A Spectacular Scenic Feast on Two Wheels and in the 48 States!

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A Spectacular Scenic Feast on Two Wheels and in the 48 States!

By Jay Jacobson, member since the 1990’s



This past September I had a free week for a short (6 day) bike trip.  As a very satisfied


customer of Backroads Co. of Berkeley CA, I had enjoyed 35 of their tours, almost all






            I noticed in their web site they offered an intriguing tour, “Carmel and Big Sur to


Santa Barbara Wine Country” and decided to enroll.  It started in Monterey, California and


followed the famous 17  Mile Scenic Drive along the renown Pebble Beach golf course. The


cycling route continued south through the picturesque town of Carmel-by-the Sea.


Pacific Coast Highway(PCH)


              We spent the next two days pedaling on the Big Sur litoral on the PCH (Route 1) along


beaches, past lighthouses and unusual feats of engineering such as bridges and sea walls.


We passed state parks and view points high above the Pacific’s giant waves.  It was the first


time I had visited this gorgeous area since I drove a car  from San Francisco to San


Diego with Joan and our daughter, Abbey in the 1970’s.  I had  only a few faint memories of


that  epic drive.


We cyclists were not affected by the large forest fires along the route (other than


several parks being closed)  It appeared to me that the firefighters were digging in for a


protracted battle.


Central Coast Wine Country


On the next day we were shuttled by bus about two hours past San Luis Obispo to Los


Alamos where we started what seemed like a second tour.  We had left the coast for the


magnificent interior Santa Barbara wine area, the setting for the recent Sideways


motion picture.  We were able to visit (& enjoy tastings & picnic lunches) at several wineries.



Sights and Topography


We cycled past old missions (with their interesting Spanish architecture), large fields


of grapevines(some being picked of their September crop on the of the roads we were on), oak


and redwood forests. The roads were generally in good condition and ranged from flat to


undulating with some challenging climbs.  There weren’t major problems with cars (or their


drivers)—the midweek traffic was generally light.  There was nothing a NYCC B cyclist would be


unable to accomplish!


Along the route were attractions such as the Hearst Castle, the Danish looking village


of Solvang, and several charming and enchanting Spanish style towns such as Carmel.  We


went by active oil drilling rigs.


Animal Life


We encountered sea lions, horse and cattle ranches, zebras, ostriches, various birds and


even some tarantulas.




According to the Backroads brochure, the typical monthly precip for this area is one


tenth of an inch.  We bettered that—we had no rain at all!


It was a good thing we brought our light rain jackets and arm warmers to use in the


cool mornings when it got down as low as 55.   Santa Barbara’s “June gloom” came 3 months


late during a few our mornings—it looked and felt like we were cycling out of a big dark cloud!


However almost all of afternoons warmed up to the 70’s and were sunny.  There were


occasional headwinds which heightened the cycling challenges.


Group makeup and leaders



           The sixteen of us hailed from all U.S. regions except the West.  There were 7 middle-aged


couples.  In addition there was a Norwegian man and I who both left their wives at home.


Incidentally he has done cycletouring in Asia like myself so we had many similar experiences.


The three very able tour leaders, Joey, Barbara and Abigail performed their many and varied


functions very well.


Distances and prices


         There were 6 days of cycling and 219 miles of cycling routes available for ambitious


Group members. The cost of the trip is about $3600—somewhat less than Backroads overseas


programs.   Not included were cycling group leaders’ tips, air travel, beverages  and a single


room supplement if required..  Most of the very good meals were included.  The hotels were


acceptable—clean and comfortable.  One was outstanding.




At no extra cost, use of a Garmin navigational device and a rechargeable battery


powered bike were available.  I used both the Garmin and traditional cue paper sheets


and had only one navigation problem on the tour.  I did not use the battery-powered but at


some future time its use could possible extend my biking life by 5 years or more!

cycling trips