Leaving Missouri, we headed through the SE corner of Kansas, stopping in one of the bypassed towns, Galena, for some photos.
Then into Oklahoma with its “heat advisories” given it was 115°F/46°C. This was to be a common occurrence for the rest of the trip, with temperatures above 100°F every day, hitting 115°F throughout Oklahoma, Arizona and the Mojave Desert in California.
Along the way, we met a biker from Toronto called Giles, who was semi-permanently on the road these days.
Sadly, our hotel for the night had a problem in the kitchen that even with its chef(s) who’d walked out and cover from other staff failed miserably: after a late 2 hour wait for food, it was awful so we didn’t pay and went to our rooms hungry and tired.
Leaving Springfield, we headed off towards Missouri and the Mississippi stopping for photos at the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge.
On from there, we headed through St. Louis which was hot. Very hot. So hot that after a number of stops and starts, the Electra Glide got a bit tired and emotional and the engine management system decided to take a lie down and refuse to let the bike work. After a while, it decided to come back up, though the idle speed was too high, but at least I could continue my journey.
We stopped for lunch at the Meramec Caves, rumoured to have been the James Gang’s hideout. I’m not surprised they were caught, given they weren’t exactly camouflaged (see photo).
We also stopped at the Elbow Inn, Devil’s Elbow, which is a fabulous biker bar with hundreds of bras hanging from the ceiling!
Finally we reached Springfield, Missouri after a long 360 mile day in the saddle.
Our first stop, after the obligatory journey’s start photo, was breakfast at Lou Mitchell’s.
Then we headed off down Route 66 to Springfield, IL via a nuclear power station(!), Wilmington with its Gemini Giant at the Launching Pad, Dwight and Pontiac for lunch.
Gemini Giant at the Launching Pad
…and it’s not the one I chose.
Having had the Road King Classic as my first choice, I was a little disappointed when we turned up at Woodstock Harley Davidson after an hour’s bus ride to collect the bikes to be told that as they were out of Road Kings I’d have to ride one of their fleet of Electra Glide Ultra Limited bikes instead.
Woodstock Harley Davidson, Illinois
I consoled myself by thinking about being able to hook up my iPod – bought specially for the trip – to its sound system but was horrified when I saw the colour: “root beer”, aka ‘horrendous metallic brown’.
Harley Davidson FLHTK Electra Glide Ultra Limited
A ride back into central Chicago with traffic jams on a hot day revealed that it started to pink when hot…
Well I’ve arrived here in Chicago at the start of Route 66. My fellow travellers will be gathering later today and the plan has changed slightly in view of the high temperatures around at the moment: we will be picking the bikes up on Sunday morning rather than Monday, so we can be on the road first thing Monday morning.
The flight was fine but it did take United Airlines 35 minutes to check my bag in which, coupled with the mile walk to the gate, meant I had no time to grab a coffee and breakfast at 6.00am. Grr!
US immigration was also sadly on a par with the UK Border Agency so more delay getting through there, exacerbated by an Air India flight which seemed to have mainly wheelchair-bound passengers…
Off to explore now, I think!
So then. Blogging, Facebook, e-mails, etc.
Yes, we all like to keep in touch with family and friends when we’re away and I will be taking photos and attempting to update this blog as I go. Which all means lots of data. Now, on monthly basis – without really heavy photo uploads of large RAW images – I’m using anything up to 5GB of mobile data with 3′s “All-You-Can-Eat” data plan at £25 a month, though they have one with fewer voice minutes and text messages for £15 a month.
When roaming in Europe, I’m now using their £5 a day Euro Internet Pass which is fab – in April in Ireland, it cost me £18 for a quick update one day – but sadly there’s no similar option for roaming in the USA. Instead, I face charges of £3/MB so even if I limit my data over the 2 weeks to, say, 500MB, that would be £1,500!
I was thinking of picking up an AT&T SIM when I arrived in the US, but there’s no guarantee I’d be able to find an outlet without going out of my way.
So last night, I tried something else, buying a Dataroam pre-paid Micro-SIM that I’ll load before I go. That should do in my iPhone. But then I thought if I want to start downloading photos from my EOS 7D onto my iPad and then uploading them, I’ll either need WiFi in the hotel – not guaranteed – or I’d need to tether to my iPhone. Sadly, that’s not an option with the pre-paid SIM, so I’ve also bought a MiFi Hotspot device that I can use with all my devices. That way, I can also keep my UK SIM in my iPhone for texts and talk from friends in the UK.
Well despite a few issues with making international payments, I’m now definitely booked with Bikers American Dream to hit Route 66.
Flights are now confirmed and the agenda looks great. Let the countdown begin!
Sadly, Global Enduro had to cancel the Sturgis trip as a group had had to cancel. Thankfully, there was another authorised trip on Harley Davidson’s website: Route 66 Westbound – 2400 miles from Chicago to Los Angeles with more or less the same dates, so definitely do-able.
This was on my bucket list and whilst I still want to do Sturgis at some time in the future, doing Route 66 will be an amazing ride with some sights along the way like Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon.
So I’ve booked with Italian organisers Bikers American Dream and waiting to hear further details now. Still aiming to book a Road King but I may have to go for an Electra Glide if not.
So then: a change of plan. The cost of shipping Blue Rex to and from the States was working out to be too expensive and too complicated to arrange.
Then a friend of mine announced he’d bought himself a Harley Davidson Street Bob. As I didn’t know which model that was, I went over to the Harley Davidson UK website to have a look and saw their link to their authorised tours. One happened to sit perfectly in terms of dates when London will be at a standstill for the Olympics and it also ticked other boxes: luxury, because I like a bit of that; and Sturgis.
Now since I was a young hooligan biker, I’d always wanted to go to the Sturgis Rally so this seemed too good an option to miss out on. Deposit was paid and arrangements made for “The Ride to Sturgis” with Global Enduro.
Today, I’ve had a phone call to confirm my choice of ride and I’ve gone for the Harley Davidson Road King Classic. This should hit all the right bases: a screen to stop the bugs and any rain; not too visually heavy so I can still see everything around me rather than just a load of fibreglass; some storage capacity for waterproofs and my cameras; light enough to handle reasonably; and not a ridiculous riding position or tank range.
Harley Davidson Road King Classic