The Mother Road.

Discussion in 'Road Trips/Touring' started by Emu1400, Dec 2, 2012.

  1. Emu1400

    Emu1400 Member

    A taste of The Mother Road ...

    The old highway, called America's Mother Road, was first opened in 1926. It is famous, for its role in the migration west during the Depression and the explorations of innumerable vacationers since the more prosperous fifties It has been said that to travel Route 66, is to travel back in time ... Many just drive this road like any other. But to really ride this road, is to ride with imagination.

    We left the Grand Canyon heading south on 180/64 to Williams, we really were in a rather euphoric state of mind. An aftereffect, not totally unexpected, courtesy of a wondrous Grand Canyon experience. It was now getting to the evening side of late afternoon, but with 50 or 60 miles still to go, we had to stop at Valle (Bedrock City). The highway runs right by the airport and air museum. An old US Air Force Constellation passenger liner sat out in plain view from the road. We just had to stop and take a look around. When we returned to the parking lot, our two bikes had grown in number. A group of about 8 bikers had been drawn from the road by the Constellation's allure. We proceeded to Williams and west on I-40 to find the campground in the Ash Fork area. The first sign we saw as we exited the interstate, was a motel offering rooms for $22.00. We decided to live in the lap of luxury for the night. Upon taking the room, the owner/manager said "Since there are two of you, here's another towel." Five-star, could it get any better than this?

    The main street of Ash Fork is a dead end piece of Route 66. We rode through town and ate dinner at a small diner. The food was good and inexpensive. I guess not too many tourists find their way to this diner, for the locals kept looking in our direction. We returned to the hotel and cleaned the bikes before turning in. The next morning we were up early, packed and on the road by 6:30 AM. We rode the interstate for 2 miles to pickup Route 66 at exit 139. This 110 mile piece of Route 66 is probably the longest original piece of the highway still in use today. With the sun rising to our backs, we turned off I-40 and headed west on the Mother Road.

    The early morning sun was just less than 30 minutes old and the motorcycle cast a long shadow to the left that nudged slightly ahead of the front wheel. The larger crushed stone of a bygone era's asphalt has an almost coarse feel to it. It's warn but smooth, just a different texture. It's almost as if it's the road's way of letting the riders know it's about to tell its story ....

    The Road ...
    The early morning air was slow to react to the rising sun's warmth. At 50 mph, the air was comfortably cool and had a crisp edge to it. As far as the eye could see, this two lane road lay straight as an arrow. Perhaps it was the cadence of the V twin engine accompanied by the drone of the exhaust note on a long straight stretch of road. Perhaps it was the bright early morning sunshine reflecting back from the chrome front wheel rim, causing momentary light cascades across the motorcycle's long lean shadow. Perhaps it's just the solitude of no other traffic on the road. Perhaps, it was all of these that allows the mind's eye to wonder and see what's really there. Or perhaps, it was just the magic that is this road called 66.
    First, you can almost hear the sounds of motorcycles past. You almost begin to sense the roadside spots where motorcycles have stopped for minor repair. An Indian rider pulling over to offer a stranded Harley or Excelsior a hand. A 34 flatbed Ford pickup slows to inquire if all's okay and possibly loan a tool. The mind's eye can certainly see a time long gone. ...

    The road remains straight, but now has a very long and slight upward grade. Modern steel continues the ride, almost a glow in the early morning Arizona sun. At some point along the way, although he's not exactly sure, the lead rider had forgotten he wasn't alone. Immersed in the wind and happily in thought, the world outside his field of vision and sound of his engine, simply did not exist. Lost in the ride, time for him was standing still. On the horizon to his right rear quarter, the mountains were small but distinctive. Turning in the saddle, to look across the Arizona plains at this marvelous vista and to check on the progress of the rising sun, the rider was momentarily startled to see his friend and riding companion of the last 10 days just behind. He smiled and waved his friend to move up alongside. "Hey man we're here. We're doing Route 66!" ...

    The Road ...
    It's strange, on any other straight road, 50 mph would seem a snails pace. But Route 66 is not for those in a rush. It's a leisurely ride that allows you to take in the smallest of detail as you travel along. A good distance ahead there was a small object on the road. At 50 mph, very relaxed, there was all the time in the world to think about avoiding the object. Approaching what was thought to be a small piece of wood or a Coke can in the middle of the lane, suddenly dropped in height and scurried off to the roadside. Again all was clear on Route 66. The beauty of the early morning ride was now being invaded by the pangs of hunger and the need for a morning coffee. The mother road knows it's riders and as we approached the first town, all that was seen of past rides and machines were committed to memory as the mind's eye shutdown. To ride Route 66, is to let yourself feel Route 66 ...

    The town of Seligman was still asleep when we arrived. It's a touristy little place, cashing in on the Route 66 theme. Old Corvettes are parked at the gas stations. Ford Edsels are parked in the street. As we rode through town, only one elderly fellow was walking the street. We asked if there were any place open to get breakfast or at least a coffee. He pointed across the street and said the Copper Cart opened at 6. 6 AM? Almost an hour and 30 miles ago we had left Ash Fork at 6:30 AM. Here in Seligman it was just the past 6 AM. Some would say the time difference had something to do with crossing into the Pacific time zone and Daylight Saving Time. I'd like to think it had something to do with an old saying ... "To travel Route 66 is to travel back in time!"
  2. oldhippie

    oldhippie Senior Member

    Good read.:small3d018: Did you take any pics to go along with your verbal imagery?

    Ride safe. :rider
  3. Emu1400

    Emu1400 Member

    No ... I usually opt for the thousand words ...:s
  4. BikeSAG

    BikeSAG Active Member

    Great job capturing the alure of Route 66. Reading it I felt like I was right there with you. HOG magazine should re-print this. Thanks for sharing.

    Living near Oklahoma City I also am able to ride some original stretches of old route 66. In my bucket list is to some day ride 66 from OKC to Chicago and back (gotta see it both ways) and then someday to California and back.
  5. glazier

    glazier Junior Member

    Great write up. I'm looking forward to riding it myself soon.
  6. 01 rk

    01 rk Active Member

    Good reading. Brought back good thoughts of our rides on Rt66, portions of the Mother road seem to be caught in a time warp, times when things were much simpler.
    Just did Oatman to Flaggstaff in April but your write up makes me want to go back again.
  7. marcus22

    marcus22 Junior Member


    Great write up and thanks! a couple of questions. did you do this ride recently (winter months)? and if you did how did you get your bikes down south past the snow?

    I was just in that area beginning of december (2012) and I would have loved to be on my bike. now that I have been south during the winter months I have been looking into ideas on how to get my bike south for the winter.


  8. mc2

    mc2 Active Member Contributor

    That is a beautiful story.
    I have a strong desire to roll at 50 mph.

    Thanks for sharing.
  9. Taildraggerdave

    Taildraggerdave Active Member

    Route 66 is the best. I've rode 90% of it from Santa Monica all the way to Seligman. I went to Williams but not sure if the 40 and 66 are the same between Ash Fork and Williams or not....

    There are some portions just East of Barstow that will literally jiggle your fillings out. But I take it every chance I get.

    And I like how Route 66 is painted on the highway as opposed to sign posts.

    Take care,
  10. Taildraggerdave

    Taildraggerdave Active Member

    Like this....
    This was back in '05

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