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Old 12-02-10, 08:35 PM   #1
lwomack58
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help planning a winter tour

I have 6 weeks off and looking for a good place to tour from mid-Jan to end of Feb. Last year I toured SE Asia. I have narrowed down a few areas. My main goal is to go some place not to cold and stay in lodging everynight.

My thinking is:
Fly (have free ticket) to Houston and tour thru the Southeast. Down to New Orleans, Charleston and on to Jacksonville, FL.
or
Bike the Baja of Calif. Close to home-downside is hotel stays-plus narrow roads.
or
Start in Rome and bike around the southern part of Italy and up to Venice.

Any insight into weather, hotels and road conditions plus any other information would be helpful.
Thanks
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Old 12-02-10, 10:18 PM   #2
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Is budget an issue? The Euro right now does not favor people holding dollars. Are you more interested in comfort or sights / interesting landscapes? Italy's weather is rainy in the north during winter, but it is doable. Southern Italy is much drier. Elaborate on what kind of experience you are looking for and what you have already done touring.
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Old 12-02-10, 10:41 PM   #3
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Baja is wonderful! But - I don't think there is any way you could be in a hotel every night. If you can do some long distances, you could maybe reach one most of the nights.

Southeast USA is nice, but you could run into some pretty cold temps in some parts at that time of year. YOu'll meet some fabulous people there!

I know nothing about cycling in Europe, so am useless on that one...
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Old 12-03-10, 09:10 AM   #4
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New Zealand. Perfect time of year (summer), awesome riding, very hilly with great scenery, super nice people, good ice cream, lots of hostels/backpackers/camping cabins and pubs with rooms. In 6 weeks you can do the South Island pretty thoroughly.
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Old 12-03-10, 07:49 PM   #5
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Thanks for your input. I would go down the baja but the big fear is the narrow roads. I can handle camping but will be traveling solo and hear the roads in some areas get pretty tight. This is what leads me a ltittle towards touring in the SE of USA. Here my biggest concern is the weather. If I do go I would stay down along the gulf as much as possible than move north to Charleston, SC and back down along the coast to Fl. If anyone can give me a little more advise on either that would be great. Europe at this time is out as the Euro is still a little to high.
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Old 12-04-10, 08:04 PM   #6
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If you want to go some place that is not cold from mid-Jan to the end of Feb, think ... southern hemisphere. I recommend Australia. It's a big country so you could have your choice of tropical, desert, beaches, mountains, or whatever you'd like. And it is highly unlikely it will be cold then.
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Old 12-04-10, 08:12 PM   #7
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the road in Baja isn't bad at all. Yes, it is a 2-lane road with no shoulder, but there isn't much traffic and what there is will go around. We found that cars gave us plenty of space and, if they couldn't, they stopped and waited until they could. Lots and lots of cyclists do the Baja and I don't think I've ever heard of anybody getting hit - there probably have been a few, but not many compared to the number of cyclists that ride there.
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Old 12-04-10, 09:18 PM   #8
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Trust nancy sv's judgement about Baja.

Should you decide on Houston to Fld, count on mostly good riding conditions, least where the weather is concerned. But, be prepared for rain and temps in the 30's, rarely even lower. In other words, bring summer and winter gear, and
be willing to hang out for a day or two should the weather turn against you.

This journal may be of use from a routing/overnighting standpoint.
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Old 12-05-10, 09:50 AM   #9
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Sri Lanka. Roads ranged from good to bad. It's the non-monsoon season for most of the country. Great scenery, great and extremely varied sights, delicious food, nice people, fewer hassles than in India, I was repeatedly told by other tourists I met in SL. Not as cheap as SE Asia or India but still quite inexpensive. The superb old trains can be useful.

Or Chile/Argentina, but you'll need to pick regions where accommodations will be readily available, which probably means the gorgeous Lake Region. However that's primary vacation time for Chileans & Argentines, so hospedajes might be full. I had no problems finding inexpensive rooms in December.

The Yucatan in Mexico might work, but I don't think there's enough there for 6 weeks, but I biked there without camping. Forget about southern Italy in the winter.

Overall I much preferred NZ to Australia for touring, though Tasmania was great.
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Old 12-05-10, 10:20 AM   #10
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Northern Italy could be pretty chilly in january february.

+1 for New Zealand. I'm planning a six week tour round South Island mid jan-feb 2012. 2600 km...
http://whoopswrongplanet.com/tdnz.html
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Old 12-05-10, 02:16 PM   #11
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imi, I took a peek at your link - looks like a fun trip! Are you going to be camping in Holiday Parks (=campgrounds)? If so, I would not bother with stoves, they all have a camp kitchen, usually indoors. You'll need your own pots & plates & utensils. I carried around a stove, but in 7 weeks I only used it once, when I wild camped on the shore of Lake Makorora.
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Old 12-05-10, 04:23 PM   #12
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valygrl, ah that's interesting, thanks! I hadn't thought about not taking a stove (always do)... we'll be at campgrounds for the most part... a little stove for aprés-siesta coffee may still be a good idea, but being able to rely on campground stoves would of course be good...

did you blog or CGOAB your trip?

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Old 12-05-10, 05:00 PM   #13
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valygrl, ah that's interesting, thanks! I hadn't thought about not taking a stove (always do)... we'll be at campgrounds for the most part... a little stove for aprés-siesta coffee may still be a good idea, but being able to rely on campground stoves would of course be good...

did you blog or CGOAB your trip?
Nope, I'm not a blogger. I rode many of the same places you are planning, not all, and a few others you are not planning. I don't have any change-your-route recommendations, yours looks just great. I'd go back in a heartbeat, that country is made for bike touring.

One thing I would add, though, is the weather can be unpredictable, even in summer, so you might want to allow some flexibility in your route/timing. one day I was planning on going over a particular pass, but the headwind was so unreal I just said screw it and literally pointed the bike downwind and rode. It's that awesome of a place, though, you can pick any direction and have a great tour.

(sorry for the thread drift everyone, as you were. )
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Old 12-05-10, 05:10 PM   #14
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(sorry for the thread drift everyone, as you were. )
hihi, sorry me too... the route is planned but not written in stone... not huge daily mileage as there'll be newbies in the group, but I erred on the cautious side in planning, so that'll probably give us some leeway. Thanx again valygrl...
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Old 12-05-10, 05:17 PM   #15
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another idea for a winter trip is the deserts of Southern California. I went around in figures of eight - Joshua Tree, Anzo Borrego and Death Valley as well as parts of the coast last winter (jan-mar).
Beautiful days and cold nights (in the high desert)... pictures here
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Old 12-06-10, 02:58 AM   #16
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Speaking as a South Texan, Jan-Feb is generally the coldest time of year. I use that term relatively. It is currently 43 deg. F. In Jan/Feb the temps get into the 30's. Bear in mind I am speaking as someone about 200 miles west of Houston. This is purely conjecture, but I would imagine the temps would be about the same until you reach the Florida panhandle.

How was is touring Asia? I want to do that but dont speak the language. Are you keen to the language there? What countries did you ride through? If you didnt speak the language, was it very difficult to find english speakers or communicate some other way? How was the response of the general population toward you?

+1 to touring Australia. I would love to tour Aus. and Asia in one go. They are just about to hit summer time. From what I heard a bike helmet is mandatory there. Something to consider if you dont like helmets.

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Old 12-06-10, 03:27 AM   #17
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How was is touring Asia? I want to do that but dont speak the language. Are you keen to the language there? What countries did you ride through? If you didnt speak the language, was it very difficult to find english speakers or communicate some other way? How was the response of the general population toward you?
You can get by with english just about anywhere in the world. Always good to learn a few phrases, "hello" "goodbye" "please" and "thank you" at minimum... and a smile gets you a long way in any language

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+1 to touring Australia. I would love to tour Aus. and Asia in one go. They are just about to hit summer time. From what I heard a bike helmet is mandatory there. Something to consider if you dont like helmets.
Good to check up on road laws (especially pertaining to bicycles) for countries you'll be visiting... I can see some people not wanting to tour certain countries because of traffic danger, but really, any of you guys ever rule out a country because of a Mandatory Helmet Law?

I would even suggest being open minded about how you ride - for example strict Vehicular Cycling in some countries would imho be very very very (did I say very?) unwise

hihi, there we go, turn a winter touring thread into a MBL and VC one! gotta love Bike Forums!
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Old 12-06-10, 03:34 AM   #18
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... I would love to tour Aus. and Asia in one go
Three airlines who fly to australia do so via Bangkok - British Airways, Quantas and Thai airways (there are probably more), so a "stop over" in asia on the way to or from Oz won't cost extra... just a thought

Often you can get two stopovers, and most flights to NZ are via Sydney, so if you have the time you could tour asia, Oz and NZ all on one ticket, for the same price as a simple return ticket. You can even combine with an extra leg for a smallish amount as in this example:

leave in the autumn, start with a loop from/to Bangkok via Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia (nov-dec), fly to Auckland, ride down and round to Christchurch (jan-feb), fly to Cairns (extra leg, SYD-CNS) ride down the coast to Sydney (mar-apr),... then home in time for spring... tada! no cold winter!!!

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Old 12-06-10, 05:12 AM   #19
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+1 to touring Australia. I would love to tour Aus. and Asia in one go. They are just about to hit summer time. From what I heard a bike helmet is mandatory there. Something to consider if you dont like helmets.
Australia hit summer time 5 days ago on December 1 ... and we "celebrated" the first week of summer with HEAT! The temperature on the ride we did on Saturday was 30C (86F) (atmospheric temperature) and 40C (104F) in the shimmering heat of the road.

And yes, helmets are required in Australia. I've heard of many instances where cyclists were fined for doing even quick rides to the shops or whatever.
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Old 12-06-10, 05:28 AM   #20
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... and we "celebrated"...
Machka, I spent ALL DAY yesterday ploughing and clearing SNOW at the campsite where I work... do not! DO NOT! even let the slightest HINT of complaining about your HEAT creep into your posts!!!


now if only my toes would thaw out...

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Old 12-06-10, 10:48 PM   #21
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Good to check up on road laws (especially pertaining to bicycles) for countries you'll be visiting... I can see some people not wanting to tour certain countries because of traffic danger, but really, any of you guys ever rule out a country because of a Mandatory Helmet Law?
Thanks for all the advice guys. Sorry to steal the thread OP. I know few, if any, would strike an area off the list because a mandatory bike law but the OP sounds like they have the option to travel anywhere they want. We dont know if OZ was a considered option or somewhere they have already been or plan on going another time. Plus, if they can go any where they want, if they dont like helmets, why not go some other awesome place that doesnt require them.

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hihi, there we go, turn a winter touring thread into a MBL and VC one! gotta love Bike Forums!
I figure MBL means mandatory bike law but what does VC mean?
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Old 12-07-10, 06:57 PM   #22
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The Yucatan in Mexico might work, but I don't think there's enough there for 6 weeks, but I biked there without camping.
Another vote for the Yucatan. No need to limit it to that though, you can keep heading south into Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama if you want. I did a 9 week trip there last year and used the tent exactly one night. Cheap rooms the rest of the time, including hostels, hotels, and a couple of nights couchsurfing. I was there Oct-Dec and the only place it got a little cool was crossing the mountains in Panama. Other than that it was either warm or hot, and will probably be that way in Jan-Feb as well. Great people everywhere, lots of great sights, inexpensive food and lodging.
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Old 12-08-10, 02:19 AM   #23
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I figure MBL means mandatory bike law but what does VC mean?
Sorry I misspelt, should have been MHL (Mandatory Helmet Law)
VC = Vehicular Cycling
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