Author Topic: Pacific Coast route from Pismo to Gaviota  (Read 6352 times)

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Offline whittierider

Pacific Coast route from Pismo to Gaviota
« on: July 23, 2009, 04:23:02 pm »
I had been wanting to do a 2-day ride from Monterey to L.A. before now but various things partly beyond my control have delayed it.  However for our 25th wedding anniversary this week we did drive up to Morro Bay and San Simeon.  I've never been on a bike that far north, but I can definitely confirm what everyone says about the wind.  It was a very strong wind out of the north (obvious when we went for walks), and at one point I stopped the car at the side of the road to make a call, and watched the shaddows of the clouds absolutely zooming by us going south with incredible speed.  Instead of driving back on 101, we took Hwy 1 and followed ACA's route to get familiar with it for the bike ride.

This is where I'm puzzled.  Why would ACA specify Hwy 1 from Pismo Beach to Gaviota pass?  101 is a freeway with two lanes each direction, and a center median so oposing traffic will never cross into your lane to pass.  It is far more attractive than Hwy 1, safer, shorter, and has very wide shoulders in excellent condition.  The ACA route through that portion often has no shoulder at all, and has a lot of bumps from dirt blobs mashed down by farm equipment.  Parts of it are just plain ugly.  Even though it's closer to the ocean, it's still too far inland to see the ocean through that portion.  Is it that the wind is better on 1 since it's closer to the ocean?  Or did a lot of people just assume that it must be better because it's not a freeway and they wouldn't even try the freeway?  I think 101 would be far better, and I have ridden it from a little north of Buellton to Ventura (then Hwy 1 the rest of the way to San Diego).  So what's the scoop?
« Last Edit: July 23, 2009, 04:24:57 pm by whittierider »

Offline aggie

Re: Pacific Coast route from Pismo to Gaviota
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2009, 06:12:26 pm »
According to Caltrans (CA DOT) large portions of the 101 between Pismo Beach and Buelton are off limits to bicycles.  There is bike map http://www.dot.ca.gov/dist05/bike_ped/bikeguide/bikeguide.pdf that shows some alternative routing.  However this is a freeway even if it isn't rated as one.  There is a lot of traffic and past experience would indicate that it is loud with cars and trucks whizzing by at 65+ mph with lots of little wires to flatten tires from the heavy trucks that use the road.  I've ridden the coast road and much prefer it to the freeway.

Offline whittierider

Re: Pacific Coast route from Pismo to Gaviota
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2009, 06:59:03 pm »
Thankyou for what appears to be an excellent resource.  I'll definitely spend some time going through it.  If we have to get off the freeway for short portions, that's ok; but on Hwy 1 vehicles will pass you going almost as fast but leave you two feet instead of ten.

Offline wamonsen

Re: Pacific Coast route from Pismo to Gaviota
« Reply #3 on: March 30, 2010, 08:58:56 pm »
My wife and I rode from SF  to LA on our tandem in Sept. 2009 and I fretted about this section of the ride for a while. I have also ridden the Solvang Double Century (Buellton to Morro Bay via an inland route and back to Buellton via a more coastal route) four times.

There are two logical ways to get from Pismo to Buellton: Both follow Pacific Coast Highway/Highway 1 to Guadalupe (between Oceano and Santa Maria). At that point, you have to decide if you want to go inland or more westerly.

Inland route is very scenic but involves about a 25 mile gradual uphill (with a couple of steep pitches tossed in for good measure) to get into the Santa Ynez valley to the east of Buellton. The main road is Foxen Canyon Road. There are wineries but few or no stores for food or supplies from about 5 miles south of Santa Maria until Foxen Canyon Road ends and you are in the little town of Los Olivos (about 7 miles from Solvang).

Westerly route is almost as scenic but has fewer wineries. You basically get on Highway 1 in Guadalupe (there is a slightly shorter route via Black Road...look at a map and you will see it off of Highway 166 between Guadalupe and Santa Maria) and head south. Highway 135 joins Highway 1 about 15 miles after Guadalupe. This turns into a (legal) freeway. When Highway 1 splits off to go to Lompoc and Vandenberg AFB, you stay on Highway 135 (this is the ACA route). However, instead of taking Harris Grade Road (which a fellow told me is very steep and very busy), you continue on Highway 135 to Los Alamos and take Drum Canyon over the mountains. Drum Canyon is stair-step steep but only about 3 miles of climbing and has absolutely no traffic. Road surface is lousy for the first mile after the summit but after that you FLY down to Highway 246, at which point you turn east and end up in Buellton after about 5 miles.

After Buellton, we took US 101 to Gaviota. It was totally fine riding except that the bridges were a little narrow, so you have to time your crossings to avoid traffic. The shoulder is wide and we felt totally safe (safer than on Highway 1 riding over Big Sur, that is for sure!).

Drop me a line and I can fill in details if you wish.

Bill

Offline johnsondasw

Re: Pacific Coast route from Pismo to Gaviota
« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2010, 10:27:18 pm »
However, instead of taking Harris Grade Road (which a fellow told me is very steep and very busy),

Bill

The Harris grade is neither busy or steep, rather a fun, fairly short climb with no traffic, at least on the day I rode it in 2005.  I also liked this whole section.  It was nice easy riding around Guadelupe, Lompac, etc.  We followed the "Bicycling the Pacific Coast" book, and enjoyed this area.  I would recommend it as described in this book.
May the wind be at your back!

Offline whittierider

Re: Pacific Coast route from Pismo to Gaviota
« Reply #5 on: March 31, 2010, 12:55:59 am »
Thanks for resurrecting the topic and for the responses.  After I made the original post, someone told me the problem with going on the freeway was that it had anoying ribs every so many feet, producing a "babump...babump...babump..." that kind of drives you crazy after awhile.  He thought the tailwind would probably be better closer to the coast too.  Can you comment on those.

When we drove Harris Grade Rd., I seem to remember it being a two- or three-mile climb of maybe 6%, not too bad, and no traffic.  I've ridden over Drum Canyon on the canyon going the oposite direction on the tandem with one son when he was still kind of a child; and coming down the north side, I remember my hands getting very tired of holding the brake levers.  After that, we got a drum brake on the tandem which is much safer to use as a drag brake, and installed a bar-end shifter to control it, which you can set and not have to keep holding it.  As we were climbing the south side, through part of it, we kept hearing something rustling in the foliage 50 or 100 feet away, and later heard there are mountain lions in the area, and they like to watch for when the child gets separated from the parent.  Of course the dumb cat doesn't know that won't happen on a tandem.

It was interesting on Foxen Canyon Rd. smashing a dragon fly on a fork blade on a downhill and having the wings act like a card in the spokes. <laugh>  On some of those roads, you feel like you're the only person left in the whole world.

Various things kept me from being able to do the ride from Salinas to L.A. last summer.  I was finally ready to do it in October, and the weather forecast was excellent for the ten days leading up to my scheduled departure on the train to start the ride, but then the night before, the forecast changed to a significant chance of rain every day for the next several.  With the days quickly becoming colder and shorter, and as rain was becoming more and more likely at any given time for the rest of the year, I figured my chance was gone.  I'll try again this year.