Day 5, Paso Robles to Pismo Beach. The gift of a hill.

After a late night last night and a super comfortable bed at the Hampton Inn it was time to get up and get going. The hotel is right on highway 46 so no guidance challenges first thing. I thought today was a 50 mile day so was in a pretty relaxed mood as I churned through the first 7 miles of undulating roads that passed various vineyards. My throat was parched from drinking wine last night, something I’ve not really been able to do since my radiation treatment. It was a special day so I persevered and paid a small price with an excessive dry mouth this morning. The Camelback with electrolytes was put to good use again.

The first hill comes at mile 7, followed by one at mile 10 and then the mother of all hills at mile 11. It goes on, and on and on – about 1.8 miles I think. It wasn’t steep enough to break by “no stopping on a hill” policy but it more than made up for it in length. After what seemed like an eternity, I made it to the top and took a quick break to re-hydrate and liberally apply my special cream.

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A little further on the views were nice and there was a layer of the usual coastal fog off in the distance.

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But then there was this!

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5 miles of downhill!!!!! If I thought I was excited yesterday the hotel had both a pool and a laundry room well this was a new high. I took off to enjoy this one-off phenomenon and then had to briefly stop to put some more layers on before getting back to enjoying this experience. The downhill was actually more like 8 miles and a tiny amount of pedaling across a flat part – a bit like the cycle ride down Haleakala in Maui but with a slightly reduced risk of death. There are some pretty bumpy parts and the headwind kept my maximum speed reasonable at about 30mph. This definitely made up for that long slog up the last hill.

Like all good things the fun eventually came to an end and a few miles further on there’s a right turn to join Highway 1. It was pretty chilly with the coastal fog so I switched to fingered gloves, put my head down and kept plugging away. Eventually I saw the Pacific again.

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The map takes you through the quaint town of Cayucos. If I hadn’t made lunch plans with my parents for Morro Bay I would probably have stopped and checked the place out along with one of the more respectable looking massage places.

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As I was exiting the town my parents passed me in the truck so at least they got to see the place.

The next few miles were uneventful and finally I got to Morro Bay.

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I found my parents and I really fancied some pasta so we headed to Giovanni’s. Sounds Italian right? Nope, nothing vaguely Italian but a good clam chowder and some fried fish did the trick. I was feeling quite chirpy having only 10 miles to go today and was looking forward to an early check in to the beach front hotel, a bath and some stretching.

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About 2 minutes after taking this I checked my phone and saw that it was 26 miles to go, not 10. Luckily I was wearing my big boy (lycra) pants so I loaded up and headed off. I’m sure there was an earlier key learning on map reading and paying attention. I’ll have to go back and check.

If I had realized that I had such a long way to go I would probably have just cycled past Morro Bay but it was well worth the few mile detour to check it out. As a bonus it has more hills to climb to get out of the place.

I left Morro Bay at 4pm and followed the route that sort of runs parallel to highway 101, then on 101 for a bit and then turns right at the entrance to Cuesta College and then zig-zags through an old military base and skirts around San Luis Obispo.

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I had visions of a repeat of Sunday as I seemed to be out in the middle of nowhere again but there were a few (very courteous) cars passing and I could see traffic in the distance so I was not quite as anxious.

After riding through a few miles of retail places I crossed the 101 and followed it for miles and miles of generally flat roads until I saw this glorious sign.

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A friendly, welcoming place – unless you want to park for a while, stay in your camper or speed.

Today’s mind games, in between bouts of singing, included things I could invent to make journeys like this easier and self-lubricating shorts seemed like the best idea. It’s still a work in progress, or more of an idea than any actual work, but be on the look out for Taintenance-free (TM) shorts in your local bike shop in the future. I have to think about some natty tag line, unlike these lying bastards:

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Infinite, my arse.

I’ll be pondering this tomorrow and any help would be greatly received. Here’s some of my musings so far:

  • Better Arse Lubrication System?
  • Arse Numbing Undercarriage Solution?
  • Total Area Immersion and Numbing Tool?

Anyway, where was I?

I took Shell Beach road pretty much the whole way along the coast and in to downtown to the Sandcastle Inn, our home for the night where it was time to unwind with an ice pack for the knee while the bike took a well earned rest.

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After a luxurious hot shower I was still craving Italian, or just carbs in general, so we found Pizmos and the feasting began. Mozarella sticks, a huge plate of beef ravioli and a couple of cerveza mas fina.

All in all a great day of riding on some really nice roads, easy navigation, albeit a little more than I had anticipated, some tough but relatively short climbing, a truly awesome descent and finally back to the coastal part of the trip.

Tomorrow the plan is to head from Pismo Beach to Buellton or Gaviota, another 65-70 miles. First. more ice on the knee and back to reception for a few more of their chocolate chip cookies. I’m not allowed to lose weight on this journey and there are no ice-cream places open after 9pm (or not much else for that matter) so I’ll get the calories where I can.

  • 65.4mi
  • 5:25:37
    Moving Time
  • 3,025ft

Totals so far:

  • 335mi
  • 17,669ft

Key learnings:

  1. Don’t stay in really nice hotels, even if they have a laundry room, a hot tub and a really comfortable bed. They are really, really hard to leave in the morning. Stay in a dump where you can’t wait to leave.
  2. When you are gifted with an 8 mile downhill section, cast aside any thoughts that there will be an equal and opposite uphill. Enjoy the moment, sing “Don’t stop me now” by Queen and be fabulous. No-one is watching and who will ever find out eh?
  3. Don’t get fooled that you’re in California and it’s like it’s shown on TV, always sunny at the beach etc. The biggest selling items in Monterey and Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco are sweaters and jackets. Layers people, layers. This was the first part of the journey where I was adding and not removing them.
  4. DO NOT get the order of application wrong when dealing with Bengay (deep heat) for the knee and bum cream. If you want to take your mind off the pain in your knee, it does work for that. Errr.. a friend told me.
  5. Do stop and smell the roses/sea air. Enjoy the journey, take in the views, visit Morro Bay when you still have 26 miles of riding left. Why not? It’s good to be alive.




One thought on “Day 5, Paso Robles to Pismo Beach. The gift of a hill.

Add yours

  1. So proud of you and marvel at your resilience . Love this part of California…Shell/Pismo beaches are one of my most favorite places! Forward ho Simon!! Peg


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