Author Topic: Direction and departure month on Southern Tier in winter  (Read 3229 times)

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Offline nthabiseng

Direction and departure month on Southern Tier in winter
« on: February 27, 2010, 05:18:12 pm »
Please advise with your experience on using the ST in winter.  I am trying to decide which direction to go and what month is best to begin.  We can leave as early as Dec and plan to take about 3 months, but want to be finished by end of April. I don't mind some days of head wind, but don't want to fight it every day.  Also prefer not to freeze; we plan to camp when we can't find warmshowers or couchsurfing hosts.   Thanks!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Direction and departure month on Southern Tier in winter
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2010, 07:58:07 pm »
Please advise with your experience on using the ST in winter.  I am trying to decide which direction to go and what month is best to begin.  We can leave as early as Dec and plan to take about 3 months, but want to be finished by end of April. I don't mind some days of head wind, but don't want to fight it every day.  Also prefer not to freeze; we plan to camp when we can't find warmshowers or couchsurfing hosts.   Thanks!
One thing to remember... Daylight hours are shortest December 21 or so.  Daylight hours are much longer in late winter.  I have not done the ST, but an acquaintance who has said February is the best departure time.  I forget which direction he preferred.  I think it was W-E, but I am not sure.

Offline MrBent

Re: Direction and departure month on Southern Tier in winter
« Reply #2 on: February 28, 2010, 09:16:54 am »
I'll vote for Feb. as well, which is the start of spring in the desert--very nice.  A key point about spring in these southern deserts is that strong winds blow west to east, so start in San Diego for sure.  You may still get unlucky, but the prevailing winds are from the west.  Starting this time of year, it will be impossible to avoid freezing conditions on some parts of the ride.  I think one of the passes in New Mexico is over 8,000 ft., but these sections will be short, and by starting so early, you'll enjoy great riding in the desert and miss the worst of the heat and humidity of the South.  The earlier you start, the better you'll have it in the South, so you could maybe start mid Jan., but you'll deal with those shorter, colder days on the western half of the route.

Sounds like a great ride.  Go do it!

Scott

Offline nthabiseng

Re: Direction and departure month on Southern Tier in winter
« Reply #3 on: February 28, 2010, 03:05:00 pm »
Thanks to you both.  Your arguments are valid ones.  But I am still undecided.  As I sit here looking out my window at the snow on the ground (I'm in Wisconsin) I recall the primary reason we chose cycling the ST in the winter.  Having always wanted to cycle x-country, we also really want to escape another WI winter.  We actually enjoy summer here and are reluctant to be gone for the entire season, therefore the call to the ST.  We are in our late 50's (I'll turn 60 during this ride) and have done some distance cycling.  Beginning in San Diego sounds best in late Jan/early Feb, which means we'll be stuck here--yuk--until then.  So as I am mulling this over, I keep coming back to starting in FL in December, which means we'd be gone for the worst 3 months of WI winter, and could even extend by visiting relatives in CA.  So....does this make any sense?  If we leave FL in mid to late Dec, we could delay our arrival in west TX til mid to late Feb.  Would that be late enough to escape the worst of desert winter?  I do realize the prevailing winds are W to E, but aren't those more unpredictable than the temperature?  And we will have time to sit out a day or more if the winds are brutal.  Is it OK in the Southeast in Dec/Jan, weatherwise?  Again, thanks for any input.  Just to note, we do plan right now to stick to the ACA ST maps.

Offline Jason

Re: Direction and departure month on Southern Tier in winter
« Reply #4 on: February 28, 2010, 03:27:46 pm »
I'm going to second the suggestion of going in Feb.  I finished the southern Tier in at the end of November (2009) - starting on Sept 29.

By the time I got into/through New Mexico and Arizona, the temperature were really started to move down.   Again, you're going to experience a fair amount of elevation changes - in NM - as well as in Texas.  In both areas, it's not at all uncommon to experience either snow, or at least nasty freezing rain.  Based on the weather the US got (still getting) this year overall, it's a safe bet those conditions (in both AZ, NM, and Texas) will be felt at least through the month's of Jan and Feb.  You might experience a few colder evenings at the beginning of the trip (AL, MS, and LA), but be in really good shape going forward.

As for the wind part, well, I guess, yes, they blow west to east but I never felt it to be a strong enough reason to suggest to anyone that they not go east to west.  You'll feel wind at various places (for me, no where was a strong as LA - coming around the MS river.) but it adds another level of accomplishment - so absolutely GO.

j
« Last Edit: March 01, 2010, 03:54:43 pm by movershaker »
singlespeed touring - life generally requires just one speed.

Offline tonythomson

Re: Direction and departure month on Southern Tier in winter
« Reply #5 on: March 01, 2010, 04:51:11 am »
Hi I left Florida in Feb on ST and had awful head winds in Texas and a few other places.  It was also cold at night but nothing good camping gear could not cope with. 

It's a great ride.
Just starting to record my trips  www.tonystravels.com

Offline nthabiseng

Re: Direction and departure month on Southern Tier in winter
« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2011, 11:56:11 am »
Just want to say thanks to all who helped us make our decision.  We are now set to depart CA in early Feb.  Really looking forward to the ride!

Offline Stevenp

Re: Direction and departure month on Southern Tier in winter
« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2011, 12:34:52 pm »
Have an awesome trip! I'm currently planning a trip for August, Transamerica from W to E.

Do you have a blog for your trip?

Stevenp

Offline nthabiseng

Re: Direction and departure month on Southern Tier in winter
« Reply #8 on: January 05, 2011, 12:59:38 pm »
Hi, yes, I am journaling on Crazy Guy:
www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/myfinecycle

Good luck on your trip too!
Marti

Offline briwasson

Re: Direction and departure month on Southern Tier in winter
« Reply #9 on: January 06, 2011, 11:50:46 am »
Just perused your blog... I'd highly suggest taking a class to learn how to fix at least basic bike breakdown issues! Or, ask your LBS if they can give you a few hours of instruction after hours for a fee.

Offline MrBent

Re: Direction and departure month on Southern Tier in winter
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2011, 07:31:14 pm »
Wise choice.  Headwinds in the Mojave in the spring can be astronomical if you were heading west.  Have a great trip!

Scott