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Newport Beach will see a lot more touring cyclists passing through town over the next few weeks!

Just as Route 66 beckoned to the summer motorist from all over the world in days of lower fuel prices, California’s Pacific Coast Highway has always (and now maybe even more so on account of fuel prices) been a trophy ride for fall cyclists.

Whether the cyclist’s plan is the full ride from Mendocino to Mexico, or some shorter distance in between, the Pacific Coast Highway is spectacular cycling. For the most part, it’s a gently winding and only occasionally hilly ride along the coast with panoramic views, frequent towns catering to the tourist and fair road quality. The southbound route is generally favored by tailwinds.

Traffic is a hazard for cyclists on Pacific Coast Highway, especially in summer. This causes many to plan their trip for the end of summer, after school has started and most wandering cars are off the road. Thus the second half of September and October see an increase in long-distance cyclists passing through Newport Beach.

I remember this time last year I was just getting ready for a 4-day cycling trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles; sadly, I’m too busy with other commitments to do it again this year.

Traveling south on PCH through Pt Mugu

Some Pacific Coast Highway cyclists ride solo; some in groups. I have done the ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles with nothing but a credit card and a change of clothes in my jersey pockets, and I have done it with a motorhome and a physical therapy team following me. Some Pacific Coast Highway cyclists spend the nights in campgrounds, while others sleep in the nicest hotels — but most all dine out three meals a day. Cyclists are ravenous eaters, as you can imagine, and most of their off-bike time on a Pacific Coast Highway ride, when not spent sleeping, is spent in restaurants.

So, remember that many of the cyclists you see on the Pacific Coast Highway here in Newport Beach in the next few weeks may have come from far, far away. They won’t know the ins and outs of the traffic here. Be sure to give them a little more room than usual.

And remember they will be stopping in our coastal town for the same reasons any touring motorist would: the restaurants, stores and markets of “Main Street” (the Coast Highway itself). Do not expect them to take to back streets to get through town. I most frequently observe pannier-laden cyclists pulling into the Albertsons in the middle of Corona del Mar where Jasmine Avenue meets the Coast Highway. Other likely stops would be a bike shop, like Bike Religion on Riverside Avenue next to the incredible C’est si Bon Bakery.

Newport Beach’s couple of miles of the Pacific Coast Highway, out of the 650 between Mendocino and Mexico is hazardous to cyclists, but as we all know and appreciate, truly beautiful, and with a little hospitality it could be one of the jewels in the crown that makes up a Pacific Coast Highway cycling adventure.

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David Huntsman

Husband, father, cyclist, lawyer

This Post Has 7 Comments
  1. Sorry to bother you all. I am sitting in my office in cold rainy Columbus Ohio, thinking about a late January business trip to Newport Beach. Two years ago, I rented a car to Laguna where I rented a bike for a century loop to Camp Pendleton. This time, I was thinking about bringing my own bike and riding N from the Beach Hotel on the PCH for a 100 mile out and back or longer if I have enough of a day. Map-my-Ride isn’t helpful. Can I just hug PCH or do I need to map/cue shett o get me through the towns? Any routes from NB in the 80mi+ range would be appreciated. thaks for any ideas.

  2. Joe in Columbus: no bother at all. PCH south to Camp Pendleton and back is a regular ride for a lot of us. I haven’t done it for a while but I will ask some roadies tomorrow morning who do the ride regularly whether you need to steer off of PCH at all. I will report back here. David Huntsman

  3. Joe, according to a lot of friends, you are fine to proceed south through the towns and won’t get too sidetracked with diversions. Enjoy the ride…

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