BAC Paso Robles Ramble 2014
Sunday, February 16
I loaded the Odyssey with my bicycle, luggage, bulk snacks from Costco and two coolers filled with perishables. I was on the road around 10:00. I arrived in Paso Robles after 1:30 making one stop along the way at the King City Subway. When I checked in at the Paso Robles Inn my room was not ready. I took the time to go to the local BevMo to stock up on wine, beer, soft drinks, ice and more for our Social Hours for the following five days. BevMo had its usual wine sale in progress - buy one bottle and get a second one for 5 cents. I bought several Paso Robles wines along with lots of ginger beer and ice. I brought Anchor Steam and Stone IPA from home so I didn't have to buy any more.
On returning to the inn, my room was ready. I opted to reserve a suite this time. The room last year was too small for our Happy Hours. The suite was much larger. I was glad that the room was on the ground level because it was easier to tote all of my supplies than it was last year when I was on the second floor.
The suite was very nice. It had a small sitting room next to the entrance with a couch, a refrigerator for our perishables and a coffee setup. Next came a large bathroom where I stored my supplies. A huge bedroom with a king-sized bed with side tables, a credenza, table and several chairs was next. The patio with a hot tub followed. This is where I put the coolers with our drinks. Our Happy Hours congregated in the bedroom and the patio.
After getting things organized, I showered and rested until it was time for the group's arrival.
All but one of my riders arrived today and we met in my room for our Social Hour at 5:00. The suite was adequate for 29 people. We went through the normal procedure where everyone did a self-introduction and I as the ride director went over the administrative procedures. The were at least four rookie riders, but the majority were veterans. I knew several riders from other BAC rides. After the formalities, we had some time to socialize before going to our first group dinner.
Dinner tonight was at Estrella. We were seated in the main dining room at a very long table. Our missing rider arrived just as we were seated. She had several flight delays caused by bad weather in the Northeast.
Our meal started with tapas (Crispy Masa Cakes Topped with slow cooked shredded chicken, chipotle-tomatillo sauce, sour cream and spicy cabbage salad and Estrella Quesadilla - Crispy flour tortilla with jack cheese, finished with sour cream and chipotle-tomatillo sauce). Our entrees were Braised Caribbean Chicken (Coconut milk braised served with seasoned rice, frijoles charros and sautéed vegetable succotash ), Plantain Crusted Halibut (Sautéed vegetable succotash, seasoned rice, mango-habanero salsa and coconut-green chili sauce), and Braised Beef Tamales (Chili braised spiced beef topped with chipotle-tomatillo salsa, onions and cilantro served with seasoned rice, frijole charros and sautéed vegetable succotash). Concensus was that the meal was very good with the halibut and chicken rated better than the tamales.
I got back to my room in time to clean it up and be in bed by 10:00.
Monday, February 17
I awoke to clear skies and cool temperatures. Breakfast of eggs, hash browns, toast and coffee was at the hotel. For the riding, I explained to the group that on a BAC fixed-based ride like this one, everyone is on their own for rides. We had several routes to choose from which they could follow. They could make up their own routes, too. I decided to lead four of the routes that I felt were representative of the area. We had an informal meeting time of 9:30 in front of my room. Today's route was the San Miguel via Estrella Loop which was fairly flat. There were around 20 riders that decided to join me. Slower riders were led by Vicki Elmer. A few riders decided on other routes. We became strung out at the first hill but we regrouped there and a couple of other places so that nobody would get lost. Lunch for many of us in San Miguel was at the Mission Market and Deli. It served good made-to-order sandwiches. I ate at a picnic table outside with several others in our group.
On the short ride back to Paso Robles mostly on River Road, I rode with Tom Grant.
The terrain on this route was fairly flat. I was expecting to ride past horse farms and cattle ranches, but the vineyards have taken over.
Today's Social Hour was at 5:30. Dinner was on our own. After cleaning my room, I went to Artisan where I had a goat salami, fennel seed sausage, marjoram, pepperoncini pizza along with a Ninkasi Tricerahops double IPA.
Tuesday, February 18
My breakfast at the hotel was the same as the day before except my eggs were scrambled instead of over-easy. I was joined by Tricia Lee and Susan Lowery. Our route today went west to Adalaida Rd, Vineyard, Willow Creek and Peachy Canyon. It was about 35 miles with over 3000 feet of climbing. This was a beautiful route that took us past vineyards, oak forests, horse ranches, olive groves and nut orchards. The sky was overcast and the temperatures were mostly in the 50s and 60s. My lunch when we got back was at Chico's cafe. After our Happy Hour, I had dinner at Buona Tavola, an authentic Italian restaurant recommended by my college friend Greg Smith. Yummy linguini with shrimp, squid and asparagus. A glass of Barbara d' Alba was perfect.
Wednesday, February 19
I had French toast for breakfast this morning. It was a huge helping with lots of butter, syrup and cinnamon. My seatmates today were Jeff Platt, Will Gorrie and Tricia Lee. Our ride today took us to Creston and beyond. It was 55 miles with over 3500 feet of climbing. The sky was chrystal-clear and the temperature became warm enough to cycle in shorts and no jacket. Lunch was a sandwich at the Creston store. I decided to eat before the extended loop. I met a group from the San Luis Obispo cycling club and discovered that we had some mutual aquaintences. I was disappointed that my friends Tracey Adams and Chris Neary were not there.
On the extended loop out of Creston, I rode with Ernie McNeil who happens to be a member of Valley Spokesmen and knows many of the same riders that I know. I suspect that he and I might have been on one the the VS rides from the Bay Area to Paso Robles for the Great Western Bicycle Rally. On the loop, we were joined by four other riders until we got back to Creston. I wanted to get back to my hotel in time to get supplies for the evening’s Happy Hour, so I rode on alone.
After Happy Hour I joined several other riders for dinner at the Odyssey Cafe. I had fish tacos and a beer.
Thursday, February 20
The weather was overcast again this morning but it was not cold. I went to the hotel's restaurant for breakfast again. I switched back to eggs. I needed the protein. I was joined by Tricia Lee, Mary Lou Engert and Les Schmertzler.
The ride today had a remote start in San Miguel. Over half of our group started the ride to Parkfield and back. Some only did part of the ride. The route went through cattle and horse country. There was one big, steep hill which we had to cross in each direction. On the return, we had a 16 mile downhill.
Parkfield is known as the earthquake capital of the US. The United States Geological Survey has been conducting studies there since 1985 to better understand the physics of earthquakes — what actually happens on the fault and in the surrounding region before, during and after an earthquake. We crossed a bridge that spans the San Andreas Fault between the North American Plate and the Pacific Plate.
Parkfield is also know for its beef. The Parkfield Cafe has nicely flavored beef (and other) meals. We had lunch there. My hamburger was really good.
We had our last Social Hour tonight as well as our last group dinner. Our dinner was at Thomas Hill Organics. They set us up in a special room at two long tables so that we would be able have pleasant conversations without being distracted by other diners. Our menu was arugula salad, blood oranges, market avocado, house made ricotta, chervil-sherry vinaigrette a choice of seared salmon, brussel sprouts salad, plum wine vinaigrette, nori, sesame seeds or roasted duck breast, spiced butternut squash, quinoa, pasilla chili, oaxacan mole, cilantro, feta cheese, pomegranate seeds and a desert of Olive Oil Cake, Cream Cheese Frosting, fresh Berries. THO was a repeat from last year and will hopefully be for next year.
Friday, February 21
I opted to have some variety for breakfast this morning. So I went to Panolivo. I had a granola parfait - granola, yoghurt and fruit - along with coffee cake and very tasty, strong coffee. I picked up two croissants for the road. After breakfast, I packed up the Odyssey and drove home. I got there around lunch time.