Day 50 (2016-10-15): ~70 miles from Leo Carillo State Park to Long Beach, CA with a detour to Topanga Creek Outpost. Highway 1, beach trails, and the long streets of LA County.
I hit the road this morning and ride peacefully along Highway 1 until I hit Malibu. I briefly get off the highway and drive down Malibu Dr, a place of enormous wealth. The top 10 most popular cars:
- Range Rover
- Rolls Royce
- Dirty, old trucks used by the worker’s building and cleaning homes
- Something else that costs $$$
Okay, that’s not really factual. Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus were probably the most common cars like any upper-middle class area but I saw more exotic cars in 10 minutes than in the previous 25 years of my life. And that only counts cars visible from the road, never-mind what is hiding in the many garages.
Riding through Malibu and into Santa Monica is a crappy section with a lot of traffic and a shoulder blocked by a ton of parked cars on Saturday afternoon. If you have flexibility it might not be a bad idea to either ride through real early on the weekend or else during a on-rush hour time on a weekday. I detour to Topanga Creek Outpost, a very cool bike shop on CA-27. It’s about 5 miles off-route and up a pretty steep climb so I would not recommend doing it loaded unless you enjoy punishing yourself. I had heard about the place from another person touring and happily took the detour. At the shop I learn a lot, from first-hand experience, about the Great Divide route from Canada to New Mexico – something I am considering doing next year. They also gave me fresh banana bread with M&M’s. I love this place! Don’t expect to find all your basic needs here though, they specialize in bike packing, touring, and local bags & accessories.
Unfortunately, I have not found a Warm Showers in Santa Monica, Culver City, or anywhere near the beginning of the route through LA so I call Ken Francis, a Warm Showers host in Long Beach. He messaged me on Facebook after I added some info on Big Sur and offered to host if I should need a place. He thankfully offers to host me on short notice and I set out from the shop for another 30-35 miles. Long Day. I expected to enjoy a sweet descent through the canyon but strong, gusty headwinds keep me pedaling the whole way.
For 10+ miles I ride directly on the beach through a winding, crowded, and sandy bike path filled with people biking, walking, scootering, skating, loitering, and doing pretty much everything you would imagine. Off the beach, Los Angeles county is an unpleasant place to ride. On, and on, and on… this these roads go on forever! Notice I said “Los Angeles County.” LA itself is only a small piece of sprawling metropolis that is LA county. LA, Long Beach, Santa Monica…there are many different cities within the county that all blend together since the terrain is one expansive low-density urban area with patches of denser urban development.
I pick a 6 lane road with low traffic and ride straight. On many of these roads there is more than enough room for a bike lane alongside the other 3 lanes on this side of the centerline, but nothing exists. Even where parking is restricted! I’m glad traffic is so low right now…it basically feels like driving on a major highway on Sunday morning.
By the time I reach my host I hit 70 miles and lose all motivation to keep riding. My host welcomes me in and I cool down and shower before an amazing dinner. Chicken in mushroom sauce, steamed broccoli, stuffed mushrooms, rice, and a beer. Damn, what a feast! They keep pushing food on me and I fill my plate twice while we chat about everything from Trump and politics to parenting, travel, and more. Then I take a little more rice with the mushroom sauce. So good!
By the time we finish talking it is almost 23:00 and I clean up and hop in bed to look at my options for getting around this mega-suburb city. Geez, everything is so far away!