Author Topic: Southern Tier with no camping?  (Read 6105 times)

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Offline balm426

Southern Tier with no camping?
« on: December 16, 2015, 10:00:46 pm »
We are in the process of planning to ride the southern tier route starting in March 2016. We are trying to work out the details and figure some things out.

My main question is can it be done without camping? Are there any long stretches where there are no services? We are going to be unsupported and carrying all our gear. We are basically planning for 50 miles a day but can adjust that once we're riding.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Southern Tier with no camping?
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2015, 10:23:09 pm »
Can't comment on it all as I have only done portions some of which were "off route" frequently.  The portion I was only this past October from Phoenix to Imperial Beach we only used  indoor lodging.  The most difficult portion is that we had to time it to stay at the "biker lodging" house near Palo Verde OR do a long ride that day.

If you are in shape AND you will NOT have a head wind, I would recommend you do the Blythe to Brawley section in one day over staying at the biker lodging.  While the lady was nice, the 1.5m road to/from her house was a huge pain with regular road tires as the road was incredibly sandy.

The reason we did the hotels only on this trip is that the budget hotels were only about $10-$15 typically over a commercial campsite and a few of the riders were in their mid-70s and wanted a bed if possible.  Who am I to argue with that  ;D!  You could always mail your gear to a post office (care of general delivery) or motel near the start of a long "hotel desert" and mail it back home/ahead again when you reach "civilization".  Another option is to just go way off route like I did such as doing the Gulf Coast from Florida to Galveston (gap between Galveston and Phoenix is a future trip).

Finally, AND are strong, I highly recommend going off route between Marathon and Marfa and visit Big Bend National Park and then west via US385>TX118>CR170>>US67.  This route is much much hillier but 4x more scenic.  You can get indoor lodging but have to book in advance which is always a pain to ensure you get there a the right time.




Offline BikePacker

Re: Southern Tier with no camping?
« Reply #2 on: December 18, 2015, 02:53:53 pm »
What I found about 10 years ago when touring east to west was that I was able to easily 'motel' from St. Augustine, FL to Bayou La Batre, AL and after that intermittent camping became necessary (my coverage rate was 40 to 60 miles per day.).  .... Wishing you a great tour.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Southern Tier with no camping?
« Reply #3 on: December 18, 2015, 05:53:24 pm »
I wasn't really paying that much attention to whether it would be possible to motel it when I was riding the ST, but my impression is that there would be some pretty long days.  Maybe going off route in places might help, but I am not sure you could do it without doing some 80-100+ mile days.  Even then it would involve a lot of planning and length of riding days would be dictated by available lodging so you would likely have some very long and some very short days.  I recall there being a lot of empty space.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Southern Tier with no camping?
« Reply #4 on: December 18, 2015, 07:46:34 pm »
Having no way to camp, and relying on the shelter of motels or hosts might put you in uncomfortable positions from time to time. Your planned destination for any given day may seem easily enough attained where mileage is the only concern. Mileage is only one variable. Strong winds and or rain can put you off your bike for hours making the day's planned stop beyond your reach. I would say you could probably do the southern tier the way you plan, relying on motels and others for shelter every night or so. I would also say I have done the ST 5 times from Florida to California, and twice from Florida to El Paso, Texas. Many times storms, wind and rain sent me off the road, sometimes all night, sometimes for large parts of the days. Being out there day after day, week after week might put you in the way of lethal weather events. In fact, it is considered a small miracle I am still alive, what with the many instances of massive bolts of lightning slamming to earth all around like a concentrated military barrage. You could have excellent weather like I had on one crossing, and you could be brought to a dead stop by wind and storm. It is a matter of possibilities. I always camp most nights, and stay occasionally in motels. In a car it is one matter. The power and shelter conquer wind and rain up to a point. On a bicycle the weather has much more control over you than in a motor vehicle.

Offline aggie

Re: Southern Tier with no camping?
« Reply #5 on: December 20, 2015, 05:33:06 pm »
When I did the Southern Tier I had to stop in Langtry, TX which does not have a motel.  I was trying to make Comstock or Del Rio but the headwinds and the half inch chip seal made it impossible.  As Westinghouse mentioned the distance may seem doable but the weather, road, or other unforeseen factors may make it all but impossible to make.  I always carry some light camping equipment even if I plan on staying every night in a hotel.

It is a bit of a stretch from Sanderson to Comstock/Del Rio (80 plus miles). 

Offline balm426

Re: Southern Tier with no camping?
« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2015, 07:41:56 pm »
Thanks for the info

I think I may have talked the other 2 guys into being open to camping. We are all planning to bring light camping gear in case we need it.

Offline Lingen

Re: Southern Tier with no camping?
« Reply #7 on: December 22, 2015, 08:11:45 pm »
We did a modified Southern Tier Dec 2010-Feb 2011.  Our intention was to land at a motel every night.  We brought tent and bags just in case.  With some nightly mapping and planning, we were able be in a motel 63 out of the 65 days.  To make this happen, some days were short mile days and sometimes we pushed further than we wanted but it was worth it for us to be in a warm, dry place every night.  We used the tent one night and the other night the campground owners let us stay on a laundry room floor.  http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/fltour
« Last Edit: December 23, 2015, 06:38:13 am by Lingen »

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Southern Tier with no camping?
« Reply #8 on: December 22, 2015, 10:32:12 pm »
The journal link was bad and did not go through.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Southern Tier with no camping?
« Reply #9 on: December 28, 2015, 09:53:05 am »
To make the point about the weather, you can see the lethal storms that just blasted the landscapes and cityscapes of the Midwest. About 24 people killed with more heavy weather on the way. On one crossing of the ST in summer there was only 30 minutes of light rain in Slidell, LA, and one rain storm that lasted all night where I sat and slept at a booth at Love's Truck stop just west of Las Cruces, NM, and that was all. On other trips there were numerous storms. Some were lethal and caused flooding.

Offline stuenan

Re: Southern Tier with no camping?
« Reply #10 on: March 16, 2016, 09:51:36 am »
Im currently riding east to west across the south. I did the Southern Tier route until NOLA then rode up to the DFW area. I'm now in southern NM. So far, I haven't had any problem finding a motel to stay at every night, but I have had some pretty long days- I'm averaging 69 miles a day, a little more than I wanted.

Doing the mileage isn't the issue, but I'm riding a Kona Sutra with front and rear panniers, so the wind through west Texas and NM has made some days long and slow- 75 miles at 8.8 mph. This is making me take more rest days than I was planning on, but it's worth it to me to stay inside at night. I don't think camping in howling wind would be very restful. Also, I rode through a lot of rain in west Texas and camping would have been miserable.

I've carried camping gear with me the entire trip just in case things go really bad one day, but if you're a strong, confident rider, I think you could get away without it. Me? I expect things to go wrong, so I'm going to keep riding with it until somewhere in AZ and then I'll ship it home.

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Southern Tier with no camping?
« Reply #11 on: March 17, 2016, 07:06:53 pm »
It sounds like a plan whose time has come. Yes, howling winds, and on those days, after long grueling grinds over numerous hills, it seemed like a miracle that I had actually covered 70 or so miles in those conditions in one day. If anyone had told me in the mornings on such days that I would make even 50 miles on those days, I would have doubted it seriously. Determination, strength. willpower, and keeping on keeping on will get you the miles. One night spent sleepless under an interstate overpass bridge with screeching winds tearing in horizontal with the ground was not scary enough. Then came lightning all around for hours, close lightning, as in survival being perhaps a genuine miracle.