The Budget Inn is better than you might expect and there are four other hotels in the same block in case you want to upgrade. Michelle and I took the late train up together and arrived in SLO at 8:30. The motel is a straight shot about a mile down Santa Rosa St from the station. We rode our bikes there in less than 5 minutes.
|Rolling towards Avila Beach in the pre-dawn|
|There were quite a few signs telling drivers to give us enough room|
We headed out at 5am on quiet roads with temps as low as 42. As we got to the beaches and the sun started to come up some moderate, fog rolled in which was very cool and clammy so we stopped to turn all our flashy lights on. Traffic was light and courteous. My exposed cue sheet was soaked so it's a good thing I wasn't depending on it.
|Time to turn all our flashers on|
The first problem we had is that the bike path approaching Santa Maria is not paved. That's one of the risks of using bike paths you are not familiar with - Google does not always differentiate between paved and unpaved trails. I have rerouted onto Seaward Drive although there is still an unpaved section. It's perfectly rideable, but it's not fast. Just look for the street running parallel to the bike trail on your right and move over to it at the first opportunity.
Michelle and I caught up with the other riders at the first gas station in the control area and replenished. They took off five minutes before we did and the route through Santa Maria, avoiding the 135, was nice and quiet, After Orcutt it turned into a lovely scenic road and it was a shame to have to leave it and join the 135. Be careful on this left turn as cross traffic is fast.
|Headed south out of Santa Maria|
The 135 quickly becomes quiet and leads us into lovely Los Alamos. Some of you may remember the turn onto Drum Canyon from here :-)
Then we get onto the 101 for a few miles. This isn't my favorite part of the route but the shoulder is wide, clean, smooth and has a rumble strip so it's not too bad. It takes us to the 154 which is quieter and then onto Los Olivos where we had the most wonderful surprise. Although you can still use any business on Grand Avenue, we found the R country market at 2948 Grand Ave is a wonderful place for a control. We were too early for the BBQ (11am open) but they had a selection of superb sandwiches for us.
|R Market in Los Olivos|
As we headed West of of Los Olivos a line of about eight vintage cars (Model-A I think) came the other way. I think they had narrower tires that we did. We rode along Ballard Canyon which has a bit of a climb getting out of Los Olivos and that huge sandwich didn't help. We saw two deer as we descended but I was too slow to get a photo. Here's a photo of a deer sign, which is almost the same.
After passing through Buelton we rode up Santa Rosa road which is lovely but has some climbs. There were many other cyclists on Ballard Canyon and Santa Rosa Road as it was a great day to be out on the bike.
|One of Santa Rosa's climbs|
Santa Rosa is the only section that had a headwind and it freshened as we approached Lompoc to about 15 mph. Santa Rosa road is hillier in this direction but still very scenic. The back way to the control at the Albertson's in Lompoc is far preferable to the usual traffic clogged main roads. The short bike path section has a traffic circle. I have never seen a bike path traffic circle before. It was silly, really.
After the world's messiest egg-salad sandwich, I steeled myself for the climb on Hwy 1 over the Gaviota pass. Even with a 10mph tailwind, it was a grind and the last two miles were hot (78F) and seemed to take forever. Michelle got her first of three flats and I had to stop to nurse a sore knee. The two mile descent to the 101 took seconds as we hit speeds over 40mph. Wheeeeeeee!
Then we turned south on 101 and hit the coast a few minutes later.
|Shoulder of the 101 heading towards Goleta|
|We took a detour through the vista point|
We got to the rest stop at the bottom of the 101 and picked up water and a strong tailwind. We were moving well along the 101 when Michelle had her third flat. I was off the front a little so I didn't know. Two drivers slowed down to tell me she was having problems. How nice! She rode up to me on the flat tire and I gave her my spare Gatorskin. I carry a multi-tool on longer rides so I was able to pull the wire out of her tire. That was her last flat - I love Gatorskins.
We made excellent time on Hollister and Modoc making most of the lights, and stopped at a Jack-in-the Box in Golleta where I had a rice bowl with some nasty teriyaki sauce. I'm pretty sure the dominant flavor isn't supposed to be lighter-fluid. We managed to get to Santa Barbara before the sun set, which was one of our targets.
We got to the Wendy's in Port Hueneme at 11:20, well after they closed so we went across the street to a liquor store. I had a Mexican jam and cream croissant which was jam packed (pun intended) with calories and tasted wonderful. My knee had been painful for 170 miles and I really didn't want to ride up to Greg's house so I split from Michelle on Lewis and went straight back to my car at the Amtrak station. That was the end of my ride.
Michelle and the other 600k riders continued up through Camarillo to Moorpark and the overnight at Greg's home. You will find there is some climbing on Santa Rosa road (not the same one you rode earlier) so be prepared for it. On the plus side, there's a long descent after you leave the overnight back to the coast.
Some of you are planning on renting rooms at the Day's Inn or Motel 6 in Camarillo which is what the staff riders did.
The 600k riders continued south the next day and although we have all ridden the route many times before, we have never seen traffic and crowds around Marina Del Rey and Redondo Beach like we had on Sunday. We never did figure out what the occasion was. Perhaps it was simply the first nice weather for a while. I hope you don't have to deal with crowds like that. It was very frustrating.
All the 600k staff riders finished with Doug rolling in first and Michelle showing up with 40 minutes to spare. I had a chance to eat at the Bad-to-the-Bone BBQ place around the corner. It really is very good.