Frequently Asked Questions
Q. Can you tell me when your next tour will be and how many people are signed up?
A. In spite of the fact that we mention this repeatedly at the site, quite a few folks still think were a caterer offering fully-supported tours. We are not. We offer information in the form of maps, route slips, elevation profiles, and narrative copy about the stages. This service is aimed at riders who dont want the cost and frills of a full-on catered tour. They want to do their own tours, but simply need more information about local roads and conditions.
We do in fact organize and cater at least a couple of tours each summer. That is, the Santa Rosa Cyling Club offers tours to its members, and I am usually one of the tour leaders and planners. These wonderful tours form the basis for most of the tours offered at Adventure Velo. We have been there and done that when it comes to touring; we have been the crash test dummies who have found the good roads and the bad roads, and youthe new tour buyerare the beneficiary of all of our experiments out there in the back country. What weve learned out there, we are passing along to you here.
Q. With the detailed route thumbnails youve posted for each ride,
whats to prevent someone from just following your route on their
own, without buying your tour packet?
A. Go for it! Thats the same independent spirit that got me laying
out my own tours in the first place. However, there is a great
deal of information in the packets that is not contained in the
thumbnails... about obscure little backroads...about the perfect
campground...about quality of pavement and terrain and traffic
and dozens of other matters of import for a prospective cycle-tourist.
Not to mention all the maps, route slips, elevation profiles,
phone numbers and so forth for the camps. How much is it worth
to have all that good stuff figured out for you ahead of time?
We think its worth $30.
Q. My wife and I want to do one of your tours...just the two of
us, without a sag. We dont want to camp. Well travel light and
stay in motels. Is this feasible?
A. Yes and no. Yes for a few tours. No for most. These tours were designed as cooperative tours, with at least one sag acting as the beast of burden for a group of riders, and also acting as the taxi service to haul the riders to and from the start/finish. They were also laid out as camping-based vacations. There are two roadblocks in the way of a single rider or couple doing the routes alone. First, with the exception of four loop routes, all the tours end up a long way from where they began, so leaving a car at one end or the other doesnt help much. Small groups can leave half their cars at the finish and then drive to the start in the remaining cars, repeating the same process at the end. Its a bit cumbersome, but it can be made to work. Larger groups will charter a bus for the transportation at the start and finish. Second, many of the overnights have motels or inns not far from the designatied campsites, so you can stay indoors, but a substantial number of the campgrounds are in remote areas with no lodgings close at hand. If a tour has even one night like this, youre out of luck for morphing the tour from camps to inns. Some people may choose to create a hybrid tour, camping on some nights and opting for the luxury of an inn every so often. This is a very realistic option. If you dont want to camp at all, consider our Mini-Tours instead. They use motels or inns instead of campgrounds, and they stay in one place from beginning to end (doing loop routes), thereby solving all the transportation hassles.
Q. Are these tours suitable for a fully-loaded tourist, carrying
all camping gear?
A. They will be suitable as far as the camping goes. The question
is whether you will want to tackle the hills on these routes.
They were designed to be ridden by bikes without much luggage
on board, so they dont shy away from hills...sometimes quite
substantial ones. If you have the fitness, attitude, and gearing
for hills, you should be okay. Of course, there is still the challenge
of getting to and from the start/finish sites that was discussed
above. Obviously, the loop routes work best for this.
Q. I want to ride down the California coast, from Eureka (or Crescent
City) to San Francisco. Can you give me any good pointers on how
to do this trip?
A. This isnt really about one of our tours, but I get asked some
variation of this question on a regular basis, so Id like to
answer it, once and for all. People seem to get this notion that
riding down the length of the state is some epic journey. My feeling
is, if you want to have a great cycling experience in California,
there are lots of better ways to do it. From the Oregon border
to the town of Leggett nearly 200 milesyour main road is Hwy
101...always busy and often a freeway. You can escape onto less-traveled
byways for a little over 80 of those miles, if you know what youre
doing, and for even more, if youre willing to do some serious
climbing. But the balance must be done on 101, and its quite
unpleasant and none too safe. (Unlike the state of Oregon, California
has done very little to make its portion of 101 cycle-friendly.)
Whats more, youre hardly ever actually on the coast. I would
guess youre actually in sight of the ocean for no more than 10-20
of those first 200 miles. Once you get onto Hwy 1, south of Leggett,
things do improve, although Hwy 1 isnt always an ideal cycling
road either. I use sections of it on three of my tours, from Mendocino
all the way south through Big Sur, but I try to keep it minimal.
There is too much traffic and often very little shoulder. I have
also been asked for advice on riding from Lake Tahoe to the Pacific...another
of these supposedly epic journeys. In my opinion, the only reason
to tackle one of these length- or breadth-of-the-state rides is
just so you can say you did it, and never mind the suffering along
the way. If your goal on your bike tour is to have fun, then get
off the main highways and onto the backroads.