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Old 07-22-08, 12:51 PM   #1
darksiderising
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Good winter touring routes in North (and Central) America

Hi all,

I've done a 2-month tour in Ireland last summer and a few overnighter trips. The lady-friend and I want to plan a touring trip for this next winter (December and January), as we have six weeks off from school. We were initially thinking of flying somewhere that is pleasant during our winter, but we don't want to support an unsustainable travel method, and it would be nice to greatly reduce our expenses for this trip. We live in Northern California, and we are looking to take a bus or train to our starting destination.

Basically, we want to ride in minimal rain and cold without having to fly somewhere. Thank you for your advice.

-Jim
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Old 07-22-08, 01:05 PM   #2
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I have enjoyed touring in Baja and parts of Mexico in winter when closer to the ocean is warmer than at higher elevations.
There is always a chance of unexpected rain which makes the desert bloom rapidly even overnight in places.

Buses can take you most anywhere to start and if your needs change you can move quickly by bus at modest cost to another location.

Other choices include routes through Death Valley NP, Joshua Tree NP and Anza Borrego State Park in So. Cal and Big Bend NP in West Texas.
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Old 07-22-08, 01:32 PM   #3
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Do the Northern Tier. There's no sunbathing like Buffalo in January!
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Old 07-24-08, 09:49 AM   #4
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If you ever wanted to see Alaska or northern Canada without the blackflies, there's no better time!
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Old 07-24-08, 11:08 AM   #5
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I biked in Jan/Feb between Morelia & Guadalajara in Michoacan & Jalisco states in Mexico and really enjoyed it. It's the dry season in most of Mexico. Temperatures were near-perfect for cycling between 5000-6000 feet, which is the altitude of many colonial towns like Morelia. The Yucatan is best toured in the winter, though it would certainly take you longer to reach by bus. I enjoyed the Michoacan tour somewhat more, anyway. There are plenty of other parts of Mexico you could explore, as well. The out of print "Bicycling Mexico" book could give you some good ideas, if you can locate a copy online.
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Old 07-24-08, 11:48 AM   #6
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Axolotl, do you have a tour blog by any chance? I haven`t seen anything on CGOAB covering Jal or Mich. Did you have a lot of trouble getting in and out of Guadalajara? Did you plan your routes yourself right out of Giua Roji? Libres the whole way?
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Old 07-24-08, 12:13 PM   #7
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Sorry, no blog. The route idea came out of Bicycling Mexico, and Guia Roji was helpful. We also asked locally and the tourist office in Patzcuaro, for example, recommended that we take the new 2-lane toll road (a better road with less traffic, we were told) from there to Uruapan. We did, and that worked out well. We weren't expected to pay the tolls, and neither the tolltakers nor police objected to our being on that road. You just have to go around the sensors at the toll booths so the tolltakers don't get blamed or charged. BTW, biking around Lake Patzcuaro is especially nice. Very interesting villages, nice scenery, and not much traffic.

Since then (I think this trip was in 2002), I discovered INEGI maps, available in government offices in each Mexican state capital, several offices in Mexico City, and a small sales office in the Mexico City airport. They've got topographic lines, which are a big help. Any one INEGI office is typically out of many of the maps, which is frustrating. The maps were helpful when I spent some time on my bike in Chiapas last year. In places where there are new roads, they probably won't be on the INEGI maps yet. Guia Roji should have them, however.

Guadalajara is a big city, but it's nothing like Mexico City. However, we ended up taking a bus back into Guadalajara. Nevertheless, I rode around the city for about 3 days and it was fairly pleasant. The road to the long distance bus terminal to and from the center of town wasn't great, but it wasn't horrendous, either.
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Old 07-24-08, 12:20 PM   #8
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Another idea for northern hemisphere winter touring is Costa Rica. Obviously an even longer and more complicated bus trip to get there from the US, however. The cycling there is challenging due to the extremely mountainous nature of the country and the surprisingly bad roads. But there is lots to see there. In Central America, the winter is also the dry season, though there is rain year-round on the Caribbean coast.
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Old 07-25-08, 05:46 AM   #9
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Thank you. I hadn`t heard of INEGI- having trouble with their website, but once I get it figured out I`m sure it will be a dandy resource.

EDIT: Ah ha!
http://www.bicimapas.com.mx

Last edited by rodar y rodar; 07-25-08 at 05:54 AM.
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Old 07-25-08, 06:24 AM   #10
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bicimapas is a superb link, rodar! I was unaware of it. Thanks for posting it.
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Old 07-26-08, 06:24 PM   #11
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I did Baja California with my girlfriend last winter. It was fun and cheap, skinny roads though, and the middle desert section was a challenge.
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