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  1. #1
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    how hard is California to ride???

    Well Im going definetly from Canada to California but now my dad and I are really thinking of doing all of california also because In our tradition that we have in our family we go farther than the last trip. and we have never even tried to do california.



    Thanx -Mark

  2. #2
    Senior Member kesroberts's Avatar
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    I don't know, but I am also interested in this. We are thinking touring from somewhere near the the oregon border down to SF in May.

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    How hard? If you can do the Oregon coast you sure aren't going to find any surprises in California except for the jackass drivers. South of San Francisco the drivers aren't much of a problem.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclintom
    South of San Francisco the drivers aren't much of a problem.
    I would respectfully disagree... Living in L.A., I'll say there's no shortage of a-hole drivers.

    cyclintom is right. I don't remember anything being drastically different as you enter CA. A couple of things, though:

    -Route finding through a few of the larger cities becomes "slightly" more difficult--Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, etc. and of course, S.F., L.A. and S.D.

    -Hwy 101 in Northern CA has a few areas with speeding traffic (esp. big rigs) and little to no shoulders. Below S.F., some problem areas are the Devils Slide area, PCH below Malibu, and Long Beach.

    -Camping in the L.A. area is a little hard to find.

    -In Washington and Oregon, there were a few drivers yelling, "Go home!" or "Get a job!" (envious, I guess). In California, no snide comments and quite a few drivers giving the "thumbs up". Go figure...

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by kesroberts
    I don't know, but I am also interested in this. We are thinking touring from somewhere near the the oregon border down to SF in May.
    we're like long lost twins or something

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    Quote Originally Posted by kesroberts
    I don't know, but I am also interested in this. We are thinking touring from somewhere near the the oregon border down to SF in May.
    Thats awesome fill me in on the details it sounds fun!

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    Quote Originally Posted by cyclintom
    How hard? If you can do the Oregon coast you sure aren't going to find any surprises in California except for the jackass drivers. South of San Francisco the drivers aren't much of a problem.
    Thanks for the heads up

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    1 trick pony dogpound's Avatar
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    I rode from Bandon OR to Big Sur CA in may,
    It can be hilly, and it's beautiful.
    I used maps from adventure cycling
    http://www.adv-cycling.org/
    which gives great routes and info about camping

  9. #9
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bikr Beast
    how hard is California to ride???
    End-to-end or side-to-side?

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by cc_rider
    End-to-end or side-to-side?
    well witch ever one is from canada to mexico cause thats the route Im taking

  11. #11
    livetotour
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    How hard in what way - traffic, hills, LA gangs? I have ridden the coast and would rate it medium for difficulty in terms of terrain (hills). Of course, I ride in the blue ridge mountains where you ride straight up for 5 miles then straight down, only to repeat the process over and over again. To give you an idea of the difficulty level in terms of terrain, I can ride 70 to 80 miles a day fully loaded on the blue ridge parkway - a corresponding ride on the california coast for me is 100 to 110 miles a day. An equivalent ride in the midwest would be 140 miles a day. Second, traffic can be tricky in northern california - particularly logging trucks - they will try to kill you if at all possible. Once you get 200 miles down the coast things get better. Also, have a plan for getting through san fran and definitely LA (their are some extremely dangerous sections in LA - and I am not talking about road conditions. By the way - oregon rocks - great bike lane for most of the state - heated bathrooms and showers - and beautiful scenery. Advice - do it - it is an awesome ride unless you hit one of those reverse headwind days. I actually got blown to a stop going down a 6% grade (fully loaded) on a windy northern californian day. Final thought - when you are going up legget hill to get into california, close your eyes for a second and imagine your on the blue ridge parkway in north carolina.

  12. #12
    Bike touring webrarian
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    There is a beach bike path through LA. It is not a problem and, in fact, is quite nice.

    South of San Francisco, just south of Pacifica and north of Montara is a place called Devil's Slide. It is a dangerous bit of road that is best avoided. Unfortunately, there is no good way to get around it. When I did my first ride south of SF, I had my wife drive me to Montara and I started from there.

    Frankly, I would ride to Pacifica, order a cab, get a ride to Montara, and then start riding again. It is that bad.

    Ray

  13. #13
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    have a look at www.coastwalk.org They have two guide books covering the entire California coast. While designed for walkers there is a lot of information that would apply to bicycling. Their profiles of the parts of the route that follow highways and bike trails are lovely. Much information about camping. There is even a campground in Redondo Beach. For going thru LA: Ventura county to Pacific Palisades on or near 101, then down the beach bike path to the end in Redondo Beach, down 101 to the LA River channel path, thence to the coast and down paths, local streets, and PCH tp Camp Pendleton in San Diego Cty, Check the Tank Crossing signs going across the base, Then Hwy 20 and other paths to Old Town in San Diego. I am not familiar with the path after that. No way around Torrey Pines, just gear down and grind.

    I make my standard offer: When you are nearing wine country north of SF PM me and I'll try to ride with you a while.
    This space open

  14. #14
    Senior Member kesroberts's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ahemmelg
    Once you get 200 miles down the coast things get better.
    Where does the traffic improve? Are there inland alternatives that are quieter? I imagined that the northernmost stretch of the coast would be the least trafficked (is that a word?) I guess I was wrong about that.

    Thanks

  15. #15
    Bike touring webrarian
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    The problem on the northern Californian coast is not the amont of traffic, but the type of traffic and the size of the highway shoulder.

    It helps to understand California geography. From north to south, California has a coastal mountain range. These are small mountains (~2000 ft) but they can be steep and form a formidible barrier for transportation. For much of the coast, these mountains are close to the ocean and there is only 1 road running north and south, which is the one you will be riding on. In such places, all vehicles, including logging trucks, delivery trucks, 18-wheelers, RVs, etc., use the same road.

    Further, this road is quite narrow and has little or, more often, no shoulder. The white line marks the end of the tarmac. When a loaded bike (mine is at least 2 feet wide) is passed by a large truck, either the truck moves into the on-coming lane or barely misses you. If two large trucks are coming in different directions, the bike will be forced off the road or risk getting hit. Luckily, this rarely happens (it has never happened to me) and the truck traffic is neither constant or even common. However, several times an hour, you will have to deal with large trucks. A mirror for seeing these trucks coming is a must.

    Things are much worse in the northern part of the state as there are fewer places to cut through the mountains, smaller towns, and narrower roads. With the exception of Big Sur (Carmel to Ragged Point), Highway 1 has a reasonable shoulder from San Francisco to San Diego.

    That said, the view along Highway 1 is so stunning that the above shouldn't stop you from riding it. You just need to be very aware of who is behind you and learn to ride as defensively as possible.

  16. #16
    Stand For Something mntbikedude's Avatar
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    Thanks for all your responses. I'm the father of the forum member who started this thread. He's only 13. So this is quite the undertaking for both of us. I have done the canada to calif border and feel confident on that stretch. And have ridden the oregon coast twice. This son did about 100 miles of it when he was 11 and did just fine.

    I have blocked out 45 days to complete the trip. We are going to start and just go as long as we are having fun and feeling up to the challenge. On the other two coast rides each time I would get to the California border I wanted to keep going but we already had my wife waiting there. This time we told her we will get ourselves home.

  17. #17
    vintage tourer
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    looking at your pics, i'd say you won't find much new south of the ore/cal border that you haven't already encountered.

    i'm a little surprised that no one seems to have done the central valley (myself included, coast only). it's definitely flat, and may be an interesting change from being on the coast for the whole trip.

    anyone have any input on the valley?

  18. #18
    livetotour
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    Raybo described it quite clearly - it isn't about the amount of traffic - it is about the fact that the white line is your riding space and the trucks don't yield. Make sure you prepare your son to behave wisely when the logging trucks come around - don't assume they will get over more than two feet - it is quite unnerving to have a logging truck wheel pass you at less than 12 inches away at high speed. On the other hand, if you don't choose to ride it, you will be missing some of the prettiest scenery in the nation. Make sure you have a long talk with your son about the fact that although 19 trucks will yield to you, the 20'th contains a pissed-off, wife-beating 30 year old redneck that feels it is his duty to show you that bikes don't belong on the road. Be careful, but enjoy - it really is specactular scenery at the northern tier of Cal.

  19. #19
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    I have biked the CA coast from Oregon to San Diego twice in the last ten years. I think you will find it an invigorating and fascinating trip. My two cents worth is as follows:

    Because of the traffic and the narrow to non-existent shoulders on same parts of the highway, I highly encourage that you and your father use mirrors. I found this especially helpful when I could see that there was a semi (or a huge RV) coming from behind me and one approaching me, that I simply could get off the road and let them pass.

    Second, along the route in the LA area, there is no public campground between Leo Carillo Campround at the LA county-Ventura County line and Dana Point. (There is a private campround which I have never tried near Huntington Beach). In any case, it is a very long distance. I usually can find a cheap motel in Redondo Beach, which is at the end of the bike path along the beach for a reasonable amount, if I reserve far enough in advance.

    Third, in additional to the Adventure Cycling maps (which are an absolutely fabulous resource) I would recommend buying a book called "Bicycling the Pacific Coast". You should be able to get it at Amazon.com. It gives additional information, and was updated not that long ago, so most info should be pretty recent.

    Last, good luck on Leggett Hill!!

    Dave

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    I have biked the CA coast from Oregon to San Diego twice in the last ten years. I think you will find it an invigorating and fascinating trip. My two cents worth is as follows:

    Because of the traffic and the narrow to non-existent shoulders on same parts of the highway, I highly encourage that you and your father use mirrors. I found this especially helpful when I could see that there was a semi (or a huge RV) coming from behind me and one approaching me, that I simply could get off the road and let them pass.

    Second, along the route in the LA area, there is no public campground between Leo Carillo Campround at the LA county-Ventura County line and Dana Point. (There is a private campround which I have never tried near Huntington Beach). In any case, it is a very long distance. I usually can find a cheap motel in Redondo Beach, which is at the end of the bike path along the beach for a reasonable amount, if I reserve far enough in advance.

    Third, in additional to the Adventure Cycling maps (which are an absolutely fabulous resource) I would recommend buying a book called "Bicycling the Pacific Coast". You should be able to get it at Amazon.com. It gives additional information, and was updated not that long ago, so most info should be pretty recent.

    Last, good luck on Leggett Hill!!

    Dave

  21. #21
    Senior Member ken cummings's Avatar
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    When I lived in the area 5-6 years ago there was camping for Cyclists in the Wilderness Park across Sepulveda Blvd from Knob Hill Road in Redondo Beach. Also consider the LA, Palos Verdes, and Anaheim Youth Hostels. Call the RB city parks Dept to see if they still allow camping for bicyclists.
    This space open

  22. #22
    1 trick pony dogpound's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by raybo
    There is a beach bike path through LA. It is not a problem and, in fact, is quite nice.

    South of San Francisco, just south of Pacifica and north of Montara is a place called Devil's Slide. It is a dangerous bit of road that is best avoided. Unfortunately, there is no good way to get around it. When I did my first ride south of SF, I had my wife drive me to Montara and I started from there.

    Frankly, I would ride to Pacifica, order a cab, get a ride to Montara, and then start riding again. It is that bad.

    Ray
    No kidding, I really thought I was gonna get blown off the road!
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  23. #23
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    Yeah, I survived Devil's Slide once, had no idea what I was getting into. The top has a pretty view, and I mean, it's probably the most beautiful view because near death experiences just do that for you.

    But totally do it, s'not much to worry about, besides, 's cars problem. Just stick as far to right as possible and zoooone out. You'll be suprised at how well you will survive. It's not really that long of a stretch anyways.

    I have ridden in the Central Valley. The Central Valley Owns. Sure, you sleep under bridges and take showers at wherever you can find them, but the people are friendly, the farm roads are empty and filled with beautiful articles of unappreciated history (churches, shrines, etc), and the fruit, oh god the fruit. Wild watermelons on the side of the road, figs (of course), wild oranges, peaches, aaaaah, the memories. There's so much fruit, you have to remember to get protein. Thankfully, there's a lot of nuts too. And you never have to raid a farm either.

    However, I would say the central valley should be done by experienced tourists. It is also the only place I would say that those take along showers would be a good idea. It's farmland, but it's rich in culture and people. There are a fair share of campgrounds, but you'll have to plan the trip out to find them.

    If you want a abnormal and more challenging trip, don't stay on the coast. If you break out and take the costal mountain roads back and forth from the coast to the central valley, you'll see some amazing things and get some real adventure in. Sometimes I feel like the Coast is so ridden that there is a real lack of adventure. In particular, I recommend Crow Road from Eugene to Reedsport (?) and Eureka to Red Bluff (Highway 36, in particular). These were by far the prettiest roads. It's a little bit more pedaling, So maybe not this time, because some of these routes I've seen people fail on. So maybe when you feel like you could ride anything, take these on.

    Oh man, I've gone and composed a rant. Well, mad props to you son for inspiring a (slightly) old(er young) man.

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