Guidebook

Pacific Coast Trail Bike Tour

I embarked on a 9 days solo bike tour from San Francisco to Los Angeles along the Pacific Coast Trail in California.

Description

After a prolonged period of social (and social media) distancing while being stuck on the wrong side of the Canadian border, I decided to take advantage of being in the USA by embarking on a solo bike tour down the coast of California. Since I am a complete novice, I started the trip with a 3-day ride from Seattle to the Pacific coast with my buddy, John Strong, who kindly offered to show me the ropes. This is first of many posts that will document my adventure on my ride down the Pacific Coast.

This past January, I led a team into the far reaches of Northwest China to film a documentary about human powered skiing. The sudden outbreak of the coronavirus forced us to abort the project and hastily evacuate the village, province and country. For the past several months, I have been in Seattle where I have been working on a new documentary about our experience and how our destructive relationship with nature was a cause of the pandemic and why it is necessary for us to reconnect with nature as a cure for the quarantine and other social ills of our time. After many hours in front of the computer screen, I decided to take my own advice and get out into nature. In the spirit of the documentary, I chose to use human power to bike the Pacific Coast Trail in California, a bucket list activity that I have wanted to do since I last lived in the USA over a decade ago. Since I would be biking and camping on my own, I would also be social distancing.

The ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles is just under 800 kilometers (500 miles). I figured I would average 100+ kilometers a day with some being longer and some shorter. Most of the hilly days would be in the beginning of the ride. I wanted to spend at least 2 days in Big Sur since this is undoubtedly the highlight of the ride (and one of the most beautiful rides on the planet). Besides Big Sur, there are many spots along the tour that I was eager to return to since I have not been in many years. I was excited to see San Luis Obispo again, where I spent my first summer in California while in high school in 1998 and when I first decided to become a vegetarian. Now a vegan, this trip would also serve as an opportunity to highlight how a vegan diet can sufficiently sustain me for multiple days when I would burn more than 5000 calories per day. I was also excited to see friends along the way. Isolating in Seattle throughout the lockdown had been very difficult and I was eager to reconnect with people.

Along the ride, I would be filming using my iPhone 11 Pro as well as a DJI Mavic 2 Pro drone. Having no experience filming or editing, I decided to use this trip to learn both – particularly since I am now editing the documentary. I used my iPhone for photos and POV clips on my bike. I used the DJI Osmo 3 gimbal for other handheld filming. I used the ActiveTrack function on the DJI Mavic 2 Pro to follow me when I rode. For editing the footage, I am using Davinci Resolve 16.

San Francisco to Santa Cruz

San Francisco to Santa Cruz

San Francisco
117.2 km
1,333 m
1,318 m
On the first day of my tour down the Pacific Coast Trail in California, I rode from San Francisco to the beach town of Santa Cruz.
Difficult
Private
Santa Cruz to Monterey

Santa Cruz to Monterey

Santa Cruz
78.5 km
637 m
655 m
On the 2nd day of my PCT bike tour, I took it more casually than the previous day so that I could enjoy the town of Santa Cruz
Moderate
Private
Monterey to Big Sur

Monterey to Big Sur

93.9 km
2,096 m
1,993 m
On the 3rd day of my tour of the PCT, I entered Big Sur, the jewel of the Pacific Coast.
Difficult
Private
Big Sur to San Luis Obispo

Big Sur to San Luis Obispo

135.7 km
1,590 m
1,644 m
My 4th day was the longest and hardest of the tour - forutnately it was also one of the most beautiful days.
Difficult
Private
San Luis Obispo to Pismo Beach

San Luis Obispo to Pismo Beach

36.6 km
298 m
351 m
After a big day the previous day, I took it easier on this ride enjoying the town of SLO as well as some wine tasting in the beautiful Edna Valley.
Easy
Private
Pismo Beach to Lompoc

Pismo Beach to Lompoc

83.7 km
771 m
740 m
After enjoying the morning on the beach, I jumped back on the bike and road south to the town of Lompoc.
Moderate
Private
Lompoc to Santa Barbara

Lompoc to Santa Barbara

98.3 km
1,001 m
842 m
After a sketchy night in Lompoc, I left my motel early to meet up with a friend in Santa Barbara for lunch.
Moderate
Private
Santa Barbara to Ventura

Santa Barbara to Ventura

51.7 km
323 m
435 m
I decided to take it easy for this casual ride to Ventura, but still managed to get a flat running over a thorn.
Moderate
Private
Ventura to Los Angeles

Ventura to Los Angeles

96.8 km
567 m
551 m
The final day of my bike tour took me through the glitzy beach town of Malibu.
Moderate
Private