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I need some help planning a tour down the Pacific Coast.

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I need some help planning a tour down the Pacific Coast.

Old 03-10-11, 01:34 PM
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I need some help planning a tour down the Pacific Coast.

Hey all!
I plan on touring the Pacific Coast in late May, early july, from Portland, Oregon, to Los Angeles, CA, with my girlfriend. We're both pretty excited, but now that I'm planning, I feel a little overwhelmed. Can you guys help me out?

I've ridden from San Francisco to Santa Maria, CA, about 350 miles, but this trip is substantially longer.

We're trying to keep it very cheap, camping as much as possible, if not every night, or staying with friends along the way, cooking our own meals, etc. We also hope to take our time, and not make a beeline straight for LA, exploring places and seeing interesting things and stopping places to play.

I'm not sure where to start now, with routes and gear and all. I've read a number of books on it and everything, but I'm definitely struggling to stay afloat all of a sudden. Help!

Thanks,

-Nick
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Old 03-10-11, 01:53 PM
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Did you camp on your other trip? If so, you already got a chance to test your gear, think back through that trip to what worked and what didn't.

If not, there are lots of gear lists on www.crazyguyonabike.com, as well as journals of the route that can help you think through what you might want to bring.

Make a list, and check off what you have, what you can borrow, what you need to buy. Then start collecting the stuff. You have plenty of time to plan and pack. Try to minimize your stuff, you're going to be spending more time on the bike than in camp, probably, so you want to be happy while you're riding, which means pack light!

It's a REALLY user-friendly route, lots of towns, lots of state parks with cheap hiker/biker camping, gorgeous scenery - so don't panic! If you forget something, you can buy it or have a friend mail it to you. If you pack too much (more likely) you can mail it home.

The really good resources are Kirkendall & Spring's book "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" and the Adventure Cycling pacific coast maps (www.adventurecycling.org). Either of those is sufficient for routing, and both have info on where to camp, where the services are, milages, etc. It's nice to have some additional maps, like AAA maps of the bigger cities, but you can also get info along the way by visiting the Tourist Info or Chamber of Commerce as you go.

Don't worry - worrying before a big trip is normal - everything will be fine by the afternoon of the first day.
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Old 03-10-11, 02:03 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl
Don't worry - worrying before a big trip is normal - everything will be fine by the afternoon of the first day.
+1
It is easy to get really psyched up over everything, but it all has a way of just working out. I won't try to say too much at this point since I'd only be repeating what Valygrl already said except, I will say that the Kirkendall and Spring book is nice, but has been out of print long enough that before counting on them you will want to verify if the services listed are still open. I would expect the AC maps to be a bit more up to date in that regard, especially if you make sure to print out the online addenda before you start.
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Old 03-10-11, 02:07 PM
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And remember....a bad day touring down the pacific coast beats a good day workin.....anywhere!
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Old 03-10-11, 02:34 PM
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I can help with Oregon

Originally Posted by banjo_mole
Hey all!
I plan on touring the Pacific Coast in late May, early july, from Portland, Oregon, to Los Angeles, CA, with my girlfriend. We're both pretty excited, but now that I'm planning, I feel a little overwhelmed. Can you guys help me out?

I've ridden from San Francisco to Santa Maria, CA, about 350 miles, but this trip is substantially longer.

We're trying to keep it very cheap, camping as much as possible, if not every night, or staying with friends along the way, cooking our own meals, etc. We also hope to take our time, and not make a beeline straight for LA, exploring places and seeing interesting things and stopping places to play.

I'm not sure where to start now, with routes and gear and all. I've read a number of books on it and everything, but I'm definitely struggling to stay afloat all of a sudden. Help!

Thanks,

-Nick
I can’t help you with the California portion of the trip, but I did the full Oregon coast last summer. It’s a beautiful ride and relatively easy going.

My suggestions:
1) Route planning - Buy the bike maps from ACA https://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/pacificcoast.cfm as they are worth their weight in gold. A bit spendy but all your routes and camping spots are laid out (not to mention the maps are high quality, water resistant and very detailed). People think it’s a straight shot up 101, but there are a number of detours that take you by some beautiful scenery that you wouldn’t see otherwise.
2) Camping - Oregon is very easy. Most of the campgrounds have ‘hiker/biker’ sites requiring no reservations. I was never turned away even though some sites had quite a few people. They only cost $5/person, all the ones I went to had showers for a nominal additional fee if not free. It seemed like I was passing a campsite every 20-30 miles, you always have the option of bailing out of the days ride if you are struggling.
3) Weather - you should be ok in June in Oregon, but bring waterproof clothes and a tent. I got dumped on once (after I had set up camp), but I am glad my stuff was waterproof or else I would have been SOL.
4) Bike – lots of info on this site, you’ll have to search.
5) Food – I brought all my own gear to cook. I brought WAY to much food, there were a number of roadside fruit stands, smoked salmon stands, co-ops, etc. I would bring some long term storable light food such as crackers, peanut butter, powerbars, etc and restock every other day on fresh stuff.
6) Mileage – You giving yourself just over a month. I personally think it is really pushing things with the time you have since it works out to about 50 mi/day with no off days (by my calcs). Especially if you want to site see and take some alternative routes.
7) Misc. – Don’t miss Jed Smith state park in Northern Cali, 20 or so miles from the border, great place to take a couple days off by the river.
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Old 03-10-11, 02:35 PM
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That route is one of the easiest as far as camping goes. Lots and lots of State Park campgrounds with hiker/biker sites for cheap, as Valygrl said (I believe they're at $5 per person now). No reservations required and they will always find space for touring hikers/bikers even if the regular campground is sold out. Free showers (in Oregon, anyway) included. California is not quite as good but hiker/biker sites are available there too. Showers are not always free there, however.

As far as the route, it's pretty straightforward. From Portland you have several choices on getting over to the coast (I took Hwy 30 to Astoria, but some say Hwy 26 is prettier and much less traveled, although it puts you further south once you reach the coast), then just head south on 101 and follow signs to stay on the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route. Generally, it's just 101 most of the way with a few deviations, until you get to Legget, CA, where you turn right on Hwy 1. I turned inland just North of SF so am not sure about the parts south of that. But the Spring & Kirkendall book has the route detailed out for you. I really liked that book's elevation profiles as well, so I could see what hills were ahead. Be prepared for rain. You will get some (I even got rained on several times in August). Also, expect a big uptick in traffic after Memorial Day. A link to my Pacific Coast journal is in my sig.

Edit: Sorry for the dup of NickW's post - wasn't there when I started writing.
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Old 03-10-11, 02:39 PM
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Nick:

I highly recommend purchasing this guidebook: Bicycling the Pacific Coas. This past summer I rode solo from Seattle - San Francisco camping every night. I took the book and no other maps or information. Absolutely no problems, following the book was a breeze and I'm sure I learned more about the coast than had I relied on something else. I found most of the days well planned (distance wise) however towards the end I extended the days which simply meant looking forward in the book and finding a different campground (they noted most campgrounds passed and what facilities they offered i.e. hiker/biker, showers).

As for cheap, all hiker/biker sites through Oregon and CA are 4-6ish dollars. My few days going through Washington meant $14/night at the state park hiker/biker sites, so I was very pleased to enter Oregon and start paying $6 with fantastically hot showers! Over my 19 days (one rest day), I averaged just over $18/day and that included no stealth camping. Cheapest sites were hiker/bikers in Oregon and CA, most expensive was a KOA in Eureka at around $18 I think. Food along the way is plentiful but be prepared to be shopping at a lot of ma & pa small stores which are usually on the more expensive side.

You'll have a blast!
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Old 03-10-11, 03:34 PM
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Originally Posted by banjo_mole
Hey all!
I've ridden from San Francisco to Santa Maria, CA, about 350 miles, but this trip is substantially longer.
...
I'm not sure where to start now, with routes and gear and all. I've read a number of books on it and everything, but I'm definitely struggling to stay afloat all of a sudden. Help!
How many days did it take to do your SF to Santa Maria trip? I've found not a huge difference between gear I take on a five day trip or on a month trip. Along your route there are spots to resupply (or mail home) and one will do more laundry along the way. However, most things I bring on a five day trip I bring on a thirty-five day trip.

As far as routes go, the "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" book is dated but a reasonable start. Also look online for links to Oregon Bicycle map and state campground guides. Last year I rode most of distance from Vancouver, BC to Santa Barbara, CA but in a sequence of shorter trips [Vancouver to Seattle, Seattle to Portland, Portland to Eugene, Eugene to San Jose, Monterey to Santa Barbara]. I think you've picked some of the nicest and easiest parts of the coast to tour.
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Old 03-10-11, 04:52 PM
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Go to the ODOT page for a nice map and guide to cycling the OR coast. https://egov.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKE...ggested_RoutesThis includes a guide to state campground location and facilities. It doesn't include any private campgrounds, but the state campgrounds in OR are clean, cheap and have fantastic free showers. Did I mention the free hot showers?

OR also puts signage along the highway directing you for those places where it is better to leave U.S.101. There is one unfortunate new development along the Oregon Coast Bike route. The section between North Bend and Bandon (seven devils road) has a newly operating chromium mine. This road is narrow, windy and has a few small hills. Be wary of the trucks here. I haven't been on it since the mine opened, but I expect it will not improve the experience.

CalTrans has a similar, though not as well done, resource https://www.dot.ca.gov/dist1/d1transp...uide/index.htm CalTrans has also put some small info tags on some of the mile posts. You will periodically see the distance to the next campground, store and/or restaurant on these. I wish they would put the distance to the next two campgrounds, but it's better than nothing.

There is one route option in NorCal that is not often taken but is the highlight of all my trips down the coast. If you go west out of Ferndale, you will experience the Lost Coast. This is the area north of U.S.1 along the coast that was considered too rugged to build a road when Hwy 1 was being built. Lots of steep, long hills here, including the first climb out of Ferndale. There are very few services out there, but there are also very few cars. After over 400 miles of traffic, I bet you will be willing to trade traffic for hills. Taking the Lost Coast means skipping the Avenue of the Giants, but it also means skipping the deadly section of Hwy 101 between the Avenue and Legget. Campgrounds on the Lost Coast include A.W. Way (between Honeydew and Petrolia), King's Peak (gotta do some gravel to get to that one), a couple in Shelter Cove, another one southwest of Petrolia, and camp Usul. There's a store in Honeydew. Also, Usul Rd. is not paved, so bring some dirt-worthy tires (it's only 25 miles).
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Old 03-10-11, 06:50 PM
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it's downhill all the way!
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Old 03-10-11, 06:58 PM
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It's awesome how many of us have done this!

I forgot to add, for directions: Keep the ocean on your right.
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Old 03-10-11, 07:21 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl
It's awesome how many of us have done this!

I forgot to add, for directions: Keep the ocean on your right.
But you will still get lost.


Take a look at this post for tips on SFO to SBA. You have done it before but probably still worth noting.
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Old 03-10-11, 08:13 PM
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Originally Posted by LeeG
it's downhill all the way!
Except when it's uphill. The northern approach to Sea Lion Caves can sneak up on you if you are not paying attention.

Also, there are a lot of good eating places along the coast. Between Lincoln City and Florence, there are four locations of Mo's Seafood Restaurant. Their clam chowder is worth a try unless you like yours Manhattan style.
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Old 03-10-11, 09:09 PM
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I'm glad you posted this. I'm planning to do the same trip this summer, so I'm always looking for as much information as I can find.

Someone recommended https://www.krebscycleproducts.com/ for a great map of the Northern California section. I haven't gotten it yet, but they say their maps are better than either AC's or the "book."

Have fun!
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Old 03-10-11, 10:41 PM
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The little hill south of Elk, CA is also an attention grabber.



The ocean is on the right.



It is a great route, and one that will help build confidence and experience.
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