It’s summer, the beaches are packed, and you can’t decide whether to hit the beach or go for a bike ride. Well, you can do both on beaches where the sand is compact enough to support a comfortable ride. Of course the off-seasons are best when the crowds are less, but these rides are doable any time of year. Here I present four of my favorite beach rides, all at beautiful locales where there are no paved trails adjacent to the beach. On the west coast are Pismo Beach, California and Cannon Beach, Oregon. On the east coast are Hilton Head Island, South Carolina and Daytona Beach, Florida. If you have your own favorite beach ride, which should be at least 4 miles each way, please let me know!
In Seattle, long connected riverside trails create a cycling paradise, especially when the weather is fabulous, like it is most of the summer. While the Sammamish River Trail that runs between Bothell and Redmond is not as spectacular as coastal trails, it provides 11 uninterrupted miles through rural landscape along a pleasant though stagnant river. In Bothell it connects to the Burke
Gillman Trail that leads west all the way to Puget Sound, and in Redmond’s Marymoor Park it connects to a trail (currently being paved) along the east side of Lake Sammamish. Plenty of dining options are available in Redmond and Bothell, however the highlight is at Mile 5.5 in Woodinville where the Red Hook Brewery, Columbia Winery and the magnificent Chateau Ste Michelle Winery (& amphitheater) are accessible via a short spur trail. This is also a popular cycling destination from Seattle via the Burke Gillman Trail to the Sammamish.
Do you have the urge to visit a Mediterranean Island? If you can choose a warm sunny day, which can happen any time of year, a visit to Santa Catalina Island can be a sublime experience. There is no car ferry to the island so the only vehicles are from the residents of the village of Avalon. Most get around on golf carts. You can bring your own bike, or rent from a couple of concessions. It’s a great way to get around, combining a bike ride with the other activities that range from mini golf to zip line to scuba diving. There are no shortage of shops to engage you and plenty of restaurants to savor. The 20+mile ferry crossing takes about 1- 1.5 hours from several ports in Orange and LA Counties, and accommodations range from high end B&B’s and inns to a campground. More adventurous mountain bikers can get a permit and cycle the length of the rugged 22-mile island.
If Catalina has a theme song, it’s 26 Miles (Santa Catalina) by the Four Preps from 1958. Here is someone’s slideshow set to the song.
Comfort bikes are all the rage, especially with those who prefer not to ride hunched over on a traditional bike. Bikes with pedal-forward technology allow the rider to put their feet on the ground while sitting in the site, adding to their stability and feeling of security. It also makes pedaling either and combined with the upright handlebars allows for a relaxing ride while taking in the scenery along the way, rather than staring down at the road.
Ventura is a popular spot for RV campers to stay and enjoy the beaches. Bike trails along the coast and up to Ojai make the area a scenic cycling paradise. A new trail parallel to Hwy 101 along the coast connects cyclists’ favorite Rincon Parkway to Rincon Beach just south of Carpinteria.
Bakersfield has an active bike culture and bike advocacy group, http://www.bikebakersfield.org, along with the 32-mile scenic Kern River Parkway bike trail. The http://www.kernriverparkway.org group is working to add even more bike trail miles. Cycle out past riparian vegetation along the trace of the Kern River from near I-5 to the west, east across town, past SR 99. Connect to the pretty Ming Lake area, the Basque restaurants downtown, and Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace that celebrates the city’s country music heritage. enCYCLEpedia Southern California describes these routes in detail.