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Knickerbiker Central Coastal Adventure
June 10-19, 2006

In June 2006, 16 Knickerbikers enjoyed several days of cycling down the edge of California enjoying the tailwinds and rugged coastline.

Joan and Dick Wayman, Judith King, Jackie Helleis, Jim Deshazo, Joe Estey, Hersch Kagan, Joan Sloate, Gisela Cronyn, Jeff Gianformaggio, Doug Paulson, Gail Markiewicz, Susie and Stogs Stogsdill, Walter Schmitt (van driver), and Ken King are pleased to report that the scenery was spectacular, the weather ideal, the traveling companions compatible, the humor abundant, the traffic light and the climbs doable.


We visited Salinas, Carmel, Monterey, Big Sur, San Simeon, San Luis Obispo, Lompoc and Santa Barbara. Our lodging ranged from modest to elegant but they all had good beds and hot showers.

Our support vehicle was ably piloted by Walter, who has much experience in this regard; he anticipates where we are likely to be for breaks and lunch, and shows up in case we need any assistance. Thanks, Walter!

The plan was to meet in the late afternoon of June 10th in Salinas, arriving either by train or by car. Most drove to the end of the ride in Santa Barbara and took the train further north to Salinas. The train encountered some difficulties (something about a construction truck collision) and instead of arriving at 6:30, 12 Knickerbikers arrived at 8:45! Of course it was dark, but that didn’t deter them from riding their bikes the 3 miles to the motel. Of course they were (mostly) on the sidewalk and in a pack, so the only people at risk were local Salinans brave enough to compete with cyclists for sidewalk space!

The next morning we set out on the short (35 mile) hop over to Carmel via State Route 68, a designated scenic highway. While some of the route was on a busy road, there were byways to explore along the way. Highlights? The huge cutouts of smiling farm workers, outstanding in their fields. Another highlight was the roasted artichoke at the Rio Café in Carmel, where some of us helped Joan Slote celebrate her birthday! Thanks, Judith, for the tip.

Rather than going directly to Carmel, we went up to Monterey and out on the “Cannery Row” pier for some good clam chowder. Then, even though we heard that it was closed on the weekends, we took a chance and went on most of the 17-mile drive over to Carmel. Just before the motel, we stopped at the Carmel Mission and paid our respects to some major padres, including Junipero Serra, who is buried here.

Because Ken had run out of trip money upgrading us in Santa Barbara, each room hosted a happy hour, including the first night in Carmel. Everyone attended the happy hour every evening throughout the trip, gave out gutter gifts, and played the “scarf game,” much to Ken’s delight. The scarf game? Anyone who wants can nominate a rider to wear the scarf the following day by telling a story about them: who was the most helpful, wise, funny, or foolish that day? It’s a good way to hear all the events of the day and share some laughs.

On our Carmel layover day (June 12th) most riders when to back to Monterey, and several of us went to the famous aquarium and once again came back via 17-mile drive, taking a photo of the world’s most photographed tree, the lone cypress, perched on a rock alongside the road.

The next day was a short but scenic 30 miles as we went southeast to Big Sur. Another Knickerbiker, Rick Anderson, was spotted at breakfast and was seen off and on for the next few days. He was solo camping along the same route at the same time!

Point Lobos State Park was a highlight, and although we didn’t see the sea otters that we expected, there were plenty of wildflowers and lots of other wildlife. The lodging was at The Big Sur Lodge in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. The accommodations were cabins in a redwood forest; acceptable considering there were hardly any other places to stay along the route.

Big Sur to San Simeon was supposed to be the tough day (69 miles and hills!), so folks wanted to get an early start. The tailwinds continued, particularly in the afternoon. After a wonderful downhill, the winds pushed along a slight downhill for the remaining 20 miles into San Simeon! What a way to finish the day. The scenery was awesome; everyone saw large herds of elephant seals and some even thought they saw a California Condor. Yes, there are some in this wild country; they have been spotted dining on marine mammals!

From San Simeon we went to San Luis Obispo, where we enjoyed “Market Night” which is held every Thursday year-round. Big friendly crowds, good food and music rewarded us. The following night we watched a swing band in front of the mission, so our timing was good for us San Luis Obispo. We were joined by Ken’s local friend, Bob Behnke, who showed some of us around the Cal Poly campus, including Poly Canyon, where architecture students have erected some interesting structures. It was a good thing that our layover day here was the only hot day on the whole trip!

The ride into Lompoc (54 miles) was fun, since we still had some tailwinds. The car show in Pismo Beach, the town of Guadalupe, and all the oak trees were highlights of the day.

Since Judith and Jackie weren’t staying in Santa Barbara on the last night, we had our farewell dinner in Lompoc at a good Italian Restaurant. Lompoc didn’t offer a lot of choices, but this place served our purposes very well!

On the last 55 miles into Santa Barbara we enjoyed some overcast, cool weather, which was welcome. Once again, the tailwinds made the hill along Highway 1 much easier. After a final happy hour, a final dinner, and a good sleep, most of us took off for San Diego on Monday June 19. Most people opted for the train, and it seemed to work just fine! Total miles? 330. Total elevation gain? Guess! A big thanks to all who made the trip so much fun!

Ken King