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Old 04-10-14, 07:27 AM   #1
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Advice needed for biking between San Diego and San Francisco

My friend and I are planning to ride our bikes between San Diego and San Francisco this May or June. My question is whether I should do SD to SF or SF to SD in this trip.

About us: I only have a time window of 2 weeks (maybe a few more days at most if I have to) for vacation, so it is better to be done in that amount of time. I personally had some experience of biking 100 miles+ per day for three days in the past, but there were no big hills on the road and it was five years ago. My friend has been training for the trip for some time, but with limited experience of long distance biking before.

I learned that there would be "strong winds prevailing from north to south" along the Pacific coast in the summer, so it seemed it would be easier to bike from SF to SD. However, both of us prefer ending the trip in SF instead. This question may seem a little loose, but could anyone give me an estimate how much longer (in days) it will take to bike from SD to SF than from SF to SD? Thanks!

Last edited by shva; 04-10-14 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 04-10-14, 10:26 AM   #2
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It depends on your appetite for head wind and yes, the prevailing winds are from the north all the time.
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Old 04-10-14, 10:54 AM   #3
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The general plan is usually San Francisco South due to winds, traffic concerns etc. I have done it both ways. I admit I prefer riding down from San Francisco. The winds can make one cry (as it has me several times). If you are strong, stubborn and determined you can get through them. Just a suggestion - spend a weekend in SLO or Cambria and ride up HWY 1 - you'll get a taste for the winds. It's been so bad at times walking was easier... just consider riding South, you get those winds pushing you along... at times, I could go miles, fully loaded, without peddaling... just saying... my trips down from SF to OC were done easily in a week. The opposite, I took close to 2 but i did spend some time in Big Sur/Aptos/Santa Cruz.

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Old 04-10-14, 10:58 AM   #4
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i'm assuming you'll be rolling with panniers and shooting for 100+ miles a day.

i'd add an entire extra day into the itinerary for the combo of headwind, picture-taking, mechanicals/flats, rerouted because of construction/getting lost/bathroom searching.
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Old 04-10-14, 11:39 AM   #5
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Two benefits for north to south - 1) Winds ; 2) You're on the ocean side of the road, which is nicer for sightseeing. Most the turnouts on PCH are on the ocean side of the road. Big Sur going north can be particularly tricky, you'll often be between the road and a rock wall.
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Old 04-10-14, 04:05 PM   #6
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The ride is supposed to be fun - don't even consider going south to north. As mentioned, this is one part of the country where the wind pattern is very predictable and it's almost always out of the northwest. Going south to north you can manage somewhat by getting up really early and getting in most of your miles in the morning before the wind starts to blow harder in the afternoon. But I'd expect that to get pretty frustrating after a few days. And don't ignore the difference in the ocean views you get. Yes, you're only closer to the coast by 20' or so by being on the west side, but the viewpoint in the most scenic sections is completely different. On the west side you're frequently looking directly down on the surf crashing into the rocky shoreline while from the east side you only see the distant ocean horizon.
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Old 04-11-14, 02:07 PM   #7
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I've done S to N and back from Santa Maria to Fort Bragg.
Strong winds while riding north. You will also have to ride on parts of the freeway unless you choose your route well south of SLO.
It took me 2 weeks.
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Old 04-13-14, 07:24 PM   #8
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Thanks everyone for sharing your experiences. I am convinced to go from SF to SD.
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