Day 5, Bike 2018, Big Sur River Inn to Cambria – 35 miles
The whole 90-miles of the Big Sur area is in the Santa Lucia mountains and no cell service, internet here at the Inn best in restaurant, none in our rooms. So, the hills here are mountains, not your ordinary hills, with very long ups and very long speedy downs with ups taking 15 minutes of struggle and down very fun 2 minutes of curves and fast speeds, careful feathering of brakes, no sightseeing.
This morning at 47 degrees at 7 a.m. we are shivering as prepare our bicycles, not looking forward to more mountains, so decide to drive 4 miles over the highest to get more toward the top. We start here and still have a couple very difficult mountains, but they get less difficult the further south we go.
Today Hwy 1 is high above the ocean, but right at the edge of the cliffs, so there is guardrail all along plus at spots over ravines short rock walls have been built, and some have been crashed into with broken rocks! Good thing they were there! However, it is so beautiful with the thunder of the white capped waves, ocean various shades of blue, sunshine, and no wind, mountains covered with different shades of green foliage. Hwy is 2 lanes sometimes shoulder, sometimes not, however little traffic with mud slide area and Hwy 1 closure and detour ahead.
At Lucia where there is a gas station, store and restaurant in 1 building, only building here, we learn this spot was cut off on both sides with mud slides destroying bridges both sides. For 7 months, all their supplies were helicoptered in! and they could not go anywhere, plus no tourists.
And here MA decides not to ride any more today as her knee is bothering her after 4 days of tough riding. Lady at Lucia store gives her an ice pack… nice…
At 10:30 and 22 miles, we arrive at the detour, load our bikes, and take Nacimiento Road left into the mountains. For at least an hour we are on a 2 lane, no shoulder, barely able to pass vehicles road, with a curve every few few feet slowly traversing/wending our way to the top. The road seems to be clinging to the edge of the mountain. We descend on same traversing curved road into totally different terrain, flat, brown grasslands with intermittent trees (looks like Africa), then we begin to notice areas of green in this brown landscape. As we get closer, see they are grape vines, and the further we go, acres and acres of grapes over the brown hills. Where do they get water? Looks as though underground wells have been drilled as we see large pumping stations.
It is now 1 p.m. and we are looking for a convenience store for cold drinks, snacks. We detour off old Hwy into Barney but only a few desolate homes in the desert. The next little town has a little grocery store/deli and eat lunch at an old picnic table under a tree. Oh yes, on the coast temp 68 – here 88 and hot as inland much warmer than coast. A couple more highways, a couple more hours and finally into Cambria, back on the coast in 4.5 hours, 70 miles of detour, temp back to 68!
We are staying in Cambria tonight but decide we want to bicycle the stretch of Hwy 1 from the mud slide area north of Cambria back south into Cambria, so we drive north 12 miles, unload our bikes, put our jackets back on as very very windy and chilly and we debate whether we really want to do this as we get out of van into very cold blustery sunshine day. This pullout where we unload is a seal area and on a small sandy beach there are hundreds of seals lying sleeping, barking, moving, look like canned sardines there are so many. We get on our bicycles and find the ride is more pleasant than expected and warmer as we bicycle. Back in Cambria, we load our bikes and go to the Farmers Market, as we are early to the home where we are invited at 5:30.
Interesting FM, as besides many booths of fantastic looking veggies and fruits, speciality booths with sprouted organic walnuts plus walnut oil, walnut creams (lady makes everything herself). Homemade humus and homemake chips, homemade soups, bakery, Italian bakery, homemade salsa and chips, a coffee booth with many specialty varieties.
Drive to large beautiful home of Joe and Mary Fay Zenk, Mary Fay and Marie in same high school class, and Kathleen is also here, another classmate. In 2001 when Marie and I bicycled from Canada to Mexico, we stayed with Kathleen, and she and I have stayed in touch all these years as we have the same birthday and send email greetings every year. Joe makes Sherry and me wonderful pressed coffee, and we have a great meal of lasagna, sausage, salad, homemake carrot cake and ice cream. Three gals have good time talking about high school classmates, etc.
We all very tired and at 9 p.m., I am too tired to write email so to bed for a nap, then awake at 12 a.m. and here I am writing about today. I have to save the memories of today today as tomorrow will be another full day of adventure. We were again blessed by God with safety and seeing sights of beautiful USA we have never seen before (the detour).
Day 6, Saturday, June 2, Cambria to San Louis Obispo – 38 miles
Side Note: People in this area call San Luis Obispo (SLO) (slow). “We’re going to slow.”
You have probably noticed having trouble sending emails, seems to be when internet connection is not strong. Sorry they are such a mess… Praying this church connection is better.
Started the morning with breakfast with Joe and Mary Fay Zenk in their home in Cambria with cereal and scrambled eggs. Then we 4 drove north to the Hearst Castle and began our tour at 8 a.m. It started with a 30-minute movie about Hearst growing up here on this land. His father came from Missouri to find gold. After 10 years of not finding gold, he did find silver, and was instantly rich and bought thousands of acres of land where Hearst Castle now stands. The movie is really good. If you get a chance to tour this, do not miss the free movie. It was the most informative part of the tour for me.
After the movie, we boarded a bus for the 15-minute winding drive to the Castle. Marie and my tour included half outside and half inside the lower level. I will not go into details as there is lots of info on the internet, but it was fantastic and hope you get to see in person.
We did not get back to the Zenks until noon, and it was very hot, in the 80s. We marveled at how it has been cold, and now in 1 day is hot! so changed to summer riding pants, less layers, fingerless gloves. The Zenke’s served us sandwich and we were finally leaving at 1 p.m. with a sendoff prayer by Mary Fay.
From the Zenke’s front garage door there is a steep hill and had to make a sharp left at the bottom onto another street, hopeful no traffic coming. With the sharp turn and an immediate hill, MA’s chain came off with quick shifting, Sherry did not get shifted into a lower gear and could not bicycle up, so with those 2 in front of me disabled, I also had to stop. A fellow in a pickup stopped and put MA’s chain back on, and we all 3 then walked up this steep little hill. Then another steep little hill or two to get onto Hwy 1. Whew, a tough start.
Oh, how we loved Hwy 1 with its very wide shoulder. The rolling hills here seemed easy after the mountains. We were able to really cruise along. Here with green hills on both sides. We passed Harmony, pop 8, and already 15 miles on our odometers! Now we are along the ocean and much cooler! At Cayucos we leave Hwy 1 and bicycle into a pretty little town filled with shops and people. We took a wrong turn, had to retrace. We have detailed instructions in our guide book, but following detailed instructions in guide bookand got back onto Hwy 1 which now is right at the ocean. Lots of people on the beaches today.
The rest of the trip we struggle with finding the right streets with Marie in van trying to keep track of us with her maps. We bicycle into Morro Bay and take picture of Morro Rock in the ocean, the landmark for this bay. Here we decide to take a bicycle path instead of Hwy 1. Wrong move… There were lots of paths and we took wrong ones ending up at dead ends. Retrace and had to chose between 3 paths, so took the one closest to Hwy 1, as long as we paralled it, we were ok.
It ends and we are now on streets and need to vear away from Hwy 1. We stop at a Mobile station for directions as cannot find street we need. Sherry is also using her GPS the whole trip. We need to find Los Ojos Road (bears).
We descend down a long steep hill into Los Ojos which was fun, but thinking this is not good because what goes down has to come up… and yes we ran into hills and also finally ran into Los Ojos Road which was about 10 miles, but took us to Foothills Blvd. where we turn left into SLO! We have 35 miles on our odometers and it is 5 p.m. We still have 3 miles to the church, as we pass through business area, and find Fredricks Ave, the street of the church. Oh yes, a very steep hill up. I remember this hill from 2001 when Marie and I stayed here. There is no way any of us could bicycle this and we slowly trudged up, every step with ultimate effort as we are exhausted. Of course, then there is the very steep down which we bicycled, and I zoomed right by the church, having to come back. Marie is here with van, Alex our contact has gone, the church is open and we haul our bags, the cooler and plug it in.
We have 37 miles and again it was 37 miles for me of sprinting! The driving today was too difficult for me, so Marie drove all. I have decided one problem is that the 2 gals have long legs… they go around once with their pedals to my 4 times!
Sherry and MA head to the Y where we have free showers, I am too exhausted, sponge at kitchen sink. They come back after laundromat and groceries to report the Y closed at 4 p.m.!
However, we are here, safe in a church again and grateful for the day. I had to go to bed at 9 p.m., too exhaused to write email, now up at 2 a.m. feeling much better and getting this day recorded, hopefully sent! Blessings to all of you.
Day 7, Sunday, June 3 , SLO to Lompoc – 60 miles
We are up at 5 as usual with the usual rush to get ready and out the door at 7. The only time on a bike ride that you are not rushing is when you are asleep! Everyone concentraiting on keeping things together in certain bags, etc. This morning MA and I oil and clean everyone’s chains.
After prayer for safety, of course, we must walk up the same hill we walked up yesterday from the other side and zoomed down this side yesterday to arrive. Now walking back up it to get started, very difficult and slow again (MA, Sherry and me). Sunny and beautiful morning with no wind.
Five miles later we are out of SLO after many streets, turns, and wrong turn once, passing residences, then business area. Marie at corners a big help! This year riding with MA & Sherry faster pace, have no time to take notes as go along.
We are in farming country with fields of black soil, huge fields of vegetables. As we bicycle south across this broad valley of crops, the road is bad, only 2 lane, rough from farm equipment and vehicles. Since Sunday no one is in the fields, all big equipment sitting. Good day to ride through as usually workers’ vehicles also line both sides of road, as yesterday, little traffic today. See signs and realize these are corporate farms. However, as we come to south end of the valley, we must go up a very steep road to get out of the valley to the ridge above. Once again, we must walk very slowly, difficult even to walk, but now also have weight of bicycle.
Marie driving van keeps track of us and is at corners for turns as we are on several different roads as we go south and am pushing hard again this morning to keep up, but ok.
In 15 miles, we bicycle into Pismo Beach. It is 9 a.m. and town is packed with people and vehicles. A beach here plus one street has a car show. Careful bicycling with cars lining both side, people getting in and out with open doors, and it is cool here. All day we off and on with jackets — too hot, then too cold as we travel sometimes close to ocean (cool) and inland (hot). On outskirts we bicycle through an obviously lower-income area with small homes and businesses.
As we bicycle out of Pismo Beach, there is a butterfly reserve on right side where we stop, an area of bushes with paths, a spot especially for the Monarchs as they return here every year. I do not see any, but interesting. And my camera suddenly is on panorama and will not take an ordinary picture! Have no idea how it got there and have no idea how to change it. Something else to figure out this evening if time, but no pictures today. Bummer.
We bicycle along coast and there are areas full of motor homes that look as tho people live there year around. Other areas of beautiful homes.
At 21 miles 10 a.m. we will turn onto Hwy 1, and Marie would like to ride since through difficult area. My turn to drive and take my van key from around my neck (we all have van keys around our necks), unload her bike and load mine as MA and Sherry go on. I pull over and wait every 2 miles as we go 10 miles to Guadalupe. We are in an area of brown grass with trees scattered over the hills (like Africa). There are a couple of bicyclists with loaded bikes whom I keep passing and then they pass me as I wait for Marie, and we wave.
In Guadalupe, we stop and Marie mails a postcard at the PO right here. I drive thru town slowly with businesses lining street looking for MA & Sherry with Marie bicycling behind, and see Sherry standing outside Subway. Stop and decide to lunch here as 11:30, Cold wind and we put jackets back on.
Marie and I recall when we were here in 2001. I had contacted a Lutheran church, Pete and Jan Moehler (members) invited us to their home instead, and Pete and Chuck Greenly (bicyclists and retired military) met us in Guadalupe with their bicycles. Jan in pickup hauled our gear, and they led on on the same route we are traveling today, taking us off Hwy 1, so we know that there is a very long, difficult hill ahead to go up and then to drop down into Lompoc.
An hour later we ready to go again, MA decides to give her knee a rest, so she drives and Marie, Sherry and I ride, Marie loads 6 miles later. Sherry and I come to an intersection and are about to turn left when Marie and MA drive up, indicating to go straight (they have map so should know). Sherry and I immediately start up a long hill, very long and difficult 1 mile, slowly, agonizingly, must not stop! Then a downhill, but short and immediately start up another long hill. This one only half a mile. Marie and MA pull up in van. We are on wrong road! Must turn around. You mean we just did these 2 excrutiating hills for practice?
Oh well…. Sherry and I load our bikes, Marie drives us back to intersection and now turn left as Sherry and I had wanted to an hour ago! We arrive a the foot of Harris grade. I decide to load here as cannot do another long hill, have done my hill for today. MA decides to ride and she and Sherry start up. Marie and I drive up and wait at a pullover. At 3:30 they arrive, need water, saying this not as difficult as others, keep going. Tell us of Tom, a bicyclist with loaded bicycle who is out of water. We wait half an hour for him to arrive, fill his 2 water bottles, drive down into Lompoc. Sherry and MA already waiting at Holiday Inn.
We are staying here courtesy of UM church! We have 2 rooms with double beds, and in Marie and my room, there is a box of big beautiful delicious stawberries! Oh, yum, also from the church! We luxurate in showers and then walk a couple blocks to Eddie’s Grill where Pastor and LaVelda meet us (we feel we know each other as have emailed a couple months). Church also paying for our dinner (I have pineapple hamburger..so good.) We visit a couple hours, and back to room at 8:30 exhausted, too tired to write email, will nap a while and start, so starting at midnight to write the saga of today, now 1 a.m. and praying that this will go to you. Grateful for another blessed day and this church who making our overnight here so comfortable!
Day 8, Monday, June 4, Lompoc to Santa Barbara – 50 miles
Awake in luxury in real bed at Holiday Inn in Lompoc, room supplied by the UM Church, and yes, the box of beautiful strawberries is real also sitting on the table, which we munch on all day. Yesterday Sherry bicycled the whole 60 miles from SLO to here and I did 42, do not know the others’ mileage.
We all converge on the breakfast nook at 6 a.m. for a filling, complete breakfast of cereal, eggs, etc, each also taking a banana for the road… thanks again to UMC for this. Reluctantly carry out all our bags, load, and MA, Sherry and myself prepare to bicycle. It is foggy for the first time, so on with the front and tail lights, and only 52 at 7 a.m., so 4 layers on top for me, ear warmer. The Holiday is right on Hwy 1, so after prayer, take a right on it from the parking lot, and I must immediately “hit it” to keep up with gals. Many lights, so when green, an extra spurt to make it through. When red, I am glad, as it gives me a chance to “catch up”, rest a little sometimes.
We are in hill country with brown/green hills both sides, narrow valley, and rolling hills. Ahead we are warned in a 7% down grade and as going down, I am pedaling very hard, feels like am going uphill! As look in mirror, we really are going down, but so hard! It is harder than the next up. This true on 3 other downs. We talked about this and could not figure out why, but not appreciated, as we had enough tough pedaling with the ups, and do not need tough going down! We put our order in with the Lord!
The hills are beautiful — covered with trees very dark green, grass brown/green with yellow spots, altho again I am riding my lower handlebars for extra power and less wind resistance, so see little. There are no people, towns, any sign of civilization through this whole 20 miles, altho did see holding pens for cattle with ramp for loading in one spot, so must be cattle grazing here, altho saw none. Working hard as seems gradually going up, up and down hills. We have crossed the same river 3 times on bridges.
Come to construction (asphalting) where there is 1-lane traffic and one side of cars waits while the other goes through, led by a pilot car. Our line in right-hand lane is stopped with a long line, 50 cars or so. We bicycle by as we are on the shoulder, feeling slightly guilty. Okay with sign guy.
We stop here as Marie on shoulder with van, 1 layer off, 8:30 12 miles, who informs us she has read it is about 2 more miles “to summit”… To summit? Just as we suspected, we are going up and these last 2 miles is one long exhausting hill. We did get clever, however, knowing that our line of traffic was stopped at times with no traffic, then 50 cars go by, then nothing again as they are stopped. At the times there was no traffic, I rode on the road, as much smoother, much flatter, less trash, faster. As soon as I saw the first car approaching, back over to the rough shoulder, and stay there as 50 cars or so go by again, than back on the easier road; makes a big difference.
Finally to summit and we smile expectantly as we now have a down 7% down again and enjoy curving descent but only 2 miles and 5 minutes. We complain of unfairness of 18 up and only 2 down! Now 10:30 and 20 miles.
We load all bikes as have agreed to side trip to Solvag, a Danish town, and drive there, beautiful flowers, Danish type buildings, 2 giant Dutch windmills, a tourist mecca with many small shops in central part. We wander half an hour into Danish products store to learn that Legos are made in Demark. In to Hans Christen Andersen museum, Danish chocolates for Sherry and MA. It is now 11:30 and drive back through country of grape vines, grass fields watered with gaited pipe, bailed grass in small square bales. We must stop at Buellton where there is the famous Andersen split pea soup restaurant. MA and Sherri buy 2 cans for their mom. Now back to bicycling spot.
MA, Sherry and I head out at 12:30, now on Hwy 101 (freeway), as only road through this area. I like freeways because they are flatter, a very wide well maintained shoulder, shorter distance, and can really move along, go 5 miles.
Pull into beach area as, according to guide book, there is a bicycle path here right along ocean and we happily bicycle it with great scenery but up and down small tough hills when we suddenly come to fence that says trail closed! Oh no. MA says, “I am not riding back” as we think of difficulty, and she manages to squeeze around the side of fence pulling bicycle after, so Sherry and I follow. We are now walking as very narrow here with curb and very close to edge as beach and ocean below us. Oh, we see why it is closed, there is damage along here with the edge gone, at times we tiptoe by, are we going to have to walk the whole distance? Finally bicycle again and as we approach end of trail at the next beach, here is chain link fence again that says trail closed. Oh no, all this way! However, MA finds a trail through the bushes that goes around and we walk out bikes through the bushes around the locked gate. Whew. It is now 1 p.m. and 25 miles. Marie wait in van.
Now she will bicycle and I will drive. She always has to wait, until there is an easier stretch for me to drive as this country girl who only drives in GJ easily can and does get lost and my Goggle Maps not working, says I am off line. What’s with that! So I drive the next 20 miles, first on Hwy 1, then right on Hollister (enter Santa Barbara) to Modoc Road, where traffic is heavier.
Fortunately speed limit 40 or so most of way, but why am I going east instead of south? Later learn that coast at SB runs east and west rather than north or south. Seems a long way, ask consruction guy as go through, stop at Toyota to be reassured by salesman am going right direction. Finally come to Modac road and stop in parking lot and call Cathy at church, which is only 2 miles more on Modac Road! Bicyclists soon arrive and they bicycle to church and I arrive with van. Cathy shows us around and we haul in stuff, which is always a jumble and we pick out spots where our stuff goes with much confusion. Sherry tries to make coffee in kitchen for her and me, pot not working. This is not starting well.
I now contact Pam Sillix from Grand Junction who lives here. She has invited us for showers, laundry and dinner! Pam and I first met when she was a Senior at GJHS where I taught. Then lost track of her until she was hired by my husband to be the office manager of his real estate business. She then married, left the office, had 2 sons, and lost track of her again, altho heard she had moved to California with the 2 boys in their teens. When she came back to GJ for her 40th high school reunion, we connected again and email occasionally. Then HDSA decided to have the HD convention in LA, forcing us to bicycle this tough coast, however, going through Santa Barbara and for Pam and I to reconnect again, and to again see her oldest son Blake and Rebecca Fox who came to dinner (both from GJ and knew both of them since they were little) (Becky best friend of my granddaughter, Caitlin). A fun evening of remembrances, and grateful for dinner, laundry and showers!
And we all to bed at 9 p.m. Marie and I on couches, MA and Sherry sleeping bags with couch pillows for cushioning. Now rested and writing this day of adventure at midnight. Praying internet working. Thanking God for another adventurous day and beautiful scenery and people who helped us all day.