Author Topic: Southern Tier, East to West in January... How to prepare for the weather...  (Read 1403 times)

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Offline tbraunagel

I'm planning a East to West Southern tier trip Starting January 1.  I'm planning about 75 miles a day.  I figure I'll be in New Mexico/Arizona/California in February.

I assume that part of the trip will have the most severe temperature fluctuations and I'm looking for anyone with experience riding the southern tier at that time to share how they prepared for it and what their actual experience was.

I plan to be self contained and camping when possible.

Any insights regarding difficulties lodging, finding food, temperatures and how to prepare is appreciated.  Thank you.  Tom

Offline staehpj1

I went the other direction starting February 12th.  Not sure how much different your weather will be.  Your days will be shorter figure on that.  Expect frost overnight fairly often.  You might have a truly cold night or two especially if you camp on top of any passes.  I had one 18F morning.  I didn't have any problems with snow, but did see some snow on the road side.  I was told that snow was likely to be mostly at altitude if there was any and roads would clear out in a day or two if you waited them out.

I found it pretty pleasant overall.  I'd go that time of year again.  Much better than risk hot weather IMO.

Offline Codetalker

East to West, huh? Must be a long journey. I wanted to go on a trip like that some years ago to but I almost got scammed. I paid for everything including for a 5 stars hotel.But when I got there, it wasn't even a hotel but more like a motel. And oh, there wasn't even any air conditioner.To be more exact, there was one but it wasn't working/ It was August, so you can imagine how hot it was. In the end, me and my friend ended up having to spend our own money to get the AC fixed. Lessoned learned, trust only the best companies when it comes to traveling guys.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2021, 06:22:51 pm by Codetalker »

Offline jamawani

I agree with staehpj1.  Especially the part about short days.
I have a built-in sense of how far I can ride in a day - -
that was completely off for winter riding.
You just don't have that many hours of usable daylight.

Three things make short winter days even shorter for cycling.
1. The morning chill makes it hard to start early.
In the Southeast it is bone-chilling damp, in the Southwest it's just, plain cold.
2. Ya gotta eat lunch. I felt guilty about stopping for long.
Lunchtime is usually the best riding weather.
3. Stopping to smell the roses. Or walk under the live oaks.
Most folks want to visit the sights along the way, not just ride nonstop.

Plus, I found a some Southern state park campgrounds "Closed for Winter".
Winter?? I'm from Wyoming. It's only 45F. But they have thin blood down there.

I was used to summer mileage around 75 to 80 miles per day.
But when I tried to do this in the winter it made for a tough trip.
I quickly downscaled the mileage.

Offline staehpj1

I agree with staehpj1.  Especially the part about short days.
I have a built-in sense of how far I can ride in a day - -
that was completely off for winter riding.
You just don't have that many hours of usable daylight.

Three things make short winter days even shorter for cycling.
1. The morning chill makes it hard to start early.
In the Southeast it is bone-chilling damp, in the Southwest it's just, plain cold.
2. Ya gotta eat lunch. I felt guilty about stopping for long.
Lunchtime is usually the best riding weather.
3. Stopping to smell the roses. Or walk under the live oaks.
Most folks want to visit the sights along the way, not just ride nonstop.

Plus, I found a some Southern state park campgrounds "Closed for Winter".
Winter?? I'm from Wyoming. It's only 45F. But they have thin blood down there.

I was used to summer mileage around 75 to 80 miles per day.
But when I tried to do this in the winter it made for a tough trip.
I quickly downscaled the mileage.
I may be a bit weird in that I wound up doing quite long for me mileage on the ST even in the winter.

I found that much of the way there was just so much empty desolate road that I was inclined to knock out long mileage.  I did more 90 and 100 mile days than I usually would, but I went in February-March when the days were much longer than they'd be in December-January and I was not bothered by starting early since I don't mind the cold much.  I think the only day where I stayed in for it to warm up was the one night it got down into the teens and stayed cold for the early morning hours.  Since I was on top of a pass I didn't relish the cold descent.

Not sure what kind of daily mileage I might have done with the shorter days of Dec-Jan, certainly less than I did when I went in Feb-Mar, but maybe still longish.

Also for me sometimes the summer's long days are offset a bit by my inclination to take more breaks in the heat.  So I think I averaged longer days than I typically would even in summer.