Author Topic: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon  (Read 690 times)

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Offline kombiguy

St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« on: May 24, 2020, 03:09:21 pm »
I'm ready and chomping at the bit. What would be the earliest you would suggest leaving St. Augustine to do the Southern Tier?
The secret to success is just one more.

Offline John Nettles

Re: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2020, 03:11:56 pm »
It CAN be ridden year round.  It just all depends on what YOU want.  Follow ACA's recommendations for optimal weather.

Tailwinds, John

Offline BikePacker

Re: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2020, 03:23:53 pm »
For me, &, in a perfect world  : ), I am thinking I'd probably launch about March 1.

Offline staehpj1

Re: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« Reply #3 on: May 25, 2020, 08:08:30 am »
I have to say that I am confused by the question.  Earliest?  I'd be asking what is the latest.

I rode San Diego to Pensacola in mid February through mid March and thought that was a really nice time of year for the ride.  The days were much longer than when the temperatures are similar in the fall and early winter.  The temperatures were nice and cool.  I did have frost at night fairly often and one very cold night (18F), but pleasant cool riding days.  It generally got above 50F every day before noon, possibly with one or maybe two exceptions.  Spring is dry in north Florida and I only remember one miserable day or hard rain.

By this time of year you will be facing brutally hot temperatures that I'd much prefer to avoid.  I have ridden in the SW and in the Sierras and been caught when the heat came earlier than expected (much earlier than now).  I can say from first hand experience that 110+ F heat is no fun in the desert or anywhere else.

Personally I found the ST boring scenery wise.  The people and the food were redeeming factors and the fact that it could be ridden in late winter was the biggest factor in choosing it for me.  I enjoyed meeting a collection of misfits who were mostly transplants from somewhere else.  I enjoyed sampling various regional cuisines.  There were some beautiful views, but they were pretty widely spaced and riding 1000 miles of pretty much nothing but brown sage brush across Texas didn't inspire me. 

Not every one agrees about riding it in winter, but almost no one recommends riding it in mid summer.  The ACA description says "The Southern Tier Route is best ridden in early fall or late spring. In September and May, there still might be some very hot weather to contend with at either end of the route."  I'd avoid September or May myself, but would strongly advise against any trip that was partially or entirely in June, July, and August.  If I go again I'll stick with late winter.  I was going W-E.  I think I'd feel even more strongly about going early if going E-W since there would be even less worry of any risk of snow in the mountains.

My suggestion...  Choose a more northern route like maybe the Trans America or the NT or do the ST in the late winter-early spring.  You will have heat on the other XC routes in the summer as well, but not quite as bad and at least you will have more closely space services.  You will be able to get a cold drink or some AC  once in a while.  The scenery will be more interesting too.

Offline kombiguy

Re: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2020, 08:30:56 pm »
Yea, after all the advice, I'm thinking about a change. The Trans America from Yorktown to the Route 66, then to the Grand Canyon Connector to the Southern Tier route into San Diego.
The secret to success is just one more.

Offline John Nelson

Re: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2020, 01:30:20 am »
On the other hand, the southern states currently seem to have the least restrictions, and be the most advanced in opening up. So maybe the Southern Tier would have fewer obstacles and more choices for food and accommodations.

I am of the belief that, with proper precautions, heat is no obstacle. I'm sure not everybody agrees with me, but my perspective comes from living and exercising in Phoenix for 20 years. The residents of Phoenix do not crawl into a hole in the summer. They continue to run and bike and play outdoor sports, even in the middle of the day. The trick is water. Just make sure you drink gallons of water, and know your body. Know how to recognize the signs of heat stress and heat stroke.

Offline staehpj1

Re: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« Reply #6 on: May 27, 2020, 06:39:43 am »
Disclaimer...  The following is just one opinion, but it does come from some first hand experience with this and other routes.
On the other hand, the southern states currently seem to have the least restrictions, and be the most advanced in opening up. So maybe the Southern Tier would have fewer obstacles and more choices for food and accommodations.
That may be a factor, not sure how true that would be.  Factoring in that the ST has sparser services to start with I have my doubts, but I really don't know what things are like on the road during these pandemic times on any of the routes.

Quote
I am of the belief that, with proper precautions, heat is no obstacle. I'm sure not everybody agrees with me, but my perspective comes from living and exercising in Phoenix for 20 years. The residents of Phoenix do not crawl into a hole in the summer. They continue to run and bike and play outdoor sports, even in the middle of the day. The trick is water. Just make sure you drink gallons of water, and know your body. Know how to recognize the signs of heat stress and heat stroke.
I have a few problems with that.  Doing all that stuff when at home where water is easy to have available and AC is nearby is one thing.  Doing it on tour is another.  Doing it on tour on a route that has any services extremely widely spaced is still another.    I recall some very long stretches on the ST with no chance to resupply water, no chance to pop in to air conditioning, and even no shade.  On a mid-Feb thru mid-Mar trip I needed to carry a lot of water at times.  If it were to be 110F I can't imagine how much water I'd have gone through or how unpleasant it would have been.

These days, I live in Tallahassee where it is summer 9 months of the year so I have put up with a hot summer day or two.  I remember a few days in the SW like a few where we were in the Needles where the heat was relentless or one near the aptly named Caliente where I was rationing my water in triple digit heat after finding no water available where I thought it was.  I have voluntarily gone out and trail run in 95-100+F heat quite a few times.  Doing that and being stuck out in the heat in the emptiness of much of the ST are two entirely different things.  Water stops and other services are just too widely spaced for it to make any sense to subject yourself to it in my personal opinion.  It isn't like you usually have the option of riding for a few hours in the morning and then sitting in the shade or the AC.  I guess you could ride at night, but many (most) of the places I camped wouldn't have been that great to have slept or hung out in during the day in the summer heat.

John, I have a lot of respect for your opinions in general.  In this case I do wonder about whether this particular one is based on any first hand experience with this route or one with similarly long hot empty stretches in summer.  If so my hat is off to your toughness with regard to your ability to survive and thrive in the heat on tour in remote country.  I'll be the first to concede that I have not ridden it in summer, but based on having ridden the route in late winter and having done other riding and hiking in the area I know that personally would never even consider it in Summer.  Having been caught in an early heat wave in the spring in the Sierras and record heat on northern routes were tough enough for me.  We had record heat for much of our Trans America, but the resupply points are much closer together as are the places to find shade (even there sometimes a shade tree or a cold bottle of water felt like a rare pleasure). It should be noted that the ACA doesn't recommend it for summer either.  They even caution about the possibility of extreme heat in September and May.

The thing is for me the ST doesn't really offer all that much compared to the other possible options.  Doing it in summer you'd be suffering with hauling huge amounts of water between widely spaced resupply point, past monotonous scenery, through brutal heat.  In exchange you'd get the shortest XC route with the least climbing and an interesting sampling of people and cuisines.  So IMO, much better to just do a more northern route unless you must do choose it for the shorter duration or really want the reduction in the amount of mountains.  In that case I'd do it in cooler weather.

Brutal heat is something that sometimes you can't avoid in the US in Summer for a coast to coast trip, but when there is a better options I really don't see subjecting myself to the worst one.  Then again the ST may be someone else's dream trip for reason's that I just fail to see.  Someone else may love the solitude of days and days of empty brown sagebrush.

Offline John Nelson

Re: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« Reply #7 on: May 27, 2020, 12:45:39 pm »
I have a few problems with that.  Doing all that stuff when at home where water is easy to have available and AC is nearby is one thing.  Doing it on tour is another.  Doing it on tour on a route that has any services extremely widely spaced is still another.    I recall some very long stretches on the ST with no chance to resupply water, no chance to pop in to air conditioning, and even no shade.  On a mid-Feb thru mid-Mar trip I needed to carry a lot of water at times.  If it were to be 110F I can't imagine how much water I'd have gone through or how unpleasant it would have been.
Well, I didn't say it was easy, but you can carry ten gallons with you if you try. You certainly don't need to do that every day. One nice thing about the ACA maps is that they warn you when stretches are coming up with sparse services.

These days, I live in Tallahassee where it is summer 9 months of the year so I have put up with a hot summer day or two.  I remember a few days in the SW like a few where we were in the Needles where the heat was relentless or one near the aptly named Caliente where I was rationing my water in triple digit heat after finding no water available where I thought it was.
I admit that tolerating the heat in the dry West is different than tolerating the heat in the humid East. Because evaporation actually works in the West, heat is more easily mitigated there. In the humid East, water may not be all you need. In Phoenix, I have gone for a hard 10-mile run at noon on a 122-degree day with no ill effects, but I stop frequently for water.

John, I have a lot of respect for your opinions in general.  In this case I do wonder about whether this particular one is based on any first hand experience with this route or one with similarly long hot empty stretches in summer.  If so my hat is off to your toughness with regard to your ability to survive and thrive in the heat on tour in remote country.
I have not ridden the ST, but I have ridden across the Mojave Desert on Bicycle Route 66 in temperatures well above 100. The Mojave has similar long stretches without services, including a stretch of almost two days with no water. It takes four days to get across it. And I have ridden a 107 mile day in 99 degrees in eastern Montana with only one refill point available.

The thing is for me the ST doesn't really offer all that much compared to the other possible options.  Doing it in summer you'd be suffering with hauling huge amounts of water between widely spaced resupply point, past monotonous scenery, through brutal heat.  In exchange you'd get the shortest XC route with the least climbing and an interesting sampling of people and cuisines.  So IMO, much better to just do a more northern route unless you must do choose it for the shorter duration or really want the reduction in the amount of mountains.  In that case I'd do it in cooler weather. Brutal heat is something that sometimes you can't avoid in the US in Summer for a coast to coast trip, but when there is a better options I really don't see subjecting myself to the worst one.  Then again the ST may be someone else's dream trip for reason's that I just fail to see.  Someone else may love the solitude of days and days of empty brown sagebrush.
No argument from me on that, but the OP said he wanted to do St. Augustine to San Diego, and he wanted to do it soon. I have no visibility into his motives.
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 12:48:55 pm by John Nelson »

Offline staehpj1

Re: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« Reply #8 on: May 27, 2020, 07:56:27 pm »
Thanks for the reply John.  Good points.  I think the OP will be making their choice with a better idea of what their choices involve.  I hope my comments provided perspective to make a good choice rather than just scaring them away from something they wanted to do.

Offline kombiguy

Re: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2020, 09:23:41 pm »
No fear here. I appreciate the perspectives of all the way-more-experienced riders. It gives me plenty of food for thought. The real motive for this route was sort of a Catholic history thing. Oldest city in America to one of the oldest on the west coast; saint to saint sort of thing. Other than that, and the Marfa lights, of course, no particular reason.
The secret to success is just one more.

Offline John Nelson

Re: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2020, 01:09:33 am »
That makes sense and those are good reasons. But can you wait six to nine months? By then, not only will the weather be better, we can hope that we might have the virus under control by then.

Offline staehpj1

Re: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2020, 06:44:43 am »
No fear here. I appreciate the perspectives of all the way-more-experienced riders. It gives me plenty of food for thought. The real motive for this route was sort of a Catholic history thing. Oldest city in America to one of the oldest on the west coast; saint to saint sort of thing. Other than that, and the Marfa lights, of course, no particular reason.
You are probably not supposed to but I slept in a dark corner at the Marfa Mystery Light viewing station for the night.  I didn't like the offerings in town and checked out the campground on the way out of town.  When I got there at the TumbleIn RV Park the tent sites were just completely covered in goat head thorns, I didn't see any shower (the reviews mention one now, either I missed it or it has been added since I was there), and the price seemed high, and there were no attendants on site so I pressed on figuring worst case staying out in the desert would be about the same only cost nothing.  A few miles down the road it was dark and I was thinking of pulling off and wild camping when I came upon the viewing station.

I didn't see anything I could say for sure was what the lights are supposed to be.  I did see some lights in the sky close to the horizon that I figured were the result of car headlights, but the locals in Marathon (where I stayed at the "hippie" hostel) said if I had seen the lights I'd have know it.  FWIW Marathon was a MUCH more interesting stop than Marfa.  Chatting up the locals in town was interesting as were the folks in the hostel.

Offline TCS

Re: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« Reply #12 on: June 04, 2020, 02:23:13 pm »
...riding 1000 miles of pretty much nothing but brown sagebrush across Texas didn't inspire me. 

Not everyone agrees about riding it in winter...

Riding across America's Sonoran and Chihuahuan Deserts.  In winter.  It's not the Cotswolds.   ;D
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."

Offline TCS

Re: St. AUgustine to San Diego, soon
« Reply #13 on: June 04, 2020, 02:53:33 pm »
The real motive for this route was sort of a Catholic history thing.

In Louisiana you'll pass through Catholicism heavily influence by the French/Cajun history.  In Eastern Texas, as you pass out of the pine forests and through the Postoak Belt you'll tour a region settled by German, Czech and Polish Catholics with big, beautiful painted wooden churches rising up out of the agricultural fields.  Further west, Catholicism takes on an irrefutable Hispanic flavor. 

You'll cross paths with famous (and infamous) explorers who made no distinction between church and state, like La Salle, de Soto, Cabeza de Vaca, Coronado, Oñate, Fray Marcos, Charlevoix and many others, like the unnamed priests in 1757 who erected a hilltop cross in what became Fredericksburg, Texas.

The Southern Tier is somewhat unique among the Adventure Cycling routes in that it visits a number of large cities.  You'll find historic cathedrals in Mobile, Austin, El Paso and Phoenix.
"My name is Pither.  I am at present on a cycling tour of the North Cornwall area taking in Bude and..."