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Looking for the easiest possible century route in the southwest US

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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Looking for the easiest possible century route in the southwest US

Old 03-03-21, 04:17 PM
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trevorjfitz
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Looking for the easiest possible century route in the southwest US

[Repost from the Long Distance/Endurance Cycling forum--hoping for some more ideas]

My eight-year-old has set a lofty goal of riding a century--my dad and I will ride with him. Over the past year he's done a couple of 50 miler's and can't seem to get enough. Seems with a reasonable training plan and a little help from me it may actually be possible for him. He's a couple weeks into preparations and I'm struggling to plan a good route for him--I could use some help.

I'm hopeful someone can suggest a route with the following characteristics:
  • start of ride is within a day's drive of southern CA (Orange County area) -- nor cal, AZ, NV, southern UT all seem reasonable
  • minimal elevation gain, an average descent ideal--starting at a high elevation is ideal as long as the road is...
  • safe--he has surprisingly mature road sense but I'm confident fatigue will challenge his mental acuity; dedicated bike trails, low traffic, or generous shoulders preferred
  • unlikely headwind mid-May (found this great map: windhistory[dotcom]/map.html#8.00/34.802/-115.638 )
Route nice to have's:
  • Interesting (i.e. not repeats on a boring section of road)
  • Probable tail wind mid-May
  • Occasional civilization
  • Comfortable weather in Mid May - likely rules out Palm Springs/Phoenix corridor
Other relevant info:
  • The route does not need to be a loop or an out and back
  • The route does not need to be a known century ride
  • The rest of the fam has offered to be a support crew
Any suggestions would be much appreciated. Routes that match the criteria but are beyond the one-day drive would also be interesting to hear about.
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Old 03-03-21, 04:22 PM
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WhyFi
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I can't help, but go kiddo!
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Old 03-03-21, 04:23 PM
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deacon mark
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I am going against the grain and say not to do this. Not because it is something that an 8 year old cannot do but that burn out and moderation is not a bad idea. I liked to ride a bike as a kid but going 100 miles may have changed my prospective 30 years later. Cycling is great but I just would not encourage and 8 year to do this, ride and have fun. I am a runner and sometimes high school and college kids want to run a marathon. My thought on that is wait till your a bit older and go for speed not distance. At some point it all will be distance because after about 28 years old we are not going to get faster if we have trained at this since teenagers.
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Old 03-03-21, 04:51 PM
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Elvo
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Anaheim Station to Downtown San Diego Station

Early in the morning you will have a light tail wind going from Anaheim to PCH on SART. As the day warms up you will have a light to mild tail wind from the onshore winds. You will need to head down to Camp Pendleton south entrance on a weekday to get base access, otherwise you will have to ride on the 5 Freeway for about 8 miles. You can take the Amtrak Surfliner back to Anaheim for about $40/person
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Old 03-03-21, 06:32 PM
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Go kid, go! Not for you, but I did the two day option of the Cross Florida Ride in 2018. It was 78 miles the first day and 92 the second day. I saw a family of three riders at the start: mom, dad and a girl about 7 or 8 years old. I complimented her and her parents and wished her luck. Her father proudly responded saying this was her second year doing this ride.

Just make sure he's having fun!
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Old 03-03-21, 07:16 PM
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Apple Valley to Piru: The Rise is about 1200 feet, but it drops 3500 feet. Take one of the less traveled roads from Apple Valley to Pear Blossom. Head from there to Piru via Soledad Canyon Road then Henry Mayo Drive.

I also rode from Long Beach south. To make a century you will need to cross Camp Pendleton. The wind was normally North to South. That ride will be pleasant year round.

I lived in Newport Beach 40 years ago, so the traffic may be much worse now.
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Old 03-03-21, 11:21 PM
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Are you open to the L.A. River or the San Gabriel River? Almost perfectly flat dedicated bike bath, and you can easily construct a Century between these two rivers. Zero vehicle traffic, but it is repetitive. The San Gabriel runs from Seal Beach to the San Gabriel Mountains.
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Old 03-04-21, 03:00 AM
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as per the long distance/endurance thread/forum...still not supporting the various la/sgrt/sart river trails as a possibility.
sure, easy enough to combine the three for a c-note but little scenery and more than a few trail visions/encounters i wouldn't
feel comfy introducing someone < 14 yo or so to.

can't recommend riding the 5 freeway southbound (or northbound) for anyone, been there, done it multiple times but knew what
i was getting into vs backtracking to san juan capistrano and training past. in good conscience, can't give it a go ahead for an 8 yo,
even one with a front and rear chaperone. if the op wants to coordinate camp pendleton id's for all involved in advance, okay. the
camp pendleton southern entrance/exit area-5 fwy interface of approx a half-mile is the busiest part but still better than the 5 fwy.
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Old 03-04-21, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by deacon mark View Post
I am going against the grain and say not to do this. Not because it is something that an 8 year old cannot do but that burn out and moderation is not a bad idea. I liked to ride a bike as a kid but going 100 miles may have changed my prospective 30 years later. Cycling is great but I just would not encourage and 8 year to do this, ride and have fun. I am a runner and sometimes high school and college kids want to run a marathon. My thought on that is wait till your a bit older and go for speed not distance. At some point it all will be distance because after about 28 years old we are not going to get faster if we have trained at this since teenagers.
if the kid is driving this, I say back him all the way. I respect the caution you’re advising here, but unless this is a pushy dad pushing Junior into something (and there’s no indication that’s the case) then allowing the kid to achieve a pretty awesome goal like this at a young age is fantastic.

I’d be in favor of creating a loop with the river trails, mainly for the safety aspect. That headwind coming back west on the SART, though, ooof. It may seem a bit boring to some, but I always liked looking out for the big A at Angels Stadium when I used to ride down there.

Last edited by Leinster; 03-04-21 at 10:55 AM.
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Old 03-04-21, 08:41 AM
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I am curious. What exact route would you take from Apple Valley to Piru? My interest is riding over Hwy 39 to Hwy 2 then figuring a way to Lucerne Valley from Wrightwood. Just a little recon on my part.

Originally Posted by DangerousDanR View Post
Apple Valley to Piru: The Rise is about 1200 feet, but it drops 3500 feet. Take one of the less traveled roads from Apple Valley to Pear Blossom. Head from there to Piru via Soledad Canyon Road then Henry Mayo Drive.

I also rode from Long Beach south. To make a century you will need to cross Camp Pendleton. The wind was normally North to South. That ride will be pleasant year round.

I lived in Newport Beach 40 years ago, so the traffic may be much worse now.
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Old 03-04-21, 09:43 AM
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Go to RideWithGPS, MapMyRide, Strava and other sites that cyclists post their rides to and look at the rides and routes others have done and made public. Then you can easily see the elevation profile and other metrics you might be interested in. On all those sites, you can filter the rides and routes for the mileage range you are looking for.
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Old 03-04-21, 09:46 AM
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Originally Posted by deacon mark View Post
I am going against the grain and say not to do this. Not because it is something that an 8 year old cannot do but that burn out and moderation is not a bad idea. I liked to ride a bike as a kid but going 100 miles may have changed my prospective 30 years later. Cycling is great but I just would not encourage and 8 year to do this, ride and have fun. I am a runner and sometimes high school and college kids want to run a marathon. My thought on that is wait till your a bit older and go for speed not distance. At some point it all will be distance because after about 28 years old we are not going to get faster if we have trained at this since teenagers.
Way to make this a parenting thread.
My 10yo couldnt ride 100mi, but some days its a success when my 10yo walks across the room without tripping over herself. She has ridden 30mi and we found out that is the max for her mentally/physically right now. But others are different and if they have a goal and desire to accomplish something, then why not try?
You suggest the 8yo ride and have fun...but what if this is the 8yo riding and having fun? The kid will spend time with his dad training and will get to spend a day with his dad and grandfather out doing something he loves and working towards a goal. Thats pretty damn neat. And if he isnt able to ride the 100mi, then he can decide it isnt for him right now or he can continue to work towards the goal.
This sounds like the kid is driving the goal setting, so this is what interests him at this moment. But you want to discourage that.
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Old 03-04-21, 12:56 PM
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Instead of loading the dice (one-way route, overall downhill, tailwind assisted), why not choose a local loop that is more representative of what a typical century is like? Explain to the kid that this is what real cycling is about -- it's not just about logging an arbitrary number of miles.
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