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Biking SF to LA next year, group ride for the Carmel to San Simeon portion?

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Biking SF to LA next year, group ride for the Carmel to San Simeon portion?

Old 08-11-14, 08:31 PM
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Biking SF to LA next year, group ride for the Carmel to San Simeon portion?

I've been road biking fairly seriously for the last few years, my wife often joins me. We do lots of urban and night rides, with occasional 60 or so mile ride in the L.A. area. I'm a So Cal resident but grew up the in the Bay Area and we go up there several times a year. The more I think about it, the more I really want to bike from S.F. to L.A.

I've been doing lots of research and reading, have the Krebs map, and Bicycling The Pacific Coast. Last week we drove Highway 1 up to SF. On the way up I scoped out some bypass routes south of San Simeon and observed the roadway between San Simeon and Carmel. It was interesting to see the people riding it; their numbers and styles of touring.

My wife wants to go with me. Though determined and fit, she's not super strong. When we ride together she usually drafts me, and likes me to ride at 14-17 mph, usually at the lower end of that range. On steep hills she sometimes needs extra rest stops, and sometimes prefers to walk her bike for a bit.

After much discussion, we're making plans for next year. We're both in good shape and are generally adventurous folks. My concept is to travel as light as possible, staying at hotels and B&B's. Before leaving we'd ship small boxes with fresh bike clothes, going out clothes, etc. to our lodgings along the way. The boxes will have their own return boxes inside, to ship back the dirties. So we'll always have clean stuff waiting for us, and won't need to carry much. I plan to dedicate at least 2 weeks to the trip, with some rest days in nice places along the way -- no rush.

I'm comfortable with the SF to Carmel and San Simeon to L.A. sections. (I know that some research will be needed, and there are a few dicey stretches along the way, but I'm ok with these parts of the ride.)

I'm a bit concerned about the Carmel to San Simeon portion, though. For safety and visibility reasons I've been wondering if we could join a group for that section though to my surprise, when we drove it, we didn't see any organized groups at all. (We did see a lot of bikers, but no more than 3 at a time. This was on a typical summer Friday, late morning/early afternoon.)

My question: is anyone aware of groups or shops that organize Carmel - San Simeon rides? Since her speed & strength are a little marginal, I guess we'd need to find a relatively "slow" group, if there is one.

Since we'll be fairly self sufficient, we don't need a support vehicle or much of anything, really -- just fellow riders. I've seen expensive "bike tours" advertised for that route, that doesn't make sense to us. But after driving it last week, and not seeing any groups at all, I'm wondering if we'll really be able to find people to ride with.

Our schedule is quite flexible, since we're planning this way in advance. Thanks in advance for any help or ideas!

Last edited by 3949dxer; 08-11-14 at 09:04 PM.
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Old 08-11-14, 08:59 PM
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I rode the section from Carmel to San Simeon this Friday as part of an organized ride. There were about 80 of us, but we typically rode solo or in small groups (2 or 3) in that section. There is very heavy traffic and you are always climbing or descending. When you descend, you can go at least as fast as the cars, so it's easy to take the lane. When you are climbing, you want enough space between riders so that cars can overtake a single rider or a small group by going into the oncoming lane. A large group would create a backlog of cars behind and become a traffic hazard. It's also hard to enjoy that nice section if you have to match the speed of the rider in front of you.
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Old 08-11-14, 09:29 PM
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Since you indicate that your schedule is flexible, why not schedule the trip when there's less traffic? I usually ride that route during the week before Memorial Day (riding down from SF to the Great Western Bike Rally in Paso Robles) and only encounter much traffic for the first few miles heading south from Carmel. Late Sept./early Oct. is also generally a good time for riding in that area (but avoid the Jade Festival in mid-Oct. if you need to get hotel rooms).
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Old 08-12-14, 10:58 AM
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If you want to avoid the traffic on CA 1 through Big Sur, you could also go inland for that portion of the route. You could head inland on Carmel Valley Road and then follow the routes parallel to 101 down into San Luis Obispo County, where you'd meet up with the coastal route again. The inland route is very low traffic but also quite hilly.
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Old 08-14-14, 05:20 AM
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Originally Posted by shotwellian
The inland route is very low traffic but also quite hilly.
And also much much hotter. The OP did not mention what time of year (perhaps I missed it), but it can be brutal in the summer months.

The trick to riding on Hwy 1 is avoiding weekends and the tourist season.
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Old 08-14-14, 10:17 AM
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Thanks very much for the replies. MetinUz, very interesting that your group split up into little sub-groups, and that makes perfect sense. I do have my heart set on taking Highway 1 through Big Sur, and it sounds like we should just plan on going as a duo, and being super visible and careful. If the weather is clear in the early mornings along the coast, we might also leave extra early, before traffic gets busy. I do plan to go in late September, to take advantage of the best weather.

Thanks again!
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