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Help! again...planning a local Southern California journey

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Help! again...planning a local Southern California journey

Old 12-01-10, 06:52 PM
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Help! again...planning a local Southern California journey

All right, the pathlesspedal's thread about not letting not having the ideal gear prevent you from touring got me thinking. It got me thinking that I'm going to hit the road over winter break. The first destination will be my grandmother's home, haha...to visit, maybe stay for two days.

THEN...I want to go along up the coast to Carpinteria/Los Padres National Park/Santa Barbara area. I'm using Google maps to help me plan the trip. Now it got it right for the 20 mile ride to my grandma's house by using a dedicated bike path for most of the way, but when I entered the next destination, it suggested I take the Pacific Coast Highway. I fear there might be too much traffic for me to be comfortable, but I know the scenery will be beautiful up the coast. It's only a 100 miles one way. This really is just a practice run for the real trip up the coast to San Francisco. I plan on wilderness camping, got my bike, racks, panniers, tent and sleeping bag soon, debit card for food, etc. I know I wanted some other gear but I just want to finally get going. All it takes is my deterimination to do it.

Anyways, what I'm asking is...is using PCH a bad idea? The advantages are I'll pretty much have a view of the ocean the whole way and it'll be nearly impossible to get lost since it only goes north and south. The farther north I go from Los Angeles, the more state parks and beaches I'll see. More inland is not a good option because there's a few mountain ranges that might be discouraging on my first go. The disadvantages is that there could be a lot of traffic, but I'm hoping this will only be an issue at certain tourist hot spots. What do you guys think?


Thanks a lot for all your help!
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Old 12-02-10, 01:24 AM
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Have you checked out the Adventure Cycling Association? They have maps for the routes you're planning here

PCH is fine, though riding North to South on the ocean side of the road is preferable imo better winds, not next to cliffs... Fine if you're planning on there and back, but for a one way trip it might be more fun to take Amtrak to a northern starting point and ride south.
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Old 12-02-10, 07:14 AM
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PCH (AKA Hwy 1, 101, etc.) can be busy, but it is the preferred bicycle route along the coast. Get the ACA map.

"Wild camping" is impractical, but also unnecessary as there are plenty of state parks with cheap hiker / biker camp sites.

South to north is doable, but not only can the headwinds be ferocious, you will have to cross traffic to fully enjoy the view and cross back across traffic to get going north again. That is dangerous.
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Old 12-02-10, 09:23 AM
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Totally agree w/ above posters - PCH is fine, your idea for a short trip is fine, but when you do the "real" trip, start in SF and ride south, the wind will be friendlier.

I would bail/reschedule if you get a storm forecast for your trip dates - as you know, a pacific storm is no joke and you won't want to be riding in it.
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Old 12-02-10, 10:03 AM
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Originally Posted by valygrl
I would bail/reschedule if you get a storm forecast for your trip dates - as you know, a pacific storm is no joke and you won't want to be riding in it.
In march when I rode the stretch from San Simeon north to Kirks Creek over Ragged Point the rain was causing A LOT of rockfall... I kept my eyes peeled to the cliffs and ears pricked, but was very lucky not to get swiped by a number of rocks hurtling way across the road. There were crews in bulldozers out clearing the roads who I got on friendly waving terms with
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Old 12-02-10, 11:39 AM
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Hey there Albert, where in Los Angeles do you live? Before our big trip we did a lot of short trips beginning from Los Angeles. Maybe we can give you some other alternatives to the coast. We've done PCH several times and it's an OK ride though the stretch through Malibu really blows.

Russ
www.pathlesspedaled.com

Here some ride reports from previous trips:

Dirt Mulholland
https://epicureancyclist.com/?p=304

Here to Beer Tour
https://epicureancyclist.com/?p=131

A Very Long S24O
https://epicureancyclist.com/?p=65
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Old 12-02-10, 03:09 PM
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Is the North-South wind really that debilitating? I was planning to ride up to San Francisco pretty much following the coastline on PCH. I just bought the ACA maps necessary for the trip. I figure if I go against the head wind one way and then have it blowing at my back the other way, everything would even out. Is there a better way than this, though? Going inland seems fairly complicated with the mountain ranges.
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Old 12-02-10, 03:14 PM
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Don't worry about the wind... it's just the wind...
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Old 12-02-10, 03:22 PM
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Hey Russ,

It's good to see you posting here after your huge adventure. I'm watching for stories, and looking forward to bits of accumulated road wisdom.

I checked out those links to your LA based trips. I live down in Costa Mesa and can appreciate how difficult it is to find a relaxing or leisurely ride in this town. I commute to clients spread through LA/Hollywood/SantaMonica via PCH and the LB Metrolink. It has it's bumps, but overall I prefer the ride to the drive.

BTW, regarding the pre-S24O scary story of a bear attack in Yosemite that was confirmed by a ranger as a mauling and death... There's not one recorded bear mauling/death in Yosemite and never by the California black bear. Yosemite, mind you, not Yellowstone, not a Cal black bear. Black bears are, overall, timid. And Black bears are the bear population in California. I've had my share of em through out the Sierras and further South. They're aggressive about food in Yosemite like nowhere else, it's really bad, so you have to take lots of care. But, while there's plenty of bears in Los Padres and Angeles NF, they're not so acclimated toward expecting human contact means food, so they'll generally run given the chance. Bear bagging would be OK in either of those places. Nothing short of a Bearicade or vault works in Yosemite (and it's the LAW). Don't quote me on bear bagging food, it's not recommend or condoned.

cheers,
-Michael
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Old 12-02-10, 03:35 PM
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Originally Posted by imi
Don't worry about the wind... it's just the wind...
Ignore the conventional wisdom and ride!
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Old 12-02-10, 03:40 PM
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I live in El Monte, 20 miles east of Los Angeles. The bike path system is decent around here. I have the San Gabriel Bike path about two miles away. Your post made me reconsider some more local destinations, but I kind of already had my heart set on PCH, along the beach towns. I see Laguna Beach is a terrible bike tour destination, but I love Santa Barbara. The Mulholland path made me a little more hopeful of riding through Los Angeles.

Originally Posted by pathlesspedaled
Hey there Albert, where in Los Angeles do you live? Before our big trip we did a lot of short trips beginning from Los Angeles. Maybe we can give you some other alternatives to the coast. We've done PCH several times and it's an OK ride though the stretch through Malibu really blows.

Russ
www.pathlesspedaled.com

Here some ride reports from previous trips:

Dirt Mulholland
https://epicureancyclist.com/?p=304

Here to Beer Tour
https://epicureancyclist.com/?p=131

A Very Long S24O
https://epicureancyclist.com/?p=65
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Old 12-02-10, 03:51 PM
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I wasn't very impressed from the pacific route from San Diego to Oceanside and back. It's all residential area and high traffic highway. I think most of the time you'll end up riding on the major highway 1 or 101. There is no way around it if you ride along the pacific. To me the pacific wasn't much more interesting than miles of corn fields elsewhere. So I don't see a huge attraction to ride along it if it has to be on a busy highway. Next time I'm in that area I'll give the back country a closer look.

A benefit riding south instead of north is that you can get closer to the ocean without having to cross the busy Hwy 1 or 101. You might also get a better view of the ocean. However, that wasn't true for the part I rode, to many houses.

Sounds like you are going north from LA, so the route along the pacific might be different. Have you thought of riding up the "valley" (the region I5 goes through). I'd guess there should be some nice lonely and flat country roads. Otherwise the mountains don't look that horrid if you pick a route through the valleys. And remember, if you go up you also get to ride down again.
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Old 12-02-10, 08:35 PM
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Originally Posted by albertmoreno
Is the North-South wind really that debilitating? I was planning to ride up to San Francisco pretty much following the coastline on PCH. I just bought the ACA maps necessary for the trip. I figure if I go against the head wind one way and then have it blowing at my back the other way, everything would even out. Is there a better way than this, though? Going inland seems fairly complicated with the mountain ranges.
Oh interesting, you are riding round trip. I've done it in both directions and it's definitely noticeable, and can make you work pretty hard, but it's not "debilitating." There's another inland route from Adventure Cycling, "Sierra Cascades" that you could use for the northbound leg - but it's very mountainous. May or may not be what you want to start out with. I love mountains myself, and wouldn't avoid this route, but it's something to think about.
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Old 12-03-10, 10:01 AM
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hmm, yea, that sounds good. The Sierra Cascades from Tecate down south to Lake Isabella up north, then northwest to the San Francisco.

Do you really think highly of Adventure Bicycling's maps? Can I use it to basically plan the trip? Or should I bring an additional resource.
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Old 01-27-11, 12:57 PM
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Albert, I'm interested in this since I'm planning a trip during spring break in March 2011. Most likely I'll fly into San Luis Obispo, do day rides and then ride to San Francisco and stay there for a couple of days.
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Old 01-27-11, 02:06 PM
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Originally Posted by albertmoreno
hmm, yea, that sounds good. The Sierra Cascades from Tecate down south to Lake Isabella up north, then northwest to the San Francisco.

Do you really think highly of Adventure Bicycling's maps? Can I use it to basically plan the trip? Or should I bring an additional resource.
I have found that you can buy the AC maps and just go with no other resources or planning. The Sierra Cascades Route has a ton of climbing, which may or may not be good depending on what you want. That section of the SC was my least favorite of the parts I have done (we rode from San Diego to the Tahoe Reno area). Still it was pretty scenic.

Edit: Be sure to print out the addenda on any AC routes from their web site to be sure you have the latest info.
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Old 01-27-11, 09:00 PM
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You'll have a great ride. The ACA maps are great and will be all you need. The section you are doing is fairly urban and there will be a lot of traffic. Make sure you stop at Neptune's Net. It's a great place for a beer and burger or a coke and to check out the surf. Just past there (Deer Creek Road), PCH has been closed to through traffic due to rock slides from out December rains. I would check before you go. There is an alternate route up DCR, but the first mile is one of the steepest roads I have ever ridden. But it is beautiful back there. Once you hit Las Posas Rd (the bridge), you will hop off PCH and head along the Navy base and through Oxnard. The bike bath in Ventura around Surfers Point, just north of has pier, has washed out. You will probably need to detour along Main St and jump back on the path at the bridge over the Ventura River. Hope that helps and you have a great trip.
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