Cachuma Lake Tour 2013 – Day 4 – September 27, 2013 1

Carpinteria State Beach

Sunrise at Carpinteria State Beach 9/27/2013

This last day of our bicycle tour was the longest day, distance-wise.  We opted to take the inland route instead of the more popular coast route.  It would prove to be a fruitful decision as we were able to travel through multiple towns.  In the middle of all that, we had another long climb in Simi Valley and a screaming twisty downhill into Chatsworth.  There was drama as I had to repair a flat to my front wheel.  We also had to give up on the notion of getting home before it was dark.

Exploring Carpinteria State Beach

Hiker Biker Site

Hiker Biker Site at Carpinteria State Beach

Our last night ended when the morning sun broke through the clouds and lit up my tent like a flashlight in a dark room.  I tried to sleep in a little longer, but had to wake up to use the restroom.  The campsite was quiet and majority of the people there were still sleeping.  I decided to walk towards the beach.  It was a beautiful morning.  The white, cool, soft sand was amazing to walk through.  I had a chance to reflect on the last 3 days and how much I loved it.

After a good 30 minutes passed, I made my way back to my tent and found that Sang Hyun was also awake. We quickly broke down our tents and started packing our bikes.  Other bicycle tourists were up and getting ready to leave as well.  Sang Hyun discovered that his bag was filled with ants crawling in overnight to get to his remaining food.  I was also not in the mood to eat the remaining food that I brought, so we both decided to treat ourselves and have breakfast in Ventura.

Breakfast in Ventura

Before all that can happen, we had a 10+ mile stretch between where we were and Ventura.  We warmed up for about 3-4 miles before we were forced to hop back on the 101.  5 miles passed, and we finally exited onto PCH.  We continued on and passed the Emma Wood State Park from our first night.  It felt like that was a distant memory considering the past 2 days of climbing.  We cruised right into Ventura in search of a breakfast place.  Luckily, we found the Busy Bee Cafe where the friendly service staff allowed us to park our bikes outside in a spot reserved for seating their customers.  We opted to sit right across from our rides and enjoyed a hearty breakfast, which included pancakes and a tall glass of orange juice.  We had some passers-by ask where we were heading after they carefully examined our two bikes.  We spent a few minutes reviewing our tour with them, and they seemed intrigued.

An Adventure Through the Valley

Selfie - 9/27/2013

Action shot of Johnny and Sang Hyun

After breakfast, we decided to get back on the original bike path that led us back to the San Buenaventura State Beach.  We actually got lost for a moment and ended up at a park which didn’t lead us to anywhere.  At that moment, the French couple on the tandem from the previous night’s camp, passed us by, thinking we knew where we were going.  They quickly turned around and rode off before we could catch up to them.

We found our way back on Harbor Blvd going south.  Instead of staying on and eventually making it through PCH, we opted to take a left on Olivas Park Drive.  This basically took us over to Ventura’s Auto Center where we eventually found a pedestrian bridge to ride over.  We meandered through side streets that ran parallel with the 101 freeway.  There was even a stretch near Camarillo where we were in an isolated bike path with no cars.  I never even knew of its existence until we were on it.

We finally detached from our proverbial umbilical cord, the 101 freeway, when we continued on W Ponderosa Drive.  We took a quick bathroom and refreshment break at a local Starbucks before starting again.  It turned out to be a pretty warm day, so the break was much deserved.  We surveyed the maps and realized that there may be some climbing needed to get out of Camarillo.  We eventually found our way onto the Santa Rosa Road.  I thought this would be where the majority of the climbing was going to be, but fortunately, that was not the case.  We made good time when we reached Moorpark Road.

In Moorpark was where the true climbing started.  It was relentless all the way through Moorpark on Tierra Rejada Road.  As we reached the crest of all that climbing, we were given a fantastic downhill into Simi Valley as we passed Madera Road.  The bike lane soon disappeared giving way to just posted signs asking motorists to “Share the Road” with bicyclists.  I took the right lane and was riding at a pretty fast pace.  Unfortunately, Sang Hyun received the brunt of ignorant motorists yelling at him to get the *expletive* off the road even though we have all the rights to be on the road.

Pumpkin Harvest

We saw this on the way to Camarillo.

We realized we missed a turn onto the bike path, which would have taken us off the crowded streets.  We eventually found the entrance, but not before I had to change out a flat from my front tire.  Most of the time was spent figuring out how to use the pump, but the tire change on my Salsa Vaya was a cinch.  I spotted the culprit – a plant thorn.

We remained on this bike path for a few more miles until we reached E Los Angeles Ave where we had to get back onto the road, leading us to Kuehner Dr.  As the sun was setting, we found ourselves faced with yet another set of mountain ranges to cross on Santa Susana Pass Road.  The climb was manageable as the incline was gradual.  It was a consistent incline, but didn’t point vertical like Day 2 & 3’s climbing.  Both of us took our time to make it to the top.  The top is where many mountain bicyclists park their cars to commence their mountain bike adventure.

This was my favorite part of the day when we flew down the other side of the mountain range through twists and turns, revealing the City of Chatsworth to us.  Sunlight had slowly diminished, forcing us to turn on our lights.  The both of us were hungry and decided to visit a local restaurant called the Hungry Ninja.   This was an establishment where one person was the cashier, server, and cook all-in-one, using a Japanese Teppan-style flat stove to grill our food.  He was very generous with his portions, and we happily stuffed ourselves with chicken and rice.  It was delicious and fulfilling.

Sang Hyun lighting the way

Sang Hyun hustling back through the Valley.

Almost Home

We continued on Devonshire Street in the dark with our blinky lights.  Since Sang Hyun’s light was the brightest, we agreed having him lead would be best.  The worst part was when we had to continue riding past the 405 freeway because it forced us to take the lane once again with speeding traffic.  Probably one of the scariest moments of the ride, but we made it through.   We found ourselves in familiar territory when we rode through Northridge and saw our favorite REI store.  It was about 8 pm when we finally made the last right turn onto Glenoaks Blvd from Van Nuys Blvd.  There were fewer cars on the road.  It was bittersweet when we reached my house in Burbank because we were so glad to be home off the road and safe, but was sad because our adventure had to end.

Final Thoughts

Here are some of my realizations from this trip.

  • The last time I rode to Cachuma Lake and back, I had bonked-out right when I reached the final climb up to my home.  I felt that we made sure we ate and drank whenever we needed to this time around.

  • I was also glad to be able to climb Day 2 and Day 3’s hills without needing to walk.

  • Sang Hyun realized that he needed to condition himself and ride more.

  • My choice of Vans for riding shoes was a poor decision.  I need something a little stiffer.

  • Bring flip-flops for the showers.

  • Apply sunblock to places where I normally don’t get sunburned on shorter rides.

  • It’s not hard to eat healthy while riding by buying fruits and being conscious of what you put in your body to give you the most energy and help with recovery.

  • Having disc brakes really helps on steep descents.

  • Make sure your bike is ready for the trip.  Replace worn brake pads and check the mechanics.

  • Hills are not bad.  You just have to face it one pedal stroke at a time.  Worst case scenario, there isn’t any shame in getting off and walking.  Just be careful not to let your bike retaliate by scratching up your legs with the pedal.

Total Miles For Day = 84

Total Trip Miles = 280

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About Johnny Lam

Johnny is an avid cyclist who enjoys bicycle touring as well as anything bicycle related. Johnny has traveled the entire Pacific Coast by bike from Vancouver to the border of California and Mexico. He’s also toured through-out locations in Southern California. Johnny is also a League of American Bicyclists League Certified Instructor (LCI) and also completed the Adventure Cycling Association’s Leadership Training Course (LTC). He is an active member in Los Angeles bicycling community being involved in organizations like the Los Angeles County Bicycling Coalition (LACBC), C.I.C.L.E. (Cyclists Inciting Change through Live Exchange), and Bike San Gabriel Valley (Bike SGV) by taking part in ride marshaling, pedestrian & bike counts, and other volunteering opportunities.

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