Biking the coast: Swell on wheels

If you’ve ever driven between Ventura and the coastal town of Carpinteria, you’re familiar with the dramatic ocean vistas that beg for attention along the west side of the 101 Freeway. 

While making that drive in recent months, I’ve noticed a new bike path along a portion of the freeway, with bicyclists gliding blissfully alongside the ocean, shielded from traffic by a sturdy barrier. How, I wondered, do you get on that bike path? And is it possible to take it from Ventura all the way to Santa Barbara, which seems a more likely destination?

On a rare, free Sunday, I decided to find out. 

Before setting out, I scoured the Internet for information, but what I found was incomplete. I learned that the new bike trail, opened in September 2014, covers about four miles between Ventura and Carpinteria. But I could find no detailed maps showing how the bike trail connects with other bike paths. 

So, feeling like a true pioneer, I set off with my boyfriend to figure out the route. What awaited us was an epic, 29-mile adventure that took us past breathtaking beach scenery but challenged us with tedious stretches of road and confusing signage.

For those wanting to try this route themselves, I’ve divided this guide into segments. Pick a portion or ride the whole way. If bicycling fast, you can cover the entire one-way route in about three hours.

Starting out: Ventura through Emma Wood State Beach

We began our ride at the northern edge of Ventura, close to parking and the bike trail. You can park for free in a lot off of West Main Street, opposite Peking Street. There is also a bike shop close by, the Ventura Bike Depot, where you can rent bicycles for the day ($35 to $62). 

Begin your journey by heading north from the parking lot onto the bike trail that runs along Main Street. Follow the trail into Emma Wood State Beach, where it continues along the ocean for about two miles until you reach Pacific Coast Highway (PCH). 

Pacific Coast Highway

Get your fill of beach scenery along PCH. This approximately seven-mile stretch is marked by beach after windswept beach. Check out the surfers and seabirds, and gaze at the mountains rising up to the east.

Caution: You’ll be bicycling alongside the road, so look out for traffic. When you first enter PCH from the end of the bike path, there is no safe place to cross to the right side of the road. We rode along the left side until we felt safe crossing to the other side.

Hungry? Pull into Faria Beach Park on the left, about six miles in, for breakfast burritos and coffee at the Faria Beach Cafe. 

To continue, follow the painted bike path along PCH. You’ll leave the coastal views, pass a 101 Freeway entrance and ride under a bridge to Mobil Pier Road. This is where the new bike trail begins.

Oceanfront bike trail

Part of a $102 million California Department of Transportation freeway project, Ventura County’s new protected coastal bicycle trail is nothing short of gorgeous. Where bicyclists used to have to ride on the shoulder of Highway 101, they can now ride on a wide, two-way path beside the ocean, protected from traffic by metal railings. The ocean is within feet of your bicycle, and you can feel the sea-spray on your face.

The path takes you past the small community of Mussel Shoals, where you can stop for an oceanfront lunch at Shoals restaurant inside the Cliff House Inn.

Continue along the path until you hit Rincon Point — you’ll know you’re there when you see the surfers. The path ends at Bates Road beside the entrance to Rincon Beach Park. Here, the signs direct you under a bridge and onto the 101 Freeway.

To Carpinteria and beyond

Rincon Beach (also known as Bates Beach) is a beautiful spot for swimming and picnicking, and a worthy destination in itself.

However, to continue to Carpinteria and Santa Barbara, you will have to ride for a short stretch on the freeway. Follow the bike trail sign onto the 101 North. Then take the first exit — Exit 84 — toward Ojai/Lake Casitas. At the bottom of the exit ramp, turn left onto Rincon Road, then right onto Carpinteria Avenue. The three-mile ride will take you past the Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve.

To explore Carpinteria, turn left when you get to Linden Avenue, which takes you into downtown. Otherwise, continue until you pass the Best Western Plus Carpinteria Inn, and turn right on Santa Ynez Avenue, which takes you over a bridge.

Onward to Santa Barbara

After crossing the bridge, turn left on Via Real and you will see the painted bike lane begin about half a mile in. The road is relatively unused by cars, although it runs next to the 101 Freeway, so there are fumes and noise. Continue for about five miles until you reach the small town of Summerland.

Summerland is a cute place to grab a drink, a snack, or browse antique shops. When you’re ready to continue, ride through downtown, past the “Big Yellow House” sign and the 101 Freeway North entrance. You’ll see a sign pointing to the protected bicycle trail on your left.

The trail again takes you out onto a road, North Jameson Lane; continue until you reach Olive Mill Road in Montecito. Carefully turn left on Olive Mill Road and follow it to the beach, where it becomes Channel Drive. Stop and take in the beauty of Montecito’s Butterfly Beach.

The final stretch

When you can bear to pull yourself away from the beach, follow Channel Drive up the hill and past the Santa Barbara Cemetery. Carefully cross Cabrillo Boulevard to the bike path that runs alongside the lake at Andree Clark Bird Refuge. Congratulations! You are now in Santa Barbara!

Continue on the bike path, crossing to the beach side at Milpas Street. Keep going until the historic Stearns Wharf is on your left. Stroll the wharf, where you can eat, shop and take in marine life at the Sea Center (part of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History). Or turn right from the bike path and follow State Street into downtown, where you can also browse shops, people-watch, and grab some food and drinks. Alternatively, you can collapse in a heap on the beach. Well done! You made it!

Returning home

The great advantage to this route is that you don’t have to bicycle back. Amtrak operates trains from Carpinteria and Santa Barbara. A one-way ticket from Santa Barbara to Ventura costs as little as $15. You will need to reserve a space for your bike when you purchase a ticket. Go to or call 1-800-USA-RAIL. Happy riding! 

Surf, suits and sailing — Jews making waves on the waterfront

As the summer heats up and we head for the beach to tan, swim or just cool off, we might ask: Has the Pacific coastline always been such a splashy draw for Los Angeles Jews?

In Venice, Jews have worshipped at Mishkon Tephilo since its formal founding in 1918, and on Ocean Front Walk at Temple Beth Yehuda (built in 1940), which closed in the early 1970s. But for the rest of us, aside from using the shore on Rosh Hashanah as a place to toss our sins away at tashlich, how have we given a Jewish touch to all that vaser?

For starters, let’s give the swimsuit a try-on.

Frederick (Fred) Cole (1901-1964), who changed his name from Cohn, was an actor in such silent films as “The Dangerous Blond” and “Two-Fisted Jones.” Nudged by family members to get into something more stable, he didn’t have to look far.

In the 1890s, his father, Morris Cohn, and mother, Edith, had established in downtown Los Angeles one of the city’s first clothing manufacturing firms, West Coast Manchester Knitting Mills, which was a maker of men’s long knit underwear.

In 1925, Fred convinced them to start making swimsuits as well. Capitalizing on the allure of Hollywood glamour — one of his first suits was called the “prohibition suit” because it was so revealing — by 1941 the line had become so successful that Cole changed the name of the company to Cole of California.

Cole of California magazine ad, April 1948 (Michael and Benjamin Levin)

According to Elizabeth A. Greenburg, the author of the entry on fashion in the Cambridge Dictionary of Judaism and Jewish Culture, Cole’s company, which reflected the Southern California lifestyle, “transformed women’s swimwear through important innovations,” including in the 1920s “the lower back and defined bust”; in the 1930s, Matletex, “Cole’s exclusive process of stitching rubberized thread through fabric” (which helped achieve a close fit); and, the 1940s, the two-piece “Swoon suit.”  The latter “laced up the sides of the trunk and featured a tie-bra,” wrote Greenburg, who was one of the curators for the Yeshiva University Museum show “A Perfect Fit: The Garment Industry and American Jewry, 1860-1960.”

Less famous, but creating his own wave in swimwear, was Harvey Cooper (1907-2004), whose company Maxine of Hollywood, after World War II, produced suits that fit the average woman and were sold nationally at Sears, Montgomery Wards and Macy’s.

“He followed the trends,” said Ilse Metchek, president of the California Fashion Association.

“He had a devoted group of employees,” Metchek recalled. “He was a bon vivant, a joy to be around, unless you crossed him,” she added. “Also a good dancer,” said Metchek, who, beginning in the early 1960s, worked for Catalina, a leading Los Angeles swimwear and sportswear company.

So now that you are stylishly attired, it’s time to set sail.

In 1952, “five Jewish men,” Louis J. Rosenkranz, Charles E. Leveson, John R. Sahanow, Joseph Weiss and William C. Stein, “got together and said we’re going to make a yacht club,” said Susan Artof, who has been a member of the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey since the mid-1970s.

Jason and Veronica Artof – May 6, 2007

“They were not allowed to join any other yacht clubs,” said Artof, who, along with her husband, Paul, owns a 42-foot sailboat. “Joe Weiss wanted to enter the Ensenada [sailboat] race and was told that he couldn’t. He needed to belong to a recognized club, and it seems no one would take him,” Artof said.

By 1953, Weiss and the other four founders had signed up enough additional members to satisfy the Southern California Yachting Association membership requirement of 25 and were able to enter the race.

After meeting in “people’s living rooms and restaurants,” they opened their first club building in Marina del Rey in 1964, said Artof, who confided that the only boat her grandparents were on “was the one coming over from Europe.”

In its early years, the club’s membership was 80 to 95 percent Jewish. Today, “it’s more like over 60 percent,” said Artof, whose son had his wedding at the club and used his boat instead of a car to make his reception getaway.

Over the course of the club’s history, the members have shared seders, Rosh Hashanah dinners, and hosted an annual Federation fundraiser, as well as bar and bat mitzvahs. Some club members have a mezuzah on their boat, and there’s even a weekly Yiddish class.

Not all their sea-faring neighbors have been happy about the presence of a Jewish yacht club, however.

According to Artof, it was not until 1990 that the Newport Harbor Yacht Club, established in 1916, granted reciprocal privileges with them, something other clubs, including the California Yacht Club (their neighbor) had done earlier, said Artof.

On other occasions, she also has heard that the phrase “bagel bay” has been used in reference to her club.

“We’re haimish, there’s a friendly, open Jewish flavor,” said Artof. “There’s not as much drinking here. At the bar, we sell a lot of seltzer,” she added.

 Finally, for Jews not content to sail the waves, there is surfing.

According to author and surf journalist Paul Holmes, several Jews have figured prominently in California’s surfing scene, including Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz (born in 1921), a doctor who left his practice and founded California’s first surfing school in the early 1970s, and Nachum Shifren (born in 1951), who grew up in the San Fernando Valley to become a Chasidic surfing rabbi. Then, there’s Gidget.


The fictional character Gidget (short for “girl midget”) was based on Kathy Kohner, a Jewish 15-year-old, the daughter of a Czech-born Jewish refugee screenwriter, Frederick Kohner, who lived in Brentwood.  As reported in the Jewish Journal, in 1956 Kohner’s daughter was hanging out with a bunch of Malibu surfers and came home speaking their lingo. Seeing an opportunity, her father converted his daughter’s name to Francis Lawrence and wrote a novel titled “Gidget.” Thus, an American surfing fad was born.

A more recent legend on the Southern California surfing scene is Joseph Wolfson. Known especially in Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach as “Dr. 360,” for his ability to completely spin around while riding a big wave, Wolfson was one of the pioneers of body boarding and a winner in national and international competitions both in that sport and body surfing.

Wolfson, who lived in Manhattan Beach and was known simply as “Wolfie,” would get up by 6 a.m. and “howl his way to the surf at Marine [Avenue],” his sister, Paula Ethel Wolfson wrote in an email. “He would also howl his way back.”

“He began body surfing and fell in love with belly boarding before the invention of the modern-day boogie boards,” she added. “He and friends split surf boards in half,” she wrote.

At 13, Wolfson, who was born in Brooklyn in 1949, had a “cultural” bar mitzvah at the Long Beach Jewish Community Center,” Wolfson recalled.

“He worked full time” as the parks and recreational director of the City of Carson, and “was in the water most every day.”

“He would sit on a board and spin three, four or five times across the face of a wave,” Kevin Cody wrote in the South Bay’s Easy Reader.

In 1998, Wolfson was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer and quietly began giving away his savings as well as his car and home in Mexico, “Casa de 360,” to those who could use them.

One night, according to reports, Wolfson, intending to end things, left behind a note and $5,000 for a party, then paddled out and tied himself to a buoy and went to sleep. Found the next morning by a lifeguard, he was just barely alive. Three days later, when he was released from the hospital, he grew concerned about the impression his suicide attempt might make on children. He had been a teacher of water safety, and after the attempt, many children had sent him letters, writing of his positive influence. Wolfson decided to live on and catch a few more waves.

The incident received national attention on TV’s “20/20” and “Prime Time Live,” and his legend grew. However, in 2000, he died at age 50, when his car veered off the Marina Freeway, went down an embankment and hit a tree.

He called himself the “Aquatics Peter Pan,” his sister said.

A plaque placed by Wolfson’s friends in front of the lifeguard station at Marine Avenue in Hermosa Beach reads, “Married to the Sea. A true Waterman. AAAHHOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!”

Hyler begins to heal

Talent Manager and producer Joan Hyler is on the slow road to recovery. After a devastating accident that nearly killed her last Friday Aug. 15, Hyler has undergone multiple surgeries to assess and repair damage to her organs, arms and legs. After being struck by a car on the Pacific Coast Highway, Hyler sustained severe injuries, which reportedly included a collapsed lung, internal bleeding and broken legs. There was initial concern that Hyler might not survive the weekend.

But doctors became optimistic on Tuesday, after a CAT scan revealed that brain swelling was minimal. When Hyler responded positively to a reduction in her sedation level, it was determined she could undergo surgeries to repair her legs.

Following a successful surgery last Friday morning, doctors are increasingly optimistic that Hyler is responding well to treatment.

Yesterday morning, Hyler underwent a six-hour surgery during which doctors attempted to repair a badly broken right leg by inserting a pin in her tibia bone. During that same surgery, they also inserted a screw in her left ankle. Doctors had planned to repair damage to her right upper-arm, but decided to delay further procedures and allow Hyler to rest. Hyler has since been taken off of sedation, but continues to receive a morphine drip for pain.

Her progress will be closely monitored throughout the weekend.

Hyler is a prominent player in both Hollywood and the Jewish community. A former vice president of William Morris Agency, she once represented clients Bob Dylan, Madonna and Andy Warhol. Today, Hyler is a prominent talent manager and producer, representing A-list actors, including Oscar-winner Diane Lane.

Hyler has also exhibited a steadfast commitment to the Jewish community and its causes. As president of Women in Film, Hyler created the Morning Star Commission, an organization founded by Hadassah to promote more diverse portrayals of women in media and entertainment. She also co-created the Jewish Image Awards, which celebrates outstanding portrayals of Jewish heritage in film and television.

After it was reported that Hyler went through 40 units of blood last weekend following her accident, friends and colleagues in both the Entertainment and Jewish communities began organizing blood drives on her behalf. Endeavor Talent Agency held an in-house blood drive last Wednesday, where 82 people contributed 61 units of blood. IKAR, a spiritual community in which Hyler is involved, is also encouraging people to donate blood tomorrow, Aug. 24 (see details below).

The latest report on UCLA’s carepages:

Last Friday night was the lowest of all low points. Since that point we have measured time in 12 hour and 24 hour increments. This is going to be a long difficult struggle. Still, at this point, one week later, we have made only progress, with no emergencies and no setbacks.

Joan rested comfortably during the night. She tolerated the surgery well. The swelling in her face has greatly decreased. At various times she has appeared to recognize familiar voices and has started to fleetingly open her eyes in response. They had suspended feeding her [intravenously] while she was waiting for the surgery; that feeding is now resumed.

The third part of yesterday’s surgery—the part that was not completed—the insertion of a plate and screws to repair the humerus—is now scheduled for this coming Friday.

The action for today is for Joan to undergo an MRI and a C-T scan. The ICU is prepping her for these even as this is being written. Joan had been in a support collar from the beginning and they are now thinking of removing it, hence the MRI, to see if they can proceed. Relative to the C-T scan, Joan had suffered a substantial impact to the head, and while there was no fracture, there had been an internal bleed. The C-T scan will give us an up to date picture of where we are on this front.


IKAR blood drive:

Sunday August 24

9 a.m.-Noon

Children’s Hospital

4650 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles

Donate anytime:

UCLA Medical Center

757 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles

(310) 825-9111