Epic fail: Google Map cycling directions

Day 26: Morro Bay to Santa Maria Pines Campground


OK, just for fun, go to Google Maps and ask for cycling directions from Morro Bay State Park to Santa Maria Pines Campground. Looks like an easy 47 miler. A few jogs here and there, but nothing special. Not!

The devil is in the details, and I have come to realize that Google must be getting bicycling info from many soucres: street bike lanes, bike paths, and apparently single track mountain bike trails. Problem is, there is no indication for a road cyclist that I am being given mountain bike directions.

For instance, zoom in on the little zigzag in Oceano right afterand the Rock & Roll Diner. The route goes around the airport, maybe catching a city bike path? Nope, that creek crossing actually is a single track trail through the creek. No bridge. I was forced to double back, rejoin Cabrillo Highway.

Later, some of the route alternates from the highway are dirt paths along the railroad tracks. The worst is the last turn, 5 miles on a dirt path leading east to Santa Maria. If you zoom in, you find there is no road named there on the map, because there is no road. I had to add another 4 miles to stay on pavement, as a fully loaded touring bike requires.

OK, enough touring cyclist whining. Let this post serve as a word of caution to other cyclists reading the blog:  you need to zoom in and check Google cycling directions carefully.

Overall, today’s ride was a pleasant tour starting before sunrise, heading through San Luis Obispo and then some beautiful farm country. Except: yikes, poison chemical warming signs! Safe to eat those greens? But not safe to walk in the field? The case for organics couldn’t be more obvious. If folks only knew what they were really putting on their plates. Danger! Pesticides! 

As for the Santa Maria Pines Campground, I can’t recommend it for cyclists. Right off the freeway, lots of noise all night.  A loud amusement park-family fun center next door to the tent area.  Tepid “hot” tub by the pool.  Scarey showers. ‘nuf said.  Stay on the Pacific Coast Bicycle Route – camp at Oceano! There was this nice dog there, though…

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