Route Development > Bicycle Route 66

Skeptical about Bike Route 66

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jamawani:
I remain deeply skeptical about Bicycle Route 66.  I recognize that the idea has great appeal, but the reality on the ground is quite, quite different that the image created when listening to "You Get Your Kicks on Route 66" or browsing old 1950s B&W photos of Americana.

The major reason that reality diverges from image is that Interstate Highways have been built over much of the original right of way of Route 66 - especially in the West.  What that means for cycle tourists is that they have to ride either on an interstate shoulder with 20,000 vehicles zooming by or on a service road that offers little respite from the roar of the interstate.  Idyllic it is often not.

Furthermore, Route 66 had many routings over the years - i.e. there is not ONE Route 66.  This is true of many of the named highways of old such as the Lincoln Highway or the Dixie Highway.  Given this, I would argue that the preferred choice for the cyclist in the Southwest would be to approximate Route 66 - to experience the natural beauty, native cultures, and some of the cultural artifacts of Route 66 in a way as close as possible to that of early cross-country travellers - rather than to adhere to any fixed route.

For example, from northern New Mexico to the Grand Canyon, I believe it is far more rewarding to take a route such as Taos, Abiquiu, Cuba, Gallup, Window Rock, Second Mesa, Tuba City, Grand Canyon rather than follow service roads and interstate shoulders from Albuquerque to Flagstaff.  The former allows one to experience Taos Pueblo, the art of Georgia O'Keeffe, ancient pueblos, the kitsch of Gallup Route 66, Navajo life, the traditions of the Hopi, and finally, a rim ride along the Grand Canyon.

Just sayin', ya know?

Abiquiu Plaza

easy:
In Illinois, Route 66 follows Illinois 53, no shoulders on that road, at least in my area. Pick up trucks don't like to have slow bicycles on their roads. If they would add a shoulder, it would be a good road but Illinois is broke.
We had a bicycle touring group come through last week, they had a police escort, traffic was backed up about 2 or 3 miles cause people were afraid to pass the police cars.

Fred Hiltz:

--- Quote from: jamawani on August 04, 2012, 01:49:21 pm ---... I would argue that the preferred choice for the cyclist in the Southwest would be to approximate Route 66 - to experience the natural beauty, native cultures, and some of the cultural artifacts of Route 66 in a way as close as possible to that of early cross-country travellers - rather than to adhere to any fixed route...
--- End quote ---

The route planners apparently agree. Here's a good article http://grist.org/living/the-mother-of-all-rides-biking-across-america-on-the-old-route-66/

Fred

jamawani:
Fred -

Sorry, but I do not think this is a much better option.
The section quoted in the article is in New Mexico proposed by the New Mexico Touring Society.
(BTW, I had read and posted earlier in that article)

Other than the dogleg up to Santa Fe, it does little to alter the service road/interstate issue.
Here is a rough descriptionn from their website:

Proposed Route Segments (Described from West to East)
Segment 1: Arizona border to Gallup (including Gallup).  The route follows NM 118. 22 miles.
Segment 2: Gallup to Grants (scenic route).  The route follows NM 602 and NM 53. Includes Zuni and Ramah Navajo Indian Reservations, El Morro and El Malpais National Monuments. 97 miles.
Segment 3: Grants to the intersection of NM 6 and I-40.  The route follows NM 117, NM 124 and the shoulder of I-40. Communities include Acoma and Laguna Indian reservations. 46 miles.
Segment 4: Intersection of NM 6 and I-40 to Tijeras. The route follows I-40 (shoulder), local streets in Albuquerque and NM 333. 53 miles.
Segment 5: Tijeras to Santa Fe (including Santa Fe). The route follows NM 14 and local streets in Santa Fe. Communities include Tijeras, Madrid and Santa Fe. 56 miles.
Segment 6: Santa Fe to the intersection of I-25 and US 84. The route follows I-25 service roads, I-25 (Glorieta Pass) NM 50 and NM 63. Communities include Pecos.  Also includes Glorieta Battlefield and Pecos National Historical Park. 63 miles.
Segment 7: Intersection of I-25 and US 84 to the intersection of I-40 and US 84.  The route follows US 84. 42 miles.
Segment 8: Intersection of I-40 and US 84 to the Texas border. The route follows I-40 (shoulder) and I-40 service roads.  Communities include Santa Rosa and Tucumcari. 123 miles.

http://www.bicyclemaps.org/rt66/Route_66/Overview.html

Comments:
Section 1 - Fine if you like service roads - original sections of Route 66.
Section 2 - NM 602 has fairly heavy traffic (4000+), hills, rideable rumble strip shoulders, NM 53 nice.
Section 3 - More service roads and some I-40 riding.
Section 4 - Yikes!?!  Interstate and urban streets. Then Old 66 up Tijeras Canyon as service road.
Section 5 - NM 14/Turquoise Trail is lovely, but busy. (5000+) No shoulder mid section.
Section 6 - Santa Fe tricky to negotiate and expensive. Old Las Vegas Hwy very busy.  Pecos nice.
Section 7 - US 84 - good road, low traffic, shoulders. Nice bluffs northern end.
Section 8 - Back to interstate and service road riding.

Without doing a mile-by-mile, I'd say more than half of the route is
Interstate riding, service roads, high traffic, or congested.

Since Bike Route 66 is more than just a historical fantasy, but also a major southwestern connector -
It seems that a route which offers great roads, scenery, and the "feel" of a tour in 1950 would be preferable.

For example, NM 104 between Tucumcari and Las Vegas is stunningly empty -
Great mesas, state park, services on both endpoints.
Taos is very bike friendly, historic,  and fairly easy to bike into and out of.
Coyote to Cuba is lovely, quiet riding in high pine country.
Riding via Cuba and Crownpoint allows one the option to off road to visit the Chaco ruins.
And you can soak up the Route 66 kitsch in Gallup.

Hey, I like the Route 66 diner in Albuquerque, too.
But why ride with the roar of the interstate and fight city traffic - -
When you can have dinner on the Taos Plaza?


Fred Hiltz:
Well, there's nothing like being there and doing that. I wonder what our mapping team chose, and how it is faring in negotiation with all the other interested parties. Is the USBRS going to be a horse designed by committee? We know how that turned out!

Fred

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