holiday in the USA

Discussion in 'Americas' started by Robertsmits, Jan 20, 2013.

  1. Robertsmits

    Robertsmits HardHead

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    My wife and I have booked our first Holiday to the US and we fly in to San Fransisco (from Amsterdam) to rent motorbikes for the first week and spend the following three weeks in a RV. Pick-up and drop off of the bikes will all be in SF so we´re thinking of a roundtrip not too far out of SF , any suggestions for a nice one week roundtrip? We like Nature and the countryside but have to find overnight accomodation for we carry no campinggear on the bikes . Also I was wondering if the European road habits differ much from the American in general...like filtering through traffic, locking the bikes, challenging speedlimits, parking the bike on the pavement in buit-up areas and all those little customs that might not be appreceated once abroad. My best guess is to do as the locals do and to use common sense when not certain but some tips and advice are welcome. My last question is about what kind of weather we can expect in the month of september on the west coast. Greetings, Rob.
    #1
  2. holckster

    holckster dougholck

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    September will be perfect for riding, warm to hot in the valley but coast and mtns will be fine.

    I would head out of SF over Mt Hamilton then cross valley to Sequoia NP.
    Then north thru Yosemite and over Tioga Pass.
    Go north on Hwy 395 (checkout Bodie Ghost Town) and over Monitor Pass to Hwy 89 then on to Lake Tahoe.
    Keep on Hwy 89 and go thru Lassen Volcaniic NP.
    Back down thru valley near Mt Shasta and over to the coast at Ferndale.
    Here you can take the Lost Coast Hwy south thru Humboldt National Park and pick up the Avenue of the Giants Hwy.
    Stay on Hwy 1 south thru Ft Bragg (stop at North Coast Brewrey) and returning to SF thru Muir Woods National Monument and over Mt Tamalpais State Park, crossing the Golden Gate returning to SF.

    Save Napa Valley, foothill Gold Country Hwy 49, Death Valley/Vegas and southern Calif for motorhome part of trip where you will enjoy the air conditioning.

    To answer a couple of your questions:
    Drivers not as motorcycle friendly as Europe and laws not as flexible/forgiving.
    1. It is legal to lanesplit (aka laneshare) in Calif only (no other states allow it).
    2. Filtering to the front at signal lights is not appreciated by most car drivers but some riders do it anyway (I do not).
    Both of these can get you a ticket if the Officer thinks you are being UNSAFE.
    3. No parking on sidewalks.
    4. Hotels are plentiful and easy to find.
    5. Keep right.
    6. No travleing or passing in the breakdown lane (shoulder) of any roadways.
    7. Lots of Double Yellow no passing zones and they mean it, especially in Parks.
    8. You can turn across one set of double yellow to exit roadway. Double double yellow is treated as a curb and do not cross.

    Enjoy
    #2
  3. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    On parking: in the USA you will be astounded at the parking space available-other than in big cities where it tends toward paid parking. As to lodging there are B&B online lists-Tripadvisor is a great tool for lodging.The motels here can be just as boring as those in Europe,esp. at the lower part of the food chain. You could also buy camping gear cheaply here for that trip & for very little more than one nights stay in a better hotel. Enjoy & ask que tions...Too bad your missing the other end of us but wise to focus on an area & do it well.
    #3
  4. HeyWhatever

    HeyWhatever HTFU !

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    DO NOT MISS Big Sur on Highway 1 between San Francisco and Los Angeles. It is difficult to keep your eyes on the road but you will love it. There is a great little hostel in San Luis Obispo, on the southern end of Highway 1. Plenty of parking in the back courtyard and free sourdough pancakes... yum!!!
    #4
  5. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Some good advice so far. Let's see if I can add a few things.

    I agree about the Big Sur coastline south of Monterey; it is spectacular. From San Francisco, you can make it down quite a ways in one day, and still make it back to sleep in Carmel or Monterey, before heading east to the Sierra mountain range. All of the mountain passes have good views, but are quite different. I recommend you do Google image searches to see which interests you the most. 2-lane: Tioga, Sonora, Ebbets, Monitor. 4-lane: Highways 50 and 80. Ebbets pass is the narrowest, and also has some giant redwood trees (state park).

    Bodie is a very well preserved ghost town from the gold rush era, and is the best one if that interests you. If not, Highway 49 along the west side of the Sierra is a very nice drive. (I live along that route, so PM me if you like) Lake Tahoe is not too far away, and also worth seeing.

    Including Shasta or Lassen (dormant volcanos) would be cool, but will add lots of miles to your loop. If you plan to take the RV to Yellowstone, you could see them then.

    Driving will be fairly relaxed compared with the bicycle lane in Amsterdam. Riding motorcycles over the mountain passes will be very different from the flats surrounding Amsterdam, though, so just take your time and be safe. Americans don't follow the rule requiring slow traffic to keep in the right lane, so many people pass on the right (breaking the law). I would recommend locking the bikes and helmets wherever you go. Most areas are pretty safe, but the high theft areas best known to those who live near them. The Central Valley of California is probably the worst.

    Enjoy your trip!
    #5
  6. Robertsmits

    Robertsmits HardHead

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    Thanks everybody for the tips and route suggestions. I think Doug's described route is a good starting point and Google maps gave me a nice preview of what to expect. I don't think we'll have any trouble getting out of SF , I'm used to dense traffic and all sorts of road maniacs that presented themselves in the various European cities I've been to (maybe I'm not any better!) I feel obliged to go through Lodi and say thanks to Doug and have a chat and a drink with a local, which is always nice. It will be our first to the USA and if we like it probably not the last although the Australian outback is next on our list. First thing first though... can't wait to ride through California!
    #6
  7. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    My "regular suggestion" to look for routes: www.motorcycleroads.us It has great info and comes from riders that contribute
    #7
  8. vaara

    vaara Been here awhile

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    There are special motorcycle-only parking spaces all over San Francisco. Mostly these are paid -- they're MUCH cheaper than car spaces, ranging from 25 to 70 cents per hour, with a 10-hour limit -- but some of them (specifically those in front of some moto shops) are free. It's best to use those whenever possible.

    But since you'll be out of SF for the most part, you can just park anywhere between cars, as long as the meter (if present) is paid up -- but never ever on the sidewalk, unless you see lots of other bikes doing it.

    Another great route-finding resource is Mad Maps. These are available in certain moto shops in California and elsewhere. If you want even more detail, get a Destination Highways book -- they're fun just to read, even if you're not actually route-planning.

    If you're renting a moto from the rental shop in San Francisco whose name starts with D, the folks there will give you all the info you need. You can rent a GPS there as well. Er is zelfs soms een medewerker die Nederlands spreekt. I'd say more but advertising isn't allowed here. :norton

    Feel free to PM if you'd like more info.
    #8
  9. kantuckid

    kantuckid Long timer

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    I was simply reacting based on the time I spent looking for parking in many Euro towns & cities, whereas in my part & much of USA parking is easy. Nice post , however for the area the OP's heading for.
    #9
  10. Eyes Shut

    Eyes Shut See no evil

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    Hi Rob-- As others have mentioned, hotels are plentiful and usually easy to find. But don't overlook the ADV Tent Space!

    http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=776925
    #10
  11. HeyWhatever

    HeyWhatever HTFU !

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    I have some pretty good friends in the San Francisco area. They do the land speed racing every year at Bonneville. Let me know if you want input on the bike rental or anything else... I can always forward your information to them and see what they say...
    #11
  12. 4Rider

    4Rider Dedicated Lurker

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    Robbie-

    Lots of good advice and the suggested route is excellent. If you don't mind the cost, you might consider getting the "Mad Maps" set for California. The maps list suggested routes with descriptions, plus lots of other info. Good for a first trip, and good for both the bike and RV segments of your trip

    https://www.madmaps.com/states/california

    Definitely do the coast highway from Monterey south.

    Mark
    #12
  13. deersSlayer

    deersSlayer Been here awhile

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    A few questions:

    - What type of bike are you renting?
    - Riding 2-up, or will you each be on a bike?
    - Which do you prefer: very twisty roads, or scenic, or a combination?

    I live in Ottawa, Canada. From Sept 5 - Sept 18 , 2012 I rode about 5,500 km in California (actually about 400 of that was in Nevada.) For the 2 weeks I had a total of only 30 minutes rain! :thumb

    For my trip, because I had ridden previously in California, I stuck mostly to very twisty roads - there are plenty in CA!
    My trip was wrapped around meeting other riders for a weekend in Eureka (about 1 day's ride North of San Francisco.) But if you think it would be useful I could send you the routes with descriptions.
    #13
  14. Paul_Rochdale

    Paul_Rochdale Been here awhile

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    Robbie

    I've ridden through California twice. In 2001 we rode right down R1 and 101 from Vancouver to San Francisco, and in 2006 I rode from New Jersey to California and back - 17,000 miles in three months. You'll LOVE the US. It's great for riding after our overcrowded European roads. Petrol is almost given away, it's so cheap. Filtering is fine in CA but a big no-no elsewhere. Drivers and the cops HATE it. Bimbling to the front of a queue is also frowned upon even though every rider in Europe does it. I was stopped for that even though it was ultra safe and in the middle of a desert. 'STOP' signs MUST be obeyed even if the view is twenty miles or more in all directions. I know that sounds crazy to us but it's their daft rules. Their patrol cars have forward-facing speed detectors - ours in the UK don't - so if you are speeding and see a dot approaching you, slow down. DAMHIK. The American people are the nicest friendliest I know and riding in the sun is terrific.

    Paul
    #14
  15. Girthy Knobkers

    Girthy Knobkers Running on reserve

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    Just a heads up, I am a regular customer of Long Beach BMW and there is a MotoQuest location right next door. They will help you with routes and rent a full line of BMW's. I know it is SoCal and not San Fran just thought I'd throw it out there, they all seem like really nice folks over there!
    #15
  16. Sjoerd Bakker

    Sjoerd Bakker Long timer

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    Sounds like the making of a fine vacation . All the route suggestions given
    are excellent , .
    As you will be on the bikes for only the first week make it a
    point to do Big Sur then and some of the mountain roads out and back
    to Lake Tahoe , excellent curvy bike roads but misery in an RV.
    Otherwise feel free to wander .
    With the RV you obviously will not need to buy camping gear but will
    want to locate campgrounds and RV parks ( not always the same)
    Note that if you have an RV it is permitted
    by WalMart that you park overnight on their parking lot ( at
    least in many states they allow it) And WalMart is in nearly every
    town of a certain size and should be easy to locate.
    Een beetje zuinigheid hindert nooit , hè ?:lol3

    As far as driving style in the USA compared to Europe
    it is much slower . US city drivers seem to take ages to
    start moving once a light changes to green.
    Unless a signs says otherwise it is okay and legal
    at traffic lights to turn right on a red AFTER having
    come to a complete stop and making sure you
    will not interfere with traffic having the green.
    Stick to speed limits , fines double in construction
    zones and jail time if you touch a worker( good idea)
    #16
  17. NoLurkerAnymore

    NoLurkerAnymore Adventurer

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    Thanks a lot for these advices. They're very useful for me as I hope to stay longer in the US and therefor decided to try and win one of the GreenCards the Government grants. So it might be a great possibility to discover the country riding my bike. In the end I will be arrested or forced to pay fine just for doing something, which is absolutely common over here.
    #17
  18. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Good one, I forgot about that. Good business decision on their part, too, since RV drivers are likely to need supplies. Just make sure you park in Walmart's portion of the parking lot. The other stores nearby may not have the same welcoming policy.

    KOA campgrounds are another good spot to park your RV for a night, but not necessarily cheap. They often have a market, showers, and a park-like setting. There is a good one in Petaluma California only a mile from the Lagunitas Brewery. :evil

    Let's hope not! You only get arrested if you are doing something completely outrageous such as blasting through school zones at warp speed, failure to pull over when the police are chasing you, or drunk driving. They are generally friendly while giving out fines, and you can pay them by mail when you get home. It is not uncommon to get a verbal warning, but that may not be the case for tourists. When you are far from home (US or foreign resident) , they know you will just pay it rather than come back to show up in court and argue your case. Showing them respect helps a lot.
    #18