Our usual early start was delayed by a slow breakfast service – several of the hotels we stayed at appeared unable to cope with a rush of bikers at 6.30 am – the best were those that served us buffet-style in a separate banqueting room.

Across the “High Desert” to a gas station for our usual early morning stop after perhaps 60 or so miles biking – for once, our stop was not for coffee to warm us up but for water to cool us down – it was hot! And would get hotter as the day went on!

Just after we crossed into California, we stopped to join another group who were taking photographs of a Route 66 sign painted on the road surface – we saw several of these from here onwards, but this one was on an open stretch of road, with clear visibility for a mile or so in all directions, an ideal place to stop for photos. Siezing the opportunity presented by the presence of another group, Joe McCaul started a “Happy Birthday” for Gerry Barry, which was enthusuiastically joined in by all present!

Gerry Barry, Tom Browne and myself on Route 66

Gerry Barry, Tom Browne and myself on Route 66

Then on through the high desert – little sand, just scrubland – to Roy’s Cafe at Amboy, which has been serving travelers for 150 years. It’s not much – just a gas station and small shop, with a preserved but now non-functioning diner attached – but it’s a welcome break.

Roy's Cafe, Amboy CA

Roy's Cafe, Amboy, CA

Earlier, we had overtaken a young couple on a Harley, she in a bikini (hell of a way to get a suntan!), accompanied by a third guy on another bike and a couple in a people carrier. They pulled into Roy’s a little while later – and the lads formed a queue to present the bikinied young lady with one of our trademark shamrock pjns, provided only that they could pin it on her! Wisely, she resisted the temptation!

Lunch was in Ludlow – a gas station and cafe. across the road from one another. Again, it’s amazing how “towns! that apear on the map turn out to be disappointingly small. In the cafe, we met a couple from Cambridge, England, touring America on a Harley. In conversation, we discovered that she had Irish roots – having spent most of childhood summer holidays outside Tullamore, where Sean Tynan hails from – a small world!

Ludlow to our overnight at Victorville, with a short stop at the Victorville Harley-Davidson shop for the enthusiasts among us. Luckily, the hotel was just around the corner, so some of us headed there early – and yours truly, having spotted a Starbucks across the road, went off to indulge in a cafe latte – only my third on the roadtrip! but the bikes also had to be cleaned for return to EagleRider the next day – my protests that no one would believe that we had travelled 2500 miles across America if we turned up on Santa Monica pier on showroom-condition bikes went unheeded – I was given a cloth and shown where the hose was!

Over dinner that evening, word began to emerge of a police escort into Santa Monica the next day. After a prolonged roadcaptain’s meeting, it was announced that we would make our way in our groups to a meeting place in central LA, where we would be joined by 25 motorcycle police officers, from 12 different police forces in the LA area, who would escort us to the pier – this on their own time!!

To bed then, with mixed emotions – delighted to be nearing the end of the Challenge, only a week earlier, Santa Monica had seemed impossibly far away; but, at the same time, sad that it was all coming swiftly to an end and that we would have to return soon – too soon – to the real world.

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