Author Topic: Starting the Southern Tier in June  (Read 9417 times)

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Offline HorseMcStirrup

Starting the Southern Tier in June
« on: June 13, 2012, 12:17:54 am »
Hey all,

Im planning on leaving San Diego on the Southern tier on Saturday, June 16th.  Ill be taking the southern tier to Tempe, then the grand canyon connector to Cedar City where I can pick up the Western Express and enjoy more comfortable temperatures for the rest of my trip across the country.

What advice can you give me for passing through the desert and arizona at such a hot time of the year?  Ive spoken with park rangers who all suggest that I plan on being done cycling by 11, noon latest.  I'm mostly interested in your experiences finding food and water along the way- some stretches of the road between Brawley and Tempe look quite bare, and satellite photos reveal very little.

Thanks in advance

Offline staehpj1

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2012, 07:16:55 am »
My advice would be, "don't do it".  Ride somewhere pleasant at the time of year you want to go.  Maybe hop on a train and start in the PNW (Astoria?) and do the Trans America or NT.  Seriously...  I did a couple tours in extreme heat and it was pretty awful much of the way.  Riding in 115 F day after day with no shade is just no fun at all.

The ST scenery in that section wasn't that great.  Even in February when the weather was nice, I am not sure if I would do it again.  It was a good thing the food was good and the people were nice and interesting or the ST west of Del Rio would be pretty disappointing to my tastes.

That said if you really must, maybe ride at night and sleep during the day.  The problem is that sleeping during the day will suck if camping where there is no shade.

Offline aggie

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2012, 02:51:17 pm »
I've ridden the Southern Tier through AZ in July.  I didn't find the heat unbearable (I do like it hot and dry though).  A couple things I did so it wasn't that bad.  First thing is I started to ride as soon as it was light enough to safely ride.  Carry more water than you think you'll need.  It's dry and you lose a lot of moisture without feeling it until you're parched so drink alot.  I stopped riding around 1 so I got in about 6 to 7 hours of riding.  Wear sunscreen.  I was actually more comfortable wearing a loose fitting long sleeved shirt.  (It kept the sun off.)

There are small towns along the route between Blythe and Phoenix so there are places to rest and restock on water.   Once you get to Wickenburg there are plenty of water stops all the way into Phoenix.  I didn't camp during this section (stayed in a couple of cheap motels) so I was able to stay in an air conditioned room during the heat of the day.

Good Luck.

Offline HorseMcStirrup

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2012, 05:19:42 pm »
I know this is a popular question right now so thank y'all for the feedback. Staehjp I know you post a lot on the topic. How can I get to the NT or SF from here? I may do this, though I've already purchased the maps for a zig zag trip ending in Maine.

I know that for sure this will be the hardest and probably least rewarding leg of the trip. I was goin to start in march but was hit by a car and am afraid I've sort of put my eggs in this basket. What I'm wondering specifically- is there any chance of running out of food and water? I have plenty of extra room for gallon bottles. Also, is it possible to stay in a motel each night between San Diego and Tempe? I don't mind spending the extra money. I'm not interesting in staying happy for this leg, just alive. If there's a realistic chance I can go 60 or so miles without filling back up and finding some calories I'll have to divert.

Edit- spelling
« Last Edit: June 13, 2012, 05:24:11 pm by HorseMcStirrup »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2012, 05:53:58 pm »
There were not that many long stretches without services on the ST and the worst of them were past where you will leave it.  On the motel every night, people have done it.  Not sure how hard it was, but my impression is that it was doable.

Some folks tolerate hot weather better than I do so you may not find it as bad as I would.  Personally, I would look at amtrak service to more northern starting point myself.  It would probably take a day and a half and cost ~$250 to get to Eugene Oregon or somewhere similar.  Barring that, if riding the ST at that time I'd probably resort to motels and riding at night.

Only you can say how you will handle 105-115F daily high temperatures.  I know people who are fine with that.  I am not one of them.

Whatever you do have a great trip.  If you take a hot route be careful to stay well hydrated and avoid riding in the hottest parts of the day.

Offline HorseMcStirrup

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2012, 06:32:49 pm »
Thank you. I don't mean to obstinate and really appreciate the insight. I've cycled in temperatures exceeding 100F. It certainly diminishes your ability to enjoy what's around you, as you're playing a sport of survival.

Offline aggie

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2012, 07:25:43 pm »
At the start of your trip the hottest parts will be between El Centro, CA and Wickenburg, AZ.  In Wickenburg you join up with the Grand Canyon connector.  At which point you will start climbing and it will cool off.  It will still be dry.  It is possible to stay in hotels each day (I've done it).  The heat isn't for everyone.  I hate being cold more than I dislike the heat.  I also like the scenery (many writers find the scenery boring) and observing how the life in these areas has adapted to survive.  If you don't mind a few days (4-5) of hot you should be fine.  (The eastern part of OR and WA are also hot and dry.) There are plenty of places along the way to get food.

Whatever you decide have fun and enjoy.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2012, 08:06:34 am »
Thank you. I don't mean to obstinate and really appreciate the insight. I've cycled in temperatures exceeding 100F. It certainly diminishes your ability to enjoy what's around you, as you're playing a sport of survival.
As I said everyone is different.  I was warmer than I cared for a good bit when I did the ST in February.  The guy I was riding with complained constantly about the cold.  He grew up in South Florida and has recently been living in San Diego.  He thought it was cold and had a face mask on when it was in the 50s on at least one occasion.  When it was below freezing he hated it,  I was fine with the colder days.  Near the end of the trip we had a 90+ F afternoon with some humidity and I commented that the weather sucked.  He said, "I thought it was the fist nice day of the trip".  He then said that it was funny because it was the first time I complained about the weather the whole trip.

You may find it OK but, do remember that riding in 100F and touring in 100F day after day without shade are two different things.  I don't mind going out for a ride or a trail run when it is 100, but plan to avoid touring in extreme heat in the future if I can.  If getting a room and starting out a few hours before the sun is up and riding until 10 AM even I might be fine, despite hating the heat for touring.

Whatever you do be safe, stay hydrated, and have fun.

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2012, 09:13:55 am »
Thank you. I don't mean to obstinate and really appreciate the insight. I've cycled in temperatures exceeding 100F. It certainly diminishes your ability to enjoy what's around you, as you're playing a sport of survival.

As Pete noted, getting an air-conditioned place to stay might be the difference between OK/enjoyable and dangerous.  I find it difficult to cool off when the temperature's over 85 F or so, so a nap in 100 degree shade wouldn't help me much.  If you got a motel room by the day (instead of by the night), riding 3 hours before dawn on un-trafficed roads and getting off the road by 10:00 or 11:00 might be fun for a week. --especially around a full moon!

Offline bobbys beard

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2012, 05:10:21 pm »
i did the desert sections in august last summer and really enjoyed it. you need to be a certain type of person, but if you're already considering it, you probably are, haha.  i took a rug with me, so i could sleep on the ground under the stars. amazing :)

i found some of the outposts on the aca maps to be long gone and also a lot of businesses (especially motels) shut down for the summer. you won't meet many bikers either. a lot of rv parks let me stay for free out of sympathy though. a shower is a big deal when you're that hot!

the section between blythe and brawley was the toughest. it hit 116 when i was there. i took 3 gallons of water. and drank lots before i set off. i'd used it all up by 1pm and hadn't gone to the toilet once!

if you think you're up to it, then do it!!!  don't push yourself beyond your limits. plan your days and carry loooooots of water.

the amazing thing about choosing the hot time of year is that you get so much of it all to yourself! i went back in the winter and it wasn't nearly as much fun.

enjoy :)
« Last Edit: June 14, 2012, 05:13:17 pm by bobbys beard »

Offline HorseMcStirrup

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2012, 05:38:27 pm »
Thanks all-

I have just one more question as I prepare to try the desert- how are the border patrol checkpoints on cyclists? In my driving experiences they can drain a lot of time, and I don't want to lose 60-90 minutes sitting in traffic and possibly unpacking and repacking the bike. Do they give you a pass? The ortliebs are big but not big enough for any sized person

Thanks!

Offline HorseMcStirrup

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2012, 05:55:30 pm »
i did the desert sections in august last summer and really enjoyed it. you need to be a certain type of person, but if you're already considering it, you probably are, haha.  i took a rug with me, so i could sleep on the ground under the stars. amazing :)

i found some of the outposts on the aca maps to be long gone and also a lot of businesses (especially motels) shut down for the summer. you won't meet many bikers either. a lot of rv parks let me stay for free out of sympathy though. a shower is a big deal when you're that hot!

the section between blythe and brawley was the toughest. it hit 116 when i was there. i took 3 gallons of water. and drank lots before i set off. i'd used it all up by 1pm and hadn't gone to the toilet once!

if you think you're up to it, then do it!!!  don't push yourself beyond your limits. plan your days and carry loooooots of water.

the amazing thing about choosing the hot time of year is that you get so much of it all to yourself! i went back in the winter and it wasn't nearly as much fun.

enjoy :)

Thanks bobby! Or your beard. I'm just looking at the ACA map now and am comforted. There seems to be indoor options everywhere... except that stretch you just mentioned. 3 gallons sounds great to me- however what did you do for food? Between palo verde and Blythe there are 3 camp sites and one outpost sort of town in Glamis that I've been to and would hardly rely on to be open. If it isn't open, ACA indicates no supplies for those 100 or so miles

Offline staehpj1

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2012, 06:07:43 pm »
I have just one more question as I prepare to try the desert- how are the border patrol checkpoints on cyclists?
I rolled right through all of them when I was there.

Offline HorseMcStirrup

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2012, 06:20:53 pm »
I have just one more question as I prepare to try the desert- how are the border patrol checkpoints on cyclists?
I rolled right through all of them when I was there.

as in didn't have to stop, or as in cut traffic and flashed an ID?

Edit- either sounds good to me but cutting traffic on a bike wouldn't be the dumbest citation I've received in California by a long shot
« Last Edit: June 14, 2012, 06:25:34 pm by HorseMcStirrup »

Offline staehpj1

Re: Starting the Southern Tier in June
« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2012, 07:09:34 pm »
I didn't have to stop at any except one where I was riding with a guy who could pass for Mexican.  Even then we only answered questions for maybe 45 seconds and never showed ID.  I typically rode the shoulder until close and then got in the line of traffic, but a couple times never got in the line and just rode along side traffic.