Photo by Hannah Swithinbank.

When cyclists travel down U.S. Bike Route 66, heading west out of Texas and into New Mexico, they’ll come off the high plains and pass through Tucumcari and Santa Rosa, then head north to Las Vegas — not the Vegas in Nevada, but the one that was big in the 19th century, when the Santa Fe trail passed through and the hot springs were a draw. From there, they’ll head into the Rocky Mountains, pedaling past Pecos, where they’ll find the ruin of a pueblo relinquished 200 years ago. At Glorieta Pass, they’ll pass the site of a Civil War battle, one of the most important in the western states, where the Union army pushed the Confederates back into Texas. Then they’ll roll into Santa Fe, where they can spend the night in one of the old motor lodge hotels, now restored, from the glory days of Route 66, a road that drew out the dream of getting into a car and driving west.

U.S. Bike Route 66 doesn’t exist quite yet. Like the old Route 66, Bike Route 66 is more an idea right now than a reality. But while the old road, which was decommissioned in 1985, has disappeared under Interstate 40 in some parts and beneath overgrown fields in others, the new bike route is being mapped now, on top of the old route and the newer interstate.