RIDE REPORT ~ 014 Kurt_Worden CA SS1K
This is the first report showing a rider’s window of activity. And in this case a ride report too! If you have a ride you’d like to share in this manner, please raise your hand
CA Coast SS1K Summary
California Central Coast 1K
I saw this ride as soon as I loaded the 2013 BMR Bonus Pack into BaseCamp. During the 2012 BMR I strung together a series of bonus’s that covered the California Central Coast that I turned into a 1K day. The roads were so good that I was defiantly looking for a similar ride in 2013. The one thing I wanted to add to that ride was covering CA-1 through Big Sur. Once again the BMR brought together some great locations and I knew this would be one great ride.
The basic route covers the bonus locations on CA-1 south of San Francisco and the points along the western side of the San Joaquin Valley (or the “Big Valley” for those that remember.) I knew upfront that the route would be a challenge CA-1 through Big Sur is a beautiful stretch of road that I would classify as a medium technical with both fast sweeping corners, a few tighter turns, and some of the best scenery in the world. The speed limit is 45-55 mph for the most part, so keeping your average speed up requires attention on the road and what’s ahead. Another challenging aspect of this ride would be the northern road that transitions from the valley to the coast. I’ve ridden Monetary County roads before so I was familiar with their character. I classify these roads as some of the most technical riding roads in the country and I’ve lined up about 70 miles of them. The speed limit is 55 mph. I figure if I can maintain a 25-35 mph average through this section I’ll be doing pretty good. Lastly this route has no bail out options, once you commit if you don’t make it you’ll be sleeping on the road some where, timing is important.
My first bonus location is 250 miles from my starting point. That’s a good four hours, all freeway, riding through Los Angles. No better time to do that than early in the morning. Sunrise is at 6:40 with enough light for decent bonus photos around 6:10. Add a gas stop and means I’m looking for a 2 AM start for a leisurely ride to the first stop. Add to that, the weather forecast for California on the 16th is almost summer like with lows in the high 40′s and highs in the low 80′s. The weather on Sunday looks to turn colder quickly so my decision is fairly easy.
The plan is a 1 am wake up which will give me time for a leisurely start and a quick bite before heading out the door. It seems that whenever I plan for a leisurely start I end up scrambling to get out he door on time. Today was no different. Despite my best planning and preparation I’ve got issues, good thing it’s 1:30 and I’ve got time to sort them out. The first issue is my new SPOT tracker that I received Friday to replace the unit I lost on the Apache Trail. I had contacted SPOT and they transferred my service from the old unit to the new unit. I tested it Friday and everything looked good. Saturday 1:30 am my phone says the SPOT isn’t register to my account and it will have limited functionality. I unpack my computer from the bike and attempt to log into my SPOT account. After some time I’m notified that my account has been locked for security and I need to call customer service … crap, oh well I’ll sort this out on the road, I need to get going it’s 1:50. Everything is packed I’m suited up, I got on the bike … where’s the key? I remember putting it somewhere that’d it’d be easy to find. After some searching I found it and hit the road, it’s 2:05.
I’m on the road and settling in. I’m taking I-5 North to US-101 through downtown Los Angles. It’s a familiar route that I take frequently. The air is warm and the traffic particularly light even for the early morning, a time when I expect half the drivers on the road have been drinking. Not seeing a lot of cars is comforting. I’m warm and comfortable and seem to be gliding down the road and through my environment. One of the things that’s great about riding at night is how quiet and insulated from you can feel. It’s just you the bike and the road no distractions. As I’m passing through Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton I notice the temperature swings between the low coastal ravines and the plateaus is significant. The change might be 5-degrees. That may not sound like a lot but it’s very noticeable when it goes down and back-up inside a quarter mile. The smell of coastal sage is also particularly strong though this stretch of road. I enjoy the sights and smells of the road until I smell a skunk that didn’t quite make it. I’m back on task focused on getting north of Santa Barbara.
The time passes quickly and I gas up just before I make the turn off to CA-154. I’ve ridden this section of CA-154 previously and I know that there are two qualifying Los Padres National Forest signs on this stretch of road. I plan on snagging one on my way to my first planned stop. This is also known as San Marcos Pass road. It’s a fun road to ride with fast sweepers and climb that peaks at 2000 ft., giving way to some beautiful views of the Santa Ynez valley and coastal Santa Barbara. On my way through one of the first sweepers climbing to the peak I catch a glimpse of the first Los Padres National Forest sign on the opposite side of the road out of the corner of my eye … oh well I’ll catch the exit sign. The exit sign is on a long straight downhill stretch of road on the opposite side. I slow swing a U-turn get the BBP.
The sun is just starting to come up it’s a gorgeous day and I’m headed to FS141 Chumash Fire Dept. Crossing the Santa Ynez River the air is heavy with moisture and a light fog settles in just above the ground. The smell of wet earth is great. The fire station is located on CA-240 just a mile or so from the CA-154 turn-off. The actual station is behind a locked gate and not visible from the road. It’s sunrise I get the BBP and check my GPS for the next Bonus which, I know is near by, I’m pleased I’ve made my start point at my planed arrival time in spite of my early morning challenges.
I check the GPS for my route … there is no route. I remember that I used the “navigate to the start of the route” function and realize that I need to load the rest of the route. After a quick load I notice that my track isn’t on the road I’ll need to force the GPS to recalculate the route on the installed map and figure that if I just start driving the recalculation will kick in. I head back to CA 154 and head west. The directions indicate I should turn south but there’s no road … my recalculation strategy isn’t working. I make the first left turn I can make, fumble through a couple of menus and finally just settle on navigate to FG018. Good thing I loaded all the points in individually as well as importing the route. The GPS takes a few seconds but finally the route lines up on the road and I’m moving again. I went a mile or two out of my way but not too far off track. I make it to FG018 Oak Hill Cemetery get the BBP and get moving. The Cemetery is located near the wine country town of Los Olivos. The only folks that are out are some joggers and a couple of folks walking their dogs, sipping coffee. It’s 7 AM the town is quiet as I roll through slowly thinking that I’d like to come back here some time to spend a day or two. I’m headed west on CA 154 again to turn north on US-101. My next stop is a good 90 min ride away.
US-101 has almost no traffic on this section and the ride to Santa Maria is easy and pretty quick. Traffic picked up a little near Santa Maria but it was still moving. As I’m headed north I question my route decisions. Lompoc is close and may be I should have routed there first before heading east. I’m pretty sure that I’ll be getting to Lompoc well after the sun goes down. My concern in the route was to make it south of San Simeon on CA-1 before sun set. I know I’ve made the right choice as I head east on 166 towards New Cuyama and FS125. CA-166 is a great fast road to ride. It climbs an additional 1000 ft. or so and is one fast sweeping turn after another, the road is smooth and traffic remains light, which is good, most of the road is a no passing zone. As I’m climbing to New Cuyama I notice the temperature is dropping. Not enough to be uncomfortable but it’s chilly. I look south to the Santa Ynez Mountains and there’s still plenty of snow. FS125 Santa Barbara County Fire Station 41 is right off CA-166 an easy find. I grab the BBP, down a Cliff Bar breakfast and continue East on CA-166, looking for the Cuyama Town Population Sign that Howard and Ellen had scouted for me a week or so earlier. It’s an easy find I grab the BBP and continue toward Maricopa.
As I head toward the foot hills that lead down to Maricopa, the sky is turning dark, Looks like it may rain or snow. At Maricopa I take CA-33 north leaving the angry looking clouds behind me. It’s overcast and I’m thankful for that. I’ve ridden this section of road in August and it was just plain hot. Heading north through the oil fields is a surreal experience; no matter how many I go through here it always seems strange. The collection of over one hundred years to drilling and pumping equipment is scattered across the desert. Dead wells, active wells, new drill rigs it’s all here much of left in place at it’s original location. It’s like traveling back in time. This road sees very little traffic and it’s arrow straight. I blew past the first sign to Derby Acres and slowed to swing a U-turn and the grab the BBP leaving town. McKittrick is just ahead I’m almost certain it’s got a town population sign that get 3 more points.
Pulling into McKittrick I slow for the Town Population bonus as I get the BBP I’m reminded that I had recently had a conversation with RJ about balancing bonus grabbing vs. miles covered. Focus too much on getting the bonuses and you won’t make the miles you intended to. The fire station is just down the road I get that BBP but not before one of the firemen come out to see what I’m up to. We chat for a minute before I continue north on CA-33. I gas up at the Junction of CA-33 and CA-46. I’m headed west on CA-46 towards Paso Robles. This is a 4 lane divided road for the most part smooth and straight. The riding is easy until I start passing wineries. The traffic is picking up and not maintaining the speed limit. It takes me a minute but I realize that I’m on the wine country highway, it’s Saturday about noon on a three day weekend and just about everyone around me has been drinking (some call it tasting). By the time I reach Paso Robles traffic is crawling. I need a break and I wanted to call SPOT and get my Connect back on track. Starbucks provides the needed Wi-Fi I call SPOT, to no avail they don’t answer the phones on weekends. So I down my latte and get out of town.
I’m headed into the hills and away from tourists on Nacimiento Lake Road. I pass a stretch Limo headed to the last winery on the way out of town and am glad to be alone on the road again. The hills here are dotted with Black Oak and the road has enough curves and hills to keep it interesting. I turn onto Interlake Road at this point I’m expecting the pavement to end at any moment. It doesn’t but the road is unmarked and less than two lanes wide. It’s relatively smooth and the turns have tightened up considerably. I’m on the brakes harder and more often as I head in to the turns. Small herds of cattle are near the road here and the cattle guards are almost all located in a turn just beyond were you can see them heading into the corner. Still the scenery is idyllic and makes me think I might enjoy living on a farm. Interlake Road turns into Lynch Canyon Road. Just before Lynch Canyon ends I see two Golden Eagles sparring over a piece of road kill. As I approach it they both turn to fend me off before landing in a near by oak as I move on and turn on to Oak Shores. There’s a gate with a guard shack here for what appears to be a well-heeled resort community. I wonder why a resort community would be in here in the middle of nowhere. I approach the entrance to check in through the guest lane. The guard asks where I’m headed; I informed her that I was headed to the fire station. She logged me in smiled and waved as I headed off. It’s a good two miles to the fire station and this place is as bizarre and the oil fields only in an opposite “Stepford Wives” way. The forest is neatly manicured the road well maintained, twisty and steep. The GPS leads me right to the fire station I grab the BBP and head back out. On my way out I note that the scenery is truly remarkable. The mountain that this community sits next to reminds me of Close Encounters … it’s beautiful, I can understand why people would want a resort here but getting it established must have been a challenge.
I head north on Interlake road toward Lockwood. I remember Lockwood from the 2012 BMR. Lockwood is a town in the middle of nowhere with no apparent buildings other than the post office. This section of Interlake Road is just as challenging as the first section and I’m having a blast. The corners are coming fast, left-right combination turns are about one second apart on this stretch of road. As I head into the main section of town I grab the Town Population BBP and go. I stay on Lockwood/San Lucas Road has it comes out of the hills toward US-101 the whole road is great. The overcast is gone and the sun is out now as I head to King City.
The King City Fire Station is just off US-101. A quick BBP Grab and I’m off to the west for cut over to CA-1 South. It’s 1 pm, I’m doing ok on time but had really hoped to be on CA-1 at this point. Had I been able to get there I would have had a decent chance to make Lompoc before sunset. I know my turn south is at least 90 minutes away I’m good with that.
I take the Central Ave cut-off to Elm St, cutting through farmland before heading into the hills. Elm St turns into Arroyo Seco Rd as it winds next to the Arroyo Seco River. The road is changing again from the straight sections in the valley to sweeping curves leading into the hills. When Arroyo Seco Road turns south, I cross a really cool one-lane bridge and continue onto Carmel Valley Road. Carmel Valley Road is very technical with pretty consistent blind left-right turn combinations, many off-camber turns and steep short hills, not to mention the endangered newts that like to litter the road. If the Newts don’t get you there’s an oak tree growing at each corner apex. It seems as if the road was laid around the tress. I’m shifting, braking and accelerating constantly for the next hour. Making the turn onto Cachugua Road. About a mile outside of Cachugua the road has a wide spot and I’ve made several poor corner entries in a row, it’s time for a break. It’s also fairly warm and I’m still dressed for the cold of the high desert. I take a snack and strip the liner out of my jacket before heading on. I pass by the Cachugua General store and know my turn off to Nason Road is just ahead. My GPS leads my to a locked gate, but there’s a park at the end of the road and appears there’s quite a crowd there, maybe 20-30 cars mostly young families out enjoying the great weather in a nice community park. I stop and ask for directions to the Fire Department and am told it’s inside the gated community. It’s an interesting gated community pretty much the opposite of Oak Shores. The homes are in a flat open clearing in the oak trees, mostly single walled construction vintage 40′s-50′s the yards are a collection of interesting items and the cars are almost all 80′s-90′s vintage. I ask another local about the Fire Station he tells me it’s the Green building just inside the opposite gate that I’m at. I head to the other gate and survey the building, no sign but there is a siren above the main door this must be it. I’ll get the BBP and go.
I head West-North Cachugua Road it continues with left-right combinations about one half second apart for another 20-30 miles, when I rejoin Carmel Valley Road. I reach the town of Carmel Valley where the road straightens out and maintaining the speed limit becomes possible. I turn on to CA-1 at the southern end of Carmel by the Sea. It’s 3 pm I’m intent on making good time to Big Sur and FS057. I suspected that I might run into some traffic on CA-1. I had no idea that I would land right in the middle of a tourist conga-line. More importantly I didn’t realize the frustration that I’d feel stuck in the line. You can’t relax and enjoy the ride as pedestrians are stepping out into traffic with no concern for their or your safety and the drivers in the conga-line are randomly on the brakes as they spot a beautiful vista they just can’t pass. The trip to Big Sur takes twice as long as it should and when I arrive at the GPS location for the fire station the only thing there is an RV campground. Having experienced what passes for a fire station in these parts it’s not unreasonable to think that the fire station may be located in the RV Park. So I head into the office to inquire where it may be. There’s an elderly woman behind the desk smiling and happily taking reservations. She’s appears to have been in Big Sur since before I was born, I’m in luck certainly she’ll know where the fire station is. She hangs up the phone and asks me how she can help. I ask her where the fire station is located. She paused and replied that she wasn’t aware that the firefighters were staying at the campground, but she’d find out which space they were in. I spent a little more time explaining that I was looking for the fire satiation not the fire fighters. The lights came on and she confessed that she had arrived in Big Sur only two weeks ago and she had no idea, but she was sure that it located south of our current position. I thanked her and she started searching the Internet as I peaked her interest. I headed south past the town of Big Sur no fire station. Outside of town I pulled into the Big Sur Station to reassess where I was and where FS057 may be. An Internet search didn’t help the Fire station was pictured but it didn’t list an address. The only thing it did show was the building, which I clearly had not seen. I was about to throw in the towel on FS057 when I spotted a ranger heading to his vehicle. I asked him where the fire station was. He provided very clear instructions. The fire station is located on the property of the Post Ranch Inn, about another mile south. (Approximate location N36 13.856 W121 46.096). As I turned into the Post Ranch Inn the Guard at the gate welcomed me to the Inn and inquired where I was headed. I mentioned that I was looking for the fire station. Turns out he was a fire fighter and on duty. He loves riding motorcycles through the hills surrounding Big Sur. He provided great directions, “keep right at the pond head down the hill, you’ll see my Mazda and motorcycle in front of the station.” Before I started to move I noticed several deer grazing on the slope next to the road. I passed within 10 feet of them they didn’t’ seem to notice me. As I turned right at the pond a flock of 8-10 wild turkeys were making their way to the pond slowly under the pine canopy. The fire station is at the end of the road, got the BBP time to head south. I might be able to make Cayucos before sunset. Back on CA-1 I quickly rejoined the conga-line. Focused on the making it south quickly I took every safe opportunity to work through the line. Just north of San Simeon I’ve just about cleared the line. Passing the last vehicle in the line at Harmony I saw the Pop 018 sign, the road is straight here but I’m in no mood to stop for this bonus and get back in the line. I’ve got a clear road to Cayuocs and I’ll be there within a minute of Sunset. Add to that the temperature is dropping with the sun and I’ll need to re-suit up. Cayuocs is right where it’s supposed to be as I get this BBP I know it’s the last one that will be in sunlight. The remaining three will be in the dark.
Back on CA-1 I’m headed south again. The road begins to look like any other road in the dark. It’s a divided four-lane highway here. I exit on Bay Blvd and wind my way slowly through Los Osos until I reach FS115. I’m in luck the station doors are open and the last truck is being rolled into the station for the evening. After I get the BBP the station door closes and the lights go out as I depart. Heading out of town on Los Osos Valley Road toward US-101. I pass the world famous Madonna Inn and think to myself that I really need to spend the night here some time.
I take the Avila Beach Dr Exit and roll up to the Fire Station get the BBP and turn back to US-101. Passing by Pismo Beach the smell of BBQ is calling me. My favorite BBQ joint is just off the freeway, but by this time I’m two to three hours behind and I’m concerned about being able to complete the 1000 miles in my self-imposed 24-hour limit, so I press on.
At the south end of Santa Maria I take Betteravia Road West to CA-135 to CA-1 south to Vandenberg AFB. The road here is especially dark as there’s little to no build up surrounding Vandenberg. The temperature drops another couple of degrees outside of the populated areas. A coyote crosses the road just ahead of me in the darkness and I’m reminded that caution is prudent heading through the darkness. I stay on CA-1 into Lompoc and find the Fire Station easily and well lighted. I made the right decision earlier in the morning, deciding to leave the Lompoc bonus to the end of the ride.
It’s 8 pm I have 4 hours 270 miles to make it home. I still need 180 miles to make my 1000-mile goal. it’ll be tight. Traffic is heavy on US-101, I-405 and I-5 but it’s moving and even with a fuel stop and several breaks I’m back in the garage at 1:50 AM, 23 Hours 45 Minutes 1090 miles later. Time for a shower and some sleep, it was another great BMR ride.
4300 miles, One Rear Tire, I’m a BMR 2013 finisher!