San Francisco to San Diego Bike Tour
Bruce's trip report
The original route plan
|Day 1 ||5 June 1999 |
|Day Distance ||46.22 miles |
|Trip Distance ||46.22 miles |
|Total Time ||6:20 (1:00pm to 7:20pm) |
|Riding Time ||4:06:27 (h:mm:ss) |
|Average Speed ||11.2 mph |
|Maximum Speed ||35.6 mph |
|Wrong Turns ||1 |
5 June 1999 Well, it's 10:00pm on 5 June 1999. I'm at Half Moon
Bay (or HMB as I've seen on little bumper stickers). A lot has
happened in the last 24 hours, fortunately none of it bad. Bruce and I
checked our bags and bikes at the airport without incident. The agent
behind the counter told us our flight would be five minutes late. It
finally took off at 10:00pm, over an hour late. While we were waiting,
the airport terminal lost power. We seemed to be off to a bad start,
but things would get better.
|Bill and Bruce with the Golden Gate Bridge in the Background|
Anyway, we finally landed at SFO around midnight. Scott Nisbet
(one of Bruce's friends from UCSD) picked us up at the airport in a
BMW. We packed two bikes into the trunk, two big duffel bags into the
back seat with me. Amazingly it all fit! We finally went to sleep
around 1:00am. I woke up around 9:00am. Kathy Nisbet made some yummy
blueberry waffles for us. We played with Michelle (aged four) and Kyle
(aged three, but claims he's six) for a while. Scott was taking the
kids to visit some relatives in Berkeley. Anyway, Scott drove us to the
Presidio in the BMW, but this time we also crammed in two car seats
with kids--and it still all fit! Amazing!
|Bill and Bruce near Vandenberg Air Force Base|
At the Presidio, Bruce and I assembled our bikes and got on the road at
about 1:00pm. A lady asked us where we were going. This is the point
where I realized that people open up when they see you with a loaded
touring bike. This lady probably wouldn't have talked to me if I
wasn't about to ride six hundred miles to San Diego. The trend
continued. A young woman on a mountain bike asked us where we were
going when we were riding through San Francisco. We stopped at a strip
mall for lunch and two separate guys asked us where we were going. A
guy at a stop light asked us. Not everyone is nice, however. While
riding down to Half Moon Bay, some young women in a car started yelling
at me. I couldn't hear what they were yelling, or tell if it was bad
or good. They finally passed me and the last words I heard were, "F**k
you!" accompanied by the finger. That was the low point of the day.
Such a minor incident makes for a pretty good day.
|Bruce Riding South on California Highway 1|
The only mishap occurred when my sleeping bag, secured only by
bungee straps, popped of my rack when I hit a bump. Later in the trip,
I borrowed a strap from Bruce that prevented any more gear flying
We ate lunch at a placed called El Azteca Mexicatessin. I had a
really good chile verde burrito that stayed with me the whole
afternoon. We took a wrong turn at some point, heading inland towards
San Bruno. We were able to backtrack about five miles to get back on
course. Even though we took a wrong turn, our detour took us down a
scenic and fun hill which was probably better than the real "route."
We stopped in Pacifica to buy groceries and fuel for Bruce's camp
stove. We had to buy a gallon, but we were only able to carry 33
ounces of it. We found a couple with a camper to take the rest off our
hands, which was better than just throwing it away.
Even through the weather was overcast, the scenery was awesome. The
tops of the hills were generally in the low clouds, but ocean level was
clear. When we got to Half Moon Bay, we overshot our campground by
three miles. The second lowest point of the day occurred when we
discovered that there were no hot showers! A ranger at the campground
presented a slide show and fireside talk about whales found off the
California coast. After the talk, we ate and crashed.
6 June 1999 How can I describe today? Four words: sunshine and
tail wind--both good things. I just finished watching the sunset at
Sunset State Beach. It was awesome. I was at a lookout earlier and it
was quite windy, but the wind died down for the sunset. Today we
rode through Santa Cruz and Aptos. We ate lunch in Davenport at Whale
City Bar & Grill & Bakery. I'd never been to a B&G&B before. We
encountered many AIDS riders on our route today, all very friendly.
Although we didn't bump into any mean people today, I did get two
flats: first the back tire and then the front, both from glass. Well
it's only 9:00pm, but I'm pooped. Good night.
|Day 2 ||6 June 1999 |
|Day Distance ||68.44 miles |
|Trip Distance ||114.66 miles |
|Total Time ||7:20 (9:30am to 4:50pm) |
|Riding Time ||4:48:36 (h:mm:ss) |
|Average Speed ||14.2 mph |
|Maximum Speed ||45.3 mph |
|Flats ||1 front, 1 back |
Wait! I forgot to mention the wind surfing contest that we watched for
a bit. After zipping down a hill on the smoothest pavement I've ever
ridden with a huge tail wind, we pulled into a parking lot where a
wind surfing contest was underway. Competitive wind surfing must be
brutal. One woman we saw was holding an ice pack on her check bone the
entire time we were there. Another, who talked to us about riding and
wind surfing, looked like she'd had a front tooth replaced. Yikes!
Okay...now it's sleepy time.
|Beautiful Scenery at the Top of Every Hill|
7 June 1999 Today started out humorously, although I didn't
think so at the time. At about 4:15am a tractor rumbled by our
campsite at Sunset State Beach doing I-don't-know-what in the farm
field only ten feet from my tent. I forgot to mention that our sleep
spot was next to the field.
|Day 3 ||7 June 1999 |
|Day Distance ||63.88 miles |
|Trip Distance ||178.54 miles |
|Total Time ||8:20 (9:10am to 5:30pm) |
|Riding Time ||5:10:13 (h:mm:ss) |
|Average Speed ||12.3 mph |
|Maximum Speed ||35.9 mph |
Even with the early wake up call, we didn't get on the road until
about 9:10am. Then we rode with AIDS riders for some time before
taking a different route. Bruce wanted to have breakfast at small
restaurant on the water named Skipper's in Moss Landing, having eaten
there on his previous trip. Unfortunately, the place had caught fire
about a year earlier, so it was shut down. We ended up having breakfast
about a mile more down the road. I don't remember the name of the
place, but the food was delicious: fresh squeezed OJ, whole wheat
pancakes, real maple syrup. Mmmmm. You may notice that I mention food
quite a few times in this trip report. I was eating all the time.
Not much interesting happened until we left Carmel. After climbing a
huge hill into Carmel to get around the Monterey peninsula, the ride
became very scenic. We had a tail wind again. Three bridges on the way
to Big Sur were receiving earthquake retrofit, so the bridges were
reduced to one lane. Traffic wasn't too bad. The traffic control guys
would hold up traffic for 15 or 20 minutes. We'd roll to the head of
the line, cross the bridge, wait for the column of cars and RVs to pass
us. By that time the traffic control guy had stopped traffic again, so
we had smooth sailing with no traffic until the next bridge.
|California Poppies South of Big Sur|
We rolled into Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and set up our camp
among the pine trees. After gulping down a meal of black beans and
rice, I was ready to crash.
8 June 1999 I can describe today with one word: hills. Up and
down and up and down, enough already! Just kidding. The downhill
parts were a lot of fun. We were just south of Big Sur, and the
traffic still came in spurts from the bridge construction north of us.
|Day 4 ||8 June 1999 |
|Day Distance ||68.33 miles |
|Trip Distance ||246.87 miles |
|Total Time ||8:00 (9:30am to 5:30pm) |
|Riding Time ||5:12:02 (h:mm:ss) |
|Average Speed ||13.1 mph |
|Maximum Speed ||41.8 mph |
Today we saw more great scenery, and we met more nice people. Over
the past few days we've met other bicycle tourists. Two men on
mountain bikes. An elderly couple back at Moss Landing. "Betty and
Barney", a young couple. A family of three (Mom and Dad on a tandem
towing a BOB trailer, Junior
on his own bike). Tom, who ate lunch with us at Lucia Lodge, turned
inland at Nacimiento Rd.
We finally dropped out of the hills south of Ragged Point, and with
the tail wind we were able to cruise along at 20 to 30 mph into San
Simeon. I could see Hearst Castle from the highway, and at one point,
I passed some zebra in a field (from Heart's zoo, according to Bruce).
We rolled into San Simeon (a wide spot in the road consisting of about
10 hotels) at about 5:30pm. We decided to stay at Motel 6 tonight:
showers, beds, ice for the knees, laundry machines. Woohoo!
|Stopped for Groceries in Port Hueneme|
9 June 1999 Today was a short day, but I had a bad allergy
attack, so it seemed longer. Since we stayed in a hotel last night, we
didn't have to break down our camp, so we left San Simeon early at
8:15am. We had breakfast in Cambria at the Redwood Cafe, I had Steel
Cut Oatmeal. It was the best oatmeal I've ever had (not the Dudley's
|Day 5 ||9 June 1999 |
|Day Distance ||61.20 miles |
|Trip Distance ||308.07 miles |
|Total Time ||7:30 (8:15am to 3:45pm) |
|Riding Time ||4:47:03 (h:mm:ss) |
|Average Speed ||12.7 mph |
|Maximum Speed ||36.4 mph |
|Glove Spot Diameter||1.5 inches |
At Morro bay, we turned inland towards San Luis Obisbo. This is
where my allergies started. When we made it to San Luis Obispo, where
we ate bagels at the Bagel Basement, I had a full-on allergy attack.
After downing a couple of Allerest and washing my face. We were able
to get back on the road.
The road from San Luis Obisbo to Pismo beach was quite pleasant.
We rode through rolling hills. We had dinner at Clemenza's (pizza) in
Pismo Beach. Again, we rode with the AIDS riders for a good part of
the day. Well I've got a couple of allergy pills in me so I'm going to
10 June 1999 Today we spent most of the day with the AIDS
riders. They stayed in Oceano just down the road from us. We
criss-crossed routes with them through the farms just south of Grover
Beach and most of the day.
|Day 6 ||10 June 1999 |
|Day Distance ||63.88 miles |
|Trip Distance ||390.17 miles |
|Total Time ||8:05 (9:15am to 6:20pm) |
|Riding Time ||6:01:47 (h:mm:ss) |
|Average Speed ||13.6 mph |
|Maximum Speed ||43.9 mph |
|Sunburn Color ||Deep Red |
We stopped for breakfast in Guadalupe, were I had the one of the best
breakfast burritos I'd ever had. If you ever find yourself in
Guadalupe, stop for Mexican food.
After breakfast we rode through more farmland away from Guadalupe.
Then we followed the AIDS riders through Vandenberg Air Force Base,
where we rode up some huge hills. Fortunately, there was a big
downhill on the other side of each big hill.
We make out usual stop for groceries and lunch when we reached
Lompoc. The AIDS riders stopped in Lompoc that evening, but we
continued on to El Capitan Beach State Park. On the way back to the
coast, we merged with US Highway 101. Our map showed a tunnel on the
route, but it turned out to be for northbound traffic only. I was
At the campground, we found the hiker/biker site next to a group
campsite occupied by a huge group of noisy kids, but to make up for it, we
were also right next to the railroad tracks. I mean, to make up for it,
we were right next to the ocean. There were several offshore oil rigs
right off the coast, and they looked pretty cool (if unnatural) all lit
up after the sun had set.
|Day 7 ||11 June 1999 |
|Day Distance ||83.01 miles |
|Trip Distance ||473.18 miles |
|Total Time ||9:15 (7:45am to 5:00pm) |
|Riding Time ||6:27:48 (h:mm:ss) |
|Average Speed ||12.8 mph |
|Maximum Speed ||30.6 mph |
|Celeb sighting ||Patricia Richardson at the In-N-Out in Ventura|
11 June 1999 Remember I mentioned that our campsite was next to
the railroad tracks. Well guess what. Yep: 6:00am wakeup call. Oh
well, at least we were on the road by 7:45am.
|"I think I see some pavement up there," said Bruce.|
The AIDS riders stayed in Lompoc last night. We rode 30 more miles
to the coast and we started early, but the best riders were catching up
to us by 8:30 or so.
Today the terrain was flat and boring, but the food was good. We
had breakfast in Goleta at the Cajun Kitchen (although pancakes aren't
very Cajun, they were yummy). Santa Barbara was overcast, so it wasn't
real scenic. We didn't stay long.
We rode through Summerland and Carpenteria before we reached
Ventura. We got a little lost just north of Ventura. After a minor
off-road adventure we found our way back to the pavement and lunch at
In-N-Out (Mmmm, grease). After lunch we also rode through Oxnard and
Port Hueneme, where stopped for groceries again.
Then it was back to the coast. At this point, we were no longer on
quiet, scenic California Highway 1. Instead, we were on noisy, busy US
Highway 101. The scenery was still nice, but slightly spoiled by the
big rigs rumbling by a few feet away.
We camped just inside the Los Angeles county line at Leo Carillo
State Park, where they sell beer at the campground store. Cool. At
least I thought it was cool until the people in the next campground got
drunk and started yelling at each other all night. "GO LIE DOWN! DO
YOU WANT TO GET ARRESTED? GO LIE DOWN!"
12 June 1999 Today was a short day. We met Steve and Rick
(friends of Bruce) at Leo Carillo State Park at 9:00am and then we rode
to Venice Beach where we ate some pizza on the Venice Boardwalk before
heading to Bruce's aunt's house.
|Day 8 ||12 June 1999 |
|Day Distance ||31.73 miles |
|Trip Distance ||506.18 miles |
|Total Time ||3:45 (9:15am to 1:00pm) |
|Riding Time ||2:20:20 (h:mm:ss) |
|Average Speed ||13.5 mph |
|Maximum Speed ||33.0 mph |
We needed a good rest day, and that's what we got. We were able to
take hot, non-quarter-operated showers and do the laundry. Melanie
happened to be visiting some friends in Pasadena. Although I had wanted
to do the whole ride with minimal support, Bruce and Melanie managed to
convince me that we should jettison our gear and finish the last two
days in one day. Without our gear we should be able to skip the stop
in Dana Point, and ride all the way from Venice to Pacific Beach.
Bruce had started to come up with this idea the day before. When
Melanie met us for dinner, she brought up the idea too. At first I
thought of ditching the gear as cheating, but I convinced myself
(rationalized to myself) that riding 130 miles in one day made up for
the lack of gear.
13 June 1999 We woke up at 6:30am to be on the road by 7:00am.
I ate a left over spring roll from Thai food the night before. We
stopped at Noah's Bagels (best Sesame Bagel I've ever had) before
hitting the road. We rode along a beach bike path through most of
LA before turning onto Pacific Coast Highway near Palos Verdes.
|Day 9 ||13 June 1999 |
|Day Distance ||134.46 miles |
|Trip Distance ||640.64 miles |
|Total Time ||13:00 (7:00am to 8:00pm)|
|Riding Time ||9:24:29 (h:mm:ss) |
|Average Speed ||14.2 mph |
|Maximum Speed ||37.4 mph |
PCH was mile after mile of bumpy pavement. Once we got to Orange
County, however, the pavement smoothed out. We ate breakfast in Sunset
Beach, stopped for a snack in Laguna Beach, and had lunch in San
Clemente. At this point, we were on familiar ground so the trip seemed
to go more quickly. We cruised through Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, and
Carlsbad, and down the coast to Encinitas.
|Welcome to Laguna Beach.|
We fueled up on Sugar and grease at VG Bakery. I had three donuts.
I think the donuts gave me my fifth wind, and I was able to cruise up
Torrey Pines hill and through La Jolla to Bruce's house. See
Bruce's trip report for a photo of us at the finish line.
What a great trip! We finished one day early. We had no mishaps;
only two flat tires. The weather was perfect. The tail wind helped us
out quite a bit (two 65+-mile days, one 80+-mile day, and one 130+-mile
day). I recommend this trip if you're into this sort of thing.
Bruce's trip report
The original route plan
Copyright © 1997-2009 Bill Peckham, all rights reserved.