Just Can't Get Enough - I Hate You Because I Love You - CycleBlaze

June 1, 2018

Just Can't Get Enough

330 miles of Southern California love

I am one lucky man. Great life, great family, great retirement, and I get to live seven miles from the Pacific Coast route in San Diego County. My training rides often include stretches of this beautiful route, with its spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the beautiful people frequenting its beautiful beaches.

Like most of you, though, the road calls me. Being relatively new to bike touring, I haven't yet done a Trans Am or struggled across deserts and over multiple mountain ranges. I haven't dipped either of my wheels in the sea or spent days fighting raging storms and freezing cold. I may eventually do all that, but for now I'm going to enjoy increasingly longer sections of the PCH, culminating in a tour of its entire length (or at least the section from Astoria, Oregon south).

I've done the 80 mile round trip to San Clemente and spent four days riding 200 miles home from Santa Barbara. I've camped and stayed in hotels, and once even spent the night on a sailboat moored in Newport Harbor with my bike parked on the dock.

The continued closure of CA Highway 1 at Mud Creek and family obligations preclude a full coast tour, so for that and other reasons this next trip will start in San Luis Obispo (aka SLO), the nearest city of any size to the slide area. A big deciding factor was that the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner makes a single run per day all the way to SLO, and that train lets you roll your loaded bike right onto the last car and secure it without having to take anything off. You even have access to it during the trip. The train that goes north of there, the Pacific Starlight, requires you to check your unloaded bike as luggage.

I know that after my last long ride I entitled one of my journal pages, "PCH Sucks!"... 

"The still stunning sea views are more than cancelled out by the fact that you have to concentrate so hard to keep from getting whacked by 4000 or so pounds of steel, aluminum, and plastic. At its best, the shoulder is about eight feet wide, but that's unusual and every place for outdoor recreation is marked by miles of cars parked on it, meaning you often ride in the traffic lane where everyone fancies himself a Formula One driver. Nerve wracking at best, and the hills make it worse as you struggle mightily to get around the cars before the traffic comes."

...but that was just an initial reaction to my first traverse of the section through Malibu and Santa Monica. In reality, the PCH route offers too much beauty and enjoyment to let one bad stretch ruin it, and there are minor changes I can make to my attitude and my route that enhance that enjoyment. 

Don't get me wrong; while I found much to dislike about the Los Angeles stretch of the PCH, the overall coastal experience was more than positive. From Santa Barbara to Ventura the Pacific Ocean as an almost constant companion, reminding me of why I pay the higher price of living here on the edge of the continent. Even the more inland stretches through Oxnard and Port Hueneme enjoy the mild weather and helpful tailwinds that make California cycling such a pleasure. I will never like Los Angeles despite spending the first twenty years of my life there, but the call of this particular road is just too strong.

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