Hoe many miles do I save going to Florence instead of Astoria?
I'm planning a self-contained tour this summer, using the Adventure Cycling maps. I plan on starting in mid-June in Cedar City, UT, and taking the Western Express to Pueblo, CO. From there I'll get on the Trans-Am, take it up to Astoria, OR, and then ride down to San Francisco along the Pacific Coast Highway.
I probably won't be able to leave any earlier than June, and I have to be in San Francisco by about August 15th. I'll have about 60 days. I have the option of leaving in early May, but I would have to make some real sacrifices.
I plan on traveling light: minimal clothes, no stove and fuel, and (if I can manage it) using only two rear panniers (plus stuff on the top of the rack).
I added up the mileage for all the routes, and it came to 3699 miles. To cover that distance, I'd have to travel a little over 60 miles every day, with no room for rest days or leisurely sightseeing. As a first-time tourer, I don't think I can handle that.
I want this to be a physical challenge, but I also want to have fun and enjoy the natural scenery.
I noticed on the Adventure Cycling website that there's a route that heads from Eugene to Florence instead of going north to Astoria. It seems that I could shave at least a couple hundred miles off by heading straight to Florence, then going down the PCH, instead of going up to Astoria and back down through Florence.
I tried to calculate how many miles I'd save using Google Maps, but the mileages seems to be different from those given on the Adventure Cycling website.
Has anybody taken the direct-to-Florence route before? How much time did you save? Would I be missing out too much on the beauty of the Oregon coast by taking a faster route? What other ways could/should I shorten my trip? Is 60 miles a day really something to be afraid of?
Edit: I just realized my embarassing typo in the title. That's what I get for not proof-reading.
Depending on the route, it is approximately 380 miles from Eugene -Astoria- Florence. It is 61 mile from Eugene to Florence. So you save about 320 miles. Sure you miss some really scenic coast, but the ride from Eugene to Astoria is not all that much fun. There is still a lot of great coast south of Florence. We rode the Oregon Coast and part of California last summer and it was great. We were also heading to San Frncisco, but a family emergency caused us to cut it short in Crescent City, CA. Good luck on your ride.
I rode the TA from Florence and it is a nice option. You miss some of the coast, but if you are looking to shave time it is a good option.
Since you are heading south once you get to the coast, you probably save more than others are saying. I don't have the AC maps here at work, but once on the coast you are about 180 miles closer to SF in Florence vs Astoria.
If Doug64 is right and I understand him correctly you save 320 miles in getting to the coast, then with the 180 difference to SF it looks like 500 saved to me. So depending on your pace and whether you take rest days that would probably save anywhere from 5-15 days.
I would say more people start/end in Florence than in Astoria. Even the ACA guided tours end in Florence (well, actually they end in Eugene after going to Florence and coming back).
According to Donna Lynn Ikenberry's book Bicycling Coast to Coast (the oft-called bible of the TA, but now pretty out of date), it is 77 miles from Coburg to Florence, and 239 miles from Coburg to Astoria, both measured along the ACA routes. According to Google Maps, it's 183 miles down the Oregon Coast Highway from Astoria to Florence. So my math tells me that you'd save 345 miles (239+183-77). Furthermore, more than 100 miles of the trip up the coast to Astoria would be immediately repeated by turning around and going back down the coast.
The northern stretch of the famous Oregon Coast Bike route was disappointing to me only because the road is not well maintained and there are several risky areas where the shoulder disappears and there are two tunnels which have only flashing lights to protect you. I found there was still lots of debris and winter sand on much of the shoulder. It clearly had not been cleaned all summer as my ride was in September 2009 (I suspect due to budget cutbacks). It got better the further south you rode and by Florence it was not too bad.
Traffic in September was still an issue so I imagine it would be worse in the summer. I think it was Florence where a female cycle tourist was killed the day before I arrived. The biggest risk in my opinion was the inexperienced motorhome drivers that seemed to have trouble judging distances and just came too close for my comfort. I did not like the tunnel after Cannon Beach or the bridge coming into North Bend (extreme cross winds that day). Everyone on highway 101 drives way too fast meaning that the traffic is very noisy which certainly interrupts the serenity of a bicycle tour.
Ok so that is my rant - but there are many redeeming points to the ride. First has to be the amazing scenery that you experience. It truly is one of the most scenic rides you will take. A very close second is the Oregon State Park system which is very accommodating and reasonably priced at $4 per night at their hiker/biker camp sites. If you are not taking a stove or cookware there would be cold food options for sure. This is the best way to meet other cycle tourists along the way, and there will be many, from all over the world. They usually have really good showers too which are very rejuvenating after a days ride.
Regarding provisioning along the way there are many options however you can leave it too late if you are camping. Pick up the book "Bicycling the Pacific Coast - A Complete
Route Guide, Canada to Mexico. Most others were using it as their main reference so I picked one up en route. It really was $16.95 well spent and there is no sales tax in Oregon.
So in summing up, don't be too concerned about leaving out the north of Florence portion. You will really appreciate having the extra time to stop at the many attractions and if possible build in some rest days where you find a particularly beautiful place to just absorb or hike about a bit.