Paso Robles: Morro Bay Century

Monday, February 11, 2013

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Today’s ride follows the Great Western 100 Century route; it takes the quiet country back roads through the many vineyards and wineries of east Paso Robles and Templeton before heading south to the beautiful central coast towns of San Luis Obispo, Los Osos, Morro Bay and Cayucas. The ride concludes with two spectacular climbs up Old Creek Rd and Peachy Canyon Rd.

I exit the Holiday Inn Express parking lot on Riverside Ave and head south to 13th St and S River Rd. It’s about 7:20 AM and 29F out here and it certainly feels like it! From the road, I can see the golden glow the sun casts over the city on the other side of the river. One instant reward for starting out early on a long ride is the ability to view the natural cycle of the sun rising and just knowing and feeling that it’s going to be a good day!

The route takes a slight detour off S River Rd to the River Walk path that runs behind a residential neighborhood and parallel to the dry riverbed. The path varies from being paved to compact dirt and sandy gravel. I manage to miss a turn somewhere along the River Walk and exit the path too early; along the backside of a shopping center back out to S River Rd, no matter, I’m still on route.

The next 3 miles on S River Rd is a series of rolling climbs up to the ridge with fabulous views of Paso Robles. This two lane road goes past the gated community of Santa Ysabel Ranch in Templeton to Neal Springs Rd and S El Pomar Rd.

The 5 miles around S El Pomar Rd out to the Pomar Junction goes through the heart of the wine country. Vineyards dominate the landscape here; they’re all neatly lined up and grown all along the beautiful rolling hills. This is country riding at its finest with minimal to no traffic!

I continue on CA 41/Morro Rd into the town of Atascadero and head west through a residential neighborhood for a climb up San Marcos Rd; this road heads up to the ridge with fabulous views of the valley and its surrounding green hills-it’s absolutely gorgeous up here! The descent on Los Altos Rd drops me back onto CA 41 for the long 11.4 rolling flat miles into Morro Bay.

I make a slight detour out to the beach area to check out Morro Rock and watch the waves roll in out; it’s sunny and warm out here-what a beautiful day! The bike path near the freeway entrance leads me out to Quintana Rd for a quick stop at the Morro Bay Coffee Co.

Quintana Rd continues east along the northern edge of Morro Bay State Park; from the end of the road, the route continues on CA 1 south for the next 9.2 miles. I am pleasantly surprised about the wide shoulder area, the wonderful pavement and the gentle grades on CA 1-it’s a very nice section to be on, and at no time did I ever feel unsafe!

I exit CA 1 at Highland Dr into San Luis Obispo and take Foothill Blvd out to Los Osos Valley Rd. The next 4 flat miles heading west on Los Osos Valley has fantastic views of the fertile soil and rich farmlands of this central coast valley.

The turn on Turri Rd is a wonderful way to get up and over to Bay Blvd. It’s a gorgeous gentle climb on a quiet road followed by a fun descent into the valley and through Elfin Forest Preserve. The road drops you out onto S Bay Blvd with great views of Morro Bay.

I continue on State Park Rd into Morro Bay State Park, this roads winds through the shaded park with awesome viewpoints of Morro Rock, the blue bay waters, the harbor and the Morro Bay Golf Course-WOW!

I’m back at Morro Bay at mile 62.5; it’s more than half way through this century! I make a quick stop at the Chevron Station off Main St to refuel and energize. You may have noticed that my gas station stop of choice is always at a Chevron; the restrooms are always clean, the people are friendly and I can indulge in buying a can of Coke, a bag of salty chips and 2 lottery tickets. Hey, you can’t complain of never winning if you don’t play, it’s a cheap vice I have in addition to riding my bike!

I continue north on Main St to exit town and take CA 1 north for 1.9 miles to Cayucas. This stretch of CA 1 is visually stunning-the jaw dropping oceans views provide a spectacular backdrop to the open roads ahead-WOW! I can’t think of being in a better place than right here, right now-I am blessed to be living the life I have!

I was told that Old Creek Rd is one heck of a climb, so I’ll let you know in a second. The first 2.9 climb up towards the power plant and Whale Rock Reservoir begins with very gentle grades of 3-4% that steadily increases to 5-7% as you near to the top. This first summit provides breathtaking vistas of the reservoir, the surrounding mountains and pastoral lands.

The short descent takes you to the longer second climb; it’s about 3.2 miles with starting grades of 4-5% followed by much steeper 9-11% sections! This surrounding  area is filled with unexpected pockets of orange groves, orchards and ranches. The last couple of rolling miles takes you onto CA 46/Green Valley Rd.  

I head east on CA 46 for the next 5.9 miles out to Vineyard Dr and Willow Creek Rd. The 4.1 miles of rolling terrain on Willow Creek goes through old barns, ranches, vineyards, wineries and orchards. It’s quiet stretch of road with minimal to no traffic.

The last climb of the day is up Peachy Canyon Rd; it’s 9.6 miles of rolling through orchards and ranches on a smooth single lane road with minimal traffic. The first climb up to the summit has gentle grades of 3-5% with steeper pitches of 6-7% as you near the top. The descent that follows winds through the canyon with gorgeous scenes of the valley and surrounding hillsides. You may think it’s all downhill but then you come upon one more short climb with grades of 5-8%!

Peachy Canyon Rd descends into Paso Robles on Pacific Ave and 6th St. The 1.3 flat mile on Vine St leads me back to 24th St and Riverside Ave to the Holiday Inn Express-finish!

It turned out to be a spectacular day to do this century; the weather was in full cooperation-sunny and warm for the day. This is one of the most beautiful centuries I’ve done in a long while! If you’ve never ridden in this area, I’d highly recommend it!

This is dinner at the Odyssey World Cafe: Spicy Black Bean Soup and a Grilled Salmon Salad. It was nothing fancy, decent price for decent food.

VDO Stats:
102.78 Miles with 6989′ of elevation gain
Avg grade: 4%
Max grade: 15%

Weather: Fantastic! Cold morning temp of 29F, increasing to a high of 69F in Morro Bay. Sunny with clear blue skies and warm from the late morning into the afternoon with mild winds.

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When you realize how perfect everything is, you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky.   ~Buddha
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Follow this route for today’s ride:

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