16 Jun Vancouver, BC to San Francisco, CA Itinerary
Ever since we purchased our one-way tickets from Los Angeles International Airport to Vancouver last week, this trip took a giant step closer to actually happening. There’s no turning back since the only way back will be on our bicycles, rolling down through British Columbia, Washington, and the Oregon coast. Sang Hyun and I have been anticipating this trip ever since the beginning of this year when I knew I wasn’t going to have a job. In passing, we casually said we needed to finish the Pacific Coast route north of San Francisco. This will be the first trip in which we are starting at a foreign country. You may think that Canada is so close, and it shouldn’t count, but we’ve been dealing with issues that you would expect to encounter if traveling somewhere further – more on this later. Here we are, 9 days before we leave, and we need to get everything in order to start this year’s epic bike tour.
Our original plan was to make it back to Los Angeles by July 25th, in time to say goodbye to my sister, Sang Hyun’s wife, before she leaves to Europe for the following month. However, after spending the last 4 days figuring out our route and day-to-day destinations, we realized it will not be possible for us to make it back on time, while simultaneously enjoying our journey without (A) riding a lot more miles than we are comfortable with or (B) cutting short our ride and finding another way to get down to Los Angeles just to see her leave. As a family, we all thought it would be silly for us to cut our trip short to come back to drive her to the airport. My sister is a very forgiving and understanding person, and we love her for that. Without this timing requirement upon us, we planned our itinerary with what we called “the purple book” – also known as “Bicycling The Pacific Coast” by Vicky Spring and Tom Kirkendall. We also have maps from Adventure Cycling Association. Unfortunately, I don’t have maps from Vancouver to Astoria, so we are relying on the purple book for those directions. From Astoria down to San Francisco, we have 2 maps to follow, along with back-up information from the purple book.
- Vancouver, BC
- Roberts Creek
- Saltery Bay
- Rathtrevor Beach
- McDonalds Camp
- Victoria, BC
- Victoria, BC – Day Off
- Fort Townsend SP
- Potlatch SP
- Twin Harbor SP
- Bay Center
- Bay Center – Day Off
- Ft. Stevens SP
- Nehalem Bay SP
- Cape Lookout SP
- Beverly Beach SP
- Jessie M. Honeyman SP
- Jessie M. Honeyman SP – Day Off
- Sunset Bay SP
- Humbug Mountain SP
- Harris Beach SP/CA border
- Elk Prairie Campground
- Eureka KOA
- Burlington Campground
- Burlington Campground – Day Off
- Standish Hickey SR
- MacKerricher Beach SP
- Manchester State Beach
- Bodega Dunes State Beach
- San Francisco – Day Off
Although we have places planned out to stay all through the trip, we would love to stay with readers or friends of readers. It will help us save on the cost of this trip and having others to talk to about the trip and share our experiences with would be fun, too, especially if we get to stay at a place during our rest days. We may even have the opportunity to experience the town from a local’s perspective. That would be a real treat for the both of us. Please let us know if you’re open to hosting us or know someone who might be able to do so.
I brought my bike to Topanga Creek Bicycles on Thursday this week. I picked out a set of fenders, a handlebar bag, camera padding insert for the bag, new bar tape, and 2 sets of brake pads for the road. In addition to all that, I left my bike there so they can help me box it up for shipping or bringing it on the plane.
We initially planned on taking the bikes with us on the plane as another checked-in luggage, but a reader and friend of ours introduced us to his family in Vancouver. We were hoping to ship both bikes up there, but after some mapping work, we unfortunately learned that his house is too far for us to travel to in the first day. We were going to use the ShipBikes.com service which has been prominently advertised on the Adventure Cycling Association site and magazine. All we would have had to do was obtain the weight and dimensions of the box, go to the site and they would send us the shipping labels. We could have scheduled a pick up or had it brought to the nearest FedEx location. But since that plan’s out the door, we will default back to our original plan of checking them in as luggage. The next thing we need to do is figure out exactly what we are bringing so that we don’t haul more than 50 lbs of luggage on our carry-on. We will also need to figure out what needs to be purchased and what needs to be sent back when we land in Vancouver. So far, we’ll have to send our luggage bags back once we empty the contents into our panniers. We will need to buy food and Jetboil fuel canisters for the upcoming week, exchange our money to Canadian currency, and finally figure out our mobile phone needs. We will probably be without Internet until we reach hostels with WiFi access. It’ll probably become easier once we get back into the United States, and we will then be able to send out updates of our whereabouts.
Despite all the craziness, we are both very excited and anxious to start this incredible adventure. This will be the longest bicycle tour we’ll both experience thus far. The longest one before this was the ride from San Francisco down to Santa Monica, which took 8 days. I personally can’t wait to check out Puget Sound and the Avenue of the Giants. It will be nice to ride through lush forests and breathe clean air. Can’t wait to bring all of you on our journey!
NikkiPosted at 14:58h, 16 June
Dude, this is fantastic. I’m so jealous! Have an awesome time!!!
Johnny LamPosted at 16:49h, 16 June
Thanks Nikki! We are definitely planning on having a good time.
crazy harryPosted at 05:38h, 17 June
Excited for you. I leave August 5th same trip and continuing to Mexican boarder… Lets chat soon.. crazy nervous..
Johnny LamPosted at 13:09h, 18 June
I may miss you as we could still be on the road when you take your journey up. We are still on the fence about riding down from SF to LA but I guess we’ll have to see when the time comes. Let’s talk when you’re back from your trip and compare notes as well as talk about other things.
MayPosted at 20:06h, 18 June
When will you be in SF? We’ll be in Napa/SF from July 1-6
Johnny LamPosted at 22:53h, 18 June
We will probably get to SF by July 24 or 25th so will miss you completely. Have fun up there.
StevePosted at 03:31h, 08 April
Have just booked flights and we set traveling from Vancouver to San Francisco in 13 days…. Just working out a route staying as close to the coast as possible !
Johnny LamPosted at 15:41h, 09 April
@Steve – You’re going to love it! You will meet so many people on the road. Take advantage of that.
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EhsanPosted at 12:41h, 07 April
I biked from Los Angeles to San Francisco last year and it was an amazing trip. Now, I am planning for another bike trip from Vancouver to San Francisco during the next summer. What are the top 5 important things if you want to advise someone about this trip? Also, I was wondering if this road is as ragged as big sur or would you rate it as a relatively even/flat road?
Johnny LamPosted at 23:20h, 13 April
@Ehsan – Wow very good question here. I had to spend some time to think about this one but here it is.
1. Take lots of photos or videos. You’ll love looking back after the trip has been all done. I know I feel very nostalgic every time I go over my photo gallery on Flickr.
2. Be in the moment. I know I told you to take lots of photos or videos but also enjoy being there. See the place for what it is in front of you and not behind a mobile phone or camera.
3. Eat when you’re hungry, rest when you’re tired. Very simple.
4. Be open to making friends. There will be dozens of others traveling with you and you will definitely run into them as you guys hopscotch over one another. Having a little mobile community will do wonders in keeping the spirits up. I still keep in touch with people I’ve meet on my trip down the coast.
5. It’s going to rain so be prepared. Have it ready with you because it’ll make things more comfortable.
I hope that answers your question. As for your other question about the road: it wasn’t so bad but we had more hills in Canada than we did in the states. Don’t be fooled by the calm sounding names of the Sunshine Coast. Also, people will tell you Leggett is bad, it’s not that bad. Just make sure you can spin your way up. I would run triples in the front crank with the smallest chainring possible (24 is mine).
Good luck on your trip and thank you for reading and writing to me. Sorry it took so long to get back to you.