Author Topic: Southern Tier - El Paso to St. Augustine - Questions  (Read 966 times)

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Offline HappyNaga

Southern Tier - El Paso to St. Augustine - Questions
« on: February 10, 2020, 09:56:15 am »
Hi there,

Back in late summer/fall 2018, I cycled from San Francisco to San Diego and then on the Southern Tier as far as El Paso. I have conquered all the mountains, including Emory Pass, the highest point of the ST, albeit slowly. For the nights I mostly camped, usually in State Parks. At times I switched to hostels and or motels. Twice, I camped sort of 'wild' or let's say 'half-wild'.

I am a very slow cyclist and plan normally with about 35-50 miles a day. I did twice about 80miles.

Now I plan to come back soon to do 'the rest' of the ST, El Paso to St. Augustine. Looking at the ACA maps and through the ST forum, some questions arise - of course:

- Van Horn to Fort Davis - very limited services
Are there any places to camp safely by the road or any other recommendations? I know, it is ranchland and fenced in large parts. What about Kent, the ghost town? Are there some people living there. What about the wildlife (thinking of mountain lions, robbing raccoons and rattlesnakes)? Where to get water or do I have to start out with all I need?
Please no suggestions to use Highway 90 and go via Marfa, the route is set.

- The Pecos River bridge has been mentioned as very dangerous by seemingly experienced cyclists due to freaky winds, lots of trucks and low barriers.

- One post mentioned the West Nile Virus along the route. Any outbreaks, cases in recent times?

- What about the famous wildflowers? Is March a good time to see them? I am dreaming of large patches with Texas Blue Bonnets  :).

Maybe I should mention that I am from Europe and want to take in the landscapes and other sights, so going fast is not my goal. I have done a lot of cycling in Europe, incl. the Eurovelo 6 from the Atlantic to the Black Sea and about 4 crossings of the Alps, so no rookie on the bike - just slow....

Stormy greetings from Germany, Happy Naga

The journey is the destination - Confucius

Offline CMajernik

Re: Southern Tier - El Paso to St. Augustine - Questions
« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2020, 12:11:42 pm »
When are you beginning your trip?
Carla Majernik
Routes and Mapping Program Director

Adventure Cycling Association
Inspiring people of all ages to travel by bicycle.
800/755-2453, 406/721-1776 x218, 406/721-8754 fax
www.adventurecycling.org

Follow Routes & Mapping on Twitter: @acaroutes

Offline TCS

Re: Southern Tier - El Paso to St. Augustine - Questions
« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2020, 01:57:56 pm »
- What about the famous wildflowers? Is March a good time to see them? I am dreaming of large patches with Texas Blue Bonnets  :).

The Texas wildflower season varies a bit from year to year with the weather, but mid-March to mid-May is the prime time*.  Bluebonnets can flower as early as January in far West Texas, and generally peak in early April in Central Texas.  These will be joined by Indian Paintbrush, followed by Indian Blanket and Pink Evening Primrose, then Winecups and Mexican Hats on into summer.

*Driving at automobile speeds, one might think Texas only has wildflowers in spring, but a cyclist can notice some small, less ostentatious plants blooming along the road almost all year.  Spot all 5000 species of native Texas flowering plants & win a prize!

« Last Edit: February 11, 2020, 01:59:43 pm by TCS »
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline TCS

Re: Southern Tier - El Paso to St. Augustine - Questions
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2020, 02:15:16 pm »
- The Pecos River bridge has been mentioned as very dangerous by seemingly experienced cyclists due to freaky winds, lots of trucks and low barriers.

Don't stress about this.  It's 3400000 meters from El Paso to St. Augustine along the Southern Tier.  The bridge is only 300 meters long (between shouldered road sections) and flat, so there are no approaches to climb.  Transport truckers who regularly drive this route are used to seeing cycle tourists.

It's really quite dramatic to ride the flat land and have the steep-sided canyon suddenly open up beneath you with the river (lake) nearly 100 meters below.
« Last Edit: February 11, 2020, 02:41:36 pm by TCS »
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline HappyNaga

Re: Southern Tier - El Paso to St. Augustine - Questions
« Reply #4 on: February 12, 2020, 05:41:56 am »
Don't stress about this.  It's 3400000 meters from El Paso to St. Augustine along the Southern Tier.  The bridge is only 300 meters long (between shouldered road sections) and flat, so there are no approaches to climb.  Transport truckers who regularly drive this route are used to seeing cycle tourists.

Hi there,

Thanks for putting the bridge issue into the right perspective! And I adopt this perspective! I do agree with you very much about the truckers. I had on my previous trip no bad experiences with them at all. For me, the troublemakers are the bus-size RVs, who often do not know the size of their vehicles. So, instead of worrying about the wildlife (now added by the javelinas) along 118 (and other stretches) I maybe should worry about the RVs  ;).

To break the 90-mile stretch between Van Horn and Fort Davis doesn't look like an unsolvable problem either.

Also thanks for this beautiful picture! This is exactly how I imagine it would be. I attach my lonely Blue Bonnet on our balcony. Original seeds from Texas. It is lonely because the cheeky birds ate the other seeds. I will read and learn about the other plants you mentioned to not ride completely ignorant and uneducated along the ST. Thanks.  :)

Time to hit the hay over here and continue tomorrow to tackle all the issues which arise before the first kilometre or mile is pedalled.

Thanks very much and greetings from Germany, HappyNaga
« Last Edit: February 12, 2020, 05:45:14 am by HappyNaga »
The journey is the destination - Confucius

Offline HappyNaga

Re: Southern Tier - El Paso to St. Augustine - Questions
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2020, 05:47:17 pm »
Hi Carla,

I did reply to your post, but it strangely has disappeared.  :(

I will set off from Germany hopefully in the first week of March and be on the road mid-March. Altogether I'll have 2 1/2 months for the Southern Tier.

I am looking very much forward to be on my bike.  :)

Greetings from Germany, HappyNaga
The journey is the destination - Confucius

Offline bobbys beard

Re: Southern Tier - El Paso to St. Augustine - Questions
« Reply #6 on: February 22, 2020, 07:56:56 am »
Sounds like you have plenty of experience and stamina. The rest of the southern tier shouldn’t hold any surprises. I don’t remember a day that I wasn’t able to get water for more than 40 miles. I carried plenty with me and stocked up whenever an opportunity arose. 

I don’t even remember the bridge you mention. The sections that tested my nerve the most were the mountains east of San Diego, which had narrow passes in some places (you already did those) and a few encounters with logging trucks around Florida.

I only saw one wild rattlesnake on the entire southern tier, sitting on the road with a belly full of something. This was on the New Mexico border and ironically called something like rattlesnake hill! It was early morning, just after sunrise. There was a gas station at the bottom of the mountain, at the start of a large mining area. The lady told me she had lived there 30+ years and never saw one before.

I think I saw a mountain lion with cubs drinking at a lake in Texas while I was camping, the moon was very bright and it lit them up pretty good. A pack of dogs woke me up causing a fuss, which I guessed was because of the cougar. The cougar paid me no attention at all and it was quite a thrill. I think you’re more likely to get a lion encounter in the sections you already cycled.

I was also visited by a bear in woodland by the side of the road, somewhere in the south east. I hadn’t realised bears were down there and was eating a tin of sardines. I freaked a bit and started waving my arms and making a fuss. It stopped and stared at me for a bit, looking completely unbothered, before strolling off into the trees. I slept there and as far as I know, it didn’t come back.

Raccoons were the bane of my entire trip. They’re not aggressive, just cunning and persistent!

There are many wildlife encounters thinking about it. The only animals aside from raccoons to give me a problem were domestic dogs and I’m sure you had plenty of encounters with them before!




Offline HappyNaga

Re: Southern Tier - El Paso to St. Augustine - Questions
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2020, 05:47:51 pm »
Hi there,

This message comes not from somewhere on the Southern Tier but from Southern Germany, thanks to the Coronavirus. The irony in my case is that the continuation of the ST was too to overcome my very personal virus story and making up for the 'lost cycling season' in 2019. I felt in top shape, swimming and cycling regularly when a viral Meningitis unleashed a chain reaction. Six weeks hospital was the first step on the road of recovery, many other steps followed. And cycling helped.

I actually went to the US on one of the last flights and did my (planned) car trip down to Big Bend NP & BB Ranch State Park, which I love. I knew that CoVid-19 would impact my bike trip, but not to that extend. I actually expected to stop for 2 or 3 weeks to stay somewhere, Fort Davies was on the list, however, I soon decided for myself that this is simply not the right time to travel. Bringing my return flight forward was relatively easy. A small reroute and a few days waiting. And the flights were one of the best: 3 seats = 5 hours solid sleep.

Why did I come all the way? Maybe I wanted this trip too much to work out and ignored the warning signs. Now back home, I remember fondly enjoying the wide and open landscape of West Texas, the wildflowers, beautiful nights in my little tent and having met friends my albeit very briefly. Only negative point: My bike never came out of its box. The challenges of this trip made me stronger.

Now I am enjoying a beautiful spring here at home and take day rides around here. I just miss a visit to a beer garden or a nice cappuccino in some street side cafe. Lockdown till 19th April. However, there is still hope, to do the trip planned for last summer or at least part of it.

I hope to be back next year and hope that all of you safe.

HappyNaga
The journey is the destination - Confucius