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We wanted to get to the heart of America and the people... The Hairy Bikers get their eats on Route 66. MARION MCMULLEN finds out about Dave Myers and Si King's iconic American road trip.

Route 66 across the States is the ultimate road trip for motorcyclists. What took you both so long to do it? DAVE Myers: It's been on the radar as something we wanted to do. You need to look quite hard off Route 66 to find stuff. We didn't want to go to just diners and drive-ins and eat burgers all the time.

We wanted to get to the heart of America and the people.

SI King: It's one of those iconic motorcycle trips. We just got round to doing it as it's such a great time to discover the United States of America, because of the huge changes that have gone on.

It's a good time to actually see what the States is about. Route 66 has got historical status now.

How did you prepare for the trip? DAVE: We both re-read John Steinbeck's The Grapes Of Wrath. It's kind of the story of what created America. The modern America that we know today owes an awful lot to Route 66. But within that, we went back to the basics of Native American people, the trail of tears, where Cherokee people were taken from their land - all of that links to Route 66 and the migration.

SI: We met real honest Americans, carving out a living in modern America.

Any disasters along the way? DAVE: The weather was a huge nightmare for us. I think we both assumed the weather would be pretty moderate.

But we went from -9 outside Chicago to plus-500C in the Mojave Desert. Now, I've cooked duck eggs at 500C. You can imagine what it's like on a bike. That was pretty gruelling. Inside your legs burn. SI: We ended up in a diner at one point. We were pre-hypothermic. It's because we had 40-knot crosswinds across the interstate with freezing rain. It was dangerous. It wasn't the place to be on a motorcycle.

So we arrived at this diner. Dave had better gear than I did. I was soaked. These lovely ladies came up saying, 'Why? Are you crazy?' Well no, we just got caught! They gave us coffee and fed us and wrapped us up. I ended up wandering through a shop with the assistant trying to find T-shirts so I could get changed. It was hilarious.

This old guy came out to the car park and said "boys, listen, just come home with me! I've just rang my wife and she's more than happy for you to come and stay the night'. That was so, so lovely. That was the spirit of that route really.

What were the highlights of the trip? DAVE: The best bits for me were being able to meet the communities of people that exist around Route 66.

We started in Chicago. We started the trip off filming the 'Italian stance'. It's this wet beef sandwich and you have to adopt a particular stance or else you get your shoes covered in gravy. Then we learned about the Italian community in Chicago, the Navajo community.

We were with the Navajo people, went to their houses and we got adopted by the Navajo nation. They killed a sheep and barbecued it for us.

SI: That was a very special moment actually. We had the greatest privilege to meet the indigenous peoples of the States, the Native Americans.

They were just fantastic.

If you could do it all again what would you do differently? DAVE: Pay more attention to the weather forecast!

SI: It would have been nice to spend a little bit more time with the Native Americans, with the indigenous people, because culturally that is so rich.

The impact of the modern world on their lifestyle and the horrendous, horrendous social control that they were subject to was awful. That story is a programme in itself to be honest. That was fascinating.

What is it like travelling together? DAVE: If anything the trips brought the pair of us closer together in a funny sort of way.

SI: That would take marriage to bring us any closer together!

DAVE: There were a lot of times on this trip - some of the places we went, the motels - there was nothing. There was just the pair of us sitting in a really basic room with a six-pack of beer like we did 25 years ago.

What road trip would you love to do next? DAVE: I'd love to motorcycle right across Russia. We've filmed in St Petersburg, and I got quite used to the Georgian food. I went back to Russia after we filmed there a few years ago and Georgian food and Georgian wine is beautiful. That's in the far west of Russia. But I think you can go all the way across to Korea and China. Can you imagine what's to be found there? SI: I'd quite like to do the 'stans countries, all of the 'stans, because I know absolutely nothing about them.

Apparently they are incredible. I don't know about the food. I was looking at the map the other day and there are quote a lot of 'stans. All of which used to be a part of Russia, a part of China, or whatever remarkable.

| Hairy Bikers: Route 66, starts on BBC2, Thursday, 8pm.

It would have been nice to spend a little bit more time with the Native Americans, with the indigenous people, because culturally that is so rich..

Si King
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Publication:Dumfries and Galloway Standard (Dumfriesshire, Scotland)
Date:Sep 10, 2019
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