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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Riding the Mother Road a piece at a time

Few American highways have the lure of historic Route 66 -- the Mother Road -- and two Midwestern organizations are planning multiday rides this year on portions of the highway.

The League of Illinois Bicyclists will be putting on the 2009 Route 66 Trail Ride on Aug. 29 to Sept. 3 from St. Louis to Chicago. LIB is billing the ride as is a loosely-organized, (generally) self-supported bicycle tour meant to publicize and promote development of Illinois’ Route 66 Trail bicycle route.

No luggage transport will be provided. Cyclists should either carry their own or make arrangements for others to provide support. Also, no meals and SAG support will be provided. The good news is that registration is free for LIB members. Those not already members must pay a $25 fee for membership and registration.

What's an example of the promotion LIB is striving for? Macoupin County, Ill., cyclists are pushing for a portion of an old Route 66 alignment roughly between Mount Olive and Litchfield to become a bicycle trail. That particular alignment was a four-lane divided highway, but only two of the lanes are being used for vehicular traffic these days. The two unused lanes are in good enough shape that, with a little work, they could become a bike trail.

The second of the multiday rides is the Gateway Council of Hostelling International-USA's Cycle Route 66: America's Mother Road ride. The ride begins Oct. 10 in Afton, Okla., goes through a sliver of Kansas on an old Route 66, then makes through Missouri until ending Oct. 16 in Eureka, Mo., a St. Louis suburb.

The cost of the ride is $450 for HI-USA members and $500 for non-members (extra fee for people wanting a single room). While the registration fee is considerably more than the Illinois ride, you get a lot for your money. The cost of the ride includes vintage Route 66 motels, mouth-watering diner & cafe food (breakfast and dinner), rest stops, marked roads, luggage shuttle, mechanical/SAG support and a charter bus ride to the ride start.

Cyclists will have a choice of 335 or 375 miles. Be ready for some hills on his ride. Parts of the route have been used in the Tour of Missouri bicycle race, which is known for its undulating rolling hills.

If you're wanting to experience American history, these might be the ride for you!

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