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  1. #1
    Yo-
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    San Francisco to Los Angeles

    A noob here.

    1. When's the best time of the year to do this?

    2. What route is the most scenic/best/rewarding?

    3. Assuming an average rider, how long would it take?

    4. Any nice campgounds along the way or go the motel/hotel route?
    Fall down 7 times ... Get back up 8.

  2. #2
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    Oh there is tons of information out there on this, you have made an excellent and popular choice for your tour.

    1. Best time of year = May-October. Try not to be on the road for memorial day or 4th of july holiday weekends, too much traffic. If you go now, you'll get wildflowers, but slightly more chance of rain from a late pacific storm. If you go late summer you'll get the astonishingly consistent afternoon tailwind. Midsummer often has morning fog, but it burns off quick and isn't a problem, and the long days are nice.

    2. There is an official designated bike route, "Pacific Coast Route" that is actually signed. It's useful to have a bit more info - Kirkendall & Spring's "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" (book, Amazon or REI.com have it) or Adventure Cycling's Pacific Coast maps (www.adventurecycling.org) are useful resources, both contain info on the specific route directions, locations of services (food, camping), sight-seeing (K&S book is better than A.C. maps), elevation profiles, bike shop locations.

    3. about 2 weeks. I took 6 days to go to Santa Barbara and that was a bit of a rush, I think it's another 2-3 SB to LA. The K&S book breaks it out into days... ok i just looked, it's 9 1/2 of K&S' riding days in the book assuming airport to airport. I would leave some extra days, so you can stop and do stuff, go to the beach, etc. It would be especially nice not to rush through the Big Sur section since it is so beautiful (and hilly).

    4. you can camp the whole way, there are hostels near Half Moon Bay, Monterey & Cambria, or you can use hotels. Some of the campgrounds are quite lovely (I suggest Kirk Creek south of Big Sur, it is primitive but right on the bluffs above the ocean). Lompoc doesn't have anything nice, good to stay in a hotel there. Better to bring camping gear, or you can end up having to stay somewhere really expensive or do a couple of too-long or too-short days to get hotels - and hotels can be booked up in summer.

    Have a great ride!!!
    ...

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    I'd suggest late september or october. Traffic on Hwy 1 is significant in the summer and the summer can be very foggy because of the inland heat---sucks in the fog at the coastline! October--January is generally the least foggy time in the central coast.

  4. #4
    eternalvoyage
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yo- View Post
    A noob here.

    1. When's the best time of the year to do this?

    2. What route is the most scenic/best/rewarding?

    3. Assuming an average rider, how long would it take?

    4. Any nice campgounds along the way or go the motel/hotel route?
    The weather is best in the fall. October tends to be better than September.

    Tourists drop off sharply after Labor Day.

    Most people just ride down the established route; but there are lots of interesting and beautiful sidetrips and alternatives.

    There are many hiker-biker sites for camping.

    Most people try to make miles. A minority, though, make it a point to take their time instead. This couple describe their experiences with a slower pace,

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1oGOM...eature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sR48g...eature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tWZUT...eature=related

    The bike path shown from about 04:43 in this video is well worth riding fully, and most people also enjoy the aquarium in Monterey:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV-Ng...eature=related

    Making the most of the bike paths on and along the beaches, like the one beginning at about 03:07 here, is good (as is going through Malibu at some low-traffic hour and day):
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yt7Cb...eature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PBhUvkGWV-M

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=13DKkVhCqPs
    Last edited by Niles H.; 05-08-08 at 04:51 PM.

  5. #5
    eternalvoyage
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    The most rewarding thing seems to be having the right attitudes and taking your time.

    ******
    If you can find highly synergistic riding partner(s), humour and attitudes, it can be even more rewarding.
    Last edited by Niles H.; 05-08-08 at 04:18 PM.

  6. #6
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    I've done this trip several times in recent years ... in a Toyota Prius. My elderly father, who passed away last year, was a scientist. He and my mom lived at the northern fringes of the LA metro area. Several times I drove him up the coast to conferences at Asilomar, or to visit friends, and we had beautiful father and son experiences driving that Pacific Coast highway together. Dad was happy to let me drive some of the back roads between Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, because I wanted to check them out for biking. Every time I drive it, I do think about biking it.

    My only difference of opinion with Valygurl is, I think it would be great any time of year, as long as you are prepared to get out of the rain if you just happen to be on the road when one of those winter waves of storms comes through. This can happen anywhere from November to April. But when California gets a long winter dry spell, as happens in all but the wettest years, you can have a week or two or three of chilly but sunny weather along the coast, with no fog. That's during California's green season, and it is a beautiful time to be there. Indeed, riding from San Luis Obispo to Monterrey in March would be ideal for wildflowers. In a good year, March is the greenest month, and the weather can be reliable for days at a time.

    Highway 1 from SLO to Monterrey is one of California's most famous scenic highways, absolutely breathtaking. If you have strong legs and a wide gear ratio, you might want to take a detour through the town of Ojai. The mountain passes north of Ojai are also a dramatic site, but very lonely and desolate.

    Howard

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    Local's secret

    As long as we are discussing the best time to do this ride....Here's the answer if you are very flexible on dates and advance notice....

    Wait for a Big winter storm. The road through Big Sur often closes for a few days to vehicle traffic. If you check with CalTrans you can find out the status of repairs and reopening of the road.... You can start from Monterey (generally a day or two before the road reopens as the slides tend to be toward the southern end between Ragged Point and Gorda) and be on the road with almost no cars...you have to talk your way across the repair spots but usually you will be allowed through if they are at the end of the repairs but cars will not be allowed...

    Other than that.... Fall is best for no rain, Winter is great if you have a good long range forecast, spring is beautiful and green but can be wet also, summer is foggy and crowded

    I agree with VLYGRL about Kirk Creek Campground but you might also want to consider the campground just above it at Jade Creek called Limekiln... It used to be a private campground and then was turned into a State Park....SHOWERS available there...

  8. #8
    Leather and Canvas Fetish
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    For those of you that have ridden this route in the wintertime, are all the campgrounds (with the hiker/biker sites) open during that time of year?

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    Hey all

    My brother, best friend and I are riding this same route come September 19th. We originally intended on riding from San Francisco -> Santa Barbara, but it seems there are no direct flights home to NY from Santa Barbara. In light of that - we are considering riding the extra mile(s) and riding directly into LAX in order to catch a direct fligt home. Google says LAX is about 72 miles further than SBA I believe.

    We just started taking training seriously. My brother just picked up his LHT and is loving the brooks saddle he added on. I picked up a Jamis Aurora used on craigslist (thanks Todd!) and have been slowly outfitting it to my liking.

    This would be the first tour for each of us. We plan on camping the whole way down - we have plenty of experience camping - no experience touring on bikes. A few short trips this summer are in order to teach us a few things.

    I'm a little worried the trip will be *too* rushed - we are all due back to work Monday, September 29th!

    I picked up the Touring the Pacific Coast book by Kirkendall & Spring - but any and all advice is appreciated!

    (damn this is getting expensive quick!!)

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    If you feel too rushed, you can probably rent a car one-way in Santa Barbara and drop it off at LAX.
    ...

  11. #11
    umd
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riseabovebb View Post
    My brother, best friend and I are riding this same route come September 19th. We originally intended on riding from San Francisco -> Santa Barbara, but it seems there are no direct flights home to NY from Santa Barbara. In light of that - we are considering riding the extra mile(s) and riding directly into LAX in order to catch a direct fligt home. Google says LAX is about 72 miles further than SBA I believe.
    Maybe on the freeway its only 72 miles (although that seems short too), but on a bike it will be well over 100 miles. Anyway, although there are no direct flights there are plenty of connecting flights, its not that bad to go to NY from SB with a hop or two.

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    I used to live in the LA area and really enjoyed car trips up the central coast on Highway 1. Go for it. It's incredible.

    I'm tickled by the concern about the time of year. If you want to do a bike tour where you have to worry about the season, come up here to Chicago (hint: not in January.) Fog can be dangerous, though, so I'd heed that warning.

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    Easy way to LAX is to catch the CoastFlyer http://silveradotours.com//index.php...d=12&Itemid=14

    This is a full on touring bus with nice seats, TV if you are into that sort of thing, etc. It will drop you at the door of your terminal in LAX... Stops in San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Buellton and Santa Barbara so you can kind of be flexible as to where you end up getting on it. Personally, starting your trip on the 19th I think you have plenty of time to get to Santa Barbara by the 28th and I believe you said you were flying home on the 29th? If so, arrive SFO on 19th, fiddle around getting your bike together and getting out of town on the 20th, 21st adn 22nd to Monterey, 23 and 24th in Big Sur Area getting to Cambria area, 25-28th getting to Santa Barbara should be no problem (its 90 miles by car from San Luis Obispo to Santa Barbara)...So really its two days on a bike rather than 4. Therefore it appears you would have a couple extra days to spend somewhere along the way or just going slower.

    yes, the campgrounds are open year round...(caveat--Gov Schwarzenegger has proposed closing the state parks all over the state to help with his budget crisis)... I think even if the Gov gets his way you could just walk in and camp and no one would tell you to leave. I don't know the campgrounds in the northern area that well....Once you are in Big Sur the best campgrounds are Limekiln because it has showers and you may want one by then, Kirk Creek (undoftunately only about five miles down the road from Limekiln) Plaskett Creek (about ten miles south of Plaskett creek) San Simeon about fifty miles from Plaskett creek... Might make sense to stop in at limekiln for a shower and then ride on to Kirk Creek or Plaskett Creek Campgrounds for the night... you wouldn't work up a sweat.

    If you are interested in the bus thing to LAX you do have to make reservations although they will probably be flexible about where to pick you up...Example...I would talk to them about buying the ticket from San Luis Obispo to LAX but explaining that you are on your bike and may want to get on at Buellton or Santa Barbara...I think they will work with you on that. When my wife and I flew back into LAX from New Zealand they gave us a phone number of the bus drivers cell phone and told us to just call the driver direct if we got in early (which we did) and we made to earlier bus back to San Luis Obispo. You will need to arrange to have your bikes boxed for the flight...so I'd get it boxed your last night before you catch the bus... You could get bike boxes at Art's Cyclery in San Luis Obispo if you called in advance and ended there.... or at many bike shops I suspect in santa Barbara if you called...I don't know the shops there other than Fastrack ... high end shop... I'm sure there are others...Fastrack is at http://www.fastrackbicycles.com/

    anyway...feel free to drop me a note if you'd like any local info from Monterey to around Buellton...

    Hope this helps
    Last edited by Pat in SLO; 05-14-08 at 12:01 AM.

  14. #14
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    Thanks everyone!

    Commuting to work starts next week - this trip has really inspired me!

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Riseabovebb View Post
    My brother, best friend and I are riding this same route come September 19th. We originally intended on riding from San Francisco -> Santa Barbara, but it seems there are no direct flights home to NY from Santa Barbara. In light of that - we are considering riding the extra mile(s) and riding directly into LAX in order to catch a direct fligt home. Google says LAX is about 72 miles further than SBA I believe.
    This is a great time of year to ride along the Pacific Coast. Coastal Northern Californians refer to the months of September and October as their summer, because June and July can have days of bone-chilling, windy fog.

    I would suggest a different airport than LAX for your return flight. LAX would be a miserable airport to ride up to in a bike. The entire region is planned out exclusively for the automobile.

    But the Los Angeles area has a wealth of smaller airports (Santa Ana in Orange County, Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Ontario Airport in the San Gabriel Valley) that are well served by airlines. I like the Burbank Airport because it is relatively near my Mom's house. I can get direct flights from Burbank to cities like Denver, Las Vegas, Oakland, and Phoenix. These cities have direct flights to New York. You can get a one-way ticket on Southwest out of one of these airports quite cheaply, and then take another airline from Denver, Las Vegas, etc to New York. You could even buy a round trip to San Francisco, and use a one-way shuttle flight to get back to San Francisco from the Los Angeles region.

    You could even return to San Francisco from Los Angeles via Amtrak. Actually, Amtrak goes to Oakland and buses you to San Francisco. So just go to Oakland.

    BTW, a lot of cheap flights into the Bay Area go through Oakland or San Jose instead of San Francisco. Oakland is very convenient because of BART. San Jose is not that far from Fremont BART.

    I am actually following the minor regional airport strategy myself in New York City next month. I am using Southwest Airlines next month out of the Islip airport in Suffolk County to get home from a trip, which I will start in Syracuse, New York.

    Howard

  16. #16
    Getting older and slower
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    I'm going to disagree with Howard - getting across the San Fernando Valley to BUR probably won't be very pleasant, and you'll have to cross at least one more mountain range. At least you can stay on the coast going to LAX - including the Santa Monica and Venice beachfront, which is one of LA's major tourist hangouts - and I think the distance will be very similar.

    Should you decide to come back to the Bay area for your return flight, Santa Clara Valley Transit Authority offers a free shuttle every 15 minutes from 5 AM to midnight from SJC (Mineta San Jose Int'l Airport) to the Santa Clara Caltrain depot. Caltrain runs up the SF Peninsula directly into San Francisco and is bike friendly (for the most part).

    You should be able to fly American from SJC to one of the New York airports, though you may have to change planes along the way.

  17. #17
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    When I suggested flying out of Burbank, I didn't mean the San Fernando Valley route Chuck describes.

    What I had in mind was that you can ride into the Los Angeles area along the coast through Malibu, Santa Monica, then go west towards Beverley Hills, etc, and cross north to Burbank Airport over the Santa Monica Mountains (which are just a range of low hills, especially in the east near downtown Los Angeles) when you are ready to fly out. Burbank airport is very convenient to the Hollywood and Beverly Hills area. If you plan to visit downtown LA, there is a bike path north from downtown along the Los Angeles River that takes you part way to the Burbank Airport. It all depends where you are going within the LA area.

    Howard

  18. #18
    Senior Member cyclezealot's Avatar
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    Most scenic is CA 1, down Big Sur. Wait until after Labor Day. Mid Sept. The traffic is horrendous. Its a long fall to the Pacific. All that tourist traffic, they might push you into the Pacifc. Its only 1000 ft down with few guard rails. Also, the winds are better in early Fall , is what we were told. Great ride tho. Atop Big Sur, you will have one , 100 mile segment where their are few services. / We based our routing , mostly upon one of Adventure Cycling's bike tour map of the central California coastal bike route.
    Pray for the Dead and Fight like Hell for the Living






    ^ Since January 1, 2012

  19. #19
    Senior Member BigBlueToe's Avatar
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    Note that the campground in Oceano no longer has hiker/biker sites. You have to camp in a regular site.

    I live along the route, just outside of Morro Bay. If you need any local info: restaurants, bike shops, best burritos, just ask.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by metzenberg View Post
    When I suggested flying out of Burbank, I didn't mean the San Fernando Valley route Chuck describes.

    What I had in mind was that you can ride into the Los Angeles area along the coast through Malibu, Santa Monica, then go west towards Beverley Hills, etc, and cross north to Burbank Airport over the Santa Monica Mountains (which are just a range of low hills, especially in the east near downtown Los Angeles) when you are ready to fly out.
    Ah, good point. I'd forgotten that route, having lived in the Valley for too many years. But then you're talking lots of urban riding.

    BTW I think you meant "east towards Beverly Hills, etc".

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