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    Sierra Cascades route advice/opinions

    Advice on this route from anyone who has ridden it? What are the riding conditions like? How are the roads, weather, local amenities, sights to see, etc. I'm only going as for as Crater Lake, so I'm only interested in the California section. I noticed Opinions Advice on New X Country Route for chickonbike's thread and saw some warnings about the weather and lack of scenery on her proposed routes. Is there anything similar on the Sierra Cascades?

    Edit:
    I've already googled it and nothing similar in depth of detail came up. I want to here from people have been on this route or around it.
    Last edited by SurlyLaika; 06-09-11 at 05:01 PM. Reason: google

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    No problems, I'll wait...

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    Well, only a few people have done the route. Since they may not be responding as fast as you like I will jump in.

    I'm going to be starting from Sumas, North to South, in about 6 weeks so I've done some reading at CGOAB and elsewhere.

    Highway 89 through Lake Tahoe area is supposed to be hell from the logging trucks. This is a possible work around if trucks bother you:

    http://ridewithgps.com/routes/34336

    Lots of snow, so passes (specifically Tioga Pass) will open later this year:

    http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/clsdlst.htm

    From Sequoia NP south, except for respites in the Angeles NF and around Idylwild it will be hot and dry. Bring lots of water carrying capacity. I'm planning for 12 liters.

    Maybe see you on the route....

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclesafe View Post
    Well, only a few people have done the route. Since they may not be responding as fast as you like I will jump in.

    I'm going to be starting from Sumas, North to South, in about 6 weeks so I've done some reading at CGOAB and elsewhere.

    Highway 89 through Lake Tahoe area is supposed to be hell from the logging trucks. This is a possible work around if trucks bother you:

    http://ridewithgps.com/routes/34336

    Lots of snow, so passes (specifically Tioga Pass) will open later this year:

    http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/roadinfo/clsdlst.htm

    From Sequoia NP south, except for respites in the Angeles NF and around Idylwild it will be hot and dry. Bring lots of water carrying capacity. I'm planning for 12 liters.

    Maybe see you on the route....
    I was just kidding before, but yea I saw that this route is fairly new. I'll be leaving June 24th after a few college graduation parties. I'll be headed south. I should look at the ACA maps a little more carefully. I have a feeling that heading north will be generally be up hill since it's essentially going from the desert towards Big Bear, Sequoia/Kings Canyon NP, Yosemite. How many oz are in a liter? I have two 25oz bottles and a 100oz water bladder. That might not be enough but I don't think it should be that hard to pick up something like a 3L soda bottle to reuse.

    Edit: 4.5 liters, roughly with 2 25oz bottles and a 100oz water bladder.
    Last edited by SurlyLaika; 06-09-11 at 06:49 PM.

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    Be ready for lots of climbing. Lots.

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    what would you say is the highest amount of gear inch, you would do this with? I've already had experienced pushing a bike, but I'd rather not do that if I don't have to. I'm at 48/36/26 with a 11-32 cassette. The lowest is 21.9.

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    I'd say get a cassette with a 34 tooth cog, and I'm assuming that 26 is as low as your crank will go.

    I haven't ridden that route, but I've driven many of those roads, back when I was a climber living in CA. You will have lots of good scenery. The desert portions at the south end, if you are going all the way south, will be too hot. You can always bail out early, though. Expect lots of very warm weather even up north, that section between Crater Lake and the Shasta/Lassen area can be hot.

    Note - I'm not warning you away from this by any means - this is an appropriate time to do that route.

    However - If you are in any way hoping to have it be mostly down hill - you are very mistaken. Don't do this route if you are not seeking out mountainous riding.

    If it ends up being too hilly for you, you can just figure out how to get to the coast and continue from there.

    Bring a water filter/purifier, there will be lots of opportunities to filter water from streams, which will keep you from having to carry as much up the hills.

    Learn how to be "bear aware" - don't eat in your tent, ever, and learn how to safely store your food and other smelly items like sunscreen. Google around for the info, it's out there. There are definitely bears in them thar hills - which is fine, as long as you camp responsibly.

    Have a great tour!!
    ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by albertmoreno View Post
    what would you say is the highest amount of gear inch, you would do this with? I've already had experienced pushing a bike, but I'd rather not do that if I don't have to. I'm at 48/36/26 with a 11-32 cassette. The lowest is 21.9.
    You probably have a 110 bcd 48t / 36t and a 74 bcd 26t. If so, you can go down to a 74 bcd 24t. You can also go with an 11-34 cassette or even a 12-36 if you have a Shimano Shadow RD or reverse the b-screw on an XT or XTR RD. My 37-622 tires, 175mm cranks, 24t grannie, and a 34t maximum cog gets me 19.2 gear inches. Your 26t/32t, same basis, would be 22.1 gear inches - not too bad, but 34t gets you 20.8 and a 36 gets you 19.6. Play with the numbers here:

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/

    I dunno. You might get by with the gearing you have. It depends on your fitness and how much you plan to take with you. OTOH your 4.5 liters of water is another 10 lbs. There's no downside to a 24t chainring and a 11-34 cassette, and a 12-36 involves only a little more finessing. I don't think you'd regret being prepared.

    Maybe Pete will respond.....

    Oh, and Hwy 371 through Anza. That's a shortcut from San Diego to Palm Springs. A sustained uphill south to north. Be very careful on that stretch. It's the main reason that I'm going the Sierra Cascades in the other direction. The case here is a fear of the known.
    Last edited by Cyclesafe; 06-09-11 at 08:44 PM. Reason: Hwy 371

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    "I'm only going as for as Crater Lake, so I'm only interested in the California section."


    Crater Lake is in Oregon. If you do the entire Rim Road, make sure you take the short out and back to Cloud Cap Overlook. Amazing view of the lake.

    How are you getting home from/out of Crater Lake?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclesafe View Post
    You probably have a 110 bcd 48t / 36t and a 74 bcd 26t. If so, you can go down to a 74 bcd 24t. You can also go with an 11-34 cassette or even a 12-36 if you have a Shimano Shadow RD or reverse the b-screw on an XT or XTR RD. My 37-622 tires, 175mm cranks, 24t grannie, and a 34t maximum cog gets me 19.2 gear inches. Your 26t/32t, same basis, would be 22.1 gear inches - not too bad, but 34t gets you 20.8 and a 36 gets you 19.6. Play with the numbers here:
    Well, I just bought this NOS Shimano XT derailleur, 11-32. It's shifting is much crisper than the previous Tiagra. (Also, got an $29 Ultegra chain from Jenson)
    I'd hate to go replace the derailleur now having just bought it a month ago. If anything, I'll go with a 24t chain ring. I wonder if that would be obtainable on the road. The ACA maps list some bike shops. Maybe I could call ahead of time to ask or special order something like that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by indyfabz View Post
    "I'm only going as for as Crater Lake, so I'm only interested in the California section."


    Crater Lake is in Oregon. If you do the entire Rim Road, make sure you take the short out and back to Cloud Cap Overlook. Amazing view of the lake.

    How are you getting home from/out of Crater Lake?
    Cloud Cap Overlook. That sounds elevated, haha. I'll check it out. My plans are not very well defined but from Crater Lake I was planning on right south west towards the coast at Crescent City in Northern California. I might be interested in riding towards the Oregon coast but I'm not sure if there's anything particularly worthwhile on there. Any beach cities I should visit in Oregon? I was already warned about a particular highway towards Crescent City but I forgot which one it is. From wherever I end up on the coast, I'm taking the Pacific Coast route south all the way to Imperial Beach on the border of Mexico.
    Last edited by SurlyLaika; 06-10-11 at 08:08 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    I'd say get a cassette with a 34 tooth cog, and I'm assuming that 26 is as low as your crank will go.

    I haven't ridden that route, but I've driven many of those roads, back when I was a climber living in CA. You will have lots of good scenery. The desert portions at the south end, if you are going all the way south, will be too hot. You can always bail out early, though. Expect lots of very warm weather even up north, that section between Crater Lake and the Shasta/Lassen area can be hot.

    Note - I'm not warning you away from this by any means - this is an appropriate time to do that route.

    However - If you are in any way hoping to have it be mostly down hill - you are very mistaken. Don't do this route if you are not seeking out mountainous riding.

    If it ends up being too hilly for you, you can just figure out how to get to the coast and continue from there.

    Bring a water filter/purifier, there will be lots of opportunities to filter water from streams, which will keep you from having to carry as much up the hills.

    Learn how to be "bear aware" - don't eat in your tent, ever, and learn how to safely store your food and other smelly items like sunscreen. Google around for the info, it's out there. There are definitely bears in them thar hills - which is fine, as long as you camp responsibly.

    Have a great tour!!
    I'm not expecting a walk in the park. I know it won't be easy. Thanks for the advice, though. As far as the heat, I'm glad it will be warmer than colder. I do much better in the heat than the cold. The cold, by which I mean 50 and below, makes me want to just hide under blankets for days. While heat waves have little effect on my quality of life, other than some slight discomfort.


    Having read a complete first time tour journal at crazyguyonabike, my expectations are that weather has a large influence on whether I have a good day or not, especially wind and rain, and that scenic is a euphemism for steep climbs. Is the Mojave desert known for rain at this time of year? I expect it to be windy. I just hope it isn't a headwind the whole time.
    Last edited by SurlyLaika; 06-10-11 at 08:11 AM.

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    Hey - you changed your posted plans, so the responses don't make that much sense any more. I think originally you said you were doing Sierra cascades starting in July? And now you are starting in Crater Lake, then heading to the coast and riding the Pac Coast route?

    In any case - you won't get rain in the Mojave in summer/fall.

    Good tour idea (hahah, i'm not saying that b/c it's mine).
    ...

  14. #14
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    I started in San Diego and finished in Reno. My comments are as follows:
    1. Expect to do nothing but climb and descend. Get the lowest gearing that you can within reason. I had 24 front and 32 rear and would have liked lower. As a comparison every day was harder than the hardest day in the Rockies on the Trans America and the TA crossed the continental divide something like 9 times.
    2. Expect it to be brutally hot and at times with no shade or shelter. I did it in June of last year and would probably not do it again in the summer. I think we hit a high of 115F and it was just generally brutal in the desert. BTW, don't expect it to be flat in the desert, there was a ton of steep climbing every day.
    3. I'd probably do it in the Fall if doing it again.
    4. Expect water to be scarce. There were cool streams enough places that we found it worthwhile to carry a filter in order to have cold water. That said there were also places with no water.
    5. Expect there to be some places where there is a town listed but there is no water. In particular the section north of Tehachapi, there was a long stretch with no water available. Carry plenty of water there. In Caliente there was a post office, but there was no running water. We were very lucky that the clerk offered us some of his bottled water.
    6. The scenery is magnificent.
    7. I'd advise spending at least a few days in Yosemite.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 06-10-11 at 09:44 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by albertmoreno View Post
    Well, I just bought this NOS Shimano XT derailleur, 11-32. It's shifting is much crisper than the previous Tiagra. (Also, got an $29 Ultegra chain from Jenson)
    I'd hate to go replace the derailleur now having just bought it a month ago. If anything, I'll go with a 24t chain ring. I wonder if that would be obtainable on the road. The ACA maps list some bike shops. Maybe I could call ahead of time to ask or special order something like that.
    Get all of your bike mods/repairs done before you leave home. And, also test everything for a couple hundred miles before set out. You shouldn't plan to be able to rely on buying anything other than perhaps a tube or a chain while on the road. But you should be able to score an 11-34 cassette though and that will work with your unmodified XT RD.

    While you're mashing up Hwy 371 from Aguanga, you'll have plenty of time to reflect on the decisions you're making here. Best of luck!

    PS. Reread Pete's post. He didn't mention it, but he's on the light side of "fully loaded" touring.
    Last edited by Cyclesafe; 06-10-11 at 09:20 AM. Reason: Hi Pete!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclesafe View Post
    Get all of your bike mods/repairs done before you leave home. And, also test everything for a couple hundred miles before set out. You shouldn't plan to be able to rely on buying anything other than perhaps a tube or a chain while on the road.
    This route probably has less services than most, so that is probably more true here than it is for most routes. If you need something when you are near there, I do remember the shop in Yucaipa (Yucaipa Bike Center I think) being nice and they were very helpful. They were mainly geared toward mountain bikes, but seem to be well stocked. That said I agree with Cyclesafe that you probably shouldn't plan on buying much while on the road.

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    BTW, I should mention my journal from last year on this route. I think it will give you a better idea of what to expect. You can also find a few other relevant journals on that same site.

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    Route defined

    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    Hey - you changed your posted plans, so the responses don't make that much sense any more. I think originally you said you were doing Sierra cascades starting in July? And now you are starting in Crater Lake, then heading to the coast and riding the Pac Coast route?

    In any case - you won't get rain in the Mojave in summer/fall.

    Good tour idea (hahah, i'm not saying that b/c it's mine).


    Sorry for the confusion. Here's the plan in a nutshell. I'm getting a ride to Tecate on the border on June 24 or 25. From there I'll ride north on the Sierra Cascades. I'll stop at about Crater Lake. From there, I need to get to the coast. I'm thinking of crossing to Crescent City but I'm open to suggestions about other coastal cities to visit, especially in Oregon. Once I'm on the coast, wherever that may be, I will ride down the Pacific Coast route to Imperial Beach, on the border again. I'll be picked up there. I'm giving myself 90 days to do it. I know it can done faster but I want to relax along the way. I'm thinking 50 miles/day average (40 on the low end, 60 on the high). Is that a bad goal to shoot for? Should I be riding more?

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    Quote Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
    I started in San Diego and finished in Reno. My comments are as follows:
    1. Expect to do nothing but climb and descend. Get the lowest gearing that you can within reason. I had 24 front and 32 rear and would have liked lower. As a comparison every day was harder than the hardest day in the Rockies on the Trans America and the TA crossed the continental divide something like 9 times.
    2. Expect it to be brutally hot and at times with no shade or shelter. I did it in June of last year and would probably not do it again in the summer. I think we hit a high of 115F and it was just generally brutal in the desert. BTW, don't expect it to be flat in the desert, there was a ton of steep climbing every day.
    3. I'd probably do it in the Fall if doing it again.
    4. Expect water to be scarce. There were cool streams enough places that we found it worthwhile to carry a filter in order to have cold water. That said there were also places with no water.
    5. Expect there to be some places where there is a town listed but there is no water. In particular the section north of Tehachapi, there was a long stretch with no water available. Carry plenty of water there. In Caliente there was a post office, but there was no running water. We were very lucky that the clerk offered us some of his bottled water.
    6. The scenery is magnificent.
    7. I'd advise spending at least a few days in Yosemite.
    Jesus, that sounds tough. Well, I guess I should look into more water carrying capacity. I was under the impression that I'd chosen a jr route to ride, to test the bike touring waters. I guess not. Well, I'm sticking with it. I might get that 24t while I'm home and more water.

    I'll definitely read your journals.

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    Senior Member staehpj1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by albertmoreno View Post
    I'm thinking 50 miles/day average (40 on the low end, 60 on the high). Is that a bad goal to shoot for? Should I be riding more?
    Hard to say because everyone is different. I will say that I suffered more there than anywhere else I have toured while making less daily mileage than anywhere else I have toured. I actually found 50 miles per day pretty hard to average there. It seemed like we climbed 4-7 thousand feet, immediately descended back down and just repeated that again and again.

    The thing is that you will probably make good time on the coast. Also you can be flexible about when you head to the coast. If you are making great time go farther; if you are making lousy time head for the coast sooner.

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    Ok I totally didn't understand your route!

    Anyway, yeah, the Sierra Cascades is not an entry level tour. The Pacific Coast IS an entry level tour. If you start in San Francisco instead of LA, you'll have a couple of weeks under your belt heading down the coast before you make a u-turn and hit the mountains. Or just start in Seattle or Portland, just ride the Coast. Forget about the S-C for now. Yes, I know this costs more money because you have to get to the SF start/end point. I still recommend it.

    I'd budget 50-65 miles/day on the coast and 40-45 in the mountains.
    ...

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    Quote Originally Posted by albertmoreno View Post
    Jesus, that sounds tough. Well, I guess I should look into more water carrying capacity. I was under the impression that I'd chosen a jr route to ride, to test the bike touring waters. I guess not. Well, I'm sticking with it. I might get that 24t while I'm home and more water.

    I'll definitely read your journals.
    We carried some water bladders (I like the Platypus 2+ liter), but mostly used empty gatorade bottles carried in the panniers for extra capacity. They seem to stay a bit cooler inside the panniers. Under a pannier flap or on the rack they got extremely hot.

    It is typically really easy to get more bottles to use as you go and discard them when you don't need them. I typically just save some sport drink bottles when I empty them. If all else fails buy bottled water.
    Last edited by staehpj1; 06-10-11 at 12:06 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by albertmoreno View Post
    As far as the heat, I'm glad it will be warmer than colder.
    Last June I think our high was about 115F and our overnight low about 32F (it got warmer quickly in the morning).

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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    Ok I totally didn't understand your route!

    Anyway, yeah, the Sierra Cascades is not an entry level tour. The Pacific Coast IS an entry level tour. If you start in San Francisco instead of LA, you'll have a couple of weeks under your belt heading down the coast before you make a u-turn and hit the mountains. Or just start in Seattle or Portland, just ride the Coast. Forget about the S-C for now. Yes, I know this costs more money because you have to get to the SF start/end point. I still recommend it.

    I'd budget 50-65 miles/day on the coast and 40-45 in the mountains.
    Maybe I'll do that, but the budget is already slim. I'll have to read up more on the S-C. I mean, can it really be a show stopper? I'm a spritely, young 24 year old...anyone else second this idea?

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    Quote Originally Posted by albertmoreno View Post
    Cloud Cap Overlook. That sounds elevated, haha. I'll check it out. My plans are not very well defined but from Crater Lake I was planning on right south west towards the coast at Crescent City in Northern California. I might be interested in riding towards the Oregon coast but I'm not sure if there's anything particularly worthwhile on there. Any beach cities I should visit in Oregon? I was already warned about a particular highway towards Crescent City but I forgot which one it is. From wherever I end up on the coast, I'm taking the Pacific Coast route south all the way to Imperial Beach on the border of Mexico.
    Actually, the out and back to Cloud Cap was the flatest part of the rim road asI remember it. You rise gently to the viewing point and then descend back to the rim road. I doubt it's more than a mile each way, if that long.

    I have only been to Florence, but I hear the OR coast is gorgeous. The reason that I asked is because if you leave the park via the north east entrance road and then take OR 138 past Diamond Lake you get a good 30+ miles of mostly descent to one drgee or another.
    "I've wanted you to succeed, but watching you find excuse after excuse after excuse and then laugh it off as the loveable, quirky, chubby guy is getting old."--Ill.Clyde

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