Bike Surf Touring the Central California Coast

October 26, 2018 5 Comments

Bike Surf Touring the Central California Coast

Dan Opz, Co-founder of Bedrock, set off on a 10 day bike surf trip along California's coast this October. Dan writes about his experience and gear below.


After the hustle of our prime summer season fades into Fall, I often leave HQ and set off on an October adventure to live out of my tent and travel simply wearing just my well-worn pair of Bedrocks.

After last year's West Coast bike tour, I wanted to go deeper into surfing as I travel by bike, and continue where I left off heading southbound from San Francisco.

I connected with Matt of Crust Bikes and bike vagabond glory about his experiences towing around his surfboard and the gear he recommended. This California trip almost became a Nova Scotia bound bike-surf one with Matt, however, logistics and Matt’s ankle injury ended up shelfing that idea for the future.

 

 

The right gear was pretty essential to idealize this romantic notion of a bike surfing tour. The key was finding the right trailer and surfboard to optimize both the cycling and surfing experiences. Through Matt and other friends recommendations I landed on a single wheeled steel trailer that weighs just under 10 pounds and is made by rad people in Santa Cruz, California!

The Farfarer Trailer connects easily to your seat post, is designed to rack a surfboard as you would on a car, has a drain hole so your wetsuit can dry out, and decouples for super easy packability. Not to mention the fact that it tracks beautifully and can be used on trails! I ended up having a blast bombing hills at 40mph through Big Sur with no death wobbles.

 

 

Next up I wanted the ideal bike surfboard - something short (for trailer’s sake) but with as much volume as possible to catch all sorts of waves. My low volume fish and fun board wouldn’t cut it. Serendipitously I found a 6’3” Ward Coffey Mini Simmons on craigslist for a deal sold by an enlightened dude who happens to share my name! The wooden stringer on the board even has “Shaped for Dan” handwritten by the shaper - the stars were certainly aligning for this trip.

 

  

 

I balanced weight on my rig by loading up two front panniers, my Fab’s Chest handlebar bag (Built by Swift + Ultraromance), and a Bedrock frame bag (different Bedrock company but equally rad folks!). With this bag setup, I could load all my camping and surfing gear without the trailer being too overloaded and shaky.

 

 

With my new trailer and gear equipped-to-trip it was time to see how many parts fun vs parts sufferfest this bike surf touring would be. The Bedrock crew dropped me off on the Peninsula just south of San Francisco after a surf session in Pacifica to kick off my solo adventure.

 

 

I began southbound on San Pedro Mountain Road to avoid the busy Rt 1 south of Pacifica. It was fun to have my first miles on the tour be on dirt!

After a short trip to Half Moon Bay Campground I was stoked to meet a couple fellow bicyclists - Gary and Mac - who I’d camp with for the next week as we all travelled southbound along the California Coast.

 

 

Life is good when your daily concerns are finding fun surf + pretty places to camp at night.

 

The cost to camp was around 5 bucks a night at any state campground of my choosing - a real luxury afforded by arriving under human power for bikers and hikers.

It felt liberating to be back in the saddle - days full of climbing rolling coastal hills and feeling the cool Pacific air on the way back down. Most of the Central coast has these “rollers” as my new friend Gary described them. Gradual climbs and descents with no real mountain climbing. With the extra weight of my surf rig, I was glad to avoid the more strenuous climbing along the Northern Californian coast I did last year.

 

 

North of Santa Cruz I peeled off Rt. 1 and onto a dirt trail as I spotted some lines in the water. That trail ended up leading me to one of the best surfing experiences of my life trading off overhead waves with one local. He couldn’t believe how lucky I was scoring these 100+ yard point break rides with slight offshore wind - especially discovered by bike! After over 3 hours in the water and a deep sunburn, I had to cruise around 30 miles to get to my next campground. The stats for that day: 65 miles of riding, 3+ hours of surfing, countless smiles, and 10 hours of beating sun!

 

 

Through Monterey I met Paul and his Rad Road Angel setup along the bike path. Paul had cycled all over the USA in the 60’s and is now paying back all the kindness he received by helping out folks like myself with water, cookies, and anything else needed. Paul is out here every Tuesday in his van for four hours - rain or shine. 

 

 

South of Monterey I knew Big Sur would be the highlight of my trip. I really wanted to be surfing and camping in rural + remote places so I decided to spend 4 nights along this part of California’s rugged coast. With coastal California’s dreamy Indian summer in full swing, I was graced with cloudless days in the upper 70’s and barely any wind to ruin the waves.

 

 

 

One of my best surf sessions was on this empty lineup in Big Sur. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was.

 

 

 

Southbound I passed through redwood groves and beautiful vistas overlooking the Pacific and kelp forests that strung the coastline. One campground I met some very friendly surfers who fed me a big breakfast, a few IPA’s at night, and showed me some of the local surf spots. We were all feeling stoked to be here for this Big Sur October magic.

 

 

 

Equipped with all my gear I hunkered down at a camp site for a few days and enjoyed more parts surfing than biking. I also got to connect with more travelers - folks biking beyond Mexico, weekend warriors seeking surf, and some inspiring campground hosts living the simple life in their trailer.

 

 

 

One of the most memorable days was climbing some of the bigger hills in Big Sur. Although my surf gear + trailer added about 25-30 pounds to the rig, I found it manageable on these climbs. A verifiable sufferfest for sure on the 1,000 ft gains, however, less-so than what I imagined with zero hike-a-bike necessary. As I grew confident with the trailer, I found I could really take-the-lane and bomb down these hills with almost as much stability as my trailer-less setup.

 

 

 

On the tail end of my trip, I camped in Morro Bay State Park. In the morning I was greeted with a friendly and inquisitive gal asking about my bike setup. Emma just happened to be wearing Bedrock classics! Even radder was the fact that we just re-strapped them under warranty and made toe-posts for her with her own custom-colored paracord she sent in. Emma discovered Bedrock on her bikepacking tour through the Baja Divide a couple years back and has become an only-footwear-I-own style Bedrocker!

 

 

 

After 10 days of biking, surfing, and camping along California’s central coast, I boarded the Amtrak Coastal Starlight train in San Luis Obispo homeward-bound. I decoupled my trailer, using it as a bag for all my gear while checking my surfboard and bike separately. It took about 45 minutes to disassemble my rig and only an extra $30 to check all of it- which was reasonable considering all the gear I was loading up. Six and half hours later I was back in the Bay Area and left with only a mean sunburn and poison oak rash from some of my coastal bushwacking to remind me of how fun bike surf touring can be! A price I’m happy to pay again and again and again.

 





5 Responses

Dan
Dan

November 12, 2018

@Marcus – Salsa Vaya

Marcus
Marcus

November 12, 2018

What kind of bike?

Aaron B.
Aaron B.

November 09, 2018

Great ride!! This past summer my wife and I rode from Utah to Ohio; me pulling our dog in a trailer (I feel your pain), and my only footwear were my Bedrocks. I had a pair of approach shoes strapped to my seatpack the entire time, but funny enough on our last day of riding with 40 miles left to the end of our trip they fell off without me noticing. Must have been a sign that all I needed/need are my Bedrocks!

Andrew P.
Andrew P.

October 29, 2018

DUDE What an epic trip. Sounds like a primo fun/sufferfest ratio.

Dan O'Hoyt
Dan O'Hoyt

October 28, 2018

Dream trip. Good job. Dan

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