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Bicycle Route 66 from Chicago to Santa Monica launched in US

Alia Parker's picture
Cycling the new Bicycle Route 66 in the United States. Cycle Traveller

It's the most famous drive in the United States, and now cyclists too can get their kicks on Route 66 as they pedal their way across America between Chicago and Santa Monica.

Bicycle Route 66, the 24th route by the Adventure Cycling Association, captures a vast cross section of the US landscape and its people, stretching 2,493 miles (4,012km) over eight states: Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California.

“The vision for Bicycle Route 66 is the same as the original vision for Route 66, which was to connect the main streets of rural and urban communities,” said Ginny Sullivan, Adventure Cycling’s director of travel initiatives.

“Bicycle Route 66 will be a perfect choice for travelling cyclists looking to explore the American heartland's natural beauty, history, and funky out-of-the-way places.”

From the bustling city streets of Chicago to the famous man-made wonders of the Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Gateway Arch in St Louis and Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, as well as natural wonders such as the Petrified Forest in Arizona, the route is full of iconic stops.

Route 66, United States. Cycle TravellerIt's a route that holds a special place in US history. Dating back to 1926, Route 66 was one of the country's original highways and a critical link to many small-town communities, earning it the name 'the Mother Road”. The road was realigned quite a few times over its lifetime until it was officially removed from the US Highway System in 1985 after it was completely replaced with the Interstate Highway System. However, the route remains an ever popular tourist drive, now known as Historic Route 66.

The new Bicycle Route 66 sticks closely to Historic Route 66, but diverges to quiet back roads when needed to keep it bicycle friendly.

Bicycle Route 66 has been released as a six-map set after four years of planning, taking the Adventure Cycling Association's bicycle route network coverage up to 44,673 miles (71,894km) over 47 states and parts of Canada.

“Route 66 was the overwhelming favourite among our members for a new long-distance route,” said Carla Majernik, Adventure Cycling's routes and mapping director. “It's a legendary corridor, and for our route network, a critical link through states where there were no established Adventure Cycling routes, such as Oklahoma.”

Bicycle Route 66 is best cycled in the northern hemisphere Spring, with a mid-April departure. There are plenty of roadside camp grounds along the route as well as motels and diners harking back to the golden era of the classic road route.

This route passes through many diverse landscapes, including the flat prairie grasslands of Illinois, the rolling hills of the northern reaches of the Ozark Mountains, and the vast desert of the southwest US. It's a relatively flat route with few mountain passes, but sections of the route are remote (namely in parts of New Mexico, Arizona and California) where there are few services and summertime heat can soar.

More information about Bicycle Route 66 is available on the Adventure Cycling Association website.


I've always wanted to drive this route, but now I'm thinking cycling it will be even better! Now I just need to find the time...

Something new for the bucket list!

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