MIAMI — Just like the early day pioneer travelers who traversed “The Mother Road” in its infancy, a group of six bicyclists are doing the same thing today with Route 66.
A group led by Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) tour leader Brian Managan of Rochester, New York, passed through Miami on their way to Chicago.
The group left Santa Monica, California, on April 18 and they are scheduled to reach Chicago on June 10.
They rolled in from Claremore and spent Thursday night at the Miami EconoLodge before heading out Friday morning.
“Route 66 is a brand new tour,” Managan said. “Adventure Cycling released maps for it in Spring 2015 and this is the first organized tour that Adventure Cycling is doing.
“I was fortunate to be selected as the ride leader for it, so I am thrilled. There is an awful lot of history all along this route. It’s just fascinating.”
One surprise along the way: the riders encountered snow in Flagstaff, Arizona.
The ACA bills the Route 66 tour as a self-contained trip where riders carry their own food, water, clothing and camping gear.
“Everything we need, we live on our bikes for 55 days,” Managan said.
The ACA offers a wide assortment of self-contained tours, including a 93-day coast-to-coast junket as well as van-supported tours and family fun tours.
“The bicycle touring segment of cycling has really exploded the last three years,” Managan said. “Part of it is because of the Adventure Cycling Association. We have expanded to over 50,000 members now. That doesn’t cover the casual bikers.”
A tour that began May 21 in Williamsburg, Virginia, will follow the TransAmerica Trail and end Aug. 4 in Florence, Oregon.
“They are all over the country and just about every kind of format you can think of, because the idea is we want to encourage bicycle travel any way that we can,” Managan said.
The Route 66 group camps out most of the time, but will stay in a motel every 7 to 10 days — or like with their Miami stay — when a camping area along the route isn’t available.
They ride about 60 miles a day.
“When we got into this area, we didn’t identify a camping spot that was close enough to the route,” Managan said. “The EconoLodge is right in town, right along the way so we picked it.”
When they departed on Friday, the riders followed Main Street through Commerce, into Kansas and on to Carthage, Missouri.
They were accompanied by a number of riders from Miami and Joplin.
Managan is a lifelong bike rider.
“I started cycle touring when I was only 16 years old, so it’s been 45 years now,” he said. “Bicycling will help you maintain your health. I have people in my bicycle club who are 80 years old and they are as fit as any 20 year old you meet just because they have been riding.”
Managan’s group includes riders from California, Oregon, British Columbia and Chicago.
“She (the Chicago rider) just tells people ‘I am riding home,’” Managan said.
Rick Jansen of Vancouver, British Columbia, is another veteran rider.
“We’ve been doing this for years and years,” he said. “Every summer we go somewhere. I have been cycling for the past 20 years. We love it. Can stay in shape and meet lots of people. It’s been tough, but that is what we signed up for.”
Jansen and riding partner Don Baker, also of Vancouver, did a 2,500-plus-mile ride from Missoula, Montana, to Alaska two years ago and across Canada four or five years ago.
“We are always doing crazy things like this,” Jansen said.
Baker has been riding for 35 years.
“I always go somewhere on my bike every summer,” he said.
Jim Ellis is managing editor of the Miami News-Record. He can be reached by phone at 918-542-5533, ext. 3052, or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @mnrsportsguy.