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California Zephyr + Bikes = Honeymoon (Suggestions?)

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California Zephyr + Bikes = Honeymoon (Suggestions?)

Old 03-26-08, 02:45 PM
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FCBrian
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California Zephyr + Bikes = Honeymoon (Suggestions?)

The soon-to-be wife and I are thinking of heading west from Denver on the Amtrak California Zephyr line to the bay area in early July. From there (Martinez or Emeryville station), we're planning to find a place to hide for three or so days before CC/camping touring for about eight days. The Pacific Coast Highway and Napa Valley jump out at us immediately. With the primarily NW winds, a loop that takes us south on the coast seems to make a lot of sense. Your thoughts on the train ride with bikes, a possible loop (40-50 miles per day), getting from Emeryville or Martinez across the bays, either to San Fran or north, etc.?

Brian
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Old 03-26-08, 03:38 PM
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Hi,

You can ride BART across the bay. The only restriction on bikes is that they not be taken onto the train during peak commute hours. Info at BART stations. I'd vote for the coast. CC touring is easily enough done, but be warned that Big Sur accommodations may seem steep (because they are) and food stops can be a long ways apart, esp. in southern Big Sur From SF, a good first stop might be the hostel at Pigeon Point Lighthouse. Santa Cruz and the neighboring towns are an easy second day. Monterey Peninsula is another easy shot. Big Sur is less a town than a stretch of coast. Lots of options (they fill up) in the center of Big Sur. The one run by a parks concessionaire -- Big Sur Lodge -- is a little more reasonable IIRC. The two posh resort hotels, Post Ranch and Ventana, will set you back many hundreds of dollars a night. If you want to press on, selection is limited but nice. One of our favorites is Lucia Lodge, with cabins located on a south facing bluff overlooking miles and miles of coastline

Cambria is very touristy, but it's got another nice little hostel and lots of places to eat. It's a good stop, because there are few routes linking the coast to the interior. Nacimiento-Ferguson Grade is one, and it's a truly memorable climb. But from Cambria you can ride a nicely graded road to Paso Robles. The Paso Robles Inn is across the street from a downtown park. It's perched on a hotspring, and hot mineral water is delivered to jacuzzis outside many of the rooms. I think you can catch Amtrak's Coast Starlight there still. You'll need to go to a local bike shop for boxes, because that train accepts bikes only as checked baggage.

If Paso does not still have Amtrak service, you might continue to ride Hwy. 1 past Cambria to Morro Bay, taking 1 inland into San Luis Obispo. Lots of bike shops and definitely Amtrak service there.
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Old 03-26-08, 05:35 PM
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Personally, I like Amtrak. I think it's comfortable and enjoy the scenery. However, it also takes a LONG time to get to SF (36 hours?) from Denver, and is very prone to delays. Maybe Amtrak one way and fly back, shipping the bikes? Fares can be had from Oakland to Denver, non stop for under $100.
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Old 03-27-08, 09:22 AM
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Kpfeif has a good point, and one I meant to mention. Amtrak frequently runs many, many hours late. I'm told by an old train guy that it's because freight has priority. We spent a long night on the siding in Klamath Falls once. That said, I still love the train. While whiling away the hours on the siding, we met people, explored and did things we never would've done otherwise.

Also, if you're looking for a loop, you might consider heading over the hill at Nacimiento-Ferguson, and rolling through King City to Hwy 25. It's remote, beautiful and uncrowded. You'll see what California once looked like, perhaps 150 years ago.
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Old 03-27-08, 10:37 AM
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Some thoughts: Nacimiento-Ferguson Road is a gnarly climb! Highway 46 from south of Cambria to just south of Paso Robles proper is a much more friendly hill. It has a nice shoulder and the grade isn't so steep. It's still a long climb though.

Paso Robles (and King City and Atascadero - anyplace inland) will be HOT in July. Temperatures over 100 degrees are fairly normal.

Riding down the coast from San Francisco is an epic ride - stunningly beautiful! It's not flat though - lots of ups and downs. There's not much shoulder in many places, and there can be a lot of traffic. Camping is easy, at least south of Monterey (with which I'm most familiar.) There's Pfeiffer Big Sur (with hiker/biker spots, a store, and a restaurant), Kirk Creek (beautiful hiker/biker spots in the woods overlooking the ocean), San Simeon State Park (just south of Hearst Castle and just north of Cambria with all its shops, restaurants, groceries, etc.), and Morro Bay State Park. San Luis Obispo has an Amtrak station which will box your bikes.

Another option might be to take the train down to San Luis Obispo, stay in a nice motel/bed-and-breakfast, and do some day loops. There are plenty of wonderful rides (go to www.slobc.org and look for routes.) Then you could ride down to Solvang, get another room, and do some loops. There's a bike tour company that sells packages from Solvang. You could do it without paying (except for your room.)

Just some random thoughts.
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Old 03-27-08, 05:00 PM
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Thanks guys. Great info. b
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