Escape Collective | PDX to LA Bicycle Tour
Design and fabrication agency out of Portland, Oregon specializing in geodesic domes and motorcycles.
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PDX to LA Bicycle Tour

PDX to LA Bicycle Tour

  • Date: August 09th-29th, 2013 (18 cycling days/2 rest days).
  • Distance: Aprox 1,200 miles (50-60 miles per day).
  • Elevation: Aprox 50,000′ total elevation climb/descent from Portland to Los Angeles.
    • Max Elevation 984 ft (Legget climb)
    • Minimum 0 ft (Pacific ocean)
  • Steepest grade: 7% (Legget climb rt 101 to rt 1).
  • Direction: North to South along the Pacific Costal Highway in the U.S.
  • Bicycle & Gear: Trek Portland with 57mm Continental Gatorskin tires, two waterproof panniers, phone + durable case, bike maintenance kit, patch kit, compact tire pump, two high power bike lights, rear-view bike mirror, extra inner-tubes, solo camping tent + sleeping pad, good quality sleeping bag, travel stove, Leatherman, two changes of clothes, toiletries, two books + a journal.
  • Highlights: Avenue of the Giants, Oregon Coast, Big Sur, Half Moon Bay, Marin County, Gualala Point, Bixby Bridge, Wild blackberry fields, California coastal agriculture, The Pacific Ocean.
  • Terrain:
    • Rt OR-6 (Portland to the coast): Narrow shoulders with windy roads trough Tillamook Forest with lots of thorns and pine-needles along the side of the road. A few gas stations for water along the route. Mostly shady road even on a sunny day due to the thick tree canopy.
    • Rt 101 (Oregon to California): Dramatic Oregon coastline. Steep and windy roads with safe shoulders for cyclists. The familiar rain and humidity that Oregon is known for, even in the Summer months. Quiet costal towns with friendly bike shops every 50-100 miles.
    • Rt 1 (Nor. California to So. California): Very steep climb entering from US-101 to rt 1 (but also very rewarding). State parks with some of the largest trees on Earth. Lots of bike-friendly coastal towns. Frequent small bike shops along the route. Some of the most “exclusive” camp grounds in the country between San Francisco and Los Angeles ($5 for hikers and bikers with no reservation necessary). Windy, undulating coastal roads with plenty of dramatic jagged rock formations and hidden beaches.

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Wild blackberries look dangerous but are actually very sweet.

My personal advice for those looking to do this:

Before leaving for this trip remember that psychological momentum is important. Optimism and patience is mandatory for long bike tours. I’m not one for meditation but a personal mantra might help while climbing the long uphills. Bring waterproof panniers that will keep your gear dry. Also, bring some extra puncture-resistant tires that can handle sharp rocks and thorns. You never know what you’ll be running over.

There aren’t many opportunities to get lost during this journey. If you bring a map and follow the signs you will be just fine. I brought two books for this trip and a personal journal for moments of reflection. There’s plenty of downtime at the unique campsites along the coastline. I started and ended this journey by myself but I met lots of new friends along the way. You will meet plenty of people during this trip (Mostly people from other countries). Bringing small gifts for random people who you haven’t met yet is a great idea. Positivity will result in a safe journey.

Take other people’s advice when it’s necessary but trust your own judgement while traveling. I was once told by people in ‘Town A’ to watch out for people in ‘Town B’. Don’t pay mind to this kind of prejudice. If this is your first time doing this trip you should experience it as if you’re from a different planet. Everything you see will be new and inspiring. On a side note, wild animals will eat your food while you’re sleeping if you aren’t careful. Ziplock bags will not help with this.

pearl in a tree

Make sure you stop and appreciate random moments along the trip. Almost everyone you meet wearing bike shorts will be friendly to you. If someone invites you to climb Redwood trees in Northern California, you should probably do it. Cave into spontaneity at every chance you get. Get off your bike and skinny dip in the Pacific Ocean if you feel like it. If you’re planning this trip during the summer months make sure you check for upcoming Meteor showers. Watching meteor showers and sitting at campfires on the beach is almost as important as riding your bicycle.

Be safe while traveling. I traveled with two lights on at all times. Scenic routes like Rt-1 usually means drivers aren’t always looking at the road. Those bike mirrors are very useful to spot this kind of danger. If your bike is equipped with puncture resistant tires you should consider the alternative of off-roading for a few moments instead of being too close to traffic. Don’t get hit by a car. That wouldn’t be cool.

This trip seems difficult but it really isn’t so bad at all if you take it a day at a time and enjoy the journey. In fact, the experience and positive impact of completing this trip will most likely change your life. You should think about doing it this Summer. I believe in you!


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