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Go West, Young Man

by Clare Coppa

Roger Stoller and Randy Nanstad got their kicks on Route 66 riding motorcycles on the lonesome highway last fall.

They covered the Route from Illinois to California, stopping to inspect bridges or intriguing sites like Finn and Sawyer. Nanstad rode his 1448-cubic cm Indian Spirit, and Stoller, his 800-cc Triumph Bonneville.

Both men travel frequently as scientists with Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tenn., and as standard-developers with ASTM Committee E10, Nuclear Technology and Applications. Somewhere between their work and travel and standards-developing, they decided to reward themselves with a jaunt to parts unknown.

On Sept. 24, they entered Route 66 in Wilmington, Ill., heading west. In Missouri, they collided head-on with a flock of sparrows. They crossed Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona in high spirits. “Randy attracts attention of female motorist who tries to lure him off the freeway,” Stoller logged on Sept. 27 in Tucumcari, N.M. “I guess the women can’t see how much cuter I am because of my visor.”

During the ride, Stoller amassed a detailed log that would impress the CIA. In research for decades and responsible for nuclear pressure vessels the size of WalMart, he recorded miles, motel stops, descriptions of people, and weather conditions—including the exact temperatures they experienced (40-100º F; 4-38º C).

Near the end of their trip, they parked next to a car in Needles, Calif. The car’s occupant eyeballed them and immediately locked the door. They reached the end of Route 66 on Sept. 30 and rode to Malibu for a celebratory beer. “We are a bit sun and wind burned,” Stoller wrote, “but have completed the 2001 Aleve and Preparation-H Tour.” They rode 2425 miles (3903 km), which might explain why they opted to fly home. //

Copyright 2002, ASTM

(Photo captions in order of appearance)

Nanstad and Stoller enter Route 66 in Wilmington, Ill.

Buried status-symbols of 20th-century Camelot at the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas.

Stoller and Nanstad stand wind-blown and exhilarated at their journey’s end in Santa Monica, Calif.

Cement teepees at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, Ariz., have typical motel amenities.