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Avalon, Santa Catalina Island

Old 11-04-10, 10:38 AM
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Avalon, Santa Catalina Island

I have been to this island many times, but never with a bicycle. I'm going on Dec 4 and or 5, and I'm thinking I'd like to take my bike.
Good idea or bad idea?
I suppose I could go and ride some of the hill roads, such as out to twin harbors and back.
The town is so small, and I like to walk. Would the bike just be excess baggage?
And I'm not much of a hill climber.
Any ideas, or references to other threads would be appreciated, as I searched and found nothing specific.
dc
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Old 11-04-10, 10:45 AM
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If your bike is a mountain bike, it's Nirvana. If your bike is a road bike, it's pretty much going to be a waste. There are a few steep, steep roads leading out of Avalon, but they quickly turn into dirt trail. And the road to Two Harbors is a dirt road, BTW.

I'd bring your pedals & shoes (assuming you ride clipless) and rent a mountain bike while there. It's truly magical for mountain biking.
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Old 11-04-10, 11:24 AM
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On second thought, I'd recommend renting a mountain bike from a shop on the mainland, then bringing it to Catalina.
The bike shops on Catalina don't have much of a selection, and you'd still have to pay the Catalina Island Conservancy Fee to ride their rentals to the interior of the island.
Between that and the fee to take your bike on the ferry, it seems like a bunch of bureaucratic BS, but once you're loose on the island with a decent mountain bike under you...

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Old 11-04-10, 12:43 PM
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Riding from Two Harbors to Avalon on a nice day is one of my favorite rides. Like Calamarichris said, you will need a mountain bike. The Conservancy fee they charge will be good for a year. Be sure to bring your helmet. I had mine off on a hot day and a ranger driving by made a point to stop and tell me to put it back on, "Conservancy requirement". Midway is the Catalina "airport". Nice place to stop and get something to drink. Hope you are not afraid of buffalo. A herd tends to hang around the road just below the airport. The ride is basically up one side of Catalina and down the other. You won't see very many people on this ride. When you get to Avalon there is a place on the way to the Casino where you can rent a shower. Nice option if you plan to spend some time in Avalon and for the boat trip back.
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Old 11-04-10, 06:53 PM
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Both my bikes are hybrid. Semi mountain and semi road. One more than the other. But not real mountain. For the conditions would that be sufficient, or should I really only take a very pure mountain bike?
I have seen the buffalo before and never had a problem, and probably won't as long as none of them get amorous. With me, I mean.
The showers are free to the side of the pier. But I probably won't need them seeing as how it's December and I'll be leaving my Speedo behind.
The cattle boat only charges $3 extra for a bike. But I'll check into the local license, or maybe conservancy license fee.
I'm still looking for a room but everything is booked solid so far that weekend.
Thanks to both for the ideas & info. Calamari, I like your sleep on the beach photo. I never did that, but you see that sail boat out there, I have spent many nights out there on boats. A lot of fun.
dc
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Old 11-04-10, 10:40 PM
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An improved dirt road is ok for a hybrid. Take your CX bike.
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Old 11-05-10, 09:35 AM
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Thanks David.
I've kayaked across to Catalina a few times and camped there, but I've only mountain biked there once. (It's really terrific.)
I would take your mountain-bikier hybrid. There are places where the road is a little sandy, and there are some places (especially out on the deserted west end of the island) where it gets steep!
Thanks for bringing this up. Now I'm probably renting a mountain bike and taking my tent & pack there on Dec 9-12. (How on Earth could I have forgotten about this place?!)





Edit: must remember to check out the Tom Hanks movie beforehand as a primer...


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Old 11-07-10, 05:30 AM
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Originally Posted by CritEastwood
An improved dirt road is ok for a hybrid. Take your CX bike.
I stand by my notions above, however the Catalina Conservancy requires otherwise:

IMPORTANT NOTE!: For your safety, ONLY MOUNTAIN BIKES— those equipped with thick, knobby, all-terrain tires — are allowed in Catalina's wild interior.
Hybrids or other bikes with thinner tires will not be allowed. Hard-shelled helmets are also required.
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Old 11-07-10, 06:01 AM
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The road out of Avalon is a dozy should you not be a climber. Think I"d take a kayak instead, unless you quickly tone up your bike legs. Catalina is amazing. Should you not be up to cycling up the mountain, you could hike it. PS.. Catalina is pretty quiet in the non summer months, but then with the holidays close, maybe it will open up for holiday guests.
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Old 11-08-10, 12:36 AM
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I tried to take my cyclocross bike there, knobby tires and all. They still didn't like it. I've taken that thing to Mammoth Mountain and they were concerned about "safety". So am I! It is my responsibility. They were concerned about riding on dirt roads. It was near a $100 investment just to get there and have the pass, never mind any other costs like food and parking.
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Old 11-08-10, 12:45 AM
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Burned by the nanny state. Next thing you know they'll require passing a rider's skill course before riding their improved dirt roads.

Being a native son and never having been to Catalina (or any of the other Channel Islands) though, I'm considering heading over there for a day or two. Not that it's challenging, but that it's a unique opportunity to ride on the only Channel Island where it's allowed. Improved dirt roads are an easy climb on MTB gearing and I can easily cover all of the open roads out there in two days, taking time for side-hikes and photo ops.
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Old 11-18-10, 09:51 PM
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Well I have gone twice now, and I'm back in December.
I did take my bike on the second occasion. But no helmet. I did not get a permit, and mostly rode around the city. But also out to the 1 hour trail, which was the former horse trail, when they allowed horses out there. (They no longer do, and the stables are no longer there.)
The hour trail was steep up, then steep down. Some maniac passed me at about 30 mph, uphill and he appeared to be about 30 lbs overweight? How?
Anyway, nobody asked for my permit or anything, but I don't think that's out of the city. In any case, I won't be taking my bike back there. It's too steep for a non hill climber like me.
Thanks for all the info.
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Old 11-19-10, 11:32 AM
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Thanks for the report!
When I kayaked there several years ago, the registration office in Two Harbors told me Parsons Landing was completely booked. I told the young lady she could either take my money or not, but that I probably wasn't going to be paddling back to the mainland that day.
And of course, Parsons Landing was nearly empty--there were only two other tents on the whole beach.
Things get a little loose in the off-season, but there's still the chance you'll run into a ranger who'll want to see your permit.
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Old 11-19-10, 12:58 PM
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Chris, how long does it take to paddle there?
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Old 11-19-10, 01:19 PM
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Depends on the weather, the current, and how hard you're willing to work. My fastest was 5:20 getting there, and 4:50 getting back.

Used to think I was pretty hot-poop, until I heard about this guy Duane Strosaker who paddles to Two Harbors for lunch then back the same day!
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Old 11-19-10, 02:08 PM
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Depends on how fast you paddle. Just like the boat, depends on how fast you go, or how much wind, etc.
I was going to estimate 5 to 10 hours. Which would, I think be reasonable. So I think you are right on the money with your time. But figure a little over 4 hours out, and the same back, and you could have lunch and still get back.
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Old 11-19-10, 03:37 PM
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Originally Posted by David13
I was going to estimate 5 to 10 hours. Which would, I think be reasonable.
Have you made the crossing? On a clear day, it looks like you can almost skip a rock to the island, but that little mirage evaporates when you get 10 miles into the channel!
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Old 11-19-10, 04:34 PM
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I have never paddled. I have made it by sail, motor on boat or sailboat, helicopter, and airplane. So it all depends on how fast you go. Or, with paddling, how fast you paddle.
I have seen some amazing things on the water, in terms of what it looks like, and as to what it really is. Like the rock walls in Cabo San Lucas? You cannot tell, at night, how close you are to them.
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Old 04-19-11, 03:25 PM
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How was your weekend riding on Catalina, David13?

I'm so pumped because I have my new mountain bike AND reservations at a hotel in Avalon, the ferry ride there&back, and my mountainbike pass all paid & ready for this weekend!!!



I was just going to camp at Parsons and bathe in the ocean, but the hotelroom in Avalon was available and not nearly as expensive as I'd feared. Plus this is my inaugural / reconnaissance trip, and since I have to be back in time for Easter brunch, I'd rather spend the camping set-up/take-down, cooking time riding.

Will take many photos, notes, and will have a full report next week! I'm really, really pumped!! This is one of the major reasons I bought this bike in the first place.
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Old 04-19-11, 03:31 PM
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What hotel and what price?
I had a wonderful time out there. I rode the entire, or the major portion of the track for the motorcycle racing, then went back for the races.
It was great having the bike on the island, as I had been there many times but never with a bike.
For the races, I did the walking, as I thought there might be some crowds. There were and the bike would have been in the way.
However, there were many islanders of all ages and sizes riding their bikes around the crowd, people watching.
And a few serious bikers out to enjoy the island and the trails and the roads.
You will enjoy, no doubt. And the weather has started to look excellent.
Have fun.
(I did not see that old car, though.)
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Old 04-19-11, 03:57 PM
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Thanks for the quick response, David!
I got a room at the Hermosa Hotel for $115, sharing a conjoined bathroom with some older scuba divers. It's pretty much a fleabag as I recall. I stayed there once back in the late 70's with my parents, and my father drank himself into a stupor and howled at the full moon out the window, while Ma attempted to pull him away and called him an @$$#ole right in front of us kids. (Ah memories. I wonder if I'll get the same room with the whimsical stains on the ceiling?)
The picture of the junked truck is at Lake Hodges, with my brand-new bike. I'm really looking forward to getting out to the West End, which is where I usually camped on my kayaking trips. I've only kayaked out that way, and hiked, but the trails were always too long for the limited time I had for hiking.
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Old 04-19-11, 04:18 PM
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Try the Pizza Place across from the courthouse, almost directly across the street.
Pizza by the slice. I really liked it and I'm not a pizza fan.
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Old 04-19-11, 04:30 PM
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Thanks. I was planning on splurging my hotel savings on the best seafood I could find in Avalon.
If the pizza's that good, I'll grab a few slices for the ferry ride back home.
Any recommendations on Avalon's seafood places? They're probably not very good, since most of the diners got there on yachts and are therefore probably sick & tired of eating fresh-caught fish for weeks on end.

Wait a minute... not a pizza fan? How can you not like pizza?
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Old 04-19-11, 05:55 PM
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Originally Posted by calamarichris

I thought you had a Ford Ranger?
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Old 04-19-11, 06:03 PM
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Still do, sadly. I just parked my bike next to this pimp set of wheels so I could look like a big shot.
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