View Full Version : Jobob's California Coast Adventure

01-05-2006, 12:12 AM
Denise’s post with the link to the touring article on cnn.com (thanks Denise!) has encouraged me to tell you about our plans for a tour down part of the California coast, tentatively slated for late Sept. – early Oct.

Why then? Well, we had taken a car camping trip to Big Sur this past October and decided we had to do this on bikes – the weather was great, traffic was not too bad, and we saw about 6-10 touring cyclists per day, so it seemed like a good time to do it, with kids back in school and life in more of an off-season mode. Plus hopefully at that time of year the weather won't be too cold along the ocean nor too hot during our planned inland jog thru Lompoc and Solvang to Santa Barbara. The downside would be that some facilities and destinations might be closed or have reduced hours by then, but I think the advantages will outweight the disadvantages.

We plan to keep a very un-aggressive schedule. We're aiming to keep it under 50 miles per day, and some days will be even under 40 miles. But I think that would be plenty considering that we’ll be carrying tents, sleeping bags, and some cooking equipment. It’ll give us plenty of time to reach our destination, with sightseeing and snack stops. We’ll probably be eating out more often than not, thankyouverymuch, but we’ll always have fixings for a meal or 2 in case we’re caught short – we likes our Hormel turkey chili in the convenient little cardboard boxes so we’ll probably always have a few boxes of that on hand, and instant oatmeal, stuff like that. It’s not like we’re ever going to be too far away from restaurants and convenience stores though, and we’re not picky eaters.

The route I (I say “I” because I’m doing the map ciphering and web-browsing at this point, it’s what I enjoy doing, but of course Lee will have some input too … ;) ) put together so far had ten overnight stops between our home in Union City (a bit north of San Jose on the east side of the SF Bay) to Santa Barbara.

Day 1, probably a Sunday, will be one of the most strenous. But we're very familiar with the area so I don't think it'll be a problem, we could just take it slow & steady. We’ll head out bright & early from our home over the Dumbarton Bridge and then head west over the SF peninsula to the coast. We’ll probably stop off at first in Woodside or Palo Alto for coffee & a snack ( coffee & snack stops always figure heavily in my route planning :D ) and then trudge up Old La Honda Road, which should be really delightful with loaded bikes. Let’s just assume we will not come anywhere near my best time of 32 minutes :rolleyes: . But the good news is, after that we get to go down the other side of OLH road where it meets up with Rt. 84 for a smooth gradual desent to the coast. But before we reach the coast we’ll stop at the San Gregorio General Store for a Red Bull or an ice cream, or both. The we reach Rt. 1 and turn left for a few miles southbound along the coast, and turn inland again when we reach the turnoff for the town of Pescadero. We’ll probably do some wandering and snacking in Pescadero (lots of little shops & bakeries, what’s not to like?), maybe pick up some food for dinner, then head south a few miles on Cloverdale Road to Butano State Park where we’ll set up camp for the night. There isn’t a hiker-biker site there and it’s a popular campsite in the Bay Area, which is why we'll likely start on Sunday so we’ll be more likely to have a good selection of camping spots. Depending on the time of day & our energy level, we’ll either ride back to Pescadero for dinner (a couple of good restaurants there) or fix dinner at the campsite. Estimated mileage will be ~ 50 miles, with about 3500 ft of climbing.

Monday we’ll head down Cloverdale Rd. to Gazos Creek Rd. which takes us back to Rt. 1 a bit south of the Pigeon Point lighthouse. There’s supposedly a restaurant at Gazos Creek & Rt. 1 so we’ll probably have a real breakfast there. Then its down Rt. 1 to Santa Cruz (with maybe a stop at Ańo Nuevo State Reserve to see the seals, and of course a snack stop midway in Davenport) and camp at one of the campsites south of Santa Cruz, maybe New Brighton, Seacliff, or Sunset State Beaches. Total mileage ~ 35-45 ish, depending on where we camp.

Tuesday we’ll ride to Monterey/Pacific Grove via the nice bike path that parallels Rt. 1 – thanks to AG for introducing that route to us! Hopefully we’ll be able to get a room at Asilomar, which is a wonderful place to stay. Back when I worked at UC Berkeley our department had a yearly retreat there -ah, the good old days. Anyhow, sometimes rooms are available to the general public if they aren’t all booked up by conference/retreat groups. Knock wood. Otherwise, we’ll either find a motel room in Monterey or Pacific Grove or we’ll camp out at Veterans Memorial Park. I haven’t heard great things about Vets Memorial Park (Cindy, did you stay there?) so more than likely we’ll find a motel room if we can’t get into Asilomar; it’ll be midweek so it shouldn’t be difficult to find a reasonable place. Total mileage about 40-50 depending on where we stay, but it's mostly flat.

Wednesday we’ll get back onto Rt. 1 and head to Big Sur. Although the book “Bicycling the Pacfic Coast” by Spring & Kirkendall (4th ed., 2005), which is a great reference book, suggests going directly from Vets Memorial Park to Kirk Creek camground, about 60 miles, we’re going to stop at the halfway point of that route, at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. We really like that campground and that area so we wouldn’t miss it. Plus, if we start out from Asilomar or elsewhere in Pacific Grove that would add about another 10 miles to the trip. So there. :p

Thursday we’ll ride just 30 miles again, to Kirk Creek Campground, or an extra five miles to Plaskett Creek campground. It’s another ~ 40 miles from there to the campground at San Simeon State Beach, but from reading Spring & Kirkendall plus others’ accounts on crazyguyonabike.com and elsewhere (plus what we saw from our car driving down Rt. 1 last October), it’s a fairly rugged stretch of road with lots of rollers. Plus if the wind is against us (not likely but could happen I suppose), I’d be toast. I suppose if we start out early enough and the weather gods are with us and we have a nice tailwind and we’re feeling good enough we’ll head onward to San Simeon, but we’ll plan conservatively.

More than likely though on Friday we’ll go the 40 miles from Kirk Creek to San Simeon. It’s a short enough ride that we should have plenty of time to wander around nearby Cambria.

From here on out the plans are a lot more sketchy. Luckily we have many months to work out the rest of this route!

On Saturday we’ll perhaps ride ~ 45 miles towards San Luis Obispo. SLO is on the Amtrak line, so if we decided we had enough we could head from there back home (but, I hope not!). We'll probably take Spring & Kirkendall's route which bypasses SLO to the south. There’s an RV resort at Avila Valley Hot Springs (south of SLO & north of Pismo) which has tent campsites and cabin rentals along with a swimming pool and a hot mineral spring pool – that could be well worth checking out !

On Sunday we would possibly go from Avila Vally to Lompoc, which is about 55 miles, and spend the night outside of Lompoc at the River Park campsite. Much of this leg will involve riding past Vandenberg Air Force base. The route goes pretty far inland and hopefully that time of year it won’t be too hot.

On Monday, we’ll go on to Solvang via Rt. 246. Solvang is only about 20 miles from Lompoc (30 miles if we stay at the Cachuma Lake Recreation Area), but I think it would be too much for us to bypass Lompoc and head directly to Solvang on Sunday, especially if it’s hot out. So, we’ll have a very short ride to Solvang which will give us lots of time to check out the scenery and the bakeries :) And once Lee finds out that Cachuma Lake has yurt retals, he’ll definitely want to stay there – he’s always talking about wanting to stay in a yurt !

On Tuesday we’ll go from Cachuma Lake to Santa Barbara via Highway 154. Spring & Kirkendall mention that a few miles down the road from the lake marks the start of a 4 mile climb up San Marcos Pass, elevation 2200 feet, followed by a rapid 7-mile descent on a narrow twisting road with heavy traffic. Oh joy. The good news is it’s only about a 20 mile trip into Santa Barbara.

We’ll probably stay overnight someplace in Santa Barbara and then box up our bikes for the return trip on Amtrak to San Jose.

Since we plan on taking off a full 2 weeks, we have a fews days left over so we can stay an extra day here & there. Although I’m making it sound like we have a strict schedule, that’s really not the case. I’m just giving each leg a day of the week to make it easier to keep them straight, and to get an idea of where we might be on the weekend, that sort of thing.

I wonder how many times we'll change this before we actually head out? :rolleyes:

I'd really appreciate comments & suggestions from anyone who might be familar with any of the areas we're heading through, or who has actually toured in these areas (hi Cindy :) )

- Jo

01-05-2006, 05:09 AM
Jo -
Your trip sounds great! And don't beat yourself up over mileage. Your plans for shorter days sound great - hilly roads and hauling your gear mean you'll probably be moving slower, and shorter (mileage) days give you time to enjoy your surroundings.

On the camping front, I wouldn't worry too much about full campgrounds. Even when there aren't hiker/biker sites, I've found that people are willing to let a lone cyclist (or two) share their sites - especially since we don't take up too much room. I first ran into this situation on my first solo tour; as I was wandering through a camp ground looking for a site, someone came out of their site and offered to let me share their space. It's happened more than once, so I suspect you'll have a similar experience.

--- Denise

01-05-2006, 05:36 AM
Hey Jo,

Thom and I did that trip on our old mountain bikes in '93. We did it over ten days with three days off the bike. We were thinking about maybe doing it again this August since it's just so gorgeous.

Let's see, when we got to Monterey we stayed at the Marriott. We also had to rent a car and drive back to our apartment in Sunnyvale. Thom had lost his wallet at Sunset. :rolleyes:

We did go from PBS to San Simeon. It is a long day, but we were feeling pretty good when we got to Kirk Creek and they didn't have showers, so we continued on.

Do a tour at Hearst Castle. I think they are still doing the garden one at that time of year. We really want to go back and do that one.

From San Simeon we went on to Morro Bay after touring the castle.

Then we spent a couple of days at Oceano. They had a really nice hiker biker site and we were able to do laundry in Pismo.

From Pismo we went straight to Cachuma Lake - a little more than a century I think. But we didn't like how the campgrounds looked. The climb over San Marco Pass wasn't bad either.

I wasn't as "serious" a rider then, so when I say a climb wasn't bad, it really wasn't. :D

I like your pacing. It will really give you time to stop and enjoy your surroundings.

I'm envious.


01-05-2006, 08:18 AM
I have stayed here. I highly suggest reservations for these, as they tend to be booked up - sometimes up to a year in advance. The yurts are nice, with beds inside, heat if you need it, and a good campfire space out in front. There are portapotties to use, and coin operated showers on site with good hot water. Enjoy.

01-05-2006, 08:58 AM
Thanks everyone !

Denise, that's a good point. Depending on the campground, some sites are very large - I'm thinking of my personal favorite, Pfieffer Big Sur, where some of the campsites especially along the river are very, very spacious (hmmm, I wonder if they're less spacious now after all the rain - I can pretty much guarantee it :eek: ). But I'm thinking we won't run into filled-up campsites anyhow since we'll be travelling in the off-season, except for perhaps on the weekends.

V., I had forgotten about your tour ! Thanks for the info. We'll most likely spend an extra day in the San Simeon area, there's so much to see. It might even make more sense to get an inexpensive motel room in Cambria or thereabouts (assuming one exists :rolleyes: ) for a couple of nights as our base for checking out the area. And it would be cool to see Hearst Castle, if only a bit of it.

Thanks for the info on the yurts, mikki. Maybe we'll luck out and one would be available mid-week in the off season, but that sounds like a really nice campground even if the yurts were all taken & we need to pitch the tent. The Solvang area might be another two-night stay. :cool:

01-05-2006, 09:52 AM
I particularly like the careful attention to snack planning. :D

01-05-2006, 10:42 AM
Vets Memorial Park (Cindy, did you stay there?)
nope - we stayed at the Monterey Hilton. Nice hotel, but we were so exhuasted (did 130 miles that day) we just ordered some food from room service, then crashed. We sat in the jacuzzi the next morning after sleeping in, then did some shopping at some of the local bike shops before heading over to Monterey for some sightseeing.

It’s another ~ 40 miles from there to the campground at San Simeon State Beach, but from reading Spring & Kirkendall plus others’ accounts on crazyguyonabike.com and elsewhere (plus what we saw from our car driving down Rt. 1 last October), it’s a fairly rugged stretch of road with lots of rollers.
hmmmm, trying to remember this stretch...... perhaps this was the stretch where we were almost knocked over by cross winds. I do remember a lot of rollers but without my map in front of me, I just can't be sure (the map is at Andrew' place who is in and out of town until Saturday night).

There’s an RV resort at Avila Valley Hot Springs (south of SLO & north of Pismo) which has tent campsites and cabin rentals along with a swimming pool and a hot mineral spring pool – that could be well worth checking out !
just don't stay at Pismo campground - it was a bit of a dump in my opinion (and my BF, who is not quite as snooty (uh I mean picky) as me.

We’ll probably stay overnight someplace in Santa Barbara and then box up our bikes for the return trip on Amtrak to San Jose.

we stayed at the Santa Barbara Hilton - (the second of two nights in a hotel for our 5 day trip). It was stunning, with just a road separating it from the beach. Then rented an SUV for our trip home

I'll try to get some digi-photos of our trip from Andrew when I see him on Sunday

found an old post: (not a lot of info here, and I never did post to crazyguyonabike which appears to be down at the moment)

The quick and dirty ride report is we did 130 miles the first day: San Francisco to Monterey. The route to Santa Cruz was a breeze. Then we had headwinds all the way to Monterey. I was pedaling down hill. I seriously bonked towards the end and basically drug myself into the hotel in Monterey. The next three days were much lighter. After touring 17 mile drive in Carmel (wow!) we headed to and camped out at Big Sur (50 miles), then it was off to camp at San Simeon (75 miles), then camping at Oceano/Pismo (50 miles), and finally to Santa Barbara (110 miles) where we stayed at the beautiful ocean front Double Tree Hilton Hotel. That night we proceeded into town where we must have ate 30-40 rolls of Sushi between the two of us!

I think my favorite day of the whole trip was day 4. It was a really relaxed day, traveling through the great little coastal communities of Cambria, Cayucos, and Morro Bay (I could SO live in one of these communities!). We stopped at a nice little cafe in Morro Bay and chatted with the friendly owner and one of her patrons about our trip. Then we proceeded to Oceano for the night where we met up with two gentlemen who were also on a tour to Santa Barbara.

On the way back to the Bay Area (rental car) we stopped in Paseo Robles for wine-tasting. Overall a great trip!

01-05-2006, 10:59 AM
When I was driving between college and home during the last century, there as a really good ice cream place in Arroyo Grande. Fabulous milkshakes. Buddies at Cal Poly turned me onto it but I can't remember the name (remember it was the last century).

A google turned up this place: http://www.docburnsteins.com/. It looks fun and they have model trains. Toot!

Adventure Girl
01-05-2006, 11:12 AM
there as a really good ice cream place in Arroyo Grande. Fabulous milkshakes. Buddies at Cal Poly turned me onto itI remember that place! Was it called Bernardo's? Or something like that? The name is a vague memory for me from 20-something years ago. But I remember the milkshakes!:D

Edit: I just checked out SK's link to docburnsteins. That's the place! It began as Burnardo’z Candy Kitchen & Ice Cream Parlour.

01-05-2006, 11:30 AM
When I searched I did find a Burnardo's. Hmm, do they have two locations? That was sooooo long ago.

01-05-2006, 11:32 AM
:cool: I have a book you might want to borrow jobob......:cool:

01-05-2006, 01:15 PM
:cool: I have a book you might want to borrow jobob......:cool:

what's the book??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

01-05-2006, 01:21 PM
It's Touring the Pacific Coast or something like that. I think I heard about it here - so someone else must have it too?

01-05-2006, 01:27 PM
It's Touring the Pacific Coast or something like that. I think I heard about it here - so someone else must have it too?

yep, see: http://forums.teamestrogen.com/showthread.php?t=4772

hey jo - did you see my post about "cajun kitchen" on that thread? I highly recommend it while you are in Lompoc

01-05-2006, 02:01 PM
Snap - I think what you're referring to is the Spring & Kirkendall book I keep yammering about, Bicycling the Pacific Coast. It was out of print for a little while but the 4th edition was just published in 2005. Thanks for the offer !

Cindy - Lee & I actually talked about maybe renting a car or an SUV for the trip home from Santa Barbara as an alternative to the train.

While the Amtrak would in theory work great, the bikes would have to be boxed up for the trip on that particular line (I know on some Amtrak lines you can just roll the bikes on board, unfortuantely the Coast Starlight isn't one of them). Plus I checked the schedule and we would roll into San Jose around 9:30 at night, IF the train's on time (which it almost never is), so in reality taking the train has a fairly high pain-in-the-butt factor.

Oh yeah, the Cajun Kitchen has been duly noted ! I love cornbread !

And milkshakes .... yum ... you guys sure know how to take care of me :D Not to mention you'll be Lee's new Best Friends.

01-05-2006, 03:22 PM

Can I come? Please! Pretty Please...that sounds wonderful. Something we are planning to do when the kids move out:D Best of luck on your adventure!


01-05-2006, 08:12 PM
Wow, JoBob! Inadequate response, but all I can come up with. :rolleyes:

I am envious of where you are going to ride and the fact that you and your DH (right?) both have a wish to do such a thing. Think of all the fun you'll have planning, too!


01-05-2006, 08:58 PM
Aw, shucks, Annie :o
It's nothing compared to what Denise accomplished on her cross-country ride, or what I suspect Cindy will do this summer.

Yeah, it's pretty neat that I can head out my door and a couple of hours later be cruising down the Pacific Coast. DH and I make noises about moving to the Northwest eventually (Portland-Seattle-ish), but for the time being, this is not an awful place to be.

Karen, I'll bet there's some very nice touring in your neck of the woods too. But sure, c'mon over ! :D

Actually, once we have the dates figured out, it would be fun if anyone would like to ride with us along the way, if even just the first day out to Pescadero. Only bear in mind we'll be a lot slower than we generally are, so you might have to give us a good head start before Old La Honda Road :rolleyes:

01-06-2006, 08:37 AM
Hey, I'm slow! Can I come?

Of course, I'm nowhere near Cali., and have all these silly obligations... I'm just going to have to be satisfied with my own trips (yep, plural) this year.

Life's hard:rolleyes:

02-20-2006, 08:22 PM
i you might have already been forwarded this blog but maybe you'll find it helpful... there's a trip from san simeon to santa barbara in there...

sorry to barge in so late but I've been reading all the posts and thought you might like to read it!!


happy planning!


02-23-2006, 12:16 AM
allright, here's some pictures:

these aren't in order and I still need to identify some of the pics, but wanted to get something up since I promised them ages ago....

1) 17 mile drive
2) camp site (will have to go back and figure out where?)
3) friends from camp we went to dinner with
4) drying clothes on my bob between camp sites (where?)
5) our gear (note that I'm pulling the bob trailer)
6) Monterey - my boyfriend Andrew looks like a freaking nazi here
7) nice jersey honey - is that from the 80's?
8) Pescadero (at least this one has a sign identifying it)

02-23-2006, 12:21 AM

02-23-2006, 07:38 AM
what beautiful pictures! I wish my DH had some interest in doing that stuff! Where did you begin/finish? How long to do the tour?