Past years: 1996, 1998, 2001,2003, 2007, 2010, 2012, and 2017
Eastern Route 66 Tour
95th Anniversary of the Mother Road!
Route 66 will celebrate its 94th anniversary since it was first designated as a National Highway in 1926. Since then Route 66 has been immortalized in movies, books and songs as the classic American Road Trip. Images of roadside cafes and motels are portrayed on watercolor postcards as part of the 1950's family vacation when driving to the Grand Canyon or other exotic destination. Route 66 has spanned three generations of travelers from the dust bowl migration to California in the 1930 through troop transports during WWII to the ever popular family vacation in the 1950s and 60s. But why was the path of Route 66 chosen in the first place?
In the early 1900s the road system in the United States was an assortment of trails and country roads with colorful names such as the Ozark Trail, Lincoln Highway and Old National Trails. Most of these routes were connected by unpaved farm roads. In 1926 the Highway Department adopted a numbering system for all national roads. Highways going across the country in the northern states were given low numbers (such as 2, 12, 20) and highways across the southern states were given high numbers (70, 80, 99). Route 66 received a medium range number because it crossed diagonally through the middle of the country. It was decided Route 66 would go between Chicago, Illinois and Los Angeles, California. It would include the cities of St. Louis, Oklahoma City, Amarillo, Albuquerque and Flagstaff, Arizona.
Towns and cities across America lobbied to be included on the major highway just as towns tried to attract the railroad 50 years earlier. To be included on a major highway meant an instant stream of new business for their area. The path for Route 66 was designated by linking together a collection of lines on a map. Many of these roads were unpaved in 1926.
These rural roads were given funding for pavement and improvement. It took until 1932 before all of Route 66 had become a "hard surface road". Many routes were chosen to follow the easy grades of the railroad and avoided the straighter option of going over a mountain. During the next 20 years Old Route 66 was straightened and improved with wider lanes to handle the increased traffic. The older routes were sometimes discontinued and were no longer attached to the new alignments. Some of the original towns were bypassed just as the modern interstate would bypass a majority of towns in the 1970s.
When PAC Tour cycles Route 66 we will be looking to travel as much of the original route as possible. Many of these sections cannot be reached by auto or motorcycle so a bicycle is the perfect way to travel these roads. Some of these roads were discontinued after World War II and have not seen any traffic or maintenance since. Our route will travel a combination of paved and gravel roads. A bicycle with 28mm tires is required to handle the rough sections and still be fast on the many paved roads. A randonneur style bike or hybrid is the perfect Route 66 bicycle. As we ride the Eastern Section of Route 66 from Amarillo, Texas to Chicago, Illinois we are always looking for the remains of a closed bridge or overgrown pavement which hasn't been used in over 50 years. Basically if you don't like exploring gravel roads this is not a good tour for you.
Along the way we will be stopping to check out the best milkshakes, apple pie and hamburgers at the local cafes. Most evening we will include more Route 66 history lessons from local guest speakers and videos highlighting a section of the old road. Since we will be staying at many authentic smaller motels this tour will be limited to about 12 motel rooms or about 18 people.
Arrive Amarillo on May 20, 2021
Depart Chicago on June 5, 2021
Route 66 first became a recognized highway in 1926. It evolved with many different alignments that carried thousands of travelers from Illinois to California and back again. Our tour will explore these forgotten towns and sections by linking together many desolate pieces of original 1920 roadbed.
Besides finding old concrete, we will experience the culture that defined America from 1920 to 1980. Route 66 is a unique tour that combines over 60 years of cross country history with a really fun bicycle adventure.
2021 Prices dependent on the number of riders