Southern Tier | January 2023

Sometimes we get ideas for rides from Adventure Cycling, sometimes from Bikepacking.com and sometimes from talking to fellow bike travelers. We got the idea to ride Southern Tier in, wait for it…

Church.

Tom retired in April 2022 which coincidentally was about the same time the stock market turned into a giant dumpster fire. We’d thought about spending two months in warm, sunny Florida riding bikes, playing pickleball and basically escaping the bitter cold (to us) winters in Indy, however with the stock market in the garbage we weren’t sure we should commit to that expense right out of the gate. Seems like everyone likes Florida, especially in the winter so prices were high and availability, low.

I’d been looking for a place online for a couple hours and sending inquiries but basically I was coming up empty handed and had pretty much given up. Tom got home from the gym and we headed off to daily communion service at 6:50am as we do most every morning.

Back to the inspo to ride the Southern Tier. That morning the reading happened to be from Acts 9:1-19, and yes I was paying attention in church. All of a sudden I got hit with a bright idea, like that bright light that knocked some sense into Saul.

Why not ride our bikes across the southern part of the country instead of going to Florida for two months? We can start in San Diego and when the route ends in St. Augustine, we can turn right and head down the Atlantic coast to Key West. Done and done.

We won’t be able to play pickleball for two months but we’ll get our bike touring bods back while at the same time save a heap of money, add California, Texas and Louisiana to our 50 state bike chase and I’m sure enjoy a few tamales, Tecates and churros while en route.

And bonus… Amtrak goes to San Diego which makes getting us and our bikes to our start point easy peasy. I mean it’s 57 hours on a train but we have time. On the way back we can take the ferry from Key West to Fort Myers Beach, ride our bikes to Ft. Myers and ride the Amtrak back to Indy.

All in all it’s about 3,400 miles. Shorter than Northern Tier, longer than the Great Divide. But alas, Southern Tier is mostly pavement.

And after looking into it, there are a couple mountain passes in Arizona that will likely have some snow but we’ll keep calm and pedal on. After all, we’ll have Key West to look forward to as our final destination.

Key West 2012 (couple days after the running the Melbourne Marathon)
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