Bicycle Travel > Routes

Southern Tier timing and direction

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Rick.in.AZ:
Looking for some advice here.  I was planning to do the Trans Am this summer (like about now), but job says no.  So either I wait a year, or more likely do the Southern Tier later this year.

So - My thought is to do the southern tier mid Sept to Mid Nov.  I am thinking 8-9 weeks, which seems a pretty leisurly pace? 

I live and cycle commute in Phoenix, so I do have some heat tolerance.  I know that late Sept is still warm in the desert Southwest, but nothing I can't handle.  What I don't know about is the rest of the route.

Also, I could realistically do either direction... What are the pros and cons of each?

TIA

Rick

staehpj1:
Just me, but...

I thought that February was about the best time to go.  So that is when I did it.  The advantages were cool temps and longer days than in Dec-Jan.  For me W-E made the most sense, but my main reason was that I like to get the air travel out of the way up front.

Personally the main positive thing about the route was that you can do it in the winter.  I found the scenery pretty blah, but the people and food were nice.  You couldn't pay me to do it in the summer, too many nicer places to go then.

Rick.in.AZ:
staehpj1 - I did do some searching and say that you suggested to several others to start in February.

I do have a bit of limitation here though. 

I am hoping to take an early retirement package that requires I leave by Dec 31. And I have a Sabbatical that I want to use, so I must start by mid October at the latest. 

The ACA site says Sept - Mar, and being a desert dweller, I felt earlier would work.

W-E is likely a bit easier for me as well, but E-W isn't that much harder, so I am looking for things like weather, wind, ....

Rick

staehpj1:

--- Quote from: Rick.in.AZ on June 18, 2013, 07:41:45 pm ---I am hoping to take an early retirement package that requires I leave by Dec 31. And I have a Sabbatical that I want to use, so I must start by mid October at the latest. 

The ACA site says Sept - Mar, and being a desert dweller, I felt earlier would work.

--- End quote ---

Rick,

My preference is always for cooler temps.  I hate hot weather,  I tough it out, but don't like it.  So you may find it pleasant enough, at a time when I would complain, if you are more hot weather tolerant than I am.  Oh and most people like the weather warmer than I do.

The length of daylight hours thing is worth considering, but it isn't a complete show stopper.

I expect that you will have a great time if you need to go then.  If you had the choice I'd go February, if you need to go in October I am sure you will be fine.

Pat Lamb:
I'd look at the ST as three parts: desert southwest, Texas, and the Gulf Coast.  Either way, you're going to hit Texas in the middle, so that doesn't help you decide.

Going west, you'll hit hot and humid into mid-October along the Gulf.  Good news: you'll miss most of the 90 degree/90 % humidity.  Bad news: it'll be 80/90 days instead.  There's not much relief from the humidity at the end of the day.  I'd expect the desert to be getting chilly by the time you get there, but it's easier (at least for me) to add layers to deal with cool than it is to generate enough sweat to stay alive in hot, humid weather.

Going east, you'll have some toasty days in the desert near the start, but it's a dry heat, and you say you're used to that.  You'll have longer days so you can make some miles in the evening if you need a shady siesta in the early afternoon.  By late October into November, the weather will be pleasant in the Gulf, it's likely to be a bit cooler and drier.  Unless a hurricane is coming.

Either way, be careful about riding into sunrise and sunset (that means try to avoid it!).  The glare makes it difficult for motorists to see you.

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