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San Francisco to San Diego in October

Old 09-02-19, 12:27 PM
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schoolboy2 
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San Francisco to San Diego in October

I'm just back from a summer of riding across France with my wife. It was generally fun, but her fitness level limited us to 20-30 miles per day along mostly flat ground. I'm craving a bit more of a work-out and am considering a solo tour from San Francisco to San Diego in October. What will the weather be like along the coast south of San Francisco at that time of the year? Does anyone live there or have toured that route in October?
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Old 09-02-19, 12:30 PM
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I predict perfect weather that time of year or possibly a little too hot.
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Old 09-02-19, 01:42 PM
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From my location in Long Beach, October can still see some warm/hot days (80+) along the coast. Maybe a little cooler to the north but temperatures can invert with northern portion being hotter than the south. Would not expect any rain, and little to no coastal fog that time of year (sunny days). If you hunt on the internet, you can find historic average high and low temps, as well as wind and rain for many cities. Eliminates the subjectivity of what other think is ideal conditions. I will say that the best part of October is traffic is probably at a low ebb that time of year. It can be a good ride; if you do it enjoy.
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Old 09-02-19, 04:23 PM
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that looks like it would be about a 1000 kms or so, so I guess you could plan for a two week+ trip.
That would be great if you could do it, and to really stretch your legs would be very satisfying.
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Old 09-02-19, 10:50 PM
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If you want distance, then go all the way down to San Diego. But, the quality of the ride degrades once you are south of Santa Barbara (some would say south of San Luis Obispo). Certainly, riding south of LA offers little of note.

If you do decide to go all the way to San Diego, contact Camp Pendleton to try and get approval to ride through the base. Otherwise, it is several miles on I5, which has a shoulder but can’t be pleasant.
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Old 09-03-19, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by raybo View Post
If you want distance, then go all the way down to San Diego. But, the quality of the ride degrades once you are south of Santa Barbara (some would say south of San Luis Obispo). Certainly, riding south of LA offers little of note.

If you do decide to go all the way to San Diego, contact Camp Pendleton to try and get approval to ride through the base. Otherwise, it is several miles on I5, which has a shoulder but canít be pleasant.
I have done the ride a couple of times, and personally I think the riding is worthwhile with interesting things to see (Santa Monica Pier, Venice Beach - very nice bike path here). The problem is accomodations. South of Point Magu until you are well into Orange County (pretty much all the way through the city), there are no realistic options for camping, and motels are expensive unless you ride inland. There are hostels though, and reservations are recommended. San Diego is limited to one campground for hiker/bikers along the coast: San Elijo SB. It's location is good though 1/2 way from Doheny SB and the border.

BTW: I did Monterey to Santa Barbara in early October two year ago, and the weather was really nice.

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Old 09-03-19, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by raybo View Post
If you want distance, then go all the way down to San Diego. But, the quality of the ride degrades once you are south of Santa Barbara (some would say south of San Luis Obispo). Certainly, riding south of LA offers little of note.
+1. Even reaching Santa Barbara requires some unpleasant freeway sections (CA-1/US-101 Gaviota to Goleta), or climbing a two-lane highway with a nonexistent shoulder and dangerously fast traffic (CA-154 Santa Ynez to Stagecoach Road):



CA-154 southbound, near Lake Cachuma
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Old 09-04-19, 05:40 AM
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Originally Posted by raybo View Post
If you want distance, then go all the way down to San Diego. But, the quality of the ride degrades once you are south of Santa Barbara (some would say south of San Luis Obispo). Certainly, riding south of LA offers little of note.
I have always been told that and stopped at San Luis Obispo, so I don't have first hand experience south of there. I especially liked Oregon and northern California and think October would be an OK time to go. September is my favorite time, but October is good too. I actually like the cooler temps, but October is a little wetter. Not typically bad, just a little wetter. By November it starts to get too wet to suit me.

If flexible, you might set your sights a little further north. If you aren't set on a particular start or end point you could choose any section between Astoria Oregon and San Luis Obispo and be guaranteed beautiful scenery. The Oregon portion was really nice. FWIW the riding can be more challenging than you might expect for a coastal route. It can also be more remote at times. I was really surprised when there were free range cattle on the road at one point. All in all a great place to ride.
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Old 09-04-19, 10:27 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
I have always been told that and stopped at San Luis Obispo, so I don't have first hand experience south of there.
I wouldn't write off the section from San Luis Obispo to Solvang, it's a pretty sweet ride.

Here are a couple of routes I used when running tours there:

Avila Beach to Santa Maria



Santa Maria to Solvang

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Old 09-04-19, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
If flexible, you might set your sights a little further north. If you aren't set on a particular start or end point you could choose any section between Astoria Oregon and San Luis Obispo and be guaranteed beautiful scenery. The Oregon portion was really nice. FWIW the riding can be more challenging than you might expect for a coastal route. It can also be more remote at times. I was really surprised when there were free range cattle on the road at one point. All in all a great place to ride.
Mr Schoolboy, I did this trip 25 years ago, but I certainly do remember clearly what Staep is referring to. The summer before I had ridden most of the Pyrenees east to west, and so was surprised by the challenging aspects of the west coast trip. Yes, the climbs were not as long obviously, but there were plenty of short steep sections, so as long as you have some reasonably low gearing and at least be aware that it is not a "flat coastal route", you'll be fine.
Not sure how you are with hills, and or your expectations or wanting only California, but the Oregon section certainly is beautiful, and 25 years ago and even today, the aspect of how the scenery changed from start of my trip to the end was a neat part of rmemebering the trip and the route, and my enjoyment of it.

have fun whatever you do, but do be aware that any of it will not be flat like La Loire....
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Old 09-06-19, 09:23 AM
  #11  
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My thanks to everyone that posted answers and suggestions about my upcoming tour. Based on the answers I plan to go a bit earlier as I want to avoid any possibility of rain.
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Old 09-06-19, 01:06 PM
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South of San Luis Obispo stay off 101. Just say no to Hwy 154. I see head-on accidents all the time there. Southern Oregon Coast is supreme beauty and their campgrounds second to none.
I think early Oct is fine
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Old 09-07-19, 03:06 AM
  #13  
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concur. i don't ever remember the last time rain was an issue in socal in october.
smoke from the multiple fires due to the santa ana winds that also bring low low humidity and the heat? that's a consistent issue in october (and the first half of november) in socal.
all that said, october is my fave month to ride in socal. were i doing your tour, i'd aim for the middle of october.

if you're starting from san francisco, then you can handle what la will throw at you along the coast in terms of traffic. once through malibu, dedicated coastal/beach bike path/mup from santa monica
(north of santa monica pier area) all the way to redondo beach (small slow/dismount area at redondo beach pier two miles north of path terminus). very (southern) end of said bike path is pretty steep
but it's only a 60 yard walk uphill...or you can double back about a third of a mile and ride up an easier ramp to the cliffside street and continue southwards. bike paths/mups allow you to bypass much
of the la auto traffic from santa monica to redondo beach, then again from long beach to newport beach. that's roughly 45 miles of flattish, easy, safe coastal riding w/o any or minimal auto presence.

visually ugliest part will be the 10 miles or so from just north of the vincent thomas bridge in san pedro to long beach just past the 710 freeway. lots of big rig traffic on this
short stretch but streets are wide. biggest issue on this segment is actually road debris. the newport beach/corona del mar/laguna beach gauntlet (some quiet spots during) is probably your biggest safety challenge thru the socal portion. if you stay on highway one/pch, you will need to take the lane several times in likely (depending on your timing) heavy bursts of traffic at times.

if you're truly heading to san diego, you'll need to take the 5 freeway south for approx 8 miles from the las pulgas rd onramp to the town of oceanside to bypass marine corps base camp pendleton.
shoulder is wide and the pavement is good but the problem is the volume/speed of adjacent traffic along with dodging occasional (mostly shredded tires and assorted auto) debris.
a couple workarounds to this eight-mile freeway stretch...

1. you currently possess military clearance to enter/navigate the base

2. you possess and can produce the yearlong (free) pass procured from the base visitor center at the (unfortunately) southern end of the base. takes approx 10-15 mins to get in person with proper id.

3. you catch either the amtrak or metrolink train from the san clemente station (closest stop to the base on the north end) and take said train to oceanside. short ride. amtrak will necessitate
registering your bicycle on their website (can't do it on the amrtrak app yet) when purchasing a ticket. metrolink is the regional train system which is more affordable and you don't need to pre-register
bringing your bike aboard but may not have a convenient arrival/departure time for you.

last ten miles into san diego (south of the ucsd area) can be really complicated or very easy...depending on exactly where you want to go. some of the obvious north/south straight lines
have lots of traffic or really harsh/difficult intersections.
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Old 09-07-19, 04:35 AM
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One more thing about the weather...
I found that during my last September trip it was often nice on the coast and not too many miles inland it was scorching hot. You may find the same even in October. Just something to be aware of as a possibility if planning to go over the coastal hills inland even a few miles. I am not a fan of hot weather. I deal with it when I have to, but love cool weather, so for me it is a factor in trip planning.
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Old 09-07-19, 05:39 AM
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hey mr schollfeller--an aside, how was the France experience from (I presume) the experience of folks not speaking French? Hope it worked out well. The love of cycling culture and common occurance of folks of all ages doing little or big bike trips has always resulted in positive reactions to traveling by bike, especially in rural France.
Hope this was the case for you two throughout the trip.
And Ive generally always found car drivers to be rather patient with cyclists, which is really nice. Hope you feel the same after your trip.
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Old 09-07-19, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by djb View Post
hey mr schollfeller--an aside, how was the France experience from (I presume) the experience of folks not speaking French? Hope it worked out well. The love of cycling culture and common occurance of folks of all ages doing little or big bike trips has always resulted in positive reactions to traveling by bike, especially in rural France.
Hope this was the case for you two throughout the trip.
And Ive generally always found car drivers to be rather patient with cyclists, which is really nice. Hope you feel the same after your trip.
Until the heat waves hit, France was really fun. Great cycling infrastructure with well marked routes that were often on dedicated paths or lightly traveled agricultural roads, friendly people, fabulous cheap food and wine. Our lack of fluent French was no problem as many people spoke some English and we could always make ourselves understood. But the multiple weeks of 90-100F weather sucked the life out of my wife and I with sleepless nights and blast furnace days. Other than that annoyance and the fact that everyone smoked, I could live in France.
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Old 09-07-19, 09:31 AM
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Originally Posted by schoolboy2 View Post
Other than that annoyance and the fact that everyone smoked, I could live in France.
Is that an issue in restaurants and other establishments? If so that would be annoying. I remember when they banned smoking in the workplace here. It went into effect on my birthday. It was my best birthday present ever.
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Old 09-07-19, 09:39 AM
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Originally Posted by staehpj1 View Post
Is that an issue in restaurants and other establishments? If so that would be annoying. I remember when they banned smoking in the workplace here. It went into effect on my birthday. It was my best birthday present ever.
Restaurants mostly; there's no smoking indoors, but the outside seating is filled with smokers. BTW, this was true across Europe. I used to smoke, although I haven't smoked since 1977; I had no idea how offensive my smoke was to others until this trip.
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Old 09-07-19, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by schoolboy2 View Post
Restaurants mostly; there's no smoking indoors, but the outside seating is filled with smokers. BTW, this was true across Europe. I used to smoke, although I haven't smoked since 1977; I had no idea how offensive my smoke was to others until this trip.
I recall one time being near a smoker at a terrace in France and thinking of how long it had been since I'd had to sit near a smoker. When we go to restaurants here its nearly always indoors, and less people smoke in general here nowadays.

but your last sentence made me smile, because there have been times Ive had to put up with workplace smokers that obviously had no idea how it affected others, despite making it clear. It is a pretty gross habit and that is interesting to see your perspective now.

re the heat, yes that must have been a slog. We watched the news from afar and were glad we werent biking there. Heck, even here it was pretty hot, but I get used to it and do well in it, and so was very cold when I had to ride in 20c 68f again at some point a number of weeks ago...
Years ago car camping in the south of France, it was about a week of 40-43c each day, and I just couldnt imagine bike touring with weather like that. I have biked in those temps, and you really have to pace yourself , and take advantage of any a/c places and cold drinks to buy, to keep hydrated and bringing the body temp down once in a while. I am lucky in that my body type handles it fairly well though, but even last summer in France 2018, it got hot and at times we didnt hit stores for cold drinks for a while, and it does get hard.

good luck again with planning w coast trip.
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Old 09-15-19, 08:25 AM
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Maybe consider Portland to SF. Little more bike friendly. More or less same distance. (~700mi). Ship your bike to River City Bikes and pedal down.
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