Reflections on My Cycling Adventures So Far, Part II

Bike Travel Weekend, September 26-27, 2020. BTW is a weekend bike travel event sponsored by the Adventure Cycling Association. I planned a solo ride from Santa Barbara CA to my front door in Palos Verdes Estates. Weekend mileage would be 110 miles. My initial plan was to ride fully racked and packed and camp at Leo Carillo State Park, about 60 miles from Santa Barbara. But COVID had closed or severely restricted available campsites, so I pivoted to hoteling the first night in Port Hueneme. That broke the ride into a 40-mile Day One and a 70-mile Day Two.

My wife and I drove up to Santa Barbara, met up with our daughter who was visiting friends, and had brunch near the beach. I would bike off from there and my wife would meet me in Port Hueneme.

I had created my own route for the weekend trip using RideWithGPS, which is now my go-to route planner now. But I was new to the app, so I cribbed off the Adventure Cycling Bicycle Route Navigator Pacific Coast route to gain some context. This worked out pretty well as it kept the route confined to mostly bike paths, bike lanes and the Coast Highway. I downloaded an offline copy to my iPhone.

My ride was a 2005 Diamondback Edgewood hybrid that I had updated as a touring bike. I added Schwalbe Marathon Plus tires, Planet Cyclery fenders, and a Brooks B17 saddle (big mistake!). Regarding the Brooks saddle, it is a fabulous piece of workmanship. But in my haste to add it to my hybrid, I overlooked the research on how long it actually takes to break in the B17. Like thousands of miles. I had about 100 miles on my B17, so basically riding it long distances for the first time. Painful lesson learned.

Despite hoteling at the end of the first day, I still carried all my gear in two rear panniers. Those included clothes, toiletries, camera equipment and tech. Doing so added a little extra weight, on top of the Edgewood’s 30 or so pounds. While the Edgewood was not designed for long-distance bike touring, it was the bike I had, and these are times when one must ride the one they’re with.

Day One route took me from Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara, onto a pretty nice bike path that paralleled the 101 Highway, into Carpinteria, down by Rincon Beach and off the beaten path through Ventura into Port Hueneme. My wife rolled up in our car just as I was checking into the hotel. We had a nice dinner in Ventura that evening, and a nice breakfast in Port Hueneme the next morning. Then I took off for the remaining 70 miles.

One of the things I’ve learned in route planning is that even the best software can’t compare to actually riding the route. I soon discovered as I approached Pt. Mugu on the Coast Highway that there were elevations I clearly hadn’t factored into the equation. There were a number of up-downs on the way to Malibu and riding up so many hills now exacerbated the unbroken Brooks B17 situation. This caused me to take a number of rest stops along the way.

After about 30 miles I reached Malibu and stopped at a Chevron station to get water and enjoy an ice cream cone. Then I pedaled on through Malibu, hitting a ton a car traffic as I reach the city center. Made me glad I was riding a bike because I was able to maintain a pretty good cadence through the chaos and soon reached Will Rogers State Beach.

At Will Rogers a got another ice cream cone and water at the food shack and rested up a bit before heading down the oceanfront bike path, getting off PCH. I’ve ridden the Strand bike path, also known as the Marvin Braude Bike Path, a number of times, but never on weekends when all the amateurs come out. So it was slow going through Santa Monica to Venice, Playa del Rey and then into Manhattan Beach. On weekends Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach and Redondo Beach all require cyclists to walk their bikes by the pier pedestrian traffic. With my butt aching from the rock-hard B17, I was more than happy to hop off and walk my bike for a stretch.

At Torrance Beach I began the first of three climbs on my way home. First the ramp at Torrance Beach, an 8% grade, then Paseo de la Playa (9% grade) in Hollywood Riviera, and finally Palos Verdes Drive (7% grade). When I finally turned onto my street, my daughter and my wife and two golden retrievers were there to cheer me as I finished the ride. Pretty good accomplishment despite the weight of the Edgewood and the unforgiving B17. Here’s a quick video commemorating the moment.

What a welcoming committee!

Bike Travel Weekend 2021

Friday June 4, 2021 I’ll ride from San Luis Obispo to Paso Robles, about 50 miles, and then Saturday reverse the route back to SLO. I’ve done this ride before but last time made the mistake of routing over a major climb. Then I learned about Santa Rita road which isn’t as challenging, but does have a section unpaved. I inspected the unpaved part on Google Maps satellite and it doesn’t look to gnarly. No rain in the forecast (we’re having another drought season) so no mud to worry about. This ride is part of #biketravelweekend, sponsored by the Adventure Cycling Association.