Our route hugs the Pacific Coast, and closely follows "Bicycling the Pacific Coast", by Tom Kirkendall and Vicky Spring.
While exact days have not been firmly set, yet, current plans have us spending the night of Saturday, July 3rd at Half Moon Bay, and biking from Sunday July 4th thru Monday July 12th. These dates could be changed by mutual agreement. The dates listed below assume starting on July 4th.
The first three days go from Half-Moon Bay, through Santa Cruz and Monterey (Map), along the rugged Big Sur, and down into San Simeon by Hearst Castle. Lots of up and down here, with many 500-1000 foot hills, spectacular bridges over coastal rivers draining mountain forests. Venerable land of surfing, Steinbeck, and Esalan. Quite possibly the most beautiful road in the world.
Day 1 (7-4): Half Moon Bay to Santa Cruz. Meet at the campground in California's Half Moon Bay state park. Marvel at the loneliness of this coast 50 miles south of San Francisco, home to some of the biggest surf in the world. On Sunday, ride along Highway 1 to Santa Cruz (Map), where we can spend the afternoon cruising the Boardwalk and riding the wooden roller coaster on the beach. Then, pick up food and bike another 12 miles to Sunset St Beach. Miles: 67/67.
Day 2 (7-5): Santa Cruz to Big Sur (Map). In the morning, roll down thru Steinbeck country to Monterey,where we can have an early lunch at Fisherman's Wharf or Cannery Row, and tour the aquarium. For the ambitious, a 15 mile side trip takes you around the point and thru the 17 Mile Drive. The afternoon starts thru Carmel and Point Lobos, then gets serious for the next 25 miles along the Big Sur mountains. Camp in the woods along the river at Big Sur St. Park, near Esalen. Miles: 61/128.
Day 3 (7-6): Big Sur to San Simeon. Out of Big Sur Park, a steep, long hill, then more of the same 50 miles, hugging for dear life onto the precipitous Coast Highways perched above the Pacific crashing onto the rocky shore below. Lunch along the way, but no towns to visit. If we pull in soon enough, we can tour the Hearst Castle, located up the hill from our night's beach camp at San Simeon St Park. Miles: 72/200
The next three days (Map) come down from these heights, into the rolling hills and valleys of the central California coast. Golden grass, surprising beach towns, the aristocracy in Santa Barbara, then into Southern California the way it used to be: Ventura and Zuma Beach.
Day 4 (7-7): San Simeon to Pismo Beach. This is a short day, letting us rest from the hilly work at the start of the trip. We move from Central to Southern California. The sun gets brighter, and the grass seems burnt and golden. This day includes a number of funky little towns with artsy shops which will surely slow us down, but we've got a lot of time to browse and shop. Camp on the beach at Oceano St Park or Pismo Beach St Park. Miles: 53/253.
Day 5 (7-8): Pismo Beach to Santa Barbara. This day we leave the coast for the only time, biking thru dusty, hot agricultural valleys. We end the day 10 miles north of the University, 20 miles north of Santa Barbara proper, camping at Refugio St Beach, Miles: 72/325.
Day 6 (7-9): Santa Barbara to Zuma Beach. Follow "surface streets" through Santa Barbara, Ventura, and Oxnard. Lunch at Channel Islands National Monument Visitor Center. Then through military installations, farms, and beaches to the edge of Zuma, Leo Carillo St Park. Miles: 83/408.
Finally, the Megalopolis (Map): Malibu, the bike paths along Venice and Huntington Beaches, Newport, Laguna, San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente. A sudden cessation of the city through Camp Pendleton, then the quiet ride through San Diego's North Coast beach towns. If you like, an optional 9th day into San Diego proper, and on to Mexico.
Day 7 (7-10): Zuma Beach to Newport Beach. Malibu, the bike path along Santa Monica Bay (Venice, Marina del Rey, LAX, Redondo - lunch at the Pier?). For the truly committed (or those who should be committed), a ride through the industrial hell of LA and Long Beach Harbors (SAG wagon for those smart enough to avoid this leg). Then back on another beachside bike path in Orange County, by Huntington Beach pier, on to Newport Beach, and a night at the upscale RV resort, Newport Dunes. Miles 60 (78 without SAG)/470
Day 8: Let's go to Disneyland!
Day 9 (7-12): Newport to Cardiff. Back to the grind along the ocean, this time thru Laguna, Dana Point, Doheny, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, San Onofre (who knew there were so many saints who liked to surf?), Camp Pendleton, Carlsbad, and the Last Camp at San Elijo. This is just down the hill from the Weatherwaxes, where we'll hot tub, freshen up, and go out on the town to celebrate in Solano Beach or Del Mar. Miles: 60/530.