Road Bike Tour: Your Own Tour de Coast

Experience the landscape and culture of Half Moon Bay and Pacifica on a road bike tour.

It’s that time of year again: Running from July 2-24, the 98th Tour de France is on, made up of 21 stages and covering some 3,600 kilometers (2,235 miles). As the race ramps up, why not experience a road bike tour of your own? If you’re wondering what it’s like to ride along the Coast outside the confines of a stage race, stop dreaming and take your own Tour de Coast through Half Moon Bay or Pacifica with one of the road bike tours outlined below.

Whether it’s six miles or 50, a spirited group ride with friends doesn’t require years of racing experience and a boundless tolerance for physical suffering. Find your pace and experience the relaxing and rejuvenating effect that road biking can have. These rides that take place in and around Half Moon Bay and Pacifica help less-experienced cyclists develop the fitness and skills required to hang with a blazing-fast pack. Plus, there’s no better way to experience a variety of landscapes and local culture and food than on a leisure cycle tour of the area.

1) Pillar Point Harbor to Main Street, Half Moon Bay: For an easygoing ride with minimal road traffic, take a ride along Half Moon Bay's five-mile , dotted with beach primrose, bush lupine, and the occasional jackrabbit. Park at and head south along sidewalks and parking lots through the Harbor area. This connects up with a paved path under and . Cruise past Surfer’s Beach and at Coronado Street, hook up onto the Coastside Trail. This trail goes by beaches between Pillar Point Harbor and Poplar Avenue. Roll south along the paved trail, and across old wooden bridges. Along the way you'll pass jackrabbits and several picnic-worthy beaches. At , continue along the trail to Poplar Beach or take a left onto Kelly Avenue and head to town for lunch at one of the many restaurants and cafes located on Main Street.

2) Montara State Beach to Kings Mountain Road: For a scenic ride that’s challenging, incorporating both coastal and mountainous landscapes, try this cycle tour. Park at Montara State Beach and head south on Highway One. Make a pit stop in Half Moon Bay or continue along the mellow pace and terrain of this route till you get to Lobitos Creek Road, the base of the Tunitas Creek Climb. After a stiff, half-mile stretch at a steep grade, the climb settles down a slight bit — but is still tough — up to the top. The elevation is under the cover of tall dark redwoods, and the road is often shrouded in fog. Descend down Kings Mountain Road for a climb back up or turn around and make your way back to Montara State Beach.

3) San Gregorio State Beach to Pescadero: The terrain for this tour is easy to intermediate with rolling paved country lanes through giant redwood trees and ranches and organic farms. Park at San Gregorio State Beach and head south on Highway One to Pescadero Road, heading east, and experience historic Pescadero valley. Make stops for lunch at Duarte’s Tavern and continue east to Harley Farms for goat cheese and to pick berries. Head back to Pescadero and take Stage Road, a paved narrow road inland through rolling scrubby hills, to loop back to Highway One and San Gregorio Beach.

4) Pescadero to Davenport: For a very scenic and lengthy tour of Highway 1, the 22-mile ride between Pescadero and Davenport can be executed in several ways: as a 22-mile one-way ride (using a shuttle car) or as a 44- to 46-mile out-and-back. From Pescadero State Beach, this swath of Highway 1 runs right along the Pacific at points and further inland at others. Take advantage of short detours along the way to visit one the U.S.'s tallest lighthouses (at Pigeon Point), the world's largest mainland breeding ground for elephant seals (at Año Nuevo State Natural Reserve), towering redwoods (just up Canyon Road at Waddell Creek), and kite surfers at Scott Creek. Stop in at the Davenport Roadhouse for coffee or lunch, or just grab a quick snack from the Davenport Store. On the return trip north, an optional climbing detour up Swanton Road offers shelter from the wind, dropping you back down to Highway 1 about 16 miles south of Pescadero. For an 8.6-mile detour up into redwood country, take Canyon Road as it follows Waddell Creek up toward Big Basin Redwoods State Park.

5) Manor Drive to Linda Mar Beach: This ride is not for the faint of heart, totaling up to 20 plus miles with some serious steep inclines and downhill terrain. To start, park at the Pacifica Farmer's Market parking lot in Manor Plaza and take Manor Drive up to Skyline Boulevard. The climb up is rough but the reward at the end is cool fog or spectacular views of the Pacific if it's sunny along Skyline. Plus, the long windy descent down Sharp Park Boulevard to Highway One is a breeze. Then head south to Fassler Avenue where you take a left and climb up Terra Nova Boulevard to Linda Mar Boulevard along the edge of San Pedro Valley County Park and through Pedro Valley to the coastline, ending for a pit stop at Linda Mar Beach. Grab a bite at Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market or and experience Pacifica's beach culture and food. Then head north along Highway One and the paved bike paths past Rockaway Beach and Sharp Park back to Manor Plaza. Reward yourself with a sandwich from .

william west July 14, 2011 at 02:15 PM
On the fifth bike tour, you mention riding down Sharp Park Road from Skyline to HIghway One. This is illegal and there is signage at the top by College Road advising you of that. It says you can walk the bikes down on the opposite side of the road. I have encountered cyclists on that stretch of road and find it is quite dangerous for the cyclist and the motorist who comes upon them.
Chris Fogel July 15, 2011 at 04:39 PM
Regarding Ride #5, If you can make it up Manor Drive -- especially on a road bike -- my hat's off to you. I've done it a couple dozen times out of necessity, but I had a touring bike equiped with a third chainring (22 teeth) to help me. It still almost killed me every time and it's really no fun. With grades of 17% and 19%, I'd avoid Manor if at all possible. It's unsafe as well with very little room for passing cars, bikes and parked cars to coexist. The numerous side-swipes and knocked-off sideview mirrors of parked cars attest to this. I highly recommend Hickey or Sharp Park as an alternative route out of Pacifica for bicyclists. As to coming in to Pacifica, as William West pointed out, bikes are disallowed on the downhill portion of Sharp Park.
Chris Fogel July 15, 2011 at 07:51 PM
Norman, I'm not looking to start an argument, but generally speaking, bicycles are allowed on any road in California UNLESS specifically prohibited via signage (CVC 21960) -- that's why you'll see prohibitions posted on most of the freeway onramps (and elsewhere) in California. I have the same recollection that Mr. West does about a sign prohibiting bike usage while going west down Sharp Park and your characterizion of our cautious warnings as being "ludicrous" is unnecessary and unwarranted. For the record, I've stood up for roadway bike access and have gone through a protest process involving this issue with CALTRANS and the CHP when I was stopped while riding along the shoulder of I-280 (where these signs aren't present). The CHP officer at the time told me I was riding illegally (when it was quite clear I wasn't), so I wouldn't put too much stock in what an officer told me versus the black letter law regarding the matter.
Phyllis McArthur July 17, 2011 at 01:59 AM
One more time: ANYONE who bike rides the steep grades of Pacifica has my unwavering admiration, you people are unbelievable, really!


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