Pacific Coast – Introduction

 

Denis Kertz, ©1999

 

 

 

The Pacific Coast is reputed to be one of the best cycle touring areas so I decided it was time for me to verify this.  It is popular enough that there is a book, “Bicycling the Pacific Coast” by Kirkendall/Spring, dedicated to the route from Vancouver, British Columbia, to the Mexican Border.  Adventure Cycling also has cycling maps covering this route as well.  I was armed with both of these guides and looked forward to an interesting bicycle tour.

Prologue

My cycling equipment was a Litespeed Blue Ridge touring bike equipped with 27 speed Shimano SIS with bar end shifters.  My previous touring bike was a Miyata with a cromoly frame that had rusted beyond repair so I was determined that my next touring bike wouldn’t rust, hence the titanium frame.  In addition, this bike was plenty light enough to make a goode road bike as well.

I replaced the stock Litespeed 32 spoke wheels with my old front wheel, Mavic MA2 36 spokes, and had a new rear wheel built with Mavic T217 36 spokes to accommodate the 9 speed cassette.  Tires were 700x32 Continental TT2000 tires. My gearing consisted of 28-42-52 chainrings and 11-32 9-speed cassette.  The stock gearing was a 30-42-52 chainring with 12-25 cassette which was great for regular road riding.  For touring, I swapped the 12-25 cassette for a 11-32 cassette and replaced the 30 tooth inner chainring with a 28 tooth chainring.  This gave me the following gearing:

 

28

42

52

11

68.1

102.2

126.5

12

62.4

93.7

116.0

14

53.5

80.3

99.4

16

46.8

70.2

87.0

18

41.6

62.4

77.3

21

35.7

53.5

66.3

24

31.2

46.8

58.0

28

26.8

40.1

49.7

32

23.4

35.1

43.5

 

This was not ideal gearing for touring.  The range of gearing was too much for the rear derailleur to handle so the chain had to be shortened to handle the required lowest gears with the result that the 52 chainring could not be shifted into the 3-4 lowest cassette cogs (23-34).  This wasn’t a real problem since the 52 chainring was rarely needed/used but there was always the possibility of being in the 52 chainring and inadvertently trying to shift to one of the lowest cassette cogs and jamming the gears.  Unfortunately, at the time I wasn’t aware of any other options so I settled for the compromise of swapping out just the 30 tooth chainring for a 28.  This at least gave me almost the same low gear that I had for my Seattle-Chicago tour which I expected had more serious climbs than I would encounter on the Pacific Coast.

Since my return from this trip, I discovered that an XTR crank with 24-34-46 chainrings could be mounted on the Ultegra splined bottom bracket axle (the other Shimano mountain cranks use the standard squared, tapered bottom bracket axle).  This XTR crank combined with an 11-32 cassette gives the following gearing:

 

24

34

46

11

58.4

82.7

111.9

12

53.5

75.8

102.6

14

45.9

65.0

87.9

16

40.1

56.9

76.9

18

35.7

50.5

68.4

21

30.6

43.3

58.6

24

26.8

37.9

51.3

28

22.9

32.5

44.0

32

20.1

28.4

38.5

 

This is a better gearing arrangement with one lower gear plus the derailleur can handle all gearing combinations.  I only wish I had known about this arrangement prior to this trip.

My bicycle was equipped with four Overland panniers, two medium sized f

ront panniers and two larger rear panniers, and Scott clip on aero bars (used as a map holder) with a small aero bar bag.  Finally, I had a Trek wireless cyclometer with front fork mounted pickup and the cyclometer mounted on the aero bar.

 I planned to carry a tent and sleeping bag with the intention of camping wherever I could.  However, I wasn’t interested in cooking so I planned to eat out along the way and carried no cooking gear.

At the end of my trip (after I shipped some unneeded clothing home), I weighed my bike and panniers and the weight was 83 pounds with my four water bottles empty.

(For anyone interested in numbers, a table at the end of this report summarizes the riding statistics for each day.)

 


 

Copyright Denis Kertz, 1999. All rights reserved.