Flip through a Thomas Guide and you will be struck by the white space between cities. All that land, intersected by asphalt, is a bicyclist's dream: acres of flower farms, rolling citrus orchards dotted with windmills and just plain, wide-open space.
Drawn from the experience of bicycle club members, shop owners and the county's Transportation Commission, here are four routes that encompass ocean, country, mountain and lakeside views. A considerable portion of the routes are flat or downhill, so there's no excuse for not dusting off your garaged bicycle. We've even thrown in a few rest stops.
Portions of the following route descriptions include bike paths detailed in a bikeway map, a first for the county, recently issued by the Transportation Commission. Call 642-1591 for a copy.
Mileage for the following looped routes is given in round-trip figures.
* The Rancho Run: 22 miles
Rolling farmlands and citrus groves are the main attraction along this country loop that begins at Dos Caminos Park in Camarillo.
Park at Senan Street and Vincente Avenue in the Dos Caminos parking lot.
Turn right on Vincente, left on Antonio Avenue and right on Las Posas Road, which will lead you to Lewis Road. As you take a left, the road immediately becomes Somis Road, a nice line of black asphalt that parallels the old Southern Pacific railroad line. You'll spot several rail yards and lumberyards to your right and fields of bluish-gray kale on the left.
Within one mile on the right is Kitty's Produce, should you care to grab a bagful of peaches or plums.
Just beyond Kitty's, turn left on North Street, which takes you through a residential stretch packed with front yards sprouting roses, gladioli and wildflower sprays. Within one mile the road curves to the right and dead-ends in a tractor yard at California 118. Turn left on 118, then right on Bradley Road for views of an idyllic countryside--rows of orange trees stretch across distant, tan hills and oleander bushes hug the narrow road with bursts of red and white. Cars are scarce, so enjoy the quiet and don't forget to breathe in the sage and fennel.
After one mile, take a left on Berylwood Road, a right on Aggen Road and a left on La Loma Avenue. This rolling, four-mile expanse intersects Rancho Las Posas, Rancho Santa Clara del Norte and Rancho Margarita.
Tired? Prop your bike against some willow trees and watch the lazy windmills sprouting from the landscape.
La Loma curves left into La Vista Avenue and dead-ends at California 118. Turn right on 118 and follow the winding, downhill road for two miles to Wright Road where a lemon-yellow house smothered with hollyhocks stands on the southeast corner. Take a left on Wright and travel for one mile beneath a windbreak of ash trees, just to the left of acres of fledgling pepper plants.
Turn right on Beardsley Road, which dead-ends at Central Avenue, where you'll take a left and ride one mile before passing over the Ventura Freeway. Take a left on Ventura Boulevard and a left on Las Posas Road. Pass back across the freeway and veer right within one-half mile (still on Las Posas) for a two-mile ride back to Antonio Avenue. Turn right on Antonio and right on Vincente Avenue and you're back at Dos Caminos Park.
* The Inter-City Improvise: 44 miles
If it's Monday afternoon, you must be in Montalvo. This challenging intercity route with excellent ocean views also takes you in or near El Rio, Camarillo, Port Hueneme, Oxnard and Ventura.
From Camarillo's Freedom Park, head west on Pleasant Valley Road four miles past a lima bean farm. When Pleasant Valley intersects Pacific Coast Highway, jog left along Rice Avenue, then right, to pick up Pleasant Valley Road once again. Turn right on Rose Avenue and left on Channel Islands Boulevard.
Within one-half mile on your right is Jonsons Farms (1111 E. Channel Islands Blvd.), a mammoth red barn packed to the rafters with crates of exotic fruit, local vegetables and cold drinks.
Cycle four more miles to Channel Islands Harbor and take a right on Harbor Boulevard, following it along the ocean for six miles. Take a left on Peninsula Street (near the Ventura Freeway) and a right on Pierpont Boulevard, which will take you to a two-mile length of Class I bikeway that begins at San Pedro Street. Now may be a good time to have lunch at one of several restaurants along the route. The view will never be better.
Follow the path as it turns inland for half a mile. Turn right on Main Street and right on Thompson Boulevard (just before Ventura Boulevard). Thompson curves to the left and travels for nearly three miles before veering right and turning into Main Street. Follow Main Steet under the Ventura Freeway and turn right on Arundell Avenue, which turns into a Class I bikeway for nearly one mile until it dead-ends at Harbor Boulevard.