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  1. #1
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    San Francisco to Santa Cruz - safest route

    Hi All,

    First of all I think this forum is great! I've found so much useful information here.

    So this Thursday I plan to bike from San Francisco to Santa Cruz and I've collected a couple of different routes. I need your input on choosing between them and maybe add new ones. My first priority is safety.

    1., All the way down on HWY-1. Problems: Devil's Slide, no shoulders around Pacifica and Montara.
    2., Skyline Blvd (HWY 35) => HWY-92 => Half Moon Bay => HWY-1; I read terrible things about HWY 92.
    3., Skyline Blvd (HWY 35) => Canada Rd => Woodside Rd (HWY-84) => Mountain Home Rd => Portola Rd => Old La Honda Rd => HWY-84 => HWY-1
    4., Same as (3) but straight on HWY-84 to HWY-1

    My only concern about (3) and (4) is the climb. Which one is easier? Is it doable for a beginner? Do you know easier and safer routes to Santa Cruz?

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Klaatu..Verata..Necktie? genejockey's Avatar
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    Number 3.

    Both 92 and 84 have WAY too much car traffic to be comfortable as climbs. Don't let OLH scare you. Yes, it's got some steep pitches, but overall it's even doable by old fat guys like me.

    One caveat is that 35 does not go straight through to 92 from the north anymore. You'll have to drop down Crystal Springs under the Doran Bridge, hang a right on Polhemus, and climb up to the Ralston Trail to get back on Canada. Not a big deal, but I find Polhemus a lot less fun than Skyline.
    "Donít take life so seriousóit ainít nohow permanent."

  3. #3
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    In your routes 2/3/4, Hwy 35 can be pretty exciting around Daly City. That combined with the additional length of these routes makes #1 sound a lot easier to me. Yes, Hwy 92 is worse than Devils Slide. As the previous comment points out, Hwy 35 is closed through San Mateo for the next couple of years and the detour involves some amount of additional climbing. If you live in the city, you should have pretty good traffic skills, right?
    Last edited by johnny99; 11-26-13 at 05:25 PM.

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    Well I bike to work 3 times a week and it's a 8-mile ride. I think I'm ok with traffic but it's totally different on a highway because it's much faster and I'm kinda scared of trucks.

    Also I'm thinking about going through urban areas instead of road 35 because I know that area pretty well, there is no climb, but it's a little bit longer. I think this route is around 90 miles, so I will think about it well before I start. I do 50-60-mile trips during weekends and I think I can do it if I rest enough.

  5. #5
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    The Devils Slide tunnels are now open and have bike lanes making this less bad than it used to be. Also, there's Old San Pedro road: http://www.patricksvelolog.com/2013/...t-of-apes.html. If you're going SF>SC, unfortunately the climb is mostly paved and the descent is mostly off road, which could be somewhat sketch on a road bike, depending on your bike handling skill.

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    Wow. cpach thanks for the advice! Actually it sounds really interesting. There are multiple trails going from pacifica to Hwy-1. Which one is Old San Pedro Rd? I found Pedro Mountain Road. Do you have a specific description or a map? I'd really appreciate it. The little off-road might worth it.

  7. #7
    Klaatu..Verata..Necktie? genejockey's Avatar
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    If you take #3 , at the top of OLH, you have two choices. Turn right, and follow 35 north about 2 miles to Skylonda. It's wide, fast, and nontechnical. Some traffic, especially on weekends - sports cars and motorcycles. Turn left at the intersection of 84 and 35, and you get a couple miles of pretty gentle descent.

    Go straight across at OLH and 35, (after listening carefully for sports cars and motorcycles!) and you descend West OLH, which is narrow, a lot more technical, next to zero traffic, and considerably more scenic. It deposits you about 3 miles farther down 84 from Skylonda, BUT it comes out at a blind curve on 84. My advice would be to turn right and head up the road a could hundred feet till you can see clearly in both directions before swinging a U-turn and heading back West.

    Descending 84 from there can be lots of fun, till you get to like the last 5 or so miles, which are pretty flat, and if the wind is blowing from the West (and when isn't it?), a bit of a slog.

    There's a nice little store at 84 and Stage Road in San Gregorio, where you can stop and refuel. South of San Gregorio, my experience ends. I've only ever headed North to Tunitas Creek and back over the hill.
    Last edited by genejockey; 11-27-13 at 09:28 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by nemeseri View Post
    Wow. cpach thanks for the advice! Actually it sounds really interesting. There are multiple trails going from pacifica to Hwy-1. Which one is Old San Pedro Rd? I found Pedro Mountain Road. Do you have a specific description or a map? I'd really appreciate it. The little off-road might worth it.
    Here's a ride I did a few years ago that used the San Pedro Mtn. rd. on the way from Daly City to Montara and we took the Hwy. 1 route on the way back (this was before the tunnel was open - the tunnel itself is nice but you still have a narrow uphill stretch getting up to it).

    http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=609060

    You can scroll and zoom in on the map to see details of our route. Or, if you have a GPS, you can download the track and follow that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nemeseri View Post
    Wow. cpach thanks for the advice! Actually it sounds really interesting. There are multiple trails going from pacifica to Hwy-1. Which one is Old San Pedro Rd? I found Pedro Mountain Road. Do you have a specific description or a map? I'd really appreciate it. The little off-road might worth it.
    Here's a ride I did a few years ago that used the San Pedro Mtn. rd. on the way from Daly City to Montara and we took the Hwy. 1 route on the way back (this was before the tunnel was open - the tunnel itself is nice but you still have a narrow uphill stretch getting up to it).

    http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=609060

    You can scroll and zoom in on the map to see details of our route. Or, if you have a GPS, you can download the track and follow that.

  10. #10
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    @prathmann: Thanks! Extremely helpful! How bad is the San Pedro Mountain Road? Do you think I can do it with a road bike? I'm ok with some dirt and loose gravel and it doesn't seem to be too long. @genejockey: thank you! I will estimate the milage difference and definitely consider OLH.

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    @prathmann: oh I just read your comments below the pictures. Well I'm a little bit worried because of this part, but probably it's better than to take a 13 miles longer path.

  12. #12
    Senior Member aaronmcd's Avatar
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    I rode out to Half Moon Bay and then up to SF one time, and followed the signs for the bike path most of the way, though I did have to ride on the 1 for some of it. It wasn't that bad until I got into the city, and then the roads and traffic were almost suicidal.

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    Quote Originally Posted by nemeseri View Post
    @prathmann: Thanks! Extremely helpful! How bad is the San Pedro Mountain Road? Do you think I can do it with a road bike? I'm ok with some dirt and loose gravel and it doesn't seem to be too long. @genejockey: thank you! I will estimate the milage difference and definitely consider OLH.
    I did it going from Santa Cruz to SF on a carbon road bike on 23s at high pressure and thought it was fine. It's a matter of perspective. That said, sf>sc is harder for old San Pedro, because you're descending the trickier sections. Id be happy to do it though.

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    Thank you everyone! I did it and it was awesome! Incredible views and great way to spend a day.
    Finally I chose the San Pedro Mountain Road and HWY-1 all the way down to Santa Cruz.

    San Pedro Mnt Rd was a really interesting part because I haven't done any mountain biking before. Well just like you said it was tricky on a road bike especially downhill. Although the view was amazing! I'd say - just to stick with the original topic title - that HWY-1 is probably safer through the tunnel on a road bike. Also it's much-much faster. I recommend to start the ride early to beat traffic.

    After San Pedro Mnt Rd, HWY-1 had pretty good biking conditions, huge shoulders everywhere. Someone in an other thread mentioned that HWY-1 is flat all the way down to Santa Cruz. Just a word of caution for absolute beginners like me: it has numerous 5-6% ascends and those can easily add up.

    Also it's worth to plan carefully where you want to stop for a brunch or a beer, because south to Half Moon Bay the options are pretty limited.

    All-in-all I think this ride is gorgeous and I can recommend for everybody who did 50-mile+ rides before.

  15. #15
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    no matter which routes you are going to take .... i wish you reached your destination safely.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by nemeseri View Post
    Thank you everyone! I did it and it was awesome! Incredible views and great way to spend a day.
    Finally I chose the San Pedro Mountain Road and HWY-1 all the way down to Santa Cruz.

    San Pedro Mnt Rd was a really interesting part because I haven't done any mountain biking before. Well just like you said it was tricky on a road bike especially downhill. Although the view was amazing! I'd say - just to stick with the original topic title - that HWY-1 is probably safer through the tunnel on a road bike. Also it's much-much faster. I recommend to start the ride early to beat traffic.

    After San Pedro Mnt Rd, HWY-1 had pretty good biking conditions, huge shoulders everywhere. Someone in an other thread mentioned that HWY-1 is flat all the way down to Santa Cruz. Just a word of caution for absolute beginners like me: it has numerous 5-6% ascends and those can easily add up.

    Also it's worth to plan carefully where you want to stop for a brunch or a beer, because south to Half Moon Bay the options are pretty limited.

    All-in-all I think this ride is gorgeous and I can recommend for everybody who did 50-mile+ rides before.
    The Cabrillo highway tunnel has been a real lifesaver in terms of speed and safety, cutting out devils slide or the steep planet of the apes routes that used to be the only really efficient routes to get to Half Moon Bay.

    I remember the first time I rode down to Santa Cruz and it was a little surprising like you mentioned. ENDLESS ROLLERS. Beautiful ride, but with some good challenges, that makes getting into SC feel like a really good accomplishment.

    Past Half Moon it's really limited like you said. One of our favorite ever spots is the Bike Hut. You should check it out on your next ride. It's a little detour off along Tunitas Creek, which is a stunning less-trafficed, if challenging connector back to San Francisco via Redwood City Caltrain. We really like bike camping out at Half Moon Bay and we've routed a way that takes you on trails nearly the whole route once you get out of the tunnel.

    Check it out here (also includes info about the bike hut and Tunitas Creek Route): Bike Camping Half Moon Bay ? Pedal Inn: Bike Camping Guide, Provisions, and Cookbook

    Here are also a couple of tunnel shots from the bike lane:
    pedal-inn-cabrillo-tunnel-approach.jpgpedal-inn-cabrillo-tunnel-bike-lane.jpg

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