Last weekend, we saddled up for a 140 mile bicycle journey from Los Angeles to San Diego for the supremely epic Carnival of Caffeination. Naturally this turned into a coffee shop tour of the SoCal coast - which we recapped below with photos, a hand-dandy map and a few words. Perhaps next time we can avoid riding directly on the 5 freeway at night (whoops). And yes, we'll be selling those custom Latigo pennants on the site shortly thanks to our friends at Savarin & Co.
First Leg: Mar Vista to Long Beach
The first stretch is quite pleasant (with the exception of Wilmington - which is basically a massive Chevron facility). We got lucky and encountered a South Bay Bike Path that was actually cleared of sand (no longer the case after this past weekend's massive storm). You ride for approximately 18 miles until reaching the Palos Verdes Peninsula. For the sake of time, we did not take the beautiful (super-duper scenic) coastal route from here -but instead cut up and over PV through the farms and stables - straight into Long Beach.
Picture via Lord Windsor Coffee website.
Once you make it through Mordor (aka, Wilmington) you arrive in beautiful Long Beach and may want to stop in to Lord Windsor for some coffee. There are plenty of coffee options in LBC these days (as opposed to even a few years back) but none come close to matching the rad surf-y vibes on this spot. And the coffee is good! And it's close to good burrito options!
Second Leg: Long Beach through OC
Next stretch is a breeze, with lots 'o cool joints to check out in Newport - Laguna. After rolling through northern OC (Seal Beach) and Huntington (meh), you'll start passing some great stuff after the River Jetty.
We had been itching to check out Yokishop in Newport after reading a recent feature in Indoek. Yoki (pictured below) launched a surf brand in the 80's that you might recall (Maui & Sons) along with several others in the decades since. His small studio/shop along PCH in Newport is a mesmerizing collection of surf art (think Thomas Campbell and Beautiful Losers) and other stacks of creative stuff. There was a 15 foot wall of orange Nike shoe boxes ... which Yoki claimed to to have found entirely at USC's dumpsters alone.
Picture via the ever-so-rad Indoek interview with Yoki
While we would have loved to have more time in Newport to check-in with our pals at Almond Surfboards and Kéan Coffee, it was sadly time to continue with this time of year's early sunset time. Always pleasant is the route through Crystal Cove State Park (our childhood playground actually), then a few minor hills to wade through in ever-so-beautiful Laguna Beach.
Picture via Matt Plays
One very pleasant surprise: stopping into Poler Outdoor Stuff's flagship store in Laguna. We've been eager to check this spot out - and yeah, it's completely insane. Situated in an old nursery building - the store seems to just overflow into several back "tier" patios (such as featured above), with a lovely interior retail space and completely gorgeous front patio. We could spend all day here - but alas, it was time to move on.
Third Leg: Powering Through Pendleton
Our original plan was to make it 60-70 miles on Day #1 to San Clemente... for one, it was a fair distance to cover and Sen Clemente is a nice little seaside town. But the bigger factor was Bear Coast Coffee - we were kinda hoping to sleep there simply so we could wake up for a 6am drip coffee at one of our favorite local spots. But after taking a look at the type of mileage Day #2 would require, we decided to ford the river (err.. continue riding) to Oceanside.
A not-so-chill section underneath the 5 freeway
Things start pretty smoothly through the northern section of Pendleton. There's a separate "Old Pacific Coast Highway" that runs parallel to Hwy 5, offering pleasant ocean views and hardly anyone to share the road with. Things get super weird once the paved section ends - and suddenly, you're looking at a muddy completely haunted-looking tunnel underneath the freeway. We'll go ahead and skip the portion about riding directly on the freeway shortly following this encounter.
Final Leg: North County SD
Oceanside consisted of a small mountain of pasta for dinner, a cheap motel (the camping option was forecasted to be rained out, otherwise...), and a tasty coffee breakfast at Revolution Roasters. The final stretch is really something special - the small beach towns of northern San Diego (Del Mar, Leucadia, Encinitas, Cardiff) might be nice places to settle down someday. After an epic time winding through Torrey Pines (beautiful!), we dropped down into La Jolla for a final coffee pit-stop at one of our all-time favorites (and constantly awarded) - Bird Rock Coffee Roasters. One of the last great "coffee houses" (including Kéan in Newport) that serves the best of "third wave" coffee while not going down the hip/modern rabbit hole that you find in the design of every other joint opened in the past 10 years. It's cozy here - it will be jammed with folks of all ages, and there might be live music playing. Love this jam.
Huge thanks to BikeSD and Modern Times Beer for hosting an epic time at Liberty Station! We'll certainly be back for next year's Carnival of Caffeination - once again, via the magic of two-wheeled transportation.