Ups and Downs :: Ragged Point to San Luis Obispo

It was raining when we left Ragged Point but within the hour we were dry and peeling clothing off as it warmed up.  The weather remained finicky throughout the day, bursting into occasional spritzing and then just as quickly disappearing.

As we cycled away from the secluded shores of Big Sur toward San Simeon, the road faded into more relaxed, rolling hills.


Beyond the Point Piedras Blancas Lighthouse, and before San Simeon, we were surprised to find, in the middle of nowhere, a parking lot full of cars and people.  Scattered about boardwalks overlooking the beaches, they were there to see Elephant Seals, coming to shore for only a few short months every year to breed.  Never have I seen an Elephant Seal before and they were fascinating.  Honking and bellowing, sniffling and heavily bouncing their way across the sand, they would then lie motionless alongside other seals for long periods of time.


Male seals bellow threats to intimidate other males


Males can grow to 14-16 feet long and weigh in at 3000-5000 pounds.


While observing the seals we met quite a few people, including fellow touring cyclists Rob and Kevin, who were on a trip down the coast for their holiday break.  It was their first tour and they were loving it.  We met with them again in Hearst Village, and then later around a campfire at San Simeon State Park.  Unfortunately I didn’t get any photos of them!  Hope you two made it home safely & that you’re already planning your next trip.


Campsite at San Simeon State Park


When we passed through Morro Bay the next day we stopped at  Sunshine Health Foods to pick up some dinner and breakfast foods, then made our way to Morro Bay State Park.  We rested there an extra day.

Morro Bay State Park campsite

Morro Bay State Park

View from Morro Bay State Park

From Morro Bay we travelled up and over rolling hills, with a couple of steep grades thrown in for good measure, into San Luis Obispo, opting to take it slow and easy .  Once we arrived in town we decided to stay the night since we had a late start to the day.

South of Morro Bay

Heading toward San Luis Obispo


The next morning we made a visit to the Cambria Bicycle Outfitters to have them check if my rear wheel was true (two spokes had broken on the rear hub and been replaced recently) and to find out if we could get some of our gear replaced under warranty.  The guys at the shop were great, putting the bike up on the stand, replacing our broken Blackburn mirrors and even replacing two of our crappy Kleen Kanteen bottle cages with King cages.

San Luis Opisbo

By this time we had decided to take another rest day.  We made a quick detour from the bike shop into an art supply store so I could buy some brushes for watercolor work and then into downtown, where we found Big Sky Cafe serving very appealing vegetarian fare.  We splurged on a late lunch/early dinner and we’re so glad we did!

Before we even had our bikes locked a woman with a huge smile was popping her head out of the door of the restaurant, peppering me with all kinds of questions about my Rohloff.  Lauren, who worked there, was interested in long-distance touring, was planning on building her own bicycle, and was considering the Rohloff.  We chatted, as much as we could, in between our meal and her working, and by the end of the evening she had offered to make us breakfast at her home the next morning.  Her partner, Brant, also a cyclist and manager of the SLO Bicycle Kitchen, was equally interested in meeting us, seeing our bicycles and chatting about touring.

Stopping for supplies

Well, now, that's wrapped up all pretty!

Oh my! That’s a present we weren’t expecting for Christmas! (as seen in the shop windows of SLO)

Lauren, Brant, Danielle, Sheila

Breakfast at “The Establishment” with Lauren & Brant (Danielle & Sheila on the couch)

As fate would have it, both Lauren and Brant live at “The Establishment”, a 19 person cooperative household that we had read about before ever arriving in SLO.  Kai and I share a special interest in cooperatives and we had thrown around the idea of connecting with folks at “The Establishment” when we passed through town, just to see what they were all about, so it was awesome that we ran into Lauren, and even more wonderful that our visit to their home happened so organically.

The Establishment's Chore Chart

The Chore Chart used by “The Establishment”

We spent the whole morning and part of the early afternoon visiting, first discussing all things cooperative, motivational, and cycling with Lauren and Brant over a super yummy breakfast (thanks so much!), then with other people as they passed through the room, and finally moving discussions outside to look at our bicycles.  We felt right at home and Kai was even able to borrow some gray thread from Danielle, who was working on a sewing project in the living room, to repair one of his shirt hems that had come loose the night before.  Thanks to everyone at the Establishment for your well wishes and especially to Lauren and Brant for your hospitality!  We hope that we will meet again on the road some day!

The Establishment

The bicycles blend in with the vine growing over the entryway but don’t be fooled – this is a cycle-crazy household!

Lauren and Brant

Lauren and Brant – THANK YOU!

Link to Detailed Route


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