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Old 01-08-13, 12:47 AM   #1
Big Lew
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winter route south and east bypassing San Fransisco and Los Angeles

Is there a reasonable route from Fort Bragg to El Central, bypassing the major cities and freeways around San Fransisco and Los Angeles that can be done in February without worry of ice and snow, or is best to stick to riding along the coast to San Diego?
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Old 01-08-13, 02:48 AM   #2
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Geology the non mountain portion off the coast is the Sacramento - San Joaquin valley
but , you have to climb the coast range to get there..

sticking to Hwy 1. stay at the GGNRA Hostel the night before[ north of SF ,
and you should make the Montara Hostel by that night.
though winter like january daylight will be shorter than late Feb~ March..

you can take a right at the GG Bridge, Presidio.. and take the Highway on the western shore
and be south, thru SF in 90 minutes.

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Old 01-08-13, 05:21 AM   #3
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Yes, you can bypass major cities and freeways. The only thing you can't really bypass is Sierra Mountains. In principle, route 50 might be an option, but, in practice, it's best to keep your entire route on the Pacific side of the mountains.
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Old 01-08-13, 05:08 PM   #4
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You can plot a course through the Coast Ranges of California if you want to avoid the coast for some reason. You'll be below the snow line except in some freak Arctic monster storm, though getting over the "knot" where the Coast Ranges, Traverse Ranges, and the Sierra collide will involve some higher altitudes . There's some hills, but the ranges trend NW-SE anyway. Heck, follow the San Andreas fault trace south from SF and brush up on your geology to see the active fault landforms.

There's the Great Valley route, but it's very flat, boring, and in winter, may have cold, thick fogs for weeks on end. (See Tule fog) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tule_fog

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Old 01-08-13, 06:19 PM   #5
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The central valley is about as flat as can be. You should be able to ride from outside San Francisco (after you've left the hilly area in that region) down to past Bakersfield on nice flat country roads. I cycled recently from Sacramento to Clear Lake (via Calistoga) and enjoyed the riding in the valley. The roads were in good condition and in the farming country there is often a country road every mile, so you can choose nice quiet roads to cruise along on. I didn't find riding in farm country boring, I like seeing what old vehicles and tractors are in peoples yards, its interesting seeing peacocks roaming around peoples yards, and in the area I was in the roads were often tree lined. This time of year some of the fields are going to be bare stubble though.

The fog there is no joke, I grew up in Woodland and traveled regularly to Chico on HWY 99 and sometimes the visibility gets down to just 15'. It's hit or miss whether it is foggy or not and IIRC lifts a bit in the mid to late afternoon. Make sure you have great lights if you do this.

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Old 01-08-13, 07:16 PM   #6
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Thanks. Sounds like it could be very 'hit or miss' and I don't want to get caught up in freezing thick fog. I've cycled the coast before and driven it many times, so was looking for an alternate route to Yuma.
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Old 01-08-13, 08:46 PM   #7
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Thanks. Sounds like it could be very 'hit or miss' and I don't want to get caught up in freezing thick fog. I've cycled the coast before and driven it many times, so was looking for an alternate route to Yuma.
There was a time when people just disappeared in the swamps when the fog disoriented them and were never heard from again, but those days are long gone, or at least I stopped encountering much in the way of fog from Williams to Merced sometime in the early '90s. You can probably thank some combination of climate change, urban heat island effects and swamp draining for the lack of winter fog. I wouldn't let the remote possibility of fog put you off from taking a little detour through the valley. Some of the nicest riding in NorCal is in the coast ranges going from/to the coast; I encourage you to go ahead and detour around the Bay Area. Of course, you'll miss things like the Golden Gate bridge, but you'll also miss the mess at Devil's Slide. (Devil's slide will become a bike/ped road in a year or so when the tunnel bypass is complete, which will dramatically improve conditions for cyclists along the coast.)

By the way, there was a washout of highway 1 just north of Jenner last month. I don't know if the road is open yet. Be sure to check with Caltrans before you head out regarding this and any other road closures.
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Old 01-08-13, 10:07 PM   #8
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There was a time when people just disappeared in the swamps when the fog disoriented them and were never heard from again, but those days are long gone, or at least I stopped encountering much in the way of fog from Williams to Merced sometime in the early '90s. You can probably thank some combination of climate change, urban heat island effects and swamp draining for the lack of winter fog. I wouldn't let the remote possibility of fog put you off from taking a little detour through the valley. Some of the nicest riding in NorCal is in the coast ranges going from/to the coast; I encourage you to go ahead and detour around the Bay Area. Of course, you'll miss things like the Golden Gate bridge, but you'll also miss the mess at Devil's Slide. (Devil's slide will become a bike/ped road in a year or so when the tunnel bypass is complete, which will dramatically improve conditions for cyclists along the coast.)

By the way, there was a washout of highway 1 just north of Jenner last month. I don't know if the road is open yet. Be sure to check with Caltrans before you head out regarding this and any other road closures.
Thanks for the info...I've already cycled and driven over the Golden Gate Bridge, and the slide areas north and south of San Fransisco, so know that getting a current update is important....I expected to have to go around via 101.
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Old 01-14-13, 05:40 AM   #9
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There was a time when people just disappeared in the swamps when the fog disoriented them and were never heard from again, but those days are long gone, or at least I stopped encountering much in the way of fog from Williams to Merced sometime in the early '90s. You can probably thank some combination of climate change, urban heat island effects and swamp draining for the lack of winter fog. I wouldn't let the remote possibility of fog put you off from taking a little detour through the valley. Some of the nicest riding in NorCal is in the coast ranges going from/to the coast; I encourage you to go ahead and detour around the Bay Area. Of course, you'll miss things like the Golden Gate bridge, but you'll also miss the mess at Devil's Slide. (Devil's slide will become a bike/ped road in a year or so when the tunnel bypass is complete, which will dramatically improve conditions for cyclists along the coast.)

By the way, there was a washout of highway 1 just north of Jenner last month. I don't know if the road is open yet. Be sure to check with Caltrans before you head out regarding this and any other road closures.
+1 Also, I don't think you have to worry about "freezing fog", I could be wrong, but my recollection is that it almost never gets down to freezing in the valley. Might be foggy, won't be freezing.
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Old 01-18-13, 03:35 PM   #10
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My husband and I are planning to cycle from Half Moon Bay to Ventura then over to Ojai in April. Since I'm not familiar with the route but want to cycle the PCH through Big Sur, we will follow the directions in the book Bicycling The Pacific Coast (http://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Paci...ing+california). You will have to buy it from Amazon though, because none of our local bookstores had a copy. Our concern about this is, we have just come back from IRELAND where the meanest thing on the island were badgers. I am a bit nervous about things like pumas, snakes, boars, and bears. Also, I have no idea what the weather there will be like in mid-April.

Good luck with your trip!
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Old 01-18-13, 05:48 PM   #11
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The coast that time of year is going to be wet and the winds against you. If you do that route consider putting the trip off several weeks. Be sure to do your homework to see when things usually subside.
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Old 01-18-13, 05:57 PM   #12
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My husband and I are planning to cycle from Half Moon Bay to Ventura then over to Ojai in April. Since I'm not familiar with the route but want to cycle the PCH through Big Sur, we will follow the directions in the book Bicycling The Pacific Coast (http://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Paci...ing+california). You will have to buy it from Amazon though, because none of our local bookstores had a copy. Our concern about this is, we have just come back from IRELAND where the meanest thing on the island were badgers. I am a bit nervous about things like pumas, snakes, boars, and bears. Also, I have no idea what the weather there will be like in mid-April.

Good luck with your trip!
This is the meanest animal I saw from San Francisco to Santa Barbra.




If you don't count Pat's dog.
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Old 01-18-13, 05:59 PM   #13
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Also, I have no idea what the weather there will be like in mid-April.
Mid-April is toward the end of our usual rainy season, so it's hard to predict in advance. The weather might be fine, but you might also get caught by repeated storms. The prevailing wind on the coast is out of the northwest which provides a nice tailwind. But when storms come in the wind shifts to the south so you get a combination of rain and headwinds. A month later is more likely to have good weather.
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Old 01-18-13, 09:59 PM   #14
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You never can tell. If you had done the Big Sur Route over the last couple of weeks, you would have had cool but very sunny weather with little if any rain, plus winds from the north. See this journal:

http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?..._id=11559&v=Dw

And note some of the tough conditions they encountered in the Northwest (lashing rain with 60-mph headwinds)

The critter in these parts that causes the most grief for cyclotourists would be that masked bandit, the racoon. But a little foresight can keep the clever varmint from plundering your food stores.

Also there are certain dirtbags that will cut locks from loaded touring bikes in a matter of seconds, especially in San Francisco. See the comments for that journal from a couple that left their locked, loaded bikes for only five minutes in a "touristy" spot only to have them stolen...a good reason to always have a person watching the gear.

In the popular urban San Elijo state beach campground near San Diego, thieves enter the campground late at night and target stuff such as generators, but I'm sure they would not turn up their noses at an unlocked bike in the hike 'n' bike site.

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Old 02-07-13, 10:30 AM   #15
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Thanks for all the great advice about the potential weather issues in mid-April guys. I can't change my vacation ... in my job I can't take holidays in May or June, and July-August mean kids out of school and loads of cars on the roads so it's pretty much April or September for us. I am going to look for an alternate route for those dates in case the weather turns crap. We live in Reno and plan to rent an SUV and drive to the starting point. Any suggestions?
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Old 02-07-13, 10:44 AM   #16
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Might be foggy, won't be freezing.
You might want to check the forecast again... Freezing at night is a definite possibility and it can be darn cold during the day especially if the wind is blowing and the sun isn't out.
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Old 02-07-13, 10:45 AM   #17
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Thanks for all the great advice about the potential weather issues in mid-April guys. I can't change my vacation ... in my job I can't take holidays in May or June, and July-August mean kids out of school and loads of cars on the roads so it's pretty much April or September for us. I am going to look for an alternate route for those dates in case the weather turns crap. We live in Reno and plan to rent an SUV and drive to the starting point. Any suggestions?
September is a fantastic time to ride down the Pacific coast... All the tourists are gone and the weather is still, on average, fantastic.
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