Pier to Pier: Part I

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Portions of this Pier to Pier route are part of three annual charity rides in Southern California – the Cool Breeze Century, the Ojai Valley Century and the SB100, as well as a portion of the Amgen Tour of California. The Cool Breeze Century gets its name from the tailwind that assists cyclist riding back to Ventura in the afternoon on the last leg of the ride


This is a relatively easy 60-mile round-trip with few hills, great views of the ocean and mountains and a sea breeze nearly every day. This route is very popular with the local cyclists and it is a quiet alternative to the PCH between Malibu and Mugu Rock. The earlier you start, the better, because the wind will build throughout the day.

Route Start Ventura Pier
Route Finish Santa Barbara Pier


Head north out of Ventura, across the Main Street bridge and over the Ventura River. Pass an RV Park to the entrance of Emma Wood State Beach. Notice the wind tunnel effect through the underpass before you get to the bike path. It’ll provide you a good gauge of how strong the headwind is riding to Santa Barbara. The bike path is a good warm up with a slight uphill slope and a couple of short climbs before you get to Rincon Parkway below Highway 101, between the railroad and the ocean.
At Faria Beach, you’ll pass the famous surfing spot, Mondos, where generations of folks have learned to surf. Nearly 10 miles out, you’ll pass the last Ventura County Fire Station where you will find water and a public restroom. As you ride beyond the fire station, cut under the 101 to get to the new Ralph Fertig bike path along the freeway. For years, cyclists had to ride on the 101, but this bike path is one of the improvements that the late Ralph Fertig championed. The path is separated from traffic with a steel barrier and will take you past La Conchita to the Santa Barbara County line at Bates Road along the beach front.

The official bike path points to a short uphill stretch on the 101 to the nearest exit, Highway 150. Most take Rincon Hill Road instead – to get to Highway 150 but with a better view and very little traffic. Turn right at the top of the short climb to get to Highway 192. This will take you through the nurseries behind Carpinteria. Some of the stages of the Amgen Tour of California follow this same route. At Gobernador Canyon Road, there is a filtered water fountain and a bench set up by a farmer, who is rumored to be a cyclist. If you continue to Highway 192, turn left at the Polo Fields, then right on Via Real to Summerland. There is a small town by the beach with antique shops, burger joints and a couple of art galleries. A small park on the other side of the freeway has a water fountain and public restroom. The bike path to Montecito skirts Ortega Hill. From there, take Jameson Lane to Hot Springs Road to East Cabrillo Boulevard.

To keep following the Amgen Tour route, turn right at the Polo Fields and take Foothill Road north to Toro Canyon Road (Highway 192). It is a 1.5-mile Category 4 climb that averages 5% with 8 to 10% in the last half mile. Follow the 192 to Santa Barbara, taking either Sheffield Road or San Ysidro Road south to make a right on Jameson Lane; or continue on the Hot Springs Road and follow it all the way to East Cabrillo Boulevard and the beach.

You can grab lunch at the East Beach Grill on East Cabrillo Boulevard on the beach, before heading back to Ventura. The return trip is a little easier since you normally have a tailwind. Take East Cabrillo Boulevard to Channel Drive, then go on the bike path that lies between Montecito and Santa Barbara. It goes through Butterfly Beach – a bluff above the Pacific covered with blooming lantanas. Ride past the Four Seasons Hotel and follow Olive Mill Road to Jameson Lane. Take the right on Jameson Lane to Ortega Hill Road on to the bike path. From the bike path take Via Real through Summerland back to Carpinteria. At Santa Monica Road, turn right to get back to Highway 192 heading back east toward Ventura.

Directions & Parking
From the south, take Hwy 101 north to the California Street exit in Ventura. Turn right on California and then left on Main Street. Follow Main Street past the San Buenaventura Mission to just past the Highway 33 overpass. There you’ll find free parking in a small lot on the left, just before the Main Street bridge. More free parking is available across from the Mission itself. From either parking lot, cycle north on Main Street across the bridge, past the Ventura Beach RV Resort and bear to the left under the Hwy 101 overpass and then onto the Caltrans First Adopt-a-Bike Path above Emma Wood State Beach.
The route above includes Gobernador Canyon Road from Highway 150 instead of going directly from Highway 150 to Highway 192. This adds a Category 5 climb on Gobernador Canyon Road and a one-lane descent. This route also takes the Toro Canyon Road option from the Polo Fields instead of the left hand turn to Via Real at the Polo Fields.

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