Trip Report: 2014 Bike Tour
Burton, TX to Key West, FL along the Adventure Cycling Association Southern Tier Route.
This page is a report of my solo bicycle tour in 2014. I followed the Adventure Cycling Association (ACA) Southern Tier Route from Burton, TX to St. Augustine, FL. Then I took the ACA Florida Connector Route from St. Augustine, near Orlando, then Ft. Meyers, and then Ft. Lauderdale. Then I followed the ACA Atlantic Coast Route from Ft. Lauderdale to Key West, FL.
See the sidebar for information about the Adventure Cycling Association, the route, and my bike and gear. I camped and stayed in motels depending on the location, weather, etc.
Click any of these links to see:
- Photos from the trip.
- Photos of roadkill along the way that was requested by my friend, Anette.
- Written list of the roadkill (PDF file)
- List of the birds that I saw on the trip (PDF file)
|Day 1, Monday, January 27, 2014.|
|Carmine, TX to Navasota, TX.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 49.9/49.9, 6:28/6:28.
Today, I rode through a historic part of Texas. This is the area where people from the U.S.A. like Stephen F. Austin first settled in preparation for stealing Texas from Mexico. Just a few miles from here, the Texans declared independence from Mexico at Washington on the Brazos.
Conditions were challenging today with a 20-30 MPH cold north wind as I rode in a generally northeast direction throughout the day. Tonight and tomorrow, it is going to be very cold with frozen precipitation and icy roads. Because of the weather, I checked into a motel. I will spend two nights here and I won't ride tomorrow.
|Day 2, Tuesday, January 28, 2014.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 0/49.9, 0:00/6:28.
It was cold and rainy this morning. The predicted sleet and road ice never materialized. Not a good day for bike touring.
Check out this news story: Rare Snow, Ice Shock the Deep South.
|Day 3, Wednesday, January 29, 2014.|
|Navasota, TX to Richards, TX.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 20.1/70.0, 2:20/8:48.
Logistics and my body suggested a short day today. It was 28°F this morning but otherwise a beautiful day for cycling.
I stayed at the Checkpoint Harley less than a mile off route. Nice folks there that cater to cyclists.
|Day 4, Thursday, January 30, 2014.|
|Richards, TX to Pumpkin, (yes, Pumpkin) TX.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 38.4/108.4, 4:31/13:19.
I rode into the piney woods of East Texas today. I was near the Big Thicket National Preserve. I rode adjacent to the Little Lake Creek Wilderness.
Just west of Pumpkin, I was chased by two mutt / pit bull looking dogs. This is something that nearly all cyclists experience all the time, but these guys added a new wrinkle. One of them grabbed a-holt (that's how we say it in Pumpkin) of the rubber mud flap on my rear fender as I tried to ride away. I got off the bike and chased them away. When I tried to ride away, I was seized by the backside of my bike once again. This was repeated several times before I escaped. My fender now has a bite mark.
|Day 5, Friday, January 31, 2014.|
|Pumpkin, TX to Shepherd, TX.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 27.1/135.5, 3:06/16:25.
Today's ride was through the Lake Livingston area. I am now about 100 miles from the Louisiana border.
I wanted to ride farther today, but the next place to stay was 28 miles southeast of here into a 16 MPH south wind. I thought that would be too much for me today. In addition, I think the place I am staying tonight is probably much nicer than the next place down the road.
|Day 6, Saturday, February 1, 2014.|
|Shepherd, TX to Silsbee, TX.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 63.8/199.3, 6:44/23:09.
I rode through the broad, relatively flat Trinity River floodplain today. When I was riding over the Trinity River Bridge, I saw a very large Osprey. With the flatter terrain and lighter headwinds, I rode faster and farther today.
Many of the people I saw and spoke with today seemed a little backward. When I saw this poster at the barbecue joint where I had dinner, my initial impression was confirmed. I imagine the conversation goes something like this:
Do you see that big'ol black hairy thang over thare? What do you think it is? Should I shoot it?
Gosh doggit, I don't know Bubba. Them hogs and bahrs look just alike to me.
|Day 7, Sunday, February 2, 2014.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 0/199.3, 0/23:09.
This was a planned rest day. I shopped at the Walmart Superstore. Their selection of travel size products was quite useful. I went to Chili's and watched the Super Bowl. It rained a lot off and on all day. It was a good day not to be on the road
|Day 8, Monday, February 3, 2014.|
|Silsbee, TX to Kirbyville, TX.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 27.9/227.2, 3:15/1:02:24.
I rode north into a light headwind. I crossed the Nueces River. There was gently rolling terrain with a mixed forest of hardwood and pine. I saw numerous kestrels today, a bird that was once quite common in West Texas, but whose numbers have severely declined.
|Day 9, Tuesday, February 4, 2014.|
|Kirbyville, TX to DeRidder, LA.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 48.7/275.9, 5:07/1:07:31.
I rode across the Sabine River today into Beauregard Parish, Louisiana. It rained most of the day.
|Day 10, Wednesday, February 5, 2014.|
|DeRidder, LA to Oberlin, LA.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 35.4/311.3, 3:30/1:11:01.
It was another overcast day with a 15 MPH cold north wind. The high was in the low 40's. I was traveling east and east-south-east, so the wind was sideways and sometimes slightly following.
As I rode through the Mittie, LA area, I saw several places with multiple parked school buses and stacks of dozens of canoes. I later learned that in the spring, canoeing the Ouiska Chitto River is a popular activity.
Oberlin, Louisiana calls itself the gateway to Cajun country. Tomorrow I'll be riding into the Acadiana region of Louisiana. This is where the Acadian people eventually settled after they were expelled from the Canadian Maritime Provinces by the British and New Englanders during the French and Indian War in the eighteenth century. I'll be eating boudin and some crawfish soon.
This area is the home of the Coushatta Indians. My motel had a sign offering a free ride to the Grand Casino Coushatta which is nearby in Kinder, LA. I am not going to take them up on the free offer this time.
|Day 11, Thursday, February 6, 2014.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 0/311.3, 0/1:11:01.
I awoke to a changed weather forecast this morning that added a winter storm warning with sleet and freezing rain to the cold weather that I was already expecting. I decided to make this a rest day which my muscles probably needed anyway.
|Day 12, Friday, February 7, 2014.|
|Oberlin, LA to Chicot State Park, LA.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 48.9/360.2, 5:30/1:16:31.
The ride today had flat terrain and a cold headwind. There were many rice farms. The flooded fields were often filled with crawfish traps. I saw a very flat, albino possum on the road. There were lots of birds as well as armadillos in the state park where I camped. The park surrounds a large bald cypress swamp / lake.
|Day 13, Saturday, February 8, 2014.|
|Chicot State Park, LA to Bunkie, LA.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 19.5/379.7, 2:08/1:18:39.
Lodging / camping logistics required either a very short day or a very long one. I chose the sort one. I walked and explored the park before getting on the road late.
All my life I've heard of the paw paw patch without knowing what it was. Today I saw a paw paw tree and learned about it in the Chicot State Park Arboretum. It's also called a custard apple tree. I saw bald cypress trees covered by pink Christmas lichen.
|Day 14, Sunday, February 9, 2014.|
|Bunkie, LA to Simmesport, LA.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 29.8/409.5, 3:04/1:21:43.
Today I rode through the floodplains of the Atchafalaya and Mississippi Rivers. I am staying in a motel in Simmesport, LA immediately adjacent to the West Atchafalaya Levee. It's part of the massive complex of structures constructed by the Corps of Engineers to control river after the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927. This was the most destructive flood in the history of the United States. The Mississippi River swelled to a width of 80 miles during this flood.
The Mississippi River is trying to naturally dramatically alter its course to flow into the Atchafalaya River thereby bypassing Baton Rouge and New Orleans. The Corps of Engineers is trying to prevent this from happening.
|Day 15, Monday, February 10, 2014.|
Miles, Time (day/trip): 0/409.5, 0/1:21:43.
I am stuck here for 2 days while I wait for the delivery of some parts to repair my panniers. It is rainy and cold anyway with frozen precipitation possible tomorrow. I am staying at the only lodging in town, the Sportsman's Motel. Check out these very accurate reviews of my motel on TripAdvisor. I particularly liked the one entitled "It Beats Sleeping in a Tent".