18. Serious Cyclists: BMX, Fixed Gear, MTB, Road, Touring, and More (Clubs, Group Rides, Camping, and Other Resources)

Are you serious?

For locals and visitors….
“What do you mean we ‘don’t look serious’?  This hard-core riding with our Velo Club Monterey doesn’t exactly keep us from having fun!”

Whether serious about your ride or just serious about having a good time with other riders, you’ll find resources from our diverse bike community below.

Cath-and-Crew cropped

Help keep the local bike scene cool

New here?  Our Constables of the Peace are great in Monterey County.  Make their job easier–and be a good ambassador for the bike world–by brushing up on Cali’s bike laws. Here’s a summary: Be Cool Be Safe – Bike Law Summary from Bicycling Monterey Please also refer to Riding Skills, Safety, and CA Bike Laws, which includes local ordinances.

And if you’ll be on the multi-use trail, please scroll to “Outta my way” at the end of this page for trail etiquette tips.  Please also be mindful of pedestrians in the City of Monterey plazas and similar areas throughout the county.

Diane Kirckof and Jane Marquette of Estes Park, Colorado stayed in my home while visiting Monterey County in 1984.

A few tips for visitors…

  1. Camping: Guidebooks written by people from out of the area can be helpful, and sometimes they are incorrect.   Touring cyclists often have materials referring to campgrounds at Carmel State Beach, although there’s no camping there!  Ask a local; see  “‘Camping in Monterey County” on this site.  And if you’re camping at Veterans Park and want food delivered, check the tips in that post.
  2. Other lodging: Check out these extra bike-friendly lodging providers; all provide discounts to cyclists, males and females, on their Thursday night stay, as part of the HER Helmet Thursdays Project.  The project offers discounts at Hotel, Educational/entertainment, Restaurants and other venues.
  3. Warm Showers lodging program: Many touring cyclists appreciate WarmShowers.org–facilitating lodging by touring cyclists for touring cyclists.  Many Monterey County cyclists host Warm Showers visitors.
  4. Showers: Just passing through and need a shower? See “Where to shower and change” section of this site’s “Tips” guide.
  5. Bike security Looking for a place to kick back for meal, drinks, or entertainment while still keeping an eye on a pricey bike?  For starters, check the list in the Bicycle Security section.
  6. Bit off more than you can chew? Bike-and-ride.  Even for the strongest of cyclists, a need may arise to shorten or end bicycling as planned.  Be smart:  Listen to your body. Any mile of biking beats a mile of driving, and there’s no shame in doing both.  For tips on taking your bike aboard the Amtrak train, Monterey-Salinas Transit (MST) buses, or other transportation, see the bike-and-ride section of this site.
Vera Noghera of Velo Club Monterey alongside a bike rack on an MST bus.

Vera celebrated with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood the MST Monterey Jazz rapid-transit lines. She knows a bike-and-ride option is sometimes needed by even the most serious cyclist, when schedule, stamina, or inclement weather so dictate.

Maps and Where to Ride

Refer to “Once you start:  Bike maps and more” in this site’s Tips for Bicycling Monterey County  guide.

Section 10 of the Tips guide, “Where to Bike” includes an “If you’re inclined to explore” portion; that and the headings below it may be of interest to you.  Tips include bicycling 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach and more.

Infrastructure

Infrastructure contacts, including where to report a pothole and more, are on the Monterey County Bike Shops, Services, Clubs, and Resources page.  

Scheduled road and lane closures for Monterey County will normally be posted on the Transportation Agency for Monterey County (TAMC) “What’s New” page.

Some infrastructure news is also in this site’s Local Bike News section.

Group rides

First, some public service announcements…

Riding with others: Please ask about and then abide by the group ride guidelines, bike party rules, street etiquette, etc. of groups you ride with.

Review Cali bike laws: Be Cool Be Safe – Bike Law Summary from Bicycling Monterey (For local ordinances, click here.)

Attention, fixie, BMX, and other riders: On California roadways, “bicycles must be equipped with a brake that allows an operator to execute a one-braked-wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement,” per CVC 21201(a).  If you view this video (click here) about ways to stop a fixed-gear bike, note that their #1 recommendation is to have a front brake. In the absence of that, also note that their “ways to stop” all require clips or straps. Those who choose to ride a fixie without brakes will likely want to research How to Stop a Fixed Gear Bicycle.

The most recent contact info that Bicycling Monterey has for any of the groups listed on this page will be found on Bicycling Monterey’s main resources/bike community page.

Here is a sampling of group rides in Monterey County:
  1. Check Bicycling Monterey’s master calendar, where you’ll find many local rides and other bike community events.
  2. Also check Bicycling Monterey’s main resources/bike community page.
  3. Three clubs–Monterey Off Road Cycling Association (MORCA), Velo Club Monterey (VCM), and Naval Postgraduate School Foundation Cycling Club (NPSCC)have regularly scheduled group rides.  These clubs often have “no drop” rides, “no mercy” rides, ladies’ rides, beginner’s rides, and more. And don’t be shy about asking club members if any of them can join you to ride at another time; their Google groups and such are full of these invitations. 
  4. There are a variety of “under-the-radar” riding groups. These are not necessarily official clubs like VCM, MORCA, and NPSCC; rather,  most are simply informal gatherings of enthusiastic riders. One way to connect with some of these is to ride and volunteer with any of the local bike clubs, where you’ll often learn about these extra opportunities. For example, people doing volunteer trail work on one day might meet some Highway 68 Hillbillies. Get involved with the Monterey County bike community and you’ll soon learn there are many informal groups of people out riding together. The majority welcome new participants.
  5. Psycho Cyclers, based in Salinas, formed in 2010. A group of riders who share in the bicycle as lifestyle, they sometimes host host races, group rides, and bike polo games. Check out their cool statement of philosophy and purpose (the description in their “About” section): https://www.facebook.com/PC831/info
  6. MenstrualXCycles, based in Salinas, has a goal of making a stronger community of female bicyclists in the 831. If you’re female and have a bike, you’re welcome to join them. They’ll also be scheduling some co-ed rides. Visit them on tumblr: http://menstrualxcycles.tumblr.com/
  7. Jess Martinez first founded F.N.B., a fixie group with a safety-conscious street cred.  Click here for details. F.N.B. group ride dates are not being scheduled. However Jess continues to put a lot of miles on his bike and to remain active as a bike advocate. He rides fixed and other bikes, and as of September 2013, Jess and his buddies have a small bike team in Salinas dubbed WEREFAST (We Enjoy Riding Everyday Fast And Smart Too).  [Update: Watch a 12/5/13 video by Jay Dunn for the Salinas Californian featuring WEREFAST riders, along with more photos by Dunn and a story by Becky Bach. Click here.] Jess welcomes you to email him.
  8. Recumbents: Click here for info about some locals who like to ride with others on recumbent-type bicycles/tricycles. 
  9. Salinas Bike Party, a courteous social bike run, welcomed all types of bicycles and any rider willing to follow the Salinas Bike Party rules. This local bike community event launched August 3, 2012. Contact SBP to learn whether rides are currently being scheduled. Find their latest contact info on Bicycling Monterey’s main resources/bike community page.
  10. Other social bike rides may be listed on the main resources/bike community page. Some–such as an occasional Salinas Burrito Bike Ride (click here for details), or the 10-Mile Family Ride for a Better Community–may pop up on the Master Calendar for Biking Monterey County.
  11. If you’re looking for a racing team to go on group rides with, see “Racing and related blogs” below.
  12. Besides the high school race teams listed on this page, don’t miss any social or other rides organized for elementary, middle, and high schoolers. There aren’t enough, sure, but there are some; and maybe you’ll be one of the people who’ll organize more! See Kids Bike to School in Monterey County, and note the example of Monterey Park School Cycling Club, an elementary school ride group. (Click here for more ways Salinas youth lead the way in Monterey County bike community firsts.)
  13. California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) Otter Cycle Center’s support for the CSUMB community often includes organized rides.   Stop by during these hours or reach Otter Cycle Center via email. For more tips for college students, click here.
  14. Call local bike shops and ask if they are currently organizing any group rides. Often they do!

If you still can’t find the ride that best meets your schedule, interests, and abilities,  contact me, and let’s see what’s possible.  Or write a guest post outlining what you’re looking for.  Our Monterey County bike community wants to see more people on bikes, and there’s a lot of respect for the multitude of uses.  Perhaps your favorite group would be parents and children in bike trailers or parents-children with trail-a-bikes, or couples with tandems.  Or even shopping-by-bike groups (now that sounds serious–a serious hit to the wallet!).

There is also a tri-county bike Meetup group, Over the Top Cycling.  The group organizer emphasizes that the Meetup’s membership is actively screened and inactive individuals are removed on a regular basis. Over the Top may be scheduling Thursday evening dinner rides to HER Helmet Thursdays spots.

Wondering if Monterey County has much of a custom and vintage bikes or beach cruiser scene?

You’ll find many such bikes represented, including at the Burrito Bike Rides in Salinas.  You’ll find such bikes too among the inventory at Tony’s Bike Shop & Skateboards, 11402 Haro Street, Castroville; 831/272-8409.

Below, Tony’s owner, Saul Soto, following his barricade volunteer shift at the inaugural Ciclovia Salinas,  Monterey County’s first Open Streets. (Photo courtesy of Juanita Turner  Photography. Contact Juanita if you’d like to purchase a print.)

A visitor’s perspective on riding with local clubs

Oregon resident Jim Moore has written a useful feature story on bicycling with local bike clubs as a tourist.  He shared his experience of biking with the Monterey Velo Club.

Below, another visitor–this one biking solo on the beautiful Monterey Bay Coastal Trail.

Group riding video

Safety tips and riding etiquette for group rides deserves careful attention, even for experienced cyclists. Review Velo Club Monterey’s group riding tips.

Bob Shanteau of Velo Club Monterey shared this 43-second video from Team CyclingSavvy that demonstrates communication and effective lane change
from back to front.  <https://vimeo.com/42872314>

  • Group starts out in right lane
  • Lead rider signals left
  • Following riders signal
  • Rear rider clears the left lane
  • Group changes lanes from back to front
  • Overtaking cars use right lane

Local clubs

Conditioned cyclists, both mountain and road, who want to connect with their peers for group rides or local tips will find these three clubs especially helpful. Visit their websites and learn a lot!

  1. Monterey Off-Road Cycling Association (MORCA). See below re Ft Ord also.
  2. Naval Postgraduate School Foundation’s NPS Cycling Club. Road and mountain.  Members are NPS students, faculty, staff, and spouses.  The club is also part of Velo Monterey and partners regularly with MORCA too.
  3. Velo Club Monterey. Check out VCM’s video section to see some group ride options. Velo has tools and bike boxes available for checkout to current members; see vcmonterey.org.

These clubs include some of the strongest cyclists in Monterey County.  Members are typically supportive of others, and each club works hard to support our local bike community and its visitors.  See “Knights of the Central Coast,”NPS Provides Inspiration,” and “Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day” for examples.

Devon, Tyler, and Dena Donnell

Who ya gonna ask?

Wondering about the best Monterey road bike routes? Curious if there are other bicycle races on the Monterey Peninsula beyond Monterey County’s renowned Sea Otter Classic? 

The above three clubs and lots of other local resources are on my Monterey County Bike Shops, Services, Clubs, and Resources page.  Here are just three of the many cyclists from that page who are very knowledgeable and have reliable tips to share.  (See more details about them on the resources page.)

  1. Jan Valencia (on Twitter @jvalen) has been a terrific help to visiting and local cyclists for many years, both as Velo Club Monterey’s Answer Man and informally.  Contact him via the Velo Club Monterey website.  Weekdays, Jan bike commutes from Seaside to Salinas, where he has a business.  Weekends? He bikes more! Jan and his wife, Cath Tendler-Valencia, cover a lot of miles and have many route and other tips to share.
  2. Devian Gilbert of Asana Cycles. Devian is a bicycle lifestylist and lives a car-free life in Monterey County since 1993. He is a United Bicycle Institute certified mechanic and winner of the Transportation Agency for Monterey County’s 2011 Golden Helmet Award, In Sonoma from April to October 2011, Devian is back in Monterey County and available for a range of services and general support. Welcome back, Devian!
  3. Frank Henderson, League of American Bicyclists Safety Instructor and Transportation Agency for Monterey County’s 2010 Golden Helmet Award winner.  Frank is another local cyclist who puts on a lot of miles and can be especially counted on for guidance on safest routes and more.
Cath Tendler-Valencia and Jan Valencia at the Sea Otter Classic
Devian Gilbert on his Ride the Divide adventure
Frank Henderson

(Photo courtesy of Transportation Agency of Monterey County)

Golden Helmet Award Winner: Frank Henderson

Racing and related blogs

  1. If you’re a racer or race fan, if possible, don’t miss the annual Sea Otter Classic!  More on that below, and elsewhere on this site.
  2. Amgen Tour of California likes Monterey County, and they’re coming again on May 14, 2014. Click here. Our Santa Cruz County neighbor Ben Jacques-Maynes will be among the racers.
  3. The three main local bike clubs listed above all have members who participate in races and/or have race teams.
  4. Salinas Valley Criterium is coordinated by Grass Roots Cycling, a small, informal group that puts on cycling races licensed by USA Cycling.  Details available at http://www.grassrootscycling.net/SalinasCrit.html – Phone 831/442-VELO (831/442-8356). – Racing opportunities include for girls and boys, ages 10-18, as well as adults. Visit the Pedali Alpini website (a Salinas-based nonprofit) to learn of additional opportunities.
  5. You’ve heard about other local bike clubs?  They are probably actually referring to racing teams, such as:

Others that locals participate in include Velo Bella and VOS Racing.

If you show up to ride with a group open to anyone, keep in mind the standard guidelines, as posted on MBR’s website:  “Have a reliable bike in good working condition. Please ride with common sense, and obey all traffic laws. All riders are expected to be skilled at riding in groups and pacelines.”

Taking things too seriously? Here, lighten up, courtesy of PeopleForBikes.org.

Click here and watch “Sh*t cyclists say. “

Youtube:  A Youtube search will show up some great Monterey County cyclists, such as Keith De Fiebre.  Check out this 6/8/11 Youtube of Keith on a training ride, and changing a flat en route.

Check out other Monterey County pro cyclists in the Monterey County Weekly: Logan Leader, featured in a 2-14-13 story by Yumang Guintu and Eamon Lucas (on Twitter @cuzzmayne92), in a 7-12-13 story by Eduardo Cuevas.

Blogs:
Additional blogs

Racing – High School

Below, Monterey Composite,
a high school bike team welcoming teens countywide.

Monterey Composite paceline - daylight

Monterey Composite Mountain Bike team

Do you know the history of Monterey County’s high school cycling teams? To my knowledge, the first high school biking team of any kind in the county was Calvary High School’s–now Trinity High School, located across from the Class I coastal trail.  (Although that team is no longer active, you can still see their principal biking to worship; click here.)

Part of the Calvary family are avid cyclists Patty and Mark Kintz. They coached a homeschooled mountain bike team, the Monterey Bay Kingfishers, who competed at Sea Otter Classic and other events. Patty and Mark are continuing to coach high school youth:  Kingfishers has rebranded and expanded to welcome other high school students whose schools have no team.

Yes,  Monterey Composite is an inclusive group for high school age students countywide who want to be on a mountain bike team. Students are welcome from any Monterey County public, private, or homeschool, including unschoolers and  those in independent study programs.

Missed the Monterey Composite pre-season invitation? Click to see their 2012 flier, and contact them to get on a list for their future notices. (Note that while the flier states “Monterey Peninsula,” high school students countywide are welcome.) Contact James Lawrence , (831)264-3048 or email jamesglawrence [AT] msn [DOT] com.

Team activities commenced  in October, and new participants for the current season were accepted through mid-January for 2013.  This being a racing team, not a riding club, starting early in the training season is critical. While latecomers get the coaches’ best efforts to help them get ready, their season goals have to be substantially modified, as compared to their teammates who’ve been riding months and months.

As of January 2013, the Monterey Composite High School Mountain Bike Team is made up of one Carmel High student and seven homeschoolers. All boys? No way! The team has two girls, and six boys. Students who’d like to join later can contact the team about future opportunities. (Want your young girl to be inspired for future high school team riding with Monterey Composite or Salinas High? Consider Little Bellas Day Camp in April at Laguna Seca.)

Come on out and be inspired by watching the next races! Their 2013 race season begins with a NorCal race on February 24, 2013 at East Garrison–where you can expect to find the entire southern half of the NorCal league! 

Monterey County’s NorCal teams are fortunate to have a safe setting for night-training, even though since Fort Ord is closed at sunset, it’s all pavement.  Miles of Class I guardrail-protected bike/multiuse path, and Fort Ord Dunes State Park, offer great places to train, even during the evenings. (See tips for biking in the dark.)

Salinas High School

Who else will you find at NorCal races?  Salinas High School Cowboy Racing Mountain Bike team! The SHS team is the first organized public high school cycling team in Monterey County, and to my knowledge (as of 10/8/13), remains the only public high school team. Tax-deductible donations of used or new bikes are appreciated; click here to learn more.

You may have the chance to meet members at Twilight Rides–then try to keep up with their youthful energy on the Laguna Seca racetrack!  Or, contact them about their race schedule and show up to cheer them on.  Visit their website.   Tax-deductible donations of used or new bikes are appreciated; click here to learn more.

Read more about the SHS team on this site:

Below: Salinas High Cowboys Racing
Palma High School

Palma High School has started a mountain bike team as of January 2013. Click here to learn more.

Other youth ops:  Have a teen, or younger child, not interested in racing? Encourage them to bike via other local bicycling activities for youth. See the Children and Teens section of this site, including “Bicycle Culture and Youth.” To support or create youth opportunities here, see “Salinas youth and others for bikes:  Bikes make life better.”

Racing – BMX

Monterey County’s BMX racing champs include Shawn Carden, who was racing BMX as a Salinas High student and continues as a student at Hartnell College, Salinas. In May 2012, Shawn competed at the BMX World Championships at Birmingham, U.K.  and he continues very successfully with his BMX racing career. Congrats, Shawn!  Click here for photos and details.

Another local BMX racer is Jack Fling. Read about Jack on the Palma School website; click here.

And many of you are well acquainted with BMX racer Joey Bradford of Monterey!

Steve Aday at Marina Cycle & Skate is one supporter of BMX racers in Monterey County. Stop by the shop and chat with Steve about opportunities for youth and others in BMX racing.

Heads up, BMX riders.  If riding on California roadways, bicycles must be equipped with a brake that allows an operator to execute a one-braked-wheel skid on dry, level, clean pavement. CVC 21201(a).

Looking for BMX parks in  Monterey County?

Whether you are into BMX for racing or BMX for recreational and social aspects, where can you legally ride–and connect with others who do–in Monterey County? Click here for this site’s resources page and go to the BMX section.

About Fort Ord Public Lands

Undoubtedly the best resource for riding the Fort Ord trails (and other trails, such as Toro Park, Salinas ) is  Monterey Off-Road Cycling Association (MORCA).  They also do trail maintenance work; volunteer to help. This is “an organized voice for responsible mountain biking in Monterey County.”  Besides the info on their website, follow their Google group (access it via their site), for the latest scoop on where, when, and more.

Want to help users at Fort Ord? Help Bicycle Equestrian Trails Assistance.  BETA is mostly on horseback, but some mountain bikers participate too, trained in first aid, radios, maps, and assistance:  http://www.ftordbeta.org/

Also see Fort Ord a National Monument.

Biking Big Sur

People biking to Big Sur can make use of tips on bicycling Carmel (north of Big Sur), which includes bike shops just off Highway 1 between Carmel Valley Road and Rio Road.

Touring cyclists are a common sight on the Big Sur coast. (Click here to see a few.)  It’s also common to experience heavy traffic!  For many cyclists, the stress of sharing  two-lane Highway 1 with many motor vehicles–often driven by folks unfamiliar with the road–makes road stress a detractor from Big Sur’s beauty.

What to do?  Plan your schedule so you’re biking Big Sur on dates, and times of day, when traffic is lightest.  Relax on the Big Sur Coast during peak traffic times, enjoying the grandeur of that scenery from a beach or other spot.  Then, after traffic has diminished, enjoy biking Big Sur–perhaps even under the stars.  See Wyatt Wood’s tail light tips in Biking in the Dark.

Read “Bike Touring Steinbeck Country” in California’s Adventure Sports Journal for the experience of three visitors–Rick Gunn, Gary Cronk, and Eric Jarvis–in Big Sur and elsewhere in Monterey County.

About Big Sur’s Andrew Molera–and other California State Parks

See “All kinds of trails for all kinds of cycling–Biking in California State Parks.”  Also see Andrew Molera page (Andrew Molera, Big Sur (831/667-2315).   Caution At Molera, yield to horses on the multi-use paths.

If you’re heading north from Monterey County to Santa Cruz County, you’ll likely enjoy Wilder Ranch too, which is included in the state parks bike link above.

About Big Sur  in general

While not a cycling-focused blog, Big Sur Kate (Kate Woods Novoa) is a helpful resource for anyone heading to Big Sur.  When there are road closures, weather conditions, and other factors that may impact your plans for cycling on the Big Sur coast, check Kate’s blog:  http://bigsurkate.wordpress.com/On Twitter @bigsurkate. 

This Santa Cruz County resident bikes to Monterey–and on to Big Sur–regularly.

Biking between Salinas and the Monterey Peninsula

If you might want to ride with experienced bike commuters–who welcome beginners to join them–between the Monterey Peninsula and Salinas, see the Blanco Rd/Hwy 68 post. Frank Henderson and Phil Yenovikian are ready to help you ride the Blanco Road route or the Highway 68/Monterey-Salinas Highway route.  If biking 68 on your own, note the following tips.

Another option:  Some cyclists will prefer to make use of the MST bus for travel between Salinas and Monterey. See bike-and-ride section for tips.

Monterey-Salinas Highway/Highway 68 Corridor

Now and then I see a cyclist on the freeway–at risk of getting a ticket.  That can be avoided here, hence the tips below.

Be advised that although this scenic Monterey-Salinas Highway route is loved by many experienced cyclists, it is a two-laner with no bike lane, tho a mostly comfortable shoulder.  Bright clothing and appropriate lights/accessories are in order.

Sign along Monterey-Salinas Highway/Hwy 68

Traveling by car, you may have noticed…

First, if you’re a visitor, don’t get mixed up about Highway 68.   Perhaps you’ve traveled Highway 1 by car and noticed that 68 West/Holman Highway exit takes you past Community Hospital and on to Pacific Grove (where you’ll first end up on Forest Hill, near the Forest Hill Bike Shop, before continuing down Forest and landing in downtown PG, a few blocks up from the coastal bike path).   And this 68 West exit is also the exit that connects you promptly with the H’way 1 Pebble Beach gate.

By car,  from H’way 1, you’ll likely have noticed that 68 East/Monterey-Salinas Highway is the exit that takes you to the Monterey Airport and on to Salinas.

Coming from 68 West/Holman Highway, you connect with 68 East not directly but by traveling Aguajito Road until you take a right on Monhollan, which later becomes Olmsted. At the traffic light, Olmsted connects with 68 East/Monterey-Salinas Highway.

Traveling by bike, here are just a few tips…

Okay, now for tips on biking the Monterey-Salinas Highway.

I’ll offer these tips as if you’re starting from the Salinas side.

  • Be careful around the Salinas River Bridge.  You may want to avoid it by biking through the little town of Spreckels from south Salinas, or take Reservation Road to Davis from north Salinas.
  • You can get a ticket if biking on a California freeway, which means:  across from Toro Park, it’s wise to exit 68 and bike on Portola Drive for a couple miles before returning to 68 at Torero Rd.

Okay, so you continue along 68 toward Monterey.  Then what?  As you near Monterey, you have options:

  • You don’t have to take the above-mentioned (in orange) route.  If you want to do that, you turn left at Olmsted and continue; it becomes Monhollan, then make a left when you reach Aguajito.  And if you do go that way (a lovely scenic route with hills and trees), you also have the option of making a right when you get to Molhollan, and then head straight all the way to the coastal bike trail at Del Monte Beach!
  • If you don’t want to take the “turn left at Olmsted…” route, here are some other nice options for getting off the Monterey-Salinas Highway.  Both of these allow you to avoid ending up on a Highway 1 (freeway) ramp; that means you won’t risk a ticket!  Here are choices:

  1. Turn right when you reach the light at Canyon Del Rey Blvd/Hway 218 (by 711 and Starbucks). Then take Cyn del Rey all the way to the coastal bike path at Roberts Lake/Embassy Suites, near Sports Center Bicycles.  (En route, you’ll pass the Frog Pond Preserve and Del Rey Oaks City Hall, then later, Fremont Ave, then Laguna Grande Park and DMV and Seaside City Hall–and behind it, if you need it, is the Seaside Library.)
  2. Or, turn right when you reach the light at Olmsted Road (by Monterey Peninsula Airport turn-off and Comfort Inn).  Then, make a left right away onto Garden Road (a stretch of office buildings, with no pit stops except the coffee bar at Gold’s Gym).  It’s a short stretch though, and then you’re at the corner of Garden Rd and Mark Thomas Dr/Fairgrounds Rd–at the 3-way traffic light by the Monterey County Fairgrounds.  From there, you can turn right and go up to the stop sign at Casa Verde, then make a left and take Casa Verde all the way to the coastal bike path (past La Sala Bi-Rite Deli).  Or, at Garden Rd and Fairgrounds, make a left onto Mark Thomas Drive; you’ll soon pass Santa Catalina School.  Continue on Mark Thomas all the way to Sloat Ave (first light).  From there, if you’d like to head directly to the coastal bike path, make a right.  You’ll go underneath the freeway, then continue straight on Sloat in the bike lanes alongside the Naval Postgraduate School. Continue all the way to the coastal bike path (when you reach the T-intersection, you simply cross Del Monte Ave).

Don’t miss lupine season on the Monterey-Salinas Highway!

Events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Race events at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca aren’t just limited to cars!  Besides the monthly Twilight Rides mentioned above, there are special events such as the Hammerstein 8- and 24-Hour Mountain Bike Race.

And, of course, there is…

The Sea Otter Classic

Two of approximately 60,000 cyclists and cycling fans who flocked to Sea Otter in 2012.

Sea Otter Classic

Be sure to calendar the annual Sea Otter Classic at Laguna Seca Recreation Area/Mazda Raceway!  For 2013, Sea Otter’s 23rd year, the dates are April 18-21.

Sea Otter includes North America’s largest bike expo, as well as the road and mountain race events that first made the event so popular.  For a link to their course maps, click here.

Sea Otter is a bicycle festival for the entire family, with activities for little kids and much more.

Gran Fondo

Sea Otter includes three Gran Fondo routes–fully supported recreational rides!

For 2012, there were two Gran Fondo road route options–the Carmel Valley Route (approx 95 miles), which includes “The Loop”; and a mostly Coastal Route (approx 50 miles).  There was also a Mountain Bike Route (approx 20 miles).

Check out this report by Patrick Brady/Ride Kite Prayer on his experience of the Carmel Valley Route, which includes the Salinas Valley.

What a great time for serious cyclists to visit Monterey County!

Serious cyclists?

Looks like too much fun to me!  Velo Club folks at one of their favorite hangouts,

HER Helmet Thursdays spot East Village Coffee Lounge on Monterey’s Griffin Plaza at Washington and Pearl Streets,  downtown.

(Photo courtesy of Leo Kodl.)

“Outta my way!” Sharing the bikeways

Cyclist on the bike/multi-use path.

Love to race along or have fun doing your daredevil deeds?  More power to you!  Sometimes I do too.

Still, I know that startling pedestrians or others on a multi-use path—or drivers on a shared road—isn’t a good way to be an effective ambassador for the cycling community.

A Monterey sign, urging pedestrians to stay to the right.  Visitors may have just come from, for example, Roseville,  California, where pedestrians were urged to stay to the left. No wonder people get confused!  Please slow down, and show an extra dose of  courtesy to and patience with others.

About pedestrians, wheelchair users, skaters, and others

On the multi-use path, when I’m on a bike, I feel confident of the way I could  zigzag safely between groups of pedestrians.  But if were walking the path with my toddler friend Mira, or guiding my pal Margaret in her wheelchair, I know either could be frightened by zooming cyclists darting in-and-out of pedestrian traffic.  

It only takes a second for an unanticipated move to result in an accident, causing trauma, injury, or even death. So slow it down near pedestrians, skaters, and others!

About other cyclists

It can be annoying when, for instance, another cyclist who has stopped to chat with someone intrudes on your lane.  I have watched a pro cyclist suddenly fall after pausing, clipped-in, to chat with someone.  And I have been such a person myself, suddenly losing my balance and crossing into the other lane just seconds before a fast cyclist came my way.

Whether another cyclist, a pedestrian, or whoever, it makes sense to give others the benefit of the doubt, rather than screaming at them!  Go slow enough that you are prepared for the unexpected, able to make adjustments to avoid frightening or injuring someone.

Shucks!  Think I’m spoiling all your fun?  I wouldn’t wanna do that…

Where to speed along in Monterey County

Not only on the multiuse trail, but other places too–such as 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach–cyclists are reminded those areas are not appropriate for racing.  

Although I’m not a racer, I do often love to fly along.  In those moments, I wish I could have the bikeways all to myself.  However, here in Monterey County, there are lots of place to experience freedom and speed; the resources listed above on this page will take you there!

One example:  Challenge yourself on the Corkscrew at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on a Twilight Ride.

Below:  A beautiful, sunny day on the multiuse trail…

And it was also one of those times when the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is packed in certain sections!

As the touring cyclists pictured here can surely relate to, after many miles of biking, sometimes the scenery around you–and the people–can start to blur together.  Staying safely alert to those around you means you’ll be more aware of nature’s beauty here too.  So be prepared to relax your pace when you reach pedestrian-heavy sections like this one.

And you bet, Monterey County people head off to other places to tour by bicycle too. Read Ross Majewski’s story on the Palma School website for just one example.

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