Bike Travel Weekend, June 4-6, 2021. I decided to make another attempt at San Luis Obispo to Paso Robles and back. I revisited the original route and modified mine so that I followed the exit off Old Creek Road onto Santa Rita Creek Road, avoiding the big climbs and switchbacks on Old Creek Road.
March 2021 I found a 2010 Surly Long-Haul Trucker for sale about an hour away from me. I hurriedly contacted the owner and made arrangements to see the bike. I had done hours of research on touring bikes, and the brand Surly kept popping up. I wanted to buy a new LHT, but due to the pandemic lockdown and depleted supply chains, I couldn’t find one in my size, in stock. So I pivoted to looking for a used Trucker, and luckily spotted the one I eventually bought on Craigs List.
This LHT came outfitted with racks and packs – rear and front racks, along with front and rear panniers and a handlebar bag. I took the LHT to Shift Bicycle, where Jason Morin added a new stem and handlebars, new handlebar tape, new cables, new chain, new flat pedals (came with clips – not my style) and new Maxxis Refuse tires. This LHT came with its original Brooks B17 saddle, color black, that had obviously been broken in thoroughly. Ready to ride!
I loaded my LHT onto my bike rack and drove to San Luis Obispo. This time I had decided to add camping to the event. I found a campsite near the SLO Regional Airport. Not truly bikepacking, because I drove to the campsite, unloaded my gear and set up my tent. Then in the morning I loaded everything back into my car and drove to long term parking near the airport. I loaded up my bike with front and rear panniers and set off for Paso Robles.
The revised route put me on Turri Road off of Los Osos Valley Road for a much quieter, more scenic ride towards Morro Bay. I stopped to shoot some video of the scenery when I heard someone call out behind me: “All good?” Another rider had seen me stop and following cycling protocol, asked to make sure I was okay. We introduced ourselves to each other. His name was Paul. He was riding a steel bike like my LHT, and he had bright yellow Ortlieb panners on his rear racks. Paul new this route very well, riding it frequently, so we decided to ride together to Morro Bay, where he would turnaround and head back home to Los Osos.
Turns out Paul is a Warmshowers host and made a point that I should book with him if I ever ride his way in the future. I promised him I would. It is simply wonderful to run into someone who loves bike travel as much as you.
Turri Road connected with South Bay Boulevard into Morro Bay and then connected with Highway 1. After a short distance on Highway 1 I exited as I had before onto Old Creek Road. This time, though, I took Santa Rita Creek Road just past the Whale Rock Reservoir.
Santa Rita Creek Road is a gem! It follows Santa Rita Creek, is tree-shaded and virtually car-free, but it is also mostly unpaved. I had planned for this so no surprises this time. My Maxxis Refuse tires, while not totally appropriate for unpaved roads, handled this section well and had no issues with the hard-packed dirt, road ruts and loose gravel. A deer ran across the road in front of me. Truly felt like an off-road adventure. Summitting Santa Rita Creek Road was also much easier than Old Creek Road, to my obvious relief.
The downhill side of Santa Rita Creek Road was more challenging than the uphill because I had to regulate my speed and brake often to avoid potholes and large rocks. I made my way back onto the paved section, where Santa Rita Creek Road merged with Cayucos Templeton Road and eventually became Bethel Road, which connected with Highway 46 into Paso Robles. As I came down from the higher elevation, I ran into heat in the high 80’s with virtually no humidity. So I was struggling a bit as I headed to my friends’ house for cold beer, good food and good times.
Saturday, I retraced my steps and once again climbed up Santa Rita Creek Road to the Summit and pedaling to the top this day was easier than the day before. There were more cyclists out and about as well. I struck up casual conversations with some of the riders, who seeing my panniers asked me where I’d been.
Once back on Old Creek Road I headed down into Cayucos and stopped at Brown Butter Cookie Company for a bag of originals. I retraced my route back to SLO following Highway 1 for a few miles, then South Bay Road, Turri Road and Los Osos Valley Road back to the airport. I loaded up my bike and drove to my hotel, spent the night and then drove back to LA on Sunday.
This is a ride I would do again. I think there are additional variations to the route that would allow me to really do some bikepacking and discover new areas. For example, I could head east from Paso on Union Road, then South on Geneseo and take in some wineries. Continuing southwesterly, Geneseo connects to Creston Road, on into Creston CA which has numerous wineries to sample. From Creston I could hop on the 41 Highway and back to Morro Bay. I’m sure there are additional possibilities and I look forward to exploring them.