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Author Topic: Southern Tier across US in winter  (Read 3660 times)
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nthabiseng
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« on: February 22, 2010, 01:06:20 PM »
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We plan to cycle across the US next winter, with a combo of camping, couchsurfing and warmshowers. We'd like to go west to east using Adventure Cycling's southern tier route.  Has anyone done this in the winter?  I'd like to find out about the weather, especially in the southwest.  This can help us decide when to leave; we plan to take at least 3 months, probably 4.  What's the best winter month to go thru that part of the country?  Should we leave in early December, or wait til late Jan?  This is especially important because there will be long stretches where we will have to camp, and we don't much want to camp in bitter cold or snow.  Riding in the cold isn't very inviting either. Smiley

Any experience you can share will be appreciated.
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Stephane
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« Reply #1 on: February 22, 2010, 01:36:55 PM »
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I did that route in the winter and it was from west to east as well. I didn't start from the west coast, but I was rather coming from Utah, then straight down through New Mexico and Texas. So we really headed east on the southern tier from Texas and it was towards the end of January.

If you want to avoid the cold weather, I would leave more towards the end of January. But the south is not that cold at all. It was pretty comfortable, in fact. I guess it depends on the year, some winters might be colder, but I would not worry too much. I would worry more about tornados during the spring all the way from Louisiana to Florida. Especially around LA and Alabama. Make sure you follow the tornado warnings and do not camp when there is one coming. You might get a little bit cold the first month when the route takes you in higher altitudes, but as long you don't camp at the top of passes, you should sleep pretty well. Of course, you will still need some pretty warm sleeping bags (15oF - 25oF depending on how cold you tend to be) and a decent sleeping pad.

It is a very nice ride, nothing spectacular scenery-wise, but the southern hospitality is definitely a huge highlight. One thing I'd like to add: it is true that winter doesn't sound appealing, and yet I biked in really cold weather and found that it gave me some of my most beautiful biking souvenirs. Locals are much more eager to help you when the conditions are rough, and a warm meal or a cozy bed offered means so much when you have a bit of a hard time. And again, the southern USA is pretty comfortable in the winter. If you can, spend Mardi Gras in Oberlin, Louisiana! This will be the best time of your life!
« Last Edit: February 23, 2010, 10:09:07 AM by Stephane » Logged

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nthabiseng
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« Reply #2 on: February 24, 2010, 12:18:05 PM »
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Thanks so much Stephane.  This makes me feel a whole lot better about doing this in the winter.  My only other thought was to maybe ride east to west, as the weather (temps) might allow us to leave earlier.  But I am concerned about the winds, which to me is more a factor than the temperature.  As time gets closer I'll probably be posting more questions, but anything else you can tell me is much appreciated.  I know it's almost a year from now, but time flies Smiley
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Stephane
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« Reply #3 on: February 24, 2010, 02:09:47 PM »
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You are very welcome.
Before we crossed the USA, we were excited because we heard so many people saying how the prevalent wind in the US blows from west to east, and we were ready to fly across the country! The reality is that the prevalent wind is very often overrun by meteorologic winds. So we had as many headwinds as tailwinds, if not more. There are parts of the world or even the USA where the wind is definitely a constant factor, but not on the Southern Tier (maybe at a different time of the year?). If it was the Highway 1 along the California coast, I would definitely not recommend to do it from south to north, but for your route I would give priority to the weather over the wind. Starting from the east coast might be a good option, plus it puts the climbs towards the end, which is maybe better, depending on your conditioning and experience.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2010, 08:18:16 AM by Stephane » Logged

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« Reply #4 on: February 24, 2010, 02:15:18 PM »
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By the way, we are currently stocking all the Adventure Cycling Association Maps so they should show "in stock" by next week (last week of February 2010). So if anyone is looking for these maps at a great price, please check the Adventure Cycling Association Southern Tier Maps at CycloCamping.com!
« Last Edit: February 28, 2010, 08:08:10 PM by Stephane » Logged

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nthabiseng
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« Reply #5 on: February 24, 2010, 08:39:50 PM »
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Again, thanks for the info.  Maybe going east to west is my answer.  But I'd love to hear from anyone else who has ridden the southern tier in the winter to see what your experience with the winds have been. And of course, any other suggestions....
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« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2010, 01:04:05 AM »
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Check out the invaluable resource of journals @ www.crazyguyonabike.com .  There are hundreds upon hundreds of journals of folks who have done the Southern Tier at various times of the year,  they really are a great resource for planning a tour.
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nthabiseng
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« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2010, 06:41:23 AM »
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Thanks much.  I had heard of the website but always assumed it was one person's blog.  Wow, was I wrong!  I'll be spending hours on it and should find my answer.
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