Our Pacific Coast Bike tour is O V E R . We’ve been back for a while now but it’s taken me this long to process the trip and figure out what I wanted to say about the amazing experience of riding 946 miles in 22 days with 2 tandems and 2 kids under 12.
Can I just say Wow and leave it at that?
I have to admit we’re all pretty sad about being home. It’s taken me this long (almost 4 weeks) to even think about blogging our trip: acclimating to real life and accepting that we we’re back has been tough. Good thing we’ve had out-of-town visitors for the past 3 weeks to keep us busy, we haven’t had time to wallow too much.
I’m not alone in my malaise: 3/4 of our family (the 11-year-old is a tween, what do you expect?) experienced extreme let down for the first week home and had a hard time getting back to “our normal life” Our 9-year-old summed it up perfectly when recounting our adventures to a friend, ” I miss our trip”.
Yes, I miss our trip too.
After we arrived in the Bay Area, slept a lot and enjoyed 4 rest days with friends and family in San Rafael and Oakland, we were ready to head out again. If we had more time, we would have continued South for another month or more. I’m not kidding, even the kids were ready to continue. There’s something about bike touring: simply put, it’s addicting.
I still miss our trip but have stopped thinking about it on a daily basis, so I guess you can say I’ve re-acclimated to life in the city.
If you have bike toured or gone on an extended adventure of any kind, I’m sure you can relate. Bike touring epitomizes a simple existence: take only what you can carry and leave the rest behind. Extra stuff = enormous burden.
The daily touring routine consists of 3 basic needs: eat, ride, and sleep (wake up, make and drink ample amounts of coffee, eat breakfast, take down camp, pack up, ride and ride and ride, eat and eat and eat, arrive at your destination, set-up camp and do it all over again).
22 days of pure simple family touring bliss.
Once our bodies adjusted to the physical intensity of pedaling 50+ miles a day and 5000+ feet of climbing , the trip became easy.
Weird to type those words. Many of you probably think I’m crazy for claiming that pedaling 946 miles on 2 tandems in 22 days with 2 kids under 12 was easy. But it was. Our first tour: a 200 mile trip to the San Juans last summer was way more difficult.
I’m not kidding, after the 1st week (when we all talked about our butts A LOT) and experienced daily physical exhaustion that the kids had never experienced and the parents hadn’t experienced in a while, we got into a good rhythm and just clicked along like a well-oiled machine.
I won’t bore you with the details in this post, but I can assure you that we all have a lot to say about the tour but will dish it out in separate posts in the coming weeks and months. The kids both want to write posts as well.
Possible future posts =
- just us: amazing family time, no media or outside influences
- people we met along the way
- highs and lows
- tandems on public transportation
- garbage in the ditch
- animals: dead and alive (who do you think wants to write those?)
I’ll leave you with some stats and the promise to write more:
- 946 miles
- 22 days
- biggest mileage day: 71.6 miles
- biggest climbing day: 6870 ft
- 4 hotels
- 17 nights of camping
- 1 flat
- 1 crash
- countless animals (dead and alive)
Yay! I’ve never been on a tour longer than a week so you bring up a good point that after the first week, one might get into a better rhythm. How nice to contemplate.
Totally, Brad. It really took us a week to hit our stride. We’re headed out again soon for a few days. Will be interesting to see if our “experience” carries over, or if we have to start from scratch… in which case, will going for two or three nights be enough to recapture the magic.
I, for one, am willing to research this problem to death!
I randomly stumbled on your blog, while looking for images of kids on bikes with cars. After a week in nova scotia with kids 8 and 10 and a couple of “road incidents” I’m thinking a biker’s license might be an idea worth investing in. On our trip we had all the creature comforts, no “less is more” this year! But we did manage to get out a couple of days on converted rail trails, with the boys riding their own bikes. One day they managed 14 miles. I was impressed, but it was hard work to keep them motivated. Boy, did they sleep well that night, lol. I can’t imagine 22 days. What an adventure!!!! Please keep posting 🙂
Yes, motivating kids can be difficult. Last summer we did our first tour with our kids (when they were 8 and 10) and it was much more difficult than this longer and more difficult tour. Motivating the kids to keep pedaling was a daily chore. Every day Tim rode alongside our daughter, pushed her up hills and gave her pep talks to keep going!
Having just one tour under our belts, and kids who were one year older, made all the difference.
I think the most noticeable change was the kids’ confidence: they’d already done it once, they knew they could do it again. Instead of “I can’t ride that far”, our daily pre-ride conversation began with a nonchalant, “How many miles today? How many big climbs?” I can honestly say I didn’t hear “I can’t” at all this trip.
Bike touring is such a rewarding “sport” for the whole family, I think we’re all addicted.
I wonder if you ran into my housemates on your travels. They walked from Seattle to SF, blogging about it here – http://walknumberone.tumblr.com/ . They left Seattle mid-June, and arrived in SF last week, so you probably would’ve passed them in OR or southern WA.
Andres, I wish I had known. We may have seen them but I’m not sure. I would have watched more closely, that’s for sure. Just took a quick peek at their blog. Looks awesome. Some of the sights are very familiar (in fact I think we have a shot of that same SFO 245 miles sign), but at a walking pace they obviously noticed even more than we did (which seems nutty to contemplate, since we saw so much more on bikes than we’ve ever seen in cars. Makes me think the whole American myth of seeing the open road is a bunch of hooey, but I digress).
PS been in PDX for a couple weeks. some greenways photos to post when I get back.
Anne, love your story. I’m happy to read about families a few years ahead of us who are loving bike touring like we hope our full family unit will continue to do. We did just a short tour the last week of August, and it went so (so so so so!) much better than our short Whidbey Island tour last year. We could have kept on going, too. As kids get older and stronger, and we parents get smarter (and stronger), the miles and trips get more fun. We’re already thinking about next summer, scheming about new/used tandems and taking this show across the pond.
Thanks! So glad your family is loving bike touring. Like you, our second tour was exponentially easier than the first. I think it just keeps getting better.
We too have dreams to tour “across the pond”. Tim talked about adding S&S couplers to our tandems to make them easier to fly with.
But, we may just wait until our kids are a bit older and try a Brompton tour with them. Folding bikes would make flying, taking trains and subways etc way, way easier. They have to be old enough to ride on their own and strong enough to carry the bikes!
Thanks for your thoughts I’m blown away by the possibilities. I’m the only parent in our family who likes the idea of touring. It’s good that there are two of you. Good on you!
Keep planting the seed about bike touring! If you have more than one kid, it definitely takes 2 parents to make it happen. Or at least make the experience more manageable.
When we first met, I was into touring and Tim wasn’t. (He was a racer type and thought bike touring was too slow!). We went on one tour in the San Juans right after we got married and that was it. We eventually sold all of my touring gear and I let it go.
It wasn’t until we brought kids into the fold that Tim became interested. Bike touring with kids is such an amazing family experience, we’re definitely hooked.
We returned from a two month multimodal trip and I was dreading the return so much. So many people were returning from their trips and remarking things like “so good to be home” or “loved the vacation, but I can’t wait to get back home” and I was feeling like such a whiner. I didn’t ever feel like I was on vacation per se, but life was more simple on the road. I couldn’t get enough. Our bike tour segment was on a bike way for about 120 miles, and that was all my husband could handle with the children. I wanted to finish our entire 3000+ miles of travel on the bike…but we drove, then unloaded our bicycles for local travel. I might feel differently if it rained on our bicycle trip, but it didn’t, and I have such strong fond memories of accomplishing so much I didn’t think I had the ability to do. It’s great to hear about your trips, as they keep me inspired to plan more.
FRF sent me the link so I could see the flickr pics of the Ballard ride & my sister! Very excellent–and THIS is an impressive and awesome family story. Very inspiring.
So excited to hear more and more!
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Hi! I’m very impressed that you did this as a family! And it is heartening- my wife and I are 95% sure that we’ll be cycling nearly the same route (~Portland/Astoria-San Francisco) this Summer, July 4 – Aug 5th. The 5% uncertainty is mainly due to this sentence in our ACA map: “Because the heavy tourist traffic tends to be even heavier in the summer, we recommend that you ride this route in the spring or autumn.” Neither spring nor autumn is a possibility for us, so we’re stuck with our dates. We’re comfortable on our bikes, in urban traffic, but there are some less-than-stellar summer pacific coast vehicle reports out there…
It would be great to know how you felt about the traffic- did you ride in the mornings and notice a difference? Did the RV/rubbernecking traffic detract heavily from the experience? As it’s a popular bike route, we’re hoping that there’s safety in numbers… did you feel that way? Any portions that you’d definitely avoid if you were to do it again?
Thanks, and thanks for the inspiration!
Hi KC, We left Portland on July 5th and arrived in San Rafael on July 24th. So same time frame for us.
The absolute worst section of road was just before Lincoln City, OR. The Adventure cycling route bypassed a hairy section of Hwy 101. But when we got there, we found out the bypass road was washed out. We were forced to ride 101. That was by far the scariest road! Hopefully it’is fixed by the time you arrive. If not, i recommend hitch hiking to avoid 101! I’ve never ridden so fast with a kid and a loaded bike, I just wanted to get off that road…
We too had heard about terrible RV traffic on 101, but really didn’t find it unbearable.. Perhaps the great American RV roadtrip is just not an affordable option anymore? That said, once we arrived in CA and the much calmer, less traffic Hwy 1, I was much happier. I’ll take narrow shoulders and hilly and windy roads with slower speeds over wide shoulders and speeding traffic any day!
As for safety in numbers, we did encounter quite a few bike tourists. The hiker biker sites were full most nights along the entire route.
If you want more specifics, feel free to shoot me an email, I’d be happy to share more details!
All very encouraging! We’ll look into the Lincoln City detour. Will let you know if anything else comes to mind before the trip. Thanks for your response!
I just dug out the maps to find the specifics for the road. It’s on Pacific Coast Route Section 2, Map 17. The bypass is just outside of Neskowin, OR. And the road that is hopefully fixed is Slab Creek Rd. We climbed the 4 miles thinking we might be able to get the bikes across the washout, but it was a huge dirt pit. So we turned around and rode the scary hwy.
Noted- here’s to hoping it’s open. We’re up to 100% as we just booked our tickets! Will touch base afterwards– thanks for your responses and enjoy the summer–
We’re going to finish the Pacific Coast route this summer (starting in SFO to Mexican border) We weren’t able to ride Pacific Coast route in one continuous trip. But breaking it into 3 trips in 3 summers worked for us!
Look forward to hearing about your tour!
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