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Buy, rent, or borrow a bike???

Old 04-30-13, 06:18 PM
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Buy, rent, or borrow a bike???

Im planning on making a two week trip down the Pacific Coast Highway at the end of May. Currently I have no Bike, and I dont need to own one at the end of the trip. As I see it, my options are to:

1) buy a used bike, and re-sell at the end of the trip.

2) rent, which will probably cost a pretty penny.

3) find someone crazy enough to let me borrow their bike.


Also, I will be taking a train up to San Francisco from LA, and then starting my trip.

Any advice/ recommendations?
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Old 04-30-13, 06:25 PM
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Buy used and resell is your best option.
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Old 04-30-13, 06:49 PM
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I think you are making a huge mistake. How much have you ridden before? Do you know what it is like to ride long distances with gear? While the PCH might be on the coast, it is far from flat. It has some very steep climbs. There are a number of sections where you will encounter traffic and you need to have at least some experience dealing with that. There are curves, steep descents with places you can easily launch yourself over a cliff side if you don't have bicycle handling experience with gear.

Even if you are young and it top physical condition, you will still need at least some training on a bicycle. Before you go on this long adventure, I suggest you buy a bike and for for a weekend trip or two with gear, before committing to the expense of a PCH tour.

I don't want to discourage you from making this tour. What I do want to do is encourage you to do it well prepared.

Last edited by spinnaker; 04-30-13 at 06:52 PM.
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Old 04-30-13, 07:16 PM
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You can rent cars , but not fully outfitted touring bikes, with all the gear and bags.

But if you book with a fully catered touring company they will rent you the bike with the package .
Its the total opposite of inexpensive and self contained touring.
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Old 04-30-13, 08:44 PM
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Whatever you choose make sure you have a triple rings on the crank. This is not an option but a necessity. I walked up a mountain pass on my first trip. Don't make that mistake. I'm sure this route has some very steep grades. Hopefully, you can get a bike with a 22 or 24 tooth ring.
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Old 05-01-13, 01:28 AM
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You will need a lot of saddle time before you'll be ready to tour with gear. I trained for my French tour despite being a fairly fit cyclist, and was very glad I did! Going up hills with all of that weight is a game-changer, and you will additionally need lots of quality time in the very saddle you'll be touring with. Chafing ain't no joke.
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Old 05-01-13, 06:01 AM
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O.k. So summarizing, the advice is:

- Buy a used bike with a triple and 22 or 24T granny gear that you start training on now.

Actually, that is good advice.
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Old 05-01-13, 07:47 AM
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Don't spoil your trip with a bike that A. doesn't fit well, B. is geared too high, and C. isn't in top mechanical condition.

Used is just fine long as you can find the right one. Or even a new Trek fx 7.1, 2, 3. Reasonably priced, comfortable, easy resale. Who knows. You may become a touring addict like many of us on here.

Visit local bike shops to get ideas.
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Old 05-01-13, 08:39 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
I think you are making a huge mistake. How much have you ridden before? Do you know what it is like to ride long distances with gear? While the PCH might be on the coast, it is far from flat. It has some very steep climbs. There are a number of sections where you will encounter traffic and you need to have at least some experience dealing with that. There are curves, steep descents with places you can easily launch yourself over a cliff side if you don't have bicycle handling experience with gear.

Even if you are young and it top physical condition, you will still need at least some training on a bicycle.
Agree with this. Along the Big Sur section of the coast, there are a couple of days where decent places to stay are separated by 60-70 miles and 4000-5000ft of elevation gain. That can make for some very long, very frustrating days if you're not properly prepared. I spent about six weeks training diligently for my credit-card tour down the coast...
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Old 05-01-13, 08:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Dshechter
Im planning on making a two week trip down the Pacific Coast Highway at the end of May. Currently I have no Bike, and I dont need to own one at the end of the trip. As I see it, my options are to:
Just curious ... if you have no bicycle now, and you are planning to ride one for 2 weeks in relatively challenging terrain ... how do you intend to train for this adventure? Are you regularly riding spin bikes?
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Old 05-01-13, 03:26 PM
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Don't be discouraged by all the naysayers. Doing that trip without training is quite doable. Just go your speed and you'll be fine. I just did Monterey, CA to south LA a few of weeks ago. That's 400 miles in six days on a 6-speed folding bike with camping gear and no prior training.

Unfortunately I don't have much input to your decision. You'll need to check out what's available to buy, rent and borrow. From there you can make a decision based on money and usability of the bicycle.

BTW, I bought the folding bike exclusively for such adventures. The cost is now at ~$200/day thanks to three great trips. Soon it won't seem such a crazy idea having spend so much money on it.
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Old 05-01-13, 04:18 PM
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Originally Posted by cbike
Don't be discouraged by all the naysayers. Doing that trip without training is quite doable. Just go your speed and you'll be fine. I just did Monterey, CA to south LA a few of weeks ago. That's 400 miles in six days on a 6-speed folding bike with camping gear and no prior training.

Unfortunately I don't have much input to your decision. You'll need to check out what's available to buy, rent and borrow. From there you can make a decision based on money and usability of the bicycle.

BTW, I bought the folding bike exclusively for such adventures. The cost is now at ~$200/day thanks to three great trips. Soon it won't seem such a crazy idea having spend so much money on it.

You were lucky and just as foolhardy as the op.
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Old 05-01-13, 04:35 PM
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Riding a bicycle isn't rocket science. Neither is bicycle touring. I really don't see why I was foolhardy or lucky.
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Old 05-01-13, 07:01 PM
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Originally Posted by cbike
Riding a bicycle isn't rocket science. Neither is bicycle touring. I really don't see why I was foolhardy or lucky.
Apparently ignorance really is bliss.
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Old 05-01-13, 07:09 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
You were lucky and just as foolhardy as the op.
Really. I guess people can't just go out and ride a bike. He may not do as many miles as you, or go as fast, but I assure people can enjoy just going out and touring without a "grand" plan. Lighten up there, Jerky.
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Old 05-01-13, 07:24 PM
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It took me 30 days of riding before my butt didn't hurt in the saddle when I first started riding after years off the bike. You might have to factor something like that in. A comfortable saddle is one of your major purchasing concerns. Some need a little breaking in (your butt or the saddle (sometimes I can't figure out which)).

Riding yourself into shape is doable, but if you're an older guy, you have no idea how your ligaments are going to respond to the ride. I'd suggest that you'll need to be disciplined and hold yourself way back at the beginning of the ride. The day you get hurt can be a day or two before the day you feel the pain.

If your bike fit sucks, you might get knee pain or nerve discomfort in your hand. A decently fitting bike is an amazingly precious commodity. There is an absurd amount of science and analysis devoted to a good bike fit.

Be emotionally prepared to blow up the ride if you have unanticipated physical issues. No sense aggravating an injury because you "have to" finish the tour.
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Old 05-01-13, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Apparently ignorance really is bliss.
Ignorance really is bliss, but self-revelation of ignorance is a *****.
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Old 05-01-13, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Btflmutant
Really. I guess people can't just go out and ride a bike. He may not do as many miles as you, or go as fast, but I assure people can enjoy just going out and touring without a "grand" plan. Lighten up there, Jerky.
Unfortunately, you do need either a plan or conditioning to cover some of the more challenging sections of the route.

In particular, the section between Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and San Simeon is about 70 miles and, according to my Garmin Edge, requires 4700 feet of elevation gain. If you're out of shape and end up pushing your bike up every hill, it's going to be very difficult to cover that ground in a single day. You're going to have similar problems if your butt is on fire after 2-3 hours of riding, because you haven't spent any time in the saddle. Camping and lodging options are fairly limited on that section of the coast, especially around the time when the OP will be traveling.

So, the options are either: 1) make sure you have the necessary conditioning to cover the terrain in the time required, or 2) develop a "grand plan" so you know which of the limited lodging options are going to work if you can't make the distance.
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Old 05-01-13, 08:26 PM
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Originally Posted by MarkvW
Riding yourself into shape is doable, but if you're an older guy, you have no idea how your ligaments are going to respond to the ride. I'd suggest that you'll need to be disciplined and hold yourself way back at the beginning of the ride. The day you get hurt can be a day or two before the day you feel the pain.
Riding yourself into shape really only works on a longer tour. The OP's SF to LA trip doesn't provide much opportunity for that, since the terrain is pretty challenging and lodging options are limited right from the start...
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Old 05-01-13, 08:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Dshechter
Im planning on making a two week trip down the Pacific Coast Highway at the end of May. Currently I have no Bike, and I dont need to own one at the end of the trip. As I see it, my options are to:

1) buy a used bike, and re-sell at the end of the trip.

2) rent, which will probably cost a pretty penny.

3) find someone crazy enough to let me borrow their bike.


Also, I will be taking a train up to San Francisco from LA, and then starting my trip.

Any advice/ recommendations?
Yeah. It's extremely doable. Take it at a pace that works for you.

I have lived in the Bay Area and toured up and down the coast. It's not hard riding. The climbs are nowhere near what they are in the Sierras. The temperatures and weather are benign, and it's beautiful. One of the best routes in the entire world. You couldn't have chosen better.

Do some research on saddle sore issues and tissue ischemia. Listen to the MDs who are also serious cyclists. A gel saddle or saddle cover, and good padded or gel bike shorts can help a lot, especially for those without a hardened posterior. Long hours in the saddle for two or three or more days will bring most beginners some serious saddle issues and pain if they don't prepare for it with the right setup. It is just not the same as short rides. The issues get much more serious.

There are bike coops and alternative types in and around SF who might be able to set you up with something, or refer you to someone who can. Try The Missing Link in Berkeley if they are still going. See what they suggest and who else they might recommend. There are also some used bike shops and clubs that might be able to help.

Or you can try the same sort of thing in SoCal, take the bike on the train and return it when you get back. If I were down there and someone offered a deposit and small contribution for using the bike and gear for a couple of weeks, and the person seemed reasonably trustworthy, I would do it. And you might be able to find some decent folks in a club somewhere who might be happy to be of help. Some people are just naturally that way. Some people are happy to share and help out.

There are online resources that might help you connect with the right persons.

If you are in reasonably good shape you should be fine. Give yourself plenty of time and don't push harder than what is a good sustainable pace for you. Smell the roses. Enjoy the blue skies and the sea.
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Old 05-01-13, 08:59 PM
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The Xtracyle guys have a great network of alternative connections and might even be able to set you up with something directly. If you approach them well and are able to put a full refundable deposit on something, and make it clear that it is just two weeks, it might be worth a try. If you can talk to Ross directly, he is pretty good with these sorts of things and alternatives.

You might also try running it by someone at Rivendell and see if they have any good suggestions. Just describe what you are doing and see if they have any ideas.
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Old 05-02-13, 12:10 AM
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Buying used and reselling is a good option if you can find a good bike that fits. Maybe put up a wanted ad on craigslist. Or you could put up a couple, including rental or loaner wanted.

And also check to see what is listed for sale.

You could try for and be open to multiple possibilities, and see which one or ones pan out.

Also, keeping the load simple and light will help with carrying it on the bike, and make the riding more pleasant.

IntenseAngler has some excellent youtube tutorials. If you enter 'IntenseAngler super ultralite,' he shows what he packs when going very light. If you add 'backpacking trip' to those words, in the youtube.com searchbox, he talks about some of the benefits of keeping it light, in the few minutes preceding the 05:30 mark.

He's a good, helpful person, and has a lot to share.
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Old 05-02-13, 12:29 AM
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If you are still interested, check out UDC, The California Road Bike Tour Company

https://www.udctours.com/
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Old 05-02-13, 03:36 PM
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Originally Posted by Btflmutant
I assure people can enjoy just going out and touring without a "grand" plan. Lighten up there, Jerky.
Up until about age 45 I stayed quite fit year round and was able to backpack, canoe, or cycle without difficulty. Now at age 58, I'm feeling my age. As I've got older, I find training before a trip really increases my enjoyment of the experience. Without the training, my body aches and complains just about every day.

The OP doesn't give his age, or an indication of his fitness level, but I firmly believe that proper perparation will improve his trip.
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Old 05-02-13, 03:51 PM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
Apparently ignorance really is bliss.
That is a little harsh.

I think some time on the bike before the tour is a great idea, but I have met folks on the Pacific Coast who were managing fine with no training.
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