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Trip from Portland, OR to San Diego, CA - could do with a bit of help!

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Trip from Portland, OR to San Diego, CA - could do with a bit of help!

Old 07-01-13, 04:17 AM
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Trip from Portland, OR to San Diego, CA - could do with a bit of help!

Hi there,
Firstly, this is my first proper touring ride, and whilst planning on the whole has gone well there are a few things that are really giving me a headache.

The Bike
Seeing as I'll be coming from the UK, I have a lot of options when it comes to bikes, and none seem the obvious answer. I really need some help on this, do I;
  • Buy a bike in the UK, ship it across the Atlantic with my flight and back using my bike bag. If so, what do I do with the bike bag?
  • Buy a new bike in Portland, and sell it in San Diego?
  • Buy a used bike in Portland and sell/leave it in San Diego?
  • Rent? (Not sure if this is even a possibility)

Navigation
I've seen a lot of people talking about downloading routes to Garmins etc, but not as much about how people are doing this? Would anyone recommend taking my laptop with me to plot as I go? Or is it wiser to plan the entire journey in advance? I have a Garmin Edge 200, which probably wouldn't hold that much data, and I'm not even sure of the route. Some other people mentioned Google Maps which I would happily use combined with the Strava Heatmap, but I will need an International Sim (recommendations?). Also, has anyone got an Edge 810/510/800/500? These have maps downloaded onto them, would that be sufficient?

In any case, cycling the Pacific Coast I believe I will only really need navigation in Cities.

Accomodation
I had heard good things about the network WarmShowers.org and am very keen to meet people this way as I'm travelling Solo. I am not planning to take a Tent, apologies to the purists! The hosts seem to be in a sufficient density for the ride distances I'm planning on taking.

Starting to get very excited indeed about the whole thing! Thanks in advance to any responses and apologies if some of these questions are regulars on this forum.
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Old 07-01-13, 06:00 AM
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Maps: https://www.adventurecycling.org/cycl...c-coast-route/
or book: https://www.amazon.com/Bicycling-Paci...+pacific+coast

Or you can get maps of the cities in the visitor centers in each town, and just wing it. I found having a cell phone with mapping useful on this last trip, but it's not needed. a computer is also not needed. (but, see below.) The Edge series needs to be charged every night, the screen is very small. the 800/810 have mapping capability, the 500/510 don't, you can just record where you went, and follow a pre-loaded track, you can't navigate on a map. If you want to use a GPS to navigate, there are other choices that take AAA batteries that would be better - sorry, that's about all I know about that.

I can't tell you anything about warmshowers, I camp. i would think counting on a warmshowers host every night would make the phone and the computer a requirement, though. And you would need to be willing and able to pay for hotel rooms when it doesn't work out.

I doubt you can rent a bike. Your other choices - up to you, but personally, I wouldn't want to start out on a brand new bike that I've never ridden before. To fly with the bike, don't use your bag, use a cardboard box (get for free from a bike shop), discard it in the arrival airport, and find another one at the end of the trip.
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Old 07-01-13, 06:01 AM
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Welcome to BF. Got yourself quit a nice ride planned.

The bike: Bring it with for 100% confidence of having what's just right for you. The buy in Portland option could be made to work, but the loss when sold will neutralize any savings on shipping yours.

Navigation: Any gps with a map of your route should be sufficient, backed up with state maps. I use an eTrex Vista, route planned in advance and loaded as a track file. Routing on the fly is no problem either, especially if enjoying the hospitality of WS hosts who know the area well. Another alternative, highly recommended, is to use Adventure Cycling maps, filled with all sorts of useful information.

Accomodation: WS hosting is also highly recommended, but don't plan on that exclusively, as finding a willing/able host can be a bit iffy. You do need to be signed up as a host yourself. I do often make a special effort to line up a host at the start and end of trips, and did stay with a super host in Portland. Suggestion: read the WS forums for insight into hosting/guest issues.

Have fun planning and riding the fabulous Pacific coast.
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Old 07-01-13, 07:54 AM
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Ijust returned from a tour from Portland/Astoria to San Francisco. I used the ACA maps and also the Cycling Oregon map that the Oregon Dept. of transportain prints. For California google Krebs Cycling maps, they are very detailed and a little better than the ACA maps IMO. The PCH was a great tour, be ready for alot of hills and awesome scenery. I camped all but 3 nights and the Hiker/Biker camp sites in Oregon were very nice. The ones in California were OK, you can tell the state is hurting for funds as they were not as well taken care of as in Oregon as far as cleanliness of the shower facilities. All in all it was a great trip........only had 2 days of rain in Cali. and 3 hours of rain in Oregon!

Have fun on your tour and enjoy!
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Old 07-01-13, 08:15 AM
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While warmshowers.org is a great site, it is limited in the number of hosts it offers. Couchsurfing.org has a much larger group of hosts but isn't specifically about bike touring. By using both, you will be able to find hosts most nights.

But, there are some sections of the coast where finding a host isn't possible. Specifically, the Big Sur coast of California. Unless you are doing crazy mileage, you will have to spend the night on the Big Sur Coast somewhere and expensive hotels (that will require reservations) or camping are the only options.

My first choice when I tour is to be hosted for the night. I often arrange my daily end points to coincide with a hosting opportunity. I try to arrange these stops weeks in advance. Even with all that, I have never been able to find a host every night and I have over 2 dozen references on couchsurfing.org alone. As a new person on the list, you won't be so lucky.

Find as many hosts as you can and then plan on renting motel rooms. Note that the summer is the high season on the coast and in particular busy beach towns, reservations may be needed.

If camping is out, you will need to do much more careful planning to make sure you always have a place to spend the night.

A GPS isn't necessary on this tour unless you plan on deviating from coastal route. The ACA maps are good enough. You can see the ACA Pacific Route here: https://tsteven4.qwestoffice.net/maps...oastRoute.html (it takes a while to load).

A cell phone will be necessary to connect with hosts.
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Old 07-01-13, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by valygrl
The Edge series needs to be charged every night, the screen is very small. the 800/810 have mapping capability, the 500/510 don't, you can just record where you went, and follow a pre-loaded track, you can't navigate on a map. If you want to use a GPS to navigate, there are other choices that take AAA batteries that would be better - sorry, that's about all I know about that.
When I rode from SF to LA back in 2009, I used a Garmin Edge 705. After a day of riding, with the unit on the entire time, the battery was still about 50% charged. You could probably get away with charging it every other day, though I admit I did charge it most nights. I now own a Garmin Edge 800 and it seems to have better battery life than the 705.

I only made one wrong turn during the entire 500-mile trip, so I'd say the screen size of the Edge 705 (and 800) work well for me. They work so well, in fact, that I'll probably leave the paper maps behind if I ever do the trip again...
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Old 07-01-13, 09:37 AM
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Portland does have, like, 300 bike shops if you want to shop for your Bike on arrival ..


Paper map User, myself , Unless hiking in the bush, where USGS maps are great topographical charts.
US maps are not as Good, as Ordinance Survey Maps, Over There.

DeLorme is Close , they publish Books to cover states, they do have a Digital version , now.. of course ..
havent tried them , maybe a Tablet device will give a large enough screen, ...

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Old 07-01-13, 11:42 AM
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Thanks for all the responses!

Is boxing the bike really that easy? Can't say I've seen any places at UK airports where I could find a huge box and bubble wrap! Another problem is that I don't actually own a bespoke tourer, though I could adapt a Trek 1000 I have.

I think using maps will be the best, like many of you said it's not much of a demanding course in terms of navigation!

In terms of accomodation I think it would be best if I get booking hosts as quickly as possible. What counts as 'crazy' mileage and what might I expect to pay for a motel for the gaps in hosts? Are there a lot of campsites along the route? I'm not afraid of camping, just the weight associated with it!
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Old 07-01-13, 11:47 AM
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Also,has anyone ridden the ACA route, does it have sections unsuitable for a roadie? Pavé is fine, gravel not so much.
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Old 07-01-13, 01:05 PM
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I just got home about a week ago from a Vancouver to San Diego tour, I also had a bit of travelling to do in order to get to the west coast.

For travelling with a bike: My advice after having just been through the experience is to simply package up the bike in a standard bike box and check it on an airline. There is a web link lingering on similar threads that illustrates different airline bike box rates. We only paid 50 USD to fly with our bikes on Air Canada out the west coast; however, majority of the airlines charge 100 flat. We arrived in Vancouver Intl' airport and spent the better part of a few hours building and loading up our bikes.

Another option in the US is Amtrack. You can take a train across the country for a pretty fair price, but it takes about 3 days. The extra bike charge is only 10 dollars, and 15 for the bike box which allows you to leave your front wheel on. Just pop the handlebars and pedals off and your good to go.

For route: We followed a combination of ACA and google maps. ACA is generally the better way to go, although we found that google maps often followed a very similar if not identical path. (Beware that google maps can also be disappointingly outdated in some areas.) Probably 99.9% of the ACA route is paved, and very beautiful in some parts.

For hosts: We had largely over anticipated the amount of camping that we would actually wind up doing. We only camped for maybe 7 or 8 days during our month and a half long trip. The rest was spent largely with warmshowers and couch surfing hosts which are extremely abundant on this route due to its popularity. With some planning, you could do the whole ride without having to stay in a motel or camp. But you definitely should camp anyway, oregon and northern california has gorgeous and affordable camp sites.

Mileage: This route is actually pretty tough, so don't plan too many days over 80 or 90 miles. We made that mistake and quickly adjusted the rest of our route in the beginning. Plan your days around the elevation and hosts if necessary, and you will be fine.

hope this helps! Good luck!
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Old 07-01-13, 04:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum
Welcome to BF. Got yourself quit a nice ride planned.

The bike: Bring it with for 100% confidence of having what's just right for you. The buy in Portland option could be made to work, but the loss when sold will neutralize any savings on shipping yours.
The hassle factor of traveling with is worth something. Then again, you have the hassle of buying it and then selling it again. I would opt for bringing with. A benefit of using your own (other than mentioned) is knowing all of the places you and your bike have been.


Originally Posted by Cyclebum
Navigation: Any gps with a map of your route should be sufficient, backed up with state maps. I use an eTrex Vista, route planned in advance and loaded as a track file. Routing on the fly is no problem either, especially if enjoying the hospitality of WS hosts who know the area well. Another alternative, highly recommended, is to use Adventure Cycling maps, filled with all sorts of useful information.
Google Maps or CoPilot on a tablet or smart phone works well too. Nice thing about CoPilot is it routes off line.

Originally Posted by Cyclebum
Accomodation: WS hosting is also highly recommended, but don't plan on that exclusively, as finding a willing/able host can be a bit iffy. You do need to be signed up as a host yourself. I do often make a special effort to line up a host at the start and end of trips, and did stay with a super host in Portland. Suggestion: read the WS forums for insight into hosting/guest issues.
.
Very sparse (at least Warmshowers) along the Oregon Coast and worse in Northern California once past Arcata. It can be done if you are willing to plan on the stops where the hosts are located. Once you hit San Francisco things pick up for a while but then get worse again in Big Sur. But there are hostels too. None on the Oregon Coast or northern California.

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Old 07-01-13, 06:30 PM
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Originally Posted by raybo
While warmshowers.org is a great site, it is limited in the number of hosts it offers. Couchsurfing.org has a much larger group of hosts but isn't specifically about bike touring. By using both, you will be able to find hosts most nights.
Warmshowers seems to be setup as finding a place to stay for the evening, with the benefit of socializing. Couchsurfing on the other hand puts the emphasis on socializing with the minor benefit of a place to stay. Many couchsurfing hosts insist that you read their profile thoroughly before asking for a couch. If you are just looking for a place to stay then couchsurfing is not for you.

Couchsurfing also seems to be fairly alternative lifestyle in the US. Much more so than in Europe. If don't want to deal with a lifestyle that might seem a bit odd or different than yours, then couchsurfing is not for you. After reading the profiles for some of the couchsurfing hosts in the US, I prefer not to us it here.

But even warmshowers has it's drawbacks too. You have to play nice at the end of the day when you might be so tired , all you want to do is get something to eat and go to bed. But some hosts will leave you to yourself, it will depend on the host. You might have to eat what you are served, even though you don't like it. I usually insist that I take them out to eat but if they have a large family, that could be expensive or they might already have something prepared, then you can't say no.

But all in all, I think WS is a pretty good experience.
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Old 07-01-13, 06:51 PM
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Originally Posted by AlfsChaps
Thanks for all the responses!

Is boxing the bike really that easy? Can't say I've seen any places at UK airports where I could find a huge box and bubble wrap! Another problem is that I don't actually own a bespoke tourer, though I could adapt a Trek 1000 I have.
It's not that difficult but don't wait to the day before you leave to do it like my mate's son did. You should try packing up the bike a couple of weeks before or at least taking apart the main components. This will do two things. First you will know how to do it when the time comes. Most important you will make sure nothing is seized up like my mate's son's seat post.

There are a number of could instructions on packing your bike just search for them.

The easy way is if you have a mate that has a vehicle large enough to transport your bike. Pack it up a couple of days before your departure then off to the airport.


Another option that we have here is to take a taxi large enough to fit your bike box. Since I live close to the airport, I have the added luxery of taking a shuttle.


If can't transport your box from your home:

An option is to book a hotel room near the airport that has a shuttle. Either post an empty box, or box with your bike in it to the hotel or hopefully find a hotel that has a nearby bike shop. It could not be that expensive to send your bike locally.


Final option would be to pack your bike at the airport. Chances are you will get a larger box to make things easy for you. But you should still try to get a standard box from your local bike shop and practice packing that box.


Originally Posted by AlfsChaps
Another problem is that I don't actually own a bespoke tourer, though I could adapt a Trek 1000 I have.
The Trek will be fine as long as you are not carrying too much weight. If it does not have braze-ons for the rack, you could use P clamps.




Originally Posted by AlfsChaps

In terms of accomodation I think it would be best if I get booking hosts as quickly as possible. What counts as 'crazy' mileage and what might I expect to pay for a motel for the gaps in hosts? Are there a lot of campsites along the route? I'm not afraid of camping, just the weight associated with it!
As I said above the Oregon coast is going to be difficult. With the itinerary I finally wound up with I have no warmshowers hosts. I would either have to do very short mileage or very long mileage days just to stay with a host. Though my original itinerary , I think I could of had 2-4 hosts.

You have to read the profiles and reviews. Some I read and just get a bad feeling and prefer to pay for a hotel.



When are you planning on doing this?
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Old 07-01-13, 07:04 PM
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Oh! Before you get anywhere near Portland, do at least a weekend ride from home. Pack like you would pack for a two week tour. An what you bring on a two week tour should be pretty similar to your weekend gear. This will help you learn what you need and don't have and more important what you have and don't need (you can always buy what you don't have). Plus it will teach you how to control your bike loaded and lots of other thisngs.
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Old 07-01-13, 11:54 PM
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LBS out here on the Coast could get a Trek 520 together To ride, with a fortnight's notice,
just say the size you need.. ..

bus runs to Astoria from Portland .. bring packed panniers.


got Any fit adjustments, the next Trek dealer is in Newport, far enough to sort that out..

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Old 07-02-13, 06:23 AM
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Originally Posted by spinnaker
But even warmshowers has it's drawbacks too. You have to play nice at the end of the day when you might be so tired , all you want to do is get something to eat and go to bed. But some hosts will leave you to yourself, it will depend on the host. You might have to eat what you are served, even though you don't like it. I usually insist that I take them out to eat but if they have a large family, that could be expensive or they might already have something prepared, then you can't say no.
But all in all, I think WS is a pretty good experience.
1+. Exactly why two or three WS nights is 'bout all I want on a 3 week tour. Prefer camping. Motels last resort.
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Old 07-02-13, 08:12 AM
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I think travelling solo will make me look forward to meeting some great folks each night, I certainly felt that way taking the trains all over europe last year. I had heard hostels were not popular and very rare in the US so I hadn't counted on them being anywhere, is that true? Because I'm a big fan of hostels.

I'm still not entirely clear on the cardboard boxes. Don't worry about my ability to build and disassemble bikes, I shipped my bike to and from Turkey just last month for the European Champs. That was very clear what I was doing though, if someone just gave me a giant box I'm not sure how I could make it work without miles of bubblewrap. Wouldn't it bounce around? Wheels on/off? Is it similar to bikes bought online that come ready with handlebars turned and pedals off?

Sorry to be such a newbie, but walk me through what I'd do come San Diego (if for example I bought the bike in Portland). Arrive in San Diego, stay, then when my flight comes, cycle to a self storage place and get a box? LBS? Then Taxi to the airport?

Thanks for all the responses, mapping I've decided on ACA maps with CoPilot on my phone.
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Old 07-02-13, 09:10 AM
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Sometimes you can buy/get a bike box at the airport. Sometimes you can't. I would arrive in San Diego a day or two before my flight, and ride over to the airport and find out in person if they have boxes. It's very hard to find out on the phone.

You can use cardboard, wadded up newspaper or buy bubble wrap. THis is where having a bike you don't care about scratching comes in handy. You'll need to disassemble the bike more to get it in the box - google around for instructions. usually you'll remove front wheel, front rack, handlebars, pedals, seatpost, and stuff them all in the box. Remove the skewers from the wheels. DOn't let any small parts float around loose in the box, they can fall out during transit if any holes get punched in the box.

Leave yourself at least 2 hours to box the bike up - it can be done in way less, but the first time you'll probably have to try a variety of things to get it in the box. Don't forget to acquire (buy, borrow) packing tape too. YOu can get tape in the grocery store.

There is a nice, very bike-friendly hostel about 2 miles from the airport in San Diego (HI-USA Pt. Loma hostel, there is a downtown one too, but I would pick the Pt Loma one myself.) They actually run a bike tour between Christmas and New Years every year, which I've done a few times.

You can get a taxi to the airport for about $20 that will carry a bike box (the airport taxis are mostly vans). There is a Performance bike shop about 2 miles (other direction) from the hostel as well. You probably can get someone at the hostel (other guests) to help you get a box, by just being friendly and asking. You could also pay the Performance shop to box the bike up for you, but then you have to get it to the hostel/airport by car. This is one of the things you just have to figure out on the spot - either be willing to pay for the taxi, make friends, etc. Not setting yourself up to rush to catch a flight is recommended.

The other thing you could do at the end is get a hotel near the airport, most of those have free airport shuttle vans.

There are a few other hostels on the coast - google pacific coast hostel, you'll find them - I know about ones in Monterrey, Cambria and San Diego, I know there are a few more, but definitely not enough to use them every night.
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Old 07-02-13, 05:25 PM
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If you already shipped your bike before then and you say not to worry why the questions on packing? I am confused. As I mentioned above there are tons of places on the web to get packing advice. Just search.

And as mentioned above, hostels start getting more numerous once you get near San Fransisco. I would not stay in the Santa Barbara hostel unless you had a private room. I was in the dorm and got a really bad feeling about that place, checked out and checked into a hotel at near $200 a night. Not sure if the Santa Barbara is AYH or not. My guess not. I would steer clear of non AYH hostels in big cities. The AYH at the fort in San Francisco is very nice. Not sure about the dorms as I had a private room but it seemed safe.


Originally Posted by AlfsChaps
I think travelling solo will make me look forward to meeting some great folks each night, I certainly felt that way taking the trains all over europe last year. I had heard hostels were not popular and very rare in the US so I hadn't counted on them being anywhere, is that true? Because I'm a big fan of hostels.

I'm still not entirely clear on the cardboard boxes. Don't worry about my ability to build and disassemble bikes, I shipped my bike to and from Turkey just last month for the European Champs. That was very clear what I was doing though, if someone just gave me a giant box I'm not sure how I could make it work without miles of bubblewrap. Wouldn't it bounce around? Wheels on/off? Is it similar to bikes bought online that come ready with handlebars turned and pedals off?

Sorry to be such a newbie, but walk me through what I'd do come San Diego (if for example I bought the bike in Portland). Arrive in San Diego, stay, then when my flight comes, cycle to a self storage place and get a box? LBS? Then Taxi to the airport?

Thanks for all the responses, mapping I've decided on ACA maps with CoPilot on my phone.
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Old 07-02-13, 05:31 PM
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Originally Posted by valygrl


There is a nice, very bike-friendly hostel about 2 miles from the airport in San Diego (HI-USA Pt. Loma hostel, there is a downtown one too, but I would pick the Pt Loma one myself.) They actually run a bike tour between Christmas and New Years every year, which I've done a few times.

You can get a taxi to the airport for about $20 that will carry a bike box (the airport taxis are mostly vans). There is a Performance bike shop about 2 miles (other direction) from the hostel as well. You probably can get someone at the hostel (other guests) to help you get a box, by just being friendly and asking. You could also pay the Performance shop to box the bike up for you, but then you have to get it to the hostel/airport by car. This is one of the things you just have to figure out on the spot - either be willing to pay for the taxi, make friends, etc. Not setting yourself up to rush to catch a flight is recommended.
IMHO there is no need to go all the way to SD. The fun stops north of SLO in my opinion. Though the ride down into Santa Barbara is pretty spectacular. SBA is a fairly big airport but OP being international may need to to to LAX.
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Old 07-02-13, 05:35 PM
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I was trying to get across that I wouldn't have any problems with the bicycle part of packing, more the logistics. I took my bike in a bike bag, with an aluminium frame, several internal straps and pockets for the wheels, so it was obvious what I was to do. I was more asking about the proportions of the box I'm expected to fit a bike into, and therefore how much I need to do to get it in!
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Old 07-02-13, 05:51 PM
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If you can get a box at the airport, it will most likely be oversized so all you should need to do is take off the pedals and turn the handlebar. Maybe lower the seatpost.

If it is a bike shop box then just stop by a shop to see what you need to deal with.
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Old 07-03-13, 04:01 PM
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Under closer inspection it seems I may have been underestimating some of the distances involved here. Quite difficult in Google Maps to tell what scale you're at, and at times there can be up to 200km between WS hosts. Give me a break though, I'm British and nothing here is more than ten miles away! So particularly for Big Sur and some of the Oregon coast, I think I'll take my Tent. Anyone got a recommended sleeping bag? My 3 season one would be far too toasty.

Another thing which I hadn't thought of until now was the availability of food. Is it really as barren as it looks on Google or will I easily find places to stop either to grab lunch or buy it earlier in the day, or will more planning be required?

And another thing! It appears my ACA maps will definitely not arrive here for me, so I'm sending them to my friend in Portland. Do they have details of good campsites along the way to a reasonable density?

This is all very exciting..!
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Old 07-03-13, 04:33 PM
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The ACA maps show the camping locations. There are "hiker biker" camp sites in many state parks, which means it's cheaper for folks like you w/o a car. Look for those. I think the maps note which camp grounds have those. Many state park campgrounds have coin-operated showers, so having some quarters with you is nice.

Side note: most camp sites have food storage containers, which you should use, because raccoons like to steal your food. Also, look up Poison Oak, and try to learn what it looks like, it's all over the place on the coast and will give you an itchy rash if you touch it.

There are plenty of campgrounds and there are plenty of places to get food, though sometimes you might need to buy your dinner at lunch time. The big grocery store chain that you will see most often is called "Safeway," smaller towns will have smaller or no grocery stores, but you can usually get by with food from convenience stores, and I think you never go more than 2 days without a Safeway.

The maps will help you plan when you need to carry extra food, they show which towns have groceries & restaurants. You can mostly camp every 30-40 miles, sometimes you might have to make a choice between a slightly too short vs. a slightly too long day.

Try to stop at the Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes, a half-day north of San Francisco. Eat Mexican food in Santa Cruz (Tacqueria Vallarta) and all points south. Dip your feet in the ocean. Have a great trip!
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Old 07-03-13, 04:40 PM
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Deetjeens in Big Sur is fairly reasonable as hotels go. And it is a very nice hotel IMHO, very rustic and kind of quaint. Be sure to grab something at the market for dinner before you make your way up the hill. Their restaurant is a bit expensive, few choices and very high brow.

There is also a place a bit further down the road that has yurts that are supposed to be fairly reasonable. Can't remember the exact town but if you search I am sure you will find it.

Ragged Point is worth a stay too (about a days ride from Deetjeens). Again reasonable as the area goes. The view from there is spectacular so at the very least make a stop. It will probably be pretty close to one of your last spectacular views on your ride.


Be sure to stop at Arguello Supermarket in San Francisco, near the entrance to the park. They have a sign that says best turkey sandwiches in the world (or something like that) and they are not kidding.

The restaurant at the Half Moon Bay airport has a huge delicious breakfast burrito. The airport is a few minutes from the hostel in Montara, which is well worth a stay. If it were a hotel it could easily fetch $200+ a night.

La Haute Enchilada near Elkhorn Slough serves the best burrito I have ever tasted.

Food along at least the CA coast is expensive but the portions tend to be huge.

Take a look at sites like this
https://ridewithgps.com/

It will help you in planning your ride based of the amount of climbing you will be doing. Lots of climbing and you might want to shorten your day.
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