San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club
Some bike riders avoid Highway 41 between Morro Bay and Atascadero. I find it scenic and soothing. Here is a quality ride that starts on 41 with a variety of terrain and a good workout.
Morro Bay to Atascadero: 17 miles
with a couple of good climbs, a fast descent and a quick transition from
fog to forest.
Begin at Lila Keiser Park in Morro Bay near the intersection of Highways 1 and 41. The first five miles on 41 are a gentle ascent, then two miles of climbing alongside Morro Creek past the turnoff to Cerro Alto Campground. After a couple of miles of level riding, climb two miles to the summit. Shift up and tuck for a quick descent, then motor casually into Atascadero.
The good: Great views of the farms east of Morro Bay that extend into the foothills of the Santa Lucia Range. Most of this segment has good shoulder width.
The bad: Sometimes the shoulder narrows and forces bicyclists into the traveled way. Be aware of vehicles coming from behind.
Atascadero to Templeton: 7 rolling miles
through horse and wine country.
Cross underneath Freeway 101 and continue to Templeton Road. Turn left, settle down and enjoy the scenery. After a couple of drops and climbs, pass Wild Horse Court, stop at the intersection with El Pomar Drive and watch for cross traffic. Turn left and cross the freeway as El Pomar turns into Vineyard Drive.
The good: Open country, horse ranches, vineyards. Very little traffic and drivers are courteous to bicyclists.
The bad: Narrow road with no bike lane.
Side trip: If you need more miles, turn right on Main Street in Templeton after crossing the Salinas River. Ride through town and wave to the shopkeepers. Just before the freeway, turn right on Ramada Drive and ride the frontage road to the intersection with Highway 46. Cross underneath the freeway, turn left on Theater and ride back to Templeton. As you enter Templeton, take Old County Road to the intersection with Vineyard. This will add about 5 flat miles to your ride.
Templeton to Green Valley: 22 miles through
vineyards, back across the Santa Lucia mountains and down to the coast
Follow Vineyard and make a transition from dry farmland to forested hills surrounding Hidden Valley, passing Pesenti and Mastantuono wineries. At the intersection with Highway 46, turn right a quarter mile and take a break at Cider Creek Bakery. Treat yourself to an apple flip and ask Julie to heat it for you.
After refueling, ride Highway 46 to Highway 1 south of Cambria. You climb a little bit as you pass Jack Creek and York Mountain and a little more beyond Old Creek and Santa Rosa Creek Roads. Cross the summit and feast on the view of Estero Bay and Morro Rock to your left. Tuck in for a six-mile descent to Green Valley.
The good: Riding your bicycle through the mountainsBa splendid sense of isolation and self-sufficiency as you climb and descend from the Salinas River valley to the coast. New pavement overlay on Highway 46 makes for smooth, fast riding.
The bad: Vineyard Drive is narrow and shoulderless but has little traffic.
Side trip: At the intersection of Vineyard with Highway 46, continue straight to Peachy Canyon Road. Turn right, then right again on Willow Creek and back to Vineyard. Left on Vineyard, then an immediate right on Jack Creek Road to Highway 46 at the foot of York Mountain. This will add 11 miles of quality back roads with little traffic and a high tranquility index.
Bail out: If you are running short of time or energy, take Old Creek Road to Cayucos and back to Morro Bay. This will reduce the route by 10 miles and give you a white-knuckle descent to Whale Rock Reservoir.
Green Valley to Morro Bay: 16 miles of
open farmland and coastline.
Ride past Harmony and indulge yourself in the long descent to the new State park on the bluffs north of Cayucos. Enjoy blue-water views of Estero Bay as you motor south. Turn off Highway 1 onto Ocean Avenue and ride through Cayucos. Take a coffee break at Kelleys or have a cinnamon bun at Chevron by the Sea. Hop back onto Highway 1 and rejoin the rush of humanity as you ride through north Morro Bay to Lila Keiser.
Treat yourself to a great post-ride meal of Mexican or sea food in Morro Bay.
The good: Wide, smooth shoulder on Highway 1. Count on a tail wind (most of the time).
The bad: Sometimes it's a head wind. Be aware of temperature differences between the coast and north county. You may start in 70 degree weather in Morro Bay and find yourself shivering in the 30s in Atascadero.
You can email Robert Davis at email@example.com