Day 9: Santa Monica to LAX
The last day was uneventful from a cycling perspective; I had breakfast at Venice Beach, went to Kinko’s to check my e-mail and stocks and stuff, and rode down along the beach, past LAX and around the other side to the entrance. I did wind up with my last mechanical problem as I rode under the LAX runways on Sepulvada. Sepulvada dips down into a tunnel, and as I was working up a good head of steam, had to make a quick decision about whether to stay in the traffic lane or try to use the narrow sidewalk. I went for the lane and cranked it up to full speed to keep up with the traffic, then discovered that there are drainage grates all the way across the right lane, at least 4 feet across, with slats positioned perfectly for catching bike wheels. I saw the first of these coming up on me at high speed and did what I could to hop it, which wasn’t much with full rear bags. My front wheel made it over but my rear slammed into the other side with full force, and the tire instantly went flat. I wobbled it over to the sidewalk and pushed it out of the tunnel. The tube was a total loss, and the rim had taken a pretty bad ding, too–I was able to ride it home but I wound up replacing it not long after I returned.
I rode the bike into the terminal, bought a box (highway robbery–$15 for the box and $45 for transporting the bike), packed it up and took the short flight to Oakland. On the other end, I unpacked it, hopped on and rode up Hegenberger Road to the Oakland Coliseum BART station, and rode BART back home.
If I were to do it again, I’d concentrate more on the first half of the trip. The ride from San Francisco down to about San Simeon is outstanding, and there were a lot of places we should have spent more time. I might cut the first day into two, stopping around Pescadero instead of going all the way to Santa Cruz. I’d probably take a rest day at Big Sur to go hiking, and split up the big day we had into Goleta. After that, the ride is pretty utilitarian and I’d get through it as fast as possible. I might look into whether it’s possible to catch a train back from San Simeon or San Luis Obispo and just ignore the Southern California thing altogether.
We wound up travelling some 780 kilometers, with only 1700 meters of climbing or so–that’s less climb than a hard day ride around the Bay Area. It’s a trip that should be feasible for any reasonably fit cyclist. There are only a few sections with significant traffic, and nearly all of those have wide shoulders. Plus, southbound, there’s virtually no cross-traffic to deal with. It would be an excellent choice for someone looking for his first week-long tour, or even a new tourist willing to do some research and planning. In addition to ample motel selection, there are campgrounds all along the route, though rumor has it they tend to fill up.
The route continues down to San Diego but I can’t imagine any reason to want to continue riding south. Baja would be interesting but more of Southern California would just be painful. Some day I’ll start out in Vancouver and see how the coasts of Washington and Oregon compare.
After that: Trans-Continental. Ride Bike!