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Man will ride a bicycle in a pink bra on Route 66 April 4, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, Road trips.
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Starting in the spring, I hear about innumerable people attempting some sort of long-distance stunt on Route 66 to raise money — or awareness — for some cause. Because there are so many, they’re not mentioned here unless the stunt is quite unusual.

Dusty Showers has come up with such a stunt.

Showers, president and founder of The 2nd Basemen nonprofit, is pedaling nearly the entire length of Route 66 in a bicycle while wearing a pink bra.

The purpose of his ride is not to be a cross-dresser, but raise funds for assistance to breast-cancer patients and their families. The 2nd Basemen “provides financial help to those facing a breast cancer diagnosis by assisting with medical bills (copays, prescriptions, testing) and family bills.”

The campaign, called Road to Hope 2014, starts June 1 at Showers’ high school in Libertyville, Ill., near Chicago. He hopes to end his trek July 10 in Los Angeles — about 2,600 miles later.

According to the news release:

He is planning to stop in 20 major cities and hold 10 fundraisers along Route 66. He is seeking sponsors in the way of monetary funds and major items needed for the trip, such as: a vehicle for his team, GoPro cameras, hotel rooms, a bicycle, and more. Sponsorship packages are available with exposure for those willing help Dusty fight this debilitating disease through The Road to Hope 2014 project. For sponsorship information, please contact Kevin Worthy for more information by phone at 630-749-8311 or via email at [email protected]

If you want to donate or help, go here.

This summer, if you see a dude on a bicycle in a pink bra, there’s only one person it could be. And I sure hope he washes that bra from time to time.


Suburban Chicago county approves Route 66 marketing plan March 26, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Attractions, Bicycling, Motels, Signs.
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The board of Will County, Ill., recently approved a new marketing plan for a long-overlooked section of Route 66 from Joliet to Braidwood, reported the Southtown Star.

The newspaper said:

There is an “untapped tourism potential” here, and tying all these natural, recreational and historical amenities together is historic Route 66, said project consultant Ferhat Zerin, of Gingko Planning and Design.

“Thousands of people drive here, but do not stop,” she said, as she presented the completed plan to the County Board. Many other towns along historic Route 66 which stretches all the way to California — have capitalized on this theme.

The goal is to encourage tourists to spend a day or two here, visiting the Joliet Splash Park, the Jackhammers, Route 66 Raceway, the historic sites, trails, parks, farms and restaurants.

The plan includes forming a tourism advisory council of city officials, business owners and venue operators, with funding the plan through grants, donations, transportation taxes and fees.

Among the plans to market Route 66 in the region:

  • Adding signs along Interstate 80, Interstate 57 and Route 66 to direct drivers to destinations, plus murals on railroad overpasses.
  • A specific identity and brand name tying Route 66 and Will County.
  • Connecting existing bicycle trails, plus new trails along Route 53, aka Route 66.
  • Adding features at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie such as an observation tower and a 1,200-acre bison grazing area.
  • Implementing Wilmington’s vision for Island City, which includes a kayak course.
  • Creating more iconic Route 66-themed photo ops.
  • More events, such as classic car nights, a Route 66 bicycle race, fishing tournament, and festivals.
  • Developing more hotels and bed-and-breakfasts to encourage overnight stays.

This story is yet another sign that Route 66 tourism has met a sea change in recent years that I wrote about a few weeks ago. The Chicago area, which long has treated Route 66 tourism with mild interest or indifference, seems to be coming around. The 2006 release of the Disney-Pixar film “Cars” seems to have lit the fuse, and the Route 66 Economic Impact Report in late 2011 has led many officials to take a much harder and longer look at Route 66 tourism.

(Image of the Joliet Area Historical Museum sign by ElectraSteph via Flickr)

Pasadena may narrow Colorado Boulevard January 23, 2014

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, Highways, Motels, Towns.
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The city of Pasadena, Calif., may narrow Colorado Boulevard (aka Route 66) to make it more friendly for pedestrians and cyclists, reported the Los Angeles Times.

Pasadena is considering plans to narrow portions of Colorado by as much as two lanes and use that space to widen sidewalks and create tiny parks with seating and greenery. The proposal has generated wide support among some city leaders and is expected to go before the City Council soon. [...]

The effort to put Colorado on what some planners call a street “diet” reflects a transformation that began a decade ago. Once largely a retail strip, the boulevard, especially in Pasadena, has seen an influx of apartment and condominium complexes, with more than 1,000 residential units added along Colorado since 2003 and an additional 2,000 within three blocks.

And more is on the way, including several hotels. A 175-room hotel has been proposed for the site of the empty Macy’s at the Paseo Colorado and 500 hotel rooms on two sites previously used as a Ford dealership at Colorado and Hill Avenue. Also in the works is a $75-million to $100-million renovation of the 155-room, 1920s-era Constance Hotel at Colorado and Mentor Avenue.

City leaders say that with this development, Colorado needs to better balance the car and the pedestrian.

Narrowing streets for pedestrian and bicycle use has become a trend in many large cities in America. The idea is that such street structures actually boost businesses there because it encourages more walkers who shop. But Pasadenans also are concerned a narrowed street would cause traffic jams.

The key to success for this proposal is to ensure steadier traffic flow. Colorado Boulevard right now is a series of stop lights. If you’re going to build a narrower street, you’d better install roundabouts that would improve flow and compensate for the loss of lanes. I’m not sure whether Pasadena’s city fathers have this in mind.

Incidentally, this report was the first I’ve heard about the renovations of the Constance Hotel, built in 1926 — the same year Route 66 was federally certified. Its website remains rudimentary, but it posted this computer animation of what the fixed-up hotel will look like:

(Image of Colorado Boulevard in downtown Pasadena, Calif., by Matt’ Johnson via Flickr)

Frenchman travels length of Route 66 on special bicycle December 11, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, Road trips.
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French cyclist Thierry Suptil last month became the first person to travel the 2,400-mile length of Route 66 in an ElliptiGO, an elliptical bicycle.

According to a news release from the bicycle company:

 Averaging 47 miles per day, it took him just 52 days of riding to travel from Chicago, Illinois to Los Angeles, California, ending at the Santa Monica Pier on November 19, 2013.

Designed by runners, the ElliptiGO is the first outdoor, low-impact, fitness device specifically designed to emulate the running motion. It allows athletes of all levels to get a high-intensity workout without experiencing the repetitive impact of running. Healthy athletes and injured athletes alike have found it the most effective way to get an outdoor running experience without the usual pounding on their bodies.

The release said a journalist asked Suptil to test the bike. After 20 minutes aboard, Suptil immediately thought of giving it a long-term test on Route 66, which he’s done before.

“I only had one flat tire on the ElliptiGO the entire time and the bike itself handled the trip well with no mechanical issues at all,” said Suptil. “I also managed to avoid rain and any major weather, so that made the trip even more enjoyable.”

Here’s a video from ElliptiGO, showing how it works. It’s kinda freaky looking, but you can quickly see its benefits:

I generally don’t publish stories about long-distance challenges on Route 66 because there are so many of them. However, this obviously is a unique situation.

(Image of Thierry’s elliptical bicycle at the Glenrio exit off Interstate 40 in Texas)


Trip on Route 66 inspires new children’s book November 17, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, Books, Road trips.
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Avid cyclist Steve Kime, who bicycled the length of Oklahoma nearly a decade ago for the Special Olympics, drew inspiration from a Route 66 trip for a new children’s book, “Rollin on Route 66.”

The Edmond Sun caught up with Kime, who explained that the fiction book in sprinkled with real-life stories he experienced on Route 66, including one in the far western part of the state:

Kime said he and his crew were on the Texas-Oklahoma border just before dawn on the first day of the ride in March 2004 when all of a sudden they saw this dog running near them, then a man appeared on his bike from nowhere.

“He had read a news article about what I was doing and thought it would be cool to ride on this bike ride,” Kime said. “We went about 20 miles or so, then we treated him to a pancake breakfast. Then, just as soon as he came is as quickly as he disappeared. He was on his way someplace else. He was just the nicest guy, though.” [...]

The book also features facts about Route 66, as well as tourist attractions Kime got to see along the historic road, including the Round Barn in Arcadia and The Blue Whale roadside attraction in Catoosa.

Kime will hold a lunchtime book-signing Dec. 21 at POPS along Route 66 in Arcadia, Okla. Kime can also be contacted at his website for book-signing requests.

The book is 24 pages, and also comes in an audio format.

Mother Road Marathon gets about 500 participants October 14, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, Events, Sports.
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The Mother Road Marathon, a race which traverses northeast Oklahoma, southeastern Kansas and southwestern Missouri on Route 66, drew about 570 participants over the weekend, reported the Joplin Globe.

Since beginning in 2010, the Mother Road Marathon has experienced a bumpy ride. The inaugural event drew 1,500 participants, dropped to a low of 500 in 2011, then rose to about 770 last year, according to the Globe. The race has experienced discord and a lawsuit with a previous promoter, and the infamous Joplin tornado impacted the organizing and participation of 2011 event.

No explanation was given by the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau on why the numbers fell this year.

Michael Bredehoft, 31, of Clearwater, Kan., won the 26.2-mile race this year in a time of 3 hours, 26 minutes, 3 seconds. Erin Goff of Denver won the women’s division in 3:40:48.6.

Brian Smith, a paraplegic who competed in the race in a hand cycle, finished in a little over 2 hours, 30 minutes.

Ron Hart has a few photos from the marathon.

The Mother Road Marathon included a half-marathon and a five-kilometer race as well. On the same weekend, a Route 66 Mother Road Bicycle Tour was held to benefit the Joplin Trails Coalition.

UPDATE: The Joplin Globe posted an opinion piece about the race. The key excerpt:

Patrick Tuttle, director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau, points to the number of other 5Ks and half-marathons all happening at the same time as one reason for the decline in numbers.

We’d like to see this event continue and grow. In the coming weeks, Tuttle will be in discussions with the city about the future direction of the race.

We want that direction to be one that keeps the Mother Road Marathon on the map. The event should be surrounded by events that will put visitors in area hotels and motels, and encourage them to spend time in area communities.

The Mother Road Marathon was a smart idea. Let’s take it and run with it.

Businessman wants bicycle trail near Route 66 from Baxter Springs to Joplin August 10, 2013

Posted by Ron Warnick in Bicycling, Events, Railroad.
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Steve Bolek, a business owner in Baxter Springs, Kan., is organizing a fundraiser to build a bicycle and pedestrian trail near Route 66 from Baxter Springs to Galena, Kan. — maybe even to Joplin, Mo., reported the Joplin Globe.

Bolek said Friday he has been working on finding grants and support for the trail for about a year, and is planning a major fundraiser event for Baxter Springs in October that could draw up to 5,000 people, he estimates. [...]

The trail would run north from Baxter Springs along an abandoned BNSF Railway Co. bed to an area near the Rainbow Bridge, curve east through Riverton, crossing Spring River and on to Galena.

“There’s a possibility we could even hook into the Frisco Trail in Joplin,” Bolek said.

Bolek also hopes to extend the trail on the same railway bed to Commerce, Okla. — making the entire path about 40 miles.

The fundraiser is the Route 66 Cruise’n and Rockabilly Weekend on Oct. 11-12, which includes a car show, swap meet and live music.

An engineering company is supplying its initial services to the project at no cost. Bolek says he needs a letter of support from the Cherokee County Commission to land state grants for the Kansas part of the trail.

We’ll see whether he gets it. According to the newspaper, the commission is hearing from several bicycle-trail proposals at its next meeting. But the rails-to-trails idea makes sense in one big way — it greatly reduces the chance of automobile-bicycle accidents.

(Image of the Rainbow Bridge near Baxter Springs by J. Stephen Conn, via Flickr)

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