Two bicyclists are “getting their kicks on Route 66” as they pedaled through Highland last week en route from Brooklyn, N.Y., to Los Angeles, Calif., using Bobby Troup’s song Route 66 as their map.
“I’m originally from L.A, but I’ve lived in Brooklyn for the past five years,” said 33-year-old Jeremy Abbott. “I’m moving back to help take care of my dad.”
Abbott and Terry Sobel, a 69-year-old retired gym teacher from L.A and the father of Abbott’s best friend, stopped in Highland on Monday, May 16 and camped out at the Silver Lake Park archery range.
Before he decided to straddle his bike on a cross-continental adventure, Abbott was a lawyer with the New York Attorney General’s Office. It was always his dream to be a attorney, but when he found out his father was having health problems, he sold his possessions, climbed on his two-wheeler, and started pedaling home.
“Over a four-day period, I quit lawyering and sold everything,” he said. “I’ve been dreaming of doing a cross-country bike tour since 2007, because that’s how you really get to know a place. Biking forces you to slow down and pay attention.”
But he didn’t want to do it alone — so he called Sobel, who had made such a trek before.
“I biked across the country from L.A to Connecticut after I retired from 42 years of teaching gym classes in the L.A Unified School District,” Sobel said.
For his entire teaching career, Sobel biked 22 miles to work every day.
“Jeremy asked me if I would be interested in doing this with him, and I said, ‘Yes.’ I’ve always been very close to his family.”
Sobel flew to Washington, D.C., and met up with Abbott, and the two started their trip.
So far, Abbott and Sobel have pedaled through Brooklyn, Washington, D.C, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis had their compass pointed toward St. Louis when they left Highland last Tuesday morning.
“We are going to hit every major city in the song,” Abbott said.
After St. Louis, they planned on visiting Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Albuquerque, and Flagstaff, but their real passion is rural America.
“Most of the fun of taking Route 66 is the small towns you roll through,” Abbott said.
As far as where they decide to sleep every night, Abbott says its mostly campsites, but there was one place that stood out among the rest.
“The most interesting place we stayed in so far was a haunted house in Brazil, Ind.,” he said. “We had nowhere else to go, so we went to the police station and asked if they knew where we could stay. The recommended the haunted house.”
Abbott said the most challenging place they have traveling through was West Virginia.
“The entire state feels like its uphill,” he said.
The two plan on arriving in L.A on Sunday, June 19, and that’s when Abbott said he’s going back to school to be a librarian.
“I got to do everything I wanted to do as a lawyer, and I feel like I’ve done all the good I can do,” he said. “It’s time to move on. I think I’ll make a good librarian.”
Abbott and Sobel are pedaling 70 miles a day, with a total of 3,200 miles. They average about 12 hours of traveling a day, 10 of which are spent on the bike seat, but Abbott said he doesn’t mind. The 50-day trip is about more than just biking — it’s a journey of self-discovery.
“I’ve been able to visit the graves of my relatives who have lived all over the country,” Abbott said. “My great-great-grandfather lived in Pierron, Ill. This is the best way to see our country, and the more I’ve ridden, the more observant I’ve become.”