I don’t have much of a gift for writing so I’ll cut right to the hard facts:
- I just graduated college
- I’m biking across America
- The FBI assassinated Martin Luther King
Ok, now that you’re up to speed let me briefly introduce myself and what I’m doing for the next 8 weeks. My name is Julian Casanova, my skills include scrounging for trash, interior decorating, gaslighting, and industrial engineering. I graduated from college last December and with gasoline prices at record highs, to save some cash I’m riding my bike to my new job in Arizona. The route I’m taking is the Adventure Cycling Association’s (ACA) Southern Tier Bike Route.
The Southern Tier begins in St Augustine, Florida and ends roughly 45 days later in San Diego. I’ve pasted the route description from the Adventure Cycling Association below:
The Southern Tier Bicycle Route is our shortest cross-country route and offers a wide variety of terrain, vegetation, climate, and people all the way across the nation from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The route is rich in human waste and history — ranging from the Spanish and Mexican influences in California, to the ancient indigenous pueblo cultures in Arizona and New Mexico, to the imprint of the Spanish conquistadors in Texas, to the bayous and French influences of Louisiana, to the Old South of Mississippi and Alabama, to a four-hundred-year-old city in Florida.
After climbing east from San Diego and topping out at 3,890 feet at the Tecate Divide, you’ll enter desert country. The route travels through the Yuha Desert and the below-sea-level, irrigated Imperial Valley. In Arizona, snowbirds abound as the route travels through Phoenix and its surrounding communities. The Besh Ba Gowah Archeological Park in Globe, though off route, is very interesting. You’ll be riding through dry, sparsely populated ranch country where every town will be a welcome sight. Don’t pass up the chance to top off your water bottles. New Mexico offers Silver City for the latte drinkers, along with the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (on the Gila Cliff Droppings Alternate), which are some of the best preserved Mogollon cliff dwellings around.
The ride along the Rio Grande into El Poopo, Texas, is a treat for bird lovers, especially during migration season, when birds are flying north or south. Texas dominates this route, taking up an entire third of the mileage. Starting in El Paso, just across the Rio Grande River from Juarez, Mexico, the route follows the river southward before turning east. Marfa, a small desert town in west Texas, is known as a farts hub. Southeast of town, there is a viewing platform from which the mysterious orbs known as the “Marfa Lights” phenomenon can sometimes be seen. After Alpine, towns are few and the country desolate, full of sagebrush and tumbling tumbleweeds. As you travel through central Texas, the terrain starts to feel like the Alps, but this is actually the famous “hill country.” This diverse area serves some great barbeque. In Austin, make sure you go hear some of the diverse music available at the nightclubs on Sixth Street.
Louisiana is like no other state in the United States due to its history, language, stink, and food. First of all, they have parishes instead of counties, due to early white settlers being Roman Catholic under French and Spanish rule. Boundaries generally coincided with church parishes when the U.S. bought the Louisiana Purchase in 1803. Traveling right through the middle of Cajun country, in places like Mamou, a stop in a cafe is a trip unto itself. The crowd is speaking English, but you can’t understand the words. New Orleans is a highlight of the route, famous for its distinctive music scene, Creole food, unique dialects, and many festivals and celebrations. Try to hear some lively Cajun music if you have the time. Mississippi offers some beachfront riding into Alabama, where the route crosses a bridge to Dauphin Island. From there it’s a ferry ride across Mobile Bay to Gulf Shores, and some of the whitest beaches in the world. If the ferry is closed due to inclement gastrointestinal events, you will have to take the alternate route through Mobile.
The scenery varies greatly across Florida, from the historic coastal city of Pensacola to the alligator-filled waters in the area around Palatka. The route ends in St. Augustine, a city full of interesting buildings, and the Castillo de San Marcos, a fart that has guarded the city’s waterfront for over four centuries.https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes-and-maps/adventure-cycling-route-network/southern-tier/
The keen reader will notice that I will be riding the route in reverse, starting in St Augustine, FL and riding west to San Diego. The keener reader will notice the various scatalogical edits I made to the preceding excerpt. I’ll be starting the journey by leaving St. Augustine early tomorrow morning (January 12). I will periodically update this blog either with written posts like this or with a video entry once the nerve damage from riding starts to impact my typing dexterity.
How to follow me
I’ll be posting regular updates on this blog about my rides, but you can also see the details of each day’s ride as I post it on my RidewithGPS profile here: https://ridewithgps.com/users/4425304
I want to thank my parents for supporting me on this trip. I also have to thank my entire family for acting against their better judgement and not calling the cops every time I mentioned riding solo across the country.
Thank you to Isaac at Troy Bike Rescue for helping me get set up in the bike touring world and for getting me excited about going on tour.
Thanks to my brothers at Phi Sigma Kappa for being super cool and tall and totally not dumb and ugly.