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Hwy 101 as opposed to 1

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Hwy 101 as opposed to 1

Old 05-07-13, 10:25 PM
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Hwy 101 as opposed to 1

I'm wondering if anyone has experienced either, or both.
We would be riding from crescent city to San Francisco. It appears that 101 is a Freeway,
and 1 is a little dicey at times and allot of climbing. We are sudo experienced tourers, with our main concerns
being crazy hills, and crazy drivers.

thanks!
Mark
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Old 05-08-13, 12:13 AM
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I presume you're wondering about the section heading south from Leggett where you have the choice. Depends on what kind of experience you're after.

101 is a faster ride, but I find freeway shoulder riding to be rather monotonous - you're farther away from the scenery and that makes it feel like you're not making much progress even if riding fairly fast. Also watch out for the drainage grates on the shoulder - there were some that looked like the nasty wheel-catching type. They've been reported to Caltrans but I have no idea if they've been fixed. Also watch for tire debris. The little steel wires left over from the cords and belts can puncture bike tires. This was much more of an issue on I-5 with its heavier truck traffic than on 101, but the latter had some as well.

I prefer Hwy. 1. Yes, there are some more hills, but most are pretty short after you get over the hill between Leggett and the coast. The scenery is terrific, the road is smaller so you have a better sense of motion, and most of the traffic is from other tourists who aren't in too much of a hurry. There are also lots of other touring cyclists on the route so motorists are used to seeing them and are generally friendly.

Last edited by prathmann; 05-08-13 at 12:17 AM.
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Old 05-08-13, 07:51 AM
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Highway 1 was the way I went there and it was generally pretty nice. That said I kind of like riding on Freeways some times.
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Old 05-08-13, 08:33 AM
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hwy 1 - ocean, little towns, bakeries, short steep hills, plenty of services, camping

hwy 101 - inland, freeway, fast-food highway rest stops, car exhaust, flatter - have not ridden it but I've driven it - not bad as far as highways go, but i sure wouldn't tour on it given the opportunity to be on the coast.

try to ride out of Crescent City on a sunday - less truck traffic on the hill.
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Old 05-08-13, 09:13 AM
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A couple of thoughts.

You can't ride all the way to San Francisco on 101. I'm not sure where the prohibition starts, but it could be as far north as Santa Rosa or more. There are local routes from there, to be sure, but even if you opt for 101, it won't be a straight shot.

The difference in your visual experience will be extreme. 101 goes inland along farm land, vineyards, and housing. Up north, there will be more trees, but as you approach San Francisco, it will get more and more urban. Hwy 1 runs along the coast where you will witness much of the natural coastal beauty that has made California a famous destination. Without a compelling reason, the obvious choice is Hwy 1. Beware the 101 will have exits and entrances where you will have to negotiate with freeway speed cars., which, in my mind, is far more dangerous than the lack of shoulders on Hwy 1.

If you ride with a mirror and are willing to pull off the road when a semi or RV is coming, then you will have no problems with traffic. During the weekday, the traffic is reasonably light on Hwy 1.

I have ridden all the way from Ft. Bragg to San Francisco on Hwy 1 more than once (journal here) and can state without qualification that you will be completely satisfied with the experience.

A section of the ride from SF to LA requires riding on 101. Even thought there's a wide shoulder, it is noisy, smelly, dusty, and full of debris. There are also narrow bridges where a full on sprint is required to avoid nasty automobile proximity. I haven't ridden on 101 north of SF, but I would never even consider it.

As to the hills, don't assume that 101 is flat. It, too, has ups and downs. As to which one has more or harder hills, I don't know but short of the Leggett Hill, I don't think there is anything too extreme on Hwy 1, certainly no more than one longish climb a day.

There really is no meaningful choice here; take Hwy 1.

Last edited by raybo; 05-08-13 at 09:17 AM.
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Old 05-08-13, 10:58 AM
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+1 on use of mirrors to see what is overtaking you.

Hwy 1 is a much more enjoyable experience in either direction than 101 in my experience.
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Old 05-08-13, 11:21 AM
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US101 starts at the CDN Border, you wont get to Cal Rte 1 until, in Leggett, Mendocino county.

Cal Trans Pacific Coast route book has no route south of that intersection on 101.

until Gaviota, Santa Barbara Co. [though this booklet is dated by a few years]

Last edited by fietsbob; 05-08-13 at 11:31 AM.
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Old 05-08-13, 11:58 AM
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There really is no meaningful choice here; take Hwy 1.
+6
There is no contest-- Hwy 1 is the way to go.
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Old 05-09-13, 10:15 AM
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Ok, it seems like a no brainer. I'll go get the map from adventure cycling.
Thanks for tips guys!!
Mark
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Old 05-09-13, 07:47 PM
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+7 (even though you're already convinced). That section of hwy is what I had hoped the whole pacific coast tour would be like. When I did it timing was perfect. Headed up over the pass from leggit early on a Sunday morning (no traffic). The climbing was great and the downhill awesome I could smell the sea before seeing it.
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Old 05-09-13, 09:12 PM
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One alternative to 101 South of Eureka is via Ferndale, the gateway to the Lost Coast and Unknown Coast. Lots of climbing up 1700 ft. and descending back to the ocean and then reclimbing 2000 ft to reach scenic sites like Petrolia, Honeydew and Panther Gap 2745 feet leading you back to 101 at Humbolt Redwoods State Park and the Avenue of the Giants. About fifty miles of old California including the site of the first oil well at Petrolia.

With off pavement capabilities you can turn South at Honeydew and parallel the King Range and the Sinkyone Wilderness on the Usal Road to reconnect with Hwy 1 above Westport and the ocean. Not a lot of services directly on this route but well worth the effort and planning.

Both are lovely but more difficult alternatives to the standard "101 turn right at Leggett" routing. I have enjoyed both N-S and S-N routing several times in each direction.
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Old 05-10-13, 07:35 AM
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I will be touring the PCH starting in about 3 weeks and I also bought the KREBS map of the Cali coast. I have the ACA maps and they look like they will be great. The KREB's map shows the lost coast route. It looks like a great area to tour. We will see how much legs i have when i get to that section as it looks like some serious climbing. to OP it would get you away from traffic for sure. arctos that is a good suggestion.
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Old 05-11-13, 07:53 AM
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another voice heard for both using a mirror, being aware of whats coming up behind vs whats meeting you up front, oh and yes, another vote for the hwy 1.

as mentioned, it will be much more enjoyable if your bike has low enough gearing for the weight you will be carrying.
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Old 05-12-13, 08:19 AM
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I too will be doing this tour in a few weeks; I'm starting on 5/25. I will be following the ACA map as I did a few years ago. This time I will do the Ave of the Giants section and not the Lost Coast. I also have a few minor off route sections in mind but nothing too major.

second the idea of starting on a weekend from Crescent City. The first climb up Del Norte on 101 would not be fun with logging trucks blowing by. As for traffic issues, we only got hooked at once in 9 days last time. Being from LA that was great! :-) The 1 from Leggett to a bit south of Mendocino had some traffic at times but not bad, and then dropped to almost nothing south on Mendocino. I general my feeling was most people were tourist or people from the more rural parts who tended to be in less of a hurry, save the logging trucks.

Do make sure to follow the ACA map route. The route gets you off the 101 as much as possible on to some really nice side roads. Like the route to Frendale. It looks out of the way for sure but it really very cool. When in Ferndale follow the directions to the start of the Lost Coast section, very short .25 mile detour. If you don't like climbing, seeing the start will reinforce why you choose not to go this way. :-)


One tip, expect it to be cooler than you might expect due to fog.


A few memorable places to eat along the way:
Lost Coast Brewery in Fort Bragg
Queenie's in Elk (closes at 3 I think)
Tomales Bakery in Tomales
Bovine Bakery and Cowgirl Creamery in Point Reyes Station


Have a great trip. This section of the CA coast is pretty amazing.
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Old 05-12-13, 05:24 PM
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Another factor: If you are not familiar with the area, there's usually a marked difference in the temperatures along the coast versus only a few miles inland. Crescent City's summertime highs are usually in the low 60's, but inland temps (dry heat) are usually in the 90's and 100's (which I prefer, to tell the truth, I hate mist with soggy tents and gear in the morning)
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Old 05-12-13, 06:00 PM
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good point, I did this trip in June, and it was the coldest June riding I had ever experienced. Quite a shock considering how hot it can be up here in June, as well as in other places like France where I have been in that month. Arm warmers would be a good idea, or at least a long sleeve top you can take on or off quickly, thats what I recall, sometimes changing fairly often (didnt have arm warmers)
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Old 05-13-13, 04:00 AM
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Originally Posted by stevepusser
Another factor: If you are not familiar with the area, there's usually a marked difference in the temperatures along the coast versus only a few miles inland. Crescent City's summertime highs are usually in the low 60's, but inland temps (dry heat) are usually in the 90's and 100's (which I prefer, to tell the truth, I hate mist with soggy tents and gear in the morning)
Good point. That said I consider the cooler temperatures on the coast a plus, if anything when I rode there it got a little warmer on the coast at times than I care for. That was in early September.

I found that a windbreaker was a key item for that weather for me. It got zipped on the downhills and unzipped or even removed for the climbs.
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Old 05-14-13, 10:57 PM
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The famous Mark Twain quote, which he didn't actually say, came up repeatedly on our trip - The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.
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