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  1. #1
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    Suggestions for week-long solo tour in So Cal?

    So I'm considering doing a week long tour ... on my own ... in southern california (or another warm spot) in March. I'm in good cycling shape (3200 miles in 2012) but have never toured before. I have a Trek 520, so I have the right bike. I prefer to ride solo and I'd like to camp rather than pay for hotels but want to eat out rather than prepare my meals. I basically am looking to have an initial one-week touring experience in hopes of riding cross-country one day.

    Any suggestions for a route? I'm considering a one-way trip from San Diego - Palm Springs. I see that there is a "Christmas Ride" between San Diego and Palm Springs, but am not sure whether it's suitable for a solo trip. Adventure Cycling has a cross-country route that starts in San Diego, but the thought of winding up in El Centro doesn't exactly excite me.

    Suggestions?? Anyone?? Bueler???

  2. #2
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    SD - Palm Springs... that's tough. There are a lot of bike-unfriendly roads between those two points.
    Do you have your heart set on a point-to-point tour?

    Here is the SoCal Route repository. (Click.)

    You could string together a lot of great rides East of North San Diego County. Jabantik in here is a pretty gung-ho camping/adventure cyclists in here. He'd be a good source, I'd PM him.

    Good luck and let us know where you end up going and how it turns out!

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    Two questions: 1) have you ever backpack camped before? (not car camping - bicycling is more like backpacking than car camping), and 2) where are you located? (in/near San Diego?).

    IF you have some experience with backpack-style camping and live in So Calif, you might want to try just riding along the So Cal coastline and taking advantage of the car campgrounds. This will allow you to 'shake-out' your gear in a camping-friendly environment, while keeping near familar territory. Try riding up to the Camp Pendelton area one day (stay at San Onofre or Dana Point), then the next night somewhere farther up the coast (maybe squeeze into the RV campground in Huntington Beach, or 'stealth camp' after dark in Sunset Beach), then return over two days back to San Diego. If you don't live in the San Diego area you can try something similar in your local area.

    You should also post in the 'Touring' forum. Probably get a lot more responses there than here.
    Last edited by skidder; 01-05-13 at 07:50 PM.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Gallo's Avatar
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    I would also recommend a plan along the coast. Riding along the coast will have beautiful views and multiple services

    From Alpine or Julian to El Centro there is very little services and a bunch of miles be prepared to to make your lunch dinner from your panniers

    The Alpine route there is very little in Ocoitillio and a wicked dangerous climb back to Alpine

    The Julian Route has Banner grade store Buttermilk Stage Coach Vallecitos and Auga Calientie all with very limited services

    Having done both camping and hotel self service tours I much prefer the hotel route

    Less gear and weight more flexibility

    A hot shower and structured shelter that you don't have to put up when tired is not over rated.

    I would go a two day then three then four then seven and work your way up to what works for you. After all you are going alone and all my experience really means nothing. Out on the lonely road you need to figure it out and trust yourself in the nether regions because there is little or no help
    "Are you finished and satisfied with the thread up to this point? If so, if you don't mind, I'm inclined to close it now, the quality posts have dwindled - it's circling the bowl now." BillyD

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  5. #5
    Senior Member bitingduck's Avatar
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    To do SD to Palm Springs (which I did right after xmas with the HI-USA xmas ride), I'd go something like:
    SD to Pine Valley or Mt Laguna
    Pine Valley to Julian or Warner Springs or thereabouts (or even drop down into Borrego Springs)
    Julian/WS/Borrego Springs to Palm Springs

    The rest of the ride I did goes:
    Palm Desert -> Hemet
    Hemet -> Fallbrook
    Fallbrook-> SD.

    There are hotels everywhere along the way at reasonable stopping points if you can get reservations.

    PM me and I can probably hook you up with online routes on reasonable roads for most of that.
    Track - the other off-road
    http://www.lavelodrome.org

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    Spit out the back tinrobot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdtrfbuva View Post
    Any suggestions for a route? I'm considering a one-way trip from San Diego - Palm Springs. I see that there is a "Christmas Ride" between San Diego and Palm Springs, but am not sure whether it's suitable for a solo trip. Adventure Cycling has a cross-country route that starts in San Diego, but the thought of winding up in El Centro doesn't exactly excite me.

    Suggestions?? Anyone?? Bueler???
    If you're starting in San Diego, another option would be to take Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner up to San Luis Obispo and ride through wine country, then down to Santa Barbara and back along the coast.

  7. #7
    Unobtanium-Based Lifeform calamarichris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tinrobot View Post
    If you're starting in San Diego, another option would be to take Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner up to San Luis Obispo and ride through wine country, then down to Santa Barbara and back along the coast.
    Oh man! Be a little chilly this time of year, but that's what I'd do if I had a week off from work with good weather!

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    Spit out the back tinrobot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by calamarichris View Post
    Oh man! Be a little chilly this time of year, but that's what I'd do if I had a week off from work with good weather!
    March is right on the edge of warmth for that region. It's also when they run the Solvang Century.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tinrobot View Post
    March is right on the edge of warmth for that region. It's also when they run the Solvang Century.
    Which at least half the time gets rain or hail or fog!
    [insert clever quote here]

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    Thanks for all the great advice everyone. My latest thought on this is to do Santa Fran - Santa Barbara. That's something like 380 miles. If I spread that out over a week it's 54 miles a day. Pretty light if I'm not hauling anything, but for my first time fully loaded it sounds like the right distance. I'd follow the route suggested by Adventure Cycling. The only question appears to be the weather. Keep in mind, I'm from Portland, Oregon ... the land of umbrellas!

    Whaddyathink??

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    Spit out the back tinrobot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdtrfbuva View Post
    Thanks for all the great advice everyone. My latest thought on this is to do Santa Fran - Santa Barbara. That's something like 380 miles. If I spread that out over a week it's 54 miles a day. Pretty light if I'm not hauling anything, but for my first time fully loaded it sounds like the right distance. I'd follow the route suggested by Adventure Cycling. The only question appears to be the weather. Keep in mind, I'm from Portland, Oregon ... the land of umbrellas!

    Whaddyathink??
    Sounds like a good plan. If the weather is really bad, might want to avoid the Carmel/Big Sur section and head inland to Salinas/Paso Robles, etc. It's usually a bit drier inland.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdtrfbuva View Post
    Thanks for all the great advice everyone. My latest thought on this is to do Santa Fran - Santa Barbara. That's something like 380 miles. If I spread that out over a week it's 54 miles a day. Pretty light if I'm not hauling anything, but for my first time fully loaded it sounds like the right distance. I'd follow the route suggested by Adventure Cycling. The only question appears to be the weather. Keep in mind, I'm from Portland, Oregon ... the land of umbrellas!

    Whaddyathink??
    Climate is what you expect, but weather is what you get. No one can say with much certainty that the weather will be better in California than in Oregon in March. If you ignore weather, the Oregon Coast offers a very similar experience to the Central California Coast - lots of Pacific Ocean, nice state beaches with hiker biker camping, scenic vistas with sea stacks and high vehicle traffic, etc. California has Big Sur, sales tax, and the occasional giant redwood grove while Oregon has the occasional scary car tunnel. If it was me, I'd start and/or end my ride from Portland, as it allows more flexible planning and better bailout options.

    If you are determined to see sunshine or avoid rain, I'd say your best options in California are the desert parks - Death Valley, Mojave Preserve, Joshua Tree, and Anza Borrego.

  13. #13
    Senior Member CommuteCommando's Avatar
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    Consider starting in Santa Monica and heading north up the coast. I don't know what the cycling is like between Ventura and Santa Barbara, but the drive is really nice. I think, but am not sure, that bikes are permitted on U.S. 101 North of Ventura to Carpenteria.

    Quote Originally Posted by jabantik00 View Post
    If you are determined to see sunshine or avoid rain, I'd say your best options in California are the desert parks - Death Valley, Mojave Preserve, Joshua Tree, and Anza Borrego.
    Of those, Joshua Tree (upgraded to National Park, if memory serves, about twenty years ago) gets my vote. The logistics are probably the easiest on the list, and the place is amazing.
    Last edited by CommuteCommando; 01-08-13 at 09:20 AM.
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  14. #14
    Seat Sniffer Biker395's Avatar
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    Here's another resource. I've used his touring materials on a couple of occasions, and they were great!

    http://www.backroad.users.sonic.net/
    Proud parent of a happy inner child ...
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  15. #15
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    You guys are awesome. Thanks biting duck for the detailed info.

    Scott.

  16. #16
    Senior Member Gallo's Avatar
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    I think the starting up north and heading down is a great idea. I have done the ride from Monterey down but we turned in on the 46 by Cambria. The coast is spectacular with great views along the way. I have heard going from south to north is more difficult but have never ridden in that direction.

    sounds like a great trip, Whatever route you take I am sure you will have fun.

    Good Luck
    "Are you finished and satisfied with the thread up to this point? If so, if you don't mind, I'm inclined to close it now, the quality posts have dwindled - it's circling the bowl now." BillyD

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  17. #17
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    Gong north, when you're in sight of the water, the predominant breeze, the northwesterly is against you. Heading south, it's giving you a push.

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  18. #18
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    Hmmm--the coast route with the Hike 'n' Bike sites is very attractive. However, if I wanted some desert and mountain riding out of San Diego and wanted to go on the cheap (I'm a cheap son of a ***), I'd catch the weekday bus from El Cajon to Campo

    http://www.sdcommute.com/Services/Route.aspx?r=894

    and camp at Lake Morena PCT backpacker's site if the evening bus, or ride to the Jacumba Spa Hotel, or free camp near the Desert View tower. Down I-8 to Ocotillo (free camping at Community Center), north to Agua Caliente Hot Springs (no discount rates, but maybe free camp nearby in Anza Borrego State Park, or just splurge or share a site at the county campground). Then north to Palm Canyon Campground (hiker-bike sites) at Borrego Springs. From there, a monster climb up Montezuma Grade, then down to Lake Henshaw, then a choice of heading toward the coast via Hwy 76 south of Palomar Mountain or north, then east via Hwy 79 towards Temecula. Once in the Inland Empire, there's Hike and Bike camping at Lake Perris, and from there it's not to far to catch Metrolink in Riverside or San Bernadino to LA, then Amtrack back to SD if necessary. The Hwy 76 option basically follows the San Luis Rey river to Oceanside, though the next cheap campsite is then south at San Elijo State Beach, with Amtrak and Coaster rail service as an option.

  19. #19
    Senior Member overbyte's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tinrobot View Post
    If you're starting in San Diego, another option would be to take Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner up to San Luis Obispo and ride through wine country, then down to Santa Barbara and back along the coast.
    I've been investigating what it would take to ride Amtrak to some nice starting point in California with bike and camping gear. Some Amtrak lines and/or stations don't have checked baggage service. Baggage rules allow bikes as walk-ons onto trains that have bike storage in the passenger cars, but the bike counts as one of the 2 carry-on bags you're allowed to bring. Even if there is no bike rack on board, you're allowed to bring a small folding bike as carry-on baggage in lieu of 1 carry-on, so you'd have to pack all of the clothing, sleeping, cooking, and shelter gear into one bag that meets the maximum size limit. It's very difficult to meet the baggage rules with a bike and camping gear as carry-ons, especially in the Pacific Surfliner route which has a smaller carry-on luggage size limit (28x22x11") than Amtrak in general (28x22x14"). What I'm saying is you have to plan carefully for a bike-camping trip where you use Amtrak for part of the tour.

  20. #20
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    Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner train runs several times a day between San Diego and San Luis Obispo and allows you to walk on board with your bike as long as you added a bike reservation to your ticket (free). When purchasing your ticket on line, at the lower right hand corner of the ticket you are buying, there will be a drop down to reserve a bike or two with your ticket. They will not allow you to board with your bike unless you do this. I have seen them leave people at the station. However, so long as you make the reservation, you're good to go. The space for bikes is usually limited (though I have occasionally taken Surfliner trains where I had to lift my loaded bike up into a cargo car- I just take off two panniers and my handlebar bag and bring them to my seat, no prob).

    At least on the Surfliner, I've never heard anything about the bike counting as a piece of luggage. I simply get on with my loaded bike and carry my handlebar bag with me to my seat. They're not counting my panniers or anything.

    If you want to take Amtrak north of SLO, you need to take the Coast Starlight train which is quite different. The Coast Starlight runs all the way up/down the west coast, once daily, and requires you to box up your bike. I've never taken the Starlight but have done the Surfliner many times for week+ tours or overnighters anywhere from Ventura-Ojai-SB-SLO and really enjoy it.

    Last year I took the Surfliner to SLO in mid-March and spent 10 days bumming around from there to Big Sur, back and forth all over the place, with no agenda and had the time of my life. It got chilly at night (low-60's day/low-mid 40's night) but I managed with layers and a thicker sleeping bag. In fact, I don't think I've had a good night's sleep since I returned home. The sky got threatening a few times but never delivered. Besides, as a life-long Southern Californian I like a little texture in the sky. It was off-season so it was quiet and the hills were greener than my first tour from Monterey to SLO the previous May.

    23-CentCoastTour_Mar2013_-049.jpg

    Quote Originally Posted by CommuteCommando
    I don't know what the cycling is like between Ventura and Santa Barbara, but the drive is really nice. I think, but am not sure, that bikes are permitted on U.S. 101 North of Ventura to Carpenteria.
    The section of HWY 101 between northern Ventura (Mobil Pier) and Carpenteria (Bates Rd) is currently being widened. A separated bike path is under construction (we'll no longer have to ride the freeway there!). Currently, however, bicycles going in either direction must ride on the northbound bike lane on the freeway. They've put up k-rail barriers to separate the bike lane from the rest of the fwy but the section at La Conchita is still pretty harrowing. I haven't been in the area lately as I've been busy and live in L.A., but I grew up in Ventura County and am very excited about this. It will greatly improve mobility between Ventura and Carp/SB. More info here:
    http://www.cibike.org/news-events.html

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