The Rhythm of Nature is Exquisite

This bike overnight went so well, it kept going all week. Travel with Lindsay along the Pacific Coast Highway from Hollywood, CA, north to Carpinteria State Beach.

When: August 2015

Bicycle Adventurer: Lindsay McGrail

Accomodations: Leo Carrillo State Beach and Carpinteria State Beach using the "Hike or Bike Campsites."

Distance: The mileage from Hollywood to Carpinteria is 140 miles. I was planning on a two day trip, but fell in love with being so close to the ocean and amongst the trees at night, that I stayed on the road for seven! It was hard to come home.

Bonus tip for this adventure: 

  • I set an intention for this trip: to spend time alone with God and be very present in the moment with no distractions or limitations, so my first stop was The Lake Shrine on Sunset Boulevard.
  • And as long as I have lived in California, I never visited The Getty Villa on the Pacific Coast Highway. If you're on your bike, it's free!
  • Riding on Pacific Coast Highway not only provides an abundance of ocean scenery, you have many lovely places to stop and buy refreshments from Santa Monica to Santa Barbara! My favorites are: Cross Creek Road, fresh veggies and fruit stand near Zuma Beach, and Leo Carrillo Beach Store. 
  • Oh and yes! There is a bike path NEXT to the 101, not ON the 101 for just a few miles from Ventura to Carpinteria.

Day One:

I left my home in North Hollywood and first traveled to The Lake Shrine on Sunset Boulevard. There, I picked up this beautiful message — a beautiful declaration and acknowledgement of my goal for this trip!

Every person needs a retreat, a dynamo of silence where he/she may go for the exclusive purpose of being recharged by the Infinite

Heading onto Highway 1, the ocean roared, the sun shone, and I was really doing this ... just me, my bike, one backpack, a tent, and a sleeping bag. Woo Hoo! The Getty Villa appeared and it felt unnatural to just pass it by. I locked my bike, grabbed my pack, and managed to catch a ride to the entrance. It was a treat. Being on a bike makes everything so accessible and here, FREE. 

After a short visit, I excitedly got back on the road with the sun on my back, a lovely ocean breeze, not a care in the world, and a big smile on my face. I thanked God for all the amazing gifts I had already received.

The homes along the coast are magical and the highway is so clean. I stopped at Cross Creek Road for an iced coffee and lottery ticket. Next, I stopped at this wonderful fruit stand right before Zuma — lemonade with balsamic, VERY REFRESHING, and the sweetest peaches ever. 

I must say that all my research led me to believe it would cost me $45 per night to pitch my tent. So I felt great relief when I was greeted with, "Hi, hike and bike? That will be $10 please." I said, "So, just so I am clear: I can pitch my tent and no one will be kicking me out at sunset?" Yes, came the answer and I enjoyed beachfront accommodations for $10!

I found my clean, quiet campsite, tucked away in the trees away from the family areas, met other bikepacking enthusiasts, and got acquainted with my never before opened tent and sleeping bag. I'm brand new at this and have yet to explore the cooking and food aspect of true camping, and I can't wait. So, it was cold clam chowder in the can and some crackers. Yummy. After a walk on the beach, I was tucked away in my tent by 8:00 p.m.

Once the sun went down, it was amazing to be so present to nature and its symphony! I had ZERO distractions with no one to talk with, no TV, no computer, no phone reception — just me and the night and all its glory and grace.

Day Two:

I realized when I woke up that I wanted to take my time and enjoy the campsite and the beautiful beach across the highway for another day. I found my own private cove and just melted into the sand and listened to the waves. I was in heaven! This was my lesson in truly relaxing and being in the moment. 

I could have stayed here for a week, but I was ready to carry out my goal of riding to Santa Barbara the next morning. I had a good dinner at Neptune's Net about a mile north and settled in to my tent as nature's symphony rocked me to sleep.

Day Three:

I loved how I could go to sleep with one or two tents around me and wake up to five or six! As with nature, there was a constant ebb and flow of people, stories of inspiring journeys, and a community where everyone gets along and has a genuine interest in your well-being. I was carrying firewood back to my tent and a lovely woman stopped and asked if I would like a ride. 

As I packed up my tent and sleeping bag, it reminded me of those dreaded maps my parents used to get for travel ... they NEVER could fold them back the same way! I was worried for a moment that my tent and sleeping bag would have the same outcome. But, all went smoothly and I looked like a pro!

Off I rode to Santa Barbara on my hike-and-bike budget, bound for Carpinteria State Beach! I enjoyed more amazing shorelines and some inland adventures through Oxnard, where I found a yummy fruit stand, Gatorade, and electricity for my phone. A sweet man even helped me repack my bike. 

The Channel Islands Beach area looks like Miami: yachts, paddle boarding, and beautiful homes. Ventura is an amazing little town to walk through. And I kept hearing about this beautiful bike path on the 101 and I have to say, I actually got on the 101 looking for it. DON'T DO THAT! I found the path and they were right, it is beautiful! 

Well, I rode into the lovely, lovely town of Carpinteria. It has everything and the campgrounds were wonderful with the beach a stone's throw away! Maybe Carpenteria proved a little over-crowded for my liking, but it was still a bit of Heaven!

Your favorite local bike shop? Noho Cycles

Bike overnight tips and tricks? 

  • Next time, I will take a bigger tent, so I can sit up, and a pad for sleeping.
  • I loved how light I traveled and how simple my life was for those seven days.
  • I found a great book at a thrift store in Carpinteria, A Return to Love by Marianne Williamson — yet another gift given to me along this amazing adventure!


HOW ABOUT YOU? Inspire others by submitting your bike overnight adventure!

5 responses so far ↓

Eric - Jan 5, 2016 at 5:10 PM

A beautiful week.

Klack - Jan 5, 2016 at 8:01 PM

So jealous! Can't wait for my next trip. Thanks for the inspiration!

Macky - Jan 6, 2016 at 7:09 AM

A wonderful trip. A great read on a 20 degree day!

Matt - May 14, 2016 at 7:11 PM

This sounds great. I may attempt it in reverse from SB!

Faye - Mar 19, 2018 at 5:06 PM

I have ridden this route before on a day ride and loved it. I just purchased my first trailer. Your post has given me the courage me to try my first overnight bike tour. I did not know about the hike and bike rates! Thank you for sharing your adventures and inspiring others to take the journey.

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