Pacific coast - June or Sept
So when is the best time to cycle down the Pacific coast (vancouver - San Francisco)? I don't want to do summer because of traffic, and am planning on doing June 10 or so, but when I look at CGoaB it seems there are way more journals from Sept than June. I would have thought June was preferable for its longer days. Any thoughts??
June can be super crappy weather in the Northwest or sunny and warm. It is really a crap shoot that time of year. The coast in June can be downright cold or not. Heck even in August it can be cold/foggy/wet. I'm guessing that has something to do with it.
Don't let that scare you off though. Just make sure to bring proper clothing and have a great time. I live it every single day.. Never boring and always interesting in the Northwest.
From Western Regional Climate Center
June 66/49 2.66 in
Sept 69/49 3.50 in
June 64/50 2.50
Sept 68/50 2.59
June 64/50 1.66
Sept 67/50 1.89
June 61/51 0.63
Sept 63/51 0.73
So it is a little warmer in September and a little dryer in June.
However, early September is dryer and warmer than late September.
So I you were to start right after Labor Day -
You would have less traffic, warmer days, and dryer conditions.
The only advantage to June is longer days.
I pedaled from Aberdeen, WA to SF twice in September. The weather was great, and the traffic was light. You will have a great time.
We have done portions of the Pacific Coast in two different years, both times after labor day. We hit wet weather both times (2008 and 2009). Some pretty heavy showers both times. Having said that I work outside on the Oregon Coast a lot (I'm a forester), and it seems like it rains more in June than in the fall. I pack my raingear anytime I'm working there. I would be interested to see the days of precip statistics for the various months. My perception is that it rains fewer days in the fall, just harder. After Labor day the traffic is noticibly lighter. However, there is still the RV crowd, which is pretty scarry at times. The road shoulders are pretty decent for most of the portion we rode (Lund, BC to Crescent City, CA). The folks above make some good points and it is great almost anytime of the year!
the scariest part of riding the west coast 101 were always the logging trucks on the narrow sections. fewer or more cars never really influenced me one way or the other. it's a beautiful ride in both june and september. why not do it in both months?!
If I'm not mistaken, FOG can be a big problem. Add bicycle + fog + RV's +logging trucks + winding roads= potential disaster. Might want to check with some locals to better understand this.
BTW, I have some friends that rode the left coast and they chose to do it in September- and I think they could have gone any time.
I started in Sept, lots of fog and chilly nights in Wash/Oregon, then 90 degree heat by the time you get down to San Diego. Vacation (RV) traffic was probably much less than in June, though it will still dicey in spots.
I grew up in Washington. There's no such thing as a month in which it's guaranteed not to rain. You can get two straight weeks of rain at any time of the year. However, I think the odds of getting good weather are best in July and August, which is when I rode the coastal route both times.
Choosing between June and September, I'd go with September. I just think the odds are better that you'll get warm weather, although not a whole lot better.
However, I'd also say that traffic wasn't a problem for me during July and August, except in a few places, and I don't think there would be much difference in June or September. Plus, you'd meet more fellow tourers in the middle of summer, which was one of the most fun parts of those trips for me.
On the coast in the vicinity of San Francisco (say, Mendocino County through Santa Cruz County) there's more likelihood of fog in June, when high inland temperatures draw moisture-laden surface air onshore, than in cooler months like September.
Considering length of days, the difference is sunset around 9PM or 7:30PM.
Unless you are trying to grind out 100+ mile days, you should have no trouble being in your camp showered, fed, rested, and ready for a good night's sleep by that time.
Much better weather as you head south in September.
If you can find stats on average numbers of fog days, or hours of sunshine, it might help your decision.
Originally Posted by gulfislander
Much of the California coast has its best weather in the fall. October is typically clear and beautiful. You might also want to compare early and late September, and early and late October.
All Mod Cons
I think September is more likely to mean good weather, but vegetation might not be quite as pretty. I'd do September though, I've been caught out in Oregon rains for days on end and it pretty much sucks.
Agree. I rode from San Francisco to Los Angeles last September and thought it was pretty much perfect. A couple of foggy days with cool (= 50-degree) mornings, but overall the weather was nice. Very little traffic at that time of year. Motorcycled the same route in June or July a couple of years prior and there was much more traffic, especially RVs driven by people who seemed not to have much experience with such large vehicles...
Originally Posted by Niles H.
Used to be fast
Thinking about traffic, schools start getting out the first two weeks of June, meaning lots of families on the road. On the other hand, schools usually begin again the last week of August through the week after Labor Day, leading to fewer families on the road. Not sure how that correlates to the reality of traffic, but I'd choose September to cut down on possible traffic.
Last edited by surfjimc; 01-24-10 at 08:57 AM.
That is damned near unanimous I guess. I had pretty much planned around June, probably will still go then, but all of your replies have definately made me think about it - thanks to all for taking the time to reply!