They say you should never meet your heroes, and sometimes they're right.A few years ago I rode a Laverda Jota, the iconic muscle bike of my youth, and it was unspeakably crude even before it tried to kill me.That's not a problem on the regular tours because a support vehicle carries the bulk of your luggage (as well as comprehensive extra equipment and even a spare bike).The Glide's suspension is crudely damped for a touring bike, let alone an £18,400 one.
Americans seem to care little about it, maybe because they have a different sense of history, maybe because it's in their own back yard.
The "Historic 66" signs you often see are all unofficial, placed by local councils but nothing to do with the modern American road system.
There are also stretches of disused road, some of the first 1926 routing, often with the original Portland cement surface intact.
There were contra flows too, returning soldiers after the Second World War shipped back to San Diego who went north to Los Angeles car dealers to spend the wartime cash they'd accumulated before heading east on Route 66 to homes and families not seen for years.
The romance and history of the great American road trip is a powerful draw. I've wanted to ride the Mother Road since seeing a single image in an American motorcycle magazine smuggled in to a thermodynamics lecture at university: an abandoned gas stop, tumbleweed, a rusting Phillips fuel sign you could almost hear squeaking in the hot, dry breeze and, down the road, a post-war Ford tilted into a ditch, its sun-bleached side peppered with bullet holes.