Monterey meander

Sept 16-20, Cabrillo Highway 1, Pacifica to Monterey

Back on the road again, after ten days off! My legs feel like we’re starting over again. Because I am? Yet here I am, after a few miles, ready to take on this adventure. I grab the BART across the Bay and on to the Colma station.

My climb out of Pacifica becomes harrowing, as the highway winds through steep blind curve and climbs steeply to the twin tunnels through the San Mateo Range. I opt to walk along the absent shoulder for the half mile to the crest. The quiet of the Devils Slide bypass trail is stunning in contrast to the noisy highway. Only of few walking visitors share this lovely trail with the sounds of whistling winds and surf crashing against rocks far below. I descend and ride on to Half Moon Bay, one of my favorite camps. Sleeping in my tent, I’m certain I can feel the thumping force of the waves ponding the steep shore just on the other side of the barrier dune.

The next day, I enjoy strong tailwinds fueling a delightful cruise down the Cabrillo Coast, past San Gregorio, Pescadero, Davenport and Bonny Doon. I roll into Santa Cruz, stop and hang out a long time at the Staff of Life, catching my breath and some dinner at their delicious hot food bar. As the sun fades I decide it’s time to ride on to camp at New Brighten Beach. I’m cycling Soquel Boulevard and notice a sign – Open Mic at the Ugly Mug! I have to stop for this, first time I’m in town on a Monday evening.

My friend Steve, proprietor, hosts the show. His banter from the mic makes me homesick for our open mics at FireWorks, a restaurant that is no more. But seeds are being planted, for what I might be able to create now. Jus a few more performers, playing guitar, banjo, lyrics silly and political. Then the night is over, but Steve promises to bring me coffee in the morning. I ride the last couple miles to the campground, set up my tent under headlamp. Another night with waves lulling me to sleep.

Steve rolls up in the morning with coffee he grinds fresh for his Aeropress. And wonderful pastries too! How lovely to share a moment in this camp with a friend, as the sun rises to the east. We bid farewell, though we will meet up again on my way back north at the end of the tour. I’m riding the Pacific Coast Bike Route again, around Aptos, past the Roy Rogers junction and on to San Andreas Road. I’m about to join Route 1 again at Jensen when I see a blockade at the highway. Turns out there’s a fire at the Moss Island generating plant, involving Tesla utility grade battery banks. Yikes! I’m forced to turn back and take a detour through Elkhorn Slough Preserve. Adding ten miles to my ride, this is a long rolling road through a beautiful estuary.

I arrive at Monterey at dusk, still having to climb the steep 400 foot hill to the Veterans Memorial campground. Slow and steady, pedal stroke after pedal stroke, my lowest gear again a blessing for this loaded bicycle and weary rider. At last the crest of the hill, the camp appears. I’m quick to set up my tent, disappear into a hot shower, emerging refreshed and serene. The fog begins to roll over the Monterey peninsula, I hear seals barking in the harbor far below. I drift off to sleep in anticipation for tomorrow’s ride: Big Sur!

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