With the timing firming up for my current work project coming to a close, I had a last minute opportunity to take a week off from work between project assignments. So with less than a month to spare, I’ve decided to do a self-contained bicycle tour of the Northern California coast, starting near the Oregon state line and ending in San Francisco (image below courtesy of Adventure Cycling).
So why this route on such short notice?
- I’ve already covered San Francisco to San Diego by bike (in pieces 1, 2, 3, and 4), and so this finishes off the rest of the California coast.
- Minimal route planning is needed, as it’s an established Adventure Cycling route for which maps showing service and recommended routing are available.
- I won’t say the terrain makes it an “easy” route, as there are a few considerable hills, but there’s no major mountain passes to climb either. Perfect for me, because I’m not in top shape, though I’m not completely out of shape either.
- No advance planning for overnight stays needed – even if hotels are fully booked, there are plenty of campgrounds with walk-in “hiker/biker” sites as a backup.
- Many California State Parks will start closing this fall due to budget cuts. So this may be the last time in the near future this section will have plentiful camping options for bicycle tourists.
- Can rent a car from San Francisco to Southern California without paying a fee for a one way rental, which gives flexibility on the return trip, and would be cheaper than dealing with the fee to take the bike on the plane.
- Last but not least, summer on the California coast means mostly tailwinds (or at least no headwinds) from north to south, not too hot temperatures, and essentially zero percent chance of rain.
I carried camping gear when I bicycled across the US back in 2001, but most of my bicycle trips since then have been shorter duration “credit card” tours, traveling lighter and staying in hotels. It was time to dust off the front racks and panniers and mount them to the touring bike, throw the camping gear and other stuff in my bags, and go for a shakedown ride with the bike fully loaded. The bike handled quite well, although slow of course!
One surprise which has come up is that I can’t count on taking the bike on the small turboprop plane that will be taking me to my starting point, so I will have to get my bike boxed up and ship it to the first night’s hotel. That’s made the tour planning even tighter! More on that later.