Route 66 is one of the original highways in the United States highway system. The road originally ran from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California and became possibly the most well-known road in the entire country. Eventually, it was overshadowed by the Interstate Highway System and now Route 66 is no longer considered a highway. Many parts of it have been bypassed by the more recent highway system. Though, it’s still as popular as ever and is a great trip for bikers, due to its rich history; not to mention its stretches of flat road that are perfect for cruising and its reputation as a top item on the biker bucket list! Here’s some advice to keep in mind if you choose to ride Route 66.
- Get the right bike
Unless you already own a cruiser that you feel comfortable riding on for hours at a time for a few weeks, you’ll probably want to rent a bike in Chicago. There are various places you can choose from and even some guided tours that will offer suggestions on what bike to take. If you don’t feel like planning out your entire trip, go for the guided tour of Route 66. Or, just find the proper bike and get ready for your journey.
- Know where you’re going
Route 66 has a complicated history of being bypassed by the Interstate Highways and having various sections constantly realigned or completely renovated. You need to know exactly what part of the route you intend to follow (maybe all of it) and then carefully map out where you’ll be going. Sometimes you’ll come across multiple signs, all showing Route 66, so it’s important you know what route you’re following or where you’ll detour off of Route 66 (if you want to do so). It can get complicated and rough, so make sure you know where you’re going!
- Give yourself time
Biking Route 66 is going to take a while; it goes across most of the country, after all! Give yourself at least two weeks to travel this road, though adding an extra week would be good, so you can account for any accidental detours or time you may decide to spend in one area. You’ll give yourself freedom to take your time and really enjoy the trip. It’s also important to be mindful of what time of year you’re going. Many people feel that September is the best time to travel Route 66, but anywhere between the middle of May to October should be fine.
- Talk to people!
When you stop for food or to rest for the night, make sure you talk to the locals. There’s an endless amount of towns along Route 66, with many family-owned businesses and people who have lived there for generations. Take time to get to know these people and hear their stories. You’ll end up learning more about the history of the route than you could have ever imagined.
- Pick out places to stop
Much like planning your route ahead of time, also plan where you’ll stop. Know what landmarks you’d like to see, where you’ll spend the night, and what towns are worth stopping in. There are lots of great places to get food, almost always for an affordable price. Take a look at this list to get some ideas of where you’d like to go while riding Route 66. Also, take along proper clothes that’ll leave you prepared for any weather!