Seattle to San Francisco 2012 Bicycle Tour Coastal Challenge
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- What is the S2SF?
S2SF is a mechanically-supported challenge ride starting from the Puget Sound region and concluding at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California. The ride supports a Seattle-based nonprofit called the Ndoto Project, whose mission is to empower five Kenyan youths through higher education. 2012 dates are July 28th through August 11th.

- What is the window to join the S2SF?
The entry period for the ride opens on February 1st 2012, and closes on May 15th 2012.

- What route will you take to San Francisco?
Our journey will begin in Bremerton, WA, and runs along the Hood Canal before breaking southwest diagonally toward the coast. Once we hit US-101 for the long haul on the second day, we’ll be staying there for the great majority of the next 700 miles. US-101 will take us along the coast, through Oregon State and into the redwoods of California before heading inland after the city of Eureka. At Leggett, CA, we will turn westward on the beginning of CA-1, which will lead us up and over some large hill climbs and before eventually returning us to the coast. From there, we will follow the Mendocino coast south towards San Francisco.

- How long will you take to reach San Francisco?
The trip will take 13 days of bicycle travel, with 2 scheduled days of rest. The purpose of this arrangement is to allow the trip to be completed from point to point in the span of two business weeks (a common length of time working individuals take for a summer vacation) while maintaining a reasonable pace which allows you to enjoy the ride and experience the scenery of the Pacific coast.

- What kind of bicycle will I need for this ride?
You need a bicycle that “fits you” ergonomically: that is, one which you can ride for hours on end safely on the road under a variety of conditions, and robust enough to withstand the rigors of road conditions which can often change. While we have no strict requirements regarding the kind of bicycle you bring on the ride, we certainly do have some recommendations. For this information, refer to the S2SF Guide to Bicycles!

- What is included in S2SF rider support?
While your nightly stays are included in the S2SF entry fee, the most important support S2SF provides is mechanical support in the form of the Escort Vehicle. Your luggage and main food supplies will be transported in this vehicle from destination to destination so that riders may experience the coast unloaded except for their daily needs. The EV also can provide “SAG” support in the form of a ride from one destination to another in the event of injury, severe ergonomic challenges while riding, or other emergencies.

In addition, S2SF staff are on hand to provide you with first-hand knowledge regarding the route and advice on good places to stop, hazards you might face, and how to avoid them. Several staff are also traine to assist you with bicycle maintenance in a pinch.*

*Although S2SF staff will know basic bicycle maintenance, they should never replace the work of a qualified bicycle mechanic. Luckily, we can help you find one.

- What does the average day of an S2SFer look like?
At the start of a normal day, S2SF riders rise around 6am, eat breakfast, and prepare their cargo to load into the EV. The daily goal is to be on your bicycle and riding out of camp by 9am so that staff can load the shared equipment into the vehicle after everyone’s belongings have been loaded. We highly recommend that riders be on the road well before this time, more on the order of 7am or 8am. This is especially true if you personally desire a casual and relaxed pace for yourself throughout the day – that is, you want to enjoy your ride!

The EV will typically stop every 20-25 miles or so, which translates to 2-3 times per day in pre-planned towns, to check in with riders, provide riders with access to gear, and address any concerns that may have come up. The EV will then try to get into camp at a predictable, agreed-upon time each night. S2SF riders tend to arrive into camp sometime between 5 and 7pm. Arriving earlier makes dinner feel a lot less rushed. By 10pm or 11pm, most riders are looking for bed.

- What average pace should I expect?
A typical daily riding pace for S2SF riders varies between 12mph and 16mph. Riders are expected to ride at their own pace. Although this is a challenge ride, this is not a race.

- What mileage will you cover each day?
Distance-wise, most days will fall between 75 and 85 miles, with a few falling in the 60 mile range.

- How big are the hills?
Rolling hills are common along the coast, with a few larger hills spread out across the trip. Anyone with reasonable fitness will find them all very doable. And we structure the route to enable the couple of larger hills to be accomplished with shorter mileage days, enabling you to find your pace to triumph. Hill grades will rarely exceed 6% although several hills near the Del Norte and Leggett areas will sustain 7% and one special hill near Mendocino tops out at 15%, with a spectacular downhill to follow!

- What conditioning or training should I do to prepare?
We suggest that by the start of the ride, you:
Be able to comfortably ride 100 miles (a “century”) with at least 2000ft of altitude gain within 8 hours (and still be in a good mood).

For the best enjoyment of S2SF, we suggest that you:
Be able to ride a century with at least 4000ft of altitude gain in 6 hours (and still be friends with your bicycle). Your challenge ride will be a breeze, and you’ll be able to glory in the splendors of the Pacific Coast!

The difficult reality is that 75-80 miles per day for 13 days is a lot of activity, and demands a fitness level a rider must take time to work up to gradually if they haven’t done this sort of thing before. This can be a fun process. Find group rides in your area, and participate in organized shorter rides or easier tours, such as the Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic (also known as the “STP.”) Need help, just ask! We can provide advice, direction, and connect you with local groups around the Seattle area!

S2SF staff need to make sure we’re in tip top shape as well, and we intend to organize some group rides to amp ourselves up and get everyone acquainted! Stay tuned by visiting our website and Facebook page.

- Are meals included in the support?
We do NOT guarantee food as part of rider support. The diverse dietary needs of individual S2SF riders make providing meals everyone can eat very difficult. We recommend knowing and anticipating your own dietary needs and preferences, and packing your own nutrition accordingly, or budgeting for purchases of your own meals while on the road.

- Is a return trip included?
No. There are many ways of returning home from San Francisco (unless “home” is in the Bay Area). Not having to worry about when the rest of the group is departing gives riders the freedom to explore San Francisco for a day, a week, or, if you’re ready to turn around and go home, catch a train for you and your bicycle back to your hometown the night we arrive.

Although the EV will be capable of carrying everyone aboard including their bicycles, this is a miserable way of returning to Seattle. Trust us; we tried this ourselves. Take a train!

- What is my entry fee being used for?
Your entry fee is primarily being used for rental and fuel for the EV, your jersey costs, and your nightly campground and lodging stays. We’re an entirely volunteer-run organization – nobody is getting paid. If you were to set up a fully escorted trip with a rented vehicle of your own, you’d be hard pressed to do it at a cheaper rate per person than the costs which are rolled into your entry fee.

- How do I fundraise?
There a variety of means at your disposal to get people to sponsor your ride. You have out support! Refer to the Rider Fundraising Packet for more details on options and ideas; the info in there is very handy and provides great ideas to fuel your fundraising efforts. As a team, we have found social media to be very useful in fundraising. One S2SFer last year set up a set of online “mini-challenges” for donors and exceeded his fundraising goal while having fun in the process. Some success has even been had by selling candy bars! There are many ways to crack this nut. But the most important thing is to begin the fundraising process early. DO NOT LEAVE THIS FOR THE LAST MINUTE. Talk with us as you go along so we can help you be on track for success!

- Where is my donation going?
The best answer to this question is the Ndoto Project website! Visit and read about the organization’s history, mission, and most importantly, the students it supports. Their stories and dreams will inspire you and keep you juiced throughout your ride.

- What if I can’t make my fundraising target?
In order to come on S2SF, you must commit on May 15th to reach your Sponsorship Goal of $2000. In fact the policy states a mandate that riders raise $350 by May 15th just to make sure things are already rolling. Then you must reach the rest of your Sponsorship Goal, or cover the difference.

Many other organized charity rides use this same rigorous approach to fundraising. It CAN be done. Last year, S2SF staff took it upon themselves to jump through every hoop before we made our inaugural ride.

Is the S2SF fun?
S2SF is, in a single word, epic. This is not a word which we use lightly. You will meet people from everywhere, headed TO everywhere. You will have astonishing encounters with organisms hundreds of feet tall and over a thousand years old, and come to learn that the Pacific coast is a vast, but not infinite, place. You will witness constellations and climates shift, and vegetation and fauna change as we head south. You will bury your feet in the sand, climb over dunes, cycle through tunnels of solid rock, and luck permitting, feel the exhilaration of riding swiftly along a beach of crashing waves with a mighty tailwind.

You will come to bond with your team members and perhaps, more importantly, yourself. S2SF is a spirit quest for all who decide to take the journey.

We invite you to make a move toward a better world for those a world away by discovering a little piece of it on your bicycle. Join us.


Additional Resources to Get You Ready!

Adventure Cycling organization advice:

Ten Simple Rules for a Successful Tour –

What to Take and How to Pack -

Getting in Shape for Touring –

Bike Touring 101 – all of the basic questions answered! –

Secrets to Social Survival – we’ll be a group, but some good advice for anyone on a tour is in here –


Bicycle Touring Information Sites:

Traveling Two Bike Touring Inspiration