Recently, I took my first solo bike ride along the scenic California coastline between Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach. 17-Mile Drive with its breathtaking vistas and iconic landmarks hugs the rocky shoreline as it winds through awe-inspiring forests, golf courses, and multimillion-dollar homes.
Focusing mostly on the dramatic coastal views, I enjoyed playing tourist, stopping off at many points of interest along the way.
My senses came alive after I cycled through the forest at Spanish Bay, rounded a corner and Point Joe came into view. The smell of the ocean, the feel of the salt air on my skin, the pounding surf, and the beauty of the white-water cascading over the rocks invigorated me.
Natural beauty unfolds around every bend along this picturesque drive. Bird Rock is a sanctuary to countless shorebirds, harbor seals, and sea lions. White sand beaches provide favorable conditions for harbor seals during pupping season. Eye-catching seascapes meld into cypress groves. Spooky tree snags and a panoramic view draw many sightseers to Pescadero Point. The Lone Cypress rooted in its granite perch has defied Mother Nature and an arsons match for an estimated 250 years. Savoring each unique vista, I took close to three hours to make an out and back ride along the shore.
Nature’s Exclusive Art Show
While beautiful, my adventure was not without incident. Almost done with my ride, my backside sore from sitting on a bicycle seat, I decided to walk for a bit. As I walked alongside the roadway, the pedals of my bike spun around and clipped me in the lower leg. (I’ll spare you the blood gushing details and photographs.) Thankfully, I still had water to wash the gashes in my leg and had remembered to pack my first aid kit.
After dressing my wounds, I got back on my bike and rode down a dirt path that ran alongside the road. Suddenly, I felt my front tire hit a soft spot, my handlebars shifted to the left. The slo-mo version of the next couple of seconds went something like this. I kept pedaling and quickly shifted my weight to the back of my bike, but my tire was stuck in the muck. As my bike started to tip toward the left, thoughts raced through my head. ‘No, no, no! Don’t fall. Oh my God, those guys in the truck are watching me.’ Kerplunk! Down I went. ‘Oh, the grass is so soft and damp. I’m okay. Good thing these berry vines don’t have stickers yet. I’m okay. I’d better jump up and let the guys in the truck know I’m okay.” I was on a slight incline (or would that be a decline) and struggled to get up. The truck slowly passed me by. Finally finding my footing, I jumped up, looked down the road where they were still watching in their rearview mirrors and waved, “I’m Okay!” and they drove on. Funny how many things go through your mind in a matter of a few seconds.
I had to laugh. How silly I must have looked.
Surrounded by natural beauty, I was in an introspective mood. I felt good and proud of myself. I was on my own, on my bike, going somewhere and doing something I’d never done before, and had weathered my minor mishaps with my sense of humor intact. You know what? I am okay!
Smiles are contagious; let’s start an epidemic. -Laura Smith-