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Our California Central Coast Tour

12 May

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Wisely we chose to do another multiday bike tour in California to kick off the year of riding. We did a fully supported tour in Sonoma County and the Pacific Coast just north of San Francisco the Fall of 2011 and loved it. If you want to avoid cool temperatures and rain in the spring, California is generally a good place to do it.

Like 2011 we did our bike tour with Undiscovered Country Tours. Not only did we have the very excellent Scott bikes to use, but this year we both ended up with new 2013 CR1 Pro’s. As some of you know I ride a 2005 CR1 Pro, newly shorn in Campagnolo  Chorus and love it. I don’t know of another bike tour company that uses the quality of bikes UDC does and it’s one of the things that attracted us to them in the first place.

Our tour this time was a small group, just 6 participants and 1 guide. Like our other UDC Tour half of our group was from Canada – another plus for us – we love Canada and Canadians. I liked the small group; it allowed us to get to know each other better including having a few interesting political discussions at dinner. It isn’t too often Mark and I meet people who have similar thoughts on political and social issues given where we live and we both enjoyed it.

Now for the riding. Our group met in the lobby of the hotel in San Jose then we proceeded to the Amtrak station to take a train to Paso Robles where our tour officially began.


Day One – Paso Robles (4/21/13)

Today’s ride was a 23 mile loop around Paso Robles, We had the hottest weather (the only hot weather) of the entire tour. There were a few miles on a busy highway but otherwise we were on backroads with fairly light traffic.

One thing I was quickly reminded of was that not everyone defines rolling hills the same. To me rolling hills are rollers, up and down – no long ascents. To people on the west coast rolling hills are hills that eventually go down. Case in point: we have a local route we do with approximately the same amount of ascent and descent as this Paso Robles loop but it’s continuous up and down. None of our local ascents are a mile long. On the PR loop most of the 1873 feet of ascent was on one fairly continuous long climb so there are fewer downhills in which to recover. The climbs are longer and so are the descents which are fun because they’re usually not straight. Point being at the end of the day we may have roughly the same amount of ascent in feet as here, but the California ascending is more taxing.

*Clicking on the Garmin Connect Images will provide you with more data and detail.

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Day Two – Paso Robles to Avila Beach (4/22/13)

Riding towards the Pacific coast is always exciting. Day two took us to Morro Bay for lunch then to Avila Beach where we would spend our next night. It was our longest day of riding the entire trip, 54 miles. Unfortunately we didn’t follow the coast, instead we went inland much of it along a busy highway (with shoulder).


If you look at the profile you’ll see there was a long climb of about 6 miles with the last 2 miles being fairly steep. To make up for that we had a long descent. One section of the descent was fairly steep and I definitely worked the brakes. I’m not used to climbs or descents like these. Notice my hands squeezing those brakes!


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Also not used to the volume and speed of traffic we encountered on some of the roads.

We rode from Paso Robles to Avila Beach, stopped for lunch in a cool town on the coast, Morro Bay – home of a Prudential rock lookalike.

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Much of the ride though had that lovely bucolic scenery we saw on our 2011 trip along the northern coast and Sonoma county.

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Although I take most of my pictures while pedaling along, occasionally I do stop – in this case to get a shot of the beautiful field of California poppies.

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All in all a good day on the bike!

As is the norm on bike tours, we had a great dinner on the boardwalk of Avila Beach and stayed in very nice digs at Avila Beach Lighthouse Suites. We slept to the sounds of the ocean.

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Day Three – Avila Beach to Santa Maria (4/23/13)

Today’s route took us along mostly rural roads through vineyards and farms as we made our way from Avila Beach to Santa Maria. The ride was similar in mileage and in ascent to our previous day, but vastly different in experience. We had far less traffic along today’s route and far more bucolic scenery. Always a winner for me.

On a fair amount of our route today we had marked bike lanes or separated bike lanes. Another winner.

48.3 miles/3:41 time

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Other scenes from today’s ride:

 

 

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Day Four – Santa Maria to Santa Ynez (4/24/13)

Today was one of those days on the bike that perfectly captured what I love about riding a bike.

Stable of bikes

Before taking off in the morning, stable of bikes.

The ride started in a light drizzle and fog. Temperatures stayed cool even after the sun chased the fog and dampness away. We rode from Santa Maria thru the cycling town of Solvang before taking us to Santa Ynez, our home for the next two nights.

Typing on my android tablet is too tedious to write much but a few thoughts and memories:

Riding alongside field after field of beautiful crops of lettuce, cauliflower and bright red strawberries.

The speed of the farm workers working in the fields, literally running to pick.

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The strong aroma of strawberries, cilantro, licorice.

The remoteness and quiet beauty of Foxen Canyon road.

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Lunch at Zaca Mesa winery

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The steep little climb right after lunch/wine tasting

Climbing "the wall", a very steep little climb and recognizing I can climb even when the grade is steep, I just have to be willing to suffer.

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The thrill of the twisty descent into Ballard Canyon.

Great conversation and coffee with our fellow tour riders and guide at the infamous Bulldog Café in Solvang where the Postal/Discovery teams used to hang out back in the day. Interestingly, every single picture of Lance Armstrong has been removed.

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And finally the luxurious Santa Ynez Inn – our home for the next two nights.

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Day Five – Santa Ynez Loop (4/25/13)

Day 5 started out great. Our ride was a loop around Santa Ynez through Happy Canyon and an optional climb of “The Fig”. The Fig is Mount Figueroa, a legendary climb in Santa Barbara county. I hadn’t decided whether I was going to do the climb or not, I would decide at the base, depending on how I felt. I didn’t feel great and made the very wise decision to not attempt it. I did ride 1 1/2 miles of the road that takes you to the base of the climb and even it was steep (see the elevation profile on the Garmin details).

Beautiful too.

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The plan today was to ride back through Happy Canyon (love that name) and Santa Ynez and Los Olivos past Neverland Ranch (yep) and to wait for the two riders and support van to come down the descent of The Fig.

As the rest of us made our way through Los Olivos I started feeling dizzy and nauseous. I thought I needed food so I had a gel and a pack of shot blocks. I continued to feel worse, but kept pedaling. Mark joined up with me and we waited under the shade of a tree for the others.

Once they arrived and it was time to head back I did something I’ve never done – I got into the support van and quit. I’ve never quit a ride, but I couldn’t go on. I was so dizzy I could hardly stand. Once I got back to the Santa Ynez Inn it went downhill from there. If you’re had food poisoning, you know. If you haven’t you don’t want to know. I’ve had food poisoning 4 times, and this is the worst I’ve had (I’m writing this May 12th and I’m still sick from it, saw my doctor again yesterday)!  I was able to get Phenergan from my local Doc which helped, but we missed our final dinner with our “tour-horts” which we were both disappointed about.

The only thing I had differently than the others, was dinner the night before at Dos Carlitos, apparently the shrimp I had were bad. I wish we had eaten somewhere else!


Day Six – Santa Ynez-Topanga (4/26/13)

Against my husband’s advice I rode the next morning. It was bad enough missing yesterday afternoon’s ride (downhill!) and the last (and best from what I heard) dinner with the group, I wasn’t going to miss the final ride too.

It was an out and back route from the Santa Ynez Inn to Topanga State Park. It was a fairly easy 21 miles, but it took all I had to do it.

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The California Central Coast tour was great, and beautiful, but I would rate it below our 2011 California Coast and Wine Country tour which took us through Sonoma County and from Sea Ranch to Bodega Bay along the coast on Highway 1. Both have beautiful scenery – California is scenic wherever you go it seems. Overall though I would give the edge to the 2011 tour – and no, not because of my food poisoning this trip!

Total mileage for the Tour: 229 miles – Total Ascent: 8300 ft.

Drink-Up

4 May

Think I mentioned I got food poisoning while on our bike tour of the central coast in CA. I minimized its effect on my riding to the extent I could, but it seems to have caught up with me. I’m officially dehydrated, so says my doctor, and need to rehydrate before I get back on two wheels. So I’m drinking up!

Ride one for me today, okay?

Here’s a pic from day 3 of California, a lone tree near Paso Robles.

Day 110

 

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30 Days of Biking: Days 25-30

1 May

We returned home from California yesterday. My body is here, but my heart and head are still there. Pacific Grove on the Monterey Peninsula to be exact, where we spent the last few days after our bike tour ended. We rented bikes for the days we were in Pacific Grove, just basic hybrid type bikes to get those daily rides in for 30daysofbiking and to tool around the area and see the sights. Words can’t describe the breathtaking beauty, maybe some of my shots can.

I’ll write a brief summary of my rides of April 25-30th and then I’ll do a separate blog for our Central Coast California Tour. Just one post instead of my typical blogs of each day. Thanks for following along! – Susan


Day 25 – 30 Days of Biking:

The reason I quit blogging about the tour from Day 25 on, was dinner the evening of “Day 24”. We had dinner at a nice restaurant in Santa Ynez that served Mexican food – and I got food poisoning! Of course with food poisoning you don’t know there’s a problem until many hours later.

Day 25 started out great. Our ride was a loop around Santa Ynez through Happy Canyon and an optional climb of “The Fig”. The Fig is Mount Figueroa, a legendary climb in Santa Barbara county. I hadn’t decided whether I was going to do the climb or not, I would decide at the base, depending on how I felt. Although I wasn’t sick yet, I didn’t feel great and made the very wise decision to not attempt it. I did ride 1 1/2 miles of the road that takes you to the base of the climb and even it was steep. Beautiful too.

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The Garmin pic shows how steep it was. I haven’t downloaded all the Garmin information but I recall in that 1.6 miles I climbed around 475 feet.

The plan on Day 25 was to ride back through Happy Canyon (love that name) and Santa Ynez and Los Olivos past Neverland Ranch (yep) and to wait for the two riders and support van to come down the descent of The Fig. I made it to that point, but was so dizzy and nauseous that I did something I’ve never done – I got into the support van and quit. I’ve never quit a ride, but I couldn’t go on. Once I got back to the Santa Ynez Inn it went downhill from there. If you’re had food poisoning, you know. If you haven’t you don’t want to know. I was able to get Phenergan from my local Doc which helped a lot. We missed our final dinner with our “tour-horts” which we were both disappointed about.

35 miles for the day.

CA Central Coast Day 5 – Santa Ynez Loop – Details


Day 26 – 30 Days of Biking:

Against my husband’s better judgment I rode the next morning. SmileIt was an out and back ride from the Santa Ynez Inn to Topanga State Park. It was a fairly easy 21 miles but it took all I had to do it. We said goodbye to our tour-horts, picked up a rental car and headed to Pacific Grove driving on Highway 1 through Big Sur. In many people’s minds, the prettiest drive in California – and what I saw of it was breathtaking – but mostly I slept. It took a full day and 12 hours more of sleep before I felt decent.

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21 miles for the day.

CA Central Coast Day 6 – Santa Ynez to Topanga SP – Details


Day 27 – 30 Days of Biking:

We picked up our rental bikes, a 7 speed Breezer from Adventures by the Sea in the morning and rode north along the beach on paved bike trail. We rode through Monterey all the way to Marina on the Monterey Coastal Trail. The trail is wonderful, wide and well-maintained – and surrounded by endless beauty. Can you imagine being able to bike there regularly?

It was cold and cloudy so we stopped at a Starbucks for coffee before heading back. The sights were beautiful, so many interesting and beautiful plants and wildlife all within sight of the Pacific. Gorgeous – and I’ll tell you these pictures don’t begin to do it justice.

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26.2 miles for the day.

California – Pacific Grove to Marina – Details


Day 28 – 30 Days of Biking:

On today’s ride we rode the trail along the coastline, but this time heading south. We also rode the infamous 17 mile drive to Pebble Beach, henceforth known as the 17 mile ride to Pebble Beach.

When I think of our 11 day trip, the first place I go is here. We saw and biked mile after beautiful mile in California. All so pretty that it probably isn’t fair to pick one place over another, but for me this was the best. It’s gorgeous anyway as you ride along the coast on the Monterey Peninsula, watching and hearing the waves, birds, sea otters, but add to that the fact that it was spring and there were miles of gorgeous pink, purple, yellow, peach flowers – it’s enough to take your breath away and forever make you long to see it all again and ride it.

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28 miles for the day.

CA – Pacific Grove to Pebble Beach – Details


Day 29 – 30 Days of Biking:

After the beauty we saw on the ride the day before, we headed right back to the same area. Because of time constraints we couldn’t ride the Pebble Beach *ride* but we did ride to the entrance. This was the first sunny morning we had and the water was a brilliant blue. We rode 12 miles in total and tried to take in and savor all that was around us.

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Day 30 – 30 Days of Biking

I managed to ride every single day in April. Some days were tricky – like the day I was in San Jose with no bike so test rode a Virtue mixtee to get a ride in. Several of the days were rainy and cold, but I learned I can ride in the rain and even enjoy it. Obviously the days in California were the best but I believe I enjoyed something about every ride. I learned too that it’s easy or at least possible to ride most every day.

Today’s ride was a 5 mile ride through our neighborhood.

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Miles for the month of April:

30 Days of Biking – Day 24

24 Apr

Today was one of those days on the bike that perfectly captured what I love about riding a bike.

The ride started in a light drizzle and fog. Temperatures stayed cool even after the sun chased the fog and dampness away. We rode from Santa Maria thru the cycling town of Solvang before taking us to Santa Ynez, our home for the next two nights.

Typing on my android tablet is too tedious to write much but a few thoughts and memories:

Riding alongside field after field of beautiful crops of lettuce, cauliflower and bright red strawberries.

The speed of the farm workers working in the fields, literally running to pick.

image

The strong scents of strawberries, cilantro, licorice.

The remoteness and quiet beauty of Foxen Canyon road.

Lunch at Zaca Mesa winery

image

The steep little climb right after lunch/wine tasting

Climbing "the wall", a very steep little climb and recognizing I can climb even when the grade is steep, I just have to be willing to suffer.

image

The thrill of the twisty descent into Ballard Canyon.

Great conversation and coffee with my fellow tour riders and guide at the infamous Bulldog Cafe

And finally the luxurious Santa Ynez Inn

Stats: 48 miles, 2398 ft. of ascent, 1985 ft. descent

CA Central Coast Day 4 Santa Maria to Santa Ynez – Details

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For the Love of Bikes Blog by Susan Lash (2009 - 2014) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.loveofbikes.com.