Pacific Coast USA

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
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Dave Ross
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Pacific Coast USA

Postby Dave Ross » 1 Mar 2011, 4:58pm

Hi,

Has anyone ridden the Pacific Coast route - Canada to Mexico ?

Just planning my self supported solo trip for September of this year - completion time - 3 weeks.

I'd appreciate any tips hints or advice on the route / best camp sites etc...

I have the ACA 5 Map set and 'the book'.

Is GPS a good idea, or is the route too long ?

Thanks in advance.

Dave. :D

lisap
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Location: On the edge of the Cotswolds

Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby lisap » 1 Mar 2011, 7:25pm

Hello Dave

I rode this route the year before last just using the book, the ACA maps go a different way down through Bremerton. I copied the pages to take with me rather than taking the book and discarded each days details at the end of the day.

The campsites in Washington State are very expensive at about $14 for a hiker/biker site than in Oregon/California where they are about $4. Make sure you have plenty of quarters for showers and laundry. The campsites are plentiful and should be quiet by September.

You won't need to take a GPS unless you really want to, you can't get lost - just keep the Pacific on your right :D

Are you starting in Vancouver? If yes for supplies go to MEC on Broadway, they are like REI in the US and very helpful.
You can do the whole route without a cooker if you really want to. There is nowhere that you can't get food nearby but I prefer to make a cuppa in the morning.

There are loads of micro breweries on the way down and the local shops offer some lovely beers. Fruit stands also abundant and good value.

Heading into California I was told that it got very hilly but by the time you get there they don't seem that bad. The worst bit of the route has to be from just north of Malibu to the border and if you are not fussed about doing the last 100 miles I would suggest flying out of LA. The airport is accesible from the route.

On an airline note I see that BA are flying direct from San Diego from June. I used them and they were brilliant with the bike.

For hotels in Vancouver I can reccommend the Coast Hotel close to the airport. They pick you up from the airport, it is on the bus route to get to MEC and if you are going North up the Sunshine Coast and across to Vancouver Island the hotel is virtually on the route.

Hope this has helped and if I can help with anything else please let me know.

Lisa

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Dave Ross
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Location: Morayshire

Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby Dave Ross » 1 Mar 2011, 8:10pm

Hi Lisa,

Many thanks for the informative reply, that's just the type of thing I was looking for.

Yes I'm flying into Vancover, many thanks for the hotel recommendation too - I was in the process of narrowing them down.

I had planned to take my stove and my Yorkshire Tea T-Bags ! :D Can't beat a decent brew to get you going in the morning.... Not heard anything about the micro-breweries, that was a welcome surprise.

I'll be mainly camping at the National Parks along the way, with a couple of Youth Hostel stops.

First time touring in the 'States, from what I've read traffic is relatively ok, with wide shoulders most of the way. Done a couple of LEJOG's, so I don't envisageVthe traffic being worse than the UK roads.

Will cross the border at Tijauna, just to complete my route then I fly out from San Diego (via Newark), after spending a couple of rest days there.

Again, thanks for your response, I'll let you know if I need any further info !

Much appreciated.

Dave.

island girl
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Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby island girl » 10 Apr 2011, 11:08pm

Hi Dave, I am thinking of cycling America from San Diego to St Augustine in September next year. Planning is at the early stage. Just wondered what airline you are using - I am looking for the cheapest return flights obviously. Flying Glasgow to San Diego then Orlando to Glasgow. Any advise would be great.

Vorpal
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Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby Vorpal » 11 Apr 2011, 9:27am

I can't add much to what Lisa posted, but if you can, stop here:

http://www.mcmenamins.com/279-lighthouse-brewpub-home
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

westofsouth
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Location: Bristol

Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby westofsouth » 11 Apr 2011, 2:17pm

You've probably already checked this out, but if not, try this:

http://www.adventurecycling.org/routes/pacificcoast.cfm

rossspeirs
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Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby rossspeirs » 11 Apr 2011, 4:42pm

Hi Dave

This trip is on my long-term list. When you mention 'the book', could you be more specific?

Thanks

Ross

lisap
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Joined: 16 Jan 2007, 2:29pm
Location: On the edge of the Cotswolds

Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby lisap » 11 Apr 2011, 7:35pm

Ross the book is Bicycling the Pacific Coast by Vicky Spring and Tom Kirkendall. It breaks each day down into distances of about 50 to 70 miles with detailed directions but you can add or subtract as you please.

It shows the campsites en route along with places to buy provisions before reaching your final point each day. It really does take the headache out of route planning giving you the ability to sort out travel to the US well in advance because you know exactly where you are going to be on any given day.

I appreciate this doesn't appeal to all touring cyclists but I find it works for me travelling as a solo female.

It is an incredible route and one I plan to do again.

PJ520
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Location: Seattle WA USA

Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby PJ520 » 12 Apr 2011, 5:37am

A couple of weeks ago two of us finished a ride from San Fransisco to San Diego. From San Fransisco to Santa Barbara is magic. Nice road, wide shoulders and if you're only moderately lucky you'll have a tail wind (it usually blows from the north). Make sure you check the ACA Forum for road closures before you get there http://www.adventurecycling.org/forums/index.php?board=15.0 there have been some major disruptions south of Pacifica, about 30 miles from San Fransisco. These are major roadworks that will probably last all year. About the only bad stretch of road is just south of Pacifica, a 3 mile climb with no shoulder. I believe it's known locally as the Devil's Slide. They are building a tunnel to bypass this but it won't be finished by the time you get there. At the top of this hill, a local told us to go like hell and "take the lane" i.e. stay in the middle of the lane on the descent so cars aren't trying to squeeze past. It seemed to work for us. I'd urge you to stay in hostels in San Fransisco, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz, Monterey, Cambria and Santa Barbara. They are in the ACA guide and cost < $30 a night. When you get past Ragged Point keep an eye out for Elephant Seal Beach. It's right by the road. There's nothing like it in Europe and unique I believe in the US. South of Santa Barbara you are getting into the exurbs of Los Angeles, flat , urban and not that interesting. BTW the profiles in the ACA guides are very misleading, the hills are nowhere near as bad as they look. Personally I'd forego Tijuana, I have a son in the Marines and they steer clear of it. You'll stick out like a sore thumb and attract the bad guys and there are some really bad guys in that place these days. Sorry to end on a gloomy note. It is a wonderful ride. I'd do it again anytime. Look out for California condors around Big Sur.
You only live once, which is enough if you do it right. - Mae West

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Dave Ross
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Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby Dave Ross » 12 Apr 2011, 11:38am

Many thanks for your replies, help and advice on this subject. Sorry for the delay in my own reply.

Island Girl : Skyscanner.net is the best way to find the cheapest flights - Canadian Affair will give you good deals and direct flights from Glasgow too. Let me know how your plans progress and I may see you on the road :D

Ross : Bicycling the Pacific Coast - You should find it on e-bay occasionally, or via Amazon, go for the latest version (Mine is version 5). Always good to have a plan and a 'bucket list' of rides, mines about a page long so far.

Pete : Thanks for the info, especially for those concerning road closures. It's good to have a local perspective on the route. I heard Tijuana could be a bit of an 'experience', I only planned to cross the border and spend an afternoon here. After North Africa for the last couple of months, it may even be like a retreat !

Vorpal : Another stop added to my list ! Hopefully after visiting will still be able to cycle straight.....

WestofSouth : Many thanks, have visited the site before, it's a great resource and gives you loads of options for future trips, well worth re-visiting.

Thanks again,

Dave.

PJ520
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Location: Seattle WA USA

Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby PJ520 » 12 Apr 2011, 4:11pm

Dave, Give me a ring when you get near Seattle, 206 498-9363. I may be on the road myself I'm hoping to do the Sierra Cascades route this summer. Bremerton is a dump, horrible traffic. You can avoid it by going to Winslow and catching a ferry to Seattlle, then yet a different ferry.... But you don't have that much time. Another way to avoid Bremerton (well worth avoiding) is to take Hwy 101 from Port Townsend direct to Shelton. This is not quite as scenic as the ACA route but it does get you to the really good stuff, the Oregon coast, a bit quicker and it also avoids the dreaded Hood Canal Bridge: long, no shoulder, traffic. Washington State publishes bike maps http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/bike/statemap.htm that are worth having. In case you are wondering the Washington coast is not that exciting, not a patch on Oregon or California so don't feel like you are missing out. Much of the Washington coast road isn't actually on the coast. If you want to see the Washington coast which in parts is wild and exquisite you have to either hike or kayak. Try not to be near the Astoria bridge when the tsunami hits.

Pete
You only live once, which is enough if you do it right. - Mae West

lisap
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Location: On the edge of the Cotswolds

Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby lisap » 12 Apr 2011, 6:01pm

Pete

Could you let me know how the Cascade route goes.

I was thinking of flying to San Diego, using the ACA Southern Tier to pick up the south end of the route, going north and then crossing on the Western Express to San Francisco and flying home from there. Possibly next summer.

It would be nice to hear from someone who has done the ride as it is such a new route.

Thanks

Lisa

sarah5252
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Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby sarah5252 » 15 Apr 2011, 7:57pm

Did this trip last autumn, though I did it at a more relaxed pace than your aiming for and headed to Arizona after LA. Was an amazing trip. Can't add too much to what others have said. Just one piece of advice- pop into the Westport Inn in California (not long after the much over-hyped leggit hill) for a coffee. The guy the runs the place, Otto, is a complete legend! Have fun!

pedallingsandy
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Location: Devon

Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby pedallingsandy » 14 May 2011, 9:47am

Hi

I am planning the Pacific Coast in the Spring next year and was interested to see :D that Lisa used BA - can you tell me what sort of bike bag you used - did you use the CTC plastic one or something else? At this stage I am planning to fly into Vancouver and out of San Diego so if a large Bike Bag is used will need to post it on somehow.
Sandy

TonyR
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Re: Pacific Coast USA

Postby TonyR » 14 May 2011, 10:59am

lisap wrote:Are you starting in Vancouver? If yes for supplies go to MEC on Broadway, they are like REI in the US and very helpful.


Now that is just plain cruel! Sending him to MEC when you know he can't buy anything! I never get away without several bags of shopping when I go there.