Anyone who is planning to ride the Adventure Cyclist Association (ACA) Pacific Coast Route should be aware about the situation in Big Sur. As of writing this post, Highway 1 is closed from Big Sur Station to Ragged Point. CalTrans estimates that it will take at least 6 months (until October) to finish construction on the new Peiffer Canyon bridge.
I had the pleasure of riding the Pacific Coast Route this winter during the storms that caused the landslides and damage to the bridge. I was only a few days away from Big Sur when ACA published the detour around the closures. Props to ACA to coming up with a good reroute so soon after the incident!
A GPS route of the detour can be found here: ACA Detour
ACA road closure info found here: ACA Pacific Coast Closures
CalTrans Road Info: Road Conditions
Not being able to ride Big Sur was certainly a disappointment. Everyone who I talked to said it's one of the most spectacular parts of the whole trip. Part of what makes that area so cool is it's remoteness. This lack of roads also makes it had to detour around.
The detour starts near Marina and rejoins the coast north of Morro Bay. The detour is 30 miles longer (150 total) than the standard Pacific Coast route and ventures pretty far inland. Services are quite limited along the route, so be sure to carry ample water and food. Also be aware that weather conditions will be much hotter on the detour, and expect north winds in the afternoon.
Day 1: I was initially skeptical about the quality of riding I'd find since it vaguely follows the Hwy 101 corridor, but was pleasantly surprised by the quiet, country roads. I chose to ride from Marina to King City on day 1. The route was easy riding: flat, quiet, and with a tailwind. The route traverses agricultural land through strawberry fields and vineyards. I found the farm workers to be the most courteous drivers of the entire trip, giving me plenty of room when passing. Stop for a break and refill water at Mission Soledad. Camping is available in King City at San Lorenzo Park.
Day 2: King City to Lake Nacimiento. The route turns into the hills with significant climbs all day. Roads were again quiet and pleasant to ride although the combination of heat and hills provided plenty of challenge approaching the Lake. Pricey camping is available at the Lake Nacimiento Resort along with plenty of truck, trailer, and RV traffic on the weekends. There is market and restaurant just down the road from the Resort at the town of Heritage Ranch.
Day 3: Lake Nacimiento to Morrow Bay. Easier riding as the route drops down from the hills into Paso Robles. Heavier traffic around the city and out Hwy 46. I chose to stray off the ACA detour before it hit the coast and descended Old Creek Road to the ocean. The descent was a one of the best of the trip: winding, steep, fast, and fun. Make sure your brake pads up for a workout if you choose this route. It would be a blast do do without a full load. Morro bay was an excellent place to hang out and recoup after a few hot days on the road. There is a decent hiker/biker camp at Morro Bay State Park.
While it's a bummer to miss Big Sur, the reroute wasn't a complete disappointment. The roads were mostly quiet and fun to ride, but a little busy around the lake on the weekend. Camping was available, but fairly limited and expensive at King City and Lake Nacimiento ($27/night). Don't expect much for services between Marina to Greenfield, and King City to Lake Nacimiento.