Author Topic: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo  (Read 10708 times)

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Offline lost_again17

San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« on: July 02, 2011, 11:32:14 am »
Hi.  I'm thinking of an August trip from San Francisco to San Luis Obispo on Route 1 and I've got a few questions. 
Anyone done that ride? 
If so, how long did it take and what were you riding?
I hear Route 1 can be a bit hairy, especially as far as shoulders are concerned.  Is it an issue?
What's camping like along that route?
Can I take my bike on the amtrak back to San Francisco?

More generally, I've never flown with a bike, any advice on getting a bike from New York to San Francisco or somewhere in San Francisco that I could rent a tour ready bike?


Thanks!

Offline cgarch

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #1 on: July 02, 2011, 12:10:28 pm »
"Anyone done that ride?" Kind of a funny question for this site, dontcha think? You might want to search these forums first (or crazyguyonabike.com) - there've been a lot of posts on this route over the years and I'm sure you'll find a great deal of info. That being said, it can take as long as you like. You can probably rush it in 5-6 days. The only area that is slightly 'hairy' is the stretch south of Pacifica over Devil's Slide. After that, the route is a pleasure. Camping is plentiful unless they start closing state parks. You do have the ACA maps for this portion of the route, don't you? I think you need to do a little more research.

As for Amtrak, Yes. But Amtrak arrives in Emeryville and you'll have to get the shuttle into SF. If you're flying, you can take BART back to SFO.

Offline staehpj1

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #2 on: July 02, 2011, 12:36:07 pm »
If so, how long did it take and what were you riding?
People have probably taken anywhere from 1 to 20 days.  4 to 5 days is probably pretty normal.

Definitely fly southwest or frontier if you fly with the bike.  They charge you the regular oversize bag fee for the bike ($50) and the second checked bag is free.  Pretty much all other domestic airlines really screw you on the bike and baggage fees.  Alternately you can sent it fedex or ups to a bike shop or residence.  Personally I like to fly with the bike to the tour and have a bike shop box and ship it home for me.  That usually runs about $100 including the shipping.

Offline valygrl

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #3 on: July 02, 2011, 03:56:43 pm »
5-6 days if you're a reasonably fit cyclist, add a few more if you're out of shape, don't train on hills, or are in tourist mode.

Can you add a few more days and fly home from Santa Barbara or LA?  That's what I would do. 

Forget Amtrack if you want to be anywhere on time.  Greyhound is a (horrible) option, but renting a one way car is probably the best bet, unless money is more important that time and your sanity.

Southwest and Frontier are the airlines with decent bike shipping rates.  San Jose and Oakland airports are also reasonable choices if you can find a better ticket.

There is an article on the regular Adv. Cycl. site about bike packing.  You'll probably want to use a cardboard box rather than a hard case, unless you have a place to store the case in SF and are definitely going back there.

Offline aggie

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #4 on: July 02, 2011, 05:51:30 pm »
Amtrak would be an excellent option to go from San Luis Obispo to Oakland.  The Coast Starlight is most always on time; the charge for a bicycle box and handling ($20) is reasonable; don't have the hassle at airport security; and it is more comfortable than driving or being stuffed into an airplane.  It may take a little bit longer but it planes, buses and autos.

Plan to take some time exploring the parks along the coast.  Many are really neat and well worth the time.

Offline lost_again17

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2011, 12:15:28 pm »
Yeah, I certainly need to do more research.  Any particularly places to camp along the way (formal campsites or primitive)?  Maybe in state parks?

I'm also considering buying a used bike in San Francisco - maybe an old mountain bike or tourer - and then selling in at the end of the trip, either in San Francisco or San Luis Obispo.  Save some shlepping and the alterations that I'd need to do on my bike (which is a vintage sport-touring bike anyway).  Terrible idea? 
If not, anyone know of a decent vintage shop in San Francisco and/or San Luis Obispo?

Offline aggie

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2011, 05:51:46 pm »
Camping in Pfeiffer Big Sur State park is a nice stop.  It has hiker/biker sites and pay showers.  There is a restaurant that is ok.  You could also cook something in the campfire/charcoal grill or go into "town" and eat at some other restaurant.  There are some nice trails and a couple that will take you to the ocean. 

Offline Grumpybear

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #7 on: July 05, 2011, 11:23:08 am »
An ACA map is a great resource, but I would also suggest picking up the book "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" by Vicky Spring and Tom Kirkendall. I've have done that route many times over the last 25 years and always bring that book with me. I've found that 30 to 40 percent of the riders I've met along the route also have the book with them.




Offline Westinghouse

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2011, 12:03:00 pm »
Yes, I cycled that stretch of road and it was a very long time ago in 1993. I would not remember anything
detailed about it. The PCBR was a fantastic experience for me. I went from Ana Cortes, WA to San Diego, CA. I thought San Francisco was nice. I did the tour on three separate installments. By far, the longest of the three was from Portland, OR to San Diego in 1993. It was hilly. The scenery was out of this world. Most always a following wind. It was very nice, indeed.

I am not an ACA map writer, however, I might be able to tell you a little about the local history of one place you might travel through. Occidental was a small town at the hills north of SF. In the sixties, in the hills near Occidental there was a commune that added quite a bit of color to the local goings ons. The name of the so-called commune was Wheeler's Ranch. It became famous in its day. Later, federal authorities raided it, and it was shut down for substandard housing by authorities. Anyone going there in the sixties was sure to be apprised that Wheeler's Ranch was near Bodega Bay where movie producer Alfred Hitchcock made a famous film titled, "The Birds." There's a little adhistory to supplement your maps if you have them.

Offline lost_again17

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #9 on: July 21, 2011, 07:25:13 pm »
I've been hearing a lot about how busy route 1 gets in the summer and I'm a bit worried about cycling in August.  Will traffic and crowds be an issue at the end of the month?

Offline staehpj1

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2011, 07:40:11 am »
I've been hearing a lot about how busy route 1 gets in the summer and I'm a bit worried about cycling in August.  Will traffic and crowds be an issue at the end of the month?
It depends on how traffic tolerant you are.  I have found that I generally was OK with the sections of AC routes that people complained about, so the answer probably varies almost as much from rider to rider as from road to road.

If it really worries you, can you go after labor day?  Things probably settle down a good bit then.

Offline lost_again17

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #11 on: July 24, 2011, 07:56:33 pm »
I usually ride in New York City, so I'm plenty comfortable riding with cars.  However, I'm not going on vacation to ride in the same traffic I have at home.  As long as it'll still be fun and campsites won't be jammed, I don't mind.

Offline happyriding

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #12 on: July 25, 2011, 08:07:15 pm »
Quote
I hear Route 1 can be a bit hairy, especially as far as shoulders are concerned.  Is it an issue?

If you ride in NYC, you will really enjoy Highway 1.  I rode that stretch the same time you are going to be doing it.  There were some jerks who yelled at me for riding in the road when there was no shoulder, but if you are a cyclist you will be used to that.  Depending on your mood, you either shrug it off, or give them holy hell back.  On weekends, there will be more traffic and more jerks.  But you will only notice the traffic during the short sections where the shoulder disappears.  The road is 'hairy' in that there will be a small shoulder, then a low rock wall, and a cliff that plunges 100 feet down to the rocky ocean.  I found it to be 'spectacular', rather than 'hairy'.  There are pullouts every so often, so a patient driver will be able to get around you at some point.

The ACA maps are great because they list all the 'hiker/biker' campsites along the way, as well as which towns have grocery stores and bike shops.  The hiker/biker camping works like this:  it costs $10/night in CA (in Oregon it's only $5/night, but with CA's budget woes, they doubled the fee), and the hiker/biker site is usually a group site with a communal fire place and some communal picnic tables.  Showers are usually available--but not always.  In the height of summer, the hiker/biker sites are never at full capacity, and every camp host I ever talked to said they would never turn away a hiker/biker--they would squeeze your tent in somewhere.  So you don't need reservations, and I don't think they take reservations anyway.

Because of CA's budget woes, the state announced closures of some campgrounds along the Pacific Coast.  Someone posted a list on these forums, and I'm sure you can find the list elsewhere too.

I found the Oregon coast to be much nicer riding, it had better campsites, and it was more beautiful.  The state of Oregon also publishes a free bike map of the coast route with all the hiker/biker sites listed.  I was pretty disappointed with the California coast and the camping.  So if your plans are flexible you might consider Oregon as an alternative.






« Last Edit: July 25, 2011, 08:43:31 pm by happyriding »

Offline Westinghouse

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #13 on: July 26, 2011, 01:50:06 pm »
I believe that's the Big Sur section of the route. That means some of the best scenery of the pacific coast route.

Offline lost_again17

Re: San Francisco to San Luis Obispo
« Reply #14 on: July 27, 2011, 04:23:11 pm »
Oregon's an alluring suggestion.  Someday I'll make that trip, but with only four or five days to ride, it's probably too much travel from SF.  Regardless, I'm very open to suggestions.  I settled on the southerly route from SF only because it's a classic one, but I'm certainly interested in alternatives.  Only hitch is I have to start and end in San Francisco, although any transportation (bus, train) that I can take a folding bike on works just fine (Right now I'm planning on taking the train back from San Luis Obispo). 

Also got my hands on the ACA maps and Cycling the Pacific Coast.  Both very useful.