Day 3
Full Day of Riding: Big Milage, Big Fog, Big Sur

It was a good thing that yesterday was a short milage day. Today is a 100-mile romp through the hills and beaches of Big Sur. I had been warned by authors Tom Kirkendall and Vicky Spring in Bicycling the Pacific Coast that August tourist traffic in Big Sur is heavy, making the cycling difficult and dangerous on a narrow road that frequently lacks a shoulder. I decided to ride through Big Sur on a Monday, figuring that the traffic would be less than on a weekend. I also made sure to get out early, so I could have a couple of hours of light traffic. As it turned out, traffic was moderate and not particularly aggressive.
I was on the road at 6 a.m. and rode up a steep hill to Highway 68. A couple of miles later, I was on Highway 1 heading toward Carmel and Big Sur. Within a few miles, I was in dense fog. I would be in and out of the fog for nearly the entire day.

The photos you will see were taken when the fog wasn't particularly heavy. The few photos I took in heavy fog don't really look like anything.

Pacific Coast Bike Route Trivia: Hearst Castle, in the hills above San Simeon, was the ultra-ritzy home of William Randolph Hearst during the 1930s and 40s. In what business did Mr. Hearst make his fortune?

(answer at the bottom of the page)

There were portions of the road that were dry and clear. In other places the fog was so dense that it made my bike computer temporarily go dead. It sprung back into action once it dried out.
This is what Big Sur looks like on a postcard. I didn't see anything like this. In most places, I was just happy to see the next turn in the road and for the motorists to see me.


Big Sur is part of the Pacific Coast Bike Route, which runs from the Canadian Border to the Mexican Border. I saw only a few other bicycle tourists on the route. I think most bicycle tourists do their trips earlier in the summer.
The town of Big Sur is about 30 miles south of Monterey. I stopped for breakfast at a very pleasant cafe at the Ripplewood Resort. This is the breakfast burrito plate.
This gas station was next to the cafe. I certainly felt like I was ahead of the game by not having to fill up at the pump.
I expected the fog to burn off by mid-day, but it hung around well into the afternoon (although it began to thin out a little). That made for good riding conditions. It was clear enough so that motorists could see me but foggy enough to keep the temperature down. 
This is Deetjen's, a Big Sur lodge that my wife and I stayed at on a bike trip down the coast in 1992.

We rode mostly the same route as I am on now, but we took 11 days versus the 6 days on this bicycle tour. There is something to be said for doing fewer miles in a day and having more time to explore the local attractions.

Finally, by early afternoon I could begin to see the ocean.
The State of California is very diligent about letting cyclists and motorists know what county they're in and how far they are from the next county. This milage post tells me that I'm in Monterey County, and will be for the next 28 miles.
This scenic bridge is near Lucia on Highway 1. The view from many of the bridges on Highway 1 is wonderful, but you can't stop and take pictures from them because there usually isn't much of a shoulder.
Here's the little outpost of Lucia. There are some cabins here and a place to eat.
Here's the sort of view that people drive through Big Sur to see. By mid-afternoon, it had cleared enough so that I could finally get a picture like this.
Bicycling through Big Sur in one day is fairly tiring. Most of the time you're either going down a hill or  up a hill. This photo shows both.
After two particularly big final hills, the highway drops to a flat coastal plain for the last 18 or so miles into San Simeon. An afternoon tailwind didn't materialize today, but the last miles went pretty quickly, nevertheless.

Pacific Coast Bike Route Trivia Answer: Newspapers

SUMMARY: 98.6 miles. Great ride through a world-famous scenic area. The evening's stop was Motel 6 in San Simeon. A hot shower, a good meal, and ESPN's Monday Night Baseball were welcome luxuries after a long day of riding.

[Day 4: A Ride Through Central California]