I'm thinking of cycling a stretch of the Pacific Coast this December. It's unfashionably late in the touring season but for various reasons (work) this is the only possible time for me.
- any route / weather specific advice?
- d'you know if there'll be many fellow cyclists out during that time?
I hear that (1) it gets d*mn cold and rainy, (2) some of the hiker/biker campsites close at the end of the season, (3) 'bad weather' means northern winds, (4) there are occasional landslides / road closures during the winter! But that's not (yet!) enough of a deterrent.
So ... tips / suggestions / warnings / cycling buddies. All welcome!
If you start in San Francisco, you should be fine. I don't think cycling the CA coast in December would be any worse than cycling Alaska in July (which I have done). Coming from England, you might actually feel at home! If you start at SF and head south to LA or SD, and had time, you could head east to Phx or Tucson. Know that if there are road closures on Hwy 1, that US 101 is always open as an alternative. We have had several dry years, so I wouldn't let your listed obstacles stop you. It is quite doable! And stop and stay over when you pass through LA/Long Beach. We will take you night kayaking to see the Christmas lights!
Thanks for the encouragement, and the very kind offer! I'd love to visit when in the LA area, and sea kayaking is awesome :)
I've mostly lived in Scotland, so am expecting to be thoroughly at home (hah!) with the winter weather...
If you have any specific routing questions, please feel free to ask!
I live in Petaluma and ride the marin, Sonoma, Mendocino coast all the time. In this section your likely to get rain, or beautiful days, not much in between that time of year. Winter is some of the best weather on the coast here because there tends to be a lot less fog. We need a wet winter around here, but it doesn't look like we are going to get one. Last year the hardest thing about winter was lack of daylight more than bad weather. If you are prepared for cold, and have time to sit out a rainstorm or two, you will probably have mostly sunny riding from here south unless you get really unlucky.
I say go for it, bootleg camp in closed campgrounds and enjoy a lot less crowds. If you need a regroup spot Ill cook you a meal and offer you a heated room and laundry in Petaluma.
Thanks for the information. I've been looking at monthly weather forecasts ... but they're so unreliable this far in advance, so your local knowledge is incredibly useful. Sunny riding (even if a little cold) sounds fantastic - pictures of the coast look so good that I'll definitely put up with some discomfort if it means that the scenery will be more visible!
What're the rules regarding pitching up in closed campsites? Is it "naughty but tolerated" or "illegal trespass and prosecuted"? I'm unfamiliar with the rules in California and don't want to run afoul of the authorities!
I think on the camping side, naughty but tolerated would be the best way to describe it. If the campground is open the hiker biker site will be too. If it is closed, I would pull in not to long before dark and clear out early, if you use careful judgement, it is not a problem. I have wild camped like this on the beach and outside of campgrounds too, sometimes it is the quietest, most fun, cleanest and best private site to scope out a good spot outside of town away from any crowd and just get your food and water together somewhere else. You get good at it, depends on your comfort level for adventure, for me it was the only way to go. But I would say even on the conservative side, you will find plenty of legal camping sites.
That sounds sensible. I'm fairly responsible, and very tidy, so packing-in-packing-out should be easy. I've done similar stealth camping in Italy ... but it's always useful to know whether the locals would consider it okay, or whether you'd get into severe trouble. Laws and customs vary so much.
Thanks again, Clay!
What did you decide to do?
Given the extraordinary weather patterns in the USA at the moment, I've been hesitant to plan to far ahead! Current plan is to start from Vancouver on the 8th and then set off by bicycle / train depending on local weather (as much as it adds to the challenge, cycling in freezing rain isn't much fun!)
The choice of transport for the first stretch will have an enormous impact on the route itinerary, and it seems irresponsible to contact hosts until that's sorted! As a planning fanatic I'm uncomfortable with this approach, but can't see an alternative.
The good news: I've discovered that some old friends are living in LA, so will definitely be staying for a few days there. More details to follow, as soon as I know 'em!