My wife Carrie, our three-year-old daughter Maeve, and I bike-toured the central California coast last week. We took an Amtrak train from Los Angeles to Salinas, then an Amtrak through-bus to Monterey. From Monterey we biked down the coast through Big Sur and to San Luis Obispo, where we caught the train back to Los Angeles.
It is my hope that by telling a bit about our trip, I can encourage others to do the same. The California coast is a relatively easy place to bike-tour, and, of course, very scenic.
Bike touring is a great way to see California. I had already bike toured on my own, including riding solo from San Francisco to Los Angeles. When I toured on my own, I used to do 50-60 miles per day. With my family, we aimed for roughly 20 miles per day. We ended up doing 144 miles in seven days, for an average of just over 20 miles per day. For serious hardcore bike-touring cyclists, this is not a lot. But it was my first time touring with my family, including a thirty-pound kid on the back of my bike, and it was my wife’s first time touring.
We camped two nights out of seven, opting to pay for hotels more often than not. This was in part due to creature comforts, and in part due to forest fires having closed two campgrounds.
I tend to be pretty come-as-you-are. A touring bike is ideal for this kind of trip, but I tend to think that I can bike tour with more-or-less any bike that I ride around the city on. I rode the 12-speed somewhat upright road bike that I ride everywhere. My wife rode an 8-speed upright city bike. Clearly touring cyclists need back racks with panniers. Front racks are good, too, though I have never toured with them. I just load up the panniers behind me, and use bungee cords to pack a tent, sleeping bag, and air mattress in the back.
I think it is important to show our kids our love of bicycling. My mom loved museums and foreign films, so she dragged me and my siblings to a lot of these before I was actually ready for them. Though I complained at the time, I am now grateful that it instilled in me a love for these cultural places. I hope that my daughter experiences bike touring and comes to enjoy it later in life.