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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 19 Dec 2009
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Blaine, WA to Los Angeles, CA NOW

Does anyone have advice for making a motorcycle journey from the US border at British Columbia (Blaine, WA) to Los Angeles, CA, at this time of year (Dec. 18 or in the next few days)?

I have ridden up from LA once but failed to note where the difficult spots might be in winter.

So, does anyone have info on:

best route south?
difficult/highest points?
anything scenic/warmer/less traffic/more interesting?

Thanks for any input.
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Old 19 Dec 2009
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You probably know how to get from Blaine down to Burlington, where you can turn off onto Route 20 west to Anacortes, Deception Pass and the Port Townsend ferry. From there, follow the coast the entire way unless you've got fresh information indicating safe riding along I-5 or other routes. Even along the coast it snows sometimes, and there can be ice late or early in the day.

I-5 is more subject to continental air masses, which are colder than the normal breeze off the (relatively warm) water. You live in Blaine, so you're aware of this, right? You just need to check the weather channel each night and be prepared to alter your plans whenever there's weather trouble ahead. FWIW, the most troublesome sections along I-5 are in Oregon, where you're furthest from the coast, especially through the Siskyous into California and past Mt. Shasta. It's not that you can't take I-5; it's just that there are a lot of times when it won't be particularly comfortable or safe.

Very minor differences in elevation can make a huge difference in your safety--for example, the so-called Chuckanut Pass just south of Belliingham, which is really only 500 feet or so above sea level, often has snow on the road and whiteout fog while it rains in Bellingham. This can really ruin your day on a bike, as I happen to know well. There are lots of these little elevation changes between Blaine and California. Outflow winds, like you get in Blaine coming down the Fraser Valley, can wreak havoc as well--I've seen northern Whatcom covered in a sheet of ice for a week at a time while Bellingham had nothing in particular.

This means your trip will take a lot longer, potentially, than if you were just shooting down the I-5 corridor. Cold rain takes a lot out of you as well, and there will likely be some of this. Plus, the days are short. Still up for the ride? None of this means it's not a great trip.....which is how I know these things.

Highlights include the redwood parks, much of Northern California rt. 1 at least as far south as through Big Sur, the southern part of the Oregon coast, etc. etc. etc. But side trips tend to get problematic due to the weather, and this limits exploration (for example, the roads accessing the Lost Coast all run up into the coast range).

Hope that helps. Your questions ("Best route....difficult...warmer") are sort've vague,, but then again your options are limited by the fact that anything further inland is far more likely to cause vast amounts of difficulty.


(Cuzco, Peru switching out tires and oil and headed south towards summer)
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Old 19 Dec 2009
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I looked at the weather and it looks like rain.
National Weather Service - NWS Seattle
How long a trip is this, 1 day, 1 week or more ?
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Old 19 Dec 2009
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John, are you asking how far it is from northern Washington State to southern California? And whether this can be ridden in a day?
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Old 19 Dec 2009
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I was wondering how much time he was planning for the trip.
That will have an effect on how many places he will want to stop and the short term forcast is for rain for the northern part of the trip.
A longer trip would allow the front to go past and maybe some clearing after the storm.

The border to border (Canada - Mexico) is just under 1,400 miles and I know a couple of people who have done it in under 24 hours.
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Old 19 Dec 2009
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Ah, I see; that wasn't clear to me.

If you can average 60 mph including stops, you can certainly drive from Blaine to LA in a day. Personally, I can't even do that in a comfortable car with cruise control, perky music and giant thermos bottles full of coffee....but abilities definitely differ.

A more rational schedule, especially this time of year when the sun sets at 4:00 and rises at 8:00 (in Washington) would aim for three days in good weather on the interstate, 6 days on the coastal highways. That would allow, for example, stopping to eat, sleep and/or urinate from time to time, in addition to perhaps sightseeing and snapping a few photos. It would allow waiting for ice to melt off the roads; absence of rain often means clear skies which means black ice.

It would not allow undue dallying. Most people would consider 500 miles a day in winter to be pushing pretty hard. In fact, most people in Washington and Oregon put up their bikes until the monsoons ease and temperatures moderate....which in my home town sometimes means June. Or July. I'm not one of those, and neither is the OP, apparently.

Hope that helps. Mileage varies.


(posted while waiting for the llamaderia to figure out how to deal with my rimlocks here in the Andean damp)
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