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California Coast

650 miles with 36,000 feet of climbing
Day 1: Fort Bragg - Bodega Bay (113 miles 7,400 feet)
Day 2: Bodega Bay - Half Moon Bay (101 miles 7,000 feet)
Day 3: Half Moon Bay - Carmel (111 miles 4,900 feet)
Day 4: Carmel - Cambria (98 miles 6,600 feet)
Day 5: Cambria - Solvang (115 miles 4,900 feet)
Day 6: Solvang - Malibu (114 miles 5,200 feet)

California Coast • Description

This ride covers 650 miles of the about 2,000 mile long Pacific Coast Bicycle Route between Canada and Mexico. It leads through parts of Northern California, all along the Central Coast, and through parts of Southern California.
The ride is designed to be a six day series of centuries finishing in Los Angeles. While there is not a single major climb, the overall amount of climbing is significant. Most of the route follows Highway 1, also known as Pacific Coast Highway, Coast Highway, Shoreline Highway, and Cabrillo Highway - one of the most scenic roads in America.
California Coast - Day 1 • Route Profile
Route Profile • Fort Bragg to Bodega Bay

Fort Bragg to Bodega Bay • Climbs

Cat. 3: Mile 89
Cat. 4: Mile 19, 28, 81, 93, and 102

Fort Bragg to Bodega Bay • Description

Day one starts in Fort Bragg, a once booming logging town surrounded by redwood forests. The route simply follows the Coast Highway. Two worthwhile options include a detour through the town of Mendocino and an out-and-back visit of Point Arena Lighthouse. Fort Ross, a former Russian settlement, is another point of interest along the course. The route visits several small towns and includes a mentionable climb near Jenner.
California Coast - Day 2 • Route Profile
Route Profile • Bodega Bay to Half Moon Bay

Bodega Bay to Half Moon Bay • Climbs

Cat. 3: Mile 56 and 79
Cat. 4: Mile 1, 8, 13, 38, 49, 67, 71, and 88

Bodega Bay to Half Moon Bay • Description

The second day starts in Bodega Bay, known as setting for Alfred Hitchcock's "The Birds". The route again follows Shoreline Highway. An alternate on quiet back-country roads is available between Valley Ford and Tomales. While many cyclists choose an inland route when approaching San Francisco, this ride follows the more scenic but less safe Highway 1, climbing the Pacific shoulder of Mount Tamalpais. The section through San Francisco and its suburbs requires the use of surface roads. South of San Francisco on the Coast Highway, the route includes a climb and following descent through an area known for landslides and erosion, referred to as "Devil's Slide".
California Coast - Day 3 • Route Profile
Route Profile • Half Moon Bay to Carmel

Half Moon Bay to Carmel • Climbs

Cat. 4: Mile 8, 11, and 13

Half Moon Bay to Carmel • Description

Day three starts in Half Moon Bay, the oldest city of San Mateo County, and leads through a large rural agriculture area. The ride continues on Cabrillo Highway until Santa Cruz, optionally using the former stagecoach route through Pescadero, which runs parallel to the coast. Starting in Santa Cruz, the course follows surface roads and the bike path until Monterey peninsula. One of the highlights of the day includes 17-Mile Drive, which passes by famous Pebble Beach Golf Course.
California Coast - Day 4 • Route Profile
Route Profile • Carmel to Cambria

Carmel to Cambria • Climbs

Cat. 3: Mile 67 and 28
Cat. 4: Mile 16, 63, and 73

Carmel to Cambria • Description

The fourth day starts in Carmel, known for its natural scenery and artistic history. The route again follows Cabrillo Highway. This part of the coast is known as Big Sur and is absolutely stunning. Towards the beginning, the course crosses a few historic bridges, including Bixby Bridge. There are only three tiny towns along this section, Big Sur, Gorda, and Lucia. Towards the end, the course passes San Simeon, home of Hearst Castle and one of only two beaches in California where elephant seals come ashore (the other one is in Año Nuevo and is less accessible). The route includes two mentionable climbs, one in Big Sur, and the other one close to Ragged Point.
California Coast - Day 5 • Route Profile
Route Profile • Cambria to Solvang

Cambria to Solvang • Climbs

Cat. 4: Mile 77, 98, and 104

Cambria to Solvang • Description

Day five starts in Cambria, a quiet little seaside town. The route follows Cabrillo Highway until Morro Bay. From here it leads inland towards San Luis Obispo, before returning to the coast in Shell Beach. The course then continues to lead inland, passing through Guadalupe and Orcutt. Eventually it follows Foxen Canyon and Ballard Canyon all the way into Solvang.
California Coast - Day 6 • Route Profile
Route Profile • Solvang to Malibu

Solvang to Malibu • Climbs

Cat. 3: Mile 18
Cat. 4: Mile 7 and 111

Solvang to Malibu • Description

The sixth day starts in Solvang, the "Danish Capital of America". The route leads through Santa Ynez Valley and then climbs San Marcos Pass (the highest point of the ride), before descending to the coast in Santa Barbara. From here it follows the coast, passing through several cities and towns, including Ventura, Oxnard, and Port Hueneme. At Point Mugu the route continues on Pacific Coast Highway, which leads into Los Angeles County.

California Coast • Interactive Map

California Coast • Pictures

California Coast • Mendocino
California Coast • Point Arena Lighthouse
Point Arena Lighthouse
California Coast • Stinson Beach
Stinson Beach
California Coast • Golden Gate Bridge
Golden Gate Bridge
California Coast • Devil's Slide
Devil's Slide
California Coast • 17-Mile Drive
17-Mile Drive
California Coast • Lone Cypress
Lone Cypress
California Coast • Point Sur Lighthouse
Point Sur Lighthouse
California Coast • Morro Bay
Morro Bay
California Coast • Foxen Canyon
Foxen Canyon
California Coast • Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara
California Coast • Malibu
More pictures

California Coast • Personal Notes

What an amazing trip. We rented a minivan and took all day Sunday to drive up to Northern California. There were five of us - Joel G. and I, the cyclists, and Sandra, Memo C., and Sergio J., the runners.
While Joel and I were riding, our crew went running and tried to catch us by the time we arrived at the hotel. On the second day we were joined by Mark G. from San Francisco. Except for Ward and Jacky B., who were on a trip around the world, we only met few fellow cyclists.
Weather and wind were perfect during the entire trip (we went the week before Labor Day), the only headwind section was around Monterey, where the coast turns west. Traffic was light, and even hazardous locations such as the Pacific shoulder of Mt. Tam and "Devil's Slide" turned out to be no problem.
Crossing the Golden Gate by bike is an experience, but my favorite stages include the dramatic shoreline of Mendocino and Sonoma counties, and the spectacular Big Sur coastline, where we saw condors soar and heard sea lions bark while riding along misty cliffs.
Here are some statistics:
• Total distance: 650 miles
• Min./avg./max. daily distance: 98/109/115 miles
• Total climbing: 36,000 feet
• Min./avg./max. daily climbing: 4,900/6,000/7,400 feet
• Highest elevation attained: 2,200 feet (San Marcos Pass)
See Also: Multi-Day Rides
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