Big Sur to Plaskett Creek Campground – Oct 14th…
Lots of other cyclists showed up at the camp last night even after dark. The place was full when I looked out this morning. Mostly new faces, but a few from previous meets north of here.
Today was a real hilly section of Highway 1. Almost immediately after leaving the campground at Big Sur, I was involved in a climb up to a 1000ft and the many climbs after did not let up for the rest of the day. I only rode 54 km today and I’m glad of the early finish, but in reality, the next available stop would have meant another 50kms of riding, and in today’s winds not really doable. It wasn’t the hills that I needed a rest from, it was the wind – it changed direction today and with a vengeance. It was blowing strong right from this morning, but increased in velocity as the day progressed. Especially at the peak of the climbs on top of the headlands, it was fierce and many times I was almost put to a standstill – I even had to pedal on descents. Going downhill was tricky too, with strong wind gusts trying to push me the wrong way and there’s not much room for error on these roads!
The good thing about today was the lack of the predicted fog – I guess that the strong winds have blown it north to the Monterey area, which is famous for fog at this time of year – I was lucky when I visited there. The other good thing was once again the views – I was riding at great heights most of the day and the views are impossible to explain – just fantastic. Not only the views, but thinking about how this road came to be and the almost impossible task of road building on these types of cliff sides. Constant maintenance is a prerequisite, and I saw many places that major repairs had been carried out to keep the road safe and intact.
I stopped for a break at the only place available after 40 km of riding – Lucia. A one store, restaurant and cabin place that make up the whole town! Home of the $5 coffee, but if you’re the only show in town, I suppose that you can charge what you want – and they do! I met up with a cyclist from last night – I didn’t have chance to chat with him then, but he is travelling to the Mexican border. His name is Jorge, and he is a Mexican living now in Whitehorse where he had ridden from. Kind of a snowbird, as his winter home is in Mexico and his permanent home in Whitehorse. He ended up riding with me the rest of the way today and we set up camp together here at Plaskett Creek – a US Forest Service site. Pretty basic, no showers, but flush toilets. Due to the water shortage, the sinks have been shut down to conserve water for the toilets. There are faucets around the camp for drinking water though.
I got a text from Bob this morning, when I got a bit of phone service. After three days in San Francisco he has decided to carry on the journey south. I’m pretty sure that he won’t catch up with me though – too bad.
I don’t have any service here, so this report will be posted asap.
More pics at… Oct 14th
AdamK & (I had to wear my seat belt today – crazy winds!) Basil
Plaskett Creek to Cambria – Oct 15th…
Today I woke up in the tent and thought that I heard that wind again – but the tent was still and It was just the nearby surf that I could hear. On emerging from the tent, all was calm and the south wind had abated.
Later yesterday afternoon, the family travelling south that I mentioned many days ago when I was in redwood country, showed up at Plaskett Creek. They are from Texas and started riding at the Canadian border to Tijuana. Brave souls with two kids riding their own bikes – the kids I believer are 8 and 10! I left before them this morning but at one of my stops I saw the “Train!”
Today’s ride was all on Highway 1 and started with a “see you later” to Jorge, as I went in search of fresh coffee at the nearby village of Gorda. Jorge said that he would stop too, but as I sat in the window of the restaurant drinking mine, he rode by – he did say that if the weather and wind was favourable he would try to ride to San Luis Obispo today and the weather was in his favour, so I didn’t see him again. Yes it was sunny immediately this morning and no wind – great riding conditions. So a few rollers to ride to the coffee stop at Gorda and then reality hit! I was already at about 350 ft elevation and then down I went to about 100ft to start the first big climb today up to 800 ft. That was a chore! But then this devil of a hill sent me back down to about 300ft before going up again to 750 ft – that was a bigger chore! But me and Basil puffed and panted and got it done – on the last descent we braked hard about two thirds of the way down to stop at Ragged Point for some much deserved snacks after that ordeal. But once again, great views all along those climbs. Someone commented “do I get bored with the views'” the answer simply is no, how can one get bored with sightseeing for hours on end in such a wonderful environment? Besides trying to keep the bike on track on some of these roads is not boring at all and demands some extra attention.
After the Ragged Point stop I passed a sign declaring that I had entered San Luis Obispo County and it was almost like magic that I had transitioned from Northern California to Southern California. The roads smoothed out to nice rollers, the sun was shining brightly, the temperature increased and the wind was blowing on my back! Great stuff seeing the terrain change so drastically and the big hills disappear for now (I’m sure that I’ll find more!).
The miles flew by now and before I knew it I was almost at San Simeon, Hearst Castle territory. Before that though, I passed Point Piedras Blancas – the rocky shores here are favoured by the Elephant Seals of the Pacific. I thought at first that I was seeing driftwood on the beaches, but it was actually Elephant Seals that migrate here at this time of the year. Literally thousands of them all over any beach space in this area.
Lots of tourists in this area viewing this spectacle. Not long after I saw Hearst Castle way up high on the cliffs – I didn’t go up there as Basil refuses to do “extra” hills – we’ll leave that for a bus trip perhaps another time.
Nearby Hearst Beach with its Pier was a rest stop and then I carried on to Cambria. Not long after Hearst Beach, there was literally a village of motels – I guess that they all cater to the Hearst area tourists – there were at least a dozen hotels/restaurants all together in one small area.
I got to Cambria 65 km after starting today – I could definitely have ridden more today, but as before, the logical stops are not within a suitable mileage for me. Besides, Cambria is a lovely little town with lots to see and do – that means eating and drinking establishments to me! I’ve got a nice motel not too far from those places too!
If anyone really wants to know – it’s Scarecrow Festival Times in Cambria – Hmmm!
More pics of today’s sights at… Oct 15th
AdamK & (Boy, a shower and shave after two days roughing it sure feels good!) Basil.
Cambria to Oceano – Oct 16th…
Wow, day 30! The days are just flying by now.
I started out this morning from a very chilly Cambria; I think that’s the coldest morning that I’ve had for a while now. But the sun was quick to show its face and between that and the first hill out of Cambria, I soon warmed up. Not too bad a hill though and not many hills really today as the roads were kind to me. Riding along Highway 1 was mostly through ranch lands – cattle country, until I got close to the ocean again at Cayucos. A small place, but scenic and obviously popular with tourists. There was a nice beach front road there to take and it gave me a good view of the Pier that I saw from a distance when I was riding into the town.
The rest of the distance to Morro Bay was just as scenic and lots of views of the surf and ocean beaches.
From Morro Bay to San Louis Obispo, the recommended bike route is off Highway 1 and it took me on some country roads to reach Los Osos Valley Road which leads back to the Highway. Nice quiet riding for quite a while until the valley road which was busy, but had a really wide shoulder.
This route allowed me to bypass the city of San Luis Obispo and just skirt south of the city through some suburbs. A good route as I really had no desire to visit SLO. Highway 1 and Highway 101 join hands at SLO and become a freeway nearly all the way to Santa Barbara. No cycling on this section then, so I followed the bike route map and was basically riding alongside the freeway all the way to Pismo Beach on quiet roads. Pismo Beach looked like a very well kept community – nice clean streets and substantial waterfront properties.
From Pismo Beach, Highway 1 was rideable again all the way to my destination of Oceano. In between Pismo and Oceano is Grover Beach – All these three communities make up a beach centred recreation area. Pismo and Grover have many more commercial outlets whereas Oceano is very basic, but Oceano is where all the four-wheelers and Dune Buggy people come to ride and camp on the extensive beaches and sand dunes. There are also some large warehouses here and it is a clearing area for shipping vegetables. Not the best of the three locations for me to stay at, but for one night it has all I need. My motel is fine and there are a couple of restaurants nearby to keep me satisfied.
So 90km today and I forgot to mention yesterday, that very early yesterday morning, my odometer ticked over 2000km! A few more km left, but the bulk of the trip is behind me. Looks like back to the larger hills tomorrow for a couple of days as the bike route has to avoid the freeway until not far out of Santa Barbara.
More pics at… Oct 16th
AdamK & (More hills tomorrow – oh no! I was getting used to the flatter roads.) Basil.
Oceano to Lompoc – Oct 17th…
Motel was comfortable last night, but sure noisy – all the 4 x 4 pickups leaving the beach on the only road out from there, right past the motel! They all seemed to have those extra noisy exhaust pipes that were really loud even for my bad hearing. Otherwise it was OK and I had breakfast at the Rock & Roll Diner, which is almost next door to the motel – I posted a photo of the outside of the diner yesterday, but here’s one of the inside…
It was chilly again this morning, but soon warmed up. I set out Highway 1 and rode for about 3 km, then my bike route map showed a detour onto some back roads which led back to Highway 1. My other map showed a shorter route, so I took that one – big mistake! All was well until I hit one of those really steep local hills – not very long, but that sucker was steep – I’d take a guess at over 20% grade. With three stops to get my wind back, I made it to the top – no more shortcuts for me!
After that it was pretty well plain sailing on relatively level roads through some major agricultural areas. I can see now why they had the vegetable warehousing and shipping in Oceano. But it was quite boring riding on bad road surfaces that had no shoulder for the most part, fast traffic and sometimes a drop-off from the road surface to the dirt/sand shoulder. It was hard to believe at times that I was on a main highway.
After about 20 km, I entered the town of Guadalupe and stopped for a break and to pick up a few snacks for the road ahead. Nice little place, very Mexican orientated as are many of the smaller towns that I have ridden through recently.
Notice the mural on the wall of the building – I’ve uploaded some close-ups at the usual link.
I rode on for many miles until Highway 1 joined Highway 135 – then it was like night and day. The shoulder widened and the road surface was smooth; the hills had all been gentle apart from that first one. But I knew that I had a big one ahead as I had to turn onto Harris Grade Road – just the name implies hill! And it was one of those multi-switchback roads with no shoulder that took me up to about 1000 ft from just under 300 ft – quite the climb, without a break in the grade. And of course, it was multi-switchback going down too – no barriers at all at the critical corners, I had to be very careful on the way down – quite exhilarating!
Obviously we made it down safely and we rejoined Highway 1, after that it was a short cruise into Lompoc – quite a large city considering the location – over 42,000 pop. But it’s close to the large Vandenberg Air Force Base and there is also a Federal Penitentiary here too.
I had a good ride around Lompoc before checking in at my motel – it’s basically made up of Highway 1 being the main street – which is filled with multiple shopping malls, not any different than riding in the Coachella Valley (Palm Springs area), where I am heading or any other larger USA city.
Tomorrow was supposed to be in Santa Barbara for me, but there is “no room at the inn” so as to speak – I found out this morning that there is an Open Street Festival this weekend in SB – car-free streets in many areas – this must be a draw for visitors and the hotels have filled up. The only places available are in the $300+ range – a little rich for a stinky cyclist avec Le Beaver! Ventura is too far a day for me, so I’ll be camping at the last available parks before Goleta and SB – somewhere in the El Capitan area of the Santa Barbara Coast – chances are that there will not be Internet access, so the report will be posted asap.
I’ve got an even higher hill in the morning than the one that I rode today before my route of Highway 1 and US101 join together to enter the Santa Barbara coastal areas. I’ll be glad to get back to the coast; riding through these agricultural areas is not really exciting nor scenic. Not much coast left though – Ventura Beach will be the last section for me.
Temperatures were fine today in the high seventies and not much wind, so it was not too much of a sweat-fest for me as when the temps are in the eighties, but the higher temps are supposed to return in a few days.
More pics at… Oct 17th
AdamK and (Well, only one of us is stinky – and obviously it could not be me!) Basil.