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Riding west coast USA from south to north from march till may 2013

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WS Member WS Member's picture
Riding west coast USA from south to north from march till may 2013

I want to ride by bicycle west coast of USA from San Diego to Portland.
Start is at the begining of march 2013 at San Diego.
I am interested about your experience & weather/wind/rain conditions at the time plus recomendations regarding equipment.
Thanks a lot.
Best Regards,
Ivan

WS Member John Pringle's picture
Riding west coast in March

Hi Ivan. You may want to reconsider your direction. I was recently reading an article about a couple who went from south to north i.e. from Mexico to Canada, and faced strong winds. Upon return (Canada to Mexico) the winds were favourable, i.e tailwinds. Have a great ride. John

WS Member JeromeLesemann's picture
West-Coast South to North

Hello Ivan,

Based on my experience of this route in both summer and later winter (Feb. /March). I would advise against the South-North route. There are a number of reasons for this.

1) The weather is the main one. Although weather in southern California will likely be good-to decent (San Diego-San Luis Obispo) it can be very rainy to the north of Monterey and downright dilluvial in Northern California and Oregon.

As a cyclist, this potentially means VERY strong headwinds for multiple days and cold, wet weather for multiple days in a row. While you will have the wet weather regardless of direction, the cooling effect of the wind should not be underestimated.

The tailwinds will also be a big physical and mental boost when the weather gets really bad.

2) There is an element of increased safety with the N-S route because the highways have a very generous shoulder on the southbound route. The shoulder may be non-existent on the northbound side of the road and this puts you very close to traffic.

Regarding equipment, a good pair of full coverage fenders (regardless of season), warm clothes and good raingear (if only to keep you warm), a good tent/tarp system that does not leak, and given the season, a stove of some sort for hot beverages/meals. I've toured with and without stove in late winter and recommned having one for the possibility of making quick warm meals if you get cold.

An advantage of your proposed departure time is that you will have much less traffic than in the summer. However, be aware that some campgrounds may still be closed for the season.

I recommend the book by Kirkendall and Spring (Bicycling the pacific Coast) for very detailed info on routes and camping options. All campground options are also available on-line through the State websites.

If at all possible, I would consider reversing the route, even if that means flying/train North and riding South (though that may not be possible for you).

Best of luck and enjoy the coast. It is absolutely spectaculare and the trip is unforgettable!

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