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Messages - Pat

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California / Re: San Fran to Santa Barbara - weather
« on: October 24, 2013, 04:29:36 pm »
Hi massageranger,

No one can answer your question, with certainty, and there are no guarantees.  You may skate through, unscathed, with good weather and favorable winds.  FWIW - We considered doing this ride in mid-November, and decided to put it off until next year.

You will want to check various weather sites, but this is what I found for Monterey --  December temperature averages:  high temp = 58F, low temp = 44F;  Average rainfall = 3.41 inches;  Average wind speed at 0-9 MPH; direction: East =16%, South East = 14%, North West = 11%, West = 10%.

Expect no more than ten hours of daylight.

I am familiar with San Francisco to Morrow Bay:

(1)   San Francisco to Half Moon Bay - lots of places to hole up
(2)  Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz- gentle road but few stores, restaurants, motels, and almost no escape routes to the east.
(3)  Santa Cruz to Monterey - lots of places to hole up.
(4)  Monterey to Morro Bay - very remote, very rugged, with very few stores, restaurants, motels, and no escape routes to the east until near Morro Bay
(5)  No knowledge beyond San Luis Obispo

I do not know if you will be supported, intend to credit card camp, or tent camp.  If someone can rescue you, then you will be fine.  If not, plan your trip with great care, and keep an eye and ear peeled for weather conditions.

I wish you a happy and safe trip!

Happy trails,


Routes / Re: On tour, jumping to Pacific coast by Amtrak
« on: October 15, 2013, 03:46:55 pm »
Hi John - I love the sound of your adventure, to ride the train across the country and then bike back.  Good for you.

AMTRAK trains run up and down California, Oregon, and Washington.  However, with only a few exceptions, the train stops are far from the ocean, usually with at least one mountain range, and sometimes a hundred miles of biking on chancy roads to get to the coast.  You are well advised to be aware of which stops have baggage service, and which do not.

There is also AMTRAK bus service, which looks like it runs up and down US-101 in California, but I do not have first hand knowledge of it.

If you do decide to take the train to the San Francisco Bay area, be aware that the AMTRAK trains actually stop in Emeryville, Oakland and San Jose, but not San Francisco.  It should be possible to get off AMTRAK in Oakland and catch a BART train under the bay to San Francisco.  From there, a rider would be only a few urban miles from the PCH route (Map 3).  But, you would need to carefully plan how to manage and protect your bike and baggage on the train.  I think there may also be ferries.

Further north, Portland and the stops up to Seattle are also options, as long as baggage service is supported.  From both Portland and Seattle, there are well beaten paths to the Pacific Coast Route.  Seattle is only a ferry ride away from Bremerton.  Portland is a hard days' ride (for us) to either Sea Side or Astoria.

If I do the Pacific Coast again, I will certainly revisit the Oregon Coast.  It is spectacular, the towns are spaced at bikeable distances from each other, and the shoulders are usually ample and safer (although there are always exceptions).  The most famous stretch of the California coast is from Santa Cruz to San Luis Obispo.  So detraining in the San Francisco Bay Area would make it easy to get to Santa Cruz in a day or two by bike.

I do not know that would fit with your plan to hook up with the Southern Tier to get home.  Something to consider, in southern California, is that AMTRAK does have stations in San Luis Obispo, Los Angeles, and San Diego.

Happy Trails,


Routes / Re: Pacific coast
« on: September 30, 2013, 12:06:42 pm »
Hi Karen,

I second the observation that Oregon drivers are generally pretty good, and the shoulders generally pretty wide and well kept.

We used the ACA maps, except :  (a)  we chose to ride US-101 from Astoria (no problems);  (b)  Slab Creek Road was closed and we had to ride US-101 from Pacific City to Lincoln City (long hard grade).

We wonder if better routes exist than the ACA route for:  (a)  crossing into North Bend over that long bridge - a very time consuming walk;  (b)  Seven Devils Ride was dispiriting;  (c)  Cedar Valley Road seemed to go on for a very long time.

Happy trails and may the winds be at your back,



General Discussion / Re: Motivation: why ride?
« on: September 28, 2013, 12:39:39 pm »
Hi Ed,

We tour because we are crazy!  At least, the world sees us.  We stepped out of the metal cocoon, complete with Pandora soundtrack and cell service.  We set aside a virtual world with the physical, the New-Normal with the concrete, and group-think with individual responsibility and accomplishment.

We take great enjoyment in being aging rebels, pedaling along, quietly rejecting the narcissism and emptiness of the masses.  Our rebellion knows no bounds - we can stop to take enjoyment at a quiet stream, unnoticed and unappreciated by strangers whizzing by scant yards away.  We can climb the steep grade and revel at the view of the ocean, so hard earned, as the SUVs and RVs pull frantically in and out.

In other words,  we do it because it's fun.

Happy trails,


General Discussion / Re: 2 or 4 panniers
« on: September 10, 2013, 12:10:38 pm »

Sounds like a fun trip.  People must think we are crazy to talk about riding such distances.  I know I used to.

You are asking one of those "religious" questions where logic and reason will soon be swamped by dogma and faith.  I would suggest you try it for several days and see what you think.  Have you weighed the rig, loaded, with you on it?
    (1)  Find a bathroom scale and a block of wood the same height as the scale.
    (2)  Weigh yourself, your bike, and your gear to get the total weight.
    (3)  Load the bike down, put one wheel on the scale and the other on the block of wood.
    (4)  Manage to stay up - maybe lightly leaning to a wall or someone holding you, have another person read the weight.
    (5)  The weight in #4 / #2 gives you the percentage weight of the wheel over the scale.

Having said all that, I usually tour with four panniers.  And, lately, I have been training with only weight in the rear panniers.  The rides and handling are very different.  I suggest you try both, for some extended rides, on flat ground, climbing, and descending, before you decide.

But the most important thing is that you decide.  Do what feels comfortable and works for you.  After all, you are the one that will be pedaling down the road, having a grand adventure, not us arm-chair riders.

Happy trails,


Hi Brian - I save the file at the end of each day, and download to a computer when I can.  I use the actual elevation changes and route as jpegs in my blog, so it is handy to get a day (maybe two or three laps) as as single snapshot.  Happy trails - Pat

Routes / Re: Recommended Route San Jose to ACA Pacific Coast Route
« on: June 21, 2013, 04:21:58 pm »

In your original post, you asked about a route from San Jose to Santa Cruz.  The discussion has broadened, as threads often do.  The question, now, seems to be, how to get to Half Moon Bay from San Jose.  Instead of taking a more direct route, the 50 miles from Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz would be spectacular, easy riding and often has a great tail wind.

As you say, you have ridden Highway 92 (for some reason I get the impression that was 20 years ago?)  You are experienced in LA traffic levels.  And you are comfortable with Highway 92 traffic levels early on a Sunday morning.  And, if your ride is supported, you may come away with a different answer than I have.

Just so someone who has no experience with this road, let us be clear what they should expect.  The road is mostly two-lane.  The shoulders are, at best, intermittent.  Site lines are dangerous in places.  At rush hour, this overburdened rural road is jam-packed with cars and trucks, bumper-to-bumper, driving 50 MPH+.  Even on weekends, the road becomes very busy as the day wears on, say by noon.

For me to get to the reservoir on Highway 92 by 8 AM, I would have to cover over 30 miles.  Since I am old, slow, and load my Surly down, I would need to leave the house by 5 AM.  Once on Highway 92, the seven miles and 800 odd feet of climbing would not be overly challenging.

However, if my goal is to get to Santa Cruz from San Jose, with an eye toward going further south, I
 would probably spend the four or five hours it takes to climb to Lexington Reservoir, go to the top on Old Santa Cruz Highway, and go down either Soquel Road or Eureka Canyon Road.  With either route, I would be on the ACA Route in about four or five hours.

From a biker perspective, Highway 92 seems to rate as at least as hazardous as any part of the ACA route from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo, now that the Devil's Slide Bypass has gone.

Happy trails,


General Discussion / Re: Need Help With Shifting on Climbs
« on: June 08, 2013, 01:16:04 pm »
Hi Jennifer,

I envy you, starting out with bikes.  My wife and I started out, together, on Mountain Bikes, and graduated to touring.  We are old (I am retired now), and our first bikes were 10 speeds.  It took us a while to get the hang of shifting.

I'm sure you figured it out, but the smaller the front gear, and the larger the rear gear selected, the easier it is to pedal.  If you are like us, and the hill is very steep or very long, it's just a matter of time before we wind up in 1 / 1 (smallest front gear and largest back gear).

A couple of things we found out.  First, we try to keep our cadence in the 80 - 90 range - as was stated earlier, if you are pedaling faster than than, move to a smaller back gear - if you are pedaling slower, move to a bigger back gear.  Second - it takes a long time to shift the front gears, and you cannot pedal hard as you do it - so shift to the small front gear a little before you need to.  And, third, when you are in the smallest front gear, you might want to stick with just the first five gears on the back.

Just go practice on some hills.  Take a friend with you and experiment.  Laugh at each other.  Laugh at yourself.  Have fun.  You will figure it out.

Happy Trails,


General Discussion / Re: 6 weeks from Vancouver - which route?
« on: June 08, 2013, 01:00:10 pm »
Hi - Sorry you cannot do the trip you planned.  I have no idea how much of the Trans Am you could do in six weeks.  If you don't go, I hope you get another chance.

I haven't done the Cascades.  We have done the Pacific Coast.  I would suggest catching an Amtrak train down to Portland, and going over to the coast, maybe at Astoria or Seaside, and riding south.

Happy Trails,


Routes / Re: Recommended Route San Jose to ACA Pacific Coast Route
« on: June 06, 2013, 11:45:46 am »
Hi Peter,

You are in for a real treat, from Monterey on down to San Luis Obispo.  ACA has maps which lay out a route for cyclists to follow - Map 4.  It starts at the Golden Gate Bridge and ends in Santa Barbara.

San Jose is a large town (9th or 10th largest in the country) and spread out.  If you are planning on rolling out of your driveway, where you live might influence your choice.  As you well know, the problem is the lack of easy roads through the Santa Cruz Mountains to the coast.  I was hoping someone would chime in and tell you the easy way to get there.  And, maybe, someone will.

In the mean time, I will share with you what we have found as far as possible routes, moving from south to north:

Gilroy - Hollister -  Watsonville  - The idea would be to ride down to Gilroy on surface streets, use US-101 to get to Highway 129, and ride to Watsonville.  The problem here is that, it seems, US-101 does not allow bikes on it.  We have driven US-101 south from Gilroy, specifically trying to imagine bikes, and have seen "No Bikes" signs.  We have never seen a bike on this part of US-101.  There are several narrow bridges, with no shoulders, poor sight lines, and one is quite long.

An alternative would be to take a long detour by going to Hollister, using Bolsa Road - Highway 25 - go nearly to Hollister - Highway 156 - back to US-101 - Highway 129 to Watsonville.  I am not sure about Highway 129. Parts seem narrow, poor sight lines, difficult, and might be startling for drivers to find a bike on it.  But I am sure a rider would be fine on it.

Hecker Pass - The idea is to ride down past Morgan Hill, and take Highway 152 over to Watsonville.  We have never ridden this, either.  It is quite steep, very busy, has no shoulders, and poor sight lines.  If you consider this, go drive in your car.  We decided it is too dangerous on a loaded Surly.

Old Santa Cruz Highway - The idea is to get to Lexington Dam, ride up Old Santa Cruz Highway, ride Summit Road over and take Soquel San Jose Road down to Soquel.  Once at Soquel Avenue, a cyclist is on the ACA Route.

The issue is getting to Lexington Dam.  The only way I know to ride a bike to it is up the dirt section of Los Gatos Trail, complete with an impossibly steep little hill for a loaded Surly, not far from the face of the dam, as well as the dam face itself. 

A cyclist could start at one of the pull-outs on Old Santa Cruz Highway, just south of Bear Creek Road, and avoid the dirt section.  In fact, this is the very route my wife and I take.

Highway 9 - The idea is to ride to Los Gatos, climb to Skyline, and then either go on to Santa Cruz on Highway 9, or take Skyline to one of the roads down, like Bear Creek Road, or Mountain Charley Road.  We have never ridden loaded Surly's up Highway 9, but imagine it to be a long, steep slog.  Once at the top, the rider still has a long way to go to get to anywhere.

Other Northern Options - I am sure you have looked at the map, and wondered about Page Mill Road, which would involve a lot of climbing, and still be no where when at the top.  Highway 92 to Half Moon Bay seems dangerous, due to the very high volume of traffic, lack of shoulders, and sight line issues.

Starting in San Francisco - A cyclist could take surface streets up to San Francisco with little risk.  We have been dropped off in San Francisco before, and followed the ACA Route.  On the ACA Route, Devil's Slide has been slightly eased by the opening of the tunnel.  I'm not sure if bikes are allowed in the tunnels, or if a cyclist still goes over the top like we did last year, sans the cars.  Non-car ways of getting to San Francisco could involve riding up on CalTrain or BART, but you would need to confirm the logistics, timetables, and costs before you attempted this.

I am hopeful I am over thinking this, and a simple, clear, easy, safe choice exists.  I am also hopeful that, over time, ACA will provide recommended routes from air ports / train terminals in large US cities (such as San Jose - which is surprisingly much larger than San Francisco) to the routes.  Until they do, we will continue to take Old Santa Cruz - Soquel San Jose Highway to get to the coast.

Happy Trails,



Pacific Northwest / Re: Kelso/Longview to Astoria
« on: June 04, 2013, 12:11:58 pm »
Hi Max,

I am happy Kelso / Longview has baggage service.  We had wanted to get off at Kelso / Longview, but the train did not allow anything out of the baggage car.  The only stuff you could take off the train was carry-on, and they did not allow bikes in the passenger cars.

Happy Trails,


Routes / Re: Hotels in Astoria, OR
« on: May 23, 2013, 11:55:17 am »
Brian,  We started in Astoria last July.  We stayed at the Astoria Dune, which was going through some kind of remodel to correct various things.  We did roll our bikes into the Room, and they had a free breakfast.  We could not get internet from our wing.

You will see bright, sunny pictures of Astoria.  Just remember, it is at the mouth of the Columbia River.  In early July, it was dank and overcast.  I think the economy has seen better days (like most of the country).  We couldn't wait to get out of Astoria.


Hi - My wife and I did a preview drive (yes in our car) of part of the Pacific Coast Highway south of Monterey.  We can across two single lane restrictions due to road repair work.  The first was on Map 47, near Rocky Creek.  The second was on Map 48, near Lucia.  There is a bike button to push for the lights, presumably making them longer.  Both spots were extremely constricted.  The road width appeared to preclude a car and ANYTHING else coexisting on the lane - in other words, no passing room, from a car approaching from the front, or the rear.

What is the community experience with riding through this?  For instance, on Monday afternoon, the Rocky Creek stop was not staffed, and relied on light control, causing me to wonder if a heavily loaded bike would actually have time to get through the uphill toboggan run without getting creamed.  The second stop, near Lucia, was staffed, shorter, and more likely to be successfully negotiated.



Gear Talk / Re: Rack mounted tail lights
« on: April 08, 2013, 12:13:53 pm »
Dan,  I went through exactly what you are enduring, with the same problem with both front and rear.  I searched the web and could solve it for $$$$$ or bending metal.

I finally hit on a simple PVC solution that I cobbled together out of some left over garden parts.  I built a PVC bracket in the shape of an "L", and attached it under my rear rack and above my fender.

Parts List - six 90 degree elbows; six PVC pieces cut to length;  four zip ties;  a little black spray paint.
Time to assemble - 10 minutes + paint drying time.

I've used this on several thousand miles of touring.

Happy trails,



Gear Talk / Re: Panniers
« on: March 27, 2013, 12:48:04 pm »
Hi Kardar2 - My wife and I have Ortlieb classic rollers.  They are on the expensive side if purchased new.  We bought 1 pair using the 20%, 2 pairs at REI used gear sales, and 1 pair on Craig's list.  We got used to the single compartment - fewer places to look.

Life is always full of choices.  Sometimes, for some things, it is worth spending a little extra.  Last summer we toured Washington State and Oregon in the wettest season in some time - not a drop of water inside.

Happy trails,


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