Day 36: Santa Monica – San Clemente
Distance: 82.34 miles.
Average Speed: 9.6 mph.
Today was a toughie. I set off at 9, knowing that a long day was likely, as there were a lot of bike paths during the early part of the ride. I cruised along Santa Monica and Venice beaches, before hitting the roads to round the colossal Marina Del Ray.
Back on the beach path, I passed through Manhattan Beach, before stopping for pancakes and fruit at the Good Stuff restaurant in Hermosa Beach.
Reaching Redondo Beach, I was set to begin the trickiest part of the ride – cutting across town for 15 miles to Long Beach – when a man asked about my ride. His name was John, he’d bike toured in the past, and having just retired was planning another one for this year. Would I like him to show me the way? In the end, he guided me for 25 miles across one of the most difficult parts of the route. His style of urban off-road cycling did take a bit of getting used to as he bounded on and off kerbs while making outlandish hand gestures, to inform drivers of his intentions and berating any that got in his way. He was an interesting man, having a pilot’s licence, and also sailing 25m catamarans.
Finally, reaching Long Beach after a long and tortuous route, we were blessed with a nice bike path, and John rode with me until it ended, just before Seal Beach.
Continuing through Huntingdon Beach and Newport, my nerves were frazzled, once more the shoulder was a car park and when I didn’t take a dominant position in the lane, cars would fly passed, a little too close.
It was 6 o’clock and I still had 16 miles to go to Doheny State Park, so I stopped at Ruby’s Diner in Corona Del Mar, for dinner. It was a decent burger, but the real highlight was a Reece’s peanut butter milkshake.
Back on the road, the fact I’d had a cross-headwind all day started to tell as fatigue set in. The road was also much hillier than I’d been expecting, especially when I reached Laguna Beach, the city limits of which contained three or four decent size climbs.
Finally, reaching Doheny State Park at half past 8, I was shocked to find that they’d stopped their Hiker/Biker camping in October, and worse still, their regular sites were full. The next site recommended was San Clemente, 7 miles further on. It had been a gloomy evening, so it was quite dark now, but what else could I do, so I continued on.
Luckily, there was a bike path, beside the highway, all the way to San Clemente. Then, I started along a new beachside bike path. It was too new to be on my maps, my gps telling me to redirect the other way. Suddenly, after 20 minutes of cycling along through half a centimetre of sand, my gps sprang into life, the track existed again, and I was now close to the entrance of San Clemente State Beach Park.
On arriving, at half past 9, I was surprised to find the Hiker/Biker camping had gone from here too, and the campsite was mobbed. I wasn’t cycling another metre, however, so I set up camp under a tree, and will be away bright and early in the morning.
Next stop, San Diego…