Useful Tips for the Southern Tier Bike Route and Memorable Aspects of My Trip
I’ve had a month to reflect on my Southern Tier bike trip. Some memorable aspects of the trip:
Finding a motel after dark in El Centro, California, after biking 96 miles.
The desert scenery in southern California and Arizona.
Riding through the Queen Creek tunnel east of Superior, Arizona. Awful!
The Rambling Roads RV Park in Hope, Arizona.
Freezing at our camp site by the post office at Mule Creek, New Mexico.
Riding in a hail and rain storm west of Caballo, New Mexico.
The 90-mile ride from Sanderson, Texas to Comstock, Texas with a headwind all day.
Being inside a dry house, watching a torrential rain storm while patching my bike tire in Marfa, Texas.
Eating breakfast at locally owned cafes along the entire route
Eating breakfast at Waffle House restaurants in Alabama and Florida.
The most emotionally powerful aspect of the trip was experiencing the generosity and friendliness of people along the journey.
Here are useful tidbits for potential Southern Tier riders:
The guys in tire shops were always friendly and helpful getting my tires pumped up.
Camping on grassy lawns outside of fire and police stations was great. I should have done that more.
RV parks were almost always great places to stay, especially if they had grassy tent sites, showers, shade, a picnic table, and a community room.
The Adventure Cycling Association maps for the Southern Tier Route were very helpful.
A highway map for each state is essential for planning alternative routes.
The Mojave, Sonoran, and Chihuahua Deserts were hot but not unbearable.
Several nights were chilly but pleasantly cool; only one (Mule Creek, NM) was cold (about 30 degrees).
Expect heavy traffic in the big cities – San Diego, Phoenix, El Paso, and Austin.
Expect to get much of your food, drinks, and water from convenience stores.
The prevailing winds were from the South and East, not from the West as I anticipated.
Beginning the trip on September 16 and riding from west to east worked well for the most part.
The fall tourist season in southern California and Arizona starts October 1. Delaying the start of our trip for two weeks would have made life easier – some stores and motels were closed when we rode by.
Low-priced motels were almost always available – but they might not always be acceptable to everyone.
Our rear panniers and handlebar bags provided enough carrying capacity for our gear.
I thought that dogs running from rural residences and trying to bite me would be a problem. Nope. Dogs chased occasionally but mostly to get me out of their home territory.