I’m planning to bike from Vancouver to LA this summer. I’m leaving my job on June 10th and starting grad school on September 6th. This leaves a nice chunk of time for an adventure. It’s been a dream of mine to bike across the country, which would take about 3 months. I don’t have enough time for that right now. But I do have a 1.5 month window to ride down the pacific coast.
I’ve long been eager to explore the mountains, forests and coasts of the Pacific Northwest. I’ll start the ride in Vancouver and ride down the Oregan coast line through Northern California, all the way South through Big Sur, ultimately arriving in LA.
The trip will look something like:
1. Train from New York to St. Albans, Vermont
I’ll be starting the voyage from my home in New York City. Good news: As of May 1 2016, Amtrak allows passengers to bring bikes on-board the Vermonter train. Just in time. I’ll plan to take the train up from New York to St. Albans, a small city in Vermont north of Burlington and south of the Canadian Border.
Expected days: 1
2. Bike from St. Albans, Vermont to Montreal (76 miles)
I rode this strech once before. It’s special. You cycle past golden corn fields that dance with the wind until you reach the urban outskirts of Montreal. I’ll camp somewhere outside of Montreal - perhaps Parque Jean Dreapau? The following morning I’ll catch a train to Vancounver.
Expected days: 2
3. Train from Montreal to Vancouver (3 days)
Canada’s VIA Rail runs from Montreal to Vancouver in three days. To me, this sounds like more fun than flying to Vancouver. It’s also cheaper, doesn’t require me to disassemble my bicycle, and affords the chance to soak in the scenery of Western Canada. Expected days: 3
4. Bike from Vancouver to Astoria, Oregon (401 miles)
This is the first real cycling leg of my journey. I’ll aim to average approximately 50 miles per day. Some days will be less, others more. Surely, I’ll want to spend a few days here and there getting to know my environment in any particular forest, town or city that feels right.
At just over 400 miles, Vancouver to Astoria should take about 8 days on the bike. For planning purposes: let’s round up and call it 10 days to allow for some wiggle room if things start off slowly.
Expected days: 10
5. Bike from Astoria, Oregon to Crescent City, CA (407 miles)
The second leg of the trip starts off in Astoria, the Northwest corner of Oregon and heads South, hugging the pacific coast.
Expected days: 10
6. Bike from Crescent City, CA to San Francisco (412 miles)
Push on down the California coast line all the way down to San Francisco. I’m particularly excited about seeing the “Lost Coast”. The Lost Coast is a remote stretch of the California coastline so rugged that it forced the Coast Highway inland. With no road or cell phone signal for miles, the Lost Coast is a rare stretch of undeveloped coastline.
Expected Days: 10
7. Bike from San Francisco to Santa Barbara, CA (382 miles)
This leg of the journey will take me through Big Sur, where I plan to spend a few days hiking and camping.
Expected Days: 8
8. Bike from Santa Barbara, CA to Los Angeles (115 miles)
The map below goes all the way down to San Diego and Imperial Beach at the U.S. / Mexico border. I would love to extend my journey down to the border, but my trip will probably terminate in Los Angeles due to time restrictions and travel logistics.
Expected Days: 2
For a total length of 1,793 miles by bike
That’s a total of 4 days on the train and 40 days on the bike including ample number of days to rest and explore. If all goes according to plan, I’ll leave New York on Monday, July 11th and be back in time for an orientation day at school.
I’m planning to return home by train to complete the loop. Did you know that you can travel from coast to coast by train for as little as $280?
Amtrak offers a southern route long-distance train with double-deck Superliner cars that runs from Los Angeles to New York by way of Arizona, Texas and New Orleans. From New Orleans you shoot North through Memphis to Chicago, and then East through Cleveland and Pittsburgh to D.C., and ultimately New York.
There’s a lot of logistics I still need to figure out. Namely, can I carry my bike on-board each leg of the Amtrak journey home? More to come here.
Maps courtesy of Adventure Cycling Association.