Itinerary:  October 14 – Cambria to San Luis Obispo (SLO) – 45 miles (gain/loss 2000’)
In the morning our route sticks close to the coast and winds through the picturesque towns of Cayucos and Morro Bay before skirting Morro Bay National Estuary. There is a great option out and back to Montana de Oro State Park for more miles, hills and stunning coastal views. SLO has a great walkable downtown, excellent restaurants and an historic mission.
Accommodations: Petit Soleil, 1473 Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo

Route on Day 5 – Cambria to San Luis Obispo
The whole ‘rig’. Bike boxes and cases in the back

Well here I am in sitting in Saint Luis Obispo (SLO) at a very lovely French farmhouse style bed and breakfast type hotel. It was very tastefully decorated and the rooms, reception, courtyard were all well themed.  It is all a bit out of place but attractive nevertheless and a lot of attention to detail.

My new bike in the courtyard

I have had to have my bike repaired at the bike shop opposite because I was getting some clicking noise from my highest gear when I was going up the steep hills.  I wasn’t very happy about this and unfortunately John couldn’t fix it, so the guys at the shop had a look and they straightened up one of the pieces that hold the gear mechanism in place.  This has made a difference but is not perfect and I shall have to live with that for the rest of the trip.

The temperature is absolutely boiling here – it must be around 28 degrees or so.  The weather forecast for tomorrow says that it will get even hotter and apparently hotter still in LA.  This is one of the factors I hadn’t really reckoned on and I think it will make the cycle ride an awful lot harder.  Even though there is a fair amount of breeze around, it seems to be a head-wind most of the time, which again makes it all the more difficult – but we shall keep hydrated and crack-on!

I didn’t get to sleep on Saturday night/Sunday morning until 1.30 am, as I was working on this blog and also managed to speak to Lorraine and Jason at home. Unfortunately, still waking up at 5.30am meant that I only got 4 hours sleep. On top of the very hard day yesterday, didn’t make too much of a fresh start for me, but a coffee and a bit of breakfast helped. I definitely wasn’t feeling on top form.

At the beginning of everyday we have a briefing, where John hands out the turn-by-turn map, together with the graph and gradient of hills at each stage of the day.  So, today was another day of contrasts.  It could have been about 38 miles or 16 extra, depending on whether we wanted to a different route into SLO.  I decided that the way I was feeling, there was no point in doing the extra bits and we had seen plenty of pretty scenery.  Also I didn’t feel this would add anything to the challenge so I opted for the shorter trip.

John and the Van

The day started with a big climb after maybe only a mile and it took us up to 450 feet (compared to the 950 feet in the previous climb).  It wasn’t too bad and whilst it was a bit of a rude awakening for the legs, it was all fine.

Clear blue skies were waiting for us again today, which meant quite a chilly start so we all put on an extra layer, but after around 20 minutes we removed them, once we had caught up with John and the van.

The scenery changed once again and seemed to become quite desert like or western ranch style with wide open brown fields and hills in the distance.  Long, straight rolling roads aswell – so this was quite nice for cycling.  We spotted a buzzard circling overhead, which really didn’t inspire us with much confidence.

Days 5 and 6 were the ones I had dreaded the most, as I thought we would be tired and the novelty would have worn off.  To an extent this is true, but I think more that I was tired rather than anything else.

 After yesterday’s epic climbs, it seems almost as if the hard part of the ride is down and it is all a bit of a grind to get to LA now.  It probably won’t be like that in reality, but that’s how it felt to start with.

 As we cycled back to the coast, the sun was catching on the sea as it was rising (once again there were more spectacular views). We then came across some beaches with massive crashing waves and surfers out in the early morning sun.

Early morning surfing – was a windy day!

 During the morning we had pulled off the busy main road and stopped on a bend with two or three bikes away from the side of the road where we normally cycle.  A pick-up truck pulled up behind us, and although the other side of the road was empty, he would not cross the double yellow line in the middle of the road.  He made us move all our bikes out of the way.  America is a very strange land – it is very liberal in one way but they certainly stick to all the rules that are laid down – or so it seems.

Where the pick up truck driver made us move aside!

 So, we continued our ride.  It was getting warmer and warmer and I felt like I was just grinding out the miles and wanted to get the day over with as soon as possible.  I wasn’t feeling bad, but just wanted to have some rest.

First climb done
Richard P and Daren on the road
Taking a breather – John’s van just ahead

At about 11 am, around 20 miles we arrived at the Bayside Café, on the coast by an inlet, after we had cycled through a very pretty part of a golf course.  The

café was near where John’s business is, where he also does kayaking.  The ceiling of the café was very different and you will see from the photo that there is a little kid with his legs dangling out of his swimming ring and various other decorations that were quite unusual.

Brunch Stop at The Bayside Cafe

I was really grateful for the food and the coffee and coke, which re-fuelled me for the rest of the day.  After the intake of fuel I felt much happier, brighter and more energised and certainly a lot more awake.  Our journey continued despite the weather getting hotter and hotter and there being a few steep climbs, we arrived eventually at SLO and the lovely little hotel I described earlier.

Ceiling in Bayside Cafe
Arriving in San Luis Obispo

 It is Lewis’ birthday today, so we all wish him a very happy birthday and hope that it is a memorable one for him.

 David was the only one in our group who cycled the extra mileage and he said, ‘it was really worthwhile’.  He saw more spectacular views and wild horses along the way.

 General info and daily routine:

  1. Breakfast.
  2. Bike doctoring session if needed (with John).  Usually one or two tweaks are needed on some of the bikes. He has managed to fix most things so far to date, although the more technical things where the bike needs more spare parts etc., he usually points us in the direction of a bike shop when we arrive in town.  Nothing seems to be too much problem for him and he always has a smile on his face.
  3. Receive the days briefing sheet.  He advises us on what is likely to happen and what we are going to come across and watch out for.
  4. We set off at a suitable pace and John drives off and stops around 6 or 7 miles ahead, but he always seems to be circling around and ready for us if anyone has a puncture.  Fortunately, and I may be speaking too soon, we have only had maybe half a dozen punctures the whole time.  This is quite incredible because speaking to people who have cycled out here, I was under the impression that the roads were going to be quite bad and actually they have been very good. Long that may continue to be the way.
  5. On the van John has plenty of water and energy powder to put in it to keep us hydrated as well as all the supplies that Stuarts’ cousin has given us (thank you to him) of energy drinks and energy gels.  He also has a supply of bananas, apples and good quality energy bars with lots of grains and carbs in them and lots of other goodies too.  I am sure if there was anything else we requested he would go out and buy it for us.
  6. John also carries other items such as suntan cream which was important today because as it got hotter and hotter throughout the day today we needed to put more on.
  7. Whenever we come to a junction that might be difficult or John wants to make sure we are going the right way, John always stops ahead of us and points us in the right direction and as I said previously he always seems to be close-by should we need anything else from our cases and bags that we might have forgotten to bring with on the bike.  It really is very well organised and he is a great guy to have supporting us throughout our ride.  I am not really sure if he knew what he was getting himself into when he agreed to take us on but hopefully he knows we are all about having a good time and some fun out here as well as getting the cycling done.  I think he can see that and he joins in with our inane banter when he can.
Cake shop that Richard R could not resist. He was happy with a nice chocolate chip cookie whilst cycling!

 Aches and Pains Section:

  • Richard P seems to be coping really well with his bad knee and he got through another day, which is excellent.
  • Alan doesn’t seem to have any problems anymore thankfully – or should I say no more than the rest of us!
  • All our legs are feeling quite tired now, especially the quadriceps and there is quite a lot of moaning and groaning when we ascend the hills – however, we all just get our heads down and get on with it.
  • As for having now cycled 5 consecutive days – let me again mention the undercarriage parts. Let’s just say, they are starting to get somewhat sore!  I had 3 things prepared that would help with this.  The first was an extra padded insert, which some of the other guys also have.  This seems to really help and takes some of the pressure off when we sit on the saddle.  The second was some anti-chafing cream, which I have only used once because I don’t think it seems to work!  Thirdly, sudocream is being used because I thought that the problems we have all day in the saddle might be similar to those of a baby’s bottom!!!  I think this actually seems to be working well overnight to help heal any soreness and chafing.  This is probably too much information but there you are – it is relevant!
  • One thing I have forgotten to mention are Daren’s Bandanas.  Daren has a need for extra protection on his head due to the lack of hair!  He is certainly putting on a very nice display of well coordinated bandana headwear to his different coloured cycling shorts.  Well done Daren!

 In terms of wildlife, we saw a couple of dead snakes by the roadside today but, fortunately for my daughter (who hates them) I didn’t get a chance to take a photo.

I would also like to thank Nina (Cecil’s cousin in San Francisco, who I met up with on my arrival in SF) for her encouragement and advice on stretching before and after we cycle.  I had been doing some stretching but clearly not enough.  To tell the truth, it is hard to fit them in when there is so much going on, although I do know it is important and I am doing as much as I can. But thank you Nina, it has certainly encouraged me to do more.

During the evening at SLO Lewis showed us past an alleyway and apparently it is customary for the students of SLO (SLO is a university town) to stick their bubble gum or chewing gum on the wall of the alleyway.  The alleyway is around 100m long, the wall higher than people can reach and it was completely covered with gum!  It wreaked of a tutti frutti gummy smell and I can’t imagine what it would be like today in the heat of this sun.  It must be quite revolting but certainly was something different.

 Today’s stats.

Distance: 38.5 miles

Speed: 12.7mph

Time in Saddle: 3 hours

Below are some general stats on each day that John has given to us via a website that tracks our trip;

Ventura to Santa Monica
59.68 miles | one-way trip
Altitude range: 233 feet (-20 feet to 213 feet)
Total climb: 2,500 feet Total descent: 2,477 feet
Lompoc to Ventura
92.15 miles | one-way trip
Altitude range: 1,079 feet (0 feet to 1,079 feet)
Total climb: 4,590 feet Total descent: 4,626 feet
SLO to Lompoc
57.06 miles | one-way trip
Altitude range: 955 feet (20 feet to 974 feet)
Total climb: 2,815 feet Total descent: 2,959 feet
Cambria to San Luis Obispo
38.34 miles | one-way trip
Altitude range: 295 feet (16 feet to 312 feet)
Total climb: 1,804 feet Total descent: 1,637 feet
Big Sur to Cambria
71.46 miles | one-way trip
Altitude range: 981 feet (20 feet to 1,001 feet)
Total climb: 7,169 feet Total descent: 7,375 feet
Monterey to Big Sur
45.07 miles | one-way trip
Altitude range: 584 feet (-10 feet to 574 feet)
Total climb: 3,455 feet Total descent: 2,936 feet
Santa Cruz to Monterey
45.39 miles | one-way trip
Altitude range: 344 feet (-23 feet to 322 feet)
Total climb: 1,978 feet Total descent: 2,018 feet
SF to Santa Cruz
90.50 miles | one-way trip
Altitude range: 633 feet (0 feet to 633 feet)
Total climb: 6,345 feet Total descent: 6,404 feet

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