Monterey to Big Sur, CA
September 9, 2018
Distance: 23.5 miles
Elevation: 1,780 feet
Moving Time: 2 hours 25 minutes
Conditions: Start — Foggy, 57 degrees (F). End — sunny, 74 degrees
Today’s Takeaway: It was a day of beauty and nice people.
Today’s ride is complete, and I meet my wife at the River Inn, a small motel nestled under a forest of thick trees along a shallow creek in the tiny town of Big Sur. She asks, “how did it go today?” Without hesitation, and almost before the final word leaves her lips, I reply, “it was one of the best days of my life!”
And I am not exaggerating.
I have been enthusiastically waiting for this segment — this glorious day — of my bike tour down the Pacific Coast since I began planning several months ago. I have read all I could about the beauty of the Big Sur area — the arched bridges, the cliffs, the rocky shorelines far below, the challenging ascents and the sweeping downhills. And none of it disappoints. In fact, it is better than expected. It is what makes this ride the most beloved cycling route in the United States.
It is also a day of extremes. Cool morning becoming a warm afternoon. Fog turning to sunshine. Steep climbs giving way to long descents. Headwinds changing to tailwinds. Low-growing shrubs changing to huge redwood trees. All making this day unforgettable.
But the traffic.
So many cars and trucks on this busy weekend day, and so little room on the two-lane highway’s edge for me to ride. I manage, though, mostly because I am prepared for this segment and its level of difficulty.
Nice people along today’s route, from many places throughout the world.
A couple from Germany biking to the southern part of California. Three young ladies exploring the California coastline during their visit to the States from England. Ryan, from Oakland, who is camping along his ride to Los Angeles where he will visit his sister. Then there’s Carl, who is loaded with so much camping gear and once-thought-to-be essentials, who tells me he made a promise to himself that he will cut his heavy load in half during his next tour.
But it’s Tim from Ireland who makes the most profound statement of the day. Alongside the busy highway, with cars zooming by over the prescribed speed limit, he tells me, “you can’t give any mercy to these cars. They have to look out for you instead of you giving way to them.” I nod in agreement, but think to myself that my bike and I will likely take the brunt of the punishment if there’s a contest of wills.
I’m sure several challenging miles are on the horizon in the days to come. And my daily mileage will increase, which will make the rides more difficult. But, so far, I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else. Or, with anyone else. Thanks to my wife, Diane, for making this week possible.
Tomorrow: San Simeon, home of the Hearst Castle.