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Bicycle tour down the central California coast


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  • [Pictures] Bicycle tour down the central California coast

    From July 7 to July 13, I participated in a bike ride down the central California coast to raise funds to help build a footbridge between two villages in Lesotho, so that one village could have access to education and medical care only available in the other. (You can read more about the fundraising aspect from the link in my signature.) Over a period of six days, we rode over 360 miles from Watsonville to Malibu, with camping stops at Big Sur, San Simeon, Pismo Beach, Buellton, and Ventura. Here is my story in pictures from the ride:

    Day 1: Watsonville (Santa Cruz County) to Big Sur (Monterey County)

    The day's ride started in Watsonville at a church parking lot where we were united with our bikes.

    From there we proceeded past Moss Landing,

    to our first rest stop outside of Castroville.

    They grow lots of artichokes around Castroville.

    A little later, we found ourselves on a bike path headed toward Monterey.

    There we stopped for lunch

    at Estero Park in Monterey.

    Not that we were alone.

    Up over the hill and past Carmel, we saw this sign on the highway telling us what lay ahead.

    And this was typical of what lay ahead.

    Not that I didn't stop once in awhile for a photo-op.

    Some places just had to be taken in.

    Looking back....

    After about 65 miles of bike riding, we pulled into camp at Big Sur State Park. This is neighboring tent.

    My little tent is in the background.

    Because of our late start, not much went on that evening, and we rested up for our second day.

    ---------- Post added 07-29-2012 at 05:38 PM ----------

    Day 2: Big Sur (Monterey County) to San Simeon State Park (San Luis Obispo County)

    This was to be our hardest day of the tour, with about 5000 feet of elevation gain in 70 miles. Each day started with a reminder of our cause.

    The first hill out of the camp was sunny, but over the top, we encountered fog and overcast that was with us most of the day.

    Still, there were some nice views, once the fog had lifted a bit.

    One of our rest stops was at Ragged Point, with most of the day's climbing behind us.

    As we got nearer to San Simeon, the terrain flattened, and we could see elephant seals lounging on the beach.

    Away from the seals were boarders being pulled by parachutes.

    On the shore below Hearst Castle is a small community.

    All day long, I had a mechanical problem with my bike, making it more difficult to shift gears as the day wore on. The next available bike shop (so I thought) was in Cambria, but I didn't expect it to be open, as it was Sunday. Since the town was just a few miles past the camp in San Simeon State Park, I decided to make for it the next day.

    Each evening there was a worship service, but I did not take pictures during that time. After that, we would have dessert and retire to our tents.
    Last edited by Trekkie Dad; 07-29-2012, 04:10 PM.
    Have bicycle, will ride. Finished 2012 with 10,089 miles, 683 hours, and 482,000 feet of elevation gain.
    2013: 201 rides, 8171 miles, 544 hours, 480K feet.
    2014 so far: 7846 miles, 451,000 feet

  • #2
    Re: Bicycle tour down the central California coast

    Wow- you got some great shots! Love the coast line and the seagull. I look forward to further installments of your trip.
    I pledge allegiance to the Earth, one planet, many gods, and to the universe in which she spins.


    • #3
      Re: Bicycle tour down the central California coast

      Day 3: San Simeon to Pismo Beach (San Luis Obispo County)

      After the morning briefing,

      I set out in search of the bike shop in Cambria that I had stopped by only five months before. It was shuttered with an apology and a phone number posted on the door. The man answering said they still had a shop in San Luis Obispo, so I decided to push on and hope I didn't have a total breakdown before then. At least I knew there were support people in cars in case I needed assistance.

      Since I was already in town, I took a couple of pictures.

      I soon caught up to the others at the rest stop in Cayucos,

      and got some advice from another cyclist about a different bike shop in SLO that was right on our route.

      Soon we were passing through Morro Bay.

      I wasn't the only one with mechanical problems. Here were are assisting with a flat tire just before one of the support cars showed up.

      As soon as assistance arrived, I pushed on, knowing I was going to be stopping by a bike shop for repairs. Our next stop was Jamba Juice in San Luis Obispo. (Sorry, no pictures.) I didn't even take pictures of the bike shop, but I found this one online of the owner/mechanic that took care of me.

      He replaced two cables and three housings and adjusted the derailleur, and had me test ride the bike before accepting payment. For a good hour's work he charged what I considered a pittance. No wonder the local riders praise this shop!

      The stop at the shop put me behind most other riders, but I was glad to see the sign announcing our stop for the night.

      I put my camera phone away after arriving in camp and even had some time to walk on the beach before dinner.

      ---------- Post added 07-30-2012 at 08:59 PM ----------

      Day 4: Pismo Beach (San Luis Obispo County) to Buellton (Santa Barbara County)

      The mood this morning was a bit somber, as one rider discovered the bike she had borrowed from another member was missing.

      No accusations or laying of blame; only the hope that somehow the stolen bike would prove useful to someone who truly needed it.

      So we moved on. Not far south was a little hill that led us away from the coast,

      and we were not to see the coast again until the next day. After crossing into Santa Barbara County, we came into the town of Guadalupe.

      Between Guadalupe and Lompoc was our big climb of the day: Harris Grade. Starting up:

      Halfway, looking back:

      and looking up:

      Lunch stop at the top:

      On the way down the other side, with Lompoc in the distance:

      I actually enjoyed the climb more than the descent, as the latter was windy and required close attention to keep the bike under control. We were treated to Baskin Robbins in Lompoc, as there was still another 20 miles or so to our next camp.

      It was a pretty 20 miles, though, mostly on a lightly traveled back road with some gentle climbs and descents.

      After we pulled into camp and got things set up,

      I talked a couple other riders to get back on our bikes and ride into Solvang.

      Solvang is a little bit of Denmark nestled in Calfornia.

      If you go there, stop at this place

      and sample the aebleskiver.

      That didn't spoil our appetite for dinner, however.

      That was my longest day on the bike: 75 miles, including the side trip into Solvang.
      Last edited by Trekkie Dad; 07-30-2012, 08:04 PM.
      Have bicycle, will ride. Finished 2012 with 10,089 miles, 683 hours, and 482,000 feet of elevation gain.
      2013: 201 rides, 8171 miles, 544 hours, 480K feet.
      2014 so far: 7846 miles, 451,000 feet


      • #4
        Re: Bicycle tour down the central California coast

        Day 5: Buellton (Santa Barbara County) to Ventura (Ventura County)

        After our morning briefing

        we headed down US 101 back to the coast. Riding a bike on the shoulder of what amounts to a freeway is not the most pleasant experience, and California allows it only where there is no nearby alternative. I didn't stop for pictures until our first rest stop at Refugio State Beach.

        We finally got off the freeway outside Goleta. I joined a couple other of our riders there and led them through the Santa Barbara area to our lunch stop. (I've ridden in the area before, and the bike routes are well marked and mapped.) Lunch was near the shore.

        My temporary companions left before I did,

        but I headed toward the beach

        where I knew there was a bike path.

        It eventually came to the street, and I continued to follow the route until our next stop at a Foster Freeze in Carpenteria.

        Then it was a few more miles on the freeway until we got close to our camp in Ventura.

        That night most of us stored our bikes inside the baggage trailer, as we were told homeless people sometimes pass through during the night, and we'd already had one bike stolen on this trip.

        That evening, I learned that one of the other riders was the younger brother of my sons' best friends in school. More about him later.

        ---------- Post added 07-31-2012 at 04:41 PM ----------

        Day 6: Ventura (Ventura County) to Malibu (Los Angeles County)

        This was the last of our morning briefings before heading down the Pacific Coast Highway to Malibu.

        I took the opportunity to explain the meaning of the blue star flag we saw flying by one of the RVs in the park. (We have a blue star flag displayed in our living room window.)

        As the day was relatively short (only 48 miles), we had only two stops: a Starbucks in Oxnard and the Missile Park at Point Mugu.

        Biggest model airplane I've ever seen

        Soon we were back on the coast and crossing into Los Angeles County.


        It turns out Malibu runs for miles along the coast, and there were at least 10 to go to our final destination. A finish line was set up to cross.

        Here's a dad and two kids who rode the entire distance on this setup.

        The "kid" who was the younger brother of my sons' friends. He had taken up cycling only a few months ago.

        Once we had all arrived at the finish, we were fed, awards and gifts were handed out, gear was packed up, and most of us spent the night at the Hilton Universal before heading home.

        Well, that's pretty much the whole story. See you on the road.
        Last edited by Trekkie Dad; 07-31-2012, 04:04 PM.
        Have bicycle, will ride. Finished 2012 with 10,089 miles, 683 hours, and 482,000 feet of elevation gain.
        2013: 201 rides, 8171 miles, 544 hours, 480K feet.
        2014 so far: 7846 miles, 451,000 feet


        • #5
          Re: Bicycle tour down the central California coast

          Sounds like it was quite a trip! Thanks for the report.
          I pledge allegiance to the Earth, one planet, many gods, and to the universe in which she spins.


          • #6
            Re: Bicycle tour down the central California coast

            I feel so homesick after this post. I would travel CA HWY1 3 or 4 times a year from Santa Barbara to Monterey or just to Cambria for a get away. The sea lions were always a must see. I have done the whole of HWY1 from Santa Barbara to Eureka and beyond into Oregon on several occasions. Yes, I know you do have to get on the 101 FWY for a bit. I highly recommend that anyone take this trip. In fact I plan on going from MT to Oregon and on down to Santa Barbara soon.

            I didn't see the pics of Solvang, Santa Barbara, Lompoc, Carpenteria ( I lived there for 3 yrs. before moving to Montana) and Ventura. Oh how I want to go tomorrow and visit. My daughter lives in Lompoc and works in Solvang. Haven't been back in 3 years as we always meet at Disneyland. Thanks for the great post.
            Last edited by victoriaskitten; 08-01-2012, 09:37 PM.


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