California – Los Padres / PCH

In early June I went out to Cali for my cousin Caroline’s wedding and then spent a few days in the Los Padres before shredding the PCH from Carmel to San Luis Obispo.

Camped at Upper Oso in the Los Padres which was super chill. The campground steward/wizard was this old bearded hippy that lived on solar power in a trailer and had vast knowledge of astronomy. The Santa Cruz trail was an interesting experience. First mistake was not taking the fireroad to the top, because this is a downhill shred, yo!! I rode up the downhill, which despite the cool air brought me so close to the sun I was near hallucinating. There was much push-bike. The trail was fun in the intended direction however, especially on the capable Kona, but really sketchy landslide sections as you can see from the photos…

The idea for the PCH was an out and back. I was a little worried to ride it because of the traffic, but it is a very popular route. I had booked a hotel at Ragged Point, 76 miles from Carmel, so I had to make it. Wasn’t much of a problem with a light load on a road bike until the 60th mile or so. The last 10 miles saw a lot of elevation change and self-loathing. To see the change in ecosystems was amazing though. Redwoods to desert forest jungle in one day. The views were predictably incredible.

Body was wrecked I wasn’t about to ride back the next day, opting for a chill mostly downhill ride to San Luis Obispo. Ridiculously, the “bike path” at the last segment becomes a highway shoulder. Literally riding a highway shoulder for 10 or so miles, cars passing you at 90 mph. I flatted of course, because the should is filled with debris. Ridiculous but whatever. Bought an Amtrack ticket but the train was late, so I bartered for a bus ticket instead. Made it back to Carmel that day, threw the bike into the car and drove back to Santa Barbara arriving late.

The PCH is gorgeous but I wouldn’t do it again. Just too many idiots in cars and campers ruining the experience. It is however some of the best road riding imaginable. Screw the touring bike, do it on a fast road bike.