Looking for ideas for a winter tour, about 2 months long, sometime in the January through April range. I have not done much research other than looking looking over some maps. The things that come to mind are a winter desert tour (Death Valley or Arizona desert), South Florida Everglades tour, South Texas or Mexico to south America.
What do you think?
Normally, I'd suggest the Southern Tier route running from San Diego CA to St. Augustine FL...approx. 3200 miles. Maps are produced by the Adventure Cycling Association. But in the post-Katrina environment, I'm not sure if the Gulf Coast will be ready to receive bicycle tourists in early 2006.
Florida can offer some decent cycling in the winter/early spring months. I've toured the east coast from Fort Lauderdale to the state line and back. It's an enjoyable ride. Traffic is there, of course, but motorists seem conditioned to expect cyclists on the coastal roads. You'd have plenty of time to kill. It only takes a handful of days to ride from one end of the state to the other.
The Everglades region can be a great place to pedal. I've found it best, though, to use a combination of bicycle and automobile. The prime cycling areas are spread far apart and reaching them requires riding long stretches on main roads...which are very heavily used at times. Some folks have combined a tour of the Glades with a trip down through the Keys to Key West. Cycling across the long string of bridges along the Overseas Highway is a real treat. Once again, this is not an isolated region with numerous opportunities for solitude and free, public camping space. It can be a bit crowded.
What are your interests and what kind of experience are you looking for?
Among the destinations to consider are:
Southeast Asia. The northern parts of this region, i.e. northern Thailand, Laos, & parts of Vietnam, have almost ideal weather in Jan & Feb.
Carretera Austral in Chile, and the lake region of south-central Chile & Argentina.
Mexico-the winter is the dry season and comfortable temperatures in most of the country
I want to be able to drive (From Kentucky) to a warm enough place to tour during the cold gray days in January - March / April. Find a place to park my truck and take off from there. Mexico is about as far as I would want to drive and not speaking Spanish I don't even know how well that would work out either
Normally, I'd suggest the Southern Tier route running from San Diego CA to St. Augustine FL...approx. 3200 miles. Maps are produced by the Adventure Cycling Association. But in the post-Katrina environment, I'm not sure if the Gulf Coast will be ready to receive bicycle tourists in early 2006..
Coincidentally, I also thought of doing part of the Southern Tier route beginning in January (west of the Gulf to CA). Part of that route seems like it might be pretty cold in winter, though, especially in mountainous areas. Does anyone know for sure?
I took that same route between Phoenix and San Diego some years ago on a motorcycle and nearly died from exposure. No kidding. Freezing weather, blowing snow over the mountains. Was nice & warm when I left Phoenix - what a surprise! And no I wasn't cold from speeding along, my bike, because of carburator jet problems in the mountains + gale force winds (in "diablo canyon" or something like that) would not go over 10 miles/hour. They actually had flashing lights by the road that came on to warn you not to enter when the winds were too high. I guess that they turned them on just after I passed them. Hope this saves your life.
I would recommend touring around Florida, in two months you have time to see the entire state.While it has a reputation as being cycle unfriendly, in reality it has gone a long way in making itself more hospitable in recent years by building entensive bike trail networks in and connecting remote regions(to encourage eco-tourism) as well as paths and lanes in the urban areas.I would recommend a bike equipted to handle rail trails as well as dirt roads and levees as this is a key to getting between regions and particularly getting around the Everglades and southern part of the state where an extensive paved backroad network is limited.
I am not real familar with the Panhandle but the southern tier route does cross this region and it is generally less populated than other parts of the state.The Big Bend area(ie around the Suwannee R.)has an entensive network of cycle friendly backroads as does the central region around Sebring/Lake Wales.Connecting these two regions are the James Van Fleet and Withlacoochee State bike trails as does US 27 with a wide shoulder though high speed 4 lane traffic.South from there you can ride 110 miles around the paved/dirt levees circling Lake Ocheechobee .From there you can continue south into the Everglades region either on 27 or turner road(dirt) or even levees.For info/maps on the entensive levee network in the glades see the South Florida Water Mngt District website and for info on turner road see the Big Cypress Natl Preserve website.
Besides US 27 the other major road through the Everglades is Tamiami Trail(US 41) which has a wide shoulder from the outskirts of Miami out to the Big Cypress eastern boundry.Fortunately you can take loop road a dirt road looping southward through the preserve from there and connect with turner road(another dirt road) which will take you clear up into the Lake O backroad region.You can also head south from 41 on 997(or Homestead backroads) bypassing Miami and reaching the main E.N.P. entrance and then further south on into the Keys.
And as was said above a route along the east coast beaches following A1A and US 1 is doable as well. These are the areas I tour so if you decide on this option I can give you more detailed info/resources particularly levee/dirt routes through the glades.
No problem.One thing I should correct after looking closer at the map though,is that US 29 not Turner Rd. is the western alternative to US 27 connecting the Lake O area south to 41.This is paved 2 lane and goes through remote areas with Big Cypress to the east and Fl.Panther refuge and then Fakahatchee Strand preserve to the west.I haven't ridden this road but the Lalley route in the link above uses part of it and notes a paved shoulder on that stretch and his route will get you through the lake agricultural areas to the more remote parts.Turner River Rd. (the dirt road)actually starts in Big Cypress on 41 and heads north paralleling and just east of 29 but dead ends at Bear Is. a remote part of Big Cypress with bike trails and camping just north of Alligator Alley.It is great for biking the challenge is just getting there.Both 29 and turner river intersect 41 a bit west of loop road so there would be a stretch on 41 which is shoulderless and fairly high speed narrow 2 lane(with plenty of trucks) through the Big Cypress section.We actually rode it on a tour but luckily hit that stretch late day then early morning so it wasn't too bad though we did bail to the grass once or twice when trucks were coming from both directions.On west of Big Cypress 41 does pick up a shoulder again on into Naples where you can then follow Lalley's route up to Ft. Meyers if desired.East of Ft. Meyers the area around Arcadia/Wauchulla is nice and remote and connects on to Sebring by backroads.Also 74 is a nice remote route across to 27 though a long stretch with absolutely no services.