Tag Archives: biking

TOUR D’OL’ BLUE EYES – A SINATRA DESERT BIKE TOUR

by Richard Fox

Frank Sinatra was my mom’s heartthrob as a teen. Not mine! Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s, listening to The Beatles, The Stones, Aretha and other greats on the radio, I would cringe when Strangers in the Night would interrupt the magic of the contemporary sound. Although I still cringe when I hear Doo-bee-doo-bee-doo, I’ve gained an appreciation of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ craft over the years, and some of my favorite songs to listen to are Summer Wind, New York New York, Luck Be a Lady, Fly Me to the Moon, The Girl from Ipanema, and even That’s Life.

I’ve also enjoyed watching him on TCM in some of his classic film roles like his Oscar winning From Here to Eternity, The Detective, The Manchurian Candidate, Guys and Dolls, Pal Joey, Can-Can, Anchors Aweigh, Robin and the 7 Hoods, and even Tony Rome.

 

 

 

From the 1940’s until a few years before he passed away in 1998, Sinatra was an integral part of the fabric of the Coachella Valley, a very special place for him. He had four wives, three homes and many of Hollywood’s elite surrounding him while here. Although known for his legendary temper, he was also a philanthropist, contributing to local charities, and performing benefit concerts with friends such as Jerry Lewis and Bing Crosby. His “Rat Pack” friends also spent time in homes in the area, including Sammy Davis Jr., Peter Lawford and Dean Martin, although an infamous 1962 kerfuffle over a JFK visit created a rift between Sinatra and Lawford, who Frank blamed for JFK’s decision to stay at Bing Crosby’s place instead, after Sinatra had made elaborate preparations.

Many of the sites of Frank Sinatra’s points of interest lie along enCYCLEpedia Southern California safe(r) bike routes, so fans of the crooner can do a two-wheeled scavenger hunt to visit them. Clusters of sites are found in Palm Springs, where he first lived, and Rancho Mirage where he spent his later four decades. A bike ride combining all of these sites is about 33 miles long. Those not up for that distance can transport their bikes in between and do it in two separate rides of about 8 to 15 miles each depending on route. Route maps are posted on the enCYCLEpedia.net website Bonus Materials page for book owners, but you can of course find your own routes. Some outlying Sinatra features are not part of the tour, including his private Villa Maggio compound way up the Palms to Pines Highway in Mountain Center, and a couple of churches he was known to have visited in the valley.

Palm Springs

Let’s start spreading the news in downtown Palm Springs where you can find Sinatra’s star on the expansive Walk of the Stars along the main drag of Palm Canyon Drive. Frank’s is located at 135 N. Palm Canyon Dr. The star was awarded for his many achievements in a ceremony on January 15, 1994 that was attended by 2,000 people. It truly was his kind of town that day. You can find other stars listed on this website or i phone users can check out this special app.

Heading north on the side streets of the Old Las Palmas neighborhood you can ride past some of his fellow rat packers’ former homes including Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and Peter Lawford.

At the northeast corner of Vista Chino and Indian Canyon is the Riviera Resort and Spa (1600 N Indian Canyon Dr), the site of charity shows Sinatra organized featuring buddies such as Jerry Lewis and Dean Martin. But, the best is yet to come…

From the Riviera Resort’s website.

 

Riding south like a Summer Wind into the Movie Colony where so many Hollywood stars kept homes, we visit Sinatra’s first valley residence. Twin Palms was designed by E. Stewart Williams and built in 1947 at 1145 Via Colusa (formerly addressed as 1148 E Alejo Rd). Frank lived here with his first wife Nancy, until their divorce in 1951, and then second wife Ava Gardner until their tumultuous split a few years later. The 4-bedroom, 7 bath, 4,500 square foot home features a pool shaped like a grand piano. This was indeed a party house with Hollywood’s A-list celebs frequenting its grounds. It was later sold, went into disrepair, was refurbished, and is currently available for rent. According to its website “Twin Palms Frank Sinatra Estate is available to rent for a variety of events including private vacations, corporate events, retreats and functions, private events and dinner parties. Commercial uses include photo, film, television, magazine and movie opportunities.”

From the sinatrahouse.com website.
View from 1145 Via Colusa

Frank was known to frequent many of the area’s bars and restaurants, but only a handful remain. You can ride by two of them in Palm Springs. Make your way south, perhaps on the Sunrise Way side path, to Hwy 111. Make sure to stick to the side paths along dangerous Hwy 111. A block east of Sunrise check out the Purple Room in Club Trinidad, now known for its popular Judy Garland impersonator show. Previously, as its website states, “The Purple Room is where Frank, Sammy, Dean, and their pals cavorted on and off the stage in the swinging 60s.”

From the Purple Room’s website

Next head west and then north through the Deepwell Estates district where former homes of Jerry Lewis, William Holden, and others are located. Exit via the Riverside Drive bike path and up to Baristo. At the northwest corner of Baristo and Ramon is Melvyn’s Restaurant & Lounge at The Ingleside Inn, 200 W. Ramon Rd, a hangout for Frank and buddies Jilly Rizzo, Patty Henry and Danny Schwartz, who’d sit at the bar and drink whisky. He also held his pre-wedding dinner to Barbara Marx here in 1976.

Melvyn’s as seen from Ramon Rd at Baristo.
From Melvyn’s website.

You’re now close to completing a Palm Springs loop of 9 or 10 miles. Check out other enCYCLEpedia rides to explore other areas and aspects of Palm Springs including a more comprehensive Vintage Star Tour.

The next set of stops is in Rancho Mirage, which lies east past Cathedral City, about 7 miles away. To connect the two areas you can use Tahquitz Creek Loop, then make your way to the Coachella Valley bikeway, aka the Whitewater River trail. In the future, the CV Link regional pathway will be a great option to get through Palm Springs and Cathedral City. You’ll wind up on the sidewalk along Hwy 111 or along Gerald Ford Dr, and end up at Wolfson Park, our starting point for the Rancho Mirage loop.

Rancho Mirage

Located south of the T-intersection of Da Vall Drive and Frank Sinatra Drive, the small but beautiful Wolfson Park was donated by Sinatra himself to the city, and allowed it to be named for Rancho Mirage politician Michael S. Wolfson. Several parking spots are available on the adjacent street. If these are full you can start the ride a couple miles east up Frank Sinatra Dr. Turn left at the first light on Thompson Rd and park after the “No Parking” signs cease.

Near the beginning of the sidewalk that is lined with Brail Trail interpretive signs, look for a pedestal with a button on top. When you push it, Frank’s voice resounds from a speaker next to the shrubbery, talking about this park and surroundings. Also find a fountain, a drinking fountain, benches and picnic tables, but no public restrooms here.

Frank Sinatra’s intro message is found here.
Blooming giant ocotillo in Wolfson Park.


Enjoy pretty vistas throughout Wolfson Park.

The ~1-mile Butler-Abrams bike trail heads south from Wolfson Park along the Whitewater levee. It dips down into the usually dry Whitewater River channel (closed during and after flows) and up the other side, ending at Country Club Drive.

The west portion of the Butler-Abrams trail is more pastoral.
If the Whitewater River is flowing, use Morningside Dr instead of the Butler-Abrams trail. The Frank Sinatra Dr bike path across the river will also be closed.

To the right up Country Club, across Highway 111, is Lord Fletcher’s restaurant, 70385 Highway 111, where Frank dined for 30 years in the peaceful upscale atmosphere, and held his 70th birthday party here in 1985. There’s no need to cross Hwy 111 since you’re probably not going to be eating at this dinner-only establishment during the ride.

Interior of Lord Fletcher’s from their website.

Our next site is Frank’s final resting place, at Desert Memorial Park, 31705 Da Vall Drive at Ramon Rd, at the north end of Rancho Mirage, but just over the border in Cathedral City. Enter off Da Vall if the Ramon gate is closed. It is closed weekends, so there’s no reason to ride up there then except for the joy of the ride itself. By cutting this out, your ride will be about 8 miles instead of 15. There’s several options to get there (see enCYCLEpedia); the most direct is back up Da Vall Dr. Sinatra passed away in 1998, and his plain headstone simply reads “The Best Is Yet to Come.” From the Ramon Rd entrance, go straight up the road a couple of pedals and look to the right between markers B-8 and B-9. Frank’s and widow Barbara’s (d. 2017) graves are 4 and 5 stones up from the road. Fans leave mementos such as bottles of Jack Daniels or dimes on Frank’s grave at times in tribute.

Also buried around here are his prizefighter father Anthony Sinatra, his mom Natalie Sinatra who was killed in a plane crash en route to seeing Frank perform in Las Vegas, Frank’s buddy Jilly Rizzo, and composer of some of his standards Jimmy Van Heusen. Famed composer Frederick Loewe (My Fair Lady, Gigi) is also here. At the north end of the cemetery near a pretty monument garden is former Palm Springs mayor Sonny Bono’s stone, “And the Beat Goes On.”  If you’re out of water there are water fountains near the office, and possibly restrooms if open.  

Head back south on sidewalk paths that circumvent Mission Hills Country Club to reach a rare un-gated upscale community accessed via Los Alamos south of Gerald Ford Dr. Before the traffic light was installed this intersection was the site of the tragic end of Frank’s close buddy, night club owner Jilly Rizzo, who burned in his car after being hit by a drunk driver who fled the scene. Jilly lived in this neighborhood, which you can explore.

Many of the homes in the south portion of this area are along fairways of Tamarisk Country Club, including Frank Sinatra’s compound, coming up in the next section. Frank was a loyal member of this club for four decades, which opened in February 1952. Its website mentions that it welcomes “diversity,” alluding to the fact that four of the Marx Brothers and George Burns who were Jewish, helped found this club where other clubs such as Thunderbird were anti-semitic and banned Jews. A group of 65 movers and shakers started this all-inclusive club and never turned back. You can catch a nice glimpse of the course from the south end of Palm View Road.

If you’re interested in checking out historic homes and examples of mid century modern architecture in this area, here is a list. One outstanding example of a unique Tamarisk fairway home is the Val Powelson-designed home at 70551 Tamarisk Lane circa 1960:

Off of Tamarisk Lane is a cul de sac named “Andrews Circle.”  The Andrews Sisters owned the homes at the end of the block.  Exit this area via the thru streets such as Tamarisk Ln or Sunny Ln that lead back to Thompson Rd and Frank Sinatra Drive. Turn right on Frank Sinatra. Those comfortable riding on busy roads can cycle in the bike lane, since this will make it easier to find our last point of interest. Others can cross the street at the light and ride carefully in the winding sidewalk/bike path. In a half mile notice the gated entrance to a compound on the right at 70588 Frank Sinatra Drive. Those on the sidewalk will need to carefully walk across the boulevard to check it out after the Morningside gated entry, or just look at the photo of it below, and get a better glimpse of the property from the higher elevation. The plaque explains that Old Blue Eyes lived here from 1957 to 1995. The compound, not visible from the road, consists of a series of cottages named for his songs, a main 8,000 sf house, pool, a cottage with model trains, and other features. You can tour the property via this Huell Howser 1-hour PBS documentary. It is now owned by Canadian billionaire Jim Pattison, used for corporate meetings and retreats, but not open to the public.

The compound is along the westbound side of Frank Sinatra Dr, a half mile west of Morningside Dr.

Wolfson Park is just down the road, the starting point for this loop.

An option: The magnificent Sunnylands property is located nearby. Also known as the Annenberg estate, the home, grounds, and private golf course was developed by the Readers Digest magnate in 1966. It has seen an endless stream of dignitaries and celebrities over the years, including Frank Sinatra, who married Barbara Marx, his last wife, here in July 1976. The estate is open for tours (fee) with advance reservations. There is also a free facility consisting of a wonderful visitors center and elaborate gardens open to the public seasonally. Access by bike requires riding in the bike lane along busy Bob Hope Dr, where the un-signaled entrance is located halfway between Frank Sinatra and Gerald Ford Drives.

Sunnylands Visitors Center, gardens and cafe, open to the public several days a week in season.

If you’ve combined the ride with the Palm Springs loop, make your way back via the sidewalk along the northeast side of 111, reaching the Coachella Valley Bikeway off of the Date Palm bridge over the Whitewater channel. Another good connector is the continuous south sidewalk/bike path of Dinah Shore Dr, but just after the bridge over Whitewater channel you’ll need to make your way down a dirt path to 34th Ave to connect to Tahquitz Creek Loop. Or, do it “your way”! Just stay safe, please.

The film Sinatra in Palm Springs documents his life and times in the valley. Available to rent on Amazon Prime.

Palm Springs Stars’ Homes of Yesteryear – A Fun Bike ‘n Brunch

by Richard Fox

Palm Springs is one of the most interesting and fun towns to ride around in Southern California, especially when the weather is picture-perfect from fall through early spring.  A stunning mountain backdrop, frequently capped with snow, contrasts to the modified desert landscape of palms, cacti and colorful flowering shrubs. Whereas much of the Coachella Valley is hidden behind walled communities, most of Palm Springs’ communities are available to explore by bike. Architecture ranges from Palm Springs modern to Spanish colonial, and a vibrant downtown is bursting with inviting restaurants, many of which are al fresco and perfect to combine with your ride.

In the mid 20th Century, Palm Springs was the playground of the Hollywood elite, with many of the biggest stars spending time here in a myriad of homes, whether rented or owned. Although they came here to escape the pressure and scrutiny of Hollywood, they created their own melodrama here in the valley.  Details on who lived where is more reliable for some stars’ homes than others’, but the scavenger hunt through history makes this cycle down memory lanes a rewarding exercise. Pictured above is the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway, which he and Priscilla rented in the 60’s.   

I recently led 10 enthusiastic friends on enCYCLEpedia Southern California Ride PS1, “Palm Springs Vintage Star Tour – Where YOU Are the Star,” except instead of having them recite movie lines or sing songs of the various stars as outlined in the book, I played audio clips from movies or their songbook to bring history alive, and had them guess the former occupants based on those, while also regaling tales of yesteryear.  The stops came in clusters, with welcome cycling mileage in between as we explored the Old Las Palmas, Deep Well and Movie Colony Districts in a ride of 14 miles.  I actually added to what is in the book, which may have been a mistake, since the 40-odd stops ended up taking 4 hours, and we didn’t make it to lunch until 2:15, a delicious repast on the El Mirasol (North) patio.  Next time I’ll reduce the stops or plan the lunch for mid-ride.

PS1Kaufman
The Kaufmann house, once occupied by Barry Manilow, has been sold as an art piece.

PS1LiberaceMailboxAlone
Casa Liberace is one of several of his homes on this tour. Check out the piano mailbox.

PS1GroupRobolights2018
The bizarre seasonal Robolights installation in the Movie Colony. Go inside to see rows of art pieces made out of toilet seats or microwaves.

PS1RiversideGroup2018
The 1-mile scenic Riverside bike trail near Deep Well is a rarity in Palm Springs, so we rode it back and forth on the ride between districts.

PS1DesertScene
Enjoy beautiful desert landscapes with dramatic mountain backdrops while cycling through Palm Springs.

 

PS1
Paused in front of Clark Gable/Carole Lomard’s Casa Del Carazon.  Theirs was a tragic tale. (This photo was from an earlier ride).

PS1GroupLunch2018
Our just reward, lunch at the El Mirasol (north) patio in the Movie Colony near the ride start/end.

A Eurostyle Bicycle and Train Holiday Along the Southern California Coast

by Richard Fox

Europe is known for it’s extended bike trail systems like EuroVelo 6 through lovely villages, pastoral countryside, and medieval cities. The routes along  pretty rivers such as the Danube attract thousands of cyclists, and easy access to rail enables hopping from place to place.  Although Southern California does not offer the same wealth of cycling infrastructure, it does have its fair share of bike trails and pleasant bike routes that are conducive to touring the region on two wheels. Using its bike friendly rail system, cyclists can experience a Euro-style holiday, particularly along its spectacular coastal region that attracts visitors from the world over to its beautiful beaches and charming towns, many with Spanish-influenced architecture. A trip can last a weekend or a month, depending on schedule and budget.  If being away from your car is too inconvenient, you can still use the trains to cover more ground on day trips. 

EncyclePedia_022014_FCID.inddMy guidebook enCYCLEpedia Southern California – The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides (2nd Ed, 2017) contains detailed ride descriptions through the most scenic areas, and these are referenced throughout this article. enCYCLEpedia‘s rides are geared for the average cyclist who prefers to stay away from traffic whenever possible, and avoid high speed, dangerous, or very hilly roads.

The goal of this journey is to use the train to access the most desirable areas, and skip over the parts that are overly difficult, dangerous, or uninteresting. Based on our experiences, the zen of taking a bike on the train adds to the excitement of it all. Options are also mentioned for more advanced riders who may prefer to ride through some of those areas anyway rather than taking the train past them.  

You’ll find lots of accommodation options in the featured locales, and if you prefer bike camping, many of the coastal State Parks have reservable tent sites, but they fill fast at peak times, so advance planning is required. A few also have non reservable bike-in campsites, although spaces are not guaranteed, especially on summer weekends.

The northern part of our trip (San Luis Obispo to Los Angeles) is serviced primarily by the bike-friendly Amtrak Surfliner line that runs from San Luis Obispo to San Diego, stopping at many of the lovely locales described. To travel on the Surfliner, you will need some advance planning, since a free reservation is required to bring your bike along. The good news is it doesn’t have to be boxed like on other Amtrak lines. From LA’s Union Station and south, lots of options open up for less expensive and more bike-friendly commuter lines.

 

SurflinerTrestlesBeach SanClemente
Amtrak Surfliner on rebuilt “trestles” next to San Clemente’s famous Trestles surf beach (SC3).

Whistlestop 1:  San Luis Obispo (SLO)

Taking the Amtrak Surfliner north from Los Angeles to San Luis Obispo, or SLO Town, is a world class spectacular ride, with California coastal scenery on display between Ventura and Pismo Beach, much of which is not even accessible to the public past Santa Barbara. If you arrive in SLO from the north via Amtrak’s Coast Starlight train, it is also scenic but is not along the coast, as that would mean it would be along the Big Sur coast, which can barely handle a roadway. The Coast Starlight (between LA and Seattle) is not as bike friendly, since bikes need to be boxed and incur baggage and box fees.

CA_LO1_JalamaCoastTrimmed
View of the Santa Barbara County coastline from the Surfliner. 

SLO Town is a charming university city about 13 miles inland from the coastal town of Morro Bay. While SLO Town does not have much in the way of bike trails, it does have bike friendly streets and plenty of desirable places to sleep and eat in the vital downtown sector west of the train depot.  It is a good place to spend some time to explore, provision and get oriented. You can try a wine country tour, or a popular bike route to the coast at Los Osos/Morro Bay via Los Osos Valley Road.

P1050710
Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa, downtown SLO

At the coast you can explore Morro Bay, which offers some delightful coastal riding (enCYCLE Ride MB1), and lots of accommodations (reserve for best selection in summer) and popular waterfront seafood restaurants.  To its south is Montana de Oro State Park (Ride MB2), a coastal gem with a couple of great easy rides on packed dirt, some more challenging mountain biking, and spectacular hiking trails.  Bike-in or reservable tent camping is available at Morro Bay, Morro Strand, and Montana de Oro State Parks.

The existing short and sweet Harborwalk path leading to Morro Rock.
Bike path to Morro Rock in Morro Bay (MB1)

Whistlestop 2:  Grover Beach/Pismo Beach

Pubic passage south down the coast from Morro Bay is blocked by the Diablo Canyon nuclear plant property, so you’ll need to ride back to SLO. Continuing south from SLO you can either ride along Class II roads adjacent to Hwy 101 (or a steep route over the hills on dirt roads) or take the Surfliner to the next stop in Grover Beach/Pismo Beach.  If you cycle, your next destination can be the small, quaint beach community of Avila Beach, with the last few miles along the lovely creekside Bob Jones Trail, that will someday connect to SLO, making that a must-do stretch by bike (Ride AV1).  Continue riding south to the Pismo station from Avila Beach. You can also reach Avila Beach on a scenic coastal Class II bike route north from the Pismo station if you choose that option.

CA_AvilaBeachPier_FullRes
Avila Beach Pier  (AV1)

Pismo Beach is the southern end of our recommended exploration in SLO County, and the train station is just south of town in Grover Beach.  There’s no bike trails in town, yet, so hop on the bike lanes along Hwy 1 and head north into town (Ride PB2), past several public campgrounds, and the spot where the Monarch butterflies congregate in winter. The delightful downtown has a bunch of restaurants and accommodations.  At lower tides, you can ride on the compact sands of the wide beautiful beach here, our only recommended SoCal beach ride (Ride PB1).  The route north of downtown (Ride PB3) is on Class 2 lanes of a fairly busy roadway, but the ocean vistas are  spectacular in places.  If you chose to ride all the way south from SLO, you’ll be southbound on that route toward downtown and the Pismo station.  And now, back to the Surfliner for our next destination. 

PismoBeachBike
Riding the compact sands of Pismo Beach  (PB1)

Whistlestop 3:  Surf Beach/Lompoc, Santa Barbara County

An optional stop, Surf Beach is the loneliest Amtrak stop along the coast, located in a beach parking lot adjacent to Vandenberg Air Force Base. You can walk for miles along the beautiful beach, but signs warn against swimming here due to two fatal shark attacks.  Amtrak doesn’t stop here often, so schedule carefully. 

CA_LOM1_SurfAmtrakSign
The lonely Surf Amtrak Station, 9 miles west of Lompoc  (LOM1)

From here you can easily ride to pretty Ocean Beach County Park at the delta of the Santa Ynez River.  For grub and overnight accommodations, including hotels, B&B’s, and camping (River Park), the city of Lompoc awaits (Ride LOM1).  The City of Arts and Flowers with murals on its downtown buildings is reached via a flat 9 mile ride along Class II Ocean Ave (55 mph speed), an interesting stretch when the fields of cultivated flowers are in bloom in spring and summer. Lompoc is not as appealing as some of the other coastal towns, but is a good place to restock and refresh.

Those in tip top condition may consider a road trip over substantial and steep hills and windy rural roads, to isolated Jalama County Beach, where there is a beach campground and general store and grill.  If you took the Surfliner northbound you would’ve gone right by it. This would make an epic weekend trip on its own from the big city.

Another option, though risky logistically, is to take the Wine Country Express bus from Lompoc to the Danish tourist village of Solvang, and explore the beautiful Santa Barbara Wine Country in Los Olivos and Santa Ynez by bike (Ride SO1). Buses have bike racks, but can take only a couple at a time.  You could also leave your bikes at your Lompoc accommodation, take the bus, and rent bikes in Solvang.

Whistlestops 4, 5, 6, 7:  Goleta, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria, Ventura

The ride between Lompoc and Santa Barbara is very hilly and/or along the 101 Freeway, only for the most advanced riders. So, all aboard the Surfliner at Surf!  The corridor between the next stops of Goleta, Santa Barbara, Carpinteria and Ventura is rideable by most cyclists, so you can pick and choose where you’d like to explore, how far to ride, and when to use the Surfliner to help you out.

From the Goleta Station, ride to the coast and explore the beautiful paths along the University of California at Santa Barbara (Ride SB2).

SB2UCSBLagoon
Paths around the UCSB Lagoon (SB2)

Class I and II routes connect to the downtown and waterfront district of Santa Barbara (Ride SB1).  A scenic beachfront path passes a multitude of restaurants and accommodations there, although there is no bike camping in town.  The Amtrak station is in the center of town, so if you disembark there, you can easily explore the extensive Spanish-influenced downtown and beautiful waterfront.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Cabrillo Beachway, Santa Barbara Waterfront (SB1)

A Class II route leads through the tony community of Montecito, then Summerland, to the lovely low-key beach town of Carpinteria, and the next Amtrak station (Ride SB1, Option 2).  Find lots of great restaurants and choice of accommodations from B&B’s to bike-in and reservable campsites at Carpinteria State Beach.

Someday there will be a bike path connecting Carpinteria to the new path to Ventura, but for now there is only a 3-mile fairly hilly on-road route.  If you are willing to tackle that, the reward is the new waterfront bike path adjacent to the 101 Freeway that leads to the north end of Ventura (Ride VE4).  You could also access it if you take the train directly to Ventura and ride north.

CA VE4 CoastTrail
Rincon Bike Path along US 101 between Carpinteria and Ventura (VE4)

The bike path ends on the Old Rincon Hwy, a popular bike route that leads to the Ventura waterfront trail system (Ride VE1).  Via that path you can access the historic downtown center, enjoy the beautiful coastline and pier, and find all sorts of restaurants and accommodations.  The depot is downtown between the beach and Main Street. Bike-in and reservable camping are available at McGrath State Beach nearby in Oxnard.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Path through San Buenaventura State Beach near downtown Ventura (VE1)

From Ventura consider riding up a scenic rail trail about 16 miles inland to the lovely spa resort town of Ojai, either as a day trip and lunch stop or an overnight destination (Rides VE2 and 3).  Camping is available at two county parks near the route.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Rail trail through the Ojai Valley  (VE3)

Ventura is the last stop for the northern part of our adventure. Cycling south from Ventura is only for very experienced cyclists.  The subsequent 50-mile coastal route first passes through the city of Oxnard, while the last 35 miles is along the busy, hilly, speedy, Coast Highway to and through Malibu. The reward is that it ends up on the fabulous 22-mile Los Angeles beach trail. But you can also access that path by taking local rail from downtown, along our rail route. So, most of you will want to hop on the Surfliner in Ventura and head to downtown LA. Or, make your way across town to Oxnard and take the more bike friendly Metrolink commuter train from that route’s western terminus (weekdays only).

Whistlestop 8:  Los Angeles Union Station

Historic Union Station is an attraction in itself, but riding in downtown LA is not for the faint of heart, except perhaps early on a Sunday morning.  However, if you can very securely lock up your bike and belongings, or find an accommodation nearby, it is a worthwhile area to spend some time exploring on foot, with attractions such as the touristy Olvera Street, El Pueblo de Los Angeles, Chinatown, and lots more.

CA_LA_OlveraSt
Historic Olvera Street near LA’s Union Station

From Union Station you have a choice, depending on your timing and preferences. Logistically, the easiest thing to do is hop on Metrolink’s Orange County Line, and head south to our next stop, San Juan Capistrano.  Or, if you would like to experience LA and Orange County’s  best and most fabulous coastal trails, joining up with the train route further south, make the following extra trip using local Metro Rail:

Extra Trip: The Urban LA and OC Coastal Paths

LA’s world renowned beach trail runs some 22 miles through Santa Monica and Venice, Hermosa, Manhattan and Redondo Beaches (Rides LA1 and 2). Metro Rail’s new Exposition Line can get you there: Take the Red or Purple lines from Union Station to meet the Expo Line, and get off at its terminus in Santa Monica. There’s no tent camping along the coast, so you’ll need hotel accommodations near the beach communities, preferably as close to the beach as possible to avoid some dicey areas and possibly dangerous street riding

P1010210.JPG
North end of  LA coastal bike trail aka Martin Braude Trail (LA1)

Believe me you don’t want to ride between the LA beach trail through the industrial districts to Long Beach, so head back to a Metro Rail train, either the Expo Line in Santa Monica or the Green Line accessible further south.  Connect to the Blue Line southbound and get off in downtown Long Beach, a bike-friendly city. Explore the world class rejuvenated waterfront area and visit the Queen Mary or Aquarium of the Pacific (Ride LO1). There’s no tent camping but find oodles of accommodations, dining and shopping.

P1010094.JPG
Bike path through Long Beach’s Shoreline Village restaurant area  (LO1)

A state of the art bike trail runs along the beach to the Belmont Shore district, a great place to stroll and dine.  Explore the canals of Italian-inspired Naples Island (Ride LO2), and ride across the San Gabriel River and into Orange County and the delightful beach community of Seal Beach (Ride SE1).  Carefully navigate a couple miles on the Class II Coast Highway into the community of Sunset Beach, taking the parallel residential street when able, that leads to the fabulous 8 mile Huntington Beach coastal trail (Ride HB1). Camping along here is only for self contained RV’s, so find accommodations and restaurants in Sunset Beach or halfway down the trail in the revitalized downtown core near the pier.

HBTrailMay2015
Huntington Beach path near the pier (HB1).

From the south end of the beach path connect via residential streets to the Newport Beach coastal trail that runs along the Balboa Peninsula, where you’ll find plenty of accommodations and food (Ride NB1). Take the cute 3-car ferry across to Balboa Island to continue the ride south.  An expensive tent-camping option is at Newport Dunes resort in the Back Bay, a great place to get some fun riding in (Ride NB2).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Newport Beach’s oceanfront path.

Only very experienced cyclists should do the through-ride south along the coast from here. It is indeed a scenic journey, however, perhaps warranting an up-and-back ride for the first few miles. It starts with the Corona del Mar waterfront, connecting to the spectacular Crystal Cove State Park with its blufftop oceanview bike path (Ride NB3) and option to stop at the historic Crystal Cove district for lunch on the beach. Mountain bikers may be able to access a primitive campsite in the inland section of the park. The hilly coastal highway into Laguna Beach is a busy 4 lane road. Once in town, alternate routes are available through most of it (Ride LB2), but in South Laguna there are no good options to get off of the highway until you reach Dana Point, where bike lanes widen as you pass beautiful Salt Creek Beach Park, the Ritz Carlton, and the main business district. From Dana Point you can access bike trails to the San Juan Capistrano or San Clemente train stations.

LB2-2
Laguna Beach is the jewel of Orange County, with its rocky coves, sandy beaches, and lovely downtown right on the beach, but it can be a bitch to bike through (LB2).

Those who prefer bike paths to busy roadways should skip the route through Laguna Beach and follow the excellent paths along Newport Back Bay (Ride NB2) connecting to the San Diego Creek path inland through Irvine (Ride IR1) and end up at either the Tustin (Ride TU1) or Irvine train stations.  From either station, take the Metrolink train south to San Juan Capistrano, joining those who skipped the urban coastal section and took the train directly there from Union Station, or braved the ride through Laguna Beach.

Whistlestop 9:  San Juan Capistrano

The Santa Fe Depot is in the center of the restored historic Spanish downtown that includes the popular and beautiful San Juan Capistrano Mission and the Del Rio district, the oldest neighborhood in California (Ride SJ1). Bike paths lead one way into horse country, and the other way to the sea at Dana Point, another area to explore at its harbor (Ride DP1).  A coastal bike trail connects to San Clemente, and coastal tent camping is available in Dana Point at Doheny State Beach and at San Clemente State Beach, atop a bluff at the south end of its lovely beach trail (Ride SC1).

SJ1-3LosRios
San Juan Capistrano’s historic Los Rios District next to the train depot (SJ1).

Most cyclists will want to hop on the Metrolink at San Clemente’s North Beach Station for the scenic oceanfront trip south to Oceanside.  More adventurous cyclists may enjoy the ride past classic surfing beaches like Trestles (Ride SC3) and perhaps ride into San Diego County through Camp Pendleton (register in advance, subject to closure) all the way to Oceanside.  Tent camping is available near the north end of the route at San Onofre State Beach’s inland San Mateo or summer-only coastal Bluffs campgrounds.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Elevated portion of San Clemente’s Beach Trail (SC1).

Whistlestop 10: Oceanside

Oceanside is a transit hub, where LA’s Metrolink ends and San Diego’s Coaster and Sprinter train lines begin. Amtrak’s Surfliner also stops here. You can ride inland on the 9 mile San Luis Rey River Trail, visit California’s largest mission en route, and access camping at Guajome Regional Park at trail’s end. Oceanside’s waterfront has a bike lane along its beach promenade, a pier, and a revitalized downtown core.

OceansideOC1-3
Oceanside Harbor, a great place to stop for a meal after the ride through Camp Pendleton from San Clemente (SC3) or just riding around town (OC1).

Those who prefer to stay off of busy roadways should continue on the Coaster train to the San Diego stations.  Otherwise, make your way down the very scenic Class II coastal highway through the lovely beach cities of Carlsbad, Encinitas and Solana Beach. We do this ride frequently, it’s one of our exceptions of road riding since it’s so much fun (Ride SDC1). Tent camping is available at South Carlsbad and San Elijo State Beaches. Advance reservations are needed at both, and they do not have bike-in sites.

CA_SDC1_VistaSouth
A typical view heading south along the north San Diego County coastal highway (SDC1).

Whistlestop 11: Solana Beach

I recommend for those who rode down the coast to hop on the southbound Coaster train in Solana Beach.  After Solana Beach the train bipasses the next city, Del Mar, then heads inland.  If you choose to cycle to San Diego, the route becomes extremely hilly past Del Mar, recommended for experienced and top-shape riders, who can make their way through La Jolla and reach the Mission Bay area.

RailSDCoaster
A Coaster station in north San Diego County

Whistlestop 12:  San Diego Old Town

This major transit center is adjacent to San Diego Old Town State Historic Park, a restored settlement and mega tourist attraction with lots of museums and Mexican restaurants in and around it.  You’ll need to lock up and walk or wheel your bike through here, but it’s worthwhile to do so.  From here, you can connect to the fabulous bike trails around Mission Bay and the boardwalk along Mission Beach/Pacific Beach, and also access Sea World by bike (Ride SD1).  Tent camping is available at private Campland-on-the-Bay.

SDOceanFrontWalkN
Scenic north end of Ocean Front Walk in Pacific Beach (SD1)

From the Mission Bay area you can ride to ritzy La Jolla (Ride SD2) and laid back Ocean Beach (Ride SD3).  A Class II route leads to the stimulating bike trail along San Diego Harbor (Ride SD4). From there, a bike/ped ferry accesses the beautiful bike riding on the Coronado peninsula (Ride SD7: Cover photo – Hotel del Coronado). And, on-road bike routes lead up to the very European Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo (Ride SD6).

CA_SD6_PandaZoo
The amazing San Diego Zoo (SD6).

Whistlestop 13:  Downtown San Diego Santa Fe Depot

The historic downtown depot, just a couple of blocks from the harborfront trail, is our final stop, and the best station to access the harbor ride (SD4), Coronado via the ferry (SD7) and Balboa Park/Zoo (SD6).  More advanced riders can continue UP the hill to the spine of the Point Loma Peninsula to visit the spectacular Cabrillo National Monument at its tip (Ride SD5).

SDCoronadoBikeMobile
A moving bike statue along Coronado’s scenic waterfront path (SD7)

Return to your origin from downtown San Diego, either taking the Coaster, transfering to the Metrolink in Oceanside, or Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner the entire way.

 

Riverside – A SoCal Cycling Paradise

by: Richard Fox, Author of enCYCLEpedia Southern California

Most people think of Riverside as the home of the Mission Inn with its spectacular Mission Revival architecture, holiday festivities and Sunday brunch.  But we come to Riverside to experience something else: it’s great bicycling.

The Mission Inn is the centerpiece of a restored historic downtown district that includes a 3-block long pedestrian mall, giving it a European flavor. Mount Rubidoux is a prominent landmark north of downtown, next to classic mansions in historic districts, beyond which is the Santa Ana River. Fairmount Park is east of downtown, containing beautiful Lake Evans with a mountain backdrop.  All of these features can be handily explored by bike.

The upper segment of the Santa Ana River Trail (SART) runs about 19 miles from near Norco to the west to San Bernardino to the northeast, with Riverside near its midpoint. With no speed limit or road crossings, and light pedestrian traffic, it is one of the premier paths in Southern California for a good off-roadway workout.  Even better, it is a scenic path, running alongside a wide natural section of the Santa Ana River drainage, with vistas of the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains that are often snow-covered in winter and spring.  We do consider this a  “ride with a friend” path, especially the more deserted stretch to the east of Riverside.  A detour off of the path takes you to the downtown district, and a surprisingly doable climb up Mt. Rubidoux on a gradual paved path reaps rewards of a spectacular vista of the surrounding region. Another path off of the SART brings you to lovely Fairmount Park.

The best time to ride here is when the air is clear and temperatures reasonable, which can occur any time of the year, though less so during the heat of summer.  These rides are described in enCYCLEpedia as Ride R1, with options 1 through 4, including maps, route descriptions and particulars.  Also in Riverside, the historic Victoria Avenue corridor takes you back to the glory days of citrus gold.  That is a subject for a future post (enCYCLEpedia Ride R2).

CA_R1_MissionInnWeb
Mission Inn in downtown Riverside.

CA_R1_MissionInnPedMallWeb
Euro-style pedestrian mall with sidewalk cafes runs 3 blocks downtown, starting next to The Mission Inn. Signs now prohibit bike riding.  enCYCLEpedia wishes the city would paint a bike trail through it, with a 5 or 8 mph speed limit rather than banning riding altogether since it’s such an integral part of a bike tour of the city.

CA_R1_RubdxCyclistArchWeb
The path up Mt Rubidoux and the World Peace Bridge. The very gradual incline makes a great bike ride, but be very courteous to peds on the downhill so that bikes are not banned!

CA_R1_RubdxClimbScenicWeb
Beautiful mountain vistas on the path up Mt. Rubidoux.

CA_R1_SARTwest2Web
West of town, the SART follows gently rolling hills next to the beautiful vegetation of the river with mountain backdrops.

CA_R1_SARTwestEndWeb
Dramatic views of the San Gabriel Mountains near the west end of the SART.

CA_R1_SARTeasttoSB1Web
SART heading northeast out of Riverside, 10 miles to San Bernardino. It is fairly isolated and lightly used (best to ride with a friend) but scenic and uninterrupted.

CA_R1Opt4SARTeasttoSB2Web
Some scenic mountain vistas on the trail northeast nearing San Bernardino. Find lots of dining options near trails end along Hospitality Lane.

CA_R1_TioTacoWeb
For the most unique lunch experience, visit Tio’s Tacos in downtown Riverside for good al fresco Mexican dining, and explore the grounds filled with statues made from recycled materials.

CA_R1_Opt2LakeEvansWeb
A scenic pause at Lake Evans in Fairmount Park.

CA_R1_FairmountRubxVistaWeb
The path between Fairmount Park and the SART with Mt Rubidoux beyond, all drenched in springtime greenery. This stretch burned after this photo was taken in Spring 2017, but the vegetation is recovering.

Fabulous Bicycle Bridges of the West

By Richard Fox, enCYCLEpedia.net

Some of the most interesting and imaginative bridges in the western US and Canada are of the bike/pedestrian variety. Many have become showpieces and even tourist attractions.  It’s a great way for a municipality to both foster recreation opportunities for residents and visitors, and to bolster its reputation as a destination and a forward thinking community.

The prime example is Santiago Calatrava’s Sundial Bridge spanning the Sacramento River in Redding, Northern California.  This cantilever spar cable-stayed bridge actually forms a sundial, and its opaque decking is illuminated at night.  It has become the centerpiece and main attraction of Redding, known to cyclists for its 35 miles of bike trails along the Sacramento River, and has generated millions of dollars of tourist revenue. We witnessed the Bandaloop acrobats perform on the bridge for its 10th anniversary.

 

Also spanning the Sacramento River along its bike trail system is this unique stress-ribbon bridge.  Another stress-ribbon bridge in this region, that we have yet to visit, spans the Rogue River in Grants Pass Oregon.

 

The David Keitzer Lake Hodges Bike & Pedestrian bridge is 990 feet long, the longest stress- ribbon bridge in the world.  Lake Hodges is one of the prime easy-scenic mountain bike areas in San Diego County. These photos show a difference in the area during a wet and dry year.

 

The lovely Wagon Creek Bridge over the Wagon Creek inlet to  Lake Siskiyou near Mt. Shasta City completed a trail system around the entire lake.

 

The best example of incorporating art into a bike/ped bridge is in Tacoma, Washington.  The city’s rising star is reflected in its waterfront reconstruction and commitment to improving bicycling infrastructure. The Chihuly Bridge of Glass is a 500-foot-long bridge linking the Museum of Glass to downtown Tacoma and its cultural corridor. While more practical for peds, bikes are allowed on it as part of a fabulous tour of the Tacoma waterfront.  For those interested in glass art, the walls and ceilings full of glass sculptures and free-standing pieces make this a world class attraction.

 

A railroad trestle is a mainstay along many a rail trail, and the wooden Kinsol Trestle near Lake Cowichan, Vancouver Island, British Columbia was restored beyond its original glory as part of the Cowichan Valley Trail.  At 144 ft high and 617 ft long, it is the one of the largest structures of its type in the world.  Also in BC, the Myra Canyon trestles (not shown) near Kelowna are part of an iconic bike ride along the Kettle Valley Railroad rail trail.

 

The Pacific Electric regional rail trail in SoCal’s Inland Empire parallels historic Route 66, and the designers took full advantage of that fact by refurbishing this former railroad bridge with Route 66 designs. Cities from Claremont to Rialto have joined in to make this 21-mile path a successful regional feature.

 

Another refurbished railroad bridge in Folsom, CA, that connects to the American River regional trail,  evokes the old-west heritage of the town.

 

The Phoenix area is criss-crossed by canals and other aquatic infrastructure, and the municipalities have been generous about constructing bike trails along them.  Shown here are the new Tempe Town Lake Bike and Pedestrian Bridge, and an interesting bridge at the “Scottsdale Waterfront” that spans a canal.  Paved paths along the Scottsdale Greenbelt, Tempe Town Lake and several canals enable fun fabulous off-road cycles in this area.

 

This fabulous bike bridge along the south end of Lake Coeur d’Alene in Idaho is a highlight of the spectacular 72-mile paved Trail of the Coeur d’ Alenes, that follows the former route of the old silver mining trains.

 

This former railway bridge now carries bikes ‘n pipes across the Columbia River as part of the scenic Wenatchee bike trail system that spans both sides of the river.

 

And finally, the construction of the sleek Mike Gotch Memorial Bridge over Rose Creek Inlet in San Diego in 2012 was literally a life saving project, taking hordes of cyclists off of a dangerous road and onto less crowded streets and pathways around Mission Bay.

Top 10 Bike ‘n Brunch Rides – Best Patio Destinations from Palm Springs to La Quinta for 2018

Enjoying a meal al fresco on a perfectly sunny desert day is a sublime experience, but incorporating it into a bike ride adds beneficial exercise and fun. enCYCLEpedia presents our favorite combinations of easy scenic bicycle rides and al fresco dining experiences in the Coachella Valley.  Bike routes that include these restaurants as destinations are described in the book “enCYCLEpedia Southern California – The Best Easy Scenic Bike Rides” (2nd edition Oct ’17).  Don’t be ashamed to ride on the pretty landscaped valley sidewalks when it’s a safer option, but be extra careful anytime you cross a driveway or street.  More info:  enCYCLE’s website (Palm Springs area is Chapter 9).  Banner photo: Escena Lounge & Grill (courtesy of Sunrise Golf).

What to wear?  Most places mentioned are super casual. For the more upscale establishments like Spencer’s or those along El Paseo perhaps bring or wear a more appropriate frock. Golf course establishments typically require a collared shirt. Personally I carry a light Hawaiian shirt to wear over my tee!

1. Downtown Palm Springs

Palm Springs is THE place in the Coachella Valley to cycle on a beautiful winter’s day and find a delightful patio to savor a well deserved meal. Most of the patio restaurants are along South Palm Canyon Drive between Tamarisk and Baristo, but there are plenty others a block or two farther afield. Palm Canyon and Indian Canyon now have sharrows (bike symbols) in their left lanes between Alejo and Ramon. You can also cycle on parallel roads to the west that comprise the city’s bike routes, and just ride a block or two east to Palm Canyon to get to your patio restaurant of choice, including Cheeky’s for imaginative breakfasts, Blue Coyote or Las Casuelas Terraza for a festive al fresco Mexican experience, Lulu’s with varied menu and people-watching patio (photo), or Ruby’s family style diner, to name just a few. Or, you can pedal west on Baristo Road a few blocks to experience the fabulous outdoor patio of upscale Spencer’s. Along Indian Canyon Drive, at La Plaza are Bill’s, a pizza favorite (photo), Tyler’s, a burger favorite, and Farm for French breakfast/lunch. Wang’s Chinese restaurant’s popular Zen Patio is north of Ramon. Thai Smile for lunch and Oscar’s Cafe for breakfast/lunch are al fresco at Tahquitz Canyon, with Sherman’s Deli’s large patio another block to the east.  Tropicale’s patio is fun for an upscale brunch, located east on Amado. [enCYCLE ride: PS1,3]

2. The River at Rancho Mirage

Reached via the sidewalk bike trails along Hwy 111 or Bob Hope, the refreshing pools of The River complex are not a mirage, but will revive you on a warm day, and the choice for eats here are stellar. The fabulous waterfront patio of Acqua California Bistro is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Other choices for lunch and dinner include franchises of Cheesecake Factory, Babe’s BBQ,  PF Chang’s, and The Yard House, each offering an al fresco option. [enCYCLE ride: RM2]

CAAquaCaliforniaWeb
Sidewalk path along Hwy 111 passes the Acqua California patio, other restaurants and a winter ice skating rink.

3. Old Town La Quinta

Granted it’s a newly-built old town, but it charms nonetheless. Access it south from Hwy 111 on Washington, right on Eisenhower, left on Tampico, and right on Bermudas one block. La Quinta prefers you to ride in bike lanes or specifically marked sidewalk trails, but if you ride courteously on the unmarked sidewalk paths you will rarely if ever be hassled by the authorities. We particularly like the patio of Stuft Pizza, where they have happy hour food prices from 3 to 6 pm. I love their Napa Valley Pizza (photo). For breakfast, Old Town Coffee is popular with cyclists where tables are set out on the square (photo). A few more options can be found around Old Town including The Grill on Main and Old Town Tavern. From Old Town you can ride uphill several miles on the scenic Bear Creek bike trail (photo), with some optional easy dirt paths at the top of La Quinta Cove.  [enCYCLE rides: LQ1,2,3]

4. Escena Golf Club, Palm Springs

A stand-alone destination, Escena Lounge & Grill at the Escena Golf Club is a popular Bike ‘n Brunch choice with delicious food served on an expansive patio with fabulous mountain views (photo below and banner photo). From the bike path along the west side of Gene Autry next to the airport (photo), pedal east on the south sidewalk of Vista Chino to the community entrance on the right, then ride another half mile to the golf club. Then try the first 2.3-mile section of the regional CV Link trail just beyond the Escena entrance along Whitewater Channel between Vista Chino and Ramon. There are also several casual restaurants with patios at Ramon and Gene Autry, including Panera Bread and Dickey’s BBQ.  [enCYCLE rides: PS4, PS3]

5. South Palm Springs

This very popular district is fun to cycle around on its residential streets lined with classic Palm Springs homes. Your brunching options are the scenic patio at South Course Restaurant of Indian Canyons Golf Club along Murray Canyon, or try some choices along Hwy 111 east of Sunrise. Manhattan In the Desert (east of Barona) has a delectably huge deli menu that spans all three meals, and a tempting bakery counter.  A detour north up South Palm Canyon from Belardo/East Palm Canyon brings you to popular El Mirasol for Mexican food. Koffi is a local hangout for coffee and light fare at El Camino Real and 111.  [enCYCLE ride: PS2]

CA_PS2_SouthCoursePanoWeb
View from South Course Restaurant at Indian Canyons Golf Course (Ride PS2).

6. El Paseo, Palm Desert

Cycle here either via Indian Wells Hwy 111 shoulder or sidewalk, or from the bike-friendly sidewalks in Palm Desert. From the north, Monterey, Portola and Cook intersect El Paseo. As in downtown Palm Springs, it’s best to ride on the less crowded parallel streets to the south and hop into the town for grub. Some popular patios in this area are California Pizza Kitchen, Daily Grill, Pacifica Seafood, Tommy Bahama’s, Café Des Beaux-Artes, or Wilma & Frieda in The Gardens. Palm Desert’s Manhattan in the Desert is tucked away at the east end of El Paseo. To the west of Monterey, Westfield Mall offers Stuft Pizza and Bobby Mao’s Chinese kitchen, each with a large mountain-view patio. Louise’s Pantry for breakfast/lunch is along the 111 frontage road across from Palm Desert’s new location of Bill’s Pizza, for fabulous pizza on a patio. [enCYCLE ride: RM2]

7. Desert Willow Golf Course, Palm Desert

The beautiful half-mile long sidewalk trail leading up the hill from the Desert Springs (ie Ralph’s) Shopping Center northwest of Cook and Country Club leads to the clubhouse of Desert Willow Country Club, an upscale city-owned golf course. Its Lakeview Terrace has a wonderful outdoor view patio and serves delicious food, perfect for your mid-ride meal. If you hanker for Chinese food, the patio at City Wok in the Ralph’s center is popular.  [enCYCLE rides: PD1, RM1,2]

8. Restaurant Row, Rancho Mirage

Cycle the bike sidewalk along Hwy 111 between Frank Sinatra or Country Club, or from Palm Desert, head west on either of those boulevards to the end. Las Casuelas Nuevas has a very popular patio for Mexican cuisine and an elaborate Sunday brunch, and Fisherman’s is the spot for an al fresco fish lunch or Sunday breakfast. We love to go to The Palms Cafe II for al fresco breakfast, especially when we sub a giant banana nut pancake for toast.  [enCYCLE rides: RM1,2]

9. Highway 111, La Quinta – Indio

A sidewalk path is now continuous along the south side of Hwy 111 from Indian Wells all the way through La Quinta to the Indio border so that you can extend your rides in La Quinta or Indian Wells to access plenty of al fresco dining options. Most are actually on the north side of the road, where the sidewalk has a couple of breaks. Choices start with Broken Yolk for breakfast and festive Las Casuelas Quinta at Washington. Across from In ‘n Out Burger at Simon is Pokehana for a healthy poke fix, Panera Bread, Chipotle and Habit Burger past Adams, and Pho Vu Vietnamese and IHOP after Dune Palms.  Mimi’s Cafe at the Costco entrance road has a small outside patio. For one of the finest garden patios in the desert follow the north sidewalk past Jefferson to Jackalope Ranch. [enCYCLE rides: LQ3, IW1]

CAJackalopeKarinBryan
enCYCLEpedia-inspired cyclists Karin and Bryan at Jackalope Ranch.

10. Indian Wells

If you ride on Indian Wells’ sidewalk path (once a designated bike path as shown in the photo) west adjacent to the south side of Hwy 111 toward the towering mountains you will reach Cook Street, across which is Eureka! Their semi-covered and fanned patio is the perfect stop along your bicycle exploration to enjoy fabulous gourmet burgers like the Fresno Fig (photo, below, shown next to enCYCLEpedia), salads and crafted brews. Continuing a bit farther west leads to El Paseo (#6 above). There are also lots of restaurants, some with patios, along Hwy 111 in the El Paseo area that you can access via frontage roads.  And those up for something more upscale can venture into some of Indian Wells’ resorts along the route, including Vue Grille at Indian Wells Golf Resort featuring a Sunday brunch splurge. [enCYCLE rides: IW1, RM2]

Grand Canyon South Rim – The Ultimate Easy-ish Scenic Bike Ride

By Richard Fox

Cycling Grand Canyon’s South Rim area used to be our little secret, but thanks to Bright Angel Bicycles rental bikes, there are now scores of cyclists along the roads and trails; most seemingly international visitors based on their languages.   Even with the added traffic it still is uncrowded, and the thrill of cycling with Grand Canyon views is unparalleled. West Rim Drive is closed to most vehicles (except handicapped, trams, and a few tour buses) during March – November, giving you an ultra wide and fabulous bike path that extends 7 miles from Grand Canyon Village west to Hermits Rest.  You can access all of the famous vista points that the tram stops at to offload bunches of tourists, but also have some awesome spots all to yourself along the route as well. If you get tired, hop on a bike-carrying tram at the designated stops.  Be warned that although it is an easy ride technically, there are some gradual grades, so if you’re not acclimated to the 7,000+ foot elevation, take it slow and easy or don’t attempt it if not in good physical condition. Also consider taking the tram up the first and steepest hill to the first stop. Or better yet, rent an e-bike.

Bikes are only allowed on a couple of sections of the paved Rim Trail, but not near any of the high-usage areas like between Grand Canyon Village and Mather Point. From the Village, the paved Greenway Trail that allows bikes weaves east through the forest, away from the rim and gradually uphill, reaching various features such as the two campgrounds’ (Trailer Village RV Park and Mather Campground) access roads, Market Plaza with its restaurants and grocery store, and ultimately the Visitors Center complex and bike rental facility.  After leaving the Visitors Center it reaches the rim for a spectacular treat of a couple of miles of amazing canyon vistas, ending at the trailhead for the Kaibab Trail. From there you can also pedal on the closed-to-most-cars road to Yacqui Point.

If you’re staying at the park campgrounds, you can take the Greenway Trail in either direction. The option of heading toward the Visitors Center and the Greenway rim trail that allows bikes just east of Mather Point is easy and very worthwhile. The other direction heads gradually downhill to Grand Canyon Village and the Hermit Rest road ride which requires more stamina.

For extra trail mileage, a new 6-mile path leads from the tourist village of Tusayan outside the park through the forest to the Visitors Center. It is mostly gravel, through the forest, and not the most wonderful experience.

Toward the west end of West Rim Drive there is an option to take the Greenway Trail that is a bit hillier but is closer to the rim.
Toward the west end of West Rim Drive there is an option to take the Greenway Trail that is a bit hillier but is closer to the rim.
Many dramatic opportunities await for a bite to eat!
Many dramatic opportunities await for a bite to eat!
West Rim Road runs through the pines and at times right along the rim, with access to all the scenic viewpoint.
West Rim Road runs through the pines and at times right along the rim, with access to all the scenic viewpoints.
A closed-to-cars road leads to Yacqui Point and connects to the east segment of the rim-side Greenway Trail that leads to the Visitors Center and Mather Point  -- at which point bikes are banned and the Greenway Trail continues away from the rim.
A closed-to-cars road leads to Yacqui Point and connects to the east segment of the rim-side Greenway Trail that leads to the Visitors Center and Mather Point — at which point bikes are banned and the Greenway Trail continues away from the rim.
Scenic cycling at its best - the flat rim-side Greenway Trail is open to bikes between the Visitors Center and the Kaibab Trailhead.
Scenic cycling at its best – the flat rim-side Greenway Trail is open to bikes between the Visitors Center and the Kaibab Trailhead.
The Grand Canyon trams are free and carry 3 bikes each.  You can use it to climb the first hill of West Rim  Drive, or shuttle between the most scenic areas.
The Grand Canyon trams are free and carry 3 bikes each. You can use it to climb the first hill of West Rim Drive, or shuttle between the most scenic areas.

Santa Fe Bike ‘n Brunch

By Richard Fox

Santa Fe, everyone’s favorite southwest Spanish colonial cultural mecca,  is a place to stroll and take in its unique ambience characterized by the recognizable Santa Fe style architecture, and highlighted by its delectably spicy southwestern cuisine.  The sprawling capital city features a central historic core that is the main attraction to millions of visitors.

Although cycling isn’t the first thing that comes to mind in association with Santa Fe, recent improvements in cycling infrastructure have created a very worthwhile biking experience for the easy scenic cyclist.  Explore the downtown core, where many  streets now have sharrows, and expand your ride on several bike trails that extend into the surrounding districts. Get a bike map from the City or on line or from this link: http://santafempo.org/documents/bikeways-map/ 

The central plaza is now closed to autos - and to bikes.  Come on Santa Fe!
The central plaza is now closed to autos – and to bikes as we discovered later. Come on Santa Fe!

Looks of interesting streets to explore in the old town.  This is Burro Alley.
Plenty of quiet interesting streets to explore in the old town. This is Burro Alley.

Santa Fe's cuisine is world renowned.  This enchilada dish from The Shed where we had lunch today is a delicious example.
Santa Fe’s cuisine is world renowned. This Santa Fe style enchilada dish from The Shed where we had lunch today is a delicious example.

Rail trails run through the restored Rail yard District.   A trail trail extends south several miles from here.   A short on-street route joins this trail with the River Trail, both close to the town center.
A paved rail trail starts at the restored Railyard District and extends south several miles, later turning to a dirt or gravel  trail for another 10 miles or so.  A short on-street route joins this trail with the River Trail, both close to the town center.

The City is restoring habitat along the Santa Fe River (more like a stream) and building a greenbelt that features the River Trail, currently about 2.5 miles long.  Note the aspens in the surrounding mountains.
Santa Fe is restoring habitat along the Santa Fe River (more like a stream) and building a greenbelt that features the paved scenic River Trail, currently about 2.5 miles long. Note the yellow aspens in the surrounding mountains.

Seattle’s Alki Trail – Unsurpassed Beauty (on a clear day)

By Richard Fox

West Seattle’s Alki Peninsula sticks out into Puget Sound like a thumb, and offers the best views east to the Seattle skyline including the Space Needle and the waterfront districts from the cruise ship terminals to the shipyards.  The Alki Trail follows the shoreline of the peninsula providing the best views Seattle has to offer, from Mount Rainier, to Seattle, the Olympic Mountains and Puget Sound islands, and then Mount Rainier again.  The main part of the perfectly flat trail is only 3 miles long each way, most of which has separate paths for bikes and peds.  Dining choices abound, from the famous Salty’s, to a dining district with numerous water-view restaurants of all types. Alki Beach is one of the city’s most popular.   Access the area by car or transit via the West Seattle Bridge, or take your bike on the King County Water Taxi that leaves from the main Seattle waterfront.  Extend the ride to the west, by heading south on quiet waterfront streets, and a seaside sharrowed thoroughfare through a residential district.  To the east, trails lead on a separated bike path across a bridge that provides fabulous vistas, and an option to follow an on-road route to downtown and the waterfront district.  We typically ride halfway across the bridge to take in the view that can include Mt. Rainier.  On a sunny day the ride is so spectacular that you will stop frequently for photos.   It’s a great way to start or end the day, a fabulous bike and brunch ride, and at up to 15 miles with scenic extensions, a fairly good workout.

The water taxi takes you and your bikes between the Alki Trail and the Seattle Waterfront district.
The water taxi takes you and your bikes between the Alki Trail and the Seattle Waterfront district.

Most of the 3-mile portion of the main Alki Trail is nice separated for bikes and peds.
Most of the 3-mile portion of the main Alki Trail is nicely separated for bikes and peds.

Washington State Ferry and Space Needle, as seen from Alki Trail.
Washington State Ferry and Space Needle, as seen from Alki Trail.

Olympic Mountains beyond Puget Sound, looking west from Alki Trail.
Olympic Mountains beyond Puget Sound, looking west from Alki Trail.

Cycling east on the Alki Trail with Seattle skyline in the distance.
Cycling east on the Alki Trail with Seattle skyline in the distance.

Continuing around the peninsula to the west on surface streets.
Continuing around the peninsula to the west on surface streets.

Bike paths continue, here crossing a bridge over Puget Sound.
Bike paths continue, here crossing a bridge over Puget Sound.

Mt Rainier, seen from the bridge at the south end of the trail.
Mt Rainier, seen from the bridge at the south end of the trail.

Even at night the Alki Trail enchants.  This is a similar scene as the daytime shot of a ferry passing in front of the Space Needle.
Even at night the Alki Trail enchants. This is a similar scene as the daytime shot of a ferry passing in front of the Space Needle.

A Highflying Afternoon Bicycling Sidney, BC

We joined Pender Islanders John and Andy on their bike-to-Sidney (Vancouver Island) routine on this lovely August day. The cost of taking a bike on a BC Ferry is a fraction of the cost of taking a vehicle, and with the BC Experience Card there’s no extra charge for your bike. J&A are fully equipped with panniers to carry any groceries or other purchases, although we just took our rucksacks and our appetites for lunch. The new bike trail that circumnavigates Victoria Airport is a welcome addition, providing a very satisfying loop that extends the ride to the ocean on both sides of the Saanich Peninsula. On Thursday afternoons in summer, the Sidney Street Fair that closes Beacon Ave from 5:00pm is a fun way to end your discoveries before heading back to catch the ferry. We took the 1155am from Pender Isl to Swartz Bay near Sidney, and the 6:45pm return. For logistics check the Bicycling chapter in the Pender Islands Handbook (2nd Ed). To connect to the new airport loop trail, just cross Hwy 17 at Beacon and find the trail to the left, or cross the pedestrian bridge further to the south along the Lochside Trail, and ride through the neighbourhood to connect to the trail. Best of all, compared to the Gulf Islands, cycling on these routes is mostly flat on either bike trails or lanes, with only a couple of very manageable hills.  We rode about 24 km (15 miles).

Bikes are stored informally on the ferry.
Bikes are stored informally on the ferry.

John leaving the ferry ahead of the vehicles.
John leaving the ferry ahead of the vehicles.

The new Thai Corner on Beacon in Sidney featuring a Thai lunch buffet was excellent!
The new Thai Corner on Beacon in Sidney featuring a Thai lunch buffet was excellent!

The Sidney waterfront.
The Sidney waterfront.

An interpretive sign along the new trail around Victoria Airport.
An interpretive sign along the new trail around Victoria Airport.

Along the airport trail.
Along the airport trail.

Reaching Brentwood Bay on west side of trail.
Reaching Brentwood Bay on west side of trail.

Watching planes land from west side of trail.
Watching planes land from west side of trail.

Heading back on the pretty north side of trail.
Heading back on the pretty north side of trail.

Walking bikes through the huge Sidney street fair.
Walking bikes through the huge Sidney street fair.

Orca bike rack along Lochside Trail.
Orca bike rack along Lochside Trail.

Lochside Trail near Cedar Grove Marina returning to Swartz Bay.
Lochside Trail near Cedar Grove Marina returning to Swartz Bay.