Route and pacing lessons on the Pacific Coast tour


Continuing the series on post-tour takeaways… Some thoughts on the route and pacing for the section of the Pacific Coast route.

There’s little to quibble about with the route that the Adventure Cycling Association uses… It’s challenging but not overly so. I keep mentioning “the book” which is Bicycling the Pacific Coast… It’s worth having, but bear in mind its latest revision is 12 years old, and there’s some changes since the last writing (duh).

– I recommend deviating from the set schedule when possible, if only to break up the logjam of riders you encounter here and there.

– The mile markers in the book are wrong in a few spots, none more important than on Rockport Hill. Rockport is the hill after Leggett (the highest point on the ride) and is much steeper and – in my opinion – a trickier challenge then Leggett due to steepness and the fact it lies after a long descent and the cold legs that brings. The mile markers are a full mile off… So when you think you’re nearly done, there’s a serious mind game that happens… Rider beware 😉

– I recommend a different mileage split late in the tour… Rather than do 40 miles from McKerricher Beach (near the amazing Fort Bragg) consider going all the way to Gualala. The county park on the south side if town is far superior and the next day’s tougher-than-advertised trip to Bodega Dunes is better as a 40 mile day than a 60 mile day!

– Pacing: this is total personal preference… You’ll see people zoom past you from time to time, but bike touring is rarely a race. Go with the flow and what your body and mind are telling you. This trip, I focused on comfort and energy conservation, so I downshifted frequently and rarely pressed into my pedals or got out of the saddle. I enjoyed the ride… even the climbs… a little bit more, even if my speeds weren’t always efficient.

These are all just my takeaways – there are do many ways to rock a bike tour, and there’s no right way. Tomorrow I’ll chat a bit about the first person to rub me the wrong way on tour and why his “there’s only one way to do it” attitude contributed to his title of being the only bike touring “Lance” I’ve ever met…