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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Royal Enfield G5 travels Old Route 66

John Powell rode his 2009 Royal Enfield G5 Bullet from Chicago to Los Angeles, following old Route 66. Then he got back on the Royal Enfield and rode the Pacific Coast Highway the rest of the way to his home in San Diego.

Route 66 has been the choice of American adventurers, dreamers, foreclosed farmers fleeing the Dust Bowl and television actors setting drama to the sound of their wheels. Millions traveled it, until interstate highways replaced it. Most not travel by Royal Enfield.

Powel made it the whole way in eight days, then wrote Kevin Mahoney of Classic Motorworks with his opinion of the Royal Enfield:

"The bike performed wonderfully and it was a smooth ride over the many different style of roads... I wanted to see how the Enfield handled and how I felt after a long ride. So far I am impressed," he wrote.

I asked Powell what inspired the trip:

"Well the background is that I grew up in Northern Illinois, got a master's in applied physics and now work as a geophysicist offshore looking for oil and gas. I work a rotation of five weeks on five weeks off ... With this job I can live anywhere I want and after the last couple of winters in Chicagoland, I moved out to San Diego and absolutely love it.

"After my last work trip I came back to Illinois to visit friends and family. While I was there it kind of dawned on me that it would be much more fun to buy a bike and ride it home... I'm sick of flying and it just so happened that I could travel the whole Route 66 all the way back to Santa Monica and then the Pacific Coast Highway on down to San Diego

" I shopped around for bikes for about a week and narrowed my choices down to a Yamaha V Star 1100 and the new Royal Enfield Bullet. I like bikes with character so I had to go with the Bullet and I'm glad I did. It handled beautifully on the highway, winding mountain country roads and even in LA traffic. And after long days of riding, I wasn't sore one bit. I had no problem getting up to 75 mph and I averaged around 60 mpg.

"The only thing that slowed me down was people asking questions about my bike. As for the trip itself, it was amazing. Anyone interested in history, traveling or American culture should do this trip. While I was traveling the route, I would stop at one of the many frequent sideshows and the owners would give me tips on what the best things to see, where the best places to eat are and the best places to stay. I found this was the best way to see things.

"Everyone I met along the way was very friendly and they are trying hard to bring about a revival of the route 66."

Tomorrow, I'll print Powell's account of actually traveling Route 66.

Meanwhile here are fun facts about Route 66 from the Historic66 web site:

* Route 66 is 2,448 miles long.
* Route 66 was commissioned in 1926, picking up many bits and pieces of existing road.
* Route 66 crosses eight states and three time zones.
* Route 66 starts in Chicago, and ends in Santa Monica, Calif. Some people think driving it in the west-to-east is historically wrong, but it's mainly a lot harder as all available documentation goes the "right" way.
* In 1926 only 800 miles of Route 66 were paved. It was not fully paved until 1937.
* You can only drive parts of Route 66 these days... it has been replaced by the Interstate highways I-55, I-44, I-40, I-15 and I-10, but a surprising amount of old road remains.
* Route 66 is also know as "The Mother Road," "The Main Street of America" and "The Will Rogers Highway."
* During its life, Route 66 continued to evolve, leaving many abandoned stretches of concrete.
* Route 66 was the title of a TV series playing from 1960 to 1964.
* In 1985 Route 66 was officially decommissioned, but for daily use it had been replaced far earlier by the Interstates.

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