Author Topic: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014  (Read 3484 times)

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Offline EdinburghMatt

Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« on: October 03, 2013, 07:16:46 am »

Planned Trip: Vancouver - San Diego

When: May/June 2014

Duration: Flexible

 

Hello Everyone,

Any feedback or tips would be greatly appreciated. I know that this is a fairly common route but living in Scotland it`s not something I hear very much about.  Firstly a little bit about myself I’m 24 years old from Edinburgh, Scotland. In 2011 I cycled with 3 other friends along with a support driver from Los Angeles to New York City for a local charity raising over $20,000.  It was an adventure of a lifetime with so many ups and downs and but all part of character building. Afterwards I told myself I would happily never sit on a bike again! We were in Joplin at the time of the Tornado which was devastating to say the very least. We were all very grateful of how friendly and supportive the locals where throughout our trip. It took us around 36 days from coast to coast with the biggest daily mileage clocked at around 136 miles across Indiana which happened to be my favorite state to cycle in :  )

 It`s looking likely that my Pacific Highway adventure will be solo and I plan on taking in as much sightseeing as possible along the way. I know there is a book about cycling the Pacific Highway so i will definitely purchase that to give me a heads up.  I also know that there will be other useful tips from riders that will not be in the book so it would be great to hear anything.

Flikr Account - http://www.flickr.com/photos/andydckent/sets/72157626403054325/

I would be more than happy to pass any feedback for anyone cycling along Route 66. We managed to obtain a daily route planner which mapped out every turn from Santa Monica to St Louis. It even told us how many traffic lights we would encounter per day!

Many thanks   :)
Matt

Offline raybo

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2013, 11:01:35 am »
My advice would be to follow a different route than the ACA's Pacific Coast Route in Washington State.  You may wish to go North around Olympia National Park, which I didn't do, but instead of heading inland and following Hwy 5, I'd suggest going out and along the coast.

Here is a link to the plans I made for that tour.

Here is the journal I wrote for that tour, including lots of photos.

While there is a bit of the Oregon and Northern Californian sections I haven't ridden, I think the Pacific Coast Route is one of the best and, with the exception of the bit in Washington, I think the ACA route is a good one.

Have a great time.
Visit the on-line bike touring archive at www.biketouringtips.com

Offline cgarch

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2013, 04:08:21 pm »
I'd have to agree with Raybo. If you aren't that pressed for time, take the 101 loop around Olympic Park. We did it in 2009 - journal here -> www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/tws. Have given considerable thought to doing this area again, and here's some of what I would change. From Fairhaven, consider stopping at Bogachiel and touring into the Hoh rain forest. Stay a day or two at Kalaloch. After Lake Quinault, consider going out towards Copalis before heading into Hoquiam and Aberdeen (no ferry across the mouth yet.). After that it's a pretty much a straight run to Oregon and the coast. To me the inland route in Washington is not appealing. There is the factor of rain which has a stronger presence on the WA coast. Best.

Craig

Offline EdinburghMatt

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #3 on: October 17, 2013, 06:34:52 am »
Thank you very much for the advice Cgarch and Raybo. I will be sure to check out your blog and journal aswell. One other question I had would be starting off in Vancouver would you have any specific place that would be a good starting point?

Kind regards
Matt

Offline Norsman

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #4 on: October 19, 2013, 04:31:50 am »
I agree with the others to not take the ACA route through Washington.  If the book you are planning on getting is "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" by Kirkendall and Spring they have two better routes - on either side of the Olympic Peninsula. Oregon puts out a pretty good pamphlet on cycling their coast which I used and found very useful.  For California I used ACA Pacific Coast route maps. I think they were better than the book for that state.

As for starting in Vancouver it really depends on whether or not you come into the city.  If you fly into the airport you will actually land in Richmond and can start heading south immediately. The most direct route will entail loading your bike on a bus to get through the George Massey tunnel.

If you decide to spend some time in Vancouver then I think you can't do better than Stanley Park as a starting point for your trip. If you have the time, a ride around the Park along the seawall would be a great way to start a tour of the west coast. Even if you decide not to do the full tour around the park the seawall bike path connects to routes to get you started south. There has been a great deal of work done in Vancouver over the last 4-5 years so it is now much easier and safer to get out of the downtown area. I doubt that either the book or ACA maps are fully updated on the newest routes in the city.

The following link shows most of the bike routes for the greater Vancouver area.

http://www.translink.ca/en/Getting-Around/Cycling/Cycling-Maps.aspx

This link gets you info on cycling in Oregon.  Use the link to order a hard copy of the Oregon Coast Bike Route.

http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/BIKEPED/Pages/maps.aspx#ODOT_Maps

Offline Westinghouse

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #5 on: October 19, 2013, 04:06:50 pm »
I'd have to agree with Raybo. If you aren't that pressed for time, take the 101 loop around Olympic Park. We did it in 2009 - journal here -> www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/tws. Have given considerable thought to doing this area again, and here's some of what I would change. From Fairhaven, consider stopping at Bogachiel and touring into the Hoh rain forest. Stay a day or two at Kalaloch. After Lake Quinault, consider going out towards Copalis before heading into Hoquiam and Aberdeen (no ferry across the mouth yet.). After that it's a pretty much a straight run to Oregon and the coast. To me the inland route in Washington is not appealing. There is the factor of rain which has a stronger presence on the WA coast. Best.

Craig


I just went through your entire PCBR ride on CGOAB. I wish I could do that ride again soon. Right now the exigencies of economic necessity require that I continue with my employment. I enjoyed your trip with you remembering so many towns I went through back in 1993. As for myself, I just stop and go with minimal planning. I believe that route is the best in the world.

Offline Cyclesafe

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #6 on: October 19, 2013, 08:05:47 pm »
The Olympic Peninsula is much more scenic than the inland ACA route, but as you cut towards Oregon, the scenery is not so great.  You still need to cut in (East) to the official route to cross the Columbia unless you brave the Astoria Bridge which is scary when cars / trucks lose patience with you.  Frankly, I think that that's the reason for the more inland route.  You will get off your bike and kiss the ground when you get off.
Hoping to do the North Star with ACA in 2014.

Offline EdinburghMatt

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2013, 09:33:57 am »
Thank you very much for all the feedback posted so far. It`s provided me with some really useful information and i`ll look forward to the Christmas holidays where i can sit back and pencil in some rough routes on what advice i have had so far.  I can`t wait to get out on another adventure again! It`s the only thing seeing me through a cold winter in Scotland stuck in an office!

Many thanks

Offline cgarch

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2013, 11:33:53 am »
. . . You still need to cut in (East) to the official route to cross the Columbia unless you brave the Astoria Bridge which is scary when cars / trucks lose patience with you. 

The Astoria bridge is a daunting prospect, but not for the traffic. There is adequate shoulder to ride on the bridge and when we rode it (tandem and bob) we had no issues with the traffic, and they had none with us. More problematic is the onshore wind that can be a little rough as you try to stay in your lane - the side wind makes navigating a loaded bike a little tough. Southbound the first 3 miles are relatively flat, but at the rise for the ship channel, the grade bumps to 6+% and that part really puts you up in the wind. Once you're over the top, simply take the lane and make the horseshoe onto Oregon terra firma and you're good. The seagull that hovered about 6-8' up wind had me concerned that it might target us but guess we were lucky - no white splats sent our way. You can do it - just be careful and pay attention.

Craig
Santa Rosa, CA

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2013, 11:55:36 am »
The Olympic Peninsula is much more scenic than the inland ACA route, but as you cut towards Oregon, the scenery is not so great.  You still need to cut in (East) to the official route to cross the Columbia unless you brave the Astoria Bridge
Yup, the Astoria bridge--the only time I've ever seen a road kill starfish.  We crossed it in twilight on a rainy June evening.  On the Astoria side, there were no campgrounds unless we rode another 10 miles.  A nice resident of the town we met in a pizza place let us sleep in the attic bedroom of her house.  This turned out to be quite an adventure, as my partner managed to plug up the only toilet on the house the next morning and it took about an hour to get it working again.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline jamawani

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #10 on: November 07, 2013, 11:04:56 pm »
I do notice that you say May & June - which is a little early for the weather.
I also expect that you will be riding north-to-south - with the ocean to your side and with a tailwind.

The Pacific Northwest climate pattern is one of cloudy wet winters (think the Hebrides)
And sunny warm summers (think northern Spain, not Scotland).
In northern California, the wet season may end in April and not start until November.
But the further north you go, the earlier it starts and the longer it lasts.

If you tour the Olympic Peninsula - Forks get 5.5 inches (14 cm) or rain in May.
By comparison, that's an entire spring's rainfall for Edinburgh.
Certainly not the Mojave Desert of your last tour - plus you'll be soloing.

Some years, the wet season last well into June.
The past June was average, June of 2012 was cold and wet, June of 2011 was warm and dry.
Go figure!  But May is early regardless.

PS - If you are still addicted to cycling when you get to Southern California,
consider checking into the Betty Ford Clinic, where there is a separate wing for hopeless cycling addicts.

Offline Norsman

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2013, 04:27:58 am »
Maybe I was lucky but my trip across the Astoria Bridge was much nicer than I thought it would be. The first part is flat, with not much of a shoulder, but not that difficult to ride safely as long as you are prepared to pull over when the traffic gets a little tight.  However I did not have to contend with high winds so that may change things. The last part is a bit more challenging. However traffic lights at the north end of the bridge seemed to create nice gaps in the traffic flow.  I simply stopped and took pictures when the traffic was heavier and then cycled like mad when the flow stopped. It took me a little longer to cross but it was much less stressful.

A much more stressful bridge to ride on this route is the bridge over Coos Bay further south in Oregon.  It is steep, long and windy.  And the locals do not seem to appreciate cyclists holding them up.  A much better idea is offered by Steve Greene, who lives north of the bridge. He has posted an article on the CGOAB site that shows how to bypass this bridge and the towns of North Bend and Coos Bay. http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/?o=1&doc_id=12467&v=2h

I would recommend using his route.  Both the book and the ACA maps have you going over the bridge and then taking the Seven Devils Road Scenic Route to eventually link back up with Hwy 101. The bridge was just scary and the route was quite steep in parts and definitely not scenic unless you like logging operations.

Offline Cyclesafe

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #12 on: November 08, 2013, 09:11:41 am »
The alternative described above is an important improvement over the ACA route.  The bridge is horrific: I have crossed it on three separate occasions, every time walking my bike from the (prior to improvements) elevated side walk.

The towns by-passed have little to recommend them other than a plethora of coffee shops and supermarkets.  The are some interesting-looking seafood restaurants on the way to camping, but most tourist would likely skip them for dinner unless the days were very long.  The hiker/biker site is marshy and buggie and in the woods away from the beach.  The private alternative prior to the state park is probably a more expensive, albeit better alternative.

The devils road is not scenic IMHO and is better left to the local roadies seeking a workout.  At the north end lives a pack of hounds that love to harass cyclists.

I hope the new ACA route uses this option!
Hoping to do the North Star with ACA in 2014.

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #13 on: November 08, 2013, 06:10:13 pm »
I found that Seven Devils deal to be a huge waste of energy.  It has some of the steepest grades on the whole coast route.  I'd just stay on 101 if I were to do it again. Sometimes in order to avoid main roads, guidebooks  take extraordinary measures, and IMO, this is one such case.  Oregon's 101 is for the most part way safer than much of the Calif part.  Often in Calif there are no shoulders and there is considerable vacation traffic.  You should have experience in riding highways with fast traffic and little or no shoulder if you are planning to do this coast ride.  I would never do it without a mirror, but that's because I  like to know what's coming up behind me and what kind of driver it is.  Some don't seem to mind riding "blind" to oncoming rear traffic. That's ok. I'm just not one of them.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline Patco

Re: Advice or Feedback for Pacific Highway Cycle 2014
« Reply #14 on: November 09, 2013, 03:47:33 pm »
I have ridden from Seattle to SF seven times using the coast route. Each time the route I have taken has been a little different.

I strongly suggest using the Seven Devils Road from Charleston to Bandon. On my second trip I decided to bypass that route and take 101. Big mistake. There were sections south of Coos Bay where the shoulder was nonexistent, and when a shoulder existed, it was narrow. That was a stressful stretch. Yes, there is a steep climb out of Charleston on the ACA route, but it is not that steep and not than long and once on top there are no significant climbs. Plus, the climb is worth it for the solitude and lack of traffic. A much more pleasant way to reach Bandon.

The Astoria Bridge was challenging but I found the drivers were accommodating.

I have elected to walk my bike across a few of he bridges in Oregon using the sidewalk, particularly the bridge north of Coos Bay. I liked the calmness of walking and stopping on the walkway to see what I was crossing. 

In Oregon you have two tunnels. Be sure to use the warning lights at the beginning of the tunnels then pedal hard.

Whenever possible take the alternative route that will keep you off 101, particularly in California. As an example, in Oregon the route from Neskowin to Otis through the Siuslaw National Forest over the back shoulder of Cascade Head is a joy. Traffic is nearly nonexistent and the forest seems primeval. Also, the Three Capes Scenic Route from Tillamook is a much better option than staying on 101. More climbing but much more scenic and far less traffic.

Your May/June date will find the weather still iffy and likely extensive fog on CA 1 in Northern California. If you have not already done so, I suggest a flashing rear light for safety. And as already discussed, I have found a side mirror very helpful.

As others have said, this is a wonderful bike route. Oregon is very bicycle friendly. Great roadside parks (the park on the southside of Florence is incredibly nice). California is less bicycle friendly in that the roads have less of a shoulder and, in the case of CA 1, zero shoulder. The Washington part of the ride is okay and the shoulders are better than California.

Enjoy the journey.