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  1. #1
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    2 months to kill; where would you ride?

    Hi everyone. I've been reading the touring forums for a while now, and this is my first post.

    I'm 19 years old, and I'm planning your run of the mill vision-quest/right-of-passage.
    In March I'm going to start hiking the Appalachian Trail. This gives me January and February free, and I figured I would spend them touring. In addition to commuting, I ride a pedicab part-time, so I'm in pretty good shape. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedicab

    I haven't toured before, but I did pedicab at two separate 3 day music festivals, which meant sleeping in a tent and riding a bike all day with a bunch of extra weight.

    Shortly after new year's, I'm going to ride from Phoenix to San Diego (as practice). After that I'm open to any reasonable suggestions for a route.

    So, any suggestions?
    Last edited by Punjipunch; 12-24-08 at 05:50 PM.

  2. #2
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    Sounds Lovely,
    Phoenix to San Diego would be a nice ride, are you taking the Southern Tier route? This is probably the favorite, as described by www.adventurecycling.com
    I lived in Tucson for a year and really love that area, the touring south of there is quite nice. Riding from Phoenix to Tucson felt like attempting suicide on those highways filled with construction vehicles building the phoenix-tucson MegaSprawl. If you speak spanish (or even if you don't) you could ride down to Hermosillo, check out the Copper Canyon, maybe even go down to the beach, and ride around southern arizona for a bit. I recently rode from San Diego to Tecate to avoid Tijuana on my way down the Baja and the highways around there are really, really intimidating. Fortunately, there are lots of other smaller highways that are quite nice. I recommend bright colors and a good mirror!
    Enjoy.

  3. #3
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    If it were me ... I'd fly to Australia or New Zealand, and spend two months touring over there.

  4. #4
    Bike touring webrarian
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    France
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  5. #5
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    Go to Cuba!
    Good weather!
    Very friendly people!
    Good roads.
    Check out my trips to cuba below.
    http://www.geocities.com/pathebikeguy/easterncuba.html

    http://www.geocities.com/pathebikeguy/westerncuba.html

  6. #6
    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pathebikeguy View Post
    Go to Cuba!
    Good weather!
    Very friendly people!
    Good roads.
    Check out my trips to cuba below.
    http://www.geocities.com/pathebikeguy/easterncuba.html

    http://www.geocities.com/pathebikeguy/westerncuba.html
    How do able is that for a US citizen?

  7. #7
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    From San diego, just keep going south through Baja - it's absolutely beautiful!! It'll only take you about three weeks or so to get all the way down, so then you can take a ferry over to Mazatlan and ride back up in the mainland! That part of our last year-long journey was a real highlight.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  8. #8
    Tilting with windmills txvintage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nancy sv View Post
    From San diego, just keep going south through Baja - it's absolutely beautiful!! It'll only take you about three weeks or so to get all the way down, so then you can take a ferry over to Mazatlan and ride back up in the mainland! That part of our last year-long journey was a real highlight.
    This is an excellent idea. I lived in San Diego for three years and never got enough time off to do this type of ride. It's on my "to do" list.

  9. #9
    jcm
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    Me? Drop me in Europe. Anywhere in Europe.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Chuckie J.'s Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    How do able is that for a US citizen?
    As far as I know, Cuba allows Americans in freely. It is the US Government that doesn't allow Americans to go there. All you need to do is go to Mexico (or any other nearby country) and then fly in.

  11. #11
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuckie J. View Post
    As far as I know, Cuba allows Americans in freely. It is the US Government that doesn't allow Americans to go there. All you need to do is go to Mexico (or any other nearby country) and then fly in.
    I"ve heard that too. But - you can't buy the ticket in the US, right? So you fly to Mexico, then buy an onward ticket, and fly to Cuba. If you only have two weeks, it seems risky to me. What if you can't get on a flight for a while?
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  12. #12
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    Thanks for all of the input!

    Baja California sounds like it would be a lot of fun, and the weather would probably be great; but I only speak a little bit of Spanish (cuanto dinero por la cosa?), and I'm not sure if I could convince my mother that I would be safe.

    New Zealand/Australia also sounds like a good time, but that would mean an extra $1500 for a plane ticket. I can get the money, but it would mean digging into my savings big time.

    My father suggested cycling Phoenix>San Diego>Los Angeles, then taking a plane to New Orleans and catching Mardi Gras. After Mardi Gras I could ride to Georgia, ship or sell the bike, and start hiking the AT. I like the idea, but I hear it's VERY rainy in California this time of year.

    Does anyone here have experience cycling the California Coast or Louisiana in January/February?

  13. #13
    Older than dirt CCrew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chuckie J. View Post
    As far as I know, Cuba allows Americans in freely. It is the US Government that doesn't allow Americans to go there. All you need to do is go to Mexico (or any other nearby country) and then fly in.

    Just don't be looking for a job that needs a clearance anytime in your forseeable lifetime afterwards,

    -R

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by CCrew View Post
    Just don't be looking for a job that needs a clearance anytime in your forseeable lifetime afterwards,

    -R
    +1

    Plenty of Americans go to Cuba using the methods described above (fly to Mexico, then go from Mexico to Cuba). You then ask the Cubans *not* to stamp your passport when you enter the country.

    Of course -- if you're a US citizen -- more than likely you'll be violating a number of U.S. federal laws, and you'll be subject to fines and/or imprisonment if caught. If something happens while in Cuba (medical emergency, or crime) you should not expect the U.S. government to be particularly sympathetic to your plight. And on returning to the U.S. you're likely to be inclined to lie when asked, "What countries have you visited on this trip." Which is another violation of federal law.

  15. #15
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    I'm finding the conversation about Cuba very interesting. Among Canadians, Cuba is a very popular vacation destination for those who want to take a break from winter in January or February. I haven't been there myself, but I know a lot of people who have.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Speedo's Avatar
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    The AT certainly qualifies as a right of passage adventure. You could do a two-fer. Ride across the USA, and then do the AT.

    Doing the southern tier in January and February would be quite challenging, but not impossible. Such a two-fer would deserve to be called "epic".

    Speedo

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    I'm finding the conversation about Cuba very interesting. Among Canadians, Cuba is a very popular vacation destination for those who want to take a break from winter in January or February. I haven't been there myself, but I know a lot of people who have.
    I know a fair number of Americans who have gone as well but it's not advice I would give someone lightly, especially a 19-year-old who has lots of other places to see without risking any legal problems.

  18. #18
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    two-fer

    Quote Originally Posted by Speedo View Post
    The AT certainly qualifies as a right of passage adventure. You could do a two-fer. Ride across the USA, and then do the AT.

    Doing the southern tier in January and February would be quite challenging, but not impossible. Such a two-fer would deserve to be called "epic".

    Speedo
    This was my original fantasy, the "epic journey". I'm fine with wearing lots of layers in the cold, but the weather patterns for the higher elevations along the southern tier look like they could be genuinely dangerous. While I'm okay with being cold, I'm not okay with my family seeing my picture next to a "cyclist dies in blizzard" head line.

  19. #19
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Punjipunch View Post
    This was my original fantasy, the "epic journey". I'm fine with wearing lots of layers in the cold, but the weather patterns for the higher elevations along the southern tier look like they could be genuinely dangerous. While I'm okay with being cold, I'm not okay with my family seeing my picture next to a "cyclist dies in blizzard" head line.
    The good thing about the southern tier is that the storms pass through rather quickly. As long as you're OK with getting a motel for a night or two while the storm rages, you'll be fine. We are now in Del Rio along the southern tier - and it's been fine. We just rode through one front - with cold temps, but no snow. A couple weeks ago and front came through that was bringing snow - so we holed up in a motel. Just be sure to ask the local people what the weather forecast is so you know what to expect.
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  20. #20
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    Have you thought about Hawaii? I've toured on the 3 main islands other than Oahu, though I did a few day trips on Oahu, too, and enjoyed it. The Big Island is indeed, big. Kauai has gorgeous scenery though a limited number of roads. You might want to consider hiking the Na Pali coast while you're there, one of the prettiest areas I've seen on the planet. Riding up Waimea Canyon is a good challenge with great scenery. The Hana coast of Maui is a great ride, too. Hawaii can be reasonably priced if you camp, though there are strict rules for permits in state park and county park campgrounds.

    It's usually somewhat cheaper to fly from the US to Bangkok or Singapore, than to Australia or NZ. Once you get to SE Asia, it's dirt-cheap. It won't cost you much at all to tour there for 2 months. In most areas, you can get a decent room for less than US$10/night (in rural Laos, only $3 to $5/night), and wonderful food for less than it costs to prepare it yourself. Northern Thailand and northern Laos are superb for biking in January & February, because it's the dry season and the temperatures are considerably cooler in those months than in central or southern Thailand. The scenery is great, too, and people are exceedingly friendly. Don't worry about language. Many people you'll deal with speak a little bit of English, and bring a phrase book for those who don't. A smile goes a long way, too.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by nancy sv View Post
    The good thing about the southern tier is that the storms pass through rather quickly. As long as you're OK with getting a motel for a night or two while the storm rages, you'll be fine. We are now in Del Rio along the southern tier - and it's been fine. We just rode through one front - with cold temps, but no snow. A couple weeks ago and front came through that was bringing snow - so we holed up in a motel. Just be sure to ask the local people what the weather forecast is so you know what to expect.
    I am EXTREMELY interested in hearing more about your trip. What kind of shelter, layers, do you use, what has been your coldest day, etc...?



    Edit: I just checked out your website, Nancy. THAT is epic.
    Last edited by Punjipunch; 12-25-08 at 04:53 PM.

  22. #22
    family on bikes nancy sv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Punjipunch View Post
    I am EXTREMELY interested in hearing more about your trip. What kind of shelter, layers, do you use, what has been your coldest day, etc...?



    Edit: I just checked out your website, Nancy. THAT is epic.
    Once we got down into the southern tier, the coldest day we've had has been about 25 degrees or so - which is very doable with the proper layers. It almost always warms up into the 40's during the day. The good news is that those cold snaps don't last long here - if you can suffer through two or three days of cold, the temps will be back up in the 60's or 70's. It's not like Wyoming where you can go three months before you see water melt!

    When it's that cold, I'm wearing a basic t-shirt, two thin long-sleeved wool shirts, a felted wool sweater vest, and my fleece jacket. If it got even colder, I could put my rain jacket over that, but I've never had to. I wear wool tights for my legs and that's always been OK. Wool socks (two layers) have kept my feet from freezing.

    I've found the most important part of my clothing has been hats and gloves - I do the layer thing for that too. I've got two thin hats (one wool, the other fleece) that I can layer on depending on how cold it is. And I've got three pairs of gloves that I can layer together.

    We camp out most nights - but will take shelter in a hotel if the weather is supposed to get very nasty. We have warm sleeping bags and have never been cold at night at all. It has been very windy several nights, so you have to some kind of tent that will somewhat shelter you from the wind - you absolutely NEED a way to get out of it!

    Good luck with your journey - it'll be great whereever you decide to go!
    WE DID IT! Our little family of four cycled 17,300 miles from Alaska to Argentina! The trip of a lifetime for sure. www.familyonbikes.org

  23. #23
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    For my money, if I were in San Diego I would just head up the Pacific Coast as far I could. Adventure Cycling has maps and there is at least one guide book dedicated solely to this route. It is incredibly scenic and it takes you through some neat cities in San Fran, Portland and Seattle. There is also a ton of cheap camping along the route. The campgrounds that I visited asked in the neighborhood of $5 per night, had hot showers and usually had a couple of other tourists to share info with.

    I HIGHLY recommend this trip. Plus if you are in Seattle you could ship your bike from there and hike the PCT which I have heard blows the pants off the AT for natural beauty (a bit longer though =) ).

    Whatever you do, have a great time! All the best!

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by nancy sv View Post
    Once we got down into the southern tier, the coldest day we've had has been about 25 degrees or so - which is very doable with the proper layers. It almost always warms up into the 40's during the day. The good news is that those cold snaps don't last long here - if you can suffer through two or three days of cold, the temps will be back up in the 60's or 70's. It's not like Wyoming where you can go three months before you see water melt! ...
    Thank you so much for your responses, Nancy. May the wind always be at your back.
    Last edited by Punjipunch; 12-26-08 at 12:41 AM. Reason: spelling

  25. #25
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    Does anyone else out there have experience doing the southern tier at this time of year?

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