The great day dawns! Our planned early start was again delayed by slow breakfast service – 100 hungry bikers at 6.20 am is NOT a pretty sight! But, after a quick talk from Angela McNulty and Tony Toner, our group were first out on the road.

Look at the sparkle from those bikes! Leaving Victorville CA, Wednesday morning

Look at the sparkle from those bikes! Leaving Victorville CA, Wednesday morning

A fast run down the mountain – Victorville is several thousand feet above sea level – to LA in the valley below, on the Interstate – slowing when we hit traffic as we neared the city proper. We were first to the meeting place – another Denny’s, this time on Sunset Boulevard, THE Sunset Boulevard! Other groups, who had elected to travel the original Route 66 into LA, were much delayed by traffic – one arrived more than two hours after us! We had breakfasted well in their absence – and were now sweltering in the sun!

This waiting around is tiring, you know!

This waiting around is tiring, you know!

At midday, we moved out, with our police escort holding junctions for us – the only way to travel! Along Sunset Boulvelard, past the Beverly Hills Hotel and the entrance to Bel Air – and then disaster struck!

Less than 5 miles and 10 minutes from Santa Monica pier, riding on the inside of a paired formation, my wheels got caught in a rut, straight into a deep pothole, which trapped the front wheel, twisting it out of my hands – I lost control, went heading for the curb, hit it, and the Road Glide and I parted company! I landed on the grass (luckily), the RoadGlide scraped along the curb. The bikers behind me were quick to help – while keeping the convoy moving – Martin, a paramedic, made sure I was OK before I got up on the bike again and rejoined the convoy at the back. Sore shoulder, a skinned knee and injured pride aside, I was fine – the RoadGlide needs repair work, which cost me my deposit – still it was cheaper than a night or two in a hospital! And, since I couldn’t be first man onto the pier – that honour went to Declan Connaughton – I managed to be last – one must take what comfort one can!

I was very grateful for the good wishes of the other 66ers – roadcaptain Gerry Barry came back down the convoy to check on me, as soon as he heard I was down, losing his own place in the line-up onto the pier – and many other bikers came over to check that I was alright.

Rita – with our great LA friends, Bonnie and George – was waiting on the pier at Santa Monica. A great reunion, some words of welcome from Michael O’Leary, city councillor for Culver City, who spoke on behalf of Mayor Katz of Santa Monica who was unable to meet us, group photos – and then off to EagleRider LA to return the bikes. Nobby Usher and I got separated again from our group but met up with another group and arrived at our destination well ahead of our teammates. EagleRider were surprisingly relaxed about the damage to my RoadGlide – the fact that it was insured made a difference, I suppose! And I’m sure they have seen bikes returned in worse condition than mine!

We made it!!

We made it!!

Joe and myself on Santa Monica pier with my crashed bike - you can't really see the damage!

Joe and myself on Santa Monica pier with my crashed bike - you cannot see the damage from this angle!

Then back to meet up again with Rita, Bonnie and George, and off to their home in Orange County, where they made us most welcome.

Rita and I rejoin the 66ers for a Gala Dinner tomorrow night – there will be no reporting on that! And then, as the group makes its way home on Friday, we begin a short hioliday for ourselves, travelling up Highway 1 – the Pacific Coast Highway – eventually meeting up with Bonnie’s sister, Kathy, and her husband, John, in Sacramento, before flying home.

The team on Santa Monica pier - the end of the Challenge!

The team on Santa Monica pier - the end of the Challenge!

 

The Challenge is done! I have achieved what I set out to do – I arrived safely, if a little bruised, in Santa Monica – and I have done some good for the children in Temple Street Hospital – thanks to all my generous sponsors! It’s been a tough but enjoyable 10 days, thanks to the great spirit among our team. Go Irish 66er!

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