September 13, 2012
We began hearing about cyclists' experiences on the often shoulder-less and heavily truck-trafficked California State Highway 89 (SR 89) in the first year after releasing the Sierra Cascade Bicycle Route maps. We were concerned about it from a safety standpoint and began looking into it. I wrote a couple of blog posts on the topic over the next year, Concerns on the Sierra Cascades Route and Sierra Cascades and California Highway 89, to let you know where things stood.
A few months ago the subject resurfaced in my inbox in two pieces, both of which originated from Bil Paul, the researcher for the route.
The first piece was Bil wanting to know if we'd heard anything more on cyclists experiences on the stretch of SR 89 between McCloud and Truckee because he now has some alternative routing in mind. The main fly in the ointment of this alternate routing is that 25-30% of it would be on unpaved roads. There are campgrounds available but other services are somewhat limited.
Since those initial reports, there has been remarkably little direct feedback about the riding conditions on SR 89. If you have ridden the Sierra Cascades route, especially Section 3 which encompasses SR 89, we want to hear from you. You can contact me through the comments section of this post, on the Adventure Cycling Facebook page or through the online Map Correction card. Your feedback will help us to determine the extent to which we should continue exploring alternative routing.
Be sure to check back next week to read about the second piece from Bil. It's an exciting new development to be sure!
Top photo: Joanie LaPorta and Chris Jones on tour in 2011 riding California State Highway 89 north of Quincy.
Second photo: Joanie and Chris plus Tom Hearn and Ian Brothers celebrating the last day of their tour on SR 89.
Both photos from chutneyohio's Flickr photostream.
GEOPOINTS BULLETIN is written by Jennifer 'Jenn' Milyko, an Adventure Cycling cartographer, and appears weekly, highlighting curious facts, figures, and persons from Adventure Cycling's Route Network with tips and hints for personal route creation thrown in for good measure. She also wants to remind you that map corrections and comments are always welcome via the online Map Correction Form.
I rode this section last year (2011). I had read several reports about the lumber truck traffic, poor sight distance and narrow shoulders between Mt Shasta and Truckee and tried to plan accordingly. I purposely rode from Mt Shasta to Lassen State Park on Saturday/Sunday and I feel that I missed a lot of the lumber trucks as the shoulders were littered with bark. I felt RV's were more of an issue here. My 2 worst days of riding were from Chester to Quincy then Quincy to Truckee.
Especially from the junction of 89 and 70 north of Quincy into Quincy - Trucks, no shoulders and poor sight distance. I repeatedly had to jump off the road as 2 trucks would pass each other from opposite directions, and it just wasn't lumber trucks. My rear view mirror was invaluable. I was happy to get off my bike that day.
Leaving Quincy in the morning didn't seem too bad, and I observed much better riding conditions when 70 split off of 89, but as I approached Truckee, traffic volumes increased, traffic speed increased but the road was narrow, poor sight distance and falling apart. The last 15 miles into Truckee were not comfortable riding.
In general, the lumber trucks were pretty respectful and moved over when they could whereas RV drivers were scary.
In my opinion, just getting decent shoulders through the worst sections would be a huge improvement.
Thanks Laurentiu and Katie G for more stories of your experience on SR 89. It will all go into our discussion.
Perhaps I'm an outlier here, but the portion leaving McCloud was some of the scariest road riding I have ever done. Even though I could hear the RVs, logging trucks, etc. coming up behind me, the rolling hills made it so that I didn't know if there was oncoming traffic, and there was nowhere for me to go on the shoulder if vehicles needed to pass. I'm not sure what the alternative would be, but I personally did not feel safe.
I did a 2.5 week tour in Northern California last month that included hwy 89 from Hwy 88 to Hwy 70. The section of Hwy 89 from Truckee to Hwy 70 was my favorite part of the tour. Traffic is very light and all drivers, including logging truck drivers go around you because usually nobody is coming from the other side. We didn't have any issues with Hwy 89.
Karl, We'll look into Chandler Road as an option. Thanks for the pointer!
Thanks Colleen, Karl and Liam for your feedback! We will incorporate it into our decision making process.
I was lucky enough to ride 89 near Indian Creek on a Sunday. I can see how that section might be a problem.
I rode the Cascades portion last summer (http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/cvnp2011) , and we did not have significant problems with truck traffic (before leaving, I read the alert from ACA). There is a fair amount of forest product trucks (log trucks and chipped wood) in the California Cascades, but for the most part, it was OK. The one exception that stands out in my mind is the Indian Creek area, between Greenville and Quincy; the road is narrow and steep and scenic. A truck ran us off the road. See my journal page.
I did a loop around N. California this year in June that included 89 between Graeagle and Lassen. While the trucks are a constant companion (except on Sunday), I would still recommend this route to anyone who asked. Traffic in general is light and you can hear the trucks coming from a mile away. It's actually better than several sections of 101 on the Pac Coast route (like the one north of Leggett. There is almost always a dirt shoulder that you can ride onto in case several come by at the same time.
I would recommend Chandler Road around Quincy as an alternate if you don't need to stop. It's a beautiful stretch of road with no traffic that actually saves a couple miles.
I did Sierra Cascades last summer. I looked back to my blog posts for the section of 89 you are wondering about. I was on that section in the later part of June. Although I don't recall any problems with trucks or too much traffic, I do recall that the road surface outside of Truckee was cracked and therefore a little on the bumpy side--not a reason to reroute to a gravel road. The only section of 89 I was unable to ride was from Canyondam to Old Station due to the road over Lassen still being closed for snow. The detour around Lassen was very easy and put me ahead a day. For me, everything else was fine.
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Thanks for chiming in with your experiences. I'll add them to my file for reference as we look at the situation.