Route Quick Links:
Delivering what it promises, the Pacific Coast Route takes the rider from the Washington’s border with Canada (near Blaine at the Peace Arch Portal) all the way down to the Mexican border at Tijuana (near San Diego's Imperial Beach), hugging the the Pacific Ocean practically the whole way.
The West Coast of the USA is a classic ride. Highway 1, which is almost half of it, is considered one of the most beautiful drives in America, but as a bike ride, it’s far more spectacular because you can smell the ozone and stop to enjoy the views wherever you want. About half of the West Coast route runs next to the ocean, with fabulous views, sunset watching at many campgrounds, and countless beaches for picnic lunches. It has perfect riding temperatures too -- cool and sunny weather most of the time in the season.
Much of the near 2,000-mile route is on shared roads, though there are some bicycle-dedicated stretches along the way. Services, hostels, and state/county campgrounds can usually be found along the way.
Although the altitudes rise to 2,000 feet a few times, the road is rarely flat, and not often straight. It’s an easy ride in terms of logistics as food, water, gear and camping are never far away, but in terms of effort, the hills make it more challenging. Riders can cut their mileage to match abilities very easily on this route.
Although the campgrounds, which are mostly state parks, fill up relatively throughout the summer high-season, almost all parks have reserved hiker/biker sites and riders will not get turned away from these campgrounds. All the state park campgrounds are well marked, but there are some county or local parks, which are not always marked but worth investigating.
Charting and Routing Methodology
I used several online and mobile resources to plan and navigate the bike tour.
RideWithGPS is my favorite web-based bike routing platform because I like the maps and the display of mileage along the route, somewhat customizable, and maps can be embedded in websites. Routes can be exported.
Allstays Camp and RV ($9.99 Android)
Allstays products this tool for finding RV or tent camping sites with a wide range of filtering to let the user hone in on their particular type of overnight accommodating. It works best with the Internet but has limited functionality without it. The filtered results are shown on the map and click gets to the details including website and GPS coordinates. This tool is more comprehensive/informative and flexible than POIs in GPS navigators.
MapFactor Navigator (free or $ for TomTom maps)
MapFactor Navigator is a turn-by-turn GPS navigation app for Android phones and tablets using OpenStreetMaps (OSM) data source which is free (the maps are updated by users). Maps are installed on the SD card (external or internal) so there is no need for an Internet connection when traveling.
Neither of the above tools accomplishes everything I need by itself. My methodology in detail: