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Clydesdales/Athenas (200+ lb / 91+ kg) Looking to lose that spare tire? Ideal weight 200+? Frustrated being a large cyclist in a sport geared for the ultra-light? Learn about the bikes and parts that can take the abuse of a heavier cyclist, how to keep your body going while losing the weight, and get support from others who've been successful.

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Old 08-17-11, 02:45 PM   #1
ChrisM2097
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100 miles of Biking the California Coast

At the end of next month, some friends of mine that I ride with every week want to ride ~55 miles on Hwy 1 from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz, stay the night, and then ride back to HMB the next day.

Has anyone done this ride before? It doesn't look all that difficult...but I've never ridden more than 25 miles in a single day, let alone 110 miles over 2 days.

None of us have road bikes...we all have mountain bikes, and we're all out of shape, so I'm guessing our average speed will probably be around 11-12mph.

Is there anything in particular that we should consider? We're all just recreational riders that occasionally commute and ride on MUP's.

I'll definitely be bringing a couple spare tubes, small tool kit, & frame pump. I'm considering getting a rack for my bike to install a bike trunk / panniers, instead of wearing a backpack, for holding a change of clothes, snacks, tools etc.

Any tips or insights (or just simple encouragement) are much appreciated.
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Old 08-17-11, 02:49 PM   #2
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The coast isn't as flat as you might think. The thing you are really going to have to worry about though is the head winds going north. They are pretty brutal. That is the reason most people ride south.
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Old 08-17-11, 03:02 PM   #3
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We can deal with some hills...as long as they aren't miles upon miles of 10%+ grade. The ones on this route look to be no more than a couple miles of under 5% grade.

55 miles, even with a brutal headwind should be doable in less than a day, no? Maybe we should reverse the route - start/end in Santa Cruz, and sleep/turn-around in HMB?

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Old 08-17-11, 03:19 PM   #4
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Those winds are emotionally draining. Don't underestimate them. I'd much rather climb long, moderate or even steep grades than have to fight the winds. (And I'm not a climber.)
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Old 08-17-11, 03:31 PM   #5
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Alright...then maybe we should just ride from HMB to Monterey/Carmel, and have someone pick us up? This was actually the original plan, but I didn't want to have to depend on someone for drop-off / pick-up.

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Old 08-17-11, 03:40 PM   #6
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Alright...then maybe we should just ride from HMB to Monterey/Carmel, and have someone pick us up? This was actually the original plan, but I didn't want to have to depend on someone for drop-off / pick-up.
Why worry about starting here, starting there, winds blah blah blah, just get on the bike and ride. Part of the fun will be having stories of how you survived the elements.
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Old 08-17-11, 05:20 PM   #7
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Why worry about starting here, starting there, winds blah blah blah, just get on the bike and ride. Part of the fun will be having stories of how you survived the elements.
I have to agree with this... just have a SAG available, in case... hopefully someone has a girlfriend or wife who can come pick you up.

that stretch of highway is very beautiful and well worth the effort. Start early and avoid the winds that usually come up after noon (those winds are very, very strong so don't underestimate them). You can check the route out... it's going to be signficantly "rolly" - I don't recall any overly steep grades but lots of 5 - 6 %. Some up to 10 here and there but he climbs are short and well, just walk them!

What you need to be careful about is having places to stop and get "fuel". It can get sparse in places so carry enough water and refreshments. Do not carry too much but definitely have tools and tubes along.

55 miles is not that long... take the full day and enjoy the ride...and the adventure. Take a camera so you have an excuse to stop.
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Old 08-17-11, 06:12 PM   #8
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If your bikes have MTB tires....now might be a good time to invest in a set of smooth, higher pressure road tires....... have fun
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Old 08-17-11, 06:40 PM   #9
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Good point...I've got Kenda Small Block Eights on my bike, pumped up to just around 75psi, and they're great on the trails I ride (Los Gatos Creek to Lexington Reservoir & Alum Rock Park), but since this coastal ride doesn't look like it'll have any dirt, rock, roots, etc., I'll definitely invest in some skinnier, smoother tires.

One of these days I'm going to buy a road bike...I think it'll be my present to myself after i drop 50 lbs.
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Old 08-17-11, 07:34 PM   #10
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Why don't you just flip your trip around and start in Santa Cruz early in the morning? As Pamestique said, you'll want to be done before or around noon. That way you can deal with the wind on your first day when you are strongest. I'm a relatively strong rider and I ride north on Hwy 1 all the time (+100miles at a shot) but it is not always fun into that wind. Even on a road bike with aerobars. If you are not strong riders and riding Mtn bikes in a very upright position that wind is really going to hurt if you are stuck in it for a long time. Remember, if you are going 10mph (or less into the wind) it's going to take you at least 5 1/2hrs to ride your 55 miles without making any stops. You'll have to leave pretty early in the morning.
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Old 08-19-11, 09:26 PM   #11
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There are rolling hills around San Gregorio but it is flat on either side of that section. Town of Pescadero might provide refreshments. Lighthouse at Ano Nuevo point is worth a view.
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Old 08-19-11, 10:23 PM   #12
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Good luck. It sounds like you guys are going to have a great time. =)
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Old 08-20-11, 01:36 AM   #13
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Make no mistake: this trip can be difficult regardless of direction!

There aren't any major hills, but there are plenty of rollers. Wind, as others have already pointed out, can be a major challenge. Especially true when riding from south to north. Aside from the wind, the coast can be chilly at any time of year. I would expect mornings, in particular, to be cool to cold. Clouds and fog are frequent, especially in the morning. Wind chill can have you reaching for a jacket even during the height of summer!

The road is generally in good condition, with a nice wide shoulder just about everywhere. That said, there can still be substantial amounts of fast-moving car traffic especially on the weekends. If anyone in your group is sensitive to traffic, this might be a consideration.

Supply stops are few and far between: San Gregorio, Pescadero, and Davenport are about the only options. Do stop at the Argangeli Market in Pescadero and grab a loaf of their artichoke garlic bread. They have a nice picnic area behind the store. Duarte's Tavern, also in Pescadero, is good if you want a hot meal. Good breakfast, great soup, great pie. If you like soup, ask for their "half and half": cream of green chile and cream of potato (or artichoke?) swirled in the same bowl.

Rather than sticking to Highway 1, there are some nice inland routes that you might want to consider. They break-up the monotony of the coast and they'll also get you out of the wind. Most of these options will add a couple of miles to the journey and some entail a bit of extra climbing. I would highly recommend taking Gazos Creek Rd. and Cloverdale road into (or out of) Pescadero. Stage Road connects Pescadero and San Gregorio. Swanton Road used to be a nice bypass for a portion of Highway 1; it's probably been a decade since I've been out there so I have no idea what it's like these days. Try to avoid these roads during the monthly Doc Wong motorcycle rides. The motorcyclists are (mostly) well-behaved, but bring quite a bit of additional traffic to these normally deserted roads.
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Old 08-20-11, 03:26 AM   #14
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I'm not from that area and I'm too lazy to look up a map right now, so I don't know if this would apply to your route or not, but the thing that struck me when the family drove Route 1 a few years ago from SF Bay up to Point Reyes was how narrow the road was and how poor its condition was. While breathtakingly beautiful in places, it seemed way more dangerous, potentially, than any road I've ever ridden in the midwest.

Or I could just be a sissy.
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