Author Topic: Starting in January-February 2022  (Read 1072 times)

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Offline sorryhoney

Starting in January-February 2022
« on: September 30, 2021, 04:59:38 pm »
Hi Kids,

Newbie here.  Haven't been on bike for 45 years, but decided to bag it and ride around the country during 2022.

My question is:  Is late January/early February too early to start heading east out of California?  Think of doing the southern route to get across, then North and counterclockwise to Canada, and back west before the snow flies again.

Too early?

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Starting in January-February 2022
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2021, 07:08:43 pm »
First, welcome to the ACA Forums!

Second, unfortunately, a lot of us are no longer kids.  But with age comes wisdom or as one of my riding buddies likes to say "Age and treachery will overcome youth and inexperience."

As far as your trip goes, I personally would not enjoy riding in the higher elevations.  For instance, looking at WeatherSpark.com (an excellent climate data base), the average high/low temps in Silver City, NM, on February 1st is 54* & 28* which is just too cold for me if I don't have to ride in it.

I would personally probably start in Florida around early to mid April and then go counterclockwise.  You don't say how many OVERALL average miles per day including rest days you do so it is hard to guess what is best for you. 

Glad to hear you are back riding again.  It never really leaves us does it.

Tailwinds, John

Offline canalligators

Re: Starting in January-February 2022
« Reply #2 on: September 30, 2021, 09:04:10 pm »
Good for you, welcome!

I recommend you do a couple of overnight or weekend trips, to check out your gear and see how the riding goes for you.

Dale

Offline staehpj1

Re: Starting in January-February 2022
« Reply #3 on: October 01, 2021, 07:25:50 am »
If you are asking if that is too early to ride the Southern tier , I'd say no.  I did it from Mid February to Mid March (I only went from San Diego to Pensacola) and found that a nice time to be on the route.  I hate hot weater and don't mind chilly nights.  I saw a little snow on the roadside on the tops of a couple passes, but the roads were always clear.  There was a chance for needing to wait out a few days while snow melted, bit that didn't happen.  It was really cold one night (teens F) and there were lots of nights with frost, but I found it pleasant enough and I think it probaly hit at least 50 F every day.  A few weeks earlier might be colder and more chance of snow so you may need to wait a few days for some snow melting.

If you are asking about timing for the loop...  Timing is critical for a trip like that and with no experience you can't really know what your pace will be.  Timing will be most critical will be in the mountains in the Northwest corner of your loop around the country.  Winter hits early and stays late there, so you need to arrive at a suitable time not before June.  With not much idea of your pace that will be easy to get wrong.

Starting in the SW you will be doing the most boring half of a loop around the country first.  There were interesting people and good food in the south.  There were even a few spots with good scenery, but there were also endless stretches of monotonous brown nothingness with long stretches between services.  This may be discouraging to a new tourist on what will probably be a 6 month ride.  Still that is the most likely way to hit all parts at the optimum time of year.

You'd have a better chance of successfully staying motivated if you stated out doing a more inspiring section or just did a long shake down ride first.  I'd suggest doing a more interesting scenic trip with more services like the Trans America or the Pacific Coast before you do this, but you'd want to do them in season.  Personally I found the ST okay for something to do in the winter, but don't really recomend it for someone starting out unless they will enjoy day after day of brown empty sage brush (yes some people will love west Texas).

If you are really set on doing the loop first, starting in the SW corner and going CCW is the way to go.  The key is picking the right start time for your pace.  The problem is that you will be starting maybe 8K miles (more depending on your route) from the mountais that you need to hit at the right time.  You'd need to check your actual route and get a real number, 8K is a guess. Folks might reasonably average 30, 50, or 80 miles per day counting rest days.  The range could be even wider, but that is a reasonable range.  That would mean it might take 267, 160, or 100 days respectively.  You probably don't want to be in the mountains before June at the earliest or it might still be snowed in or even have winter conditions.   You need to calculate your planned mileage, number of says until safe riding in the mountains, and likely average daily mileage to pick a start date.  That said I don't know how someone who hasn't ridden in 45 years will have any idea what their average daily mileage will be.  The good news is that you can get through the mountains any time through the Summer.

I still think riding the Pacific Coast, Trans America, or maybe just a shorter warm up like the Oregon coast first would be a great idea.

Offline sorryhoney

Re: Starting in January-February 2022
« Reply #4 on: October 01, 2021, 09:10:09 am »
This is great feedback.  I should say that I do long distance hiking, (PCT, etc), so I mentally and sort of physically know what I'm getting into.  Trying to plan the route for the best critical mass of energy, enthusiasm, and scenery, with the least amount of down time from work.

It WILL come together!

Offline staehpj1

Re: Starting in January-February 2022
« Reply #5 on: October 01, 2021, 09:51:00 am »
This is great feedback.  I should say that I do long distance hiking, (PCT, etc), so I mentally and sort of physically know what I'm getting into.  Trying to plan the route for the best critical mass of energy, enthusiasm, and scenery, with the least amount of down time from work.

It WILL come together!
That helps.  Just don't wind up hitting the NW mountains too early in the Summer.  I think in many ways this is an undertaking a lot like a PCT thru hike, but without the advantage of know how many others have done the same route in the past.

I will also say that there are folks who would rather ride the ST in warmer weather if that would turn out to work better for your timing.  I have ridden in the SW when the heat unexpectedly came early in the season and it was hell IMO.  I hated it.  The ST in Feb-mid March was nice.

I did ride on an off on the ST with a young guy who loved hot weather.  On the last day when it finally got hot.  I said, it was oppressive.  He said I must be kidding, it was the first nice day the whole trip.  He thought about it for a minute and then said that to be fair it was the first time he had heard me utter a word of complaint about the weather.  So for some doing the ST part at the end could possibly work even if that was in summer.  You couldn't pay me to ride it in summer though.

Offline sorryhoney

Re: Starting in January-February 2022
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2021, 01:20:47 pm »
I'm starting to like the idea of jumping out of Florida in early Feb/March, then hitting the west coast by October.  Travel North to ME and Canada, then across.  I live in Bend, OR, so I know I'll get snow in Sept.  The peaks are already white. 

I mean.....it's just riding a bike, right?!  :-\

Offline staehpj1

Re: Starting in January-February 2022
« Reply #7 on: October 01, 2021, 05:13:21 pm »
I'm starting to like the idea of jumping out of Florida in early Feb/March, then hitting the west coast by October.  Travel North to ME and Canada, then across.  I live in Bend, OR, so I know I'll get snow in Sept.  The peaks are already white. 

I mean.....it's just riding a bike, right?!  :-\
I would have guessed that would put you on the west coast in June going at the relatively modest pace of 50 miles per day, figuring 7000 miles.

Are you thinking a much longer route?  Much shorter daily mileage?  I thought that was a pretty generous mileage allotment, far from direct and 50 mpd is not a high number.

I'd think arriving in October would involve lots or meandering and a very easy pace.  Is that what you are thinking?

Offline sorryhoney

Re: Starting in January-February 2022
« Reply #8 on: October 01, 2021, 05:21:54 pm »
Yes.  I want to spend time in New England (where I'm from), Eastern Canada, then mosey across.  No hurry.   I'd be in no hurry, but I want to start early in 2022, if I can.

Offline staehpj1

Re: Starting in January-February 2022
« Reply #9 on: October 01, 2021, 05:32:51 pm »
At that pace, you might almost be able to start in California February 1st and get to the NW mountains in june 17 months later.  You could do a bunch or side trip spurs and meander to your hearts content.  Not my kind of trip, but it might be yours.  I know some folks dream of that kind of life.

Offline John Nettles

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Re: Starting in January-February 2022
« Reply #10 on: October 01, 2021, 06:12:15 pm »
Way back in '87 as a newly-minted-but-unemployed college graduate, I did a partial perimeter tour.  I started July 4th at the California border with Mexico and headed north (strongly do not recommend that!) to Vancouver, then turned right and proceeded to Portland, ME, following the original NT route, before heading south to Key West where the trip ended in mid-November due to job offer (bummer).  That was just under 9k miles, something like 8900+.  I had to average 67 miles per day overall.  This included over thirty 100+ mile days. Oh to be young and strong again.

Anyway, my point is doing a perimeter trip is possible.  I started way too late for a clockwise route and had to push it to turn right at Portland, ME, in order to beat the cold. Unlike Pete, to me anything below 60* for the high is for the polar bears.

I have never really done the math but after 45+ years of touring, my gut tells me to you would have to go counterclockwise, and time your speed so that you are turning south in Oregon by early September.  You would need to do the math to work backwards from there to your starting point somewhere in the SE part of the country, somewhere between Alabama to South Carolina. Remember that if you do the longer perimeter tour by going to Key West, you will add about 900 miles overall to the route. Of course, you might be able to shave some miles by doing the Lake Erie Connector (don't think it was available then but not sure) if need be.

Once you are headed south along the Pacific coast, that will take about a month or so to get to San Diego (assuming "typical" speeds). That puts you heading east around mid-October which should keep you warm enough in the New Mexico passes.

As others have suggested, do a few "shake down tours" to see what your preferred overall miles are and start doing the math. 

Tailwinds, John

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Starting in January-February 2022
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2021, 06:55:18 am »
Converting from long distance hiking to long distance bike touring has a few quirks. While learned camping, cooking, and packing skills are a great carry over here are a few of my observations:

- Food resupply is TYPICALLY easier on the bike - but not always
- Water may actually be harder to come by at certain times on a bike
- My bike alone weighs more than my entire loaded pack with 5 days of food when I thru-hiked the AT
- You have to add panniers/packs and gear IN ADDITION TO the bike weight
- You are hauling total weight uphill even though the bike gives you a mechanical advantage
- It is a lot easier to spend money on a bike since you are passing services much more often
- You cannot always just camp anywhere along the route on a bike as you can on foot - daily destination planning is key
- Cold on a moving bike FEELS a lot colder than on foot - wind chill can be a much bigger issue
- Rain penetrates your gear faster moving at 15 mph over 3 mph
- You have to care for your bike and keep it functional, so some basic mechanical skills should be learned
- Not only are your feet really important, but your Butt and Hands need to be cared for on a bike.
- You probably won't need to buy 3 pairs of shoes/boots like I did hiking, but will probably have to replace tires/chain/brakes, etc.

Hope that helps you in converting your gear and planning over from long distance backpacking.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2021, 06:58:03 am by HikeBikeCook »
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Starting in January-February 2022
« Reply #12 on: December 14, 2021, 04:51:17 pm »
The southern tier west to east starting January is fine. I am starting January east to west. To avoid higher elevations you can use a more southerly route than one stretch of ACA's mapped trail. From San Diego, if this is your starting point, follow ACA to Jacumba and hysterical highway 80. Get on I-8 to Ocotillo, CA. Suffer the road from hell to highway 78 to Ogilby and go south, and east to Yuma, AZ. After Yuma you can take I-8 to Casa Grande, AZ and I-10 to San Antonio, TX. You can take Texas hill country from that vicinity and stay with ACA. That will keep you off the higher elevations in winter.

Another thing, too. They are calling for winter temperatures of unprecedented warmth. The ACA route may be just fine at all locations in January-February. In fact that route has been cycled in the absolute dead cold of winter. The word is be prepared. With the right equipment, e.g., clothing, tent, sleeping bag, maps, and a watchful eye on weather forecasts you can tough it through any time of year.

I have cycled and camped the southern tier a number of times in cold cold winters, and way farther north than some parts of the ACA route. It was OK. Did I ever run into weather events that made me question my sanity for being where I was? Why, hell yes. But so what. That is part of the challenge and adventure. You cannot expect it to be a bed of roses from sea to shining sea. I assure you it will never be that. If it were that easy, why do it? The difference between cruising around town on your bike, and cycling across the continent is like the difference between sailing a boat in the river at home and crossing an ocean.      Another alternate route is this one. After getting on interstate eight E. of yuma Arizona, take it to Casa grande and yet on interstate 10 to Las Cruces. Take the side roads west of I 10 to El Paso. Take a 10 from El Paso to Vanhorn Texas. In Vanhorn you can get on 90 going South. That will put you back on to the mapped out route and still keep you off the highest elevations in winter. From VanHorn Texas you can follow ACA’s Route all the way to Saint Augustine Florida.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2021, 04:03:05 pm by Westinghouse »