California: Ride for Charity

Keep in mind that this entire project is still in the VERY developmental stage, and I probably won’t have definite answers to all your questions.

A unicycle ride from the northern border of California to the southern is being planned for summer of 2008 to raise money for charity. Our “first choice” charity has already been contacted. Assuming they agree (I don’t see why they wouldn’t) our route will take us through Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, and a small town that this charity has a facility in, also passing through or relatively near pretty much every city in the state. Depending on the speed we agree on (it depends on what type of wheel we’re all riding) we could do this in anything from about 20 days (at 60 miles a day) to 40 days (at 30 miles a day). I know many of you, like me, will be saying “I’m not ready to do that kind of speed”. Never fear, you have over a year to get in shape. You even have time to teach other people to ride and take them with you! Anyone who wishes to ride all or part of the way with us will be welcomed with open arms, as will anyone wishing to sponsor one or more riders. Don’t live in California? Never fear, you can still help! Take a vacation and ride with us for a day or so, or simply sponsor one or more of our riders, even if it’s just a dollar. If you happen to be/know a unicycle vendor, it would be greatly appreciated if you could persuade them/yourself to give us some sort of charity discount with which those of us who don’t own 36-ers (which I was assuming would be the best idea) could buy them. If you happen to be/know someone who could get us an article in Uni magazine, that would be wonderful for publicity among unicyclists. However, there’s no need to do that any time soon. Right now, I would appreciate it if you could post here if:

  • you want to ride the whole way
  • you want to ride partway
  • you would sponsor someone if you can't ride
  • you can get us a charity discount
  • you can get us some sort of publicity
  • you have a question
Keep in mind that this would be an unofficial list, not an actual sign-up sheet in any way; there's months for that. At this point, we're just planning the route and timetable, and checking for interest in this.

Also, if you have any sort of experience in this sort of thing (either rides for charity or extremely long rides, or both) or if you would like to drive a support vehicle partway, let us know.

From your route description, it sounds like you do not live in California, and that you haven’t spent much time yet on the details. To interest more people in the ride, they’ll want to know if the ride will be scenic (tons of possibilities in CA), will raise money for a chairty they’re interested in, will be well-supported, etc.

If you need one, you guys will have a place to stay in Sacramento (long as we’re in town!). Actually I’m sure I can take care of you even if you pass through during Unicon or some other inconvenient time. I hope I’ll be able to join you at least for the Sacramento part of your route, but I also plan on racing in Ride the Lobster next year, which will take precedence if I do.

So to start generating interest in a big X-California ride, you might want to start with your name, where you’re based, what’s your experience with such things so far, what’s your charity, etc.

Yes, I live in California. I have spent time on the details, but I’m still working on a finalized route because I’m not sure how possible it is to cycle on/cycle parallel to the 99 and the 5.

Okay, the ride is scenic, you’d have to work hard to make it not be. As I said, I’ll name the charity as soon as I hear back from them…I have no idea how well-supported it will be, or even how well-supported it will NEED to be (everything depends on how many people want to go). I was thinking most nights we’d probably end up in tents, seeing as through most of California actual towns are few and far between.

Let’s see. My name’s Eric, I live in Los Angeles. I’m not at all experienced with stuff like this, or even with long rides. I also happen to be 15 years old.

I think Eric has a great idea, and I would love to be involved with the ride. Eric also happens to be my local riding buddy, (only local one so far, as the other rider switched to trials :() and I/we usually ride the Portuguese Bend trail in PV 2-4 days per week; it’s scenic, has some nice technical sections, and is a fun, fun DH with some challenging ups.

Turns out this particular trail is a BIG mtb favorite, attracting riders from all over the state and beyond! We’d love to have anyone join us for a ride if your in the LA area, or planning on a visit. PM me when/if you can join us.:smiley: Here’s some specs o the trail:

Hi Eric, it’s a great idea you have but it will take you a while to build it up into a workable tour with so little experience. I haven’t done a multi-day tour either, but have read about lots of them.

I’m pretty sure it is completely illegal to cycle along limited-access highways like 99 and I-5. Plus those roads are mostly very not-scenic! Try driving them back and forth to Sacramento a few times to see what I mean. :slight_smile: The ultimate route for a tour through California would probably spend a lot of time along the coast, or maybe in the mountains more toward the Eastern side, but hopefully without much back-and-forth.

Probably your best course at this point is to find a multi-day ride you can join so you can learn firsthand about a lot of the details, plus what it’s like. Maybe one of those MS 150 rides or something similar? Or put together a smaller one for you and your friends as a “fact finding mission.”


I commend you for your desire to organize this ride–what an undertaking! I think John’s advice is good, too, and I wonder if you might think of organizing uni riders for another ride as a precursor. I believe there’s an annual SF to LA bike ride (AIDS ride, maybe?) that perhaps would work for this as a first step.

I’m in Chico, about 90 miles north of John in Sacramento, and would be willing to throw my name out there to help if/when things came through my part of Cali, although summers are generally very busy for me.

Actually, in rural areas it is quite common for freeways to be bike-legal, and I’m pretty sure that includes I-5 once you get well north of Sacramento.

But it doesn’t tend to be fun; I agree with John that the coast would be a lot more interesting.

That is awesome that you are doing this! I did a charity ride last October and we rose a lot of money for Orangewood Children’s Foundation in Orange County. People will donate and sponsor. We will be doing a much larger charity event this October! I would definitaly be interested in joining you for the Orange County portion between la and San diego if I am in CA. Unicycling for charity has been one of the most rewarding things I have done with my group and has taught my 25 kids in my club about how to we can use our hobby to help others. Very cool and I cannot wait to hear more!!!,

Back in the 70’s I made an attempt to ride my bicycle from the South Bay Area to Yosemite. I was to put in 60 to 70 miles a day, accept when I got to the moutains. Some of that was on I-5. It was perfectly legal on the stretches I rode. Though, at the time, the state was divided into biking districts and there was funding for available maps that showed exactly which highways and interstates were legal to ride.

Contact Cal trans or the CHP and see if they can tell you.

Having tried bike touring as a teenager and went unsupported in Northern CA along highway 1 for a few years from ages 16 to 18, I would say, make sure you are in shape and you set out your stops when planning. YOu really need the time in the seat to measure your abilities, before hand.

The most scenic route is Highway 1 IMHO. Though, in the Summer months there are a lot of RV’s and it’s narrow in parts. Back then the logging trucks were running - don’t know if they still run. But, I just pulled over when they came flying by. After Labor Day is the best time to ride the stretch from SF to Eureka.

Also, be aware, the Central Valley is VERy VERY HOT in the summer. In fact, it’s dangerous. I should know… You will be fighting the heat. Hydration is a must!!! I would stick with the shorter mileage of 40 miles a day. Highway one will offer much cooler temps, but the traffic will be a factor.

Highway 1 is also full of hill climbing - A LOT OF - ups and downs and ups and downs and… Scot Cooper has ridden from SF to LA on highway 1 an knows that route very well. He might be able to chime in. I don’t know if he has access to the internet at this time though. If someone doesn’t PM you with his email address, I can find his phone number. I can’t find his email address in my address book, at this time.

Good luck and start racking up miles.

If you’re going to do the coast, a good place to start is Adventure Cycling Association’s Pacific Coast Bike Route maps. They have detailed maps and elevation profiles, including lodging and camping sites along the way.

Thanks for all the advice and comments, everyone. Your arguments about the coast are persuasive, but I’m not very familiar with the Northern California area…it looks like while you’re north of the 211, the 101 is the coastal highway - and I don’t believe it would be legally rideable even if other highways are. I’m in the process of looking up information on the cycleablility (if that isn’t a word, just bear with me) of different types of highways. Once I find that out we work more on the route.

As I said, check out Adventure Cycling’s maps; they have a mapped bike route for the entire western coast.

Crap, I responded to this two days ago…why didn’t it show up?

I looked at that map, it looks perfect. Thank you very much!