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West Coast of USA

Old 09-26-04, 03:46 PM
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philip99a
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West Coast of USA

I'm starting to plan for two of us to ride from Vancouver (or Seattle) to San Francisco (or Big Sur or the Hurst Castle) next summer. I know the best month is supposed to be September (less fog, no school-children) but we are going to have to go in late August or possibly July. Probably two and a half weeks. Certainly we're aiming to stay in motels, but I'm beginning to think that in the National Parks we should use a cheap light tent (but still no cooking!)

So far I've bought the Lonely Planet Guide to Cycling on the West Coast of the USA and what seems a reasonable road-map (1:2,000,000)

Anyone know the area and got any firsthand thoughts? Advice and info gratefully received.

I've looked on Trento bike pages, and a few other sites. I found the US Adventure Cycling site a bit heavy going and is there much point in buying their maps when you then have to download and travel with a sheaf of updates?

Any thoughts very welcome. We're British residents, we're both fairly experienced cycle tourists but neither of us has ever been to the West Coast of the US before. I guess we'd fly with our bikes in cardboard bike boxes - otherwise would bike hire be a possibility (ie one-way hire). Certainly in the UK that would be unlikely.
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Old 09-26-04, 04:13 PM
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You may want to PM mtnbikedude. He did this route or a similar one recently.
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Old 09-26-04, 06:00 PM
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Hi there I did S. Francisco to Big Sur and Yosemite last year in April and it is a fantastic ride. I did it in April and weather was good, July August you will be fine only thing to make sure is to avoid weekends on the Big Sur area ( Monterrey to San Simeon ) as the traffic is meant to be pretty heavy. I did it on weekdays and enjoyed every inch of it. I guess further north the west coast traffic should not be such a major issue.

>I found the US Adventure Cycling site a bit heavy going and is there much point in buying their maps >when you then have to download and travel with a sheaf of updates?

Adventure Cycling maps are quite pricey but they are good if you don't want any hassles and an easy way to find directions. They are made by cyclists for cyclists meaning that they often choose the most cycling friendly route to get to anywhere. I met two girls on my trip who had them and I was quite impressed. Also they give profile of route ( hills to climb, etc ), bike shops and camping site on the way.

>I guess we'd fly with our bikes in cardboard bike boxes

I think it is the best choice as you want to ride a bike you are familiar with. Major airports on the West Coast are well used to cyclists as it is a major route in the US. I can sure say that San Francisco Airport was great and on my return were able to provide me with new bike boxes for free.

One of the best resources for cycling tours is cyclingtheworld.org, I think they have a section on the Pacific Coast where you can also find over 10 travelogues along the coast. Link is here
https://www.cyclingtheworld.org/tours/pacificcoast.php
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Old 09-26-04, 09:41 PM
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I've done a bunch of that route. It is well worth doing, and it is also well worth camping - there are state parks spaced fairly closely along most of the route, and they have hiker/biker camp sites for $4 per person, most of them really nice, with hot showers (sometimes for a small fee, less than $1). THese parks are often right on the beach, and they will always find a place for you if you roll in on a bike. If you are planning on staying in hotels, you might need to book in advance, since the pacific coast is a popular tourist destination and places do fill up.

Kirkendall and Spring's "Cycling the Pacific Coast" is a great tool, it includes the same great info about services and hill profiles as the A.C. maps for less $, and I find it easier to use. It's not perfectly up to date, but it's very good. I believe it is available from Amazon.com and REI.com. Add state maps and that's all you need.

Services and camping are plentiful along the route. There is traffic, and it is heavier on weekends. Sounds like you already know, you should definitely ride southbound, there is a strong prevailing NW wind. I agree with the other comment, avoid the Big Sur area on weekends. Also be aware of the July 4th and Labor Day (early Sept.) holidays, you might try to stay off the roads on those days. Other than that, expect some nice northwest wind, some fog, some challenging but not-too-steep hills, and above all, gorgeous coastal scenery.

If you have more questions feel free to contact me. I live on the route in Santa Cruz, although I am rarely there, so mail me when you get close if you want local info, and a place to stay if I have one.

Happy Touring!

Anna
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Old 09-27-04, 02:36 AM
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September in western Washington and British Columbia is the first month of the long unpredictable wet season, kind of like Irish weather from what I hear. July and August are sunny with maybe a week of clouds and a couple days of light rain for both months combined.

The coast it's self tends to be some what cooler and damp but not terribly so, the Olympic mountains/pennisula/Natl. park has many fine sites, lots of trees, beaches on the north side tend to be rocky with tide pools(Tongue Point is at Salt Spring and Crescent Beach on the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the north side of the Olympic Peninsula-fantastic, if you go that way).

The Tacoma-Seattle megopolis is ok, if you stick to the salt water like glue. The east edge has some nice terrain but quite a few hills(edge of mountains) and faster traffic. over all its not bad but with the Olympics and 'the dry side' to choose from there is no reason to ride through Sea-Tac.

Go 100 miles east of Sea-Tac and you will be just on the east foot of the Cascade mountains, what we call 'the dry side' of the state, quite hot in July/August but no humidity and lower levels of traffic, nice scenery too. Clear skys are the norm year round. This is orchard and wine country, apples north, peaches and cherries mid, and wine south into the Columbia gorge with a lot of overlap, even farther east is endless wheat farms.

Olympic park photo gallery https://www.nps.gov/olym/wic/gallery.htm

dry side route 821

farther north near US highway 2
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Old 09-28-04, 07:03 PM
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my wife & i just finished ride from seattle to s.f . we camped every nite but 1. wouldn't do it without bicycling the pacific coast, by tom kirkendall & vicky spring, plus we used the adventure cycling maps for all the routes that get you off 101 & 1, i rode the route last year from seattle to san diego. anything else i can help you with, just ask! steve
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Old 09-30-04, 03:30 PM
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Thanks all, this is all very helpful (and welcoming). Further comments gratefully received (the Olympic Park photo gallery is truly awesome, thanks Capiscum). Anna we might well make contact nearer the time and Steve too.
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Old 09-30-04, 03:40 PM
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Here is a great link to pictures of many national parks including North Cascades, Mt. Rainier and Crater Lake.

https://www.serve.com/wizjd/parks/parks.html
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Old 10-09-04, 11:33 AM
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Great advice so far. I totally agree with the having the book "Biking the Pacific Coast"... . I have done the ride twice, the last was from Victoria BC to Calif. I strongly endorse the pennisula route. And I think its hard to beat July for weather. Both times we have gone in July and the weather was great. In 17 days we only had one day that had any rain at all and the was really more of a heavy mist. I don't think that is typical however.

This is truly one of the great rides, first off the scenery is always magical, every day every mile. The people are biker friendly, especially in Oregon. I loved how people would stop to talk with you and wanted to know all about the ride.

The state and national parks hiker/biker sites just add to making it the perfect tour. As was already said they will always have a spot for you. And most biker sites are in the best part of the campground. One of the things we enjoyed was the comraderie that develops from the bikers that you run into at the hiker/biker sites. You would miss one of the great parts of the ride by staying in Motels. We only stayed in a motel on the first and last nights and once in mid ride. It was far more stressfull having to bike around try and find a room. And the prices are sky high at that time of year.

Another great resourse is the Oregon Dept of Transportation. https://www.odot.state.or.us/techserv/bikewalk/ocbr.htm They had this lady who was just so helpfull. They have maps they will send out free or you can download them. Oregon really makes you feel like they want you there, and will go out of their way to help you. My only suggestion is take more time. There is sooooooo much to see and exsperience. When you get closer to going let me know and I would be happy to give you some specific suggestions and some don't miss campgrounds and activities.... such as renting a crab trap and catching some fresh crab.

Here is a link to some of our pictures of the trip..

https://groups.msn.com/Bikingthewestcoast

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Old 10-12-04, 11:05 AM
  #10  
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I am getting ready to make a similar ride next month. I've driven the area betweeb Monterrey and Santa Barbara several times but never ridden it so my experience is a bit skewed.

I got the Adventure Cycling maps for that route and printed out the latest updates. Instead of carrying the papers I simply wrote on the maps and directions, adding in the changes that seemed important.

Although I haven't used the maps on a ride yet, they seem to give pretty good route information especially in urban areas or where the roads may not me well marked. I guess I'll find out next month!

Sam
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Old 10-12-04, 01:37 PM
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markw
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Originally Posted by splitley
my wife & i just finished ride from seattle to s.f . we camped every nite but 1. wouldn't do it without bicycling the pacific coast, by tom kirkendall & vicky spring, plus we used the adventure cycling maps for all the routes that get you off 101 & 1, i rode the route last year from seattle to san diego. anything else i can help you with, just ask! steve
I'm looking at the Seattle->SD route myself. Approximately how long did it take? Did you do the Adventure Cyclist route?

Thanks
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Old 10-12-04, 06:26 PM
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Hi Phillip a good resource is www.cyclingtheworld.org I remember they have a section about tours destinations where you can also find out all the links of travelogues along the Pacific Coast.
Hope this helps
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