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Sierra Cascades Route Plus
By Peter Jack - (contact)

Q & A: Some thoughts and frequently asked questions

First an apology for the time it's taken me to write this journal. I find it hard work because I'm a lousy typist and a constant reviser. I try to add links to relevant stuff which is time consuming.

I rode 2780 miles from my house in Seattle to the Canadian border at Sumas thence to San Diego following the Adventure Cycling Association route. OK, OK. I know the route finishes at Tecate but on arriving at Pine Valley CA I gave the last 20 odd miles a miss and took 60 miles of the Southern Tier route to San Diego and caught the train back to Seattle. San Diego's southern city limit is the Mexican border so I feel I can say I rode from Canada to Mexico and a bit more, as you'll see if you read on. If there's a discrepancy between the total mileage as a sum of daily mileages and 2780 it's due to my bookkeeping; my computer recorded 2780 miles

I'm writing this journal from one I made on the trip in ink on paper the way RLS did only he had a donkey instead of a bike.

What's the attraction?

I can't put my finger on the attraction of bike touring but I miss it something awful when I'm not doing it.

Would you do it again?

In a heartbeat.

What was the best/worst part?

The best had to be Yosemite. Worst? There was nowhere that I'd call bad although some of the endless forest without views in Oregon started to get a bit stale.

What was the hardest part?

Had to be the North Cascades. It was early in the ride and I hadn't got into touring shape. Coming the other way it should be a breeze and you start climbing from 2000 ft higher. Mind you the steepest road I found was climbing out of the Columbia Gorge. this was the only place I got off and shoved. Climbing up to Crestline CA was in the same league of steepness but by that time my legs were in better shape and I managed it without the 24 inch gear.

Prevailing winds?

I wouldn't say there is a prevailing wind. At least I didn't notice one, unlike say the Oregon/California coast. The Columbia gorge has significant winds (see write up) that helped me but only for a dozen miles or so. Going to Mt Shasta and going into Lake Isabella I/we met headwinds again but not for very far. The trouble is you don't notice tail winds the way you do headwinds so it's possible I had some tailwind a lot of the way but I don't think so, certainly not enough to affect the decision N to S vs S to N.

Best time of year?

Tough one. I think I got it about right. Mid June to mid August for N to S. Start any sooner and you risk more blocked passes than I met, any later and it can be extremely hot in the south. Mind you in general I find the dry heat in California bearable. Ideally a sensible person (not me) will check DOT, NP and USFS websites for pass statuses before setting off.

Starting before mid-June may work for S to N. The desert will be a bit cooler and by the time you get to the passes that get blocked by snow they may be clear. It's all a bit of a gamble, if you are trying to plan ahead, on whether it's a late snow year like 2011 or not.

N to S or S to N?

As I've said prevailing winds aren't a factor. See Best time of year? above

Worst traffic?

Around Quincy CA were shoulderless winding hills with logging trucks that were not the best riding. The scariest road was coming out of Big Bear City heading due east into the blinding sun. There was no shoulder and a drop-off of about 10 inches in places. I could hardly see the edge. I should have stopped and waited for the sun to move round a bit I suppose.

Riding across San Diego is entertaining. Friars Rd. crosses three freeways. This means that traffic in the RH lane where you are is speeding up to get on the freeway. For the third crossing I pulled over and walked across the lane to make sure there was a gap in the traffic.


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"Sierra Cascades Route Plus" Copyright © 2011-2014 By Peter Jack - (contact). All rights reserved.
Page was created on October 11, 2011 14:39 PDT, last updated on December 11, 2011 08:25 PDT
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