Author Topic: California Hwy Ques.  (Read 7100 times)

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Offline MrBent

California Hwy Ques.
« on: October 05, 2008, 10:04:25 am »
Ahoy, Cyclists:  I'm researching a possible route that includes a section of the south-central California coast.  I'll be riding north from Santa Barbara.  Since I've already done the standard coast route a couple of times, I was wondering about the safety and general riding qualities of Hwy 154 past Lake Cachuma.  

Also, since it would be our plan to hook back inland over Hwy 58--a good route btw--we need to cut inland after San Luis Obispo.  By far the most direct route is to take a short stretch of Hwy 101 from SLO to Santa Margarita, less than 9 miles by my AAA map.  My map indicates that the route is no longer a "highway" for this stretch, and I have driven it but not in some time so I don't recall shoulder quality, general safety issues, etc.  What's the deal with this stretch?  Is it death alley?  The other alternatives include riding further north along the coast and taking some rural routes in combination with either route 41 or 46.  What about these options?

Thanks in advance for any help and advice!


Scott--dreaming of a winter bike tour

Offline wanderingwheel

California Hwy Ques.
« Reply #1 on: October 05, 2008, 12:06:40 pm »
I've driven all of 154 and ridden parts of it.  It's certainly not a road I'd go out of my way to ride.  While I have no complaints about the safety of the road, it's just not very interesting and it's a big, wide, 4-lane road with lots of traffic moving at very high speed.  I'd be much more inclined to try some of the parallel roads like North San Marcos and Stagecoach.  

Are you planning on taking Foxen Canyon?  You can probably use 101 to cross the Santa Maria River, but both Bull Canyon and Tempesquet Canyon to 166 are very nice rides.  From 101 and 166, I'd take Thompson/Los Berros, and then work my way up to Orcut Road north of Arroyo Grande.  

I too have driven 101 north of SLO, but have not ridden it.  It's probably not listed as freeway because it is not a limited-access road.  This means that there are no on and off ramps, but cross streets and driveways.  From a riding perspective it probably makes no difference: still lots of fast traffic with a good shoulder.

I'm not familiar with 41, but 46 is like the others, wide, straight, busy, boring, and safe.  You can have some "fun" on the nearby roads like like Santa Rosa Creek and York Mountain.  My hat's off to you if you can make it up Santa Rosa Creek.


Offline cgarch

California Hwy Ques.
« Reply #2 on: December 19, 2008, 05:02:34 pm »
There is a bike route to the west of 101 that parallels the road by
which you can avoid Cuesta Grade and the immense amount of truck
fumes. It is a bicycle route on the old highway and it is signed. I have
not ridden it and cannot verify its condition - have only seen the signs.
It exits at the top of the grade and I do believe you have to ride a short
stretch to reach the Santa Margarita exit.

58 is a marvelous ride - better than 41. 41 is narrow and tends to have
some infrequent fast traffic.


Offline MrBent

California Hwy Ques.
« Reply #3 on: December 23, 2008, 09:43:42 am »
Thanks, Craig.  I think this winter my wife and I will be touring in the desert, but I'm filing this other route in my memory banks for further exploration.

I went onto Google maps and found the road you discuss.  It looks great.  Also, the main hwy seems to have a shoulder--so no problem there.  I was able to use the street level photo stream to study the area a bit.  That is one fantastic bit of technology.

You're right about 58.  Kind of a sleeper route that not many people don't know about.


Offline sailsale

Re: California Hwy Ques.
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2009, 12:39:37 am »
When are you doing this ride? I am interested in cycling the route 2nd week of April.

Offline MrBent

Re: California Hwy Ques.
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2009, 09:48:38 am »
Hi, Sailsale:  Nothing firm in the works right now.  Initially, I was considering this ride as a winter route if we had good weather.  The desert won.  April should be a fantastic time to ride with tons of flowers and high, green grass everywhere.  Enjoy!


Offline BigBlueToe

Re: California Hwy Ques.
« Reply #6 on: February 18, 2009, 09:17:19 pm »
I've driven 54 by Lake Cachuma lots of time but have never ridden it.  So no comment.  But I live on Morro Bay and have some experience with west/east routes around here.  I would not ride Highway 41 between Morro Bay and Atascadero.  There are no shoulders for much of it, steep rock faces on one side, lots of turns, and lots of traffic - people in a hurry.  No thanks.  Highway 46 between Highway 1 (south of Cambria) and Paso Robles is a very bike-friendly road.  There's a nice shoulder the whole way.  It's a long climb, but not too steep.

There are a couple of alternatives but they take you on dirt roads.  One is Santa Rita Creek Road.  From the west side you leave Highway 1 in Cayucos on Old Creek Road.  There's a good climb, then a long downhill by the reservoir.  At the bottom there's a right turn onto Santa Rita Creek Road.  This becomes a dirt/gravel road and goes all the way over the mountains to the east side.  It comes out on Vineyard Drive, just across Highway 101 from Templeton (which is north of Atascadero and south of Paso Robles.)

Another way to get from San Luis Obispo over the Cuesta Grade to Atascadero is via Stagecoach Road.  They've made some changes since the last time I rode this route a couple of years ago, so you might want to check with a local bike shop or someone from the San Luis Obispo Bike Club ( before you go.  The way it used to go, you'd get onto Highway 101 at the end of Monterey Street, ride on the northbound shoulder (plenty of room), then cross over both lanes of the freeway when you got to the turnoff (left) to Stagecoach Road.  (Be careful!)  I've heard there's an underpass there now, but I'm not sure.  Stagecoach is a dirt/gravel road that goes almost to the top of the grade.  The last time I was there you continued on the west side of 101 down a surface road next to the freeway.  When you got to the bottom where it deadends, there's a trail off to the left that takes you back to the southbound shoulder of 101.  I couldn't find it the last time; it came out behind a bush and it was camouflaged as if someone didn't want you to find it.  As I looked around, some riders came out from behind the bush, revealing the entrance to the trail.  The trail was short and dumped me back onto the southbound shoulder (I was going northbound.)  I stayed on that for maybe 1/4 mile until I came to a place where you could cross the freeway.  After you cross you stay on the northbound shoulder until the first exit - the Santa Margarita exit.  Take that to the right and the road you'll be on becomes El Camino Real, which goes from Santa Margarita all the way to the north end of Atascadero.

I hope that helps.