There are plenty of great biking routes in Southern California. You can go offroad on a mountain trail, cruise the cities, or pedal along the California Coast Trail all the way from the Mexican border to Oregon and beyond. Yesterday, the monkey biked a beautiful part of the Coast Trail between Ventura and Carpinteria.
This is about a 35-mile out and back route that goes from west Ventura to the beaches in Carpinteria. It travels along historic California Route 1 next to the beach except for a brief jog onto the 101 Freeway just before you come into Carpinteria proper.
The ride started off cool with low clouds and fog hugging the coast. That didn’t stop the bikers. There were dozens of them on the trail, particularly in the first few miles out of Ventura.
At Faria Beach, about midway into the first half of the ride, you will find lots and lots of wannabe surfers packing the beach and gentle surf.
By this time in the ride the kids, big trikes, and beach cruisers had thinned out and the only real thing you had to watch out for were surfboards on the bike trail as soaking barefoot students in wet suits crossed the highway.
There are literally hundreds of RV campers along the road to Carpinteria. The are parked next to the beach with Highway 1 on one side and sand on the other. They’re a friendly group, waving and smiling as they down their morning Bloody Mary’s and cook breakfast on Coleman stoves. Weekends are always crowded and week days less so but it’s a great stretch for people watching.
There’s a five-mile segment of bike trail that runs adjacent to the 101 Freeway and next to the beach. It’s a fun section to ride with cars zipping by one one side and waves crashing on rocks on the other.
This image underscores the different way people approach bike riding. Note this couple with the matching bike outfits compared to the guy approaching. For some, biking is a whole new fashion adventure. For others, not so much. The lady wearing pink accents (down to her socks) reminds Kongo a little bit of Mrs. Kongo, who really got into golf several years ago when she discovered she could get all kinds of cute golfing attire that matched her clubs and bag. Like that. Some riders match their outfits to their bike. These are the SERIOUS riders. The guy approaching has on a pair of cargo shorts and an old red t-shirt with kind of a ratty backpack. This is Kongo’s kind of rider.
Kongo is more the non-fashion biker. He does sometimes wear bike shorts on a long ride but only for the padding in the seat. Otherwise he’s wearing a t-shirt, shorts, and topsider shoes with no socks, of course. Basic black is his favorite color. Mrs. Kongo claims she doesn’t want a bike to go riding with Kongo but he thinks she has yet to fully appreciate the fashion potential of this sport. Time will tell.
Kongo has noticed that the SERIOUS. bikers mostly do not wave at the monkey, as they can quickly determine from his outfit that he is NOT SERIOUS so they kind of ignore him. That’s fine. The monkey waves at everybody. SERIOUS bikers tend to go by at top speed, weaving in and out of the pack like they do in the Tour de France. As an aging monkey, Kongo ables along at a semi-respectable 15 MPH with Chill music in his earphones. On a long downhill he will push 40 but he starts getting nervous when he imagines a pothole at this speed. On a shorter ride – 15 miles or so – he will zip around the neighborhood at 20-25, using more of his battery, but having fun.
Since Kongo is riding an electric bike, he frequently sees SERIOUS bikers more than once. On straightaways and downhills, they go zipping past, but Kongo sees them again on the hills where he waves again as he passes and again he is ignored. That’s life in the bike lane.
At Carpinteria Beach there were a group of people doing Qigong on the beach, seeking to improve their spirituality and health, which is perfect thing to do in Carpinteria. Otherwise the beach was pretty empty.
It was about a three hour round trip by the time Kongo returned to the starting point, accounting for a few stops along the way to take pictures and rest his monkey-butt. No flat tires.
Kongo now has more than 1400 miles on his Aventon Pace 500 electric bike he got on August 1st. He loves it. For the monkey, it’s now pretty much ride, eat, nap, ride. Repeat. The day is not complete without a ride or two and the monkey hasn’t missed a day on the road yet. He falls asleep thinking about where he will go next.
There have been two minor crashes with scraped legs, two flat tires, and a derailleur adjustment (bent derailleur from a crash) but that just makes him a seasoned biking monkey, fashion statements aside. Actually, one of his spills wasn’t really a crash. He fell off the bike on the sloping front driveway as he swung he leg over the seat and snagged his non-fashion cargo shorts on the seat and lost his balance. He’s learned not to do that. The other crash was when he went over a log on a trail that decided to roll sideways on him. Two elderly women nearby rushed over to make sure he was okay. It was humbling. He avoids logs now.
As he’s writing this he is glaring at the low marine layer covering the hills around his house and checking his weather ap to see when the sun will be out. While the monkey loves riding, he doesn’t like riding cold. The sun should be out by noon with temperatures in the mid-70s. That’s about perfect,
Travel safe, have fun, be healthy.