Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Ventura to Santa Monica, California December 3

61 miles in 5:29....a milestone was passed yesterday and I forgot to mention it. Somewhere in yesterday's ride, I passed the 11,000 total  mile mark on my little bike ride. It took a little while to get this far, because the pace has definitely slowed down since I've gotten to the west coast. More rest and relaxation days have been built into the schedule, and mileage per day really dropped as the weather got colder and the days got shorter. Not to mention that it never really clicked in my mind how mountainous the west coast is, from Washington all the way to this part of Southern California.

I said goodbye to Pam and got on the road before 10 AM. I was greeted  by warm, windless, sunny weather. After the previous night's forecast, I was expecting a cold snap, but it's late getting here I guess. I'm gonna do my best to outrun it, and get further south before I feel the brunt of it.
I started out cruising bike trails and coastal roads, past harbors, parks, marinas, businesses and residential areas through Oxnard and Port Hueneme. I then turned inland a bit and navigated around the Ventura County Naval Base and the Air National Guard. There were airplanes and helicopters buzzing the skies, and lots of military gates and fences and 'No Trespassing US Government Property' signs. 
After getting around the military bases, I was back on coastal highway, for about 20 miles of sandy beaches, with lots of rocks in places, sun and a slight tailwind. The Santa Monica Mountains rose quickly out of the ocean, leaving about enough space for a road, and then they were up there pretty high. They were rocky, brown, and even the cactus looked mostly dead. Malibu came into view, with rock star size mansions dotting the mountainsides, and walled off estates blocking the view of the ocean, with beautiful irrigated  landscaping, and multitudes of landscapers buzzing around, pruning and doing fall maintenance. 
Malibu is 27 miles long and pretty narrow, with only a few canyon roads leading up to the homes on the mountainsides. After a while, I was riding at sea level, along a large beach area, where all the beautiful people go to see and be seen. There were 'star wagons' set up in one area. They are the trailers for movie actors, and all the associated tractor trailers for equipment for filming a movie or show. It was Zuma Beach, one of the famous beaches in this area, and I heard its where the TV show 'Baywatch' did its filming. As I rode, I was being passed by Lamborghini, Ferraris, Porsches, and other cars I didn't even recognize, mixed in with the BMW's and Audis. There were also the common mans' vehicles mixed in, but the quality of vehicles stood out, compared to other areas I've been in.
After passing Zuma Beach, Malibu began to have businesses, and possibly older homes that are not up to the standards of the north end of town. The road, Rt. 1, had nice shoulders all the way from Port Hueneme, so I could look around, even though traffic was moderate to heavy, and traveling pretty fast, especially when I got to Malibu and beyond.
Malibu blended right into Pacific Palisades, and more beautiful mountainside homes, with very few businesses and no motels or hotels, which I was beginning to think about, as the sun was getting lower into the west sky, and coolness was setting in. There were large buildings further south, and I was told by a CHiP (California Highway Patrol) officer that there were motels there. He was sitting on the side of the road, and I stopped and asked him about the lack of motels through this stretch. He was friendly, just like other cops I've spoken to out here. This is in contrast to the cops I pulled up to in the east that were not really happy to talk to me.
I picked up the bike trail on the north end of Santa Monica, a concrete, wide trail, right down the middle of the beach, with separate lanes for walkers and bikers. Pretty cool. It was also being pretty well used, so I can imagine how busy it would be in warmer months. It was here that my bike had a meltdown. I decided I better ride up a steep hill to get off the beach, and into the town of Santa Monica, where there might be lodging that I could afford. As I put pressure on my pedals to start uphill, the chain snapped and I began to spin hopelessly. When this happens on an uphill, and you are clipped in, it is practically impossible to get unclipped before you tip over and go splat. Realizing this, and thinking quickly, I a grabbed a handrail that was on the walkway I was beginning to go up, and miraculously, no tip over  and splat. Of all the places for my chain to break, it had to be at a place where Pam and I were 100 miles apart on opposite sides of Los Angeles, and my new chain was in the RV. Actually, it was the perfect place to break, because I was only a mile from a bike shop. I just didn't know it. I began walking on the bike trail, looking to find a biker who could put me in the right direction. One of the first people I came upon, had a Wheeling Park High School t shirt on, from good old Wheeling, West by God Virginia, my home town. We struck up a conversation, and it turns out that I graduated high school with his mom, and was fraternity brothers with his dad. How crazy is that! In Santa Monica California! He really didn't know about bike shops, but told me that if I stayed in town, I would be paying way over 100 bucks a night, and that I should walk four miles to Venice Beach. I began the walk, when it came to the Santa Monica pier, one of the most famous of them all, and asked three guys on rental bikes where the bike shop was. I walked up the pier and in two blocks, I was at a bike shop. The guy tried to fix my bike, but it was more complicated than just a chain. 
My bike has over 14000 miles on it, and all the gears had worn out teeth. When you put on a new chain, the gears don't hold it very well, and it skips and jumps all over the place. I knew that, and knew I needed a new cassette of gears on the back wheel. They had the chain, but not the cassette of gears, so they sent me a few blocks further into town, to Performance Bicycles. It was after five and dark by this time, but fortunately they were open till seven. Jorge, a veteran bike mechanic of 37 years, put me on the rack, and I had a new chain, cassette of gears, bearings in my front sprocket, and advise about a cheap motel in under a half an hour, all for a price that shocked me with its affordability. I knew the bearings in my front pedal sprocket were also going bad, so it was fortunate that they had all the parts, the time, and were in the right location. If I would have been out there somewhere, and Pam would have brought me a chain only, I wouldn't have gotten the full treatment that my bike needed. One of the three gears on my pedal sprocket wouldn't handle the new chain, and they didn't have that part, so I will have to ride a few days with 2/3 of my gears, until I get to Oceanside, with Pam, which is closer to San Diego than LA. Overall, it was a huge stroke of luck that I broke down when I did. It was all overdue, and I knew it.
 When I got to the American Motel on Lincoln Blvd, it was 6:00, dark, and the seedy looking office was locked up. The sign said 'vacancy', so I banged on the door. A old guy in his boxers and a wife beater t shirt came to the window, and I told him my story. $75  was agreed upon, with no taxes, and I got a room key to his 'biggest available' room, on the second floor. As I walked back a driveway like path to the motel itself, I came upon a group if five people sitting in chairs, drinking, and playing guitar. They looked at me like they weren't used to visitors, and I looked at them like I thought they were a bunch of vagrants. We said hello, and I knew I had better lock my bike to my bedpost, when I went out to get something to eat. I showered in my very basic, fleabag, $75 room, with a 13 inch TV and no remote, dirty walls, and only two locks on the door. I walked out past my new friends, and strolled through Palisade Park (how many of you are old enough to remember the song?), down onto the Santa Monica Pier. The pier had some Route 66 info, and when I read it, I found out that the pier was the westernmost endpoint of Rt. 66. The last time we were on Rt. 66 was in ?July, in Arizona, I believe.  I people watched as I strolled, grabbed a Subway sub and two great pieces of pizza at Joe's Pizza, a beer, and sat in the beautiful warm evening, eating and people watching, until it was back to the room to pass out and get ready to tackle Los Angeles tomorrow.


San Bueno, Ventura

Palm trees and surfers everywhere

Ventura Harbor

Ventura Harbor and palm trees


Palm trees everywhere

Panoramic of palm trees

Ventura Marina

Agriculture next to marina


Workers in the field

Port Hueneme

Port Hueneme Harbor

Canal in middle of street, separating traffic

Sea Bee training center in Ventura

Ventura Naval Base

Different types of weapons

Navy Jet

Crazy looking Navy plane flying overhead

They call it the PCH around here

Big mountains to east

Santa Monica mountains are big and close to shoreline

Santa Monica mountains

Half beach half mountains

Half dunes half mountains

Waves weren't as big as forecasted

Santa Monica mountains and coastline


Memorial along the road

Must be in California!

Malibu artwork along the road

Malibu mountain scenery

Malibu!

That's Mike in a mirror along US 1

Malibu palace on the mountain!

Close-up

Malibu beach front homes

Malibu beach

Longest town Mike ever rode through with only 13,000 people!

Zuma Beach - famous beach in middle of town

Lots of classic vehicles around here

Zuma Beach volleyball nets


Pepperdine University

Malibu Pier

Looking out Malibu Pier

Famous TV show, Baywatch, was shot on these beaches

Santa Monica Beach and bike trail

Bike trail in middle of beach!


This guy at Santa Monica Bikes tried to fix bike, but he didn't have all of the parts needed.

Jorge, at Performance Bikes, got it done!

Santa Monica Pier at night

Famous Palisades Park in Santa Monica
Roller coaster and Ferris wheel lights

Police on pier with surfboard on truck

Seagull at night on pier

You can drive on part of Santa Monica Pier

Famous pier sign


Christmas decorations are coming out

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