Touring - Southern Tier in Winter
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10-14-12, 01:43 PM
I'm off to cycle the Southern Tier in November, from East to West.
I'll be using ACA maps, but won't be able to see one in the flesh until literally arriving in the States. So I wondered if anyone who has done it could help with a few questions:
Are bike shops fairly close by, or should I consider taking significant spares / tools?
Has anyone ever got across purely (or mainly) wild camping? What's access to subtle sites like? Do ACA maps help with locating any?
Is it likely that there'll be a lot of other cyclist doing the route at this time of year?
Security / safety-wise, are there any specific places along the route that feel unusually dodgy / sketchy?
Long time reader first time poster, thanks for such a great resource.
10-14-12, 04:02 PM
I can only speak for the western part, but wild camping out in the desert should pose no problems. Water might be an issue, so you could fill up your supply in a town or rest stop, then ride outside of it, looking for a sheltered area behind a group of trees, abandoned building, or gully or wash (normally a bad idea, but winter is not the season for flash floods. Keep a weather eye out for freak subtropical El Nino storms, though.)
There are a few spots where campers congregate, though. This is somewhat off the official ACA route, but may well be worth the detour in winter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9y-0BzBZ8c&noredirect=1
10-14-12, 07:09 PM
I rode from South Carolina to Abilene, TX, wild camping the entire way without a single hotel stay. You won't have too many problems, just scout out a campsite about an hour or two before sunset, you don't want to wait until dark. You should also learn how to do basic repairs and maintenance on your bike and carry extra tubes etc so the answer is yes, take the proper tools, don't rely on an LBS being nearby. The catcus (cacti?) in Texas seem to shoot needles in your tires from the side, I suggest slime or really flat resistant tubes/tires.
As far as the weather, yes it can get cold in the ST, and it can get bitter cold in western Texas and New Mexico in December/January
An example is Van Horn, Texas
Look at those minimum low temps and average low temps for December... BURRRRRRR
10-14-12, 09:11 PM
The ACA routing from Los Cruces to Phoenix takes you through some mountinous areas that could be very cold. It'll be doable with the right cold weather gear. You could divert through Tuscon on the interstate to avoid. I do not think bicycles are allowed on the interstate from Tucson to Phoenix so you'd have to plot a secondary route for that section.
The ACA maps will be filled with useful camping information, some of it free, but mostly pay sites. They will not help you with wild/stealth camping, but not likely to take you through any truly 'sketchy' areas. You're not likely to meet many other touring cyclist on the ST in the middle of winter.
You can check historical lows/highs and other info by simply Googling "average weather for ..........." Likely be many nights below freezing through west Texas and New Mexico, but day temps will rise quickly to comfortable.
I do touring in January every year near and north of the ST in Texas and Louisiana and haven't encountered anything not easily managable. Mostly nice cyling conditions. Just be prepared for rain and cold.
10-15-12, 05:01 AM
I went in February and went west to east so it may be a bit different, but I met only a few touring cyclists, maybe a dozen or a bit more in total.
Much of the route has ample camping, more so in the west than in the east though. I especially liked the roadside picnic areas in Texas, because they usually had a roof and I could just lay out my sleeping bag. I chose to stay in campgrounds when available and even got a room fairly often, but wild camping was pretty easy and I did a fair amount of it. In some areas stealth might be needed, but much of the way I just camped in plain sight like in a picnic area, under a bridge, or off the side of the road. I never pitched a tent (used a bivy) so I don't know if that might raise more eyebrows with law enforcement. A guy I rode with some of the way did pitch a tent under a bridge and the cops ignored him but I am told that tents are not allowed in Texas picnic areas (he just laid out a sleeping bag there).
10-19-12, 01:52 PM
I did west to east, starting in Oct ending in Dec. Coldest night was 17 degrees near Tallahassee. I endured 2 straight weeks of sub-freezing night temps. I sleep cold so I had appropriately rated sleeping bag and clothing. I spent 4 nights with WarmShower hosts, 5 nights in hotels, 3 nights in (free) city parks, a bunch of campgrounds/RV parks. 4 or 5 (free) nights in National Forest campgrounds, and a couple of State Parks. I stealth camped 3 to 5 nights a week. During my tour I made videos and show or talk about stealth camping along the ST
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