Day One: Morro Bay, California to Near Simmler, California - "Vibes" - CycleBlaze

From "Vibes"

By Jeff Lee

June 15, 2024

Day One: Morro Bay, California to Near Simmler, California

A combination of my usual nervousness about starting a tour, exhaustion from my hellish day in airports and planes yesterday, and, I suppose, minor jet lag, caused me to wake up several times in the night. 

I finally got up at 3:30 and slowly tried to get everything put together.
Morri had apparently read my bike journals carefully enough that she'd noticed that once or twice (or maybe one or two dozen times) I'd mentioned that I like eating egg-and-cheese biscuits on tour. So she surprised me by making some this morning. That was nice!

I hadn't put the panniers and other stuff on the bike since last summer, so it took me a while to remember how to attach everything.

Eventually, though  I wobbled out of the driveway with Morri. She and her friend Cindee were going to come along for the first part of the ride, and show me a great way to ride out of Morro Bay.

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I opted not to drag my bike all the way to the sand. The only time I tried that, back in 2008 in Florida, I had sand in my gears (and everything else) for weeks. Plus, since I doubt I'll actually ride all the way to the other coast, it doesn't seem very important.

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We wound our way through quiet streets and bike paths in Morro Bay. Of course I took a photo of the most famous thing in town: The Morro Rock:

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We eventually turned onto the very nice Santa Rita Road and started some serious climbing.

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Morri and Cindee and me.
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At the point where the smooth pavement turned to gravel, Morri and Cindee said goodbye and headed back down.

This was one of the great cycling roads, with lots of shade and zero traffic. Steep, of course, but I don't mind climbing on the bike.

...Except, of course, for those times when I very much mind.

Morri getting ready to go back down on the pavement
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Bob DistelbergNice washboard.
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1 month ago
Lots of shady sections.
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Some nice open sections.
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These E-Bike guys didn't seem that happy on the climb up, as I coasted down.
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Eventually the road turned to pavement, flattened out, and dumped me near the bustling town of Templeton, population 7,764. I initially missed the turn into town, and had to backtrack a mile or so. I first stopped at a library for water and the bathroom, and to extract some local knowledge from the two women working there. I tried to describe what I was looking for (a convenience store), but they initially tried to persuade to go back out of town to the Trader Joe's, where there were apparently some heathy snack foods they liked. They were the type of non-cyclists who think that all people who ride bikes are health fanatics, especially when it comes to food, and I eventually had to bluntly tell them "I WANT JUNK FOOD." They laughed and told me where the best source of that was.

I obtained the junk food at a busy little market in the cute town, ate it, and rode away.

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John Egan had created a route for me, but I'd used Morri's route to leave Morro Bay instead of his, so now I wanted to connect up with John's route.
I resorted to Google Maps for this, which is always dicey, and when I didn't like the "vibes" of a road upon which I was supposed to turn, I headed straight onto dirt instead. It appeared to go in the right direction.

Much better than Google's suggested road.
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I felt even better about this choice after I was passed by dozens of local cyclists. Except for them, there was zero traffic.

Eventually the cyclists (the few stragglers I could  still see, anyway), turned right, and I turned left. I was trying to get to Creston, a village which appeared to have a store, and which would be the last services for 40+ miles to my destination.

Much slower than the other cyclists. But faster than me.
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Now I was riding among vineyards. The roads were paved, but were very, very low traffic. There were lots of rolling hills, and it was early enough in the day that I wasn't aggravated by them yet.

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I arrived in Creston, population 94. For such a small town, there were a lot of open businesses. I took a few pictures and then went in search of snacks.

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Mark BinghamI always love reading boards like this. It really gives you a sense of what the town's like.
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1 month ago

There was a small general store that made milkshakes. I went inside, ordered one, tried semi-successfully to find the right kind of snacks to put in my handlebar bag without them getting crushed, and people-watched for a while.

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I was still unsure about how to connect up with the original route. The young woman running the store was one of the rare - in my experience - local people who had a good knowledge of their roads. I asked about a couple of dirt roads, and she suggested I just ride straight out of town and get on California State Highway 58. "It's very empty. I'd ride a bike on it." Convinced by this, I followed her advice and road out of town.

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CA-58 was, in fact, very low-traffic. But so hilly. I indulged in a bad habit of looking at the Google Maps elevation profiles and groaned at the number of significant climbs. I wasn't in shape yet for 45 miles of this, especially after this morning's  hills.

But the road was very pleasant. Despite the remoteness of the highway, there were enough things I found worthy of photographing that I maintained my interest in riding. I just hoped I had enough in the tank to get to my destination.

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Scott AndersonSo brown! We’ve only seen this country in the winter months when it looks like Ireland.
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1 month ago
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Kelly IniguezThat cow would look at home in Hungry Horse, MT
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1 month ago
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Around the time I passed a school whose mascot (a skunk) was surely the worst I'd ever seen, I finally regained my cell signal and called the owner of the very improbably-located motel to let him know that I was getting close.

I'd found this place, "The California Valley Motel", on the internet yesterday evening, after several failed attempts at finding ANY semi-reasonable place to camp or stay in the region. I think Morri and her husband were amused by naivety; I'd thought: This is the most populous state in the country; there must be towns everywhere.

I wasn't convinced this motel really existed until I finally got the owner on the phone  yesterday evening. He told me two important things: 1. The room was $100, cash only, and 2. There was no potable water at the motel (!).

The price seemed high for a place where I couldn't even drink the water out of the sink, but compared to the $88 dollars for tent camping at a KOA that I'd been quoted, it seemed like a steal.

The last five or ten miles to the motel were tough. I was very, very tired by now.

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I still almost couldn't believe the motel really existed until I saw the sign at the turn off:

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The motel and the entire "town" (a couple of houses) are apparently for sale.
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Mark Binghaminteresting....
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1 month ago

The owner, Russell, is a really nice guy. I pulled in, walked into the lobby, and produced my hundred dollar bill. He looked at me, and the heavy bike, confirmed that I'd ridden in on hilly 58, and said, "How about $80 instead?" He looked at me again, appeared to ponder briefly, and then said "$60 is enough."

A 40% discount for lodging in super-expensive California!

The room was about what you'd expect for a place where the residents appear to mostly be single men who pay to live there month to month. But I wasn't going to complain.

I felt good initially as I did my chores in the room, but then was overcome with such severe, and sudden nausea, that I had to lie down immediately on the bathroom floor and vomited several times. I couldn't even lift my head to the toilet, and just puked on the floor. Fortunately it was all liquid, and easy to clean up later. I'd been mixing Pedialyte powder into the hot water in my bottles all afternoon. I'll never do that again. As I write this, I don't know if I'll ever drink the orange Pedialyte again at all, in fact. Ugh.

Eventually I felt well enough to get up and take a shower, although I had to sit down for part of it, then went to bed at a very, very early hour while it was still very light outside.

I slept soundly for many hours, except for a few times I woke up leg cramps, and once when I turned on ancient heater in my room.

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Today's ride: 81 miles (130 km)
Total: 81 miles (130 km)

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John EganSo glad you had a nice lounger to relax in at the end of the day!
Especially after those killed washboards.
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1 month ago
Rich FrasierGood route choice! That's some serious back-country California you traversed there.
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1 month ago
Jeff LeeTo John EganThat picture of my friend with the washboarded gravel was literally the only washboard (about 20 feet worth) that I encountered all day!

Today was mostly paved, but the dirt/gravel I did do was all good.
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1 month ago
Morri NashIt was a pleasure having you stay with us in Morro Bay to begin this journey.
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1 month ago
Jeff LeeTo Morri NashHi Morri,

Sorry for my late reply.

Thanks so much for all your help. It made starting my trip much easier. Next time you are back in Kentucky/Ohio with your bike, let's get together and ride

Jeff
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4 weeks ago