Mount Shasta or bust!
May 3, 2007 11:41 PM   Subscribe

What is the best cycling route from the northern part of the central valley north/northeast-ward? Oh, and will I die?

I am going on a self-supported cycling tour with a friend starting in a few days. We're planning to plan our exact routes as we go and our initial plan was to go east into the central valley from San Francisco and then head north. Eventually, we'll run into the Cascades (right?) and then we'll have to climb out of the valley... which way should we go? Is this route even a good idea? Will we freeze to death? etc?!
posted by beerbajay to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total)
Response by poster: Leaving from "San Francisco" going "north," "planning exact route as we go." There is no destination; we are going cycling for three weeks in that direction.

"self-supported" = tent, sleeping bags, no chase car, carry everything with us.
posted by beerbajay at 1:08 AM on May 4, 2007

Seriously, buy the maps. They're good enough and cheap enough that with everything else you have with you, you won't get way the fuck lost. They'll show you the bike friendly roads, campgrounds to sleep at, where the bike shops are. The maps aren't so detailed that it won't still be an adventure. I did a similar bike tour and it was still crazy and awesome and cool but I knew where to go to get a patch of dirt to sleep on and who to see if I got 2 flats in one day and I didn't always stick to the path but it was nice to know when I was going to be forced onto the bike lane on the freeway (!!) and what roads allowed me to just chill.
posted by hindmost at 1:24 AM on May 4, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the link; unfortunately the route the map outlines is exactly the route we're trying to avoid (due to headwinds going north along the coast).
posted by beerbajay at 8:19 AM on May 4, 2007

From a brief Google search, it looks like you'll have to put together a route in a very piece-by-piece fashion. There seems to be lots of information about touring along the coast, or in Napa, or from the Sierra to Sacramento, but nothing/not much about the route(s) you're wanting to take. The first thing you might want to think about is how you're going to get from San Francisco to the Central Valley: you can't bike across the Bay Bridge, or the Carquinez Bridge, so if you're going that direction, you'll have to load the bikes on BART first - you could ride it all the way out to Pittsburg/Bay Point, and bike from there. Or you could bike across the Golden Gate and work your way East through Napa.

I understand that you want this trip to be as spontaneous as possible, but a little forethought will go a long way. And I'd worry less about freezing up around Shasta (though you could), and more about keeling over from heat stroke in the Valley, as it's supposed to get pretty warm this weekend. Good luck and have fun!
posted by rtha at 8:47 AM on May 4, 2007

Best answer: Try asking the same question over at

Another potential resource is
posted by J-Garr at 2:45 PM on May 4, 2007

and more about keeling over from heat stroke in the Valley,

i was in Sac tues/wed and it was a fine day for a bike ride (did a quick 10 miler each day, headwind not bad, heat not too oppressive). I think you'll be fine in this regard.

fwiw, this thread should get you from berkeley to sac. i'm sure you already know that you'll have to at least bart out of SF. Read all the way down, as there's a couple suggestions.

Not sure how you'd get north of there -- the American River bike trail (quite nice, I ride it frequently) will get you as far as Folsom.

It looks like "the milly ride" is a route that has both SF and Mount Shasta as checkpoints on it -- I didn't have time to parse it entirely, but it looks like it will be useful to you.

Good luck! Wish I was out there taking a long ride.
posted by fishfucker at 2:54 PM on May 10, 2007

in fact, the Cal Milly Route actually looks like it describes the way pretty well for you.
posted by fishfucker at 2:56 PM on May 10, 2007

Response by poster: We ended up just doing the coastal route from San Francisco on the 1/101 heading north and ending in Seattle.

This was discouraged by people doing bike touring because there can be really awful headwinds. We managed to avoid headwinds almost entirely besides one part of Oregon coming directly out to the coast, which was rough.

In one way, going this direction was bad because all of the brutal climbs are when you're still in California. In another way, it was kind of nice to get all the hard climbing done and breezing through Oregon and Washington, which are crazy flat compared to California. Upon reaching Oregon, we got a (very nice) free bike map, which had an elevation component and showed a few nasty looking climbs, but none of these were comparable to the hard climbs in California, especially not the transition from the 1 to the 101.

Bike tour: success.
posted by beerbajay at 6:04 AM on January 14, 2008

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