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  1. #1
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    Suggestions for Rides from Monterey?

    My wife and I will be visiting Monterey for a conference/vacation from May 16-24. We would love to rent a couple of road bikes and do a scenic ride or two while we are there. We are flatlanders from Texas, so would prefer nothing with any significant climbing, but some rolling hills would be ok. I have seen some routes that go south from Monterey to Carmel, but the area appears fairly builtup and developed on google earth. If we do a 30 mile ride south out of Monterey, and we going to be fighting traffic/joggers for most of it, or are there some open roads that are safe to ride on that are worth riding at that distance? I would prefer not to have to rent a bike rack and drive the bikes to a start point, but if that is what it will take to get to somewhere worth riding, don't hesitate to say so. We are staying at the Portola hotel near the convention center if that helps with any recommendations.

    Also, any recommendations for scenic hiking areas that would be safe for my wife to hike by herself while I am at the conference?

    Thanks for any ideas!

  2. #2
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    there's a nice bike path that runs north along the coast from downtown Monterey towards Santa Cruz. certainly nicer than a ride from Lubbock to Amarillo...

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by hueyhoolihan View Post
    there's a nice bike path that runs north along the coast from downtown Monterey towards Santa Cruz. certainly nicer than a ride from Lubbock to Amarillo...
    Lubbock to Amarillo? Ewwwww! Sorry, when I said flatlanders, I should have said coastal flatlanders. We ride west of Houston alot where there are a few small rollers but it is mostly flat...but we at least have vegetation.

    How crowded is the bike path likely to be on a weekday versus the weekends?

  4. #4
    Senior Member budkid's Avatar
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    There was just a thread on this not too long ago...
    Must do rides in SF and/or Monterey

    Portola Plaza is right in the center of Monterey. You have Bay Bikes in the plaza to rent road, mountain, or tandems.
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    Yeah, unfortunately the OP in that thread was asking for routes with climbing, so I wasn't sure how many of the suggestions were really what we would be looking for.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by txags92 View Post
    I have seen some routes that go south from Monterey to Carmel, but the area appears fairly builtup and developed on google earth. If we do a 30 mile ride south out of Monterey, and we going to be fighting traffic/joggers for most of it, or are there some open roads that are safe to ride on that are worth riding at that distance?
    The obvious scenic route between Monterey and Carmel is 17-Mile Drive through Pebble Beach and the other golf courses. They charge a toll for non-resident motorists but cyclists can go through for free. The drive has some traffic, but it's almost all tourists enjoying the ocean views and not in any particular hurry. On a sunny day the views are spectacular with much of the ride right along the rocky shoreline. AIRC, near Seal Rock there's a sign indicating that the bike route goes to the left up Spyglass Hill Rd., but it's better to continue straight and through the Pebble Beach area and on to the 'Lone Cypress' viewpoint. After that you can take the exit into Carmel and do some more sight seeing there before returning.

    From the Cannery Rd. area of Monterey you can take the bike path that parallels Ocean View Blvd. into Pacific Grove and continue past the Lover's Pt. area to where the road name changes to Sunset Dr. and that'll take you to the Pacific Grove entrance gate of 17-Mile Dr.

  7. #7
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    Personally, I do not see the point of biking if there are no climbs. Climbing and descending are the best parts.

    I would just stick to the rec trail: Monterey Bay Coastal Bike Trail - Path Map

    The only bad part with tourists is the section from the Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey (where your hotel is) to Lovers Point in Pacific Grove. Be prepared to go slow. You should definitely take the path and continue on to 17 Mile Drive. I usually avoid it because it is mostly flat, but the views are incredible.

    The path north is fine, but not nearly as scenic. No traffic lights until Marina. There actually is no direct trail to Santa Cruz, but that is beyond the mileage you want to do anyways. If you head north, I would just turn around at Marina (the first traffic light you will encounter).

    South of Carmel on Highway 1 to Big Sur has no shoulder and lots of traffic, especially camper vans. I would stick to 17 Mile Drive for the views. From Carmel, you can venture into Carmel Valley. The shoulder is not the greatest, but motorists expect cyclists.

    For hikes, Point Lobos would be the most scenic and Garland Ranch in Carmel Valley is good for climbing.

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    Well, it isn't so much that I don't like climbs, it is that they don't like me. I am a recovering clydesdale and gravity really likes me. I have lost 40 pounds in the last 3 months and have about 35 more to go until I will really be in "climbing shape" (and out of the clydesdale category). So while the climbs would be nice to provide topography and scenery, what we are used to for climbs here in Southeast Texas wouldn't really have us prepared for the types of longer sustained climbs we would be likely to find out in California. In the end, we will be riding for fun, so I don't want to beat both of ourselves to death with climbs we aren't ready for yet and make my wife never want to rent bikes on a vacation again.

    Thanks for the ideas and advice everybody...it is greatly appreciated!

  9. #9
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    Too bad you will be missing the Tour of California by two days. The start is right next to your hotel.

    Even if you like climbs, I probably would suggest 17 Mile Drive anyways. The view is incredible. Pebble Beach is a closed community. It costs something like $10 to drive in, but free for bicycles. No need to stop at the gate, just slow down and say hi to the guards. Follow the red striped line in the middle of the road. You can probably exit from the Carmel gate and venture into Carmel for a bit. Carmel Beach is also known as dog beach, so there will be tons of locals with their dogs. Avoid roads going to the Hwy-1/Morse gates. Stick the to the Pacific Grove gate to the north and Carmel date to the south.

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    Yeah, I already noticed that a few weeks ago and was kicking myself for the scheduling. We aren't getting in until the 16th, and by then the ToC is down near LA. I should have shifted the trip back by a few days, but I probably wouldn't have been able to get a hotel room anyway.

  11. #11
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    The bike path north of Monterey through the dunes is a nice ride, and was pretty uninhabited when I did it back at Christmas. I rode down from Santa Cruz, which is a nice 50 mile trip, but my legs were getting heavy by the time I hit the dunes; I would've personally preferred one big climb rather than going up and down and up and down the rollers through there.

  12. #12
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    The section from Marina to Castroville is very windy, which probably contributed to your legs getting heavy. Marina also has a much higher chance of being foggy. A bit after Seaside/Sand City (where the rec trail goes underneath Hwy 1), there are actually two paths which you can see in the first link I provided. They are very close by, but are separated by a fence. You can take one up and the other down. Both are rollers, but the hills can be in different sections!

    BTW, when I mentioned traffic lights in Marina, I should point out that you will still be on the bike path.

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    Yeah, I remember parallelling the other path. I was convinced that the guy on the other one (I was inland, he was to the west) was only faster than me because his path was flatter.

  14. #14
    Senior Member damnpoor's Avatar
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    There will be lots of people on the bike path between your hotel and Lover's Point, but past Lover's Point the scenery is great and the roads are mostly smooth. Once in Pebble Beach the roads are great and the drivers are usually respectful. If you go north instead towards the dunes it could be really windy and there are some strange zig-zags through parking lots and under freeway bridges. The few hills in Pebble Beach are definitely worth it.

  15. #15
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    Just found out about a charity ride this Saturday with multiple routes: Bridge 2 Bridge Bike Ride, Monterey County - Bridge Restoration Ministry Never heard of it. I think I will do the 100 mile since it has lots of climbing.

    It should start earlier enough that crowds should not be a problem. And since it was not well publicized (at least I think), maybe there will not be many people.

  16. #16
    Crawlin' up, flyin' down bikingshearer's Avatar
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    Hope this isn't too late for you. I have stayed (and ridden out of) the Portola Plaza a number of times. The folks have mentioned the two rides that are required of you, but I will repeat to make sure the message sinks in.

    Ride #1 - This one is an absolute must-do. From the hotel, head northwest on the bike path (left as you face the Bay with the hotel at your back). Follow it to it's end. Turn right. You should be at Lover's Point and the road will turn left. You will know you are on the right road if, immediately after the hard left, you pass Borg's Motel on your left. Yes, that is "Borg," as in "resistance is futile" and "prepare to be assimilated." From here on, just keep the water to your right. After a few miles, the road will turn inland and start uphill. In a very shot distance, turn right onto the 17 Mile Drive - it is adequately signed. Again, keep the water on your right all the way through Pebble Beach to turn-off to the Carmel Gate.

    From here, you have choices. You can turn around and retrace your steps. You can go into Carmel via the Carmel Gate (you will be more or less beach level - downtown Carmel requires some uphill grunting but you will rewarded with the most precious cutesy shopping and eateries you can imagine). You can grunt up Hwy 1, head north on Hwy 1, take the Hwy 68 exit and tuirn right onto Aguajito Road and enjoy a nice descent back into Monterey near the Naval Postgraduate School, turn left onto the bike path and quickly return to the Portola Plaza. Or, you can grunt up to Hwy 1, go north, take the Hwy 68 exit, pass Aguajito and turn right onto the bike path just before crossing back over Hwy 1, following the path and then the frontage street (Viejo Rd.), turn left under Hwy 1 at the next opportunity, turn right on Munras Ave (straight, downhill, and fast, but more traffic that Aguajito) right into downtown Monterey. Or you just turn around to retrace your steps. Check out Googel maps or Yahoo maps to check these or other options.

    Ride #2 - Turn right on the bike path. Follow it. Go as far as you want - it continues all the way to, and dumps you onto, Del Monte Blvd. in Marina. If you want to keep going, stay on Marina through and out the far side of town. When you hit Hwy 1 again, turn right onto the frontage road. When you get to Nashua Road, turn left. There is an artichoke place that usually has a taco truck outside - they aren't bad, and they are small, so you can tailor the size of your meal. If you still want to keep going, turn right onto a frontage bike path that continues along side Hwy 1 to the town of Castroville. I have not explored beyond that, so you are on your own from there. Retrace your steps back to the Portola Plaza when the mood strikes.

    Ride #3 - Do Ride #1 again.

    Hope these help, and have a great trip.
    "I'm in shape -- round is a shape." Andy Rooney

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by bikingshearer View Post
    You can grunt up Hwy 1, head north on Hwy 1, take the Hwy 68 exit
    I would suggest not taking this route. Hwy 1 at that point is two lanes with barely any shoulder. You will be going slowly up a hill. The OP also wanted to avoid hills and the peak is about 555 feet.

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