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Advice for riding from Santa Cruz to Big Sur.(17 posts)

Advice for riding from Santa Cruz to Big Sur.James
Dec 18, 2002 7:49 PM
I may do it around christmas and I'm not sure of the terrain(hills,flats) and how safe the roads are to ride on. any advice would be great.
re: Advice for riding from Santa Cruz to Big Sur.Johnny Sako
Dec 18, 2002 8:04 PM
My advise is this ride is much too rad for you. You sound like a big wimp and would probably be better served playing XBOX with your lame pals.

Stay out of my area.

You should go, you can look at my back all day.James
Dec 19, 2002 2:47 PM
Have a look on the South SF Bay Krebs map orPseuZQ
Dec 18, 2002 8:31 PM
Google ba.bicycles in Google (usenet) groups. There may be some info there.
great rideDougSloan
Dec 18, 2002 8:42 PM
The roads are somewhat flat to rolling, a few whoppers here and there; I'd recommend some fairly low gearing.

There can be tons of traffic at times, but much of the way has good shoulder. Use a mirror. Watch out for motorhomes. The best time to ride is early morning; you can watch all the beatnicks waking up in the back of their Volkswagon vans parked along the road.

Take lots of pictures.

Oh, it likely will be much faster going south than north, as the winds usually blow south; this el nino thing may change that, though.

Take rain gear. Temps will hover around 45-55, maybe hit 60-65 on a sunny day. Wool is wonderful.

Have fun. We'll expect a photo ride report.

re: Advice for riding from Santa Cruz to Big Sur.DINOSAUR
Dec 19, 2002 7:29 AM
I rode from Santa Cruz to Monterey on two occassions, but that was years ago. Big Sur is not that far down the road. It's an easy ride as it's all downhill and the wind is usually at your back. If you are coming back, going the opposite direction, the ride will be a tad more difficult as you will be going uphill and against the wind. Keep a good eye on the weather reports. The Big Sur area can get very nasty when big storms hit. As a matter of fact one is supposed to hit today (Thurs 12-19) and there is a chance that part of SR-1 might subject to disappearing into the pacific ocean. The long range weather forecast for Xmas week shows no rain. Also the weather on the coast during December can be quite lovely, so you really don't know what to expect. I'd just keep a focus on the weather and road conditions.
up hill/down hillDougSloan
Dec 19, 2002 7:32 AM
Dino, aren't both SC and Monterey (and Big Sur) at sea level or real close to it?
up hill/down hillDINOSAUR
Dec 19, 2002 7:53 AM
Yeah, but when you are going north to south on SR-1 you are always going a tad downhill. It levels out a bit around Monterey. I just remember whe we returned to Santa Cruz that we were going steadily uphill into the blasted wind...

I could tell you the story about the time I road tested my new '85 Mazda RX-7 on SR-1 south of Monterey, what a ride!
Wish I still had that car...
up hill/down hillDougSloan
Dec 19, 2002 8:05 AM
I understand the wind that is nearly always present. However, if you start and end a ride at sea level, how can you be going up or down either way? The road from outside Monterey to Santa Cruz runs close to the ocean, and while there are a few bumps, it's almost flat. There is that huge hill between Monterey and Carmel, and then it gets really rolly south of Carmel. I think the strength and consistency of the northwest prevailing winds just make it seem like it is downhill going south.

A sports car on highway 1 at sunrise. It doesn't get any better than that (well, other than being on a bike). Yup, I'd take my old Superchanged MR2 back now, too.

Dec 19, 2002 8:17 AM
The roads between SC and Monterey are generally flat, but there are a few short and moderately steep bumps. Depending on where you start and how you go, you could hit some longer hills, like those in Larkin Valley, or around Capitola and Rio del Mar. Nothing monumental by any means, but definitely hilly at the start.

I would plan a route that would eventually end up on San Andreas Rd, which is a good road with rolling hills that roughly parallels the ocean inland about a mile. It ends at the flood plain for the Pajaro river, where there are normally strawberry fields. A few years ago this area got totally washed out and covered with thick mud, so I would check with the county to see if the roads are still open here after the rains we got and are getting. Thurwacher, McGowan, and Trafton are the roads in question.

There is one bump of note on Trafton, but otherwise it is all farmland from here. You'll join up with Highway 1 for a few miles through Moss Landing, where you can get onto more farm roads which are very flat. Wind is an issue here. Eventually pick up the bike path that goes into a town called Marina, right outside Monterey. Ride through the Presidio and into the city. From here I don't know where to go.
Good post, mohair. I was just down there, and . . . .cory
Dec 19, 2002 8:33 AM
... made me wish I had my old Fiat 124 back.
I didn't ride much while I was there, but San Andreas Road is a good choice. I'm still working out the best way to get from around Watsonville to Santa Cruz.
the best way?mohair_chair
Dec 19, 2002 9:23 AM
There is no best way from Watsonville to Santa Cruz. It depends on what kind of riding you like. We often do rides where we come down Hecker Pass (Hwy 152) headed into Watsonville, but we turn on Casserly Rd (the stop at the bottom). This goes for a few miles past a fire station where you have a choice. Flatter to the left, or steeper to the right on Mt Madonna Road. We almost always opt for steeper, and it comes quick. Depending on where you are in your ride, the first hill can be hard or brutal, then you go up the easier but much longer Hazel Dell, under a canopy of redwoods, and do the fun descent down Brown's Valley into Corralitos. If we came over Hecker, we usually take Eureka Canyon from here, but that takes you away from Santa Cruz.

From Corralitos, you can take Freedom into Aptos, but that's relatively boring. We prefer taking Hames, Day Valley, and Valencia into Aptos. It's harder that way, but it is a really great to ride back in there amongst the redwoods and apple trees. From Aptos, pick up Soquel Drive, which will take you all the way into Santa Cruz.
Sadly, I know.James
Dec 19, 2002 2:51 PM
I live in Santa Cruz and am suffering from this damm rain. I went out in the rain a few days ago for a long ride, but too much bike clean up. I now have to stare at my new dura Ace pedals I just installed and frown.
re: Advice for riding from Santa Cruz to Big Sur.peter1
Dec 19, 2002 8:47 AM
I used to live in Monterey and rode from Monterey to Big Sur and points south many times.

The problem with riding from Santa Cruz is that bikes are prohibited on Highway 1 until you get to Monterey/Carmel. It's a full-on four-lane divided highway in a lot of places. Since I never rode north from Monterey, the other posters' advice is better than mine for that leg.

South of Monterey, it's 25 easy miles to Big Sur proper. It takes about 1.5-2 hours. My advice would be to ride in the early a.m. (to minimize wind) and wear bright clothes. If it's foggy, I'd bag won't be able to see squat. Around Xmas, you could get caught in the mother of all winter storms.

If the weather's good, I'd go for it. Bring leg warmers and a l/s jersey, maybe a wind vest. It's usally in the mid-50s to mid-60s that time of year.

It's a beautiful ride if the weather's good. There are decent shoulders most of the way.

This will show my age..DINOSAUR
Dec 19, 2002 12:54 PM
I was thinking the first time I did the Santa Cruz to Monterey thing was in 1979. We rode from Capitola, if I remember correctly. The second time was around 1986 and we started our trip from that Sate office on Freedom Blvd in Aptos. I think there was a bike path that you could pick up south of Moss Landing (?) and it would take you all the way into Monterey alongside old Fort Ord (on the ocean side). But I forgot how things change with time. But I still remember hitting some hills on the way back and the wind is a big factor. The advice about starting out early is good, as the wind usually picks up in the afternoon. ...
more adviceDougSloan
Dec 19, 2002 1:19 PM
My best advice, actually, is that unless you are in a hurry, enjoy the trip! Take some diversions and see some things. Route through Monterey along the waterfront; ride 17 mile drive along coast, and continue along through Carmel. Stop and take pictures. Look at the sea lions and otters; maybe tour the acquarium in Monterey. I think we are programmed to find the quickest or easiest route, but I don't think you want to do that for this trip.

And more advice...Brooks
Dec 19, 2002 1:38 PM
From Monterey, definitely take 17-Mile Drive. My wife and I did that as a loop a few years ago and she swears it was all uphill into the wind!