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.

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