Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Central Coast, CA
Bikes: Surly LHT, Specialized Rockhopper, Nashbar Touring (old), Specialized Stumpjumper (older), Nishiki Tourer (model unknown)
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Stagecoach is your standard hard-packed dirt road. I've ridden it with a touring bike with 700X28 Armadillos, unloaded, a couple times and it was fine. I've never ridden it loaded. I think it would be fine, though I'd worry about my spokes (I have a history of broken spokes.)
The standard way to get to the coast from Paso Robles is over Highway 46. Go west from the fairgrounds to Vine Street. Take that south to 46. There's a nice shoulder the whole way.
I'd steer clear of Highway 41 from Atascadero to Morro Bay. There's no shoulder, lots of blind corners, and lots of fast traffic. Not for me, thanks.
If you're okay with dirt roads, a nice route to the coast is Santa Rita Road, which is a quiet, bucolic, dirt road that goes over the mountains from Templeton to Cayucos. Head west out of Templeton on Vineyard Drive. Take a quick left on Santa Rita Road. There are a couple of turns at first - right, then left - but after that it's an easy-to-follow road through oak forests, ranches, and rangeland. At the other end, Santa Rita Road deadends on Old Creek Road. Turn left and go past the reservoir and into Cayucos.
One of my favorite training rides, when I think I'm in good shape, is to start in Los Osos, ride into San Luis Obispo, take Stagecoach over the grade, then El Camino Real through Atascadero. At the north end of Atascadero you have to ride on Highway 101 for a couple of miles. Then get off at Vineyard, turn west, and head over Santa Rita Road. When I get to Highway 1 at the coast I turn left and ride back to Los Osos. It's maybe 2/3 pavement and 1/3 dirt.
A nice 3-day tour from Paso might be down Stagecoach into San Luis Obispo, then out Highway 1 to Morro Bay State Park (take the South Bay Boulevard/Los Osos exit, go south on South Bay, and take the right before the bridge onto State Park Road. Veer left at the first intersection and stay by the water. You'll go right to the park entrance.) Morro Bay S. P. has a very nice hiker/biker site. If you keep going on State Park Road you'll wind around and into Morro Bay, eventually ending a couple blocks above the Embarcadero, with a gazillion motels and excellent restaurants to choose from.
The second day you could ride up the coast on Highway 1 to San Simeon State Park - about 30 miles. There's a hiker/biker site there too, though I don't think it's quite as nice. You're an easy ride away from Cambria, which has great shopping and dining. There are motels in San Simeon, as well as Cambria, and I think there are plenty of quaint bed and breakfasts along that stretch of road. (I don't know; I'm strictly a camper.)
The third day you could ride over Highway 46 back to Paso. The turnoff of Highway 1 is just a few miles south of Cambria.