Author Topic: Southern Tier timing and direction  (Read 1177 times)

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Offline Rick.in.AZ

Southern Tier timing and direction
« on: June 18, 2013, 12:30:42 pm »
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

Offline staehpj1

Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2013, 03:35:55 pm »
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.

Offline Rick.in.AZ

Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« Reply #2 on: June 18, 2013, 04:41:45 pm »
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

Offline staehpj1

Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2013, 04:53:54 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.

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.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« Reply #4 on: June 19, 2013, 06:28:26 am »
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.

Offline CMajernik

Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2013, 07:59:32 am »
ACA has run a fall Southern Tier for many years beginning in Sept. and ending in Nov. This year it goes W-E beginning Sept. 14 and ends Nov. 17. So there is a precedence for going in the fall.
Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
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Offline Rick.in.AZ

Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2013, 04:50:59 pm »
Carla,
Thanks - I'm going to make an off hand guess that if ACA has a paid tour almost exactly matching my plan, I must not be too far off.

PD,
Good info.  That would suggest that West to East does make sense.  I can manage our "dry heat" (my 10 mile ride home from work yesterday was at 110*).  But climbing into a sleeping bag still slimy on humid nights... not as much.

Offline geegee

Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2013, 07:42:25 pm »
I went across the southern USA in two halves, Florida to Texas, then California to Texas, and I found I got the best of tailwinds. Winds tend to swirl in the Gulf and as I rode along the coast it was mostly a grazing tailwind or a side wind. My observation in Texas is the wind mostly goes from south to north, so it's a wash going east or west.

When I rode eastward from San Diego, I remember going down the highway towards Ocotillo, screaming down the mountain with a ferocious tailwind and I had to constantly ride my brakes for fear of losing control from sheer velocity. All I could think of was pitying the poor cyclists heading west on this pass, with a double whammy of going uphill in gale force headwinds.

Since you are in Phoenix and have to get home in the end, why not consider riding from San Diego to Phoenix, then transport out to Florida to ride home again?

Offline Rick.in.AZ

Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2013, 08:40:18 pm »
geegee,
My Son lives in LA, so I was thinking I'd drive over, have him take me to San Diego, and leave my truck with him.  Then I'd fly back to LAX and drive home.  Or drive to LA, have him drive me to LAX, then ride west and have him pick me up in San Diego.

So, I'd do it all in the same direction, and could do either.

Offline MrBent

Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« Reply #9 on: June 23, 2013, 12:22:23 pm »
Good advice here.  Something less significant can be prevailing wind direction.  In the spring, winds tend to be west to east in the Cali. desert.  In the fall, the reverse can be true, although my riding has been north of the standard Southern Tier route.

Offline Glamis Sand Dunes support

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Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« Reply #10 on: June 25, 2013, 10:20:58 pm »
Glad to hear you are acclimated to the desert heat in September. Still in the low 100s until mid October west of you on the Colorado River. The nights and mornings are cooler starting in mid September so early mornings up until 10:30 am you can cover some distance with the early morning sunrises.

Offline MrBent

Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« Reply #11 on: July 02, 2013, 05:46:31 am »
Since I like to ride early, I find starting in the east to be an advantage for safety as well as enjoyment with the sun at my back.  Just another point to consider.

Staehpj1:  How hot/humid was the South in March/April for the last half of the ride?  I'm not a big fan of the heat/humidity, but this route does interest me.

Scott

Offline bobbys beard

Re: Southern Tier timing and direction
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2013, 02:28:07 am »
i agree with MrBent, the sun at your back makes for a more comfortable ride. apart from that, i didn't think the weather was a factor in which direction to choose....

you need to consider that the mountains might be quite cold and also if you start from san diego, you hit them straight away, whereas from the west the hills don't really begin until midway through texas, giving you some time to warm the legs up a bit :)