5 Years Later: Another tour from San Francisco to Laguna Beach
In 2004, I did my first bike ride from San Francisco to Laguna Beach. Since I live in San Francisco and have family and friends in LA and Laguna Beach, I've been doing this ride every year (except 2008).
I wrote up a tour journal for the 2004 ride. I didn't even take a camera for the intervening years. But, I decided to document my 2009 ride. Mainly because I take a different approach to this route than the first time I did it.
While many of the pictures appear to be the same, there were some places I didn't take pictures on the first ride that I did take on this ride. Also, I tried to get some photos of places that other people doing this ride might be interested in, such as, ones showing the amount of shoulder (or lack thereof) on some of the roads.
Since I've done this ride before and don't feel the need to go from door to door on my bike, I get car rides for various parts of the route. In total, on three different days I got car rides before I started riding.
The first ride was from my wife to get me past Devil's Slide (which will soon have a tunnel past it). Since I was in a car already and don't find the area from Montara to Half Moon Bay compelling scenery, I opted to get a ride all the way to Half Moon Bay.
The second ride was from a friend in Santa Cruz and goes from there to Carmel. I have ridden from Santa Cruz to Carmel before (in 2004) and while the part coming into Monterey is scenic, riding through the farm fields of Watsonville, on Hwy 1 past Castroville, and past tourist motels in Monterey is uninspiring, at best. What's more, the best part of the ride, in my opinion, is from Carmel to Big Sur and I'd like to do that in the morning when I am fresh. So, I get a ride from Santa Cruz to Carmel, eat a nice breakfast, and start riding.
The third ride was from Santa Barbara to Ventura. The route north and south of Santa Barbara is on Hwy 101, a four-lane freeway with high-speed traffic. North of Santa Barbara, the shoulder is wide. South of Santa Barbara (Carpenteria, actually), the bike lane is right next to traffic and somewhat scary. My friends in Santa Barbara don't mind driving me to Ventura and I don't want to ride on that part of 101, if I can help.
Some general information about the ride:
I camped two days in Big Sur and stayed in houses the rest of the way. Two of the places I stayed were from couchsurfing.com and the first time I had met these people. Both experiences were great.
I rode about 50 miles/day and the entire ride took 9 days. I should have taken a rest day but didn't. As a result, there were some days when I was tired, both physically and of riding a bike, but to keep to my schedule, I kept riding anyway.
While there was plenty of green, there were few wildflowers. I don't know if it is the several years of below average rainfall or some other factor that caused this. Nonetheless, it was a bit disappointing.
The bike performed flawlessly and I had no flats on the entire ride.
I saw very few bike tourists.
One last thing. It appears as if my camera finally failed on this trip. The result is a barely perceptible dark circle in some of the photos. The good news is that I will be getting a new camera for my birthday!
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Words and Images Copyright © 2009 by Ray Swartz
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