Morro Bay is very Bike Friendly

Morro Bay is a fabulous place to cycle and hike in. The community is very bike friendly and a coastal trail for walking and biking extends for many miles. We have taken the trail to Cayucos on Highway 1 which had some traffic on it but the shoulder is spacious and I didn’t feel too uncomfortable. I do not like to share the road with cars and that is why biking in the desert is so appealing to me.

The nature sanctuary trail is also wonderful and there are viewing benches to observe birds such as the endangered Snowy Plover. The sand dunes have nesting areas cordoned off and these adorable little shorebirds are treated with respect and courtesy and given prime site sanctuary locations in which to raise their young without being stepped on and trampled. I love this about Morro Bay; they are very pro-wildlife and try to give local and migratory animals a place to thrive in alongside us humans.

If you are staying in Morro Bay and wish to bike north, head down to Morro Rock and follow the boardwalk north of town until you pass the water treatment plant. Right before you bike underneath the Highway 1 bridge, turn left into the high school and follow the paved path on the west side of the highway. This trail will take you to Morro Strand State Beach and from there you can hook up to the 1 and follow that North to Cayucos. If you wish to bike south, Morro Bay State Park is another great place to bike around in. I don’t recommend going to Montana de Oro by bike because of the narrow roadway, but it is an incredible place in which to hike along the sand dunes. Biking through town is also fun because the cars go slowly and there is a bike path.

I have a front loading handlebar basket that I use for Callie and she loves biking but it has been too rainy and she has had to be left behind in the RV. I don’t think she minds all that much though. When we return, I find her in the same position as when we left. She seems to really enjoy all the activity of RVing and there is never a dull moment. She can rest on the dash and watch people walking their dogs or she can jump up into the loft for privacy and take an uninterrupted nap.

Morro Bay has a fabulous bike repair and rental shop called – The Bike Shop that is on Main Street in town and my husband bought an off-road Raleigh bike for me last time we stayed here. I love this bike and use it off-roading in Anza- Borrego Desert State Park. We have been coming to Morro Bay for 40 years now and this sleepy fishing community hasn’t changed all that much. It is a great place for walking, hiking, kayaking, fishing, and windsurfing.

Deep Sand

Today we chose to bike off-road behind the house and Michael and I took a trail we tried to bike on about a year ago thinking that our bikes were an improvement from the last time. I had a Marin hybrid and didn’t make it 5 ft into the what is really a sandy, dry river bed before I had to get off and walk. In fact, I cursed mightily the whole way because I was rarely able to stay upright in the deep sand and kept falling over and having to walk alongside my worthless bicycle.

I have a Raleigh now with 2.5-inch tires, maybe 3 inches, max. I have shocks on the front and a very hard saddle. My bike handled better than last time but still not as good as I had hoped. I was able to stay upright about 1/3 of the time versus practically zero last time. You really need the balloon tires to stay vertical in deep sand and I was smart enough to walk when I thought it was necessary.

Michael’s bike wasn’t much of an improvement either and he walked some of the time but also spent a fair amount muscling himself up and over the handlebars by accident, tipping sideways frequently and almost landed on a cactus, once. We have very different biking styles when it comes to difficult terrain and my motto is to NOT get hurt anymore. I am accident prone and I don’t want any more injuries, period.

It is an awesome hiking trail nevertheless, and the wash follows along the base of my famous self-titled, Mount Illuminous. When you look up close and personal to the foothill, you can see how sparse the side of the mountain is, and how extreme the conditions are for growing any kind of plants. Ocotillo thrive at the base of this hillside and sage and creosote have a foothold wedged around some of the boulders along the sheer cliff, but it is mostly sand, rocks, and boulders.

I could hear wild honey bees humming and came across a desert honeysuckle bush in the wash that was desperately trying to call attention to itself and the bees were responding by poking around in the closed blossoms in search of nectar. Some of the ocotillos were blooming too, and that and the honeysuckle were the only flowers that I could see in the desert at this time. There hasn’t been much rainfall so far, but I am hoping for another couple of showers before the sun heats the desert up too much.

The sand may have been too deep for easy riding, but it was still a fun morning of off-roading and the sky was a deep blue and the temperature a mild 68 degrees. Now I can relax in the house and not feel restless. Lara baked chocolate chip cookies, so I can eat several cookies without feeling guilty.

Callie has enjoyed the morning basking in the sunshine and is still pining for Romeo. She spends several hours in the evening looking out the master bedroom sliding glass door and makes it a high priority to smell the oleander bushes and olive trees where he has been known to mark. Hopefully, someday he will show himself. She has never been interested in another cat before so I am glad we are hitting the road next week. She seems a little lonely out here in the middle of nowhere and getting back in the RV and being the queen of the dash will make it all better!

Lower Coyote Canyon

The weather has been perfect for outdoor activity and Michael and I impulsively decided to off-road cycle to Lower Coyote Canyon. I have a somewhat new Raleigh bike that I had yet to try out in deep sand and wanted to check it out. It performed beautifully and we were able to bike all the way to the first spring where coyotes and Bighorn Sheep drink and Brittle Bush bloom in the middle of February. The Ocotillo were starting to green up too and some even had the beautiful bright orange blossoms at the end of their thorny stalks. Purple, fragrant desert verbena is only blooming along the banks of the water source, nothing like last spring when the super bloom blanketed the entire desert.

Swainson’s Hawks are migrating overhead from Argentina and Mexico on the return trip to Canada and they only eat insects on the wing as they travel home. Birders come from all over the world to count how many hawks pass over Anza- Borrego Desert State Park and there is a bench at the entrance to Coyote Canyon for the counters to sit on and watch with binoculars.

There has been very little rainfall this winter, but the natural spring is still flowing and the sky a deep, powder blue with wispy cereus clouds and contrails streaking high up overhead. Wild bees were buzzing and we were the only bikers out there this morning. Five 4 wheel drive jeeps caravanned past us slowly as they continued up the road to the upper spring, but otherwise, it was only us and nature.

It felt good to bike off-road and I actually prefer it to street biking. I love horseback riding, and this type of biking reminds me of being on a horse. We did pass two riders that board their horses at Vern Whittaker Stables and I was just a tad bit jealous. I love horseback riding and miss doing that with my sister.

A beautiful day unfolded and it was a perfect bike ride. Anza- Borrego Desert State Park is at its best in late winter and early spring. Callie has enjoyed several servings of the new, homemade cat food and I hope she will continue to eat it. All is good in the middle of nowhere!

Cycling in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

What with mild temperatures, few cars and very little hill work, Anza- Borrego Desert State Park is an ideal spot for cycling. Street bikes have numerous locations in which to explore and if you are so inclined, the many nature trails also allow for off-road bikes. One of my favorite trails is Coyote Canyon, and if the weather stays mild, Michael and I might take an off-road ride in the near future.

Yesterday, Michael, Lara and I rode to Henderson Canyon and Lara is capable of doing 15 miles now! She has a beginner, low end priced, Alight that weighs much more than my Cannondale and Michael’s Trek, and she has managed to keep up with us. I am very proud of her.

Henderson Canyon is a beautiful stretch of flat road that has a north view of Coyote Canyon that during the springtime, and if conditions are right, explodes with wildflowers. For now, it is mostly sand with creosote bushes sprinkled sparingly among the low lying dunes. We also biked to Seley Ranch, an organic citrus fruit grove that offers free chilled water and sweet, ruby-red grapefruits for visitors to sample. An entire 10lb bag of grapefruits only costs $3.50. A table and benches are set up under a palm frond roof and a cutting board with a knife is provided. We usually bike along Di Giorgio and pass the scorpion and locust sculpture that sculptor, Richardo Breceda created and erected maybe 10 years ago, and then finally to the De Anza Golf Course on our final leg of the journey.

It is a delightful way to pass the time and you are left feeling relaxed and stress-free for the rest of the day. There is also Borrego Bikes which rents bikes out for the day if you don’t own one, or simply don’t want to haul a bike into the desert.

Callie is climbing her beloved olive trees, and this morning, she climbed quite high in order to survey her domain in the crisp chilled early morning light. She is feeling wonderful and there is no residual sneezing on her part. Her appetite is ravenous so I am going to have to be careful not to indulge her too much. She is getting a little pot belly, and as cute as she is, too much weight gain will be hard on her asthma. She sure is persuasive and charming though when it comes to begging for food!

Our Stay in Morro Bay

We have been in Morro Bay for almost a week already, but I haven’t been able to post because I ran out of storage space and needed to register again. I love blogging but wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, so I spoke with my daughter who said I should upload my videos to YouTube because they are taking up too much space, and the support guy from WordPress named Kevin Jones, recommended I create a website with unlimited storage but would cost more money. My daughter had the more sensible solution, for now, I am only blogging for pleasure and it isn’t a business, so keeping it fun and simple wins out.

Morro Bay has been beautiful and it actually rained today which will hopefully help with the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara. It has been raging for over 2 weeks now and is the largest wildfire in the history of California. It breaks my heart to see so many homes lost and forests scorched and burned to the ground.

Michael, Fred and I have been biking every day and biking in Morro Bay is just so fabulous. The trails are well marked and when you are forced to be on the road, the drivers are very respectful. Yesterday, we biked all the way to Cayucos from our campsite at Cypress Morro Bay RV Park and walked out onto the pier. We also biked to the Rock, to the high school, and then over to the Preserve and The Strand. It was a fabulous bike ride and all three of us enjoyed it very much.

Earlier in the week, my brother in law joined us and the four of us stayed out most of the morning, and well past the early afternoon. There are so many places to eat along the Embarcadero, and you can watch the otters as they groom themselves and the pelicans while they dive for fish. Just park your bike right alongside you as you enjoy a meal of delicious fish and chips outdoors in the golden sunshine.

I recommend Bike Shop Morro Bay for any of your biking needs. Dave is very helpful and considerate, and Michael ended up buying me a Raleigh mountain bike because my Marin was too large for me. Fred has a Stump-jumper and we are all equally matched now. Michael will try out the Marin for awhile to see if it suits him and I just love the Raleigh. It is fun for me to bike with Fred and Michael. Who would have ever thought I would be biking with 2 guys?

Tomorrow we are leaving for Pinnacles National Park and it is supposed to be gorgeous there too. Fred is our official guide and Callie adores him. It is working out wonderfully and caravanning is perfect. If any of us gets into trouble- we have each other’s back.

Biking 20 Miles a Day

Early this morning, Callie and I woke up to the sound of quail clucking to each other while eating olives that had fallen on the ground under her beloved olive trees. It was windy the night before and the ripened olives were the perfect food for all that came scavenging. I have seen mountain bluebirds, roadrunners and ground squirrels relishing them too! The nights are once again crisp and cool and the mornings are clear, with a sky that is a deep and beautiful, powder blue.

Now that the weather has cooled off in Anza- Borrego Desert State Park, Michael and I are averaging 20 miles a day on our road bikes. When it gets even cooler, we will go biking- off road to Coyote Canyon. It is paradise for us once again, but for the Bighorn Sheep, they must risk their lives to climb down the mountain to get to the desert floor so that they can graze on the newly seeded golf course at De Anza Country Club. They have run out of the native foliage and are forced to graze on the newly seeded grass. It doesn’t hold much nutrition for them, but something is better than nothing. They don’t come down to graze once the rain returns.

The 20-mile bike ride takes us out to Henderson Canyon, Coyote Canyon, Seley Ranch, Borrego Springs Road and back to De Anza. Our last couple of miles puts us in direct contact with the Bighorns at De Anza Villas. The sheep have to cross a road that has little traffic on it to get to the course, but even then, they are very skittish and fly across the street at the least hint of danger.

It is usually the collared ewe that steps out first and surveys her surroundings before the rest of the sheep follow. Once the main part of the herd is settled down and are grazing, a few of the younger male stragglers, continue their descent. They have to keep an eye out for “Bob” the dominant ram to make sure it is alright for them to feed. Bob has a broken horn that distinguishes him from the other males and looks much older. I have been watching him rule his harem for at least 3 years now. Some of the other rams look like they are going to challenge him this year though. They seem almost as big as him now, and their horns curl around too!

Once I am finished watching the bighorns, we turn around and continue our ride by doing a figure 8 back to the house. The entire bike ride takes us about 2 hours because I stop and take photographs. Yesterday we watched a bobcat chasing a cottontail near Seely Ranch. As soon as the bobcat saw us, he abandoned the chase and ran back into the dense tamarisk underbrush. We see all kinds of wildlife now that the weather has cooled off and we can once again enjoy a bike ride without getting cooked from the sun.

The Road Home

It was with a somewhat heavy heart that we had to head back to the inferno, but with Callie’s cough getting worse by the day, we had no choice but to hit the road toward home.

I took her to the vet yesterday, and we should know in the next 72 hours what type of bacterial infection she has. It could be a chronic bronchitis because there was a spot on her left lung. She has lost some weight, but is still eating and drinking with gusto and still climbing her beloved olive trees!

It actually feels good to be back in Borrego Springs, in spite of the 106 degree temperature expected later today. Michael and I went on an early morning, road-bike ride, and had to marvel at how much stronger both of us are after having biked up in the mountains at high altitude and on rocky, sandy, hiking trails. Riding along a flat, well paved surface, and on my Cannondale, felt like riding a thoroughbred horse instead of a Welch Pony!

Callie loved the drive back toward home and rode on the dash most of the way! She is happy to be home though and can once again roam around and snuggle in her Kong bed on top of the hutch in the master bedroom. Living in a 24ft RV for weeks at a time needs some getting use to!

Badge of Honor

I am gaining much more respect for trail biking! I have bruises between my thighs from braking hard and jumping off of the seat in order to prevent myself from crashing. I have discovered that you cannot use your front brake when you hit deep sand because you will go over the handlebars lickity split! Fortunately for me, I have been a horse back rider all of my life, so the urge to bail before I get into trouble is an immediate reaction to the first sign of danger! One must know their limitations, and in most cases, I most certainly do. I haven’t taken a nasty fall yet, but can only imagine not if, but when. It seems totally inevitable, so I brought along bandages and my trusty bandana just in case I loose a limb, break an arm, or worse, sever an artery or vein and bleed to death. I imagine head bashing is another thing to worry about, so we both wear helmets. You can see where the younger generation does stump jumping and rock bouncing and they must be able to become totally air born. I won’t ever get to that level of sportsmanship, but I did go over an embankment and land in one piece and I consider myself lucky. You also have to lean back and straddle the saddle with your thighs when going downhill and into deep sand, and that is a talent I am very good at. I have always had powerful thighs and Michael can attest to that, so my thighs have been a big help to me. That is also the reason why I have bruises between my legs. When I am convinced I am going to crash, I jump down with both legs to keep from falling over! When I land hard, I stop myself by planting both feet firmly on the ground and this bangs the bike frame into my thighs. Better that then landing in a broken heap.  No shame in that! So, bruises between my legs at 61 years of age is a badge of honor, and I shall take it as a compliment to my level of skill at staying out of trouble. I am also having a little more difficulty with crossing my legs!:)

Callie woke up to birds singing and enjoyed watching them flit about outside the window. She loves RVing and I am so proud of her for being such a good sport. I made Michael a nice Father’s Day Breakfast and now that our bike ride is finished, we are going to have lunch and possibly walk into town for dinner tonight to celebrate. We may go to Lundy Canyon or Convict Lake tomorrow. Not sure which direction to go in as of yet, but staying out of the heat is a deciding factor. Fred made it safely home after a disastrous tire blow out near Indio and we hope he recovers from his big adventure as soon as possible. He attempted to travel with a fractured ankle and it was too much for him. Rest up Fred and get on that new awesome, Stumpjumper bike. 

Happy Father’s Day to all the good men out there raising children. The world needs good parents!

Biking Sand or Sea

Biking in Morro Bay on the new bike trail by the sea was fabulous when we camped at Cypress RV Park, but Michael and I still rate Anza Borrego Desert State Park as the best. This morning we got up early and got a ride in before it became too hot. Temperatures are already passing 100 degrees Fahrenheit mark! You have to get your outdoor activities in before noon, or the heat becomes too oppressive and even dangerous. We have a couple more weeks before we head out again in our RV, so we are going to try to bike every morning and swim in the afternoon. I have put on some weight over the winter months and want to lean out again;  not so much for appearance sake, but because my overall health improves. Once you hit 60+, it is a slippery slope to age related illnesses.

In De Anza Desert State Park, all the visitors have abandoned the desert for the coast and the mountains, so we have the place to ourselves along with the few locals that stay during the summer. This summer we will only come back periodically to check on our house and caretaker and then off we will go again. It is just too hot to stay here year round! Last summer it peaked at 124 degrees Fahrenheit and I swear, birds were falling from the sky already pre-roasted…

But biking before it gets too hot is the best of all. You hardly ever see a car on the road, and the light and shadows on the mountains cast a unique pattern superimposed against the powder blue of the sky. The mountains all around appear pasted on a background and look incredibly surreal. It must have something to do with the dry air, because I have not seen this look anywhere else. There are still plenty of cottontail rabbits, jack rabbits, roadrunners, coyotes, quail, hummingbirds and bighorn sheep to keep you company. Today I came across 2 cactus blooming their outrages pink blossoms that must be dependent on a particular moth or migrating hummingbird to germinate it. I also find it interesting that they were both blooming at the exact same time and were not next to one another. I am reading a wonderful book called: The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlieben & Tim Flannery, and it suggests that plants do communicate with one another and have a consciousness that we have yet to fully understand. This book crossed my mind when I saw these two neglected and pathetic, water starved cactus plants flowering their hearts out in full display about 5 feet apart.

If we can get up early enough; my husband is not a morning person, we will attempt to do Coyote Canyon tomorrow morning. It is a sandy, off road trail that winds around and over 2 possible water sources at this time of year and is home to a variety of wildlife; especially the bighorn sheep. While I may miss Morro Bay, I am making the most of a situation by biking in desolate Anza Borrego Desert State Park in the early hours of the day, or after the sun sets in the evenings. There is something to be said for worrying about running into a bighorn sheep or rattlesnake; rather than a car. Callie, of course, spends most of the day, sleeping in her red basket, and assisting me with my blog. Her health is still improving and she is coughing less often, so I am hopeful she will continue to get well.

Diets Don’t Work

I have never been successful at dieting. I love to eat too much! If I attempt to restrict my caloric intake, I may loose weight for awhile but inevitably, I break down and pig out and gain back the weight I lost and then some. But there is no way I will stay the weight I am now if I continue down the path of off road biking. It is seriously difficult but fun work. I have been road biking for years now and nothing compares to off road biking. You have to concentrate so that you don’t fall down and it is tricky navigating deep sand. Michael and I had a terrific bike ride this morning to the Vern Whitaker Horse Camp in Borrego Springs. We also took Callie on a ride around the golf course. When I dropped her off again because she indicated she had had enough, she again bawled when I left her behind. I think she still prefers limited exposure with the new front loading bike basket, but she also doesn’t want me to leave again and have fun without her… after we dropped her off, we biked behind the house. The trail behind the house had sand that was so deep and loose, we had to walk the bikes at least half the way. I will be able to eat whatever the hell I want to today, and I much prefer this approach to loosing weight.👍