PJ Gallagher’s ‘Route 66 Challenge for Temple St’ Diary – Part Two
Irish comedian PJ Gallagher continues his diary on the legendary Route 66 Challenge for Temple St Children's Hospital.
PJ flew out to Chicago on Sunday to begin the challenge and next 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 PJ…
I looked at the map this morning and saw we had three hundred miles to cover. That’s three HUNDRED miles on a bike, in the blazing sun, covered in heavy gear and all to travel to a place I know nothing about. Well not exactly nothing; I did hear that Missouri has the world’s biggest rocking chair but if I’m honest I wasn’t hugely excited by that.
It’s a funny thing but after three or four hours on a bike you realise it’s a lot like meditation. You clear your head, look at beautiful scenery and hope you end up with a clearer thought process after it all. Riding into Missouri today can only be described as high speed yoga in heavy pants. I had no idea that Missouri was the home of Jesse James either and that they are so proud of the guy. Joking about Jesse James here is like slagging someone’s ma in Finglas.
It’s easy to become a bit cynical about Americans being Irish because when you meet Americans at home it inevitably goes back to the ‘I’m Irish too’ conversation, but not here, not by a long shot. Here you say you are Irish and they really don’t know anything about Ireland, or care.
We were in the state of Missouri about 10 minutes yesterday before we stopped for lunch in an IHOP. Three young girls saw our bikes, asked what we were doing and we told them our story about riding Route 66 to raise money for Temple Street Children’s Hospital.
Without a word to us, they paid our food bill and left. Three young girls paid for 12 old Irish lads’ lunches all because they heard about a children’s hospital in a country they knew little to nothing about. That’s the real southern hospitality this state has to offer.
I swear after only being here a day I’m dreading leaving tomorrow. I just met a guy called Keith that tried to give me advice on what to do and where to go tonight. Poor Keith ended up walking away giving out to himself because he couldn’t remember the names of the best places. I really didn’t mind but he was, and probably still is, furious with himself.
It’s really pretty here too. Bright green fields and corn, corn, corn everywhere. Riding into town I felt like that meditation was really paying off. I felt the curl come out of my sneer due to a sore bum. I felt my shoulders loosen up as I realised I was happy. Proper happy too, like a dog on a windy beach. Fleas-in-my-teeth-from-smiling-type-happy.
Now I’m sitting in a bar watching the locals prepare what is supposed to be a surprise barbecue for us. Other bikers are also arriving from all over. A gang from Austria with all the best gear you have ever seen, a bunch of retired firemen with mischief written all over their faces and the odd stray that’s ‘gonna’ find a new group of friends in less than 5 minutes because, hey, this is Missouri.
I’ve been to a lot of places and States in the US and even managed to tour around America, but right here, right now is my favourite place so far. Next time you plan a holiday in America, forget that New York shopping trip or California surf holiday. Rent yourself a car, a bike or whatever you want and check out the mid-west. You honestly won’t believe how much these guys have to offer. Just don’t go telling anyone about it now ok.
It’s our little secret y’all.