Cycle Oregon, California, Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, Montana
Replies: 16 - Last Post: Oct 24, 2012 9:48 AM Last Post By: trekker502
Oct 21, 2012 8:58 PM
I am an experienced cyclist planning a road trip with one or two others. We are coming from Canada in the late spring/early summer and would like to start either in Big Sky, Montana, or Portland, Oregon. We would be travelling south and would like to hit San Fransisco, cycle through Arizona, and are debating going through Nevada or Colorado. I hear it is recommended to go southbound on the Oregon Coast.
Does anyone have any advice or recommendations for routes and must-sees?
Edited by: emswhite
Oct 21, 2012 9:06 PM
Oct 21, 2012 11:10 PM
Oct 22, 2012 4:18 AM
3Spring climate says start in the south at a low elevation and work north and upwards, but physics says start at high elevation and work down. A good compromise would be to start at a high southern elevation and head to the Pacific NW coast. All that's before considering particular routes and sites, for which a cycling website would be a good idea. But offhand, I bet you could do worse than toughing out the late spring weather in xYellowstone/Montana and following Lewis & Clark down the xColumbia river system.
Oct 22, 2012 4:42 AM
Oct 22, 2012 7:21 AM
5Weather could be a big factor in your decisions. It can be quite rainy in Montana (and Idaho, Washington, Oregon) in the spring and it is quite a beautiful time of year. I would think southbound on the Oregon and California coast would be best because you will be riding on the ocean side of the road( better views and not against the hill), coastal weather will be warmer too but expect some rain at times, less in Calif. The coastal riding will be good until south of Big Sur. Coastal Southern California might be best avoided because of traffic and crowds,but you may want to see it? I would head to the Sierra at that point and head up Highway 49, checking out Yosemite and any other historical gold-rush towns (don't miss, Columbia, Nevada City and Downieville) ,etc and the tran-sierra highways, parks, national forest areas, working north to around Tahoe before you drop down the east side of the Sierra (consider going through Markleville and Grover Hot Springs) and take 395 south to around Bishop before deciding if you want to ride through the deserts or cut east across Nevada into Utah and Colorado, saving New Mexico and Arizona until later in the summer after the monsoon starts to cool this area off some. Lots to consider, but it sounds like a great trip. Another idea would be to ride the coast all the way down into Baja and go all the way down to Cabo. I have met riders in Baja Sur who started in Alaska or BC and rode the whole coast and Baja (a lot of the Baja road is inland). Because of the heat you want to be done with Baja by April.Good Luck, and Have Fun!
Oct 22, 2012 8:22 AM
Oct 22, 2012 9:36 AM
7Wow, thank you very much everyone! Johnsang, such a full response, I appreciate it!
I have three months, but if it can be done in a month or 1.5 that would be ideal. I have no idea how long this would take, but am aware that this depends on so many factors (fitness, weather, tolerance for climactic conditions, how much we want to see, and the unforseeable). It actually might work better as a mid to late summer start, into the fall. It might be better to end south at that time anyways.
Oct 22, 2012 10:48 AM
8This being late October, Carlsbad, New Mexico, is still getting 90F degrees temperatures! However, this Thursday early morning, the temperature in Santa Fe is forecast to drop to 26F degrees and daytime should be in the 60sF degrees. Snow is forecast today in the Sierra Nevada and western mountains of USA. Simply be prepared for a wide temperature range throughout your ride.
Oct 22, 2012 11:47 AM
Oct 22, 2012 1:04 PM
Oct 23, 2012 12:27 AM
12OP, I'd like to caution you about a particular stretch of road that, given your interest in biking down the coast, you could encounter.
Roughly 50 miles north of Mendocino, California, California Hwy. 1 (the coast road) merges with U.S. 101. South of the merge, Hwy. 1 winds through a heavily wooded area for about 25 miles before emerging onto the coast. That stretch of road is one blind curve after another. Posted speed limits for cars are 10 to 20 mph virtually throughout.
I have driven the stretch about half a dozen times. On one of the drives, I encountered bicyclists zipping around those curves at pretty fast rates of speed. Maybe not "fast" in terms of a bicycle's maneuverability, but way too fast to safely avoid cars -- even those driven at a crawl. I'm well aware of the speed issues because, for many drivers, myself included, that particular stretch is a gut-churner.
I have had a tendency toward a lead foot, but never there. Even at 10 mph around the curves, I've struggled with motion sickness. I'm simply incapable of speeding through that 25-mile stretch. But some bicyclists do it, and I really think they are risking their lives. The one time where I encountered them in several spots, I was extremely worried about their safety.
So, if you wind up taking that route, I implore you to take it slow. I can get kind of snarky about bicyclists, but the last thing either I or most motorists want to do is run you down. But safety is very much a two-way street, especially there. I am not familiar with alternate routes in that area, other than to note that they are on the map. If I were bicycling through that area, I'd investigate alternatives.
Please do not adopt the devil-may-care approach that some bicyclists, and bicycling organizations, have done. Sharing the road means sharing it, and on that particular road, anything other than very slow travel and constant vigilance could result in tragedy. In a contest between your bike and two tons of steel, you'll lose. All of this is compounded on that stretch by the interplay of sun and shade, which degrades visibility. If you bike there, wear "safety orange" or "safety yellow." If there are escorted rides through that stretch, then sign up.
I have driven upwards of 250,000 miles in all 50 states and about half the Canadian provinces, and I've never been on such a dangerous stretch of road for bicyclists. I'm not kidding, this caution could literally save your life. This might strike you as too wordy or emphatic, but this is the voice of experience talking. Please take it seriously.
Oct 23, 2012 11:18 AM
13South of Big Sur to Cambria on Hwy. 1 is one of the most scenic sections I've riden on a bicycle on the coast of Oregon & California ! I did that ride for the third time two weeks ago.The scenery and beaches are wonderful & I would consider adding some lay-over days there if I were you. Also take a look at visiting Hearst Castle at San Simeon. Have a great trip !
Oct 23, 2012 9:36 PM
14South along Highway #1, there is a State Campground just south of Mendocino Village with abalone diving directly across the road. Bodega Bay has a State Campground. Santa Cruz has a State Campground in the redwoods. Julia Pfeiffer State Campground in Big Sur's redwoods is popular. Pismo Beach has sand dunes and dune buggies; also clam digging. Goleta State Campground is near UC Santa Barbara and just north of the city of Santa Barbara. Then cross the Central Valley to access Yosemite National Park.
There are several routes into Yosemite National Park. Tioga Pass Road to the east side of Yosemite NP is usually closed until after Memorial Day weekend (May 31st) unless there is no snowfall early in the season.
Highway #49 along the foothills of the Sierra Nevada has lots of gold mining history. Calaveras Frog Jumping Contest is an annual festival written of by Mark Twain. Hangtown/Placerville is the County Seat and did have hangings during the gold mining era. Placerville is the beginning of Highway #50 route to South Lake Tahoe. It is not a freeway and has less traffic than Interstate-80 to North Lake Tahoe and is at lower elevation. The road travels through the Eldorado National Forest. The road to Markleeville turns off of Highway #50 before you arrive at Stateline, Nevada. There are three routes from Markleeville to Highway #395, but only one was plowed of snow when I drove through in April 2008 -- check the road conditions.
Otherwise, continue on Highway #50 to Interstate-80 in North Lake Tahoe. East on Interstate-80 takes you to Salt Lake City, Utah. Just a short drive to Idaho Falls and then Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and the entrance to Teton National Park and then Yellowstone National Park. The entrance to Teton NP opens after snowfall ends and roads are plowed. It opened on May 8, 2009, when I went through. Not much traffic on the narrow road in May and there is still snow alongside the road at the higher elevations. Lots of wildlife sightings.
Exit Yellowstone NP at one of the east exits and ride east to Interstate-25, then south to Denver and Colorado Springs. At the junction with Highway #64, you may ride southwest to Taos. Highway #64 west of Taos travels to Four Corners and Monument Valley and access to Utah's and Arizona's national parks.
Or, ride south from Taos alongside the Rio Grande 63 miles to Santa Fe, renowned for its art and architecture and mixture of American Indian, Hispanic, and Anglo cultures and frontier history. Follow the original Route #66 south to Albuquerque, then alongside Interstate-40 toward Santa Monica, California. It passes close to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.
Edited by: trekker502
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