Wanderings: Biking around the Monterey Peninsula

One of many breaks along the trail

One of many breaks while biking around Monterey Peninsula

One afternoon, I found myself on my own with time on my hands and no place in particular to be.  I popped in to Adventures by the Sea and asked about renting a bicycle for a few hours.  Within a few minutes they fitted me for a small white, dutch step-through style rental bike, taken my info, and pointed me in the more scenic direction of the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail.

My ride

My ride

This part of California is known for quick weather changes and this day was no exception.  On the ride out, the fog (they call it the Sea Layer) clung to the rocky outcroppings and crashing waves, and the landscape was spooky and otherworldly, making the coast seemed wild and a little dangerous.  On the ride back, the sun had burned through the fog and everything was bright and warm and calm, and almost unrecognizable from the earlier ride.  I felt as though I was returning through a completely different place.

Red ice plant growing along the dunes

Red ice plant growing along the dunes


Foggy, craggy coast

There are numerous little beaches along the way, some of them with benches and picnic tables.  I probably stopped a dozen times, locked my bike up to a chain or fence post and wandered down to the beaches, exploring the rocks and tide pools, numbing my feet in the water and looking for sea glass.

Tide pools and crashing waves

Tide pools and crashing waves

Little boy looking out at the giant waves

Little boy looking out at the giant waves

The crashing of these giant waves is incredibly loud

The crashing of these huge waves is incredibly loud

Red aloe bushes

Red aloe bushes

There and back, I rode a little under 19 miles in 3.5 hours–pretty slow and leisurely.  I’ll probably be back in California later this year, and I’m hoping to pack a picnic and do the entire ride down to Carmel-by-the-Sea.  This would almost double the distance and probably take a full day, but I’m looking forward to it.

Towards Lover's Point

Towards Lover’s Point

A few notes on the ride: I started my ride on the paved bike path near Cannery Row.  This is part of the larger Monterey Bay Coastal Trail; its a paved multi-use trail that is separated from the street.  After Lover’s Point, in Pacific Grove, the paved bike path ends, and I followed some other cyclists on to the street along Sunset Drive.  I don’t typically feel super comfortable riding along with cars, but the traffic on Sunset Drive was slow and lazy, and after about two miles a bike path reappears on either side of the road. I followed this for another mile or so to Spanish Bay, then cut inland and joined up with 17 Mile Drive.  The road is free for cyclists, $9.00 for cars, and absolutely beautiful.  Ride along for a few miles or the length of the trail, there are plenty of places to stop and rest, but be sure to bring your own food and water, as I didn’t see anything available for sale.  The ride is relatively flat, with only one incline that left me a little winded.  Here’s a map of the approximate ride I did, 8.7 miles each way.

8.7 Mile bike ride along the Monterey Bay Peninsula

8.7 Mile bike ride along the Monterey Bay Peninsula


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