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  • Writer's pictureGareth Owens

Route 66 - Day 4 - Lincoln to St Louis

Two in one... the world's largest covered wagon and world's largest Abraham Lincoln

Google mileage: 129

Actual mileage: 167

Total trip miles: 338

After the hot weather yesterday, we decided to get up early so we could make a little distance before the heat of the day. The route took us out of Lincoln, but not before we stopped a couple of blocks from the hotel to see the largest covered wagon in the world, which happened to have the largest Abraham Lincoln sat atop of it, (before the trip I'd checked out some of the kitsch roadside attractions online and also googled "Route 66 and world's largest".)

After we left Lincoln, the next town of note was Springfield, IL where, after getting briefly lost, we asked directions at a filling station and got back on track. We soon found the third of the Illinois Muffler Men, the Lauterbach Man. By now it was past midday and the heat was getting to us. 

Lauterbach Tires Muffler Man

Luckily it was only a few blocks further to the Cozy Dog Diner, a cold drink and some much needed  air-con. The Cozy Dog is famous (or infamous - depending on your view) for the invention of the corn-dog by Ed Waldmire. After trying one I decided that the man was a genius. The diner turned out to be an unexpected kitsch delight and is something not to be missed. While munching down corn dogs we even met a fellow patron who had visited the diner in its various incarnations since childhood. Riding British bikes is a real talking point and the locals show a lot of interest in them and us and are happy to chat to us about the trip and the locality.

Click here for a 360 Panoramic of the Cozy Dog Diner taken with Photosynth

After Springfield IL came a long stretch of frontage road, a detour to Pawnee by mistake, and then Lichfield IL. Here we picked up some lightweight gloves at Niehaus Cycle Sales as our leather riding gloves, while fine for the UK, were becoming uncomfortably hot in the afternoon sun. While shopping for kit we checked out a row of Honda Goldwings ready for sale, all with matching trailers. Biking is a very different culture here.

Next was the small town of Mount Olive and Soulsby's Shells Station. A quick stop for photos and a water break.

Soulsby's Service station - Mount Olive, IL

More frontage road followed which was perfectly straight for miles. It really felt as if we were starting to experience the real Route 66 we had read about as we passed through some of rural middle America, all farms and grain silos. 

Finally we crossed from Illinois into Missouri by way of a short visit to the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge but didn't stay too ling as the Sprint clutch was playing up again and we wanted to get to St Louis in order to call the dealer.

Old Chain of Rocks Bridge - St. Louis, MI

As we entered St. Louis, true to form, we got lost again. Route 66 has been pretty easy to follow, with the exception of the larger towns and cities where the road is difficult to find and it's easy to miss the signs. This is made more difficult than it needs to be as we only have strip maps of the 66 route, so if we get too far off the route we have to ask for directions.

We got a great corner room at the Hyatt with stunning views of the Gateway Arch, (we looked pretty tired and the guy at the front desk took pity on us) but as soon as we are got checked in I had to make some calls to deal with the gearbox on the Sprint. Earlier in the day I had adjusted the clutch cable which improved matters a little, but by the end of the day the issues were back. 

After some advice from Geoff at MCC he put us in touch with the guys at Moto Europa in St. Louis who luckily for us deal with Ducati's, KTM's and Triumphs. They told us to bring the bike in as soon as they opened in the morning to take a look at it. Hopefully we can get it sorted before we venture into the less populated areas of the US.

A stroll to the Gateway Arch to take some photos before dinner turned into an event. When we got to the foot of the arch we found out that it isn't just a monument, and that you can actually take a ride to the top. This unplanned activity was a great tonic after a day of heat and bike troubles and provided an appetite for some steak and beer on the waterfront.

Tomorrow will be a later start with steady mileage. We may have to hit the interstate if the mechanics need time with the bike. Hopefully it's nothing major and we can be on our way without too much delay.

The 'planned' destination for tomorrow is the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Missouri. Fingers crossed. 

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