Cycle Tour Kirk Creek To Morro Strand, Shuttle Around Coast Highway Closure

I awoke Wednesday morning on day 5 of my 8 day bike tour of coastal central California, greeted by the sound of the waves crashing on the cliffs below my tent at Kirk Creek campground. The morning weather was very damp fog, classic Big Sur, so my gear was pretty wet but manageable.

I was on a schedule that day. I would ride up to the closure on Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) at Gorda, closed due to the Mud Creek slide, and meet a shuttle that would take me around the closure and drop me off on the other side. It would take me about an hour to ride to Gorda. The shuttle ride would take 3 hours, then I had 45 miles of riding to finish the day. It would be fast with a big descent followed by flat roads and a good tailwind. I needed to stop in the biggest town of the day, Cambria, for supplies. My schedule would be tight but I refused to stress about it and just take it as it happened. I packed up and said good-bye to the few fellow campers that were awake that early and I was on my way.

The road from Kirk Creek to Gorda had very few cars on it, and the skies were clearing up a little.

 

As I neared Gorda the clouds broke up and let some glorious sunshine through.

My shuttle passed me a couple of miles before Gorda. The driver, Mandy recognized me from my description and pulled over. We introduced ourselves and I had her drive ahead as I rode the rest of the way. I was not going to miss the chance to ride PCH as an abandoned road.

Mandy of Central Coast Outdoors was my shuttle pilot.

Mandy was a friendly and knowledgeable host. I tried to help as much as I could but she insisted on lifting my bike onto the roof of her car, and she remarked on how light my bike was for a touring bike. She had shuttled many touring bikes as a tour guide, but she said mine was among the lightest. She probably says that to all the bikers. We agreed that we liked the lighter style better.

Yes these are dollars per gallon prices for gas, and premium is $7.399 per gallon.

Whenever I stop in Gorda I take a picture of gas prices at the pump for fun. I usually post it to Facebook and freak people out. It may be the highest price gas in the country, but I have no problem with this. Getting gas there would be expensive. And you don’t need to fill up. A few gallons will get you to more affordable gas. And simple supply and demand is a great thing. The gas station there could lower prices and people might buy more, but they may just not want to hassle with getting more gas. It is up to the vendor how they want to manage supply, and prices are a natural, bureaucracy free and easy way to control it.

No one else signed up for the shuttle so it was just Mandy and me for the ride. I learned that Mandy was in the process of stepping down from a leadership role of an environmental organization. I never got around to asking her which organization, I was too interested in hearing her talk about the various birds, deer and fish in the area and the efforts of the organization to restore and protect wildlife.

We got delayed by the traffic at the “Lightning in a Bottle” music festival. Had I known that The Glitch Mob and Emancipator were there I might have considered checking it out. Mandy eventually cut around the traffic that had backed up onto the main road. But with the delay, the longish ride ahead of me, and the need to get supplies, I made the decision to have her drop me off in the lovely coastal town of Cambria rather than drive back up the coast to the other side of the slide. It cut out about 20 miles of riding, and my body was telling me that it needed an easy ride that day. The next day would be my longest day with the most climbing and didn’t want to push it. I missed part of PCH with low traffic, but I did not regret the decision to take it easy that day.

I opted to get dropped off in Cambria and continue my journey from there.

While in Cambria I needed to find another fuel canister for my stove and I wanted to stock up for dinner.  I got recommendations from Mandy about where to get what I needed.

Cambria is a pretty little village and the most civilization I had encountered in a couple of days.

The food was easy. I got the biggest deli sandwich ever at Sandy’s Deli and stashed it away for later. The fuel was another matter. I needed an isobutane canister, which have many advantages, but ease of finding replacements is not one of them. You pretty much have to go to a dedicated camping store. Though you might find one at a hardware store that has a few camping supplies, like the Cambria True Value store.  It was a large canister but I could hardly be choosy in my situation.

I came upon the tiny village of Harmony just a few miles down the road. I took Mandy’s advice and stopped there. I have passed it many times, laughing at the posted population of 18 and never thinking about stopping. It is worth it for the stunning glass shop alone. On a weekend you could also check out the dairy and ice cream truck, a pottery shop and a “visitors center” with free coffee.

This is almost all of Harmony, CA. There is a winery too.

 

The glass blowing shop featured everything from small trinkets to museum quality artwork.

 

The stork in a nest was the centerpiece of the main room. It and its nest were all glass, of course.

 

The shop was overflowing with beautiful glasswork.

 

The workshop was in the back.

 

Even the entry was full of whimsical bits of hand blown glass work.

 

Sadly the ice cream truck was closed. I was really in the mood for some right about then too.

 

I continued south. The scenery was rolling grassy hills and ocean views. Morro Rock was visible most of the time, and I featured it in many of my pictures.

You might be able to barely make out Morro Rock on the left.

 

The grasslands intermingled with coastal wetlands in many places.

 

I decided to err on the side of too many pics of Morro Rock.

 

The coast goes through a  transition in this area. It still has the rocky features like Big Sur to the north, but scaled down.

 

Like Harmony, I had driven by Cayucos many times and not stopped. Staying with my plan, I pedaled slowly through the lovely little town. It had a pier, a beach and a quaint downtown area. I stopped at the local liquor store. It can be hard to find the right size bottle of Jack Daniels when you are riding, but Paul’s Liquor Store, while simply named, had what I needed.

Ocean Avenue in Cayucos is hard to describe without saying “cute” more than once because it is so cute.

 

The beach is offers a great wrap around view of the bay. It had a natural look with driftwood, kelp and lots of footprints.

 

I moved on from Cayucos but had one last look back.

 

The homes along the beach created a gorgeous scene.

 

I arrived at my destination for the day with Morro Rock still serving sentry duty in the bay.

 

Morro Strand was an interesting campground. It did not have Hike or Bike sites, so I reserved a tent site for full price. The spot I selected was as close to the ocean as I could get, with just a low bluff between me and the bay.  It gave me some awesome scenery but it was not without issues. My campsite was 100% sand.  So it was hard to pitch my tent and keep my gear clean. And many people thought this was a nice view, including the neighborhood that was only a few hundred yards away, perched above the campground.  They looked over the campground as part of their ocean view. And many of the homes were all windows on the side facing the us.  I just pretended they weren’t there. The campground had no showers, but they did have an enclosed bathroom with flush toilets and sinks. Omitting showers seemed odd. The campground seemed to be designed for RVs with tent sites being an afterthought.

A campsite on the beach.

 

After setting up camp I rode around the area for yet more supplies and sightseeing. The summer days were long, and I found myself going down with the sun. I feel asleep early and slept well once again, ready for the next day of my tour.

An enormous deli sandwich and some locally procured wine were a great way to end the day.

 

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
01:00:30 00:55:17 9.06 9.83 31.54 744.75
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Relive ‘Kirk Creek to Gorda’

Elapsed Time Moving Time Distance Average Speed Max Speed Elevation Gain
02:41:11 01:41:41 20.37 12.02 34.90 787.40
hours hours mi. mph mph ft.

Relive ‘Cambria to Morrow Strand’

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