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Ride Report - San Francisco to Paso Robles (long winded + pic heavy)

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Ride Report - San Francisco to Paso Robles (long winded + pic heavy)

Old 07-14-15, 02:19 PM
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Ride Report - San Francisco to Paso Robles (long winded + pic heavy)

San Francisco to Paso Robles
We had wanted to explore the Paso Robles wineries for a while and I had wanted to ride my bike there so this year the plan was set. I have never toured before, but with my daily bike commutes I knew was in good form. I slowly gathered the additional items needed for 5 nights on the road, did a couple of “loaded” test rides on my commute bike, a Surly Karate Monkey. I planned, checked and rechecked my routes, and finally June 26th arrived.
Day 1: Colma to Manresa State Beach.



Oof. I had left a few things out on my “loaded” test rides and today the bike felt twice as heavy plus I was wearing a camelback which felt like 10 more pounds. I grinded my way out of the BART station into the cold and drizzly streets and headed to Pacifica. I stuck to bike paths and even road some single track at Mori Pt. Then it was onto Highway 1 and the “new” Devil's Slide trail. I much enjoyed peeling off of the narrow highway and onto the quiet car free road. A nice little climb got me over and soon I was rolling south; El Camino, Moss Beach, Half Moon Bay. I have ridden this section a few times and so got off of the highway at Stage Rd. Total seclusion on a Monday morning on these backroads. I lunched and hydrated at the Highway One Brewery (Red Ale and Fish and Chips) and then began the less fun part of the day, miles 60 through 100 through Santa Cruz, Soquel and Aptos, at commute time. My first day was the longest at 99.6, with over 6k of climbing. I grabbed a pizza and a few beers in Seaside and finished the last few miles to my stop for the night, Manresa State Beach Campground.
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Old 07-14-15, 02:20 PM
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Day 2: Manresa to Monterey
A short day. Ha. I felt good after the long haul the day before and I got my tent, pads and pillow all stowed like the brochure. My Esbit stove was just fine for hot water and coffee. All packed - I was off. Blue skies today, and the ride was very rural.

I picked up the Strawberry Fields route to Elkhorn Slough and was enjoying the beautiful day, then I turned west at Castroville and was in very potent headwinds for most of the day. In Castroville I hit the bike path and was on bike paths until my arrival in Monterey. Today my lunch stop was at English Ales, where I feasted on Fish and Chips and several 1066 Pale Ales.

Then I returned to the wind tunnel, and into some urban riding. After tooling along through back roads and bike paths, riding on city streets becomes unpleasant. Had I known just how much of a climb it was to Veterans Park I would have grabbed food prior. As it was I was forced to get by on a few more 1066’s and a sweet roll. Hike ‘n Bike sites are interesting places; half cyclo-tourists, half homeless. The ranger must have come by 20 times to check on us, but he was nice and he had change for my $20. I met up with a group I had passed/been passed by the day before, they were doing Portland to Mexico, so my ride seemed short.


Day 3: Monterey to Lime Kiln State Park
Ugh, this hill is still going. The Morning begins with the continuation of a steep climb to the Carmel side. Then a plunge down a very busy highway. I had discovered that rapid descents were a bit harrowing with a bike and bunch of gear, and I really disliked this squirmy sensation I got when I rolled the white line. I stopped at a Safeway for some dinner items and began the extremely beautiful ride into Big Sur. Oops, I forgot to refill my water. This is TV commercial California, sky - coast - ocean.

A steep range of mountains to my left, the ocean to my right. The blue of the water is amazing, turning turquoise in the shallows. The shoulder comes and goes, to road goes up and down. I cross bridges. This is a really great ride. There are two world famous bridges in California, one is known far and wide by name; the other, most people probably don’t even know where it is. The Bixby Bridge is located just down the road from Carmel and is the gateway to Big Sur, built in the 30’s it is an icon of the California coast.

However I was not to cross it, my wanderlust took me from the highway and onto roads less travelled. A left turn before the bridge takes you to the Old Coast Road, a dirt roller coaster of extreme diversity.

The first half is shrouded in redwoods, keeping you cool on a pretty good climb, then you burst into a treeless void and plunge down a rock strewn dirt mess. Occasionally you are warned to KEEP OUT, but this was a glorious bit of isolation. Here my water was low and I passed stream, hmmm, I tempted fate and enjoyed a cool drink and filled my bottles. There was a second, steeper climb that got the better of me so I hoofed it. The views up here tremendous, I could see Highway 1 far down the slopes, and in front of my was a giant rock mountain.


More downhill and I was back on the highway and into Big Sur. I had the best. burger. ever. at the Maiden Publick House along with a tasty Pilsner.

I knew the burger was going to “sit heavy” but it was so good. The much rumored climb out of Big Sur delivered; a long, hot grind of a climb, seemingly unchanging in grade, endless. I kept waiting for the burger to become energy. Finally I crested but the day just seemed to be an endless series of climbs. My loads always got heavier as I would add two beers to my pack for post ride libation. My off-road ramble had taken a lot of time, and night was coming. Finally I crested a rise and saw my destination ahead. Lime Kiln SP is located just under a bridge, under a mountain, an amazing place. I set camp, toasted the sunset and dined on pho noodles.

END OF PART ONE...

Last edited by danec99; 07-14-15 at 02:36 PM.
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Old 07-14-15, 02:29 PM
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Day 4: Lime Kiln to San Simeon


The sun rose over the towering peaks behind me. I took a hike up to the Lime Kiln Falls and the actual Lime Kilns, it’s amazing the things people build in the middle of nowhere.

After that diversion, it was time to hit the road. Onward and upward, rising above the ocean, losing sight of it. The day four climb was a killer, again it was an unending grind, very steep in sections. The road was busy, and I trudged on oblivious. It was much hotter here, and I rested a few times on this climb, enjoying cool water in the occasional shade. The coast highway is not devoid of life, every so often a gate would appear with multiple stern warnings, the folk who dwell in these mini shangra-las must enjoy isolation. Finally THE downhill arrived and I dropped all the elevation back down to the coast, where all the land is owned by the Hearst Corporation. A series of rollers, a gathering of Elephant Seals, some Zebras and finally San Simeon State Beach. My ride seemed over here, the scenery was so different, lots of people. And this crappy corner of a park to sleep in.

Day 5: San Simeon to El Paso de Robles
I had a real breakfast in Cambria, and a decent cup of coffee. My other half wasn’t going to get to Paso Robles until around 5 so I looked for a longer route. I traveled past Hwy 46 to the town of Cayucos, a small beach city just north of SLO. Here I found a local roadie favorite, Old Creek Road, a supposedly lightly traveled road through Avocado ranches and farms. Ha. Maybe on weekends no one use this, but today it was busy. And steep. And hot. I knew moving inland it would instantly warm up - it did. I plodded along, a few local roadies zipped by and offered encouragement. And then I was descending, the final descent, Paso Robles awaited.

Five days on my bike, enjoying a world renowned destination and earning my beers. No one complained, the only yells I received were of a positive nature. I was a victim of crime however, during the night at Lime Kiln raccoons pilfered my sweet rolls, leaving me just oatmeal.

293 Miles
0 Flats
Many Beers
100% enjoyment
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Old 07-14-15, 02:30 PM
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Nice report.

I can't imagine being that close to the Bixby Bridge and not riding across it... definitely on my bucket list.
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Old 07-17-15, 05:32 PM
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Great ride, great report. It has been a log time (like 20 years - good God, where does the time go?) since I did a loaded tour, but your write-up brought me back to feelings of those tours.

I'll be doing the Best Buddies ride from Carmel to San Simeon in September. I'm very much looking forward to enjoying some of the same scenery you did.
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Old 07-17-15, 09:12 PM
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Enjoyed the report. I plan to do the same route, ending up at friend's house in San luis obispo. How did you return to SF? I was thinking of taking the train back (don't have enough time to ride both ways).
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Old 07-18-15, 12:40 PM
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Beautiful tour. You certainly went bold on the first day of a first tour.
Originally Posted by danec99
My first day was the longest at 99.6, with over 6k of climbing.
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Old 07-20-15, 11:44 AM
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Originally Posted by pacificaslim
How did you return to SF?.
We spent 2 days in Paso tasting wine, then drove home. The train would be a great option.
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