Author Topic: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B  (Read 593 times)

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Offline Figaro

Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« on: June 06, 2020, 01:27:31 pm »
I had big plans for this year. I was training to fly with my bike (a new 2020 Salsa Cutthroat GRX600) to Fairbanks, AK. Spend a day or two to see if I could catch a ride to Prudhoe Bay and if so, start from there, if not, start from Fairbanks and head out on the road toward Jasper, Canada. Once there, my plan was to jump on the Great Divide Mountain Bike route and take it all the way to Antelope Wells. I even got drawn for a spot in the DK200 and was going to use that as my last big training ride at the end of May before setting off on this adventure. Thanks Covid for blowing that all to hell.

The DK was moved back to Sep, so at least I had (have) that to look forward to, but doing just a 200 mile gravel race really doesn't compare to what I was looking forward to and hasn't served to motivate me to train very hard for the past couple months.

That's the short background. Now to the purpose of this post. I'm now considering doing the Southern Tier. I'm pretty wide open as to when I could start, but just not crazy enough to set out on that in the summer. My initial thinking is to start in Sep. Maybe even forgo the DK which is scheduled for Sep 12 and start around the first week of Sep. I live in KY, so my initial thinking is that I would rent a car, drive to St Augustine and go East to West. The two pros I see to doing that are: 1) Don't need to box up my bike, fly with it, hope it doesn't get damaged, then assemble it at the start. And 2, Don't have the sun in my eyes every morning. I did the TransAm East to West in 2018 and those were the two major factors in determining that direction. I realize the one downside could be wind direction, but I can live with that. However, I could fly to San Diego and go West to East if there were enough compelling reasons to do that--I just can't think of any.

So, I could go either direction and I also could start anytime. I can handle heat better than cold. I plan to average 100+ miles a day--some may be 50 and some may be 150. I will carry camping gear, but will stay in hotels/motels whenever possible. My personal goal is to do it in under 30 days. And, of course, this all depends on the country continuing to open up.

I just got my maps yesterday and am starting to look over them to do some initial planning for daily miles and stops--I did the same thing for the TransAm and started adjusting my plans from the very start, but I do like to at least go in with a plan.

Any suggestions, things to think about, tips from people who have actually done the route would be appreciated. Also, if anyone else is thinking about this and would like to discuss starting out together, feel free to message me. I had planned to do the TransAm alone in 2018, but connected with two other riders and we started together. We loosely rode together through a lot of the route--was a good way to start the ride.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2020, 01:53:27 pm »
Honestly, it sounds like you are just chomping at the bit to do a big ride, which I can TOTALLY understand.  This Wuhan Virus (sorry, but pissed at China after a friend died from it) really messed things up as you said.

I don't know the status of getting into Canada or Alaska right now but if both are still open to non-natives, I would still consider that as your starting date would have been around July 1st I assume. Worst case is you have to abandon the trip and then you still MIGHT be able to do the ST in September or October.

If that is un-doable or undesired, and/or you want/need to wait until September, consider doing part of the GD (where you would have been in September and then you could ride west or east on the ST when you get to Silver City, NM.

If you want to stick to the ST, either direction is OK overall but since you, like me, are not fond of cold, look at the weather temps to help determine when to do.  For instance, accoridng to WeatherSpark.com, the average lows in Silver City do not hit below freezing until November 25 so you are fine.  Silver City is probably not the coldest part of the ST, but close enough, especially if you camp in the valleys.

Conversely, the highs in early September can average 90* in Florida and even higher in much of California.  While Silver City would be OK in late September, I might want to head west bound so California can cool down some.

You say you can "handle" heat better than cold but that is a subjective term.  I would suggest you just look around on WeatherSpark and figure out that OK, based on X date I should be in Y town where the highs and lows are H&L.  Then after getting a few data points, you will have an idea as to which date and direction works best for you.

Whatever you choose to do, have a great trip!  Tailwinds, John

Offline Pat Lamb

Re: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2020, 11:23:25 pm »
FWIW, I believe Alaska still has a 14 day quarantine requirement for people coming into the state.

If OP can stand to wait a couple more weeks, the desert heat starts easing in September.  Mid to late September might be a reasonable start from the west of the ST.  (Plus, you'd have a few months to wind up hurricane season in the Gulf.)

Offline staehpj1

Re: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2020, 06:15:21 am »
The ST is a good route for knocking out long mileage days and for a strong rider your 30 day goal, while ambitious, is doable.  If I were touring 30 years ago I might have considered doing it in that time.  These days I am older and less ambitious.

My preference is for this route is late winter to early spring (cool weather and longer daylight hours than at the end of fall and beginning of winter), but lots of folks go in the fall.  If you can go a little later than your planned departure you will get less heat at the cost of a bit shorter daylight hours.  Even in mid February, I didn't find I really needed to deal with much cold weather.  There was frost at night pretty often, but it was generally over 50F pretty early in the day.  OTOH, I have seen absolutely brutal heat in the southwest on other trips at times surprisingly early in the spring and late in the fall.

As far as wind and choosing direction of travel...  I wouldn't even factor that in on this route.  I didn't think it was that big of a factor in my trip there or on other trips across the country or parts of it further north.  Surface winds tend to be a crap shoot and really don't follow the prevailing westerlie pattern that folks expect.

Offline Figaro

Re: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2020, 11:51:48 am »
Honestly, it sounds like you are just chomping at the bit to do a big ride, which I can TOTALLY understand.

Whatever you choose to do, have a great trip!  Tailwinds, John

Thanks John and yes, I am chomping at the bit to do a big ride. I turned 60 in March and really wanted to do something big. With the uncertainty of the virus situation, I've just completely ruled out any of the Great Divide this year. Communities along that route are still pretty closed--at least some of them--and I don't want to be "that guy". I'll put that on my list for next year if I don't do a big ride this year or 2022 if I do the ST this year. Unless things significantly turn around for the worse, it seems the states on the ST are pretty much open for business, maybe with the possible exception of CA.

Offline Figaro

Re: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2020, 11:59:00 am »
FWIW, I believe Alaska still has a 14 day quarantine requirement for people coming into the state.

If OP can stand to wait a couple more weeks, the desert heat starts easing in September.  Mid to late September might be a reasonable start from the west of the ST.  (Plus, you'd have a few months to wind up hurricane season in the Gulf.)

Yea, and I think the Canada boarder may still be closed as well. Regardless, too much risk of Covid related problems. I'm personally not concerned about the risk of the virus itself, just the potential of things being closed and/or people or communities reacting negatively to someone who has the nerve to go outside during a pandemic that could cause me to have to end the trip. I do these trips to get away from drama and stress--don't want it during the trip. Don't get the feeling I would have to deal with that on the ST unless things change dramatically between now and Sep.

Offline Figaro

Re: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2020, 12:05:15 pm »

As far as wind and choosing direction of travel...  I wouldn't even factor that in on this route.  I didn't think it was that big of a factor in my trip there or on other trips across the country or parts of it further north.  Surface winds tend to be a crap shoot and really don't follow the prevailing westerlie pattern that folks expect.

Yea, I went East to West on the TransAm in 2018 and I think there is (at least in my experience) something to the idea that winds will predominately be coming out of the SW, W, or NW most of the time. I enjoyed a tailwind a few times, but I believe I would have enjoyed those more had I been going in the other direction. Regardless, I don't let wind direction factor into my decisions.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2020, 12:29:30 pm »
Yeah, I think the Trans America tends to have winds out of the SW a lot of the way in summer.  I am much less sure what to expect on the ST in September, but in any case it wouldn't be very high at all on my list of factors in choosing direction of travel.

Offline Figaro

Re: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2020, 07:11:35 pm »
Just finished looking at the maps to get a rough idea of daily distance with the idea of staying in hotels/motels as much as possible. At the mileage I'm planning to do, it looks like there will be no shortage of them -- I'm almost tempted to not carry a tent and sleeping bag, but probably will just to be on the safe side.

Offline John Nettles

Re: Southern Tier in Sep -- Plan B
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2020, 07:26:05 pm »
When I did part of the ST (Phoenix to Imperial Beach) we only used hotels and did not have an issue except for the known stretch between Blythe and Brawley.  Otherwise, fine.