Go Back  Bike Forums > Community Connections > Regional Discussions > Northern California
Reload this Page >

Sweet spot for touring Lake Tahoe and then riding south?

Notices
Northern California Northern California

Sweet spot for touring Lake Tahoe and then riding south?

Old 03-01-17, 12:23 AM
  #1  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: By theBeach and Palos Verdes, CA adjacent
Posts: 554

Bikes: One of each: Road, Hybrid, Trekking

Liked 115 Times in 53 Posts
Sweet spot for touring Lake Tahoe and then riding south?

Hi all,

So Cal rider here. I am thinking of going on a self-contained credit card tour from Reno back to my home just south of Los Angeles. The plan is to stay in cheapish motels each night as I have become addicted to sleeping in beds and taking hot showers after a full day of riding. I'll almost certainly ride solo.

Anyone here done a similar trip? I'm trying to plan the best time for just-right weather to miss snow in the Sierras and not burn up while riding across the desert to the coast.

Thanks in advance for any tips!
raceboy is offline  
Old 03-01-17, 01:13 AM
  #2  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: New Rochelle, NY
Posts: 39,230

Bikes: too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter

Liked 3,074 Times in 1,694 Posts
I'm not local to the area, but I've ridden and driven small patches that lie between Reno and southern California, both along the Nevada border, and within California.

Basically you have a few choices and once committed, are stuck with them for the bulk of the trip.

You can head straight west, then ride down the coast or central California. You can head southwest following 395 or parallels (where they exist) through Bishop and south then work your way west. Or you can stay east of the mountains riding south in Nevada toward Las Vegas, then cut west at some point either above, through or below Death Valley.

Of these I reject the 395 route because it's a busy corridor, and there are few parallels, so you're stuck riding a busy high speed highway for miles on end.

I like the 3rd option because it's through a quiet semi desert and has a unique feel you won't experience in many other places. There are some interesting little roads cutting west to Big Pine, CA or below, or you can cut straight across Death valley (not in the summer). Of course, it's desolate country, so this route only makes sense if you like that sort of thing, but you'll find the country to be very different from what you're used to closer to home.

OTOH - because it's desolate country, amenities will be simple and far between, so I think it may only make sense if you can put in long miles daily. Also, if you're not looking to see lot's of scrub, you may be much happier going over the pass immediately and riding the green side of the mountains, either through Merced, Modesto and Fresno, or down the coast (if roads are open).

So, that's a rough sketch, and I leave it to you to flesh out details.
__________________
FB
Chain-L site

An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

Just because I'm tired of arguing, doesn't mean you're right.

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.
FBinNY is offline  
Old 03-01-17, 12:54 PM
  #3  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Posts: 142
Liked 8 Times in 5 Posts
I agree that long stretches on 395 would be a drag. Farther west there's a much larger variety of lower-traffic roads, and you're still in the mountains - not down in the flat, hot, dull Central Valley. Nie routes include 41 south from Yosemite, the roads around Bass Lake, 180 and 198 through Kings Canyon NP, the roads around Lake Isabella, etc. There are generally towns and supplies around a day's riding apart. I have first-hand experience riding some of these routes if you have specific questions.
shotwellian is offline  
Old 03-01-17, 01:31 PM
  #4  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: New Rochelle, NY
Posts: 39,230

Bikes: too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter

Liked 3,074 Times in 1,694 Posts
Yes, going over the mountain, then riding the eastern edge of the Central Valley though Sonora, Mariposa and Oakhurst can make for a nice ride, then you'll just about be forced to cut through Fresno and either head for Bakersfield or the coast near San Luis Obispo.

As I said in my earlier post, it's about what you find interesting. As an easterner, our western deserts are like exploring the moon, which is why I suggested that route. It's really a shame that there aren't more roads allowing you to skirt the western edge of the national forests further south, but that's just the way it is.

BTW - when I do big picture route planning, I find that contour maps (search "California contour map", the link keeps going to the wrong place) give me a decent sense of what the area will be like, then I go to detail maps to see if my overall plan is going to work.
__________________
FB
Chain-L site

An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

Just because I'm tired of arguing, doesn't mean you're right.

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

Last edited by FBinNY; 03-01-17 at 01:36 PM.
FBinNY is offline  
Old 03-01-17, 07:31 PM
  #5  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 6,280

Bikes: 78 Masi Criterium, 68 PX10, 2016 Mercian King of Mercia, Rivendell Clem Smith Jr

Liked 600 Times in 433 Posts
I've often wondered about traversing California through the western fringes of the central valley. There are several possible routes south through the rolling hills between the 101 and the 5. Basically you'd head west to the Bay Area from Tahoe, and then head south towards Hollister. From there take the 25 south, and then either the cross over to the 33 via the Coalinga road, or maybe take Peach tree to the coast. I will have to try it sometime. There are some campgrounds, the scenery is nice, and there is probably not much traffic.
Salamandrine is offline  
Old 03-01-17, 07:52 PM
  #6  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: New Rochelle, NY
Posts: 39,230

Bikes: too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter

Liked 3,074 Times in 1,694 Posts
Now the OP has plenty to think about.

I think it's only right that he plan 3 trips and report back.
__________________
FB
Chain-L site

An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

Just because I'm tired of arguing, doesn't mean you're right.

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.
FBinNY is offline  
Old 03-01-17, 11:52 PM
  #7  
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: By theBeach and Palos Verdes, CA adjacent
Posts: 554

Bikes: One of each: Road, Hybrid, Trekking

Liked 115 Times in 53 Posts
3 trips would be great! Can you put a word in with my boss?

I've done the coast from Santa Cruz down Big Sur and the Central Coast. My initial thought was to parallel 395 as much as possible...but I like the idea of skirting the east side of the Central Valley. I hadn't thought of that and will look into it.

Thanks!
raceboy is offline  
Old 03-01-17, 11:55 PM
  #8  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: New Rochelle, NY
Posts: 39,230

Bikes: too many bikes from 1967 10s (5x2)Frejus to a Sumitomo Ti/Chorus aluminum 10s (10x2), plus one non-susp mtn bike I use as my commuter

Liked 3,074 Times in 1,694 Posts
Originally Posted by raceboy
3 trips would be great! Can you put a word in with my boss?

I've done the coast from Santa Cruz down Big Sur and the Central Coast. My initial thought was to parallel 395 as much as possible...but I like the idea of skirting the east side of the Central Valley. I hadn't thought of that and will look into it.

Thanks!
Just explain that it was put out as a challenge and you have to man up. Anyway, it's only two, since you've already done most of the westernmost. After negotiating for 3, you can settle on two and your boss should be thrilled.

Have a great trip(s)
__________________
FB
Chain-L site

An ounce of diagnosis is worth a pound of cure.

Just because I'm tired of arguing, doesn't mean you're right.

“One accurate measurement is worth a thousand expert opinions” - Adm Grace Murray Hopper - USN

WARNING, I'm from New York. Thin skinned people should maintain safe distance.

Last edited by FBinNY; 03-02-17 at 12:05 AM.
FBinNY is offline  
Old 03-02-17, 02:58 PM
  #9  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 6,280

Bikes: 78 Masi Criterium, 68 PX10, 2016 Mercian King of Mercia, Rivendell Clem Smith Jr

Liked 600 Times in 433 Posts
We shall talk to your boss.

I'm very interested in how this turns out. Many interesting routes to consider. On second look, it appears that there are more parallel old roads to the 395 than I thought. I'd worry most about the southern desert-y part of it, south of Owen's lake. I don't think there's anyway besides the 395 itself at that point, unless you go way around.

I'm starting to like my own suggested route through the coastal range. I will have to try it sometime.
Salamandrine is offline  
Old 03-03-17, 08:34 PM
  #10  
Upgrading my engine
 
DXchulo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Alamogordo
Posts: 6,218
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Since there's been so much snow this year, I wouldn't feel comfortable starting in May. But, as mentioned, it really depends on the route. If you're going on 395 you could get there via 50 or 207 (Kingsbury) pretty much any time of year. Going through Markleeville and using 89 (Monitor) would be more scenic, but it may take them a while to get Monitor open this year.

Similarly, heading west on 4 would be fun, but when will they open Ebbetts?
DXchulo is offline  
Old 03-04-17, 02:47 PM
  #11  
Crawlin' up, flyin' down
 
bikingshearer's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Democratic Peoples' Republic of Berkeley
Posts: 5,792

Bikes: 1967 Paramount; 1982-ish Ron Cooper; 1978 Eisentraut "A"; two mid-1960s Cinelli Speciale Corsas; and others in various stages of non-rideability.

Liked 2,708 Times in 1,141 Posts
Get. This. Book.

https://www.amazon.com/Pacific-Crest...+bicycle+trail

It's basic route is down the westside of Lake Tahoe, then 89 over Luther and Monitor Passes to US 395, 395 south to 120, west over Tioga Pass into Yosemite, then follow the western slope of the Sierras and its foothills.

It's old (as in 1990) but is still a great reference. I followed it's route from Mt. Shasta to Yosemite, and it told me everything I could have wanted to know. Granted, the trip was in 1996, but for what you are talking about, I would not hesitate to use this book as a resource. At a minimum, it will give you a great deal of food for thought and a great deal of useful information. The guide is geared for camping (which is what I did), but it will tell you where the civilization is along the way and give you a head start in identifying possible places to stay.

When to go? I suggest anytime September after Labor Day to mid-October. School's back in session, which cuts down on tourists. It is possible to get some hot days, but more likely you will have pleasantly warm days in the high mountains and have things cooling off by the time you get to the desert. My trip was more or less the middle two weeks of September, and we had a little hot, a little rain, chilly nights, but mostly great days for riding. Also, by September, you will have no issues with mountain passes being closed due to snow.


Starting in Reno, I would go over the Mt. Rose pass and go along the north and west shores of Lake Tahoe and pick up the book's route at Tahoe City, mainly because I would rather look at a mountain lake, conifer forests and Sierra pases than a high desert. YMMV. The ride along the north shore of Lake Tahoe and on Hwy 89 south out of Tahoe City has separate bike path and/or good shoulders pretty much the entire way until you hit the climb and descent around Emerald Bay (stunningly beautiful - be sure to stop at the ginormous vista point on the left side of the road at the top) after which you again have a separate bike path and/or good shoulders pretty much the rest of the way to and through Myers and where Hwy 89 turns left toward Luther Pass. The east side has less traffic, less development, and is consistently rolling uphill until you hit US 50. That part of the ride is pretty. The ride on 50 into South Lake Tahoe is not. It's downhill and them flat and is kind of hairy (freeway speeds, not much of a shoulder) but doable. but would still brave the South Lake Tahoe urban area to get to Hwy 89.

If you stick to the route, it will get you to Palmdale and the Angeles Crest Highway. I'm guessing you can find your way home from there.
__________________
"I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney
bikingshearer is offline  
Old 04-05-17, 10:34 PM
  #12  
Newbie
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 32

Bikes: NeilPryde BURA SL, '86 Colnago Super, '08 Scott Addict, Santa Cruz Stigmata CC, TrueTemper CC custom road, 1960 Hercules cruiser

Liked 11 Times in 7 Posts
No straightforward route north-to-south in Sierras

We've done our share of staring at credit card tour routes in the Sierras. Highway 395 certainly has nice scenery, but otherwise I'm not a huge fan. There are a couple of challenges here:
1) The distances are prohibitive unless you're ready to go 100 miles at a stretch across high mountain passes like Sonora and Tioga.
2) Most of the interesting routes are east-west meaning a north-to-south tour would take many days (assuming you want the most interesting routes).
3) Weather is working against you this year. Tioga Pass almost always opens by Memorial Day, but maybe not this year (?). I wouldn't do an self-supported tours in the Sierras before July 1 this year just because I travel light don't CCT with cold-weather gear.

I would probably come down through Markleeville, over 108 to Strawberry Lodge, take Cottonwood/1N04 via Cherry Lake to the new Rush Creek Lodge in Yosemite, through Yosemite Valley and out 41, then be done with the Sierras; stay on Hwy 41 (or parallel roads) all the way to Paso Robles, then SLO, Santa Maria, Lompoc, Santa Barbara, Malibu Hills, and home.

Good luck
-M
akropilot is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Tesgin
Pacific Northwest
3
09-09-15 10:27 PM
tastest
Europe
5
08-18-13 06:19 AM
Exurver
Northern California
15
07-10-12 04:42 PM
BigBlueToe
Touring
5
08-30-10 08:55 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Your Privacy Choices -

Copyright © 2024 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.