Monterey to Big Sur, CA

We have continued our quest south, finally starting to leave the San Francisco area behind. Today’s ride was relatively short, but still packed in some very nice roads. The weather has started to heat up.

We decided to deviate from the planned route a bit. Looking at the map last night, we had planned a loop around the mall to catch some bike lanes. It would have been more than a mile out of our way to avoid half a mile of road, plus extra climbing.

So we took the direct route, and had nearly no traffic to contend with. What we did have, once we rejoined the route, was a steep start to a climb before our legs warmed up. It was hard, and hot. Anne ended up walking the hundred feet or so. I kept going, but then was happy to stop and wait at the top (and catch my breath).

We continued climbing on a bike path, then crossed a bridge to get on Highway 1. I thought we had more to the climb, but then we had a big descent in heavy traffic. It turns out I was misreading the elevation profile. The day’s ride was shorter than most, so the gridlines were at 7.5 miles, not 10.

Most of the cars turned off at the bottom of the hill, and traffic in general died down throughout the day. There was still a steady trickle of car clusters, but gaps in between.

The road through Carmel-by-the-Sea and then Carmel Highlands was hilly, with occasional views of the ocean. Then we broke through, and the rest of the day had spectacular vistas, either of the bush-covered hills of the coastline, or more inland forests. We got climbs, descents, turns, and views, none too extreme or for too long. I could have gone for fewer cars, but a very nice stretch of highway.

We stopped for lunch in a turnout overlooking the coast. It offered no shade, but that meant we were highly visible to any other turnout users.

As we continued, we came upon stop-and-go traffic. The road was narrow enough that we joined in line. As we got a bit further, we could see that it was people trying to squeeze into the viewpoint for the Bixby Bridge. We decided not to add to the problem and rode across the bridge, starting the second big climb of the day. As traffic started really moving, a woman in a convertible (which meant we could hear more than a syllable) shouted “quit holding up traffic” as she passed. For once, it wasn’t us holding it up.

We finished the climb and got a fairly straight drop back down, before bending around the Little Sur River and climbing back up a bit. We got to coast downhill for a long stretch, watching Point Sur float past on the left. Then we entered the forest.

There were several trailheads, campgrounds, and resorts, all with clogging traffic making things tricky. Then we got to our stop, the Big Sur Lodge in Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

Tomorrow is a rest day. We’re hoping to do some light hiking and explore the park a bit. There’s a restaurant, cafe, and small store in the lodge. It’s limited, but we’ve worked with less.