To Florida for the Winter, via CA, AZ, NM, TX, LA, MS and AL… on bikes!

Happy New Year all! In a little over a week we’re heading west to San Diego to begin our trip to Key West. Just the two of us. On our bikes.

It’s not our first cross country rodeo yet each one brings its doubts and questions. On our first ride in 2018, Northern Tier, we wondered, “Can we really even DO this?” Each day we pedaled further and our confidence grew to thinking in terms of WHEN we finish instead of IF we finish.

When we took on the Great Divide in 2021, border to border, we wondered if the elevation and the remote route itself would do us in. Taking it a day at a time we learned this old grandpa and grandma could still do some hard things.

So even though we’ve criss-crossed the continental US on bikes, we know Southern Tier won’t be a slam dunk. We haven’t had an opportunity to properly train outside (like, at all, no rides), loose dogs on the run are a “thing” in Louisiana and Mississippi (my biggest fret) and every day FOX and CNN report troublesome stories from our southern border in areas we will be riding through. And we’re riding our Salsa Cutthroat bikes which are better suited for gravel riding instead of road riding. None of those are show stoppers though so let’s go!

Why ride the Southern Tier route and why now? That’s what most of our pickleball buddies want to know. Check that out here.

Then, they want to know what we are going to take? Here’s Tom’s list and a photo of what he’s taking.

Here’s my list and a photo of what I’m taking. Oh and of course I’m taking my bike but it’s already boxed up and ready to go.

It’s overkill on the warm clothes but we think it’s going to be a little chilly when we start and hope to send a box of clothes home from New Orleans, along with the beads we score from Mardi Gras.

This is all we’ll need for about two months. Really gonna miss those pickleball paddles though!

Another FAQ. How are you and your bikes getting to San Diego? In the past we’ve taken our bikes with us on the Amtrak to the starting point. On our first cross country ride we took them to REI. They boxed up the bikes and sent them to Bellingham, WA where they reassembled them and we picked them up.

This time Tom did it all! He got used oversized e-bike boxes from a local bike shop. Then he took the bikes apart, secured them with leftover packing material and they are being shipped via BikeFlights to our hotel in San Diego where he will unbox and reassemble them. We’ve never done this before but lots of people have so let’s see how it goes. See the pics below for what they look like disassembled and what they look like loaded and ready to ride.

EVERYONE wants to know, what are we going to eat? We don’t take a stove and usually eat one meal a day in a restaurant so we just load up on snacks for a day (or two) until we find a convenience store. Below are the food items that should get us through the first few days. The route isn’t near as remote as others we’ve been on. And just so ya know, there’s four big ole Paydays in there (thanks Finn) and sorry kids, the Sno-Caps are already eaten. I really tried to wait. #NoWillPower

There is something about a long distance self-contained bike trip that recalibrates our gratitude meter. Right now we are especially grateful for our furnace, coffee that is ready when we roll out of bed at 4:30am every morning, the ability to go to the fridge for a cold bevvie, and an inside potty in the middle of the night. And let’s not forget about clean bed sheets. All soon gone but in exchange, we’ll find some new friends we’ve yet to meet, spend time outside on bikes every single day and maybe even see some stellar scenery. I’m sure we’ll get a couple of good stories out of the ride, too.

But beyond the conveniences of home, we know we are going to miss our family, friends and neighbors the most. There is nothing like the absence of loved ones that endear them to us even more.

We’d love to have you join us virtually from your hometown, your own winter escape or even as you begin to plan YOUR 2023 bike adventures. More to come from #TomNDeb

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