Sep 18: Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park to Hearst San Simeon State Park (71.3 miles)

Our campsite neighbors are a bunch of people in the California Conservation Corps that I think are restoring hiking trails in the greater Big Sur area. There is evidence of a fire that burned through this area a few years back.

It was a cold night! Some of my riding buddies were sleeping in every piece of clothing they had.

One of today’s big hills starts right at the very beginning- it’s about a 1,000 foot climb on the first two miles of the journey. I found it overly hyped and was happy to find a place to buy coffee near the top.

Today’s ride was going to be a short one, just 33 miles, but I combined it with tomorrow’s ride to take me some 70 miles with a total of about 6,000 feet elevation gain to San Simeon.

Along the way were tons of great views. Many coves and cliffs are only visible to a biker on the cliff edge of the road

Here are a few more fantastic views

Just before San Simeon I passed a spot where the Elephant Seals are making a comeback. When I did this ride about 30 years ago they were not here but now they have established a rookery that I hope stays for some time

I also passed by Hearst Castle up on top of the hill

Some 30 years ago, or so I did this same ride with my friend Randy, and I recall two things from that ride: first, the guy in the bike shop in Monterey warning us “don’t blow your knees out in Big Sur!” (A good suggestion!), and secondly, coming out of the coastal hills onto the plains and fighting a headwind for 10-15 miles. I remember me constantly wanting to stop and Randy constantly encouraging me to keep going or we’ll never reach camp.

Today, I had a magnificent tailwind- I was booking at 20-24 MPH through those same plains.

I arrived at the campsite early and showered and had dinner. The wind is still blowing and cold, so I’ll be in my tent before dark, but I will be warm!

I caught a great Sunset view!

Sep 17: Monterey to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park (47.4 miles)

Today is a ride from Monterey to Carmel along the famous 17 Mile Drive, then on Hwy 1 to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.

If you felt cheated by the lack of photos in yesterday’s blog, don’t worry because I went overboard today! The coast views were spectacular!

In Monterey harbor I saw the pelicans and seals sharing rocks

First stop was a peek at the place where Liz and I were married some 26 years ago, and it is time for another visit!

Views of Pacific Gove

The kelp beds along Spanish Bay

The famous Lone Cypress on the 17 Mile Drive

A beach view from Hwy 1 south of Carmel

I tried to capture the clarity of the ocean waters.

Looking south

The Bixby Creek Bridge

Looking North back at the Bixby Creek Bridge and coastline

Another gorgeous beach

I arrived at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park in time for lunch. The Hiker-Biker site here is Big and the showers are hot. I will sleep well tonight! Tomorrow starts with a big hill.

Sep 16: Santa Cruz to Monterey (49.9 miles)

Liz drove me over the hill to Santa Cruzearly in the morning. It was a quiet ride through Santa Cruz, Soquel and Aptos on surface streets following Hwy 1. I think I got every red light along the route.

Noor and I caught up again in Aptos and we cycled around and along farmlands growing strawberries, Brussel Sprouts, lettuce, artichoke and fennel.

Most of today’s trip was on side roads or on a long bike path that leads into Monterey.

At Sand City the trail meets the ocean. Usually there is pretty impressive kite display but today there was only a great view

Noor decided to take a zero in Monterey, which is a great place to do that. She found a hotel downtown and I found a Trader Joe’s to stock up on food. I then pedaled up and up and up to the Hiker-biker site at Veterans Memorial Park.

There were a few campers there when I arrived and as the evening went on more and more arrived. In the morning I counted thirteen tents. That’s the most congested campsite

In the site I met Pierre from France, a retired school teacher, who is biking from the Yukon to Patagonia (like Noor). I also caught up with Matt from Indiana who started there, went east to Washington DC then west to Washington and is biking to San Diego and the on to Texas.

It was a noisy night, lots of comings and goings and people talking late into the night. Earplugs were a must.

None of felt particularly unsafe at the campsite, but we also did not feel it was a place we could leave our items unattended. It’s too bad because others would have liked to take a zero day here and explore the city.

Sep 14: Half Moon Bay State Park to Santa Cruz Bus Station (54.1 miles)

The raccoons were very active last night and even came up to my tent looking for food. What little food I had was locked safely away in the cupboard.

I awoke and hit the road: I am meeting a former coworker and good friend Lisa for breakfast! Fresh fruit, yogurt, granola,cookies, beautiful ocean location and Lisa! What’s not to Love!

After breakfast it was a beautiful beachfront ride to the Pidgeon Point Lighthouse

through ocean scrub

And farmland. This area is a major producer of Brussel Sprouts

Before long I was in Santa Cruz enjoying a beautiful view of pelicans feeding


And a Humpback Whale breaching (no photo though). It was a fantastic welcoming to Santa Cruz!

I rode to the transit station to find out when I could catch a bus to San Jose and found one loading up, so I joined. I arrived home in Los Gatos for a day and a half to tune my bike, do laundry and see Liz!

Sep 13: Samuel P. Taylor State Park to Half Moon Bay State Park (60.1 miles)

Last night we all chipped in and bought firewood for a campfire to toast the marshmallows the previous campers left. We used it as a bit of a goodbye celebration as we are going our separate ways, but may catch up again soon.

It was Mary’s last night on her trip – she bikes into SF tomorrow to catch a train then a plane back to Eugene, OR. Talen and Claire are headed into SF for a few days. Talen is not happy with his bike and gear and is thinking of swapping it all out before he continues on to South America. Noor is spending an afternoon and evening in SF. And I am blasting through SF to get to Hall Moon Bay.

Noor and I were up early and on the hunt for a coffee in Lagunitas. We then biked through a series of very nice cities all the way down to Sausalito, where we had second coffee.

We soon got a great view of SF

And then the Golden Gate Bridge

After we crossed we too said our “see you later’s” as we hope to reconnect in Monterey on Sunday night.

I found my way out to the Great Highway along the Pacific that will take me to Daly City. I ate lunch with a view of the famous Cliff House restaurant

The Great Highway was closed to auto traffic due to sand removal activities, but it was open to bikes so I had a great ride south! I caught up with a biker named Dave who was just staring his trip from SF to San Luis Obispo. Past the climb to Daly City was the pretty town and beach of Pacifica.

After another climb I came to the new tunnel that avoids the continual landslides that closed Hwy 1 on the old route through the Devils Slide area. The tunnel has a great shoulder and was a fun downhill ride. On the other side are some beautiful and remote beaches

I then arrived in Half Moon Bay where I found Pelicans feasting

I also found the Half Moon Bay Brewery where I feasted on a pint (or two). A few more miles and I was at the campground. I set up the tent, showered, met the new arrivals and then went out for a burrito dinner.

I returned in time for a beautiful sunset

Tomorrow I’ll head out early to meet my friend Lisa for breakfast, then bike on to Santa Cruz where I’ll load my bike onto a bus to San Jose and spend a few days at home with Liz.

Sep 12: Bodega Dunes State Park to Samuel P. Taylor State Park (43.0 miles)

Last night us bikers swapped stories and found one common experience: after leaving Leggett on Hwy 1, we were all chased by dogs– the same two dogs! When I passed through, I heard them barking and running after me but I was spared a more personal encounter. Noor, Mary and Susan each had one of them bite onto one of their rear panniers.

Mary is a poor college student working on her PhD, we discussed the Leggett, Little River and Jenner Grade hills and I commented how glad I was to install my 22-tooth granny gear before the trip. Mary looked confused and we compared her bike to mine. She has a stock set of gears: her smallest front gear is 30 tooth front gear and did the same hills I did without stopping. She’s maybe 100 lbs soaking wet, but, Noor pointed out, “She’s young and we’re less so”. So true.

Today’s route is down Hwy 1 inland and then back to the ocean along Tomales Bay, and then turn inland for the last few miles.

Our first objective was to find a highly recommended bakery in Bodega Bay called “The Roadhouse”. The Jenner Visitor Center Docents had told us the cinnamon rolls were great.

We arrived early and found that the owner/baker had (only) made Cherry-Almond Scones today. And it seemed to me that he had only made a dozen. We each bought one and I have to say it was a fantastic scone!

The small shop was filled with interesting odds and ends, including the obligatory signed photo of Tippy Hedren on the set of “The Birds”, but it also had this iconic piece of “French” art (French because the crate was stamped fra-gi-le). If you do not understand any of that, then you must watch the classic movie “A Christmas Story”. Ahhh, the warm glow of electric sex!

We set off again and soon found ourselves in the small town of Tomales, where we spied another bakery, this one with a variety of tasty looking items. We had second breakfast before moving on.

It was mostly downhill from the town of Tomales to Tomales Bay, but we were facing a strong headwind and had to pedal downhill to make progress. We finally made it to the bay and around a few corners and the wind became our friend again.

Tomales Bay is a North-South channel formed by activity on the San Andreas Fault. It separates the Point Reyes Peninsula from the mainland, and is a big Oyster farming area. The black dots in the photo below are the floats for the oyster plates.

There were a lot of hills today, here’s Noor tackling one with ease.

We arrived at the town of Point Reyes Station in time for lunch and then visited the Cowgirl Creamery where we we lucky enough to see cheese production in progress:

We needed to collect our dinner and decided to share a variety of snacks, including cheese, bread, salmon, salads and a local Pinot Noir.

It has been overcast and a bit chilly all day, and we saw no sign of the fire that is burning somewhere nearby. The power is out in the campground, so the showers are dark and cold. There was a dew last night so I decided to use my rainfly tonight.

Tomorrow we bike across the Golden Gate Bridge where Noor and others are staying, but I will continue south to Half Moon Bay. It will be a 65+ mile day for me.