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  1. #1
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    Tour Southern US in Winter???

    I am wondering how crazy it is to tour the southern united states from mid Nov - mid Feb time frame. Starting in either Columbia South Carolina or Fort Benning Georgia and ending in Mesa Arizona. Any thoughts? I realize it can still get pretty chilly there at that time of year and maybe wet too. I am currently cycling across Canada and will be finishing mid October on the East Coast (yup could then there as well). So I am not totally adverse to the cold, but what special needs may arise down south? Thanks,

  2. #2
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    In the middle of winter, Columbia averages 57F for a high and 32F for a low. It will be a few degrees warmer along the Gulf of Mexico. You can get some really cold nights. Odds of snow is rare but it can snow if conditions are right. However as you get away from the Gulf of Mexico in Texas and increase in elevation through to New Mexico, you can have some really cold bitter weather, especially nights going down to close to 0F at times with winds making it feel worse.

    People are shocked at how cold Texas and New Mexico are in the winter. Here is a map of the average high temps for the US in winter. Remember, it's colder as the elevation gets higher.

    Be prepared. And have fun.
    Last edited by gpsblake; 09-09-05 at 10:15 PM. Reason: Bad map

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    That map is simply wrong. You said the map shows the "average high temps for the US in winter" (although the map indicates January). The map show a huge band from New Jersey across to Texas within a range of 48-64F for a high. However, according to weather data I'm looking at, the average high in January in DC is 43. Cincinnati, 40. Louisville, 42. Kansas City, 36. Similarly, Tampa is shown to be in the area with an average high of 80-128 (!!!). Its average high in January is actually 71. On the north end, Minneapolis is shown to be in the 24-32F range, but its average high in Jan is 21F.

  4. #4
    Walmart bike rider gpsblake's Avatar
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    axolotl, your right about the map being wrong. My apology for that. The only thing that is correct is showing how it gets colder as you get away from the Gulf which is the point I was trying to get across. I've removed the map, if I find one more accurate, I'll put it up.

    Cheers and thanks

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    Thanks for trying to help...it is difficult for me to try and prepare when everyone has different ideas about how cold it gets. I am also used to working in celcius (I'm Canadian). I am currently biking across Canada and will be hitting some low tempertures up here towards October, so I will have some practice. Any tips though for biking and camping (yes I am hopeing to camp or knock on some doors...) through winter. Thanks.

  6. #6
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    I live and ride in N GA and SE TN yearround and winter is my favorite season here.

    However, I switch from road to mostly offroad in winter due to the wind, rather than the temperature. I'd suggest a mostly offroad tour this time of year with lots of climbing in our mountains and warmer days on the valley roads. You can easily plot a shorter(distance) tour, with the same time period, from the hill country of South Carolina, thru North GA, the Cumberland plateau of southern Tennessee, and the mountains of northern Alabama. I'd end the tour up with the Natchez Trace ride down into Louisiana. Great scenery, comfortable little towns down in the valleys, and winter camping is easy here if you have some small amount of common sense.

  7. #7
    Science Fanboy KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Seriously, if you're Canadian, and come prepared for some chilly nights, you won't have a problem. I'm originally from Ohio, and now live in Tennessee, and what people from north and south consider "comfortable" and "realistic" are two totally different things. I run into cyclists here who don't ride during winter, but I know folks up north who ride all year round.
    As a Canadian, you already know how to dress for the cold, so go for it. Speaking personally, I don't think it gets cold enough down here to not cycle. I'm also of the opinion that winter is the best time to do anything outdoors in the American South, because you don't have to sweat your brains out from dusk 'til dawn. Remember to make a travelog and keep us informed of your progress!
    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Hitchens
    What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.

  8. #8
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    gpsblake is correct - it can get very cold in the southwest due to higher altitudes and less humidity. The days will probably not be too bad but the nights will likely be quite cold, so be prepared.
    Specialized Roubaix SL4 Disc, Cannondale T2000 (touring), Stumpjumper M5 (Mtn - hardtail), Cannondale Rize4 (Mtn - full susp)

  9. #9
    this bike is an aqueduct Matthew A Brown's Avatar
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    You'd be fine here in the SE, generally. This is when the randonneurs and such do they're thing. Yes, it gets cold, so you'd want a good sleeping bag and appropriate gear.

    I've never never found it too cold to bike during the day. Breaking camp, getting started, etc can be not much fun, but once yr on the bike and moving... no problems.

    At least for my area (north Fl), those months are by far the best times to tour.


    Have fun...
    Villin custom touring | Raleigh XXIX | Medici Pro Pista | 1978 Schwinn Stingray

  10. #10
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    I live in North Texas and ride year round so there's no reason you can't tour through here. You will need to be prepared for cold weather though. It can get pretty cold out there in West Texas. Snow would be pretty rare along the Texas portion of the Southern Tier route.

  11. #11
    Resident Old Fart Olebiker's Avatar
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    I'm in Tallahassee. If you can ride in Canada in October, you should have no problem in this part of the country. We get frost several mornings a year and it may get into the mid 20s farenheit. It never gets too cold to ride though. Don't go south of Orlando though; too many Yankees down there in the winter.
    Wag more, bark less

  12. #12
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    Thanks for everyones help so far. Next question....

    What should I get in the way of maps? Know any good ones for the Southern States that show all the backroads and side communities? Any other places I should look for information...I know very little about the lower US.

  13. #13
    Bag it baby
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    Just a side note, I lived in Albuquerque for a while *yes where bugs bunny took the wrong turn* It can only get to highs in the 30's as well but it is amazing from there making your ways west and south it gets great. Esp southern Arizona area.... The only place you want to dodge in Arizona in the winter is Flagstaff... They get freak snow storms all the time... but the Phenoix area and on westward is the best winter biking if you are looking at temps.... Just don't come to Iowa in the winter.... I was out on Christmas eve last year for a bar crawl with me and my buddy... -10....... we had our hunting&snowboarding gear on.... we were warm but we looked pathetic... Well enough of my tangent....

    Bag on Brothers and Sisters.....

    Cheers,

    Coco

  14. #14
    Science Fanboy KrisPistofferson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by It'sme
    Thanks for everyones help so far. Next question....

    What should I get in the way of maps? Know any good ones for the Southern States that show all the backroads and side communities? Any other places I should look for information...I know very little about the lower US.
    I wouldn't mess around and get an Adventure Cycling map. For the most part, the American South is not all that cyclist-friendly, so it's VERY important to route yourself well. You were warned.
    Quote Originally Posted by Christopher Hitchens
    What can be asserted without proof can be dismissed without proof.

  15. #15
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    You need US Geologocal Survey maps(available online--I think they're about $3 per map and you'll need quite a few) if you are going to plot the offroad thing. Mapquest for onroad, supplimented by some good road bike guides to the area(Amazon) should do the trick...be aware either way, since you are from Canada(I'm assuming the flat portions), that the southern Appalaichans are sort of underrated in the uphill category. Lance Armstrong came down here repeatedly to train in the mountains for the TDF. Enough said.

    I am biased, but as someone else said, this is a perfect time of year to ride here, and the scenery is outstanding. The people are generally friendly and don't see that many cyclists, so you'll be something of a novelty. Good luck.

  16. #16
    You need a new bike supcom's Avatar
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    USGS maps are often very old and generally do not have road names. A better map source for use before your trip is TopoUSA software. TopoUSA has roads and topographic data for the entire US.

  17. #17
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    Thanks for the map info. Since I am already on the road, I can't really access maps that I would have to download on a computer. So preferably maps that I can hold in my hands are best. Thanks for the suggestions so far.

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