PJ Gallagher’s ‘Route 66 Challenge for Temple St’ Diary – Part Three 9 years ago

PJ Gallagher’s ‘Route 66 Challenge for Temple St’ Diary – Part Three

Irish comedian PJ Gallagher continues his diary on the legendary Route 66 Challenge for Temple St Children’s Hospital.

PJ flew out to Chicago last Sunday to begin the challenge and this Friday, JOE’s own Eric Lalor joins the group as he flies into Albuquerque to do the rest of the route and take over the reins of the diary. Without further ado, here is the latest instalment from PJ…



After a grand ole Missouri Barbecue last night I woke a bit later this morning and the weather was a little colder. We went for some breakfast in a little room with a big group and we talked our way through the route of the day. Roughly 330 miles to cover and if I’m honest, my body was a bit weary at the thought.

After about 40 minutes in the saddle we arrived at ‘The Trail of Tears’. A place where the Choctaw Nation of Native Americans were moved off their land. They were forced to move in what was one of the worst winters recorded at that time. With little to protect them from the weather, not a lot to eat and being made walk to the point of collapse, a lot of them died en route and those that survived suffered like most of us can only imagine.



Only 16-years after the Choctaw people were moved on, the Irish people started to arrive in the USA trying to survive the famine. When the Choctaw people heard of the Irish peoples suffering they saved and sent money to help them. I think they sent $179 dollars and that was almost half of what they owned at the time.

You can’t help but think that this had an ongoing affect on the Irish people. Here we are so many years later, standing right in the same spot and all because of the generosity of Irish people giving money to help Temple Street Children’s Hospital. So we said a thank you to the Choctaw people of the past and hit the road for Oklahoma.



The fun began again on the road. Magical rolling, rising and dipping roads. Like a concrete roller coaster that didn’t want to end, or like the Gods froze the oceans so us kids could play on the waves on our bikes. And play we did. Waving and laughing with anyone who would do it back. Accelerating, braking and feeling the sun get hotter and hotter as we again keep heading south and southwest.

Of course all good things stand to be temporary and my bike got sick of my nonsense and threw a tantrum. First it blew a bulb, then it burned out all the oil and then I made the rookie mistake of having to make everybody stop because I was running out of petrol.


At some stage today we also hooked up with another bunch or riders. A great looking gang of Missouri misfits that jumped on the back of our convoy just because they could. All but one of them is still with us now and thinking of going all the way to LA . He’s a retired fireman with a full time personality and I hope he can stay on the ride.


We all got to Kansas and stopped at an old store run by a man called Forrest Nelson (pic below). An actual man called Forrest, who was an actual war veteran from WW2 and is an actual Kansas local. He told us he was in the war and then took a pause.


The next thing he said was, “Let me tell you one thing I remember about Europe...” and I wasn’t sure what he was going to say next. I imagined a story of him falling in love with a French Resistance girl and how they lost touch after the German surrender, or that he was going to tell me about a Polish farmer that saved his life during the liberation of the camps. But what he said was... “You should never go to England in January.” I’ve got to be fair to him here. That’s damn good advice. There’s nothing to do and it’s freezing, and he’s a war hero who knows his onions.

On the road again towards Tulsa, Oklahoma, and we get told there is a motorcycle museum dedicated to Evel Knieval on the way. Evel was my hero growing up and still is today. He’s the reason I ride bikes in the first place so I had to see it. It’s an amazing place that commemorates a type of guy that just doesn’t really exist anymore. Remember dare devils? Where did they go?



People that saw the beauty of danger and not just the danger of danger. These guys remind us that you have to let the devil bite your arse every so often if you really want to feel alive. You have to take risks and not wear DayGlo jackets to change a light bulb or always be so safety conscious. I swear these guys are spinning and sinning in their graves looking up at us all now.

Evel Knieval reminded me today to keep taking risks and keep having fun. The risks don’t have to be too big either. It could be something as simple as going to England in January.


Now we’re in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In a hotel in the 'Deep South' and I’m listening to Johnny Cash singing that a man is made out of muscle and blood. He’s right of course but here tonight there’s a bunch of us that feel like we are made out of luck...

PJ Gallagher