Did part of it last year but had to fly home early. I flew BA and got a flexible ticket which meant I could fly in to LA and then get a return flight from Miami 3 months later. Got it through Thompson Holidays so you should be able to get the same.
Probably a good idea to get in a few days in advance. It will also help you to acclimatise. In the past I've included a rental car in the ticket price which helps in the first few days as you're not reliant on taxis etc. Helps if you get something big enough to carry your bike box and I'd also recommend a Sat Nav. If you have a Garmin, they're USA map also includes locations of hotels, campgrounds etc.
For somewhere to stay, I usually go for Motel 6, they're generally reasonably priced and the rooms are fine.