Hog Valley Road - Winterlude 2021 - CycleBlaze

December 9, 2021

Hog Valley Road

Finally, some cycling again!  After driving a thousand miles in the last three days we’re both sick of sitting in the car and antsy to get on the bikes.  First though we have to wait on conditions to improve.  Surprisingly it’s as chilly here in San Luis Obispo today as it was when we left Portland, and for the first few hours this morning it’s showering besides.

We have two rides mapped and loaded for our stay here.  One starts from our motel and is a near-repeat of one we took last winter when we were Covid refugees hiding out in nearby Morro Bay.  The other starts from Paso Robles, a short drive up Highway 101.  We watch the weather in both places to see which clears first, and Paso Robles wins out.  By 10 it appears the rains have ceased up there so we hop in the Raven and head north.

A half hour later we’re biking east from Paso Robles.  It’s chilly, alright; but the wind isn’t bad yet and it’s partly sunny.  Right away Rachael gets a chance to test out her new saddle/suspension post combo on the rough county roads.  Not her favorite riding conditions still, but definitely more manageable than it would have been before the upgrades.

Leaving Paso Robles on ‘gator skin, one of Rachael’s favorite riding surfaces.
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I’ve been looking forward to this ride.  We passed through Paso Robles last winter on our drive east from Morro Bay and it looked like there could be some fine cycling here.  And I was right, judging by today’s ride anyway.  It’s a loop up into the hills northeast of town, beginning with a ride up to the end of Hog Canyon Road.

I was hopeful on this ride, anticipating encountering a Fat, Greasy Hog for the Alphabet Quest.  No luck there today, so we had to content ourselves with an absolutely quiet county road with some of the prettiest views you could imagine.  

For the first five miles we bike through the flats along the Salinas River, passing one vineyard after another.  Many of the fields are unnaturally brown, the ground beneath the vines blanketed in shriveled dead leaves that leave me wondering if this is a normal winter look or the result of the severe drought the west has been experiencing for the last several years.

Beyond this though we come to Hog Canyon Road and start following the probably dry creek northeast into the hills.  It’s a gradual climb most of the way, gaining about 700 feet over nine miles; and as we climb and the terrain is more exposed the wind picks up and gets a bite to it.  The road surface is inconsistent too, smoothing out for awhile and then deteriorating again. The scenery is so outstanding though that it’s well worth it. 

On Hog Canyon Road.
Heart 6 Comment 2
Jen GrumbyWhat a scene! Another one to add to the 'opening scene of a movie' list.

This movie might be about a retired computer programmer who decides to move away from the big city and give country living a whirl ...
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8 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyThose stories never turn out well. We’d starve and o penniless.
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8 months ago
Candy striper eucalyptus.
Heart 3 Comment 0
For the Alphabet Quest: Failed Grape Harvest? Many of the lower elevation grape fields are entirely shriveled, possibly victims of the extended drought conditions.
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On Hog Canyon Road. An amazing view, that I thought couldn’t get better.
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On Hog Canyon Road.
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On Hog Canyon Road.
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This is pretty spectacular too though.
Heart 4 Comment 3
Jen GrumbyI wish I had a photo count for your 'beckoning road' series.

This one definitely qualifies!!
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8 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyHey, I could make a calendar!
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8 months ago
Jen GrumbyThat would be a great idea!!
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8 months ago
Or this. Maybe this is the best view of the ride. Hard to choose, as we pass by one splendid vista after another.
Heart 9 Comment 1
Jen GrumbyThis one too! Really makes me want to pedal towards that tree to see what is beyond the bend.
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8 months ago
On Hog Canyon Road. This reminds me of some of the scenes in Andalucia.
Heart 10 Comment 1
at the junction, and our turn-back point. Hog Canyon continues on a ways, but soon is closed to the public because it’s the access road to a work camp.
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Turning back from Hog Canyon, we come to the most inhospitable part of the ride.  We’re still climbing, as for the next two miles we traverse the divide over to the next  canyon to the north on Ranchita Canyon Road.  These two miles are northwest and straight into the wind, now blowing more seriously.  It’s a tough, cold pull biking uphill into a 15-20 mph headwind on this rough surfaced lane.  It’s a big relief when we crest out, turn left, and start dropping down Ranchita Canyon.

Fairly harsh conditions as we climb into a bracing cold headwind.
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It’s very open country up here, but it’s time for lunch so we scour the roadside for a spot that might offer some shelter.  We find one that’s barely suitable - a tree that offers a partial windbreak but nothing more - and we quickly down our lunches as we sit on the grass and anxiously look at the now-ominous sky and notice a few sprinkles precipitating down.  We don’t really want to be up here, in the open and 20 miles from the car if it starts raining.

But nothing comes of it.  Soon we’re back on the road, coasting for the next eight or ten miles with a strong crosswind keeping us company the whole way.  At the bottom of the descent we come to River Road and turn straight south.  For the next eight miles we fairly sail as we follow the Salinas River south back to Paso Robles, the wind now at our backs.  We’re loving it, and I’m thinking how much I enjoy rides that end like this, the easiest miles at the end. But then we come to town, turn left toward the parking lot in the shopping mall where the Raven is waiting for us, and face the 14% climb away from the river.  The hardest climb of the day, but at least it’s a short one.

Beginning the descent into Ranchita Canyon.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Leaner.
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Is it art?
Heart 4 Comment 2
Bruce LellmanI'd frame that piece of metal and mount it on a wall. So, yes, it's ART!
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8 months ago
Kathleen ClassenDefinitely art! I am with Bruce.
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8 months ago
Along Ranchita Canyon Road.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Along Ranchita Canyon Road.
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Along Ranchita Canyon Road.
Heart 2 Comment 0
It must be cold up there. We can hear them bawling in the distance.
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Along Ranchita Canyon Road.
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Ride stats today: Rachael: 42 miles, 2,900’; Scott: 39 miles, 2,600’

Today's ride: 39 miles (63 km)
Total: 401 miles (645 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 9
Comment on this entry Comment 6
Bruce LellmanA stunningly beautiful ride!! I want to be there right now.
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8 months ago
Lednar De NallohSome people hate vineyard country with it's orderly industrial rows, I reckon it gives you some great contrasts, patterns and colour. BTW something not quite right on the Cycle365 site as I can't log in and judging by the lack of comments I'd say I'm not the only one.
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8 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Lednar De NallohYes, we know about the Cycle365 problem and are trying to resolve it. We thought we had resolved it when we installed a new security certificate last night, but it looks like there’s still a problem. Not good.
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8 months ago
Carolyn van HoeveFantastic photos Scott!
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8 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Carolyn van HoeveThanks, Carolyn. Really a wonderful ride.
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8 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bruce LellmanHey, throw the bike in the car! Just a thousand mile drive and you could be here too!
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8 months ago