The Angry Singlespeeder: 560 miles to Sea Otter the Hard Way


State Street in Santa Barbara.

They missed out on the gigantic 747s departing LAX, full thrust only 200 feet above the beach bike path, heading off over the Pacific to only God knows where. They missed out on riding up and down State Street in Santa Barbara on a Friday night, where people gather to watch drumming street performers.

Rogue hammock camping on Redwood Creek in Big Sur.

They missed out on sleeping in a hammock close enough to the beach that the crashing waves lull you to sleep. They missed out on the reward of a Tri-Tip sandwich at Cold Springs Tavern after conquering San Marcos Pass. They missed out on riding past all the beautiful wineries on Foxen Canyon Road, and sampling fresh strawberries from the dozens of local fruit stands along the way. They missed out on the brutal 20+ mph headwinds that made the reward of beers and food at the end of the ride so much more meaningful.

Looking north on Highway 1.

They missed out on the awe striking and exhausting 50-mile stretch of Highway 1 between Ragged Point and Big Sur, a road that must be experienced by every cyclist at least once in their lives. They missed out on the soothing sounds of Redwood Creek in Big Sur putting you to sleep like a baby being sung a lullaby.

But perhaps the biggest thing people in cars missed out on is the incredible feeling of accomplishment from such a journey, and all the well wishes of friends and family along the way. Even non-cyclists appreciate and respect a journey by bike, and they welcome you with open arms and wonder wherever you go.

17 Mile Drive in Monterey.

I’ve been here in the Monterey Bay now for three days, and I look at my Bianchi wishing I was still on that trip. As tired as my legs felt, especially after the final 90-mile day highlighted by ludicrous 40 mph headwinds, I didn’t want to stop riding.

After nearly 45 hours in the saddle over five days, the greatest realization on this trip to Sea Otter is simply a reconfirmation of what I already know: I absolutely love riding my bike.

Read The Angry Singlespeeder: Go Adventure.

Photo Thumbnails (click to enlarge)

About the author: Kurt Gensheimer

Kurt Gensheimer thinks the bicycle is man’s most perfect invention. He firmly believes ‘singlespeed’ is a compound word. He sometimes wears a disco ball helmet. He is also known as Genshammer. He is a Gemini and sleeps outside in a hammock.

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  • bsd says:

    The PCH in Long Beach is next to my neighborhood. The PCH is horrible through here! LOL. Stoked you did this adventure!

  • John G. says:

    Great read! My accountant refers to the “big D” as a
    ‘financial enema”. Hope yours was not quite as “cleansing” as mine.

  • The Angry Singlespeeder says:

    Upon hearing about me going through the big “D”, my buddy told me “I heard your marriage license expired”. I like the way he spins it!

  • Wish I Were Riding says:

    I was wondering about what the big “D” meant, but I get it now after reading the comments. Good luck.

  • Mr. P says:

    Great write up! Inspirational! I gotta do one of these rides!


  • aaron says:

    Great write-up my friend!… Sorry to hear about the unfortunate challenges you’re encountering as of late. Know this: YOU bring life to the sport (speaking candidly and Single Speed Specific) there isn’t a more fierce competitor out there…. Aa

  • Greg says:

    Hey! As a (former) resident of Long Beach, it’s not that bad. Seriously, someone who lived there could have recommended a better route than PCH to minimize the industrial wasteland. The trick is to ride along the backside of Palos Verdes.

    I’ve done that ride in bits and pieces, and you picked a great route.

    I’m thoroughly enjoying your writing. Thanks.

  • The Angry Singlespeeder says:

    Hey Greg,

    I actually didn’t ride PCH through LB. I went through downtown LB, onto the LA River bike path then onto Anaheim. Once I got to Palos Verdes it was gorgeous, but Anaheim was pretty crazy with all the big rigs.

  • PMac says:

    Epic ride and tale, thanks for sharing. During my six years living in Santa Cruz I rode and ran (Big Sur Marathon) at least a portion of what you covered. It is as beautiful and immense a landscape that the planet can muster. If you care to try another tour of this magnitude, I recommend one I did with a friend on my Gunnar Crosshairs (same WTB drop bar!) and he on my steel Lemond Zurich, in May 2006. For five days we rode mostly self-supported from Ukiah to Ferndale on 101 N, then south along the Lost Coast and PCH to Mendocino; finally taking CA 128/253 inland (I don’t recommend the 128/253 route fully-loaded, better to take CA 20 in from Ft. Bragg) to Boonville. Trip summary, 600 miles, 60,000′ of climbing w/a few side trips off the loop.

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