Distance: 21 miles out and back
Elevation gain: 1680 ft
This, the most aptly named ride in our list, is the peachiest road in the Paso Robles (pronounced “PASS-o ROH-bulls,” usually called just “Paso”) area, a region of good riding among hilly vineyards. A good introduction to the region is the Great Western Bike Rally, a four-day gathering of riders who camp at the Paso Robles fairgrounds and do pick-up rides in all directions. It’s cheap and friendly, though a bit unstructured, but if you don’t want to go you should at least try to get hold of the GWBR handbook, which gives route details for about 25 rides in the area. Peachy Canyon Rd. is the best of them.
(To see an interactive version of the map/elevation profile, click on the ride name, upper left, wait for the new map to load, then click on the “full screen” icon, upper right.)
Peachy Canyon Rd. is a simple climb/descend/climb/descend ride from one end of the road to the other. The climbing will occasionally make you work but it will never punish you. The road works its way up a small creek canyon past wineries and through lovely, mossy riparian oaks. At road’s end, you’re in the heart of the Paso Robles wine country, all of which is very good riding. Wherever you ride, make sure you come back to this spot, because you must not miss the Peachy Canyon Rd. descent, which is one of the best descents in our list. It’s a perfect slalom course—the road surface is glass, the contour is constantly varied and interesting, the pitch is just steep enough so you can rip it without much braking, and the sight lines are excellent so oncoming cars don’t catch you out. In both directions, it’s such a perfect little ride it feels fake. Go now, because the wineries are moving in at a feverish pace and turning the place into just more Napa.
Adding miles: From the summit of Peachy Canyon Rd. you’ve got roads to the north, south, and west of you, and they’re all good—Willow Creek Rd., Vineyard Drive, Jack Creek Rd., Chimney Rock Rd., and Adelaida Rd. (slightly less good). Nacimiento Lake Drive is a bigger, busier road, but it’s perfectly OK as a connector to something better.
Nothing on the west side of Paso Robles is flat, so if you want flatter look to the east. The riding to the east of Paso is good but not great. Avoid the straight roads on the map and stick to those that meander, like Estrella Rd., Cross Canyon Rd., and Hog Canyon Rd., and you’ll have a good time. While you’re in that area, the mission is worth a visit.
Looking a little further afield, you’re a short car trip down Hwy 46 from Cambria and the Santa Rosa Creek Road ride, and there is good riding around San Luis Obispo—the Wildflower Century route (not to be confused with “the Wildflower,” a century out of Chico and the basis for our Table Mt. ride) and the San Luis Obispo Bicycle Club (SLOBC) website are good places to find routes.
Afterthoughts: All three communities mentioned here—Paso Robles, Cambria, and San Luis Obispo—reward an extended stay. Cambria is a hamlet, Paso is a large town, and SLO is a city, but each has its (substantial) charms.