Two Great Beach Rides on Each US Coast

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!

Cannon Beach, Oregon. Even when most crowded, like here on July 4th, the wide beach is rideable...
CANNON BEACH, OREGON Even when most crowded, like here on July 4th, the wide beach is very rideable and the adjacent cute town is perfect for a post ride meal.
Even on crowded days you can find solitude along 5 miles of fabulous beach riding in Cannon Beach, Oregon.
Even on crowded days you can find solitude along 5 miles of fabulous beach riding in Cannon Beach, Oregon.
The firm sands of the Pismo Beach area support vehicles, however they are not allowed within the Pismo Beach city limits which much improves your lot.  Much longer rides are available if you're willing to ride farther afield alongside vehicles.
PISMO BEACH, CALIFORNIA The firm sands here support vehicles, however they are not allowed within the Pismo Beach city limits which much improves your lot. Much longer rides are available if you’re willing to ride farther afield alongside vehicles. Stop in for some famous clam chowder at Splash’s Cafe in town post ride, and see the migrating monarch butterflies at the state beach south of town in winter.
Miles of beautiful firm sand await at Hilton Head Island, a resort area in South Carolina.  Bike trails run along the main roads around town as well to transport you to your accommodation.
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, SOUTH CAROLINA Miles of beautiful firm sand await at this resort area famous for golf and tennis. Bike trails run along the main roads around town as well to transport you to your accommodation and the island’s restaurants.
I was skeptical about riding here because of the popularity of driving cars on the beach, however they are relegated to the high tide area leaving the nice firm low tide zone to bikes and beachgoers. Some sections are even off limits to cars but bikes can carry on.
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA    I was skeptical about riding here because of the popularity of driving cars on the beach, however they are relegated to a sand road along the high tide area leaving the nice firm low tide zone to bikes and beachgoers. Some sections are even off-limits to cars but bikes can carry on. And of course there’s plenty of places to eat on the adjacent strip.
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The Sammamish River Trail in Seattle to Wineries and a Brewery

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

Sammamish: One of the many trails along pleasant rivers in the suburbs of Seattle.
Sammamish: One of the many trails along pleasant rivers in the suburbs of Seattle.
Typical section, Sammamish River Trail.
Typical section, Sammamish River Trail.
Chateau Ste Michele Winery and amphitheater.
Chateau Ste Michelle Winery and amphitheater.
Columbia Winery is another destination in the cluster of facilities.
Columbia Winery is another destination in the cluster of facilities.
Red Hook Brewery's patio is a great lunch stop along the trail.
Red Hook Brewery’s patio is a great lunch stop along the trail.

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.

Cycling Catalina Island

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.

Several miles of spectacular coastal riding await.
Several miles of spectacular coastal riding await.
Cycling toward Avalon on the coastal road.
Cycling toward Avalon on the coastal road.
The reward for cycling into the hills surrounding Avalon is spectacular views down to the village and harbor.
The reward for cycling into the hills surrounding Avalon is spectacular views down to the village and harbor.
Some of the LA-Mexico cruise shops stop at Avalon, as seen from a scenic stretch of coastal roadway.
Some of the LA-Mexico cruise ships stop at Avalon, as seen from a scenic stretch of coastal roadway.

New Comfort Bike Technology For Scenic Easy Rides

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.

Electra Townie 21D in Seattle, WA.  21 gears, pedal forward technology, and a fun ride all in all. Electra is now owned by Trek.  We got ours at REI in Oregon to save on sales tax and get our members 10% rebate.  List for 2014 is $519.  The 2013 model had a suspension front fork and was $545.
Electra Townie 21D in Seattle, WA. 21 gears, pedal forward technology, and a fun ride all in all. Electra is now owned by Trek. We got ours at REI in Oregon to save on sales tax and get our members 10% rebate. List for 2014 is $519. The 2013 model had a suspension front fork and was $545.

Ventura – Cycling and Camping

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.

Ventura bike trails along the coast and start of the scenic coastal section of the bike-friendly Amtrak Pacific Surfliner that extends through Vandenberg Air Force Base northwest of Santa Barbara.
Ventura bike trails along the coast and start of the scenic coastal section of the bike-friendly Amtrak Pacific Surfliner that extends through Vandenberg Air Force Base northwest of Santa Barbara.
Ventura promenade trail with kite surfers out in force on a windy day.
Ventura promenade trail with kite surfers out in force on a windy day.

Cycling in Santa Barbara

Short but beautiful trail near the Biltmore.
Short but beautiful Class I trail in Montecito, southeast of Santa Barbara, near the Biltmore.  A combination of Class I and Class II routes take the rider from Santa Barbara to charming Carpinteria.  See page 64 (Ride SB1 – Option 2). Montecito is the land of Oprah Winfrey, and more recently Ellen Degeneres and Portia de Rossi.
Cabrillo Beach Trail, Santa Barbara.  Link to destinations north and south along the coast.  See maps on pages 61 & 65.
Cabrillo Beachway Trail, Santa Barbara. Link to destinations north and south along the coast. See maps on pages 61 & 65.

Surprisingly Bikeable Bakersfield

BakersfieldSign

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.

The Kern River Parkway is a riparian oasis with a good potential to see wildlife.
The Kern River Parkway is a riparian oasis with a good potential to see wildlife.
The east side of town is oil production land, but is scenic in its own right, especially along the riverside trail.
The east side of town is oil production land, but is scenic in its own right, especially along the riverside trail.
Ming Lake, Kern River, Bakersfield, CA
Ming Lake is in the upper section of the Kern River bike trail, on the far side of the lake as shown. This area also has a public campground, golf course and the C.A.L.M. zoo.
BakersfieldRattlesnake
Rattlesnake Trail forms part of the connection between the Ming Lake area, central Bakersfield and the Kern River Trail.

The easy scenic cycling adventures of Richard Fox, author of the 2014 (2nd Ed 2017) guidebook "enCYCLEpedia Southern California – The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides."