Monterey, CA — Transition Day
September 8, 2018
Distance: 20.1 miles
Moving Time: 2 hours 13 minutes
Conditions: Start — partly cloudy, 62 degrees (F). End — sunny, 69 degrees
Today’s Takeaway: First days are the most difficult (even in paradise).
My wife and I are finally ready to enjoy today’s relaxing ride around the beautiful peninsula region of coastal Monterey. It’s been a difficult morning, not surprising after yesterday’s long (14-hour) drive from southern Arizona to the Bay Area of California. Unloading our bikes from the rack of our Subaru Outback has been particularly difficult this morning, and I have been uncharacteristically out of rhythm since the morning light first found its way through the slightly tattered, stained curtain by the bedside of the aging resort complex where we stayed last night.
After getting our bikes squared away, all the lights and electronics set and taking one last look at a map of the area, we circle the parking lot twice to make sure everything is operating efficiently. I look to Diane, and with an optimistic tone of mostly relief, say, “I think we’re finally set to see what Monterey has to offer.”
For the first time, I’m relaxed enough to smell the sweetness of the pine trees that frame the parking lot border, feel the cool September breeze on my face and hear the crashing waves that I assume to be just beyond the nearby dunes to the west.
We’re off. But we’re really not.
We barely make it to the exit sign of the resort when I hear a hissing sound. Diane continues to pedal forward for a few seconds, when I shout, ” I think you have a flat tire.” She stops, looks at me with equal amounts of confusion and frustration, and replies, “Are you serious?” My wife, who has biked almost 12,000 miles the past few years, explains that it’s no big deal and insists that she’ll find a way to take care of the flat. She emphasizes that it’s my birthday, and I deserve a break after all the busy work that has challenged me getting packed for the long drive and during this crazy, transitional morning.
I reluctantly pedal on, feeling a bit guilty for leaving her, but secretly happy to be back where I find my personal joy — riding my bike. I pedal along a residential street and do my best to stay in a narrow bike lane that has mostly faded bicycle symbols telling the world that this is my personal space, not to be challenged by any motorized vehicles.
I roll along, pass through several stop signs and finally, off in the distance, see a wide expanse of blue water ahead. I smile, pick up the pace and make my way to a boulevard that borders the waterfront. There are dozens of cyclists and runners who are taking advantage of this sunny Saturday. People everywhere — young parents pushing their small children in strollers, teenagers throwing frisbee on the green lawns in the parks and vendors selling drinks and practically any food a heart desires. It’s a scene right out of a chamber of commerce brochure.
I continue to ride, make my way to downtown Monterey, pass the city’s famous aquarium at the end of Cannery Row, and find a bike path that takes me on the other side of the city.
My phone rings, I stop to answer, and Diane’s on the line saying she’s all set and will meet me in town within ten minutes. We connect, she tells me that her bike is set to go, and that we should continue with our original plan to explore the famous 17 Mile Drive at Pebble Beach, a world famous golf complex.
Finally, the day of beginning our ride in this part of the United States has come to be. We wave to the attendant at the gate to the Pebble Beach complex and he shouts, “Go ahead! No charge for people on bikes.!”
We round the corner and there it is — mansions with luxury cars and manicured hedges that combine with grass and sand traps on the golf course so perfectly sculpted that they seem to have been Photoshopped.
We ride along the winding oceanfront road for several miles, stop along the way for a few photos and then return to the motel so we can have time to shower and make our reservations at a local seafood restaurant where I’ll celebrate my 64th birthday.
Diane jokes over dinner that we’ll find our rhythm as we move down the coast during the next few days. I look up from my Seafood Alfredo, smile and say, “This is definitely a day we’ll not soon forget, and let’s just hope we can make it out of the parking lot without a flat tire the next few mornings.”
Next up: Big Sur.