango, CO (70 mile scenic ride):
Highway 1, Mulholland Drive, CA to Seattle, WA (1,665 miles, one day...):
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