Touring - Mini-Tour: GWBR....need some advice
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02-12-08, 08:12 PM
I'm planning to go to the Great Western Bike Rally this year in Paso Robles....my gf and I are planning to take the train from LA to SLO and ride from there....can anyone recommend a good route? 101 all the way or another road? Also, any other good places to ride to from SLO or PR?
Thanks in advance...
02-12-08, 09:25 PM
Hi I just saw your post and thought Caltrans had something on their web site. They did, a link to SLO County bicycle coalition. The SLO coalition web site seems to have information you're looking for. Here is the link.... http://www.slobikelane.org/rides.html
One way to get from SLO to Paso Robles is to ride over to Morro Bay, then up Highway 1 to just south of Cambria and then over the coastal mountains to Paso Robles. I have ridden this in reverse and the road over the coastal mountains (Paso Robles to Cambria) was not so bad, but it looked tough going the other way.
I've created a route on bikely.com to show what I mean. You can see it here: http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path/SLO-to-Paso-Robles
The part from Highway 1 south to SLO is on the ACA Pacific Coast trail.
Be aware that doing this in one day may be rough due to the climb over the coastal hills to Paso Robles. I you have the time, camp in Morro Bay (hiker/biker site) or check out the hostel in Cambria (http://www.biketouringtips.com/showTipComments.php?tipID=4)
02-13-08, 09:46 AM
Greetings. I live a bit southwest of Paso on Morro Bay. I've never actually been to the GWBR (paid admission) but I've been ridden in Paso on that weekend several times. Be prepared for some heat. It's usually in the 90s or even 100 degrees.
There are four ways to get to Paso from SLO. The most direct way is over the Cuesta Grade. This is the path that Highway 101 takes. From downtown SLO, take Monterey Street north until it gets on 101. Ride on the shoulder of 101 until you see a sign for Stagecoach Road. I think they've built a tunnel under the highway now, but the last time I rode this they were still working on it so I'm not sure. Stagecoach road is a dirt road that parallels 101 to the top of the Grade. When you get to the top you follow a paved road that goes down the other side, next to the highway. At the bottom of that there's a trail on the left that takes you back to the shoulder of 101, this time the southbound lanes. You ride on that for 1/4 mile or so until there's a place to cross the highway. When you get across to the northbound lanes you ride on the shoulder to the Santa Margarita exit. Take that and follow El Camino Real all the way through Atascadero to the end. When I've done this route I've only been going to Templeton, so I rode back on the highway shoulder until the Templeton exit, where I've gotten off and headed back to the coast over Santa Rita Road. To get to Paso I suggest you do a Google Map search.
The other ways to get to Paso involve going out to the coast from SLO, north a bit, then over the mountains. One way is to ride on Highway 1 to Morro Bay, then turn right onto Highway 41, which takes you over the mountains to Atascadero. However, I would NOT recommend this. 41 is a busy, twisty little road with absolutely no shoulder, steep walls one side and a dropoff on the other. I think people who ride it have a death wish!
The more normal way to go is to ride up Highway 1 almost to Cambria, turn right on Highway 46, and take that over the mountains. It has a nice shoulder all the way and takes you directly to south Paso. When you get to the end at Highway 101 you can take a frontage road on either side of the Highway. I'd turn left just before 101. You should be able to ride right to the fairgrounds, which are on the west side of the highway. That will be a pretty long, tough ride. It's about 55 miles, and the climb over Highway 46 is long - not overly steep, but it's a long climb.
Another way that I like, would be to ride to Cayucos on Highway 1, then turn east on Old Creek Road. After you pass the reservoir, down at the bottom of the hill there's a turn to the right on Santa Rita Creek Road. (Google calls is Sant Rita Creek Road; everyone around here calls it Santa Rita Road. I don't know what the sign says, but it's the only road to the right after you get to the bottom of the hill by the reservoir.) Santa Rita Road becomes a dirt road that goes all the way over the mountains and drops you into Templeton on the other side. This is best with a mountain bike, but I've ridden it with my touring bike several times. It's a quiet, beautiful ride through the countryside.
Once you get to the GWBR, there are lots of options for good rides. I don't ride in Paso that much, since I have to drive half an hour to get there, but some of the routes I like are the Peachy Canyon loop, north to Santa Miguel (on River Road) and back, out 46 to Estrella River Road, then loop northwest to River Road and back to Paso.
Check out the www.slobc.org website. There are lots of route descriptions there.
02-13-08, 07:47 PM
Thanks BBT....awesome information....for options 1 and 4, what kind of tires do you think will be needed? I'll be riding a Trek 520 and my gf a LHT with all our self-supported touring equipment. Will we be able to do the dirt roads with our 700x28? or will we need water? Also, what's the water availability like along the routes? Should we pack it all with us?
02-13-08, 07:48 PM
i meant "or will we need WIDER" not water..duh :)
02-14-08, 11:24 PM
I've done them both on 700x28 Armadillos several times - no problems - but never with a load. I think you'd be okay if you went slow and were careful. They're roads that you could take a car on - not Jeep roads. I wouldn't hesitate to take my LHT over either of them. I'd just be careful not to slip in some gravel, and watch for big bumps so I wouldn't break a spoke.
If you go over Stagecoach Road you'll take Monterey Street to 101. It's only a mile or two from where Monterey goes onto the highway to the center of SLO. The north end of Monterey is hotels and restaurants. I think there's a Chevron station right before the highway. You could probably fill up on water there. The next water is in Santa Margarita, over the top of the grade. I think two water bottles each would be enough. That's all I've ever carried, but I've never carried a load. I might take three just to be sure, since I'd be a little slower and working a little harder. After that you'll be in and out of civilization - water will be no problem. If you turn off of El Camino Real to the right onto Highway 58 in Santa Margarita there's a nice city park about a block or two away - water, bathrooms, and picnic tables.
If you go over Santa Rita Road you'll be on dirt a little longer, but I still think two water bottles would be enough. (If you have a third water bottle cage and bring a third bottle you'll definitely have enough.) If you go that way the last place to fill up on water is in Morro Bay. There are gas stations, grocery stores, convenience stores, Taco Bell, etc. You can turn left on San Jacinto (towards the ocean) and there's a beach access park with bathrooms and water. When you get over the top of the mountain there's a winery tasting room on Vineyard right before you get to 101. I've gotten water there before.
If you decide to stay on pavement and go over Highway 46, the last place to get water may be in Cayucos. If so, I'd fill three water bottles. It will be a long way and a long climb before you get to Paso. There's a long (though gradual) hill out of Cayucos, and then the longer and steeper climb over 46. Before you get to the turn from Highway 1 onto 46 there's a little town called Harmony on the right. I think you can get water there, but I'm not sure. It would be nice if you could. If I were you and considering going that way, I might try emailing the slo bike club (www.slobc.org) and asking if anyone knows if there's water at Harmony. It's a tiny town - the population is around 90 I think. The last time I was there there didn't seem to be much open. There were portapottis, and I think there was an artist's studio where the guy was working, but water? I don't know.
If you were to go that way, rely on getting water in Harmony, only to find out that they didn't have any and you were about to start over 46 without sufficient water, I'd keep going on highway 1 past the 46 turnoff. It's only a couple miles more to Cambria, and they have everything there (including CambriaBike). If you wanted to make a two-day journey to Paso, you might even consider riding a few miles past Cambria to San Simeon State Park. There's a hiker/biker site there, showers, and a nice ocean beach (and it's only a couple MORE miles to Hearst Castle.)
Let me know if you have any more questions.
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