Author Topic: Safety of Rte 66 in California?  (Read 2526 times)

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Offline cerebralcyclist

Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« on: April 01, 2018, 03:27:21 pm »
Hello all,

My husband/touring partner and I are planning to ride Route 66 from Flagstaff to Los Angeles next month. We're both experienced touring cyclists, and I completed Rte 66 from Chicago-FLG several years ago (pre-ACA route).

In reading the ACA maps, I noted that riding conditions on Rte 66 CA are listed as some of the most challenging of the entire ACA network. I just want to gauge what we're getting into, traffic-wise.

We're prepared for the long, desolate stretches, varying surface conditions, heat, and lack of amenities, but my big concern is safety in terms of motorists. By comparison, out of many years and miles of touring, the worst traffic conditions I've encountered were in Oregon during the summer along the PCH (Portland-CA border), with narrow to no shoulders and a constant stream of tourists, RVs, loggers, and monster trucks. I've done the CA stretch of the PCH several times and traffic was at times a nuisance, but nothing compared to Oregon--which felt so unsafe I'd never do again.

So, with that in mind, for those of you who have ridden FLG to LA (especially getting nearer to LA) would you say traffic is:

a) So bad you wouldn't risk it
b) At times sketchy but overall not terrible
c) Comparable to other ACA routes

Thanks so much for your input!

Offline aggie

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #1 on: April 01, 2018, 08:44:41 pm »
I'm not sure but I think the challenging part has to do with the desolate terrain from Needles to Barstow.  Traffic once you get into the LA basin will be what you have already experienced in CA.  In the LA Basin some roads will have marked bicycle lanes and most will have at least a shoulder.  I'm sure there will be spots that are a little tight but you most likely have those around where you live. 

Offline sam21fire

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #2 on: April 01, 2018, 11:54:00 pm »
I've ridden from Cajon Pass to Needles, and Flagstaff to Kingman on separate trips. I didn't find traffic to be an issue on either trip, but as stated above, the distances between services (especially West of Needles) are the big deal. The route West of Flagstaff runs along the shoulder of I-40 which isn't pleasant but has a wide shoulder and some steep downgrades, just gotta watch for road debris and frost heaves. Part of the route between Seligman and Kingman (going through a canyon, sorry don't remember the name) has fast traffic and narrow shoulder but that only lasts for a few miles.

West of Needles you have a choice of riding along I-40 with very few places to take a break, or take National Trails Highway. NTH is technically closed due to some bridge washouts, but the locals and railroad crews all use it, and there are dirt "roads" around the closed sections. The good news is there are unlimited places to take a break, almost no traffic, and great views.

Between Ludlow and a few miles East of Barstow the actual Rt 66 (paralleling I-40) is pretty deteriorated and rough, but again, almost no traffic.  Traffic through Barstow isn't bad, typical medium-sized town stuff, then between Barstow and Cajon Pass is low-moderate.

Getting through Cajon Pass involves at least a short stretch on the shoulder of a VERY busy freeway. Once you get to the bottom of the pass it's pretty much urban/suburban sprawl all the way to the coast with all the good and bad you'd expect.

I posted both trips on Crazy Guy On A Bike, or if you write to me I'll send more details, sam21fire@gmail.com

Good luck!
Sam

Offline JHamelman

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #3 on: April 02, 2018, 09:09:45 am »
My addition to the other comments already stated is that I hope you are leaving in the earlier part of May. Temperatures will rise into the 90's and beyond in May especially as you get closer to June. With few places to take refuge in the heat of the day this is a consideration affecting when you ride and for how long.

Best,
Jennifer
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Jennifer Hamelman
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Offline Amk7223

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2018, 11:01:18 pm »
My husband and I did route 66 from LA to the Transamerica Trail and ended in Yorktown and started out the same the time you will be going last year. I have never done any of the other ACA routes but I would say from Flagstaff to LA I felt mostly safe on the roads. The road before Flagstaff (will be right at the start for you) was some of the worst road conditions (in terms of huge holes, gapped pavement etc) but the shoulder is huge and was only a few miles long. We ran into a couple that works for ACA and they said it was the worst few miles of road conditions they had seen. Then again your going east so maybe that side of the road is better. Just don't let that get you down. You can always walk a little bit if needed.

There were a few places that didn't have a shoulder and traffic was quite busy but nothing too dangerous (excluding LA...which really was just more annoying due to the drivers and so many stop lights). When you hit LA I would get up really early and try to get miles in the second the sun starts coming up. We got a little lost and there and got a late start so we dealt with traffic all day. A lot of roads say "share the road" but there isn't a bike lane and people there drive like maniacs.

I am a very cautious biker who doesn't unsafe situations and I would the stretch from LA to Flagstaff again in a heart beat. Watch the heat from needles to Ludlow as it can get dangerously hot. We lucked out and had to wear pants and a jacket. The next week it was in the 100s.

Have so much fun!!!

Offline Manilishi

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #5 on: May 09, 2018, 01:58:11 am »
I rode this last year in May - traffic wise = comparable to other routes , no better no worse. Traffic between Needles and Ludlow - virtually non existant. As others have stated safety wise the heat , lack of services, and desolation ought to be your main concerns. I will also add that most everyone I encountered had flats due to “tire wires” in the Mohave Desert particularly in California. I ran tubeless tires and had no flats. There was quite a bit of new pavement ( needles to ludlow) but most of that road is terrible - like an alligators skin  - 1” wide and 1” deep cracks literally everywhere. You’ll see what I mean. Good luck with your trip....

Offline wallybeagle

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #6 on: April 21, 2020, 02:32:39 pm »
I plan to ride the northern tier ( now 2021) e to w, and taking ACA Route 66 south from Odell, Illinois to Marshfield, MO and connect to TransAm.
Can you comment on safety or lack of on that stretch?

Offline Manilishi

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #7 on: April 21, 2020, 06:07:39 pm »
Personal Message sent to wallybeagle

Offline John Nelson

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #8 on: April 22, 2020, 12:33:08 am »
Wallybeagle, that section includes St. Louis. There is no safe way to ride through St. Louis. Don’t ride it at rush hour or in poor weather. Unfortunately, I did both.

Offline wallybeagle

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #9 on: April 22, 2020, 07:45:50 am »
Thanks , John.
 Good to know. I’ll find a route around the western edge of St Louis and may take the Katy bike trail some , then head south down to Marshfield to pick up TransAmerica.

Offline Manilishi

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #10 on: April 22, 2020, 10:11:42 am »
The ACA route through St. Louis is on a Main Street which has a large bike lane and was safe to ride. Why route around it ? The ACA route takes you right past the gateway arch - are you going to miss that to route around St. Louis ?  How do you know your route around the city will be safer ?  To be honest there are some sketchy parts of St. Louis outside the downtown area which you may unwittingly ride through. To the best of my knowledge the ACA routes through a city are made with the most bike paths and bike lanes how will your routing around this be safer ? I can see if a local rider gave a specific route that would be better but just avoiding the ACA and making up your own route doesn’t seem wise. That’s just my humble opinion but I do speak from experience - I rode the ACA route and had no problems whatsoever.

Offline Manilishi

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #11 on: April 22, 2020, 10:13:06 am »
wallybeagle personal message sent....

Offline wallybeagle

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #12 on: April 22, 2020, 11:22:15 am »
Hi Manilishi;

Thanks for the reply. The Katy trail was just a thought. I read about it in a book by Mick Dolan who road cross country and all of rt 66.
I used to ride through Seattle a multitude of times when a lived just north in WA state and it was quite safe. While in Wa, I took weeklong Touring rides through the northwest as we each rotated driving a sag van and stayed in cheaper motels or hunting lodges. Prior to that, I just took a week long ride through the NY Adirondacks with panniers and camping while in VT. So I don’t have extensive experience with long distance touring, but a very good sense of preparedness based on what I have done and extensive cycling.
I now live in northern Vermont after returning from WA in Montpelier and can say that Seattle was as safe as some of the country roads near here.
I fully agree that staying on ACA routes is a safe bet; they’re tried and true. Other local cross country riders in Vermont suggest the same approach with staying on ACA routes since residents are accustomed to riders.
I’ve reached out to a few cross country cyclists for tips and info.

I researched several bikes and did look at the niner.
 I posted a request for suggested bicycle types on this forum about 1 year ago since I was considering a cross bike or gravel grinder. Majority of replies recommended a traditional touring geometry. However, I refuse to buy into the overweighted Surly LHT mindset. So I looked about ( co motion, soma, etc, ) and thought about titanium, given it light weight and strength. I inadvertently reached out to a co in Australia who makes ti bikes asking if they could make a touring bike with a performance element. I know the cost of ti is pricey.
Auren bikes of Australia called me late one night about 3 weeks later ( I forgot who they were). They wanted their foot in the door in the states so offered a significant reduction.
A year later , I bought a frame that’s shipping now.
I’m now researching gear and other details.
Route starts in Brunswick , maine- northern tier until south of Chicago where I connect with rt 66 in Odell Illinois ,s to Marshfield Mo, connecting to TransAmerica trail to Missoula, then bout 250 miles north back to northern tier.
I plan to travel ultralight with panniers, mostly camp.
Thanks so much for reaching out. Would love to call your number to chat more.
Mitch


Offline Manilishi

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #13 on: April 22, 2020, 12:19:50 pm »
That will make a great touring bike and be low key without a big brand name splashed all over attracting attention. I left my flashy high end bike at home where I wouldn’t worry about leaving it locked up and rode my low key niner. Feel free to call me anytime. I too rode ultralight with a 25lb. bike and I had 4 panniers with all my gear eight pounds apiece for a total of  25lb.  give or take.

Offline John Nelson

Re: Safety of Rte 66 in California?
« Reply #14 on: April 22, 2020, 04:51:12 pm »
The ACA route through St. Louis is on a Main Street which has a large bike lane and was safe to ride. Why route around it ? The ACA route takes you right past the gateway arch - are you going to miss that to route around St. Louis ?  How do you know your route around the city will be safer ?  To be honest there are some sketchy parts of St. Louis outside the downtown area which you may unwittingly ride through. To the best of my knowledge the ACA routes through a city are made with the most bike paths and bike lanes how will your routing around this be safer ? I can see if a local rider gave a specific route that would be better but just avoiding the ACA and making up your own route doesn’t seem wise. That’s just my humble opinion but I do speak from experience - I rode the ACA route and had no problems whatsoever.

Good to hear that they have rerouted through St Louis on safer roads. It sounds like Chouteau Avenue and Clayton Road are much friendlier roads than Manchester Road, which was a nightmare when I rode through St. Louis on the ACA route as it was in 2015. I think maybe the ACA was trying too hard to stay true to the original Route 66 when they chose Manchester.
« Last Edit: April 22, 2020, 04:52:49 pm by John Nelson »