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      CommentAuthorGeoff
    • CommentTimeJun 19th 2012
     
    Feel free to post any trip reports or locations you've visited for biking here.

    L.A., S.F., and Portland all have their own separate threads, but I figured we don't need to have a new thread every time we go out-of-area. Plus, I'm lazy, and have multiple places to write about from my recent trips.

    First, for those that haven't done an overnight train trip via Amtrak on the Coast Starlight, I highly recommend. It has plenty to do on board, and the sights are amazing in many places. But, this is a bicycling specific forum, and I did indeed take the Brompton with me. We made 10-15 minute stops in a few places (Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, San Jose, Oakland, Eugene, Portland, and Tacoma). While the majority of folks who stepped off did so for smoke breaks, I unfolded the bike and spun around the parking lot for exercise and fresh air. Started a ton of conversations (as Mark can attest to) just by bringing it out.

    Of all the brief stops, Eugene clearly had the edge for bike stuff near the station. I made a fast loop around the area surrounding us, just soaking up all the corrals, lanes, signs, and BIKES. Bikes EVERYWHERE.






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      CommentAuthorGeoff
    • CommentTimeJun 19th 2012
     
    Our first destination was Seattle, which had a solid commuter base. King County has a mandatory helmet law, and I would estimate maybe 2% didn't have a helmet on. The business commuters were not completely spandexed up, but it still wasn't Copenhagen-level casual biking. One day of sun, one day of rain, and the percentage of folks on two wheels stayed about the same. The majority of cyclists integrated well into traffic, and salmon/scofflaws were low in frequency. Sidewalk riding was present, maybe 20% of riders. I'm not sure the legality of riding on the sidewalks in downtown, but no one was accosted or given any guff over it. Whoever said San Diego can't be a bike city because we have too many hills needs to check out this place. The thing that seemed more than cool were the distance signs with little bike symbols on them, letting you know optimum path and distance to different destinations.




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      CommentAuthorGeoff
    • CommentTimeJun 19th 2012
     
    Our second destination was Vancouver, BC, Canada, taking the Amtrak Cascades across the border. The baggage train had dedicated bicycle hooks, and was completely full of bikes. There's an extra fee, but obviously is a well-used service. Everything in the area seemed to indicate biking was welcome, but not as many were doing it as Seattle. Also, the place was a rolling REI advertisement. Not a single cyclist (except me and the missus) was without North Face or Columbia apparel. The commuter level dropped off on the rainy day, even though I would qualify it as more of a light mist. Helmets are mandatory in Vancouver, and I only saw one person without. Traffic integration wasn't really easy to spot, since they had bike lanes for uphills, a dedicated path along the sea wall, and cycle tracks in other spots. I'll say the drivers were a an aggressive lot, but that was my experience as a pedestrian (getting honked at in a crosswalk), and observing from a breakfast spot above a busy intersection. Lots of speeding and red light running in the downtown. The word I would use for downtown biking would be "underutilized". This may have less to do with the weather, and more to do with the OUTSTANDING public transportation. Both the light rail and the bus system was fast, frequent, and went EVERYWHERE. Every bus and train car disgorged and picked up tons of riders, moving everyone about efficiently. When you only wait 3 minutes between trains at 11:30 at night (when we got in), you know you have reliable service.


    We went for a ride around Stanley Park, which had a rather unique separation for bike/rollerblades and pedestrians. The trip around the perimeter took about an hour. However, there were a lot of interior trails and paths we didn't explore. Again, good bike facilities, and this was where we saw the majority of "recreational" riders, both out for pleasure and spandex rides.



  1.  
    Thanks for sharing your trip report. I hope to take the Amtrak to the Pacific Northwest.
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      CommentAuthorbikingbill
    • CommentTimeJun 20th 2012
     
    Question, does the Coast Starlight run along the coast ... north of San Luis Obispo?

    Makes me wonder why we are contemplating an inland high speed rail system that would bypass pretty much every interesting place.
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      CommentAuthorGeoff
    • CommentTimeJun 20th 2012
     
    No. Detours inland through Paso Robles until reaching San Jose. Essentially follows the 101 through that region. Once you leave the Bay Area, it heads inland again to connect Sacramento. If you look at the terrain feature on Google maps, it's easy to see why they do it (short answer: hills disagree with steel wheels). It's also the reason why Monterey is skipped in favor of Salinas. I've been on Hwy 1, and agree that Cambria to Monterey is among the most picturesque path in the entire state.


    The high speed rail project was originally conceived to link just LA with SF, with few, if any stops. Sacramento and SD were dangled merely to gain support, and SD flat-out crapped on the idea. The current route proposals are reminiscent of the old robber baron days: political favors seem to drive rail spikes to mind-boggling diversions.
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      CommentAuthorSigurd
    • CommentTimeJun 20th 2012
     
    Geoff:Feel free to post any trip reports or locations you've visited for biking here. L.A., S.F., and Portland all have their own separate threads, but I figured we don't need to have a new thread every time we go out-of-area.
    Great idea for a thread - I will surely use it next time I travel!

    And thanks for an excellent travel report.
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      CommentAuthorbikingbill
    • CommentTimeJun 20th 2012
     
    That route looks far more useful than the stupid Bakersfield plan.
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      CommentAuthorHans
    • CommentTimeJun 21st 2012 edited
     
    Spur-of-the-moment trip I decided to take last week. Upper Lake to San Luis Obispo...

    Nice (yet sad) that the state acknowledges the screwed up past of California.

    After climbing over the range between Lake and Anderson/Mendocino Counties...

    Reminded me of France, with grapes everywhere. My Talbot was getting homesick.

    I guess in order to appreciate the atmosphere of the vineyards, one should ride on cobblestone bike routes.

    Not a motorized vehicle in sight. Henry Cowell Redwoods.

    The brewers of Hop-Ottin' Ale laugh at Southern California for not using their occasional sunny days to their fullest.

    Nice little contribution the Anderson Valley Brewing Co. does to help bicyclists, is to sponsor these boxes. Contribute what you can, for tubes, repair kits, cables, blinkies.

    In the front yard is a drinking fountain, air pump, swing/picnic table, and bike rack (not to mention the antlered bear mascot hiding in the brush). They also took their open land, and installed a disc golf course.
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      CommentAuthorGeoff
    • CommentTimeNov 4th 2012
     
    Made a trip down to Paso Robles to the Firestone Walker Brewery and Taproom for their 16th Anniversary Ale release party. For an agricultural town with a large freeway bisecting it, there is a good effort for cycling infrastructure. Heading south from the train station, "Bicycle Route" signage is abundant, making it easy to find the best course through town. Once on Vine St., I got to see their well-done bike lanes, each about 30-40" wide, with thick and smooth brown paint and broad white lane markings.

    in areas with a gutter, the bike lane stays wide, not counting the gutter in its standard width. The brown paint made it easy to see debris along the side, but I'm not sure that was by design.

    Also, every 1/10th of a mile, there are brickwork strips in the auto lane. Not sure what their intent was, but I can guess it would be to keep the driver focused and keep speeds lower, and a side effect of letting cyclist hear approaching cars.

    Given the way-finding signs, I'm led to believe Hwy 46 is a major cycling route. If I had time, I would have rode more around town, but sweet, sweet beer lured me in with her siren song.
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      CommentAuthormarkphilips
    • CommentTimeNov 10th 2012 edited
     
    Thanks for sharing photos from Paso Robles. When I saw it a couple of years ago it was a sure site to see. Although, we only made a short pitstop in Paso Robles we took the time to ride the "brick red"bike lanes from the plaza entrance and surrounding area.

    markphilips:Seen in Paso Robles near a new mall strip.
    IMG02518-20120304-1642.jpg
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      CommentAuthorsvelocity
    • CommentTimeNov 11th 2012
     
    Good stuff here guys!
    • CommentAuthorgavilan
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2012
     
    Hey, this is pretty cool!

    Hmmm it was said above that the train goes all the way up north but if I check the Amtrak website and try to go to Oakland (to stop in San Fransisco), it says the train goes to Santa Barbara and from there they suggest a bus and then "Capitol Corridor". What gives?
    It does go to Seattle (Pacific Surfliner and then Coast Starlight).
    Puzzled.
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      CommentAuthorGeoff
    • CommentTimeDec 4th 2012
     
    The Coast Starlight is only once a day. You have to catch the first Surfliner out of San Diego (6:05am) to make the connection in Los Angeles. Other options are available with the thruway buses, but that's the only "train only" option. Just search early enough, and make sure you're selecting Oakland-Jack London Square (OKJ) as your destination. Any other Oakland destination isn't train connected.

    Your San Francisco connection (if that's your final destination) goes San Diego Surfliner to LA, Coast Starlight to Emeryville (EMY), and then thruway bus to San Francisco. This is especially important because you arrive in the Bay Area in the middle of the night, and may be at a disadvantage in Oakland. The thruway buses only leave from Emeryville, and will be waiting for your arrival.
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      CommentAuthorbikingbill
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2012
     
    Geoff:The Coast Starlight is only once a day. You have to catch the first Surfliner out of San Diego (6:05am) to make the connection in Los Angeles. Other options are available with the thruway buses, but that's the only "train only" option. Just search early enough, and make sure you're selecting Oakland-Jack London Square (OKJ) as your destination. Any other Oakland destination isn't train connected.


    I don't know why this isn't the route for a high speed rail system. It hits all the major cities.
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      CommentAuthorGeoff
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2012
     
    There are several good reasons for heading inland, but I'll just direct you to these guys for more details.

    A recent panel with California High Speed Rail Authority board chairman Dan Richards addresses some of the wave-top points (and recall that prior to his appointment, he told Gov. Brown that the project was "really screwed up" and lobbied for a coastal route, too):
    Richard said he changed his mind about the path the train should take because the route must have a terminus in San Francisco, and swinging across from the Altamont would take longer, require a costly bridge crossing and trigger legal challenges.

    As far as the Central Valley start, he said the existing stretch of rails from Stockton to Bakersfield sees a million riders a year, which would bolster paying passengers as the system builds up to high-speed rail.

    He also emphasized that it’s not just about transportation, but also changing cities along the route and revitalizing them by bringing in more density.

    There is a separate movement for a revived Coast Daylight route between SF and LA that would address frequency issues with the Coast Starlight. I don't see it as competing with high speed rail because of the different markets they address.
    • CommentAuthorgavilan
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2012
     
    Geoff:The Coast Starlight is only once a day. You have to catch the first Surfliner out of San Diego (6:05am) to make the connection in Los Angeles. Other options are available with the thruway buses, but that's the only "train only" option. Just search early enough, and make sure you're selecting Oakland-Jack London Square (OKJ) as your destination. Any other Oakland destination isn't train connected.

    Your San Francisco connection (if that's your final destination) goes San Diego Surfliner to LA, Coast Starlight to Emeryville (EMY), and then thruway bus to San Francisco. This is especially important because you arrive in the Bay Area in the middle of the night, and may be at a disadvantage in Oakland. The thruway buses only leave from Emeryville, and will be waiting for your arrival.


    Sweet. Thanks for the tips! We have been talking about doing a "train only" trip up north and just couldn't figure out how. We'll check out the Emeryville connection you suggest.
    •  
      CommentAuthorbikingbill
    • CommentTimeDec 5th 2012
     
    Geoff:There are several good reasons for heading inland, but I'll just direct you to these guys for more details.

    A recent panel with California High Speed Rail Authority board chairman Dan Richards addresses some of the wave-top points (and recall that prior to his appointment, he told Gov. Brown that the project was "really screwed up" and lobbied for a coastal route, too):
    Richard said he changed his mind about the path the train should take because the route must have a terminus in San Francisco, and swinging across from the Altamont would take longer, require a costly bridge crossing and trigger legal challenges.

    As far as the Central Valley start, he said the existing stretch of rails from Stockton to Bakersfield sees a million riders a year, which would bolster paying passengers as the system builds up to high-speed rail.

    He also emphasized that it’s not just about transportation, but also changing cities along the route and revitalizing them by bringing in more density.

    There is a separate movement for a revived Coast Daylight route between SF and LA that would address frequency issues with the Coast Starlight. I don't see it as competing with high speed rail because of the different markets they address.


    The Coast Starlight hits San Jose, right? This is a huge topic all by itself. Best left alone :-)
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      CommentAuthormarkphilips
    • CommentTimeJan 2nd 2013 edited
     
    Ojai Valley Trail from Ojai Valley to Ventura.

    New Year's eve ride took us along the scenic Ojai Valley Bicycle trail. The trail is approximately 16 miles from Ventura Main st to the idyllic town of Ojai. The trail is under half a mile from the Ventura Amtrak Station (link to bicycling directions). There are campsites close to the trail and we plan to explore that in the future. Parts of this rail trail runs parallel with Hwy 33. We experienced the high contrast between riding beside hwy 33 and the quiet hillside, amazing vista, and serene neighborhoods and parks. The view is just amazing. I highly recommend to start the ride from Ventura with the gentle grade uphill to Ojai. Then be rewarded with a nice downhill back to Ventura. Foster Park is also a good place to start the ride. I noticed several cars parked under a bridge rather than pay the $4 weekend parking fee in the park.

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      CommentAuthormarkphilips
    • CommentTimeJan 2nd 2013 edited
     
    In the town of Ojai, there are two bike shops. The long time Bicycles of Ojai has been around for decades and is highly recommended.
    Meiner Oaks Bike shop (MOBshop) recently moved to what used to be an abandoned gasoline station. It was abandoned for nearly 20 years until its re-innovation.
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    What used to be vehicle hydraulic lift is now a bike rack. What used to be car tire rack is now used for bike tires.
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    They had a rental fleet of mountain bikes, city bikes, and electric bikes. Below is a mix of rental and for sale bikes. We got a close look of the Yuba Boda Boda and Mundo cargo bikes, Linus city bikes
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      CommentAuthormarkphilips
    • CommentTimeJan 2nd 2013 edited
     
    We stayed at the Lavender Inn historic bed and breakfast which is close to EVERYTHING in town.

    Bed, Breakfast and Bikes
    Bike among scenic meadows and mountains. The Ojai Valley Trail connects the center of Ojai to Ventura’s beach at Seaside Park with a 16.5 mile walking, equestrian and cycling trail. Mountain, road, and tandem bikes, joggers, and child trailers are available for rent. If you bring your own bike, you can lock it safely in our garage. Get $10 off your room, Sunday to Thursday nights only.

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  2.  
    Spent a couple of days in Sequoia National Park, then a couple days in SLO. Just rode around the campground at Sequoia, but had fun rock crawling on the granite.








    In SLO, I finally got a chance to do the Shooters uphill/Morning Glory downhill ride that I've been meaning to tackle for a year or so. Did not crash--very pleased with myself. The mountain bike community in SLO has become really strong, and they're building a (legal) freeride park in "The Eucs." I rode down part of it--much of it walking-- since getting air is not part of my repertoire. I just turned 49, but I saw a couple of mountain bikers that appeared older than I am on that ride---good to see that you don't have to give up the sport just because your hair is turning gray.



    Took my kids and two of their cousins on a ride around Cal Poly. Calf number 604 was a big hit up at the dairy unit.



    We ended up at Jamba Juice (the original store)--here's a photo of our bikes parked outside. One of my nephews is really tall--guess which one is his bike.

    •  
      CommentAuthorPaul
    • CommentTimeJul 10th 2013
     
    ^^^ Great stuff Shady. SLO is pretty awesome for any kind of bike. I love how clean and simple that Ibis looks.
    •  
      CommentAuthorSmorg
    • CommentTimeJul 10th 2013
     
    What a cool trip, John! :oD I've gotta get me a mountain bike soon. Most of the best views around aren't off from paved roads!
    • CommentAuthorShady John
    • CommentTimeAug 17th 2013
     
    Two weeks ago I went to New Hampshire for a conference. While there I managed to get in a fair bit of riding on a rented 2000 Kona Yee Haw CrMo 700C hybrid bike. The highlight of the riding was a ~55 mile ride that included the climb of Mount Kearsarge, which is one of the bigger climbs on the east coast:

    http://www.northeastcycling.com/Mtn_Climbs.html

    My GPS blanked out for part of the climb (and has been doing so ever since), so I didn't get Strava credit for the full Kearsarge climb segment. But more than making up for that was the fact that on the day of the climb, the park road was closed to traffic due to construction work at the top. So I had the entire road to myself for both the ascent and the descent. And that was a good thing because I needed the entire road so that I could tack on the steeper sections--30-28 low gear (I think) wasn't low enough with that bike and my already-tired legs. Definitely the longest and hardest ride I've ever done while schlepping a kickstand.

    Overall the riding in south-central New Hampshire was pretty good--beautiful scenery, lots of hills, decent (though a bit rough) roads, traffic not too bad. Lots of dirt roads around too--the 622x37 tires were a good fit with the terrain. Weather was beautiful, fortunately. Here are some photos from three days of riding:









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      CommentAuthorSmorg
    • CommentTimeAug 17th 2013
     
    Nice, John! :oD My next bike has gotta be a cross or a mountain bike. Missing trail-riding!
    • CommentAuthorShady John
    • CommentTimeAug 30th 2013
     
    Was back in SLO last weekend. Got in three classic rides (imperfectly recorded on Strava due to a balky smartphone). On the longest ride, to the top of West Cuesta Ridge and then down the Shooters trail, I ran out of water (having given my extra bottle to a kid who had been out riding on the ridge since 1 AM with no water--he had just ridden up on a whim in the middle of the night on his way home from work!). Not a big deal, but as I exited Stenner Creek canyon near home, I passed a new building on the outskirts of the Cal Poly campus, and I thought "it would have been really cool if they had put a drinking fountain out here"--and as I rounded the corner, lo and behold there was a drinking fountain--with chiller. There must have been a mountain biker on the design committee.


    360 degree panorama from the West Cuesta Ridge Botanical Area


    Four of the Nine Sisters viewed from Cuesta Ridge

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nine_Sisters


    View of the upper part of Shooters trail from the ridge


    View of Bishop's Peak over the fog from San Luis Mountain (Cerro San Luis). The twin peaks of San Simeon (Pine Mountain) are visible to the left of Bishop's Peak in the distance (~45 miles away).
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      CommentAuthorGeoff
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2014
     
    I rode the Mt. Vernon Trail in Virginia that runs from Mt. Vernon (duh) to Theodore Roosevelt Island, about 17 miles and change, along the Virginia side of the Potomac River. The trail actually goes a little further and connects with other trails in Northern Virginia and Maryland, but my stop was TR Island.

    Entrance archway to Mt. Vernon. The mansion is much bigger.

    The trail is well maintained, about two bike-lanes wide asphalt, with numerous wood bridges over the wetlands. There are rolling hills in many spots, but nothing extraordinary. Mostly occupied by joggers and MAMILs on Sunday, the north end of the trail saw more traffic than the southern portion. There are numerous parking lots that provide the only trail access on the southern end, as Washington Memorial Pkwy is a no-bikes-allowed roadway. Many marked and unmarked routes existed once entering Alexandria and continuing north.

    Typical trail section

    Points of interest along the way include historic old town Alexandria, which would like you to know they consider themselves bike-friendly (actual score: B- to C+)

    Smile, you're now a bike advocate

    This sign was at a dead-end of the trail. No kidding.

    There is a single bike-specific traffic signal at one trail crossing. Sadly, it only goes from red to flashing amber, even when the ped crossing light is on. I guess it's never fully safe to cross on a bike.

    I don't know what the middle light is for. It never came on.

    Capital Bikeshare starts as far down as Alexandria, and I saw several people using the bikes on the trail.

    So that's what a bike share program looks like

    The trail accesses Ronald Reagan National Airport, making it possible to bike from the airport to DC for all your national advocacy efforts. The airport website advertises its bike access, and lists parking areas, in case you live in DC and want to ride to the airport.

    *cough-cough*

    Continued...
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      CommentAuthorGeoff
    • CommentTimeMar 2nd 2014 edited
     
    The Woodrow Wilson Memorial Bridge connects at Alexandria, leading to Maryland. There is a bike and pedestrian crossing on the north edge, making this and many other DC-area bridges that allow bikes to cross instantly better than the Coronado Bridge.

    Pretend my camera has a better zoom to see the tiny bikers and joggers

    Bizarrely, there was an official Virginia-sanctioned concrete playground under the bridge on the Virginia side. A few basketball courts, some play equipment bolted to the asphalt, and this shimmering row of perfect u-racks, completely empty. Because who the hell bikes to an asphalt playground under the freeway to play basketball?

    *cough-cough*

    Finally, the views into the District make the whole trip worth it.

    "I'm just a bill. Yes, only a bill..."

    Although riding bikes on TR Island is prohibited, cars are prohibited, too, offering a nice little walking trail that makes you forget you're in between two major urban areas.

    Teddy Roosevelt, actual size. Brompton shown for scale.

    I would have taken more pictures, but I got caught in a downpour on the way back from the Island to Mt. Vernon. On a side note, rain capes are still awesome.

    Two drawbacks to the trail -
    First and most egregious, EVERY time the path crossed a roadway, there was a stop sign and a sign directing you to dismount and walk across the intersection. Even when the intersection was a two-lane road in a small neighborhood. Seriously, what damn trail building manual recommends these things, who is the imbecile engineer that thought them up, and what logical purpose are they supposed to serve? Can someone look up why these things exist and put it on a kill list? SDCBC? Calbike? Bike League? Anyone?

    Second, the wayfinding signs are poorly placed through Alexandria, where the "trail" is actually a blend of path and city streets. I ran into numerous dead ends or just had the trail disappear underneath me several times with nothing to do but backtrack and try a different way. Bayshore Bikeway does a much better job of helping navigate the industrial area through National City. "Bike-Friendly" Alexandria leads the way in poor signage.

    A curious aspect of the trail is that it is closed 10pm until 6am... unless you are a "commuter," and then you are exempt. The trail is unlit, so bring good lights for dark hours, as the trail isn't that wide and features plenty of twists and turns. Many signs remind you that the wood bridges freeze before the asphalt trail, and I assume the trail is not cleared the same way the roads are in the area (almost all of the recent snow had melted, save for the ice boulders built by snow plows in various places). This could make it a no-go in icy conditions without a properly outfitted bike.

    Overall, a decent trail, offers good connectivity from Alexandria to DC, and makes good use of the Potomac for scenery.