The Coast Ride - 2016

The West Coast, ridden North to South, is one of the most often bike toured parts of the country, with many choosing to ride just the section between San Francisco, drawn by warm temperatures, many services, and world class coastal views.

The Coast Ride is an epic cycling adventure that capitalizes on the proximity of such good touring, sending what has become hundreds of riders each year riding over 350 miles from San Francisco to Santa Barbara in just three days. Organized by local cycling ambassador and friend to all, Scott Witthoff, The Coast Ride is no normal tour; participants vary from enthusiasts on their first bike tour to seasoned ex-pros. It enforces a positive circle, as a sizable chunk of of the proceeds go to NICA - National Interscholastic Cycling Assoc to support young cyclists.

Despite thunderous and stormy forecasts, a monumental 260 cyclists still turned up for a ride that for three days was mostly in the wind and rain. Maybe its the power of camaraderie, the appeal of the west coast, the love for the bicycle, or a bit of it all.

We caught up with Scott to learn more about the history of the ride and his involvement in it. 

What is the history of the Coast Ride and your involvement in it?

The Ride was started by Paul Lundgren and Phil Cutti back in 1998. I participated shortly after and the baton was passed along to me circa 2003. The first few years consisted of carrying backpacks down the Coast…No SAG.  In 2006, I was on crutches from just having a hip surgery and really wanted to be a part of the ride so I drove my car to hang out with my friends who were riding. It starting raining just 20 miles South of San Francisco and a few folks said "Hey Scott, can we throw our bags into your car"? That was the end of self supported rides - having SAG is such a luxury.  Riding 125 miles in the rain with a heavy backpack doesn't feel that great on the under carriage!

I have always loved organizing cycling events with my friends. The California Coast is so special and being able to give fellow cyclists the opportunity to experience means the world to me.  We truly have an incredible group of cycling friends in Northern California and this ride has grown quite a bit over the years. It really has been pretty amazing to see how many people fly out from all over the U.S. and even Europe to be a part of the Coast Ride. 

What is logistically most challenging about the Coast Ride?: 

Trying to figure out how to get everyone back to San Francisco. It's never been an issue in years past, but I seem to always worry about every single person, making sure they all have a way home and putting them in touch with others who may have an extra seat in their car.

What do you consider the toughest section of the route: 

The 22 miles on Hwy 101 into Santa Barbara - lots of glass, loose gravel and semi-trucks whizzing by you at 85MPH…no fun!   Everyone is so happy to make that final turn onto Hollister Avenue to get the heck off of 101! 

Coast Ride California cycling

The ride began with a wet, early roll out from San Francisco.

Wet and foggy views along the craggy California Coast

Coast Ride California cycling

Luckily there were ex-pros including recently retired Ted King to keep the pace and spirits moving.

Coast Ride California cycling

Riders from San Francisco make their way through the cold to the first day in Monterey

Coast Ride California cycling Local rider Ed Dorsey (@eddorsed) appropriately captured the feelings at the end of the first day.

Coast Ride California cycling

Still wet and still smiling. Photo by Moh Rajabzadeh.

California Coast Cycling

The sun finally came out!

California coast cycling

It may have been a road ride, but three hundred miles of road spray is a lot to deal with.

California coast cycling

InGamba Tours captured this excellent shot at the end of day two going into Morro Bay.

Sunset Cycling morro bay

Clear enough skies for a beautiful sunset in Morro Bay.

California Cycling Coast

Coming into Santa Barbara at the end of day 3.

Cycling California

The Coast Ride organizer Scott Witthoff very content with another successful year.


 Thank you to Ed Dorsey, InGamba Tours, Moh Rajabzadeh, and Scott Witthoff for the photos.