Our guest writers, Rex and Jules, vacationed on the Central Coast to experience one of California’s premier cycling destinations! Rex is a more experienced rider, with almost twenty years of racing under his belt, while Jules only started cycling in the last few years and is still finding her rhythm. These different levels of knowledge seem like a challenge, but cycling has truly brought this couple closer. Read about their trip and get a few tips about what to do—and what challenges to overcome—on your next trip to the Central Coast.
Refresh and Reset While Cycling in the Central Coast
California has a wide variety of vacation options and incredible places to ride. The Central Coast isn’t always top-of-mind, but this September we took a trip from our home in Los Angeles to see what it has to offer. We are Rex and Jules—a low-key couple who love to ride bikes and spend relaxing moments together. Before the trip, our quality time had dwindled, and this four-night vacation was exactly what we needed to refresh and reset. On our trip to the Central Coast, we discovered a unique and easygoing experience filled with spectacular views and beautiful roads.
Cycling is one of the many things we enjoy together as well as separately. Rex has been racing bikes for almost twenty years and still competes in some of the biggest domestic road races and crits. On the other hand, Jules just recently discovered cycling during the pandemic and considers herself a beginner. Typically, we reserve our Mondays for an easy spin to the coffee shop, and we rarely go on long rides together. It can be challenging to find a pace we both enjoy, so we were prepared to be extra considerate and patient with one another while on our trip.
Planning Our Trip
The planning aspect of the trip was a breeze. We browsed the Cycle Central Coast website for routes with our morning coffee and selected a few that we would both enjoy—aka no gravel for Jules. We packed our bags, bikes, and lots of ride snacks before hitting the road to head to our first stop—Avila Beach, CA.
Day 1: Relaxing and Riding the Bob Jones Trail
Arriving with a couple of hours to spare before check-in at the Avila Village Inn, we found a quiet beach-side spot to park the van and enjoy lunch. As our friendly neighbor loaded his kayak, we unloaded our bikes to spin around the Bob Jones Trail, scope out the promenade, taking photos all along to document our trip. We ended the day with a lovely dinner celebration for Rex’s birthday at The Gardens of Avila Restaurant located in Sycamore Mineral Springs Resort & Spa, just minutes away from our hotel.
Day 2: Cycling Challenges and Victories on Highway 1
Day two was our big day. At 110 miles and 5,000 ft elevation, all in just over seven hours of ride time, this was Jules’s longest ride to date and first century. We fueled up with a big breakfast from the same restaurant where we had dinner the night before and gave ourselves some time to digest before rolling out. Jules was nervous as we started the ride, knowing there was a huge task in front of her, but Rex had the confidence and experience to know we would get through it together. When doing such a long ride, it’s important to find that all-day pace and stay conservative. Thinking about the ride in chunks and embracing the rewards of the road—be that a snack break, a fun downhill, or whatever you choose—can give yourself a boost of energy.
The route we chose took us north on Highway 1, through San Luis Obispo, Morro Bay and Cayucos, up Green Valley Highway, through Santa Rosa Creek Road, and down into Cambria. This provided a variety of scenery, including some rolling highway roads, tricky climbs, and a fast, twisting descent.
The toughest test of the trip came around mile 50, when we turned inland to take on an hour of climbing. Just before the top of Santa Rosa Creek Road is a seriously steep kicker that was just a little too much for Jules. She was forced to unclip and walk. There may or may not have been a few tears involved, but she was able to power through. At the bottom of the descent, we finally stopped for our mid-ride break. At Cambria Coffee Co., we had some delicious iced coffee, nitro, and some snacks to recharge before heading back down the coast. The best part of the ride was the tailwind on the way back home. After seven hours, it was a huge relief to get back to the comforts of our room. We ended our day with lots of food, including some delicious ice cream sandwiches from the health club next door.
We checked out the next morning and set our driving directions to San Simeon after dropping in Kraken Coffee and the Avila Market Restaurant & Mercantile for some hefty breakfast burritos. It was a scenic drive all the way to our next temporary home—the Cavalier Oceanfront Resort. We spent the day cruising through Fiscalini Ranch, a very chill and scenic route with plenty of photo ops. We had to stop at Cambria Coffee Co. again because the coffee was so irresistibly good. It was a nice and relaxing 90-minute ride that ended on the beach. So obviously, we had to dip our toes in the water and enjoy snacks on the shore. We capped off the day by having dinner with a sunset view in the hotel’s restaurant.
Day 3: Ending with Ocean Views and Coastal Sights
On our last day of riding, we took a breathtaking trip up the coast on Highway 1 to Gorda. The route took us past Hearst Castle, Piedras Blancas Light Station, Ragged Point, White Rock, Black Sand Shores and the Big Sur Lookout. We took in all the views and fresh air while taking lots of photos and videos. The highlight of the day was a pit stop at Ragged Point Inn where we enjoyed some iced pistachio lattes that we are set on having again in the future. The tailwind got us back swiftly and we made a final stop at the Elephant Seals Lookout before rolling back to the Cavalier.
We wrapped up our trip with a greater appreciation of nature and of each other. We fell in love with California a little more after riding through the Central Coast. Aside from Jules’s mid-century mountain-top melt-down, the trip was smooth, enjoyable, and will make for lasting memories together.