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Old 10-19-06, 12:07 PM   #1
NSJ
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Touring Highway 1 in Dec on Bike Friday

Hello,
I'm planning a weeklong trip to Caliornia, 2nd week of December. My plan is to bike and camp along Hiway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway.

1. Should I go from LA to SF or from SF to LA? Is there a radical difference in prevailing winds in the area in December?

2. Will there be places along the coast to wildcamp?

3. What will the weather be like in that area?

4. I'm planning to pack my Bike Friday and get a trailer to hitch it along the back. I'm hoping it will be big enough to hold a sleeping bag, tent, camping gear (stove, pots pan), food etc. Anything else useful to bring?

has anyone else done this trip? any advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

Thanks in advance!
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Old 10-19-06, 01:06 PM   #2
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I've lived in California all my life, from San Diego to SF.

1. direction doesn't matter so much this time of year, as the wind direction will depend on whether there is a storm. Expect heavy rainfall and high winds during storms.

2. Not really, but there are lots of state parks with hiker/biker sites ($4/night). These may be closed, however, which would mean they might be free but the water and bathrooms might be off. Check with the state park system, I don't know if they close for the winter.

3. Cold and wet. It's going to be an El Nino year, which means it will be warmer and wetter than average.

Here's a records/averages site for Santa Cruz.
http://www.weather.com/outlook/recre...omnav_outdoors

Here's one for long beach
http://www.weather.com/outlook/recre...omnav_outdoors

4. bring rain gear and warm clothes.

Have you toured before? I am debating whether to do that same trip in 2 weeks, because the weather could be bad and the days are so very short. In December it just doesn't sound like that much fun to me - too much tent-time, not enough daylight, too high a probability of getting slammed by a storm. Just because it's california does not mean the weather is always warm and sunny - it's winter here too.

Good luck!
Anna
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Old 10-19-06, 01:11 PM   #3
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The website is acting funky today.
It just ate my post.
However - -
I said exactly what Valygrl said.

I've biked it in warmer months and car-camped in Nov and in Jan.
As a cyclist - I was glad to have a car in the winter.

Most campgrounds are closed - some permit winter dry camping - others don't.
Don't try to stealth camp on refuges or on private land.
Refuge managers and wealthy people don't like it and will have you arrested.

It might be O.K. to motel/hostel the route in Dec. Plus you should have flexibility to catch a "window" - Although the weather is pretty rainy in the winter - there are short sunny periods.

Best - J

PS - Wind >> winter >> during stormy periods - SSW; sunny spells - WNW to NW
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Old 10-19-06, 04:42 PM   #4
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sf to la puts you on the ocean side of pch. something to think about. a little nicer in my opinion.
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Old 10-19-06, 04:46 PM   #5
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When I first saw this thread, I thought you meant Hwy 1 in Canada!

Cycling Hwy 1 in Canada is generally not the best idea, but cycling Hwy 1 in Canada in December would NOT be a good idea ...... you've got a pretty good chance that some sections of it would be closed because of the weather (i.e. blizzards)!!
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Old 10-19-06, 07:26 PM   #6
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I live right off Hwy 1 in Half Moon Bay (20mi south of SF). I echo the comments about rain, cold and short days in Dec. Do you have the option of doing it at another time? Rainy season starts mid Nov and ends early March.
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Old 10-19-06, 08:43 PM   #7
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Hey Sesame -

I've started four trips from Half Moon Bay.
I send my bike to the bike shop, fly into SFO, take SamTrans over the hill, and voila!
I ALWAYS spend the first night at Pigeon Point -
It's an amazing place - so much open coastline!
I've got a few diaries over at Crazyguy:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=18674&v=uf
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...id=26284&v=1ay

Best - J
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Old 10-20-06, 06:49 AM   #8
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I know you said camp, but what I started doing when touring the CA coast in winter is using motels. The beach motels are crazy cheap during winter. I do prefer spring, summer, fall camping though. But if I had to go in December, I would use motels.

Also, regardless of wind direction, I prefer travelling south as the scenery is better on the ocean side of the street.
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Old 10-20-06, 06:58 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jamawani
Hey Sesame -

I've started four trips from Half Moon Bay.
I send my bike to the bike shop, fly into SFO, take SamTrans over the hill, and voila!
I ALWAYS spend the first night at Pigeon Point -
It's an amazing place - so much open coastline!
I've got a few diaries over at Crazyguy:
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p..._id=18674&v=uf
http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...id=26284&v=1ay

Best - J
Good choice. The youth hostel there is unique, isn't it? I love riding up and down Hwy 1.
Next time you're here, I'll offer a hot meal and hot shower!
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Old 10-21-06, 06:40 PM   #10
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I just got back from a weekend at San Simeon State Park. The hiker/biker fee was $2.00. I had a great day but not such a great night. It got dark really early (7:00 p.m.?) I went to bed. I was tired from the day's ride. I fell asleep soon after. The problem was that, having gone to sleep so early, I had my 8 hours by 3:00 a.m. I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep. I waited until about 6:00 a.m. and got up. I sat in the dark freezing and drinking coffee until the sun finally came up. (7:00 a.m.?)

The campground wasn't full and it was a Friday night. I'm thinking you'll be able to find campsites in State Parks all the way down.

Good luck!
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Old 10-22-06, 07:50 AM   #11
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Just a side note from someone who has only visited the area a few times. Take this for what it is worth.

People from that part of the world have no idea what winter is. I have visited S.F. in the winter a few times and the weather was lovely although sometimes wet. A lot of the locals were bundled up like they were on a polar expedition and complaining like crazy. We were in shorts and tee shirts much of the time and loving life. A long sleved tee shirt and a windbreaker was the most I needed.

Bear in mind that I am not from a particularly cold area (Baltimore, Md).

Even if it is exceptionally cold for the area the temps will still be nice. There may be rain though.
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Old 10-22-06, 04:18 PM   #12
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I live in Big Sur right on HWY1.
I would not cycle there in dec.
Not only does it rain, there are frequent slides on the highway and rocks that could easily take you out.
Plus, the visability can be terrible.
I'd wait til spring.
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Old 10-23-06, 11:38 PM   #13
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What a fantastic idea. A transcontinental bike tour across Canada in the winter! Going to have to put that one on my list of future tours. I've been hoping to cross Canada on the Transcanada highway for some time, but it's been done so many times by others already. An unsupported winter crossing would be something unique.
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Old 10-24-06, 04:31 PM   #14
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Sf in the winter is better than SF in the summer
That said. You need to keep and eye on the weather and expect HWY 1 to close. Expect to need to fine indoor accomidation. Expect the weather to be too bad to ride due to high wind and/or no visiblity.
I'm actually planning on possibly doing a week on the coast this winter because I'll be getting by frame back from warranty and any coastal CA weather beats Minnesota in Dec/Jan.
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Old 10-25-06, 06:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nm+
Sf in the winter is better than SF in the summer
This statement might apply if you were a tourist in a T-shirt in Chinatown, but not appropo to a touring cyclist. It's in the 70s and dry along the coast during the summer. It rainy and windy in the winter months and is in the 40s and 50s. You point this out in your own post. I know which one I prefer.
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Old 10-26-06, 10:25 AM   #16
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I've cycled San Francisco to San Diego between Christmas and New Years.

I wouldn't do it again at that time of year, the nights were long and chilly.

Daytime temps were fine for riding, but when it rained it didn't get warm enough for long enough to dry out.

Some of the campgrounds were closed and we camped in them anyway, but they were full of homeless people, migrant workers and gypsies. Really. They didn't bother us, but it was a bit weird.

If it is the only time you can do it, go ahead it will be a great trip. If you are flexible, I would hold out for warmer weather and longer days.
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Old 10-26-06, 11:44 AM   #17
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Welll, I have 2 weeks vacation to use or lose by the end of the year, so I figured, bike ride, why not? I was originally thinking going from Seattle to SF, but I'd imagine the weather in OR is much worse than the route from SF to LA
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Old 10-26-06, 12:22 PM   #18
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Thread Hijack Alert:

The forecast is good for next week, so I'm riding from SF to Santa Barbara starting this Saturday morning, hope I see some other tourists out there...


Anna
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Old 10-26-06, 02:07 PM   #19
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Have fun, VG - send me some pix.
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Old 10-27-06, 03:23 AM   #20
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Valygrl, glad to hear about the good weather, cuz I'm planning on day tripping it down to santa cruz on saturday. You gonna be taking the 1 all the way down?

I think what skookum said is best. It will be an awesome trip, but a little different than -normal- touring, as far as weather and daylight conditions. Personaly Id go for it, so long as you're prepared for what you might be getting into.
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Old 10-27-06, 07:20 AM   #21
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Yo, No Tengo, yeah, I'm taking the Pacific Coast Route, following the signs & Spring & Kirkendall's book. It's Hwy 1 much of the way.

See you on the road! I'll be the one with a whole lot of junk strapped to my bike, wave as you pass me!
Anna
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Old 10-27-06, 09:56 AM   #22
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We were just out there 2 weeks ago, driving from S.F. to San Diego along the PCH--absolutely beautiful. All of the cyclists that we saw were riding from north to south. I don't think prevailing winds were the issue, rather you get to ride on the coast side of the road-not on the mountain side (you're probably more visible to cars that way too-although they seemed to be tolerant and careful of cyclists). It was cold at night, especially along Big Sur, evidently it will get colder/wetter. We spoke with one woman who said that the campsites are $4 and will not send you away, you may, however, have to share a site. California's winters can be rainy and the weather along the coast changes frequently, from what I know I'd advise doing this in the Spring or Fall, the vistas should be better too. I'm thinking of doing this too so let us know what you decide. Good luck!
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Old 10-27-06, 08:22 PM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by no tengo coche
Valygrl, glad to hear about the good weather, cuz I'm planning on day tripping it down to santa cruz on saturday. You gonna be taking the 1 all the way down?
I'm planning the same thing next Thursday or Friday. The weather has been superb lately.

Valygrl: Have a great ride! Share some pictures with us.
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Old 10-27-06, 09:47 PM   #24
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Thanks.... I think I'm done packing... guess I'll find out tomorrow!
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Old 11-02-06, 07:52 PM   #25
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Stupid thread bump:
I'm in Santa Barbara. Sun and tailwinds. Happiness.
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