Dream Riding Coastal Southern California
By Jon Riddle
This story is about a road south, a tale that begins at the Rincon, an area of coastal California midway between Santa Barbara and Ventura. About a hundred years ago, just as the first bicycle craze was, unfortunately, giving way to automobiles, civic leaders in Santa Barbara were eager for a more direct route to and from the Los Angeles area. Back then, stagecoaches, mules and motor vehicles followed the Ventura River upstream and then climbed Casitas Pass into the Carpinteria and Santa Barbara area. A mix of private and State Highway Commission money built the Rincon Sea Level Road roughly parallel to a recently opened ocean-side rail line. In some places, wooden causeways of eucalyptus tree trunks and cross beams were built so that the Rincon could safely carry users around rock outcroppings and over high tides. Opened in 1913, this bit of road was probably the very first segment of what is now California State Route 1, though most of us know it as the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH).
California Dream Ride enters the story about 35 miles into Day 1 at a bluff-top lunch stop on the outskirts of Carpinteria. From there, riders continue south to join the Ralph Fertig Memorial Bike Path, which in all likelihood rests on the fossilized remains of the original Rincon plank roadway. If you’ve never ridden this bike path, you are in for a treat. Riders and walkers are separated from southbound traffic by a fully protected bikeway. Not too many years ago, cyclists were separated from high-speed traffic by not much more than a wish. Cyclists actually have the best views of the seaside landscape. South of Rincon Point, Bottlenose dolphins and surfers frequent the waves, so expect to see that wildlife, as well.
After passing through Ventura, Oxnard and Point Mugu, the PCH becomes a ribbon of asphalt sandwiched between pounding surf on one side, rugged mountains on the other. The Channel Islands to the west and the great arc of Santa Monica Bay to the south complete this panorama. World-class surfing destinations, sandy beaches, wetlands, and roadside eateries such as Neptune’s Net or Paradise Cove contribute to making Pacific Coast Highway one of the most scenic bicycle rides anywhere.
For a taste of cycling along the PCH, join CalBike and the Dream Ride staff on March 21st when we ride the Marvin Braude Bike Path between Marina del Rey and Redondo Beach in West Los Angeles. Not precisely PCH (that thoroughfare is a few blocks away), but the experience is darn close. For more information or to RSVP for the ride on March 21st, click here.
Jon “The Navigator” Riddle lives and rides all over Los Angeles County; the 2020 Dream Ride will again travel right through his backyard. He works closely with Ride Director Debbie Brubaker to develop the Dream Ride’s route, directions, and maps and will be on the road as a support rider, too.
West Los Angeles
Saturday, March 21, 2020
Time: 8:30 meet-up, 9:00 a.m. rollout
40 miles, 1,000 feet of elevation gain (shorter options available)
What better way to welcome spring than with a scenic group bike ride?
The Marvin Braude Bike Path, running beachside from Santa Monica to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, is perfect for just such an occasion, providing unparalleled vistas of the Santa Monica Bay, weekend beach life, and even Catalina Island. The ride itself is mostly flat, starting in Culver City on the Ballona Creek Bike Path, connecting with the Marvin Braude at Playa del Rey. After riding through Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, and Redondo Beach, we will turn around at Malaga Cove Market on the edge of the Palos Verdes Peninsula. There’s only one modest climb up to Malaga Cove.
Details: We’ll meet at 8:30 and ride out at 9:00. The ride starts and ends in Syd Kronenthal Park in Culver City. The park offers plenty of parking and is accessible by Metro’s Expo Line train connecting Downtown LA to Santa Monica. Cognoscenti and Bar Nine coffee shops are nearby for anyone wanting a pre-ride jolt.
For more information or to RSVP for the ride on March 21st, click here.