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timesign 12-21-13 07:46 PM

Pacific Coast in SoCal - Advice Request
Would like to fly out to Southern California for the Holiday week to do a long ride, over 2 to 2.5 days. Was thinking LA (or maybe Malibu) to San Diego. Never been.
1) Is there a clear path the whole way along the coast? (Can one ride the side of the highway?) I strongly prefer a path / trail with no cars.
2) Is this a good ride or is there a better in ride 100+ miles in SoCal that I should consider
3) Any other suggestions / pointers?
4) Will look to rent a road bike - assume no such thing as a one way rental? Suggestions of places in LA?

Thank you!!

peckma 12-22-13 01:58 PM

Helens Cycles in Santa Monica rents road bikes, but call ahead first. There is a bike path from Temescal Canyon to PAlos Verdes, roughly 25 miles in length, which follows the coast. Otherwise, you'll be riding on roads with traffic, varying from fast and furious along PCH or less so in Palos Verdes. No need to go to San Diego, LA offers plenty of rides from the bike path to pro-tour worthy climbs. If you don't mind traffic, riding up PCH through Malibu to Big Rock or Port Hueneme is a classic SoCal ride, and there are plenty of canyon roads along the way to test your legs on. If you prefer less or slower traffic, take the bike path south to Palos Verdes and loop around the peninsula.

timesign 12-22-13 02:50 PM

peckma - Thanks for your very helpful reply! If I found the path you are referring to, it looks like it starts just north of Santa Monica.

Reading into your note, it sounds like the ride going north is a bit more popular and has better views? Regardless of which stretch one does, is there a preference of going north to south or south to north based on views / headwinds etc?

Whether I go north toward Port Hueneme or south to San Diego, it sounds like I will need to ride on PCH with traffic. :( (of course with the exception of the trail from Temescal to Palos Verdes:) ). Were there other trails in the LA area that you recommend?

Thanks again!

Elvo 12-22-13 03:38 PM

There is no clear path from LA (Santa Monica) to San Diego.

There's a relatively clear path from Seal Beach to San Diego which should get you a century. You can do an out-and-back from Seal Beach to Oceanside or ride all the way down to San Diego (but you will have to find a way back).

timesign 12-22-13 05:07 PM

Elvo - Thanks!! Starting from Seal beach, would this be a paved path separate from the highway and/or a wider shoulder?

FYI - for the benefit of anyone else reading the thread, I'm told some have taken the Amtrak train back. Worth looking into.

bitingduck 12-22-13 05:37 PM

If you've got all week and can get to San Diego on the 26th, you might want to see if there are any spaces left on the HI-AYH xmas bike ride. 6 days, 400 miles, mountains, deserts, beaches, and your gear gets hauled from place to place for you.

skidder 12-22-13 06:38 PM


Originally Posted by timesign (Post 16351797)
Elvo - Thanks!! Starting from Seal beach, would this be a paved path separate from the highway and/or a wider shoulder?

FYI - for the benefit of anyone else reading the thread, I'm told some have taken the Amtrak train back. Worth looking into.

Nope. There are a few 'on'trail' places, but you'll be on the highway most of the time, and it varies from nice-n-wide to pretty tight commerical areas where you're squeezing between traffic and cars parallel parked on the streets. IT gets really conjested through Newport Beach, Laguna Beach, and a few other spots in southern Orange Conuty. Once you leave Orange County at the south end of San Clemente you'll be on the Camp Pendalton Marine Base. Its USUALLY not a problem going through, but check with them before heading down that way (they do require some form of ID and sometimes insist on safety vest/helmet while on base roads).

Amtrak - yes, you can take Amtrak back from San Diego, but the stops in Orange Conuty/Los Angeles County are inland from the coastline/PCH. Pretty standard to see bikes on the train on weekends, but weekdays migth be an issue since there's more (foot)passenger traffic M-F.

calamarichris 12-23-13 07:37 AM

With that kind of time, I'd take your bike on the train to Santa Barbara, then ride down to San Diego. True, you're stuck riding on PCH with cars, but I was delighted at the focus they've put on making SoCal more bike-friendly. The bike lanes were awesome.
I chuckle at some of the info on this thread, because about the scaryest stretch I saw was Northbound PCH between Malibu and Hueneme--there was still a shoulder, but it was pretty narrow compared to the Southbound lanes, and the traffic was flying at freeway speeds.

There were a few stretches that had dedicated bike lanes. Here are a few pics from my trip:

Ballona Creek and Marina del Rey had several long stretches of dedicated bike path.
PCH's Southbound shoulder between Hueneme was nice & wide. It's possible those concrete barricades on the Southbound lanes have been removed by now, but I suspect they might still be there to keep any rockslides from making it out onto the road.

The Venice Boardwalk isn't the place to haul the freight, but it's still an interesting little place to take in.

calamarichris 12-23-13 07:43 AM

Click here for the thread of my trip-report. Plenty of pics, info, and Gmaps route in there.
Palos Verdes was indeed beautiful, but immediately after that, you'd have a short ride through San Pedro, which is, from a cyclist's perspective, the armpit of Southern California.

timesign 12-23-13 09:28 AM

Calamarichris - Super helpful thank you!

Looks like I might have a bit less time, so its going to be either Santa Barbara to LA or LA to San Diego, and I think I have your warning about the size of the lanes going north from LA!


mojobiking 12-23-13 10:28 AM

When I lived in San Diego, I biked from Santa Barbara to San Diego over four days with my wife in Nov 2011. My overnight stops were in Oxnard, Hawthorne (LA) and Dana Point.
The first two days (100 miles), we were riding on bike paths or bike lanes, with one stretch of 2-3 miles on the freeway and a long stretch on HWY 1 bike lane. We never felt in any danger and there were lots of other bicyclists on the road.
The second two days (100 miles), we skipped the LA city section by taking a train from LA airport/Hawthorne to Long Beach, and then biked all the way to San Diego (through Camp Pendleton), mostly on bike lanes on Hwy 1 and sometimes bike paths.
Scenery was absolutely stunning every stretch of the ride. I did feel out of place in Newport Beach a little bit, with all the expensive cars and entitled (in my opinion) cardrivers on the road.
We stayed in cheap motels, but there are some state parks on the way you could camp, if you wanted to.

Whatever you decide, I am sure you will have fun.

-Maulik Trivedi

calamarichris 12-23-13 10:40 AM

You're most welcome Time. Sorry to hear of the abridgement.
Another advantage to riding Southbound, is you're on the ocean side of the road: upwind of the auto exhaust, better scenery, and you're more likely have a quartering tailwind.
If you have a clear forecast, I'd probably advise the SB - LA route. But if there's any chance of showers, it typically rains less between LA & SD. Both have their advantages.

One of my favorite staple, local rides is between San Clemente and San Diego, riding through Camp Pendleton. It's a military base, so you must have a helmet and drivers license, but the traffic is very light, the Marines are generally very polite drivers (save the occasional dependent-wife driving her husband's monster diesel truck), and there are minimal stop signs/lights. After our recent rain, it should be pretty fresh & lovely there.

And after Camp Pendleton, PCH from Oceanside to San Diego is one of the more pleasant routes in the country IMO.

peckma 12-23-13 11:31 AM

There really is no avoiding PCH if you are going to ride north or south. If I only had one day to ride, I'd go north from Santa Monica (take the bike path to Temescal) and head towards Malibu. The first 10 miles from Temescal to Cross Creek are (I think) the most busy; shoulders disappear at times and the traffic is denser. Past Cross Creek traffic lightens up a bit (but is still fast) and shoulders get better. Views get better, too, the further north you go. If you have a car, consider just driving up to Cross Creek and go from there. Plenty of refueling options along the way.

There are other bike paths in LA - LA River Trail and San Gabriel River trails. LA River Trail runs from roughly downtown to Long Beach. From there, a cyclist can take Shoreline trail east to the SG River Trail and head north. A cyclist can actually ride from Long Beach all the way to the foothills NE of downtown, and then take on some truly epic climbs such as Hwy 39 or Glendora Mtn Road.

xjustice09x 12-23-13 11:32 AM


Originally Posted by calamarichris (Post 16352899)

The Venice Boardwalk isn't the place to haul the freight, but it's still an interesting little place to take in.

The venice boardwalk is an interesting place to take in. FYI that picture is not venice. Thats Hermosa Beach. I live close to there.

I do most of my riding between Palos Verdes and Malibu. Its mostly flat along the coast from malibu canyon to palos verdes. Rolling hills if you keep going north past malibu canyon on PCH.

The Amtrak century goes from Irvine to San Diego every year. Riding down the coast from there is very nice. Just be sure to obey all traffic laws. I've seen many cyclists get tickets while riding through Orange County.

CbadRider 12-23-13 11:33 AM


Originally Posted by timesign (Post 16351797)
FYI - for the benefit of anyone else reading the thread, I'm told some have taken the Amtrak train back. Worth looking into.

A cheaper option than the Amtrak train is the Metrolink commuter train. The routes cover from LA and Orange Counties down to Oceanside.

TrojanHorse 12-23-13 01:53 PM

There's a century every September that runs from Anaheim down to San Diego and then they train back up to Anaheim - here's the route if you want to pirate any of it -

It does go through Pendleton (assuming Pendleton is open)

Bikegeek1968 12-23-13 05:14 PM

Shameless plug to follow. I have been renting out Cannondale CAAD10 4's with Ultegra to vacatioing cyclists, so if you plan on starting your ride in South OC, go to the website in my signature line. I can set you up.

On the bike route note, I think Calamarichris got it right. I never like to ride PCH anywhere North of Dana Point, too much traffic, and bike lanes appear and disappear seemingly at random.

rooftest 12-24-13 01:22 PM


Originally Posted by xjustice09x (Post 16353557)
FYI that picture is not venice. Thats Hermosa Beach.

It goes well with the "not Camp Pendleton" photos that are up here, too.

calamarichris 12-25-13 01:04 AM Ah well, s'lot easier to criticize than it is to contribute. For clarification, those pictures were taken at the road near the decommissioned San Onofre power plant, approaching Camp Pendleton. It was not my intent to deceive anyone.
I haven't actually read 100% of the signs at the entrance to Camp Pendleton, but I presume they don't want us taking pictures on the military installation.
To the OP and anyone considering this route: it's still a lovely ride, even though my pictures are only of the campground road and the frontage road between San Clemente and the approach to Camp Pendleton.

Rumpled 12-25-13 10:36 PM

Pretty sure that the San Onofre Campground and maybe even SONGS itself are both on land leased from the Marines. If not actually Pendleton; they are adjacent and those hills in view are of Pendleton.

nesdog 12-03-14 12:54 PM


Originally Posted by Servite09 (Post 17358125)
Synaptic cycles in Los angeles will drop the bike off to you in LA and pick it up in San Diego! Quality bikes too!

Good info but I'd guess that the OP is long gone. This thread is from a year ago.

calamarichris 12-03-14 01:04 PM

Heh--night of the living zombie threads.

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