Torrance to San Clemente, CA

Today’s ride felt a lot like yesterday in reverse. Long, mostly flat, with some residential, beach paths, and busy PCH action, with a cherry of some decently friendly roads at the end. Laguna Beach wins the coveted award for Worst Town on the West Coast.

Getting ready this morning, I noticed my helmet was cracked. I’m not sure how it happened. Even if I fell hard enough to break it and not retain memory, I’m pretty sure Anne would have said something. Unless she tripped me or something… Anyways, it made it a high priority to find a replacement, but I decided I could still ride.

Leaving Torrance, we managed to stay on quieter roads than yesterday. Garbage  day meant there were plenty of trucks around to amuse the kids.

In Carson, we rode past an oil refinery and a railyard. Then the surface quality went downhill quickly as we crossed I-710, at an interchange which was quite popular with semis carrying containers, probably related to the rail.

We got off the street and onto the path atop the Los Angeles River levee. At first the “river” was all concrete, and looked more like a flood control channel to me. Then it shifted and had a bunch of trees and other plant life alongside the water, before changing again to full width water when we got close to the ocean.

To the west, the neighborhood mix was interesting. A few lots in, it looked like a pretty standard suburban neighborhood. But right up against the levee, just for 50 feet or so, it was rural. Some people had horses.

On the other side of the river, to the west, we could see the Port of Long Beach, with the Port of Los Angeles behind it. Vast complexes of cranes were moving containers around, and a constant stream of trucks were coming and going.

We came out through the touristy section of the Long Beach waterfront, with kiosks, harbor cruise salespersons, and a bunch of people milling about. It wasn’t so busy that it was painful to get through, but enough to be slow. We tried to take the higher, less crowded path, but got blocked by some cones. Then a security person walked up, told us they were filming, but encouraged us to go through now while there was a short break. It was helpful, and got us through.

It’s amazing how much things can change in a block. On the other side, there were still kiosks, but few people. Much more pleasant. We got through to a marina, and started the beach path portion of the day, with occasional jaunts inland to cross a river or inlet. For the most part, either by being on less popular beaches, or earlier in the day, the beach paths were fairly unobstructed. We ate lunch at Seal Beach, and let the kids run in the sand while we ate.

On one inland road, Anne spotted a bike shop. Ruth and I went in, and came out with a new helmet. I almost threw away the ID tag I wear on the helmet strap, but Ruth caught it. Anne and I were both relieved I was no longer using a comprised helmet.
We returned to PCH. Through Newport Beach it was fine, with shoulder and/or bike lane for much of it. We even got a taste of the country highway style south of Newport Beach. Then we hit Laguna Beach.

It started with a blinkie electronic sign, telling readers to watch for pedestrians, share the road, give at least three feet of space to bikers, etc. Naturally, this sign completely blocked the shoulder, forcing an ugly merge into the lane, with people aggressively passing us.

But that was only the beginning. The parking lane left no extra room, so we needed to take the lane and keep it, leaving a single lane for faster traffic. Like yesterday, it was the safest thing to do. Also like yesterday, it annoyed the other road users. But they were much more eager to tell us about it. Lots of honking, swearing, and swerving back in front of us unnecessarily. Even walkers and people going the other direction got in on the fun.

But all that anger demonstrated that we were doing the right thing by taking the lane. Once we had the lane, everybody passing correctly went to the other lane, minimizing the risk of a collision. And we did get a few encouraging words from some pedestrians.

It was tense, and no fun. I asked Ruth about it later, to make sure she wasn’t traumatized by it. Her biggest concern was that it was loud, and she couldn’t hear her music.

We climbed out of Laguna Beach and, still on PCH, entered Dana Point. Immediately upon crossing the city limits, the road became nice again. The highway became divided and wider. A bike lane appeared, with enough space from the parking lane that it wasn’t all door zone. Traffic dropped off somehow. It may not have been the beautiful Highway 1 south of Leggett, or through Big Sur, but it was pleasantly rideable.

I’m glad we were able to get a nice finale for Highway 1, as shortly after we turned off it ends by being absorbed by I-5. We rode most of the miles of it. Up until about Malibu, it’s a lovely road, with many different flavors. Parts are winding, narrow mountain roads, with beautiful bridges and overhangs. Parts are simple country highway. Parts are expressway, with controlled access. We’ll have to continue our quest to the border without our good friend, like US 101 before.

Speaking of 101, after a tour of Dana Point’s commercial district, we came out along what used to be 101. It was a nice late stretch for a long day, as we looked at expense houses perched precariously at the top of the hill, one mudslide away from disaster.

We cut through San Clemente, towards the strip mall holding our hotel. We rolled along the perimeter of the mall, following the signs, figuring it was just behind it. But, lo, a big steep hill, with an arrow pointing up it. Once again, we had to do a final climb to bring it home.

The last two days have taken a lot out of us. Tomorrow, hopefully, will be a break. It’s a little shorter, and takes us through the less populated area between LA and San Diego, largely on more Old 101. We’re getting very close to the end.