June 16, 2003
Seal Beach to Balboa, Ca.
Riding on the Beach, to, Huntington Beach, and Newport Beach, bypassing Pacific Coast Highway (PCH):
A few months back I posted a review of an article in OC METRO Magazine.
The article was called Coastal Biking.
I said I was going to ride the route described, and report back.
That time has come. FINALLY! :-)
For folks by car just find Seal Beach on a map, and take any number of routes to PCH.
Parking is available at the Pier, off Main.
For Bus Riders, connecting to OCTA 1, to Main and PCH in Seal Beach, will do the trick.
1. Start: Main & PCH
2. East and South on PCH to B.G. Brown water tower and turn right, then left.
3. Follow the Bike Lane all the way to the Jack-in-the Box, and Bus Terminal, at Bolsa Chica State Beach ( the 4mi. mark of the ride)
4. Enter the Beach Bike Path and travel to the Santa Ana River crossing in Newport Beach.
The path takes you along the top of the Huntington Cliffs and past the Huntington Pier. (aprox. 10mi. point)
5. At the Santa Ana River cross and stay on the sidewalk to Orange.
6. Turn right, then left onto the Bike Lane on Seashore Dr..
7. Turn right on 36th, and then left onto the Newport Strand Bike Path all the way to Newport Pier.
8. Continue south to E ST.
9. Turn left, an immediate right on Balboa Blvd., pass F St., and make a right on G St., and an immediate left on Ocean Blvd..
10. Travel south to the end and turn right to Balboa Penninsula.
You will have ridden aproximately 19 miles.
The cool breeze coming off the shore, the light drizzle falling on my face, I stand on the pier and gaze south and east along the shore towards my distant destination.
Old Town Seal Beach is a mixture of small restuarants and various small businesses, including a corner drugstore (actually called THE CORNER DRUGSTORE!).
Pedalling along a hilly stretch of PCH I pass Anaheim Bay, and see a billboard about the Bolsa Chica Wetlands, and a link to Bolsa Chica Alliance.
Then I come to 2 very unusual neighbors: A huge brown, wooden, water tower and a taco joint share the corner where I turned to reach the bike lane along a row of houses and apartments next to the beach.
I had to laugh as the thought occurred to me that maybe the tower really HAD tequilla in it, instead of water. :-)
As I am resting along the side of the bike path at the entrance to Bolsa Chica State Park I hear a childs tearful wail:
"I can't do it! I can't do it!"
And an older male voice, filled with pride and encouragement:
"You can! You are! You ARE doing it!"
I look up to see a small boy on a bike with training wheels, bawling his little heart out as he moves his little legs and steers this strange contraption his Father put him up to riding.
I stand up, and clapping my hands, add my own calls of encouragement:
"Bravo! The first 70 miles are the hardest!"
The Father explained that this was his sons first ride in a public place, and as I watched the pair ride a short distance up and back along the path, I had a sudden thought: Was this how the great cyclists first started out? Bawling, "I can't do it!" as their Father encouraged them bravely on?
The beach, along this stretch, has elaborate parking lots for the day visitor, and for the vacationer with a camper , and while the weekends are best for people watching, the weekdays have their own pleasures.
There, on the beach, was a family around a bonfire while 2 of their number were busy flying kites.
From the looks of the stack of wood by the fire these folks planned to stay a while.
As I pedal onward toward Huntington Beach I come along a stretch of beach that has truly gone to the dogs, and from the looks of the frolicking on exhibit they were really enjoying themselves.
This is known as Dog Beach.
As I approach the Pier wave watching becomes a pleasant way to pass the last mile: Row upon row of huge waves crash along the shore, and surfers ride them in, lining up like airplanes coming in for a landing at LAX.
There they are, all in a line, waiting for just the right moment to start paddling to catch a wave.
How do they decide, and when? Why do they even bother?
God knows, it's a mystery to me, but they are so beautiful to watch.
People of all types walk and ride along the bike path. From the young Mothers pushing their BUV'S (Baby Utility Vehicles) to the older folks riding recumbents, and inbetween, it can all be seen here.
After a brief rest, past the Huntington Beach Pier, to eat half my lunch, I pedal onward along Huntington State Beach.
As I near the Santa Ana River I see a large group of people gathered on the beach, and a group of cops in the parking lot.
Upon further investigation I learn that it's the Orange County Sheriff's Academy class 160 having a pre-grad party after having run 6 miles.
They graduate the next day, June 3rd, 2003..
Upon arrival at the bike path on Seashore I find myself riding between rows of apartments and condos (some with beach front views) wondering which one belongs to the notorious basketball player, and all around party animal, Dennis Rodman.
At 36th, I enter the Strand and start the enjoyable ride next to the beach.
Along the Strand, near, and at, the pier are stores, and restuarants, and the home of the historic, 113 year old Newport Dory Fishing Fleet.
You can read all about it in a series of 3 short, interesting, articles (4 links in all), and a poem published recently by the community newspaper The Current
If all the riding has made you hungry then park your bike and grab a seat at Charlie's Chili.
I'd also recommend the Bar and Grill at the end of the pier, too, just DON'T embarrass yourself by eating at the nearby Burger King!.
Fully sated the ride continues to Balboa Pier where, if you turn left, you can go into Balboa proper.
The original Ruby's Diner is at the end of the pier.
At the end of the bike path, at E St., not F, as Mr. Reed's piece stated, I take a few quick lefts and rights to take Ocean Blvd. to the Balboa Penninsula.
The view of the Bay, and the rocky jetty extending out to sea is breathtaking.
Seeing a few hardy souls at the end of the jetty I decided to brave the possible high surf, and eat my remaining lunch out there before heading home.
So, with carefully chosen hops, skips, and jumps, I set off.
I get half way when the surf starts pounding higher on the rocks and I get a shower of spray for my brave efforts.
Deciding that it was the better part of valor to let Ma Nature win this first encounter, I turned tail and hopped, skipped, and jumped myself back the way I came, to finish my lunch safely on a park bench. :-)
I'd ridden 19 miles, and was tired, but happy.
I sat there, taking in the view (boats in the bay, homes on the opposite beach and cliffside), and after a while pedaled the 5 miles back to my apartment.
NOTE: For those interested the ride up Balboa Blvd., right through Old Town Balboa, takes you 1st through a residential area, then the business district, near the pier, and after that it's onward to PCH or Newport Blvd., and the city of Newport Beach.
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