Vancouver to San Francisco - I made it

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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Vancouver to San Francisco - I made it

Postby lisap » 1 Jul 2009, 5:47pm

Left Vancouver on 1st June and cycled North, crossed over to Vancouver Island and then to the San Juan Islands and down through the Puget Sound. Hit mainland US in Washington State and peddled across the Astoria bridge to Oregon and then past the California fruit inspectors into California.

Its been roasting hot, hit Canada in a heatwave, no rain at all other than two light showers during the night in Oregon. I haven't even unpacked the rain gear. Completed the trip yesterday by riding straight to San Francisco airport which was really easy to find. Have completed 1500 miles I had no punctures thanks to my Conti tyres or mechanicals, which is a good thing as I am not the most adept at anything that needs fixing.

It's been a great trip, met loads of interesting people along the way and made some friends as well. Would reccommend it to anyone but do it a bit slower as there is so much to see. I only had 2 days off in the month and now I need another holiday.

Just about to go to the airport for the flight home later this afternoon.


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Re: Vancouver to San Francisco - I made it

Postby KHenry » 1 Jul 2009, 5:54pm

Sounds like fun. Did you camp?

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Re: Vancouver to San Francisco - I made it

Postby braz » 1 Jul 2009, 6:51pm

Another well done! Any further information most welcome - about your bike, where you stayed, traffic, anything really - did you take a bike with you on the plane or hire one? - and how did you get on with the 12 lane freeways!

regards, Braz.

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Re: Vancouver to San Francisco - I made it

Postby Tako » 1 Jul 2009, 7:05pm

I've always wanted to ride this route. Hope you can write more about your trip when you get back and have decompressed. Chapeau!

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Re: Vancouver to San Francisco - I made it

Postby AndrewClark » 2 Jul 2009, 9:28pm

I did Seattle to San Francisco in May. Lots of rain in Washington state but Oregon & California were superb. A wonderful trip.

Braz, no 12 lane freeways. A few bits of 101 were like busy English dual carriageways, but mostly the roads were good.

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Re: Vancouver to San Francisco - I made it

Postby lisap » 3 Jul 2009, 8:22am

I am back home but still on Pacific time so not much sleep last night and now I am feeling really dozy so apologies for spelling mistakes etc.

I took my bike with me in an unpadded bike back and just protected the bits that needed it. Flew with BA from T5 and I can't fault them. Both the bike and the trailer arrived in Vancouver without a scratch on them so much so that the bike bag which was new still looked pristine with no holes or drag marks around the edges. As I only had the two items there was no charge either which was a bonus.

To find the route I used the Cycling the Pacific Coast book and most other people I met had it and a combination of ACA maps as well. I stayed in state parks at the hiker/biker sites, hostels and motels as well. Canada and Washington State were the most expensive for camping as about $14 per night but as soon as you get to Oregon it drops to $4 with free showers and in California $3 but you have to pay for the showers. I stayed at independent hostels as well as IYHA's. The Painted Turtle in Nainamo was in a good location, Point Reyes and the Marin Headland hostel at the Golden Gate were beautiful although the 17% gradient down to Point Reyes was a bit of a struggle getting up the next morning. Motels when I felt I needed a rest as I only took 2 rest days in 30 but about every 5th night.

As Andrew says no 12 lane freeways but some of the roads were quite busy but there was normally a shoulder to ride on except on bridges where it would disappear just when you needed it. Crossing to the islands on the ferries was a doddle, none of that elf and safety lark you get here. You stand with your bike at the front of the boat while its docking and all that's between you and the water is a piece of rope!!! The ferry master of the Washington State ferry that does the run between Vancouver Island and the San Juan Islands is a guy named Perry. Turns out he is a touring cyclist and I met him in Oregon on the last day of his week long ride, small world.

If Canada was all about ferries, there were 8 in all the US was all about bridges. Crossing the Astoria which is 4.5 miles and goes uphill with no shoulder was no fun at all and some of the bridges I got off and walked because of the sidewind and speed of the traffic. There were 2 tunnels as well but they have a warning light that you hit as you enter and it lets drivers know your in there.

Eating/cooking was fine, most days the end of the ride would coincide with a grocery store or mom and pop store so there was no need to carry tons of food. Loads of fruit stalls in Oregon at the side of the road where you could buy 2 bananas or 1 nectarine rather than supermarket bunches were very welcome. I always had the staples with me and it is amazing how many days a tub of Philly cheese lasts without being in a fridge. Bagels or what they call artisan bread with tomatos and cheese for lunch and a cooked meal for tea. Normally chilli or something with rice/potato and not forgetting the bottle of beer. They have loads of micro breweries which produce some nice bottles of interesting beer, blueberry went down a treat.

I took my time to stop to talk to people and tried to limit my mileage to between 40-50miles per day although I did some of up to 65 and it was just too much in the heat. The locals said that June and September were the best months to ride the coast as there was less chance of rain and it was pure luck that I chose June. I also found riding on my own more people were willing to talk to me and they appreciated the fact that I stopped and asked them questions about the local area. I met a retired teacher who was a historian on San Juan Island and we sat a chatted about the Pig War on rocking chairs on his front porch for ages. You just don't get that kind of interaction driving by in a car.

All in all a good trip


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Re: Vancouver to San Francisco - I made it

Postby MichaelM » 3 Jul 2009, 8:35am

Sounds like you had a great time. Most envious.

Well done.