Sep 20: Pismo Beach to Gaviota State Beach (67.4 miles)

I packed up early and, yes, the tent was soaked again. Today’s journey is an inland route east of Vandenberg Air Force Base and Point Conception and rejoining the Pacific at Gaviota State Beach. There is no continuous public coastal road around Pt Conception.

A lot of what I saw today was farmland, and much of it is being harvested

I had some big hills today, and while climbing them I was really missing the cool coastal breeze

It was a very warm day today and I was gulping down the water and sweating it out! Any turnout with shade was welcomed! The first half of today’s route had little to no shoulder (see above), but the second half had a smooth and generous shoulder. Even so, I found myself dragging my bike across grass and brush to get respite from the sun.

I finally summited the last hill and enjoyed a downhill run on Hwy 1, then a tricky merge onto Hwy 101 and finally arrived at the ocean at Gaviota State Beach.

When I registered for a site the ranger said that I looked like I could use a cold beer. I heartily agreed, but mentioned that food stores are too far away. She told me not to worry: she keeps a cooler with cold beers to give to Bicyclers who come here! On the PCT we call this Trail Magic from Trail Angels. I guess this is Toad Magic from Road Angels!

Here’s a view of the beach

Here’s a view of the hills I descended

There is a pier here

The campground is separated from the beach by train trestles

I am now in the Southern California Bight, the area between Pt. Conception and Dan Diego. I believe the big hills are now all done, and most of my ride will be through So Cal cities.

Here’s proof I’m in So Cal: I think this is my first Palm Tree

Tomorrow is a coastal ride through Santa Barbara, including UCSB, to Carpinteria.

Sep 19: San Simeon State Park to Coasta Dunes RV Park near Pismo Beach (58.3 miles)

The wind stopped sometime last night and the fog moved in and drenched everything in our campsite. I packed up and headed out into the fog to the city of Cambria looking for a warm breakfast.

Today’s ride follows Hwy 1 through Morro Bay and then side streets to Pismo Beach

The fog lifted south of Cambria and I got to see the ocean again

The last of the morning fog was burning off at Morro Rock and I started heading inland with another great tailwind!

I arrived at Pismo and found a pod of Humpback Whales spouting and jumping out of the water!

I stopped at a market to buy food but just couldn’t get the clerk excited about Humpback Whales in the bay. I rolled down Hwy 1 a bit to the campground and found it closed for repairs. Yikes! Luckily there is a San Luis Obispo County RV site that takes bicyclers just a few miles down the road. It also has a laundry room so I get clean clothes out of the deal, or at least as clean as hot water and no detergent will get them…

Tonight will be another earplug night as the park is bounded by Hwy 1 on one side an Amtrak trains on the other.

Tomorrow I head out to Gaviota – another place I do not recall ever visiting.

Sep 18: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to Hearst San Simeon State Park (71.3 miles)

Our campsite neighbors are a bunch of people in the California Conservation Corps that I think are restoring hiking trails in the greater Big Sur area. There is evidence of a fire that burned through this area a few years back.

It was a cold night! Some of my riding buddies were sleeping in every piece of clothing they had.

One of today’s big hills starts right at the very beginning- it’s about a 1,000 foot climb on the first two miles of the journey. I found it overly hyped and was happy to find a place to buy coffee near the top.

Today’s ride was going to be a short one, just 33 miles, but I combined it with tomorrow’s ride to take me some 70 miles with a total of about 6,000 feet elevation gain to San Simeon.

Along the way were tons of great views. Many coves and cliffs are only visible to a biker on the cliff edge of the road

Here are a few more fantastic views

Just before San Simeon I passed a spot where the Elephant Seals are making a comeback. When I did this ride about 30 years ago they were not here but now they have established a rookery that I hope stays for some time

I also passed by Hearst Castle up on top of the hill

Some 30 years ago, or so I did this same ride with my friend Randy, and I recall two things from that ride: first, the guy in the bike shop in Monterey warning us “don’t blow your knees out in Big Sur!” (A good suggestion!), and secondly, coming out of the coastal hills onto the plains and fighting a headwind for 10-15 miles. I remember me constantly wanting to stop and Randy constantly encouraging me to keep going or we’ll never reach camp.

Today, I had a magnificent tailwind- I was booking at 20-24 MPH through those same plains.

I arrived at the campsite early and showered and had dinner. The wind is still blowing and cold, so I’ll be in my tent before dark, but I will be warm!

I caught a great Sunset view!

Sep 17: Monterey to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (47.4 miles)

Today is a ride from Monterey to Carmel along the famous 17 Mile Drive, then on Hwy 1 to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

If you felt cheated by the lack of photos in yesterday’s blog, don’t worry because I went overboard today! The coast views were spectacular!

In Monterey harbor I saw the pelicans and seals sharing rocks

First stop was a peek at the place where Liz and I were married some 26 years ago, and it is time for another visit!

Views of Pacific Gove

The kelp beds along Spanish Bay

The famous Lone Cypress on the 17 Mile Drive

A beach view from Hwy 1 south of Carmel

I tried to capture the clarity of the ocean waters.

Looking south

The Bixby Creek Bridge

Looking North back at the Bixby Creek Bridge and coastline

Another gorgeous beach

I arrived at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in time for lunch. The Hiker-Biker site here is Big and the showers are hot. I will sleep well tonight! Tomorrow starts with a big hill.

Sep 16: Santa Cruz to Monterey (49.9 miles)

Liz drove me over the hill to Santa Cruzearly in the morning. It was a quiet ride through Santa Cruz, Soquel and Aptos on surface streets following Hwy 1. I think I got every red light along the route.

Noor and I caught up again in Aptos and we cycled around and along farmlands growing strawberries, Brussel Sprouts, lettuce, artichoke and fennel.

Most of today’s trip was on side roads or on a long bike path that leads into Monterey.

At Sand City the trail meets the ocean. Usually there is pretty impressive kite display but today there was only a great view

Noor decided to take a zero in Monterey, which is a great place to do that. She found a hotel downtown and I found a Trader Joe’s to stock up on food. I then pedaled up and up and up to the Hiker-biker site at Veterans Memorial Park.

There were a few campers there when I arrived and as the evening went on more and more arrived. In the morning I counted thirteen tents. That’s the most congested campsite

In the site I met Pierre from France, a retired school teacher, who is biking from the Yukon to Patagonia (like Noor). I also caught up with Matt from Indiana who started there, went east to Washington DC then west to Washington and is biking to San Diego and the on to Texas.

It was a noisy night, lots of comings and goings and people talking late into the night. Earplugs were a must.

None of felt particularly unsafe at the campsite, but we also did not feel it was a place we could leave our items unattended. It’s too bad because others would have liked to take a zero day here and explore the city.

Sep 14: Half Moon Bay State Park to Santa Cruz Bus Station (54.1 miles)

The raccoons were very active last night and even came up to my tent looking for food. What little food I had was locked safely away in the cupboard.

I awoke and hit the road: I am meeting a former coworker and good friend Lisa for breakfast! Fresh fruit, yogurt, granola,cookies, beautiful ocean location and Lisa! What’s not to Love!

After breakfast it was a beautiful beachfront ride to the Pidgeon Point Lighthouse

through ocean scrub

And farmland. This area is a major producer of Brussel Sprouts

Before long I was in Santa Cruz enjoying a beautiful view of pelicans feeding


And a Humpback Whale breaching (no photo though). It was a fantastic welcoming to Santa Cruz!

I rode to the transit station to find out when I could catch a bus to San Jose and found one loading up, so I joined. I arrived home in Los Gatos for a day and a half to tune my bike, do laundry and see Liz!