Pacific Coast Bike Tour, Day 18: San Luis Obisbo to Lompoc

previous post: San Simeon to San Luis Obisbo

Day 18: San Luis Obisbo to Lompoc


We woke the next morning rested, clean, smelling good and ready to tackle the day. A little rest, some pool time, leg massages and mega doses of ibuprofen  had done Tim’s knees some good.  He was still reluctant and a bit worried about his knees and wasn’t sure they were going to take him 400 more miles to the border but he was willing to keep plugging along.

A couple of months before we left on the trip Tim changed his saddle on the tandem. The more miles he pedaled, the more Tim deduced that the position change from his saddle swap might be contributing to his sore knees. He considered asking a friend to break into our garage, remove his Selle Atomica saddle from another bike and mail it to a future stop.  He figured that would be too much hassle for all parties involved and decided to just manage the pain instead.

san luis obisbo to lompoc

We left the hotel and started pedaling toward our next destination, Lompoc, CA which I estimated was @ 50 miles away. Turns out I was wrong, it was closer to 65 with a pretty big climb at the end. Oops.

We stopped at Trader Joe’s on our way out-of-town for some groceries. One big difference between the Southern leg of the Pacific Coast vs. the Oregon, N. California leg last summer: better grocery options! Most major towns along the Southern part of the route have decent grocery stores, that kept us well fed most days.

When we shop, we usually have at least one person stay outside with the bikes. Two large heavily loaded tandems without kickstands aren’t easy to prop and lock up. We find it’s better to find a place to lean the giant bikes and have one person stay outside and keep an eye on them. Tim got grocery duty this time and I was the bike watcher. As I was waiting outside, I saw a guy pull up on his bike, lock up and head into Trader Joe’s. I couldn’t help but notice he had a Selle Atomica, the saddle Tim had been pining for the last few days. When Tim came out of the store, I pointed to the bike and the saddle and told Tim he should wait for it’s owner and ask the guy if he could buy it from him. We laughed a bit and joked about shady, saddle buying deals outside Trader Joe’s. The guy came out of the store and Tim struck up a conversation with him about bikes and touring and our journey. Tim mentioned the saddle and joked about our plan to slip him some cash for it. We parted ways but before he left, we gave him our blog address. He promised to look it up and follow the rest of our journey.


By the time we were on the road again, the heat was pretty intense. Remember, we’re wimpy Seattlites and wilt when temps rise above 80F. As we left Trader Joe’s, temps were well into the high 90’s and on their way to 100F .Our route skirted the coast through Pismo Beach the first part of the day, giving us some respite from the heat. It turned inland again after Pismo and Oceana passing through another agricultural area.


Have I mentioned that the boy really doesn’t like pesticides? After riding through the agricultural area in Monterrey County, where much of our West Coast lettuce and strawberries are grown, and seeing farm workers  wearing bandannas and face masks while spraying pesticides on endless strawberry fields, our son had a new appreciation for local organic produce. We also passed some pretty sad looking lifeless rivers,  their demise most likely the result of too much pesticide run-off. Our tandem discussions turned to industrial agriculture and the toil it takes on our natural resources. Now he cringed when our route passed through agricultural areas and tried to protect his lungs.

The Boy is Afraid of Pesticides

In the late afternoon, we found a little town park in Guadalupe with some shade and a picnic table, the perfect place to rest and escape the sun. As we sat eating lunch, Tim checked his email and saw a message from Trader Joe’s-Selle Atomica-saddle-guy. We learned his name was Robert, he had looked up our blog, and offered to send Tim a spare saddle! Wow! Even though Tim figured connecting and receiving the saddle was a long-shot, the possibility of a new saddle and respite from sore knees kept him buzzing the rest of the afternoon.


After pedaling all day in the heat, we arrived at the base of Harris Grade, the final climb that separated us from our night’s destination of Lompoc. We sat and stared at the map and gazed at the corresponding hills off in the distance as we drank the last of our water and fueled up for the climb. We were all spent after a really long day and steeled ourselves for some more suffering.


The Harris Grade climb (not for the faint of heart according to the Lompoc Record) lived up to expectations, the next 8 miles were pure agony. The climb treated us to a hefty dose of hairpin turns and switchbacks while heat radiated off the road and rocky cliffs. We mostly pedaled in silence, quietly pushing on the pedals until we reached the summit.


As you know, fun descents are the reward for suffering up long climbs! And this one did not disappoint. We barely had to pedal down the other side of the pass and into town. We relished the downhill, taking in the views while coasting and chatting all the way into town.


We pedaled into town, stopping at a grocery for a few dinner and breakfast items before we pedaled the final 2 miles to River Park, the city of Lompoc campground.

We weren’t sure what to expect from a small-town city campground and decided if it was bad, we’d pedal back to town for a hotel. As we pedaled up to the hiker/biker site, we were greeted by fellow bike tourists, Danielle and Henry, whom we’d met briefly at the hiker/biker campsite in San Simeon a few days before. They gave us the lowdown on the campground before they settled in for the night ($5 per site! it’s quiet, has showers, power for charging devices and clean bathrooms.) All a bike tourist could want or need!

Miles: 65
Route: Some Hwy 1, mostly side roads
High: A serendipitous meeting with a friendly cyclist outside of Trader Joe’s in San Luis Obisbo
Low: Harris Grade Climb: 8 miles of hot climbing at the end of a hot day.
Sleep: Lompoc City Park. Nothing special, Clean and friendly. $5 per site hiker/ biker!

 – Anne

next up: Pacific Coast Bike Tour, Day 19: Lompoc to El Capitan State Beach

3 responses to “Pacific Coast Bike Tour, Day 18: San Luis Obisbo to Lompoc

  1. Pingback: Pacific Coast Bike Tour Day 19: Lompoc to El Capitan State Beach | Car Free Days

  2. Pingback: Pacific Coast Bike Tour Day 21: Carpinteria to Leo Carrillo State Park | Car Free Days

  3. Pingback: Pacific Coast Bike Tour Day 22: Leo Carrillo State Beach to Palos Verdes | Car Free Days

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s