San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club
San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club founder, Larry Souza (the original SLOB), initiated the club's annual Wildflower Century in 1971. This ride follows most of that early route, but in reverse. It is seventy miles and takes about six hours. There is no water available during the last fifty miles nor are there any other amenities on the route. This ride is for serious lovers of solitude and self-reliance.
Park at the intersection of Highway 58 and Shell Creek Road nineteen miles east of Santa Margarita.
Shell Creek/Truesdale/San Juan Roads - Sixteen
and one-half miles through the Avenales Wildlife Area following Shell Creek
northward from Highway 58 to Highway 46. At ten miles, turn right
on Truesdale Road for one-half mile. Then turn left on Shandon/San
Juan Road. (This is a four-way Go intersection, no stop signs.
That gives you an idea of the volume of traffic you can expect to encounter.)
Turn left on Toby Way, then right on Centre Street. You pass by the
outskirts of Shandon before connecting with Highway 46.
The good: Long, flat, smooth road with little traffic. Cows and horses graze alongside. There are irrigated meadows and fruitful vineyards. Friendly drivers wave back at friendly bicyclists.
The bad: There are no shoulders, but there are not many cars either.
State Highway 46 - Four and one-half miles
to Bitterwater Road. There is a Roadside Rest Area one mile east
of Shandon. There are rest rooms and drinking water available here.
This is the last fresh water you will see on the ride. When I stopped
here, there were several school busloads of sixth graders running around.
Perhaps they were being taken to Avenal.
The good: Riding shoulders wide enough to accommodate bicycles. A rumble strip separates the shoulder from the main traveled way.
The bad: Debris on the shoulder. Fast traffic.
Bitterwater Road - Thirty-two miles following the San Andreas Fault. The first seven miles climb 1000 feet up Palo Prieto Canyon. Two miles beyond the summit, you will see the Greensberg General Store. It has been closed a long time. The road forks here. Go right and continue riding through Choice Valley. Along this stretch you will dip into and out of a corner of Kern County.
At the halfway point of this section, you come to an intersection with Bitterwater Valley Road. It goes to the left and intersects Highway 46 near Blackwell's Corner. You want to continue straight on Bitterwater Road.
The next five miles are rolling climbs with short
sections of gravel road. At Las Yeguas Ranch you begin a long, satisfying
downhill ride to Highway 58 in the California Valley. Keep an eye
open for antelopes.
The good: Solitude if you love it. Lots of open ranch land. Cattle grazing in open meadows. Good road surface for the most part with little traffic.
The bad: Solitude if it makes you uncomfortable. No food, no water, no amenities. Just you and your bicycle and your thoughts.
Highway 58 - Eighteen miles of rolling hills
with a generally downward gradient to the intersection with Shell Creek
Road. You cross San Juan Creek and pass La Panza Ranch at Pozo Road.
Five miles east of Shell Creek Road is a dirt road turnoff to Navajo Camp,
La Panza Camp and Friis Camp.
The good: "Carrisa Plains 4H Welcomes You." A ranch on Highway 58 displays a herd (or flock) of ostriches or emus (depending on how much you know about exotic birds). Beautiful deep ravines and strange rock formations line the highway.Green, rolling hills provide picturesque backdrops for grazing cattle. There are a couple of little climbs but for the most part this is fast riding. There is not much traffic. Friendly drivers give you lots of room.
The bad: Grouchy drivers tend to crowd bicyclists. The shoulder is narrow to non-existent so court friendliness.
Shell Creek Road - Here is where you parked. The ride is over. If you want to recreate the original WildFlower Century, begin your ride in Creston. Take Highway 229 to Highway 58. Ride east to Shell Creek Road. Follow the route described above in reverse back to the junction of Shell Creek Road and Highway 58. Turn right on Highway 58,then right on La Panza Road. Turn left on Highway 41, then immediately left again on Highway 229 to ride into Creston.
San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club's Wildflower Ride takes place in April. Specific routing varies from year to year. Visit The Original Wildflower for a description of the original route.
Robert Davis lives in Morro Bay and likes to ride on the open road.
You can email Robert Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org