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Bicycling & Alternative Transportation Collection.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The First Ride

I will start this set off on the simplest point of view. My first bicycle tour was one of the best I have ever had the opportunity to experience first hand. It begin when I was inspired after reading the information on about preparing and executing a tour as remarkable as it was.

I was quite a sight for sure, with my schwinn ranger 2.6fs though mine was the red and silver version target special, though I modified it in adding a rack and a bag, that is all that consisted of my first tour or at least at the start of it.

So I decided to ride Salinas to Monterey - Monterey - Big Sur and then from there North towards San Francisco via Santa Cruz a beautiful route to be sure, just to much highway so I modified the route some and found some nice side trips. Along this journey the first night I stayed in Veterans Memorial Park in Monterey. It is a simple park, up along Jefferson a great climb and after you get away from the main areas and farther up in the hills you start to see the untapped wilderness, well at least that is what I would say though honestly, there are houses up the hill but it is a nice route nonetheless. So after the exhilarating climb that brings you up to this campground you are pleasantly surprised as first there is actually a running shower and when you bike this route you are welcomed with a fair price of only 5 dollars per night and relatively close access to Monterey, CA. Being that the great tourist destination that it is most know Monterey for Fishermans Wharf and who could forget the Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary, in simpler terms Monterey Aquarium. There you can find so much great information and experience the sea life in so many ways. Of course who could forget the wonders of the delicate cuisine and the weather. To think that was only the first leg of this great tour. Let us continue, upon arriving at Veterans Memorial I setup camp glad to be traveling by my own power, the greatest way to travel and I would be taking care of myself besides. So out came the tent from the side of the bag right off the side of the rack. And then the amazing thing is most everything else I needed was either in my backpack or in the bag I was carrying, as you could guess that made for quite a load, a rookie load I will admit, since then I have been blessed with knowledge from this trip as well as from an amazing group I am glad to be a member of bicyclingadvocacy which has been an avid educator to insure my understanding of things. The interesting thing is bicyclingadvocacy group was also founded by Ken Kifer before his death as the result of a drunken driver. A sad story to be sure but it is a part of the history and still his website remains alive thanks to a good friend of the group Riin Gill though she is not quite as active in bicycling advocacy now she still keeps alive. It is a remarkable thing when someone holds something so dear so close.

On to day two, after all the background you can fathom, here goes the next part. Let us recall that this was my first tour and as such I did not have much equipment in comparison to the seasoned cyclist I am now, so I kept it simple a stove that burns sterno made out of aluminum easily folded and setup and it did the trick, was able to warm up some soup and basic staples and rest well, though different then sleeping in a bed and adds to the experience. When you consider that you are on the ground and if you find a relatively smooth spot with no roots sticking up or rocks for that matter you can do pretty well with a simple sleeping bag and keeping all your items inside the tent to insure they will still be there when you awake the next day. So I locked up the bike and put my stuff inside the tent and just enjoyed the sounds of nature, no sirens, no blaring stereos, just the birds and the sounds of the forest the most amazing relaxer. Come the next morning another beautiful day, I awoke and just enjoyed the moment, no rush no schedule no insanity of working to hard for to little or management yelling in your ear. It is truly a wonderful experience to have a great way to start the day. Well since I was enjoying the day so much I ended up leaving a bit later then I planned but there was no predefined schedule, it was for the experience and I am glad I had it. I finally get going around 11a or so after having a great breakfast and lounging just a bit and I continued my journey, first travelling back into Monterey and towards Del Monte Shopping Center as that seemed to be the most direct route as you start heading towards Carmel Highlands which was the route into Big Sur as far as I could tell. So I traveling from Veterans Memorial Park to Del Monte Shopping Center, was a simple route.
As I continued down Del Monte Blvd I noticed there was no bike route and the only other indicator was that ridiculous signs declaring no bikes are allowed when you consider a bicycle is considered a vehicle it makes little sense why there are any closed routes as such I did not let that discourage me, I will admit to keep it simple, I ended up catching MST's line 22 Big Sur to cover a short distance between points and got off at Point Lobos and travelled from there. Continuing through the highlands I was privileged to see some amazing vistas long before Big Sur came into view. When you are cruising, travelling by your own power it is truly a journey worth experiencing to the fullest. With so many amazing views and the wind in your face just cruising at a comfortable speed no rush no hurry, just take your time and breathe deeply in the freshness of it. As I pushed pedal I noticed some nice shops along the route and stopped in to take a look just a casual browsing so relaxing for sure picked up some snacks and continued my excursion into the known.

At once I found myself coming up on Point Sur, a historical phenomenon, rich in history and offered as a tour to the public. It was to bad I could only experience it from a distance, my goal that day was to get to Andrew Molera State park, or Pfeiffer State Park either one of which offers hike and bike sites for camping, though Andrew Molera is basically a primitive camp site it offers some remarkable trails and a great view of the mountains from any site as well has Horseback Tours along the beach or anywhere in the park. The prices are fair and it is an experience to have. In the end of day 2 I decided to camp at Pfeiffer state park based on some of the reviews when I was talking with other bicycle tourers, and I must say that made it even more interesting, as bicycle tourists truly come in all shapes and sizes and from all sorts of backgrounds. The one common view they find refreshment in the ride, in the experience, they become the ride.Truly an invaluable resource to a rookie such as myself, I can find inspiration, the voices of experience, the trials and errors of the majority and the solutions to each.

As I traveled nearing my destination I was refreshed, I felt energized and enthusiastic due to the fact I was doing not just watching from the sidelines if you will, it is in the experience I truly found the joy. Such awakenings to the reality, such awareness of the real, the fresh air the amazing vistas after the awesome climb mountain to mountain, and of course the fast descents to once more climb what a way to ride.

After a bit I saw in the distance a sign declaring Pfeiffer state park is less then a mile away and I was excited to see this popular park from the eyes of a cyclist, as opposed to the car camper. Pfeiffer is very popular when the seasons are right, and as such for car camping they suggest booking months, even years in advance for a campsite it is that popular. And as a cyclist you just cruise up and your are welcomed regardless of the season and they kindly direct you to the Hike N Bike sites and right nearby you have the campground hosts so you can get wood or supplies at reasonable prices and the site itself is just down a little hill in a grove of century old redwoods away from the hustle and bustle of the city, peaceful, relaxing and dare I say perfect? Well I will say it is very close but perfection just does not exist but it is amazing when you come so close to even venture say the sites here are wonderful.

I cruise on up looking for the perfect site and you could choose any one location you can be in an area surrounded by the historical redwoods with a fire nearby, because you know you need to have smores.

Thanks for reading!
To Be Continued...

And so the story continues, and only keeps getting better from here but who can say how many To Be Continued... you will see? A story often and comes in chapters and this is no different. In the final draft certainly each will be removed.

And after how long, it is finally continued, January 12, 2008. When I think about it diversity is remarkable to start on my journey to Monterey, the ride up the hill, and the setup of the camp, everything seemed fine at least at that moment in time. So I setup campe and ride back down the hill to keep it interesting for supplies and the necessity's so I rode on down the hill and loaded my bike up for the ride back up. Was a bit easier surely once you did it once you can do it again. The interesting spin, on this story, when I got back up to camp, I noticed I had lost about 4 or 5 spokes on the rear wheel. So basically, the wheel needed to be replaced, and this was only the first day how much fun could I look forward to after that I wonder. So though I had a plan to depart from Monterey the next day I found it necessary to ride back down the hill once more with 5 spokes gone. If you have ever rode a bike with even one or two spokes broken you know how much fun you can truly have. So I had to take it slow down the hill just to be on the safe side at a much slower pace then usually. So the story continues and I decided on Aquarian Bicycles in Monterey by Morgans right off of Alvarado. Conveniently located for sure when I am staying at Veterans Memorial Park in Monterey. Once I reached the bottom I found that the customer service was good, and the selection well fortified. Ended up paying for a new rear wheel had it installed and setup and back on the trail. Well at least up to camp to tear things down First and foremost of course I was setup for one more night. Once I got back up there setup dinner and enjoyed a few bites. Layed down and looked forward to the trip tomorrow that I expected to take me to Big Sur. Another beautiful ride for sure, comes with some nice climbs and awesome descents along with vista views that cannot be compared to any other location in this world. In my opinion at the very least, a worthwhile ride well known around the world.

So once I awoke the next morning expecting to be on my way bright and earlier caught up in the excitement of the moment. So I packed up got everything loaded on and I was on my way. The first step in this journey was to travel from Veterans to Big Sur via Carmel Highlands, ideally of course for anyone who has rode a bike for any part of these routes sometimes it is difficult to find a direct run point to point. The route did vary, though I ended up getting there though I will admit I had to cheat a bit and rode a bus for one small part of the route because the challenge is to not vary to much from the main routes.

Instead, I rode from Monterey to Point Sur, and got off from there, and continued by bicycle. Had the opportunity still cruise a part of the Carmel Highlands heading towards Highway One. Carmel Highlands also offers some nice vistas, and a pretty good space to ride in. When I thought about it I was glad I was able to experience it if only in part. Once I traveled through Carmel Highlands I found myself at the mouth of Big Sur, the true beginning of this amazing journey.

To Be Continued: