Author Topic: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .  (Read 1660 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Rixtoy

Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« on: February 02, 2021, 07:57:06 pm »
A serious question . . .
I started riding two years ago at 69 and did the Bike Across Kansas (508 miles) in 2019 . . . and, Kansas is NOT flat. Longest day was 85 miles - very windy here.
I did ground camp on that tour although it was well supported with SAG stops.

I want to do the Southern Tier solo next March, West to East to celebrate 30 years of sobriety.
At 72 am I beyond the normal cycle tour crazy?
I believe if you just keep pedaling and forget about speed you can make it. There were people who rode the BAK I swear you would think could not walk across the street, but they just kept pedaling and finished every day.
i will be buying a touring bike with appropriate gearing for the climbs.

This tour has just captured my imagination and think it would be a daily challenge and daily accomplishment.
Just riding anywhere is a risk so I don't consider this trek as exceptional from  risk standpoint.

Know of any old dudes who have solo'd the Southern Tier? Or, maybe you are one?

Offline HikeBikeCook

  • World Traveler
  • *****
  • Posts: 191
  • Have been bike touring for over 50 years
Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2021, 07:15:42 am »
We plan on doing a modified TranAm east to west in 2022 or 2023. I am 68 now. My wife and I typically tour every summer, as vacation allows, but have been doing that on gravel on mountain bikes.

I Hiked the AT in 2007 and ran into thru hikers in their 70's and that, I believe, is a more challenging endeavor. Being older to me means that you have learned to overcome many things and are probably used to dealing with some kind of daily pain or discomfort. The 20 and 30 somethings had a harder time on the AT than the older guys when it came to slogging out the constant 15 miles a day to stay on target to summit before Kathadin closed for the winter.

You will be fine, to me is is 60% mental stamina. If you have the time and the money you can take extra rest days, which you need to build into your schedule and take before you absolutely need them to recharge. Especially on the Southern Tier, post COVID, where services can be limited. Taking a zero in a hotel with access to services is better than taking a  zero in a tent in the rain in the middle of nowhere.
Long Distance Hiker - AT Thru-hike 2007
Long distance cyclist - multi day tours - TDF tour Alpes 2005
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline Rixtoy

Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2021, 08:41:00 am »
We plan on doing a modified TranAm east to west in 2022 or 2023. I am 68 now. My wife and I typically tour every summer, as vacation allows, but have been doing that on gravel on mountain bikes.

I Hiked the AT in 2007 and ran into thru hikers in their 70's and that, I believe, is a more challenging endeavor. Being older to me means that you have learned to overcome many things and are probably used to dealing with some kind of daily pain or discomfort. The 20 and 30 somethings had a harder time on the AT than the older guys when it came to slogging out the constant 15 miles a day to stay on target to summit before Kathadin closed for the winter.

You will be fine, to me is is 60% mental stamina. If you have the time and the money you can take extra rest days, which you need to build into your schedule and take before you absolutely need them to recharge. Especially on the Southern Tier, post COVID, where services can be limited. Taking a zero in a hotel with access to services is better than taking a  zero in a tent in the rain in the middle of nowhere.

Thanks for that.
You make some good points -
 -Indeed, my new normal involves more aches and pains than heretofore, but it is, well . . . , normal.
 -As a society we certainly are addicted to urgency these days (Thanks, Amazon . . .) and younger people don't seem to have patience
  where I often find some reassurance in the process.
 -True that on rest days. I do plan to camp many days - I like that challenge, but have the means to use a hotel when an option - that could be a great equalizer it seems - hot showers are a youth serum for me.

Had not thought about the reduction in services due to Covid - they were scarce as is. Will have to research that as people set out on the trek this year.

Thanks, again.

Rick

Offline ZiZohn

Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2021, 11:00:22 am »
I am 67 and have done several parts of the Southern Tier, as well as the entire Pacific Coast. My buddy that I ride with is 74, and he is an animal on the climbs. He has done the complete Southern Tier and Pacific Coast twice, Northern Tier, Trans-Am  as well as many other extended, long mileage tours. We are doing a month of riding in another section of the Southern Tier in Texas beginning in the middle of March. The only goal at our is age is enjoying the ride, getting from Point A to Point B every day that we ride, and being flexible enough to adjust our mileage and route to fit our needs for that day. If we feel like doing a slow, short mileage day, we do it. And we usually tent camp, with an occasional motel or cabin. One adaptation we have made to our camping & sleeping on the ground is that we now use Helinox cots. They are very comfortable & gets us off the ground. Not flimsy, very sturdy and only weigh about 1.5 pounds more than our blow-up air mattresses. 

Offline Rixtoy

Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2021, 01:20:49 pm »
I am 67 and have done several parts of the Southern Tier, as well as the entire Pacific Coast. My buddy that I ride with is 74, and he is an animal on the climbs. He has done the complete Southern Tier and Pacific Coast twice, Northern Tier, Trans-Am  as well as many other extended, long mileage tours. We are doing a month of riding in another section of the Southern Tier in Texas beginning in the middle of March. The only goal at our is age is enjoying the ride, getting from Point A to Point B every day that we ride, and being flexible enough to adjust our mileage and route to fit our needs for that day. If we feel like doing a slow, short mileage day, we do it. And we usually tent camp, with an occasional motel or cabin. One adaptation we have made to our camping & sleeping on the ground is that we now use Helinox cots. They are very comfortable & gets us off the ground. Not flimsy, very sturdy and only weigh about 1.5 pounds more than our blow-up air mattresses.

Perfect feedback . . .
Thank you, my friend.

Rick

Offline lindagould

Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2021, 02:04:35 pm »
I rode the southern tier in my 70s solo so maybe you can do it too:)
Linda Gould, female

Offline Rixtoy

Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2021, 02:33:20 pm »
I rode the southern tier in my 70s solo so maybe you can do it too:)
Linda Gould, female

Well, Linda -
I would say that is the ultimate reply.

Thank you so much!

Rick

Offline staehpj1

Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2021, 05:02:37 pm »
There is no cut off age.  If you feel okay to do the trip go for it.  People do long tours older than that.  The ST isn't particularly demanding.  The worst of it for me was probably the first day out of San Diego so don't get discouraged there.

Offline ides1056

Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2021, 11:03:30 am »
Never too old. I met an 81 year old Brit in Livingston MT when on my honeymoon many years ago. He was on his second solo cross-country trip. Told me he attributed his good health to having farmed behind horses before the war and planting trees in Scandinavia after. I plan to follow his example.

I started the ST last March and had to call it after eight days because of the pandemic. But I met a woman who was going the same way: she was five years in remission from Leukemia and 250 lbs- I did not ask, she told me.

I am 64. My New Year's resolution was: don't turn around in ten years and regret not having done what you could while you still could.

I plan to spend as much time touring as I can while I can, and the more I do, the more I will be able to.

All the best.

Offline Rixtoy

Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2021, 09:40:11 pm »
Case in point -
Today I completed a 4 day group tour in Oklahoma hosted by the inimitable Tailwinds John,  and a couple did the full tour, complete with some "Noteworthy" climbs - (John will have to explain that . . .) who are 80 years old. A beautiful couple in spirit as well as looks and they were SUCH an inspiration to me.

Thanks, John for an incredible 4 days.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #10 on: May 03, 2021, 07:03:05 am »
One other point.  You mention going W-E, but the hardest part is the first part if going that way.  You might consider going the other way (E-W) so you are more road hardened when you get to the west.  Wind direction isn't a major factor in choosing direction if my experience there is any indication.

Offline BikePacker

Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #11 on: May 03, 2021, 11:44:14 am »
One adaptation we have made to our camping & sleeping on the ground is that we now use Helinox cots. They are very comfortable & gets us off the ground. Not flimsy, very sturdy and only weigh about 1.5 pounds more than our blow-up air mattresses.
If I may take license to be a tad off of the thesis of the original post ....
I want to thank you ZiZohn for your heads up on the value of the Helinox.

Offline Rixtoy

Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #12 on: May 03, 2021, 12:18:15 pm »
One adaptation we have made to our camping & sleeping on the ground is that we now use Helinox cots. They are very comfortable & gets us off the ground. Not flimsy, very sturdy and only weigh about 1.5 pounds more than our blow-up air mattresses.
If I may take license to be a tad off of the thesis of the original post ....
I want to thank you ZiZohn for your heads up on the value of the Helinox.

Perfect timing-
I also purchased a Helinox cot based on the above post and just completed a four day tour.
It is AWESOME!
Gets me 6" off the ground, VERY comfortable side sleeping and after one night fussing with an inflatable mattress as well, I tried it without the air mattress and it was a huge improvement for me (YMMV).
Now I am saving the weight of an air mattress as well. That reduces the net additional weight of the cot to roughly 20 oz.

Offline ZiZohn

Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #13 on: May 03, 2021, 04:07:20 pm »
Hey, no problem. Glad i could help! I also have added a very ultralight Gossamer gear Foam Pad 1/4" to my cot. I have cut the pad down to my short size. It weighs about .3 lbs (172 grams). It is only needed for the chillier nights, below 45 degrees. I am a side-sleeper also and it helps to insulate my side in the sleeping bag that compresses when I lie on the cot.  My buddy and I completed our self-contained  ride from his place in Fort Davis to Austin, a little over 500 miles for the trip. Our longest day on the trip was an 89 miler, with limited services in between. At 74 years old, he is still an animal on the climbs. We had one night on the trip get down to 34 degrees. The pad definitely made a difference. I did better this year, coming into the ride in a little better riding shape.  We took our time, took breaks as needed, and had very enjoyable ride. That is the key to doing long trips self-contained. Keep the ride enjoyable. I have one more section yet to do to complete my entire Southern Tier, Safford, Arizona to Fort Davis. We're hoping to do that in March next year. We'll both be another year older, but also another year wiser! Then it's time to start either the Atlantic Coast or Northern Tier.

Offline Rixtoy

Re: Too old to solo the Southern Tier? . . .
« Reply #14 on: May 03, 2021, 04:33:15 pm »
Hey, no problem. Glad i could help! I also have added a very ultralight Gossamer gear Foam Pad 1/4" to my cot. I have cut the pad down to my short size. It weighs about .3 lbs (172 grams). It is only needed for the chillier nights, below 45 degrees. I am a side-sleeper also and it helps to insulate my side in the sleeping bag that compresses when I lie on the cot.  My buddy and I completed our self-contained  ride from his place in Fort Davis to Austin, a little over 500 miles for the trip. Our longest day on the trip was an 89 miler, with limited services in between. At 74 years old, he is still an animal on the climbs. We had one night on the trip get down to 34 degrees. The pad definitely made a difference. I did better this year, coming into the ride in a little better riding shape.  We took our time, took breaks as needed, and had very enjoyable ride. That is the key to doing long trips self-contained. Keep the ride enjoyable. I have one more section yet to do to complete my entire Southern Tier, Safford, Arizona to Fort Davis. We're hoping to do that in March next year. We'll both be another year older, but also another year wiser! Then it's time to start either the Atlantic Coast or Northern Tier.

Hey, Thanks.
I like the 1/4"' pad idea, although it is hard enough to get up in the morning - this might set me back another hour. But, as you point out - no one is keeping score.