We were up at the crack of dawn again today to hit California and the town of Victorville. Our stay in the Golden Nugget in Laughlin, Nevada had come to an end. Azure blue skies greeted us as we revved up the engines and got back on to Route 66.
I’m assigned to another team today, this one led by Brian from Cork, now living in Wexford. A relatively quiet, but absolutely sound fella. The team was made up of a bunch of buzzers who I knew I’d get on with from the get go. Mo from Drimnagh is some character and had me in stitches all day.
The route today takes us through the Mojave Desert and it is hot. We were all covered in sun screen kindly provided by our sponsors Kiehl’s, as the temperatures were going to exceed 100 degrees. When we hit the Nevada/California border we stopped to take a couple of snaps at the state borderline. I’ve never taken as many photographs as I have on this trip. Everything seems iconic. It’s the American dream on a motorbike.
The landscape is fairly barren, but still fascinating and awe-inspiring with the big jagged brown mountains forming an amazing backdrop. One of our pit-stops was at a place called Roy’s. There’s a huge Route 66 imprint on the roadway here and all the teams met at this point to have their snap taken. Soon enough our team found a remote gas station with a little diner called ‘Peggy Sue’s’ where we had lunch. A few other tourists were there and of course, they were all claiming to be Irish. Even the Japanese tourists. We met a husband and wife who had two chihuahuas with them and were heading to New Mexico for a balloon festival. The woman claimed to be quarter-Irish, quarter-Dutch, quarter-Scottish and quarter-American. Telling us all this whilst devouring a quarter-pounder.
There’s no time to waste and we’re back on the bikes again, with temperatures soaring well past 100 degrees. At one point we ride past a huge military base which is basically a vehicle depot for the US Marines, a reminder of the sheer military power of this nation. Jeeps, trucks and armoured cars as far as the eye could see. The miles fly by as does the time, but I am really enjoying the banter in the group, a really great bunch of lads who were a real pleasure to ride with today. We stop of in a town called San Bernardino for a water break and at this point, the temperature is 108 degrees. We all re-apply the sun block to our faces and guzzle the water bottles down.
The support teams are great as they follow all the teams along the route in their vans with medical supplies if needed and the all important refreshments. Marie is a nurse who works in Temple Street is a pillion passenger like myself. But she is a God-send as she also provides us with much needed dioralyte to replenish lost salts and to prevent dehydration.
We’re on the road again and we are eating up the route, making great time. We make one more pit-stop where we have a coffee and a muffin. There’s a little old lady there who seems fascinated to see us and asks if she can take our picture. We happily oblige and she tells us her name in Irene and she’s from Minnesota and that she is looking for a husband. She is in her eighties. If we weren’t on the route, I am sure that one of the lads would have happily married her. She was the quintessential little old American lady and quite adorable really.
We are on the road again and next stop is Victorville, our destination for the night. It’s a city with a population of 120,000 and it’s a sprawling hive of motels, fast food joints and low-rise buildings. It’s absolutely roasting hot when we pull in, but yet again, we have had another magnificent day.
I am genuinely running out of superlatives to describe this experience. For anyone thinking about doing the Route 66 Motorcycle Challenge for Temple Street, stop thinking and start applying. I can assure you that it is an experience you will never forget. I know I won’t.