Touring - San Diego to Arizona
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10-26-08, 03:06 AM
So my sister that lives in Arizona, asked that my girlfriend and I come down to Arizona to eat dinner for Christmas. I've just started commuting for like two weeks now. First day I wanted to kill myself after having to walk my bike 25% of the way. Now I am loving it and couldn't be happier. Am I insane for even letting bicycle transportation from San Diego to Arizona even cross my mind?
Am I insane for even letting bicycle transportation from San Diego to Arizona even cross my mind?
No, and it is a beautiful ride.
However, I would probably work yourself up to it a bit so you have confidence of getting up and over the mountains and be able to cross the gaps in-between. For example, work first to get yourself to ride a weekend ride to a place like Julian (4000ft). One day up and the next day back down. That will give you a reasonable feel for the other parts overall.
It is possible to do this ride without carrying camping gear but you'll need to be able to cover some gaps (e.g. San Diego, Julian, Brawley, Ehrenberg, Aguila, Tempe is what I rode - there are some more places to stay in-between but not many). Alternately if you are camping, you'll have more flexibility to break it into more variable pieces and adjust if you can't make the full distance for some reason.
As you know, you'll occasionally get snow at higher elevations above San Diego in Christmas time. I've ridden through the mountains above San Diego a few times and had some weather: March 2001 (snow in Julian), December 2002 (fine), December 2003 (snow), December 2006 (rain & sleet).
You don't say where in Arizona you intend to ride, but the Adventure Cycling Association's Southern Tier route goes from San Diego to Arizona (Phoenix and beyond). You can see the route here: http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/southerntier.cfm
I rode from San Diego to Phoenix in April/May, 2006 using the Southern Tier route. You can read a text-only report of that trip here (http://www.biketouringtips.com/bike.journals/full.bike.report.htm). From San Diego, you have to climb over the mountains into the Imperial Valley. After that, it is riding in the desert, often on straight roads through unchanging scenery. Not unlike riding on a treadmill between painted panels. There is one section, between Brawley and Palo Verde, CA that is 60 miles with no services except a very overpriced store. It took me two days of moderate to tough uphill to get over the mountains. After that, the riding is less about hills and more about water and food.
The entire trip took me 9 days of riding. I had camping gear and used it several times. I also stayed in several inexpensive motels, though, I was there in the low season for tourism.
It certainly is doable distance-wise. But, weather at the higher elevations east of San Diego, as mev points out, could be nasty. Also, you will need to carry camping gear or be able to ride 70 miles a day to get past some non-motel stretches.
10-26-08, 11:00 PM
I've ridden from San Diego (North County coastal) to about 60 miles west of Flagstaff and back. I'll try to post up my route sometime next week when I have more free time. It was somewhere near 800 miles round trip and took about 10 or 11 days.
There are some very nice parts to be sure, but riding along the 8, 10 and whatever other freeways there were (I can't remember) wasn't fun. There were large shoulders though. It was mostly a matter of noise/smog.
Also, if you go from the North County there are a few sections of roads that you will REALLY want to avoid being on during the weekends depending on the direction. (Lots and lots of young dirtbike who like to drink, to put it nicely, go to Glamis and the desert on the weekends on windey roads with no shoulder and blind curves.)
Lastly, for whatever reason, the BLM/public lands in Az were all fenced off with barbed wire next to roads. If you're planning on stealth camping, that's something to be aware of.
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