So what’s all this about a tour?
We’ve been talking about biking the west coast since the last day of the Oregon Cascades tour three years ago, and have been planning in earnest since last summer. Next Monday, we roll out from Vancouver, BC, and start riding to San Diego, CA. The route is about 1,900 miles and 94,000 feet of climbing. We’re planning on 39 moving days plus 9 rest days.
I am (Lucas), along with my wife (Anne). We’re also bringing our kids, Ruth (age 5) and Max (turning 2 on the trip) in trailers.
What’s the route?
Anne put it together. It’s mostly the Adventure Cycling Pacific Coast route, but with additional inspiration from Bicycling the Pacific Coast and Cycling Sojourner (WA and OR), plus various local cycling organizations.
Where will you be staying?
We have hotel reservations for every night. We considered doing the camping thing, but decided against it. Riding all day, then trying to set up camp and prepare dinner just seemed like too much. Plus, showers are nice. It would be nice to be able to be a bit more spontaneous, but especially with the kids, we can’t really risk not having a place to stay.
Won’t it be hard with the kids?
Yes. But if we wait it would only get harder. They’re going to keep getting heavier, and it’ll be a long time before they can ride on their own all day. Right now, they still think we’re cool, and don’t really have their own lives. Plus, Ruth enters kindergarten next year, and it’s easier to schedule a two month vacation without worrying so much about the school schedule.
How have you been preparing?
Physically, we’ve done a ride similar to a tour day almost every weekend for the last four months, mostly with a full (or simulated) touring load. We also did an overnight with our pack list to validate it, and check on our training progress. In total, the training came to 624 miles with 27,000 feet of climbing.
Also, on each ride we’ve been able to check on our equipment, identify problems, and correct them. For example, after a rainy day in December, we realized we needed better rain gear for Ruth. We’ve since been able to do other rainy rides to demonstrate that it’s good enough.
How are you getting to/from the endpoints?
We explored flying, but dealing with shipping the bikes and trailers, especially internationally, seemed hard. So we wanted to drive our van. We put the call out to family if anyone would be willing to take a road trip to transport the van from Vancouver to San Diego sometime while we were biking. Our parents graciously agreed. Anne’s parents will meet us in Vancouver, play around the Seattle/Tacoma area for a while, then leave the car in at our place in the SF Bay Area before heading home. Later, my parents will fly in, get the van, then drive to meet us in San Diego at the end of the tour. We’re extremely grateful for their help, and hope they enjoy being part of our adventure.
What are you riding?
My bike is a Co-Motion Americano. It’s a steel touring bike built with tandem tubing. It keeps stable even under a heavy load. On the front I have a pair of Arkel GT-18 panniers, hanging off a Tubus Tara front rack. On the rear, I’ve got a pair of Arkel T-42s hanging on a Jandd Expedition. Strapped to the top of the rear rack is a pair of small lightweight sleeping pads in a sack, for the kids when there aren’t enough beds.
Ruth rides in a Hase Trets trailer. It’s got pedals and a derailleur, so she can help out if she wants (and perhaps more importantly, tire herself out). With the recumbent seat, she can chill, play with toys, or nap as she wants, without needing to keep balance. Behind the seat is a 3L hydration pack in a TerraCycle FastBack pouch. There’s also the rain fairing for the trailer in another sack.
Anne’s bike is a Surly Disc Trucker. It’s also a steel touring bike. Anne has an Arkel large handlebar bag, which holds snacks for the day. Since that picture was taken, she’s added a Jandd Expedition rear rack. The plan is for me to carry the luggage, but this way we have some options if we need to do some rebalancing.
Max rides in a Chariot Cougar 2. It’s enclosed, but has a couple different cover options (open, screen, rain cover). It has room for two, although it’s pretty cozy with Ruth in there. We also have the single-seat version, but decided to bring the double, in case we need to double up the kids. The trunk bag is also full of supplies for the day.
The Hase comes with a Weber hitch, with is monstrous and a pain but really solid. We got a Weber arm for the Chariot. That gives us more options for rebalancing, or just shaking things up.
What if you get in trouble?
A lot of mechanical issues we can solve, or at least bodge something together to limp to the next bike shop. We’re carrying spare tubes, patch kits, pumps, extra tires, chain repair, lube, plus tools to use it all. We’ve got a variety of lights and a first aid kit. We’ve got rain gear and cold weather gear. Most of the roads are pretty well traveled, so we can always flag someone down. We’ll have phones representing three different cell carriers. We considered getting a satellite panic button, but decided that the odds of a kid pressing the button causing a false alarm was much higher than the odds of needing it.
If we do get delayed by a day, we can try to push back the reservations, and skip the next rest day to get back on track. If we get further behind then that, we’ll have to improvise.
Are you crazy?
Yes. But not Race Across America crazy.
Can I have a turn in the trailer? (commonly asked by other bikers, especially on hills)
You have to pull first.