Extreme: Antarctica by bicycle
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SLO: Food, bike culture, & Granfondos

Just got back from the Giro della Costa Centrale Granfondo in Avila Beach near San Luis Obispo, California. This event, being in November and on the Central Coast, offered brilliant sun, rain, chilly winds, hilly climbs, and at the end, awards and prize giveaways by Bob Roll, bicycle racing’s premier raconteur.

Rolling wheels

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Starting the Giro della Costa Centrale

A trip to San Luis Obispo from our place in San Jose always fills us with happiness and optimism for what the future holds for bike culture. Because of SLO’s college vibe, bicycling is alive and vibrant there. You’ll find bike parking on every block and at most businesses.

The first Thursday of the month, the Bike Happening rolls away from Mission Plaza trailing dozens, if not hundreds, of costumed riders in its wake. Beginning at 9:30 p.m. after the weekly Farmer’s Market, people on bikes dress up according to the theme: November’s was Bed Sheets & Cold Meats, while December’s is Knights in Shining Armor, with the subtheme, White Satin.

Central Coast food culture

SLO has a foodie culture as well: The town has restaurants for every budget and pretty much every taste. On Thursday beginning at 6 p.m. the blocks-long Farmer’s Market takes place on Higuera St. near Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa. You can find great eats on the cheap here, as several local restaurants offer hot food from their booths along the street. If, however, streetside dining al fresco isn’t quite your milieu, there are many other restaurant options.

Big Sky Cafe has daily fresh offerings to tantalize your taste buds. They’re open for breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. Their dishes include offerings fresh from the local farmers market and local food producers, from organic fruits, vegetables and cheeses to Central Coast wines.

For breakfast you can get eggs and bacon or go vegetarian with black bean huevos rancheros. Lunch offerings include the lamb kabob and roasted eggplant pita and grilled soft tacos (meat or vegan). Tempting dinners include organic grass-fed burgers, an organic, local and sustainable fresh market vegetable plate or grilled pesto shrimp with sweet pea risotto. Big Sky Cafe, is located at 1121 Broad St. www.bigskycafe.com or (805) 545-5401.

Coffee, tea and art?

If indulging in the Central Coast artists’ experience is more your speed, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea and a curry at the Steynberg Gallery. This artist’s space combines a wide range of activities and entertainment with fine art and cultural events. Steynberg is a space to connect with art, music and the people you came with.

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Enticing aroma of espresso awaits

Choose from a full range of organic coffee and espresso drinks, and a large tea selection (black, herbal, green and white teas) by the  cup or the pot. You’ll find light breakfast items including a wide variety of bagels, and pastries. Lunch and dinner items feature the curry of the day, wraps and panini.

This month we relaxed at a table surrounded by a wonderful silk art exhibit from Silk Artists of the California Central Coast, www.silkpainters.org. Most of the vibrant scarfs, wall hangings, note cards, and ornaments are for sale. Exhibits change monthly, so you will always find something new. Steynberg Gallery also hosts live cultural events ranging from poetry readings to live music.

The gallery is located at 1531 Monterey. They are open at 7 a.m. daily. Closing times change with the seasons from 5 p.m. in the summer to 8 p.m. the rest of the year. Steynberg Gallery, www.steynberggallery.com  or (805) 547-0278.

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