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Old 06-20-11, 02:31 PM   #1
SerenaClaire
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Cycle the West Coast

I'm going to be graduating from college next spring, and some friends and I want to bicycle from Puget Sound down to Mexico next summer. My dad's an avid cyclist and bicycled across the US and Europe, and I've grown up cycling & primitive camping, but not a lot of major touring. Now that I'm planning my own trip, and I'm asking around to see what kind of advice I can get from experienced cyclists. Right now, I have a nice little 80s Centurion racing bike which is just a tad short in the body for me for longer rides (I've done 100 mile rides on it), but I'm wondering if I can get handle bar extenders to fix that problem. I'm on a really tight budget, so I'd rather not have to get a new bike. As for budgeting, I'm of course trying to figure out the total cost for this trip, how much to plan on per day. It won't be a large group going, and as we're going to try to stay rural and we all primitive camp, I was thinking that half the nights we could find a secluded field to camp out in. I know things have changed since the 70s when my dad went, but that's what he did and it worked for him. We'd just camp in campsites the other nights to have access to showers occasionally. Is $25 per day an unrealistic number to figure in? And then there's length, of course--the tours I looked at planned for around 45 days, figuring in 6 days of rest. I always figure that if we get behind schedule, there are always cheap local buses that can cut 30 miles off for just a couple bucks. Backpackers and cyclists do that back home (I live in NorCal) all the time. Do you veteran cyclists have any tips? Are these figures completely unrealistic?

Thanks!!
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Old 06-20-11, 04:30 PM   #2
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Hi Serena

I don't know about off road camping so I'll let others who have tried that chime in on that question. If you were needing to cut your trip short, I would just end your trip in either San Luis Obispo or Santa Barbara...the ride beyond there is very urban and not so appealing. I would look into the State Park system generally. At least in California all (I think) state campgrounds have a hiker biker area that is very cheap... Here's a link

http://www.calparksguide.com/?page_id=254

the fees are between $5-10 per person so if you have a small group it might be cheaper to just buy a regular campsite. I suspect $25-30 per day is sufficient if you cook for yourselves as your main cost on a tour is food and lodging. There are a couple of great hostels along the way. One is at Pigeon Point and another is at Point Montara. You might want to look at them on line. Have a great trip
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Old 06-21-11, 07:53 AM   #3
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Is your Centurion made of steel? What kind of drive train does it have? Do you have lightweight camping gear? You'll need to decide between panniers and trailer.

+1 on camping in hiker/biker sites. Unfortunately, the last time I biked in Washington (3 years ago) the old hiker/biker sites were still there, but they were charging full price to camp in them. The Oregon and California coasts have plenty of hiker/biker sites and they're cheap.

+1 on stopping at San Luis Obispo, unless you want to cycle through the S. California beach community. I rode down the PCH from Newport Beach a few years ago and lots of it wasn't fun - traffic, no shoulder, aggressive drivers, etc.
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Old 06-21-11, 08:26 AM   #4
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really tight budget, racing bike, on the road for 7 wks. You don't want "bar extenders" but a longer stem. Hopefully the longer stem doesn't drop you down too much.
Problem I see here is keeping total load weight down and ensuring the existing wheels are up to the job. If you need panniers put them on the front wheel with low riders and get the smallest panniers you can.
You can keep the cost down a lot if your total load is small using only a cheap rear rack w. gear on top and compression bag/stuff sack tied onto handlebars with multiple velcro straps. That's what I did when I weighed 145lbs and toured for 1-2 wks at a time but that was the summer in Ca with no tent. I had a poncho that I used as a ground cloth and made sure to camp under cover if it did rain on the coast or in the mtns.
Putting panniers on the rear wheel of an old road bike with small tires is an invitation to having wheel problems. Get 28-32mm tires on there if they fit.
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Old 06-21-11, 09:02 AM   #5
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Triple chainset with a granny gear will help on the long hills.. though, perhaps youth will do as well .

walking a loaded bike up mountains is OK.

bring money to buy new stuff to replace things that break.
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Old 07-15-11, 11:20 AM   #6
SerenaClaire
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Thanks so much! One more question: if we're leaving mid May, do you recommend bicycling North/South or South/North?
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Old 07-15-11, 11:35 AM   #7
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Conventional wisdom is "Don't even consider anything but North to South or the prevailing winds will kill you".

$25 per day is pretty doable on a coast to coast tour, the Rockies, or the plains states, not sure how the west coast compares in that regard though since I have only ridden a bit of it.
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Old 07-15-11, 03:43 PM   #8
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I also think that $25 a day should be OK, especially with group cooking an evening meal and most breakfasts in camp. That will give you plenty for snacks and lunch on the road. I also recommend Hiker-Biker camps in State Parks, lots in Oregon and cheap.

You should enlist your Dad's help to find a nice touring bike used, there are lots out there. I'm not sure that the bike you describe would be best for that ride with the weight of gear. Keep an eye on the bay area Craigslist, I'm sure they pop up.

A ton of good info and route map for the Oregon section here http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEP...e_map.pdf?ga=t
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