California Coast Highway features cliffs, views

California's Coast road often is high above the water's edge

California's highway 1, a good portion of which is also the West Coast Bicycle trail, is heavily traveled and a challenge to cyclists who must endure crosswinds off the ocean. But for all that it is spectacular in its scenery, and often has a faily decent shoulder. Southbound riders will feel more confined since the drop off to the beaches below is often frighteningly close to the roads edge. I have riddin this trail as far south as Santa Cruz, and do not recall one disappointing moment. Occasionally the road will take you inland, perhaps thru the redwoods or just north of San Francisco. Then the sun is hot and dry, and you appreciate the calm. Many cyclists will tell you how they hate headwinds and wind in general; its racket cuts you off to many natural sounds all around you. This is especially so in the woods at night, when breezes thru the trees obscure any sound that you just MIGHT want to hear---say, an approaching bear! In any case, the breezes do, however, keep you cool and dry and riding this road on sunny days is almost bikers heaven: a rinse of your shirt, and a few miles later it is blown dry even as you wear it. The rock promontories offshore are very deceiving: it is hard to measure distances in open water.

Because the traffic and sometimes narrow road are a challenge, perhaps there are stretches of this highway not recommended for a touring debut; definitely have a helmet and rear view mirror. For lower traffic counts, head inland in northern california to the areas around Mt. Shasta and Lassen. This truly is a region blessed with scenery and a climate which enables you to enjoy it year round.