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Tour from San Francisco to Monterey

Old 10-01-10, 11:12 PM
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Tour from San Francisco to Monterey

Hello there,

Has anyone tour from SF to Monterey or vice versa? How are the roads like? Is there a group, club or organization that tours that journey. I am new to the area and to this kind of recreation, so I don't dare to go alone and try a short route first before going from coast to coast.

A total newbie here and any help is really appreciated.

Thanks!

Chris
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Old 10-01-10, 11:40 PM
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Chris, welcome aboard!

Spend many hours here and over at www.crazyguyonabike.com. Between the two sites, you'll find out all you need to know about bicycle touring on the PCH(Pacific Coast Highway.)

Thousands of cyclists have ridden the PCH from SF to Monterey. Extend your horizon a bit tho and go at least as far as Big Sur.
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Old 10-02-10, 12:23 AM
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Ride increasingly large circles around your house. When the circles become too big, pack your tent and make it a 2 day ride.

Good luck as you prepare for your big tour.
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Old 10-02-10, 03:26 AM
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There are many here that have done this ride and further. Just do a search on Pacific Coast Highway or PCH here or on Crazy Guy as suggested.

You DO NOT want to go "vise versa" unless you love to punish yourself.

BTW this is a good but not the best part of that section of coast. You really want to go all the way to SLO.
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Old 10-02-10, 07:01 AM
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As stated it's not the best section of road.

Have you thought of going north, towards Point Reyes? Samuel P Taylor state park has a hike/bike site that is nice (except for the raccoon problem), and point reyes is just a bit further. Sites at point reyes fill up quick on the weekends and you have to reserve in advance, there isn't a hike/bike site.

The East bay also has some nice parks with camping.

You could ride in the mountains of the peninsula and head to Big Basin redwoods, Beautiful place. You can take the train south and then just climb over the mountain to the park, spend a day hiking around the redwoods.

Lots of weekend type tours in your area.
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Old 10-02-10, 07:10 AM
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You don't want to go north any where on the coast. Ride inland and north maybe or take the train north and ride south, But riding north along the coast will make for a difficult ride especially for a newbie.

As far as south of SFO.


SFO to around Half Moon Bay is very nice. Half Moon Bay yo San Jose is so, so. The road gets a little more interesting south of San Jose. And Monterrey is well worth visiting.

But things don't really get good till you enter Big Sur.

Last edited by spinnaker; 10-02-10 at 07:15 AM.
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Old 10-02-10, 10:15 AM
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Roads from SF to Monterey are generally decent... except for the area around Devil's Slide. It can be done on a bike, but my preference would be to avoid that section. Some sections have quite a bit of traffic, especially those around Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, and Monterey/Carmel. As others have indicated, the best section is really from Carmel south to Santa Barbara.

Buy yourself a copy of "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" by Vicky Spring and Tom Kirkendall and you should have all the info you need for the ride...
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Old 10-02-10, 10:41 AM
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Originally Posted by zoltani
As stated it's not the best section of road.

Have you thought of going north, towards Point Reyes? Samuel P Taylor state park has a hike/bike site that is nice (except for the raccoon problem), and point reyes is just a bit further. Sites at point reyes fill up quick on the weekends and you have to reserve in advance, there isn't a hike/bike site.
If you don't mind a bit of dirt, you can bike in to all the Point Reyes backpacking sites relatively easily.
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Old 10-02-10, 01:43 PM
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Originally Posted by sstorkel
Roads from SF to Monterey are generally decent... except for the area around Devil's Slide. It can be done on a bike, but my preference would be to avoid that section. Some sections have quite a bit of traffic, especially those around Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, and Monterey/Carmel. As others have indicated, the best section is really from Carmel south to Santa Barbara.

Buy yourself a copy of "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" by Vicky Spring and Tom Kirkendall and you should have all the info you need for the ride...
I don't understand all of the dire warnings regarding Devil's Slide. While it is not exactly a ride on a MUP, it is not the horrible road most make out it to be. At least not during the non tourist season. It really is no worse than most roads in a populated area. I felt far more comfortable riding Devil's Slide then I did riding down into Santa Barbara.
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Old 10-02-10, 06:06 PM
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Get a Krebs map of the area, it's a great bike map, shows services, information on grades, and what roads are good to cycle on. Can get it at local bike shops or google Krebs bike map, find the one for the south bay area.

SOmeone on adventure cycling's forum was looking for a route in that general area, and I contributed something I did a few years ago:
https://www.adventurecycling.org/foru...p?topic=7702.0

It's a pretty hilly route, so it might not be the very best first tour unless you are already a pretty strong cyclist, but the scenery and roads are excellent, and several of the nights have possibility of (overpriced) hotel accommodations if the camping isn't working out. There are a couple of camping-required spots, though.
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Old 10-02-10, 06:08 PM
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if i had some weekends to tour out of San Francisco, I would get the gravel road tires on and point the bike north instead of south and explore the marin headlands, point reyes, mount tam state park and around those bits.


south, a nice way around devils slide is the old highway 1 route that goes overland from pacifica to montara.

It's real pleasant.
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Old 10-03-10, 06:55 AM
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SF to Santa Cruz is great. Once you're past Moss Beach it's a huge clean shoulder with a tail wind. In the early 70's I rode down to visit my girlfriend on Friday Afternoon and back Sunday afternoon.
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Old 10-03-10, 02:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Bekologist

south, a nice way around devils slide is the old highway 1 route that goes overland from pacifica to montara.

It's real pleasant.
Is this the route that was recently open for bicycles? I remember reading about a tunnel bypass. The old road was going to be used for a bicycle route.
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Old 10-03-10, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum
Chris, welcome aboard!

Spend many hours here and over at www.crazyguyonabike.com. Between the two sites, you'll find out all you need to know about bicycle touring on the PCH(Pacific Coast Highway.)

Thousands of cyclists have ridden the PCH from SF to Monterey. Extend your horizon a bit tho and go at least as far as Big Sur.
Thanks Cyclebum! Yeah, might as well go to Big Sur.
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Old 10-03-10, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by skilsaw
Ride increasingly large circles around your house. When the circles become too big, pack your tent and make it a 2 day ride.

Good luck as you prepare for your big tour.
Yeah, good tip. My circle now is getting more difficult because I have to go through hills of SF.
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Old 10-03-10, 07:58 PM
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Many thanks to all the great responses! A lot of good ideas!

Cheers,

Chris
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Old 10-03-10, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by ubringliten
Yeah, good tip. My circle now is getting more difficult because I have to go through hills of SF.
You can avoid most of the bigger hills unless you live on one. For instance, there's a bike route called the "Wiggle" because it zig-zags strategically to take the flattest route. SF is a great biking city. You have to join the San Francisco Bike Coalition (www.sfbike.org). Seriously, you HAVE to. They have been instrumental in promoting cycling in the city. Not only that, but the membership pays for itself in discounts at bike shops and other places.

Definitely, the best road riding is to the north. Go to a bike shop and pick up a bike map of Marin County and a SF bike map. Put together some loops and once you can handle the hills and can go over 40 miles in a day, try riding to Samuel Taylor state park and camping overnight, then ride back. After that, you should be ready to ride anywhere including going down to Monterey.
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Old 10-04-10, 10:13 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
I don't understand all of the dire warnings regarding Devil's Slide. While it is not exactly a ride on a MUP, it is not the horrible road most make out it to be.
Depends on when you ride and your tolerance for traffic, I guess. Last time I drove through, there were several area where jersey barriers completely eliminated the shoulder on several sections of the road. Being forced into heavy traffic on a loaded touring bike isn't my idea of a good time, though it may be yours
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Old 10-05-10, 03:21 AM
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Originally Posted by valygrl
Get a Krebs map of the area, it's a great bike map, shows services, information on grades, and what roads are good to cycle on. Can get it at local bike shops or google Krebs bike map, find the one for the south bay area.

+1000

Krebs maps are the best cycling maps for the area, and some of the best maps I have ever seen, period. Buy the north coast and the south bay, they are more than worth it.
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Old 10-05-10, 09:02 AM
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As to routes south, the old highway 1 starts in pacifica and you can ride portions thru to the south of the pacifica along the beach. pleasant, just head south from the pier and you get right to it.

Head inland to pick up the overland route off Peralta/Higgins Way in Pacifica by the mall, and come down just outside of Montara thru Mcknee ranch state park.

a little bit of gravel, a little bit of a climb but enjoyable touring 'offroad'

once the tunnel on highway 1 gets opened, I heard the current HWY1 route will become the bicycle route so devils slide will be a new bike only route for a few years until the slides close it permanently.
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Old 10-05-10, 02:06 PM
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i went Monterey to SF. Devils slide isn't worth your life. When i was at the base of it, all i could think theres no way i am going to go up this with a trailer going 3-5 mph. So i found someone with a truck paid them $20 and had them drop me off in Pacifica.

High winds, no shoulder, blind turns, Construction, cars with drivers on cell phones. Not safe.

I might do it when they open up the tunnel though since there will be almost no cars on it. While some cars were courteous, I think it was only because I had a trailer that looked like there was a kid in it.

The alternative is to take skyline blvd from SF to HMB. You miss some of the coast, but not enough to really matter.
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Old 10-06-10, 04:09 PM
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Big Sur is beautiful, but I think (but for Devil's Slide) the trip from SF down to Monterey Bay is pretty darn stunning, too. It's just different. The landscape is more gentle, but the views are vast, the road is great with a very generous shoulder, the tailwinds are reliable. Things can get a little confusing through Santa Cruz-Capitola-Aptos, but there's lots to look at even if you do get lost. The central Monterey Bay stretch is great. Mostly quiet roads and huge tracts of farmland. Once past Castroville, there's a bike path all the way into Monterey and Pacific Grove. Part of the path routes you through Fort Ord. The old military stuff is kind of interesting, especially the bunkers under the sand dunes. I love Big Sur, but the roll from south of HMB all the way to Monterey is relaxing, easy and pretty. You might consider a short first day and stop at the Pigeon Point Lighthouse hostel. There's a hottub with a view there. Just before Davenport, a short way up the southern end of Swanton Road, there's a farmstand and bakery that offers discounts to helmeted cyclists. Best of luck, and have fun out there.
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Old 10-06-10, 05:10 PM
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I just rode from SF to Monterey and back last month solo. SF to Big Basin (in the Santa Cruz Mountains) 1st day, BB to Monterey 2nd day, and Monterey to San Jose (where I took the Caltrain back to SF) on the 3rd.

To get from Santa Cruz to Monterey is pretty straight forward. You ride through farmland that is relatively flat with minimal traffic except for a small stretch of Hwy 1. Once you get close to Marina, there is a bicycle path that takes you all the way to downtown Monterey.

You have a few basic options to get from SF to Santa Cruz.

(1) You can hug the coast the whole way. Make your way to the Great Hwy in SF and head south through Pacifica and hit Hwy 1, which you take all the way to Santa Cruz. Besides the aforementioned Devil's Slide, the roads have generous shoulders and great views but the traffic tends to go by at ~60MPH. This route is pretty flat but you are exposed to wind, which may or may not help you.

(2) Head south on the eastern side of the Peninsula hills and cross over the hills using Hwy 9. This is the hilliest option but there is much less traffic compared to option 1. I wouldn't suggest taking Skyline (Hwy 35) the whole way since the section from Hwy 92 to Hwy 84 has very little shoulder and more traffic. I generally take Canada Rd. south to Woodside, then Portola, then Old La Honda up to Skyline. From there, go to Hwy 9 and then it's downhill to Santa Cruz.

(3) Ride all the way down to Los Gatos and take the Los Gatos Creek Trail to the Old Santa Cruz Hwy/Summit/Soquel San Jose route. Starts the same as Option 2 but keep heading south on Foothill Expressway until Los Gatos. This is less hilly than Option 2 but slightly more traffic. Roads are great condition. There is one short section (~100 ft) of the Trail that is unpaved and too steep to ride.

(4) You can take the flats as far south as Gilroy and head over Hwy 152 to Watsonville. I haven't ridden this road so I'm not sure about the conditions.

Best of luck!
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Old 10-06-10, 11:12 PM
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Man, I need to sticky this thread! Wow, I didn't know this route was that popular.

Here are my goals (now I can have goals set at every New Year's) for the next year:

1. Join SF bicycle coalition.
2. Overcome the hills of SF.
3. Get a Kreb map.
4. Then ride from SF to Half Moon Bay.
5. Then go further North from SF to Marin County.
6. Then go South to Big Sur and will avoid Devil's Slide (already don't like the name).

Thanks and have a nice week!

Chris
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