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Old 08-04-08, 09:25 AM   #1
wobblyoldgeezer
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Suggestions please, for a Northern California bike tour

Hello all

I've spent the last few summer holidays including a bike tour with a bunch of UK friends, and I offered to research possibilities for a Northern California tour next summer.

We're all enthusiastic, and many are pretty strong - having done tours in Russia, Scandinavia and other places. Youngest 45, oldest mid 60s. Most are good bike riders and good traffic negotiators, some (who are definitely part of the group) less so.

I very much love Northern California - my bride comes from there - but I'm also aware that for Europeans there's an expectation that traffic will be kind, because everyone's Mum rode a bike to school, and maybe the traffic might be a bit less accomodating in N. Cal.

Any suggestions for good bike tour outfitters? The ones I've seen so far seem to offer great tours but maybe on the "Luxury, short distances, fancy food and expensive accomodation" side of the spectrum, whereas we might favour less fancy and a good bit cheaper - after all, it'll cost about a grand round trip per person air fare before we even start. Rental bikes will be required.

I'd love to hear your ideas
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Old 08-04-08, 10:11 AM   #2
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One has to define northern California. There are the SF bay area, wine country, Lake Tahoe area, Monterey and Eureka area et. al. to name a few. In general, the terrain is hilly to very hilly / mountainous. Even the coast is hilly.

The next matter is the time of year. In general, we have little to no rain from the middle of April through October and the fog and the micro climates dictate temperatures. So it can be very hot inland and in the mountains and cold at the coast in July.

With respect to traffic / road conditions, IMHO, it is pretty good in the Bay area. Motorists are generally courteous but of course there are exceptions. Where we cycle there are usually good bike lanes and the routes that we choose have little traffic. Local knowledge can make or break a cycling vacation.

Hopefully, others will have some tour companies. I do not. I recommend posting this in the Northern California regional forum.

Last edited by Hermes; 08-04-08 at 01:58 PM.
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Old 08-04-08, 11:42 AM   #3
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I would look into doing a Home Exchange with someone from Marin County.

The reason I say Marin County, is because I think there are a lot of people that would do the exchange and the riding is so excellent out there.

Once you have your home away from home set up, put a shout out on the NorCal Forum and I'm sure the rides will line up for you.

Good Luck.

BR
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Old 08-04-08, 01:22 PM   #4
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In summer the central valley, although flat, could be unbearably hot. The sierra will be cooler but lots of hills. The coast will also be cooler but could be quite foggy.

And if traffic is a concern you might try farther to the North, where the population in California really thins out. Anywhere north of Redding is going to have relatively sparse traffic, and there are beautiful places to see up there, if nature is what you're looking for (nothing in terms of big city amenities). Here is one tour outfitter I found in the Mt. Shasta area but know nothing about. Good luck. http://mtshastacycletours.com/
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Old 08-04-08, 01:32 PM   #5
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Wobbly,

I just e-mailed an acquaintance of mine who is a bike outfitter for tours, mostly in France right now. He lives here in Lincoln (near Sacramento, CA). He said he would be happy to give you some ideas. He used to lead tours in NorCal, before they discovered France. I think you can trust him to get you pointed in a good direction, with no strings.

Dick Powell - Bike Outfitters
bikeoutfit@aol.com

I believe he also has a website. I'm sure he'll steer you there. Good luck.

Mojo
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Old 08-05-08, 07:45 AM   #6
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Many thanks to all. Very helpful suggestions.

Locations - I think Napa to the coast, or Montery Bay area, or Stinson Beach towards Point Reyes and around there.

Mr Mojo - Bicycle Outfitters, Los Altos? Mrs Geezer and I rented our first tandem ride from there in 1992. First time on a long bike (A Trek, I think). Great people. They also offered trial rides on a Burley Duet and a Santana Visa. We ended up buying a Santana Visa - but in UK, not from them. However, I sent a message of appreciation to Santana about the Outfitter business to Santana, and was assured by Mr Santana (Bill MacCready?) that he would forward my appreciation to them. Very good people.
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Old 08-05-08, 02:29 PM   #7
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I think it may be the same people, but they live here in Lincoln, now. Give him an e-mail. I gave him your "wobbly" name and my "mojo" name, so he should recognize you.
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Old 08-05-08, 02:47 PM   #8
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I'd suggest contacting Undiscovered Country Tours.

They do tours I think exclusively in California, mostly Northern California. I went on one and it was very well run and was definitely not just short distances. I thought it was reasonably priced, though you may disagree. I think they also can arrange bike rentals and I also think they're open to doing custom tours for a large enough group.

Here's all the info:

http://www.udctours.com/
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