Old Coast Road Ride!

I had been wanting to ride my motorbike down Old Coast Road again for some time, and the New Year seemed like a good reason to go for a ride. Unfortunately, the weather had turned so cold I decided to wait for a little warm-up to arrive. I also wanted to catch the sunset along the hills behind Point Sur. I thought yesterday's weather seemed about as good as it was going to get for awhile, so I headed out.

If you know Old Coast Road, you'll already be familiar with its amazing scenic vistas, the surprising contrasts between the coast at Bixby Bridge and the mountain roads twisting back on themselves as they snake over the steep (really steep!) hills for about 11 miles. It was the old stage and wagon road to Big Sur in the 19th Century, and it's a great step back in time. It follows canyons up from the coast, through unexpected forests of Redwoods, over and through the old cattle ranches of the Big Sur coast. It's also dirt, as it should be, and held up a lot of the time by the very trees it travels through. This time of year it's usually muddy and not the time I'd ever take my little motorbike down there, but having had weeks of very dry weather, I figured it would be fine. It was, but it's pretty badly rutted and holed right now, making for a very heads-up ride. I only had three or four questionable moments mostly all on the steep descents around the ball-bearing-covered turns. I sort of miscalculated the timing, and riding back to the car the sun had set into the fog and the ravines and forested parts were dark enough that I couldn't see the potholes any longer. I did learn a lot about how to remain reasonably comfortable on a hardtail bike on a sketchy dirt road though: stay in the center where the Redwood needles are and there are far fewer potholes. Slightly weird as the sticks throw the front wheel about though...
The Intrepid Motor-Bicyclist
While I was roaring through the windy evening (OK, puttering), this was what Stoneleigh looked like! Peter has snow and ice, and a lot of it!

Click on the photo above and a page of Stoneleigh snow pics will appear...

Meanwhile in the west...Actually, I think Stoneleigh gets a greater number of beautiful sunsets than Carmel does. However, this was not the case last evening!

Looking north from a point about 1/3 of the way up from the south. This is standing on the ridge which leads up into the mountains from Point Sur (where the lighthouse is.) If one followed the ridge up to the east, they would come to Pico Blanco, the big mountain with the white peak (thus the name...) one sees from Highway 1.

If you enlarge this pic (click on it), you can see Old Coast Road snaking up the next ridge.

This is a close-up of that part of the road. We nicknamed it "Wages Of Fear Hill" for obvious reasons (if you like over-acted Yves Montand films.) If a person (or more likely, a cow) were to walk down this ridge to the west, they'd come to Hurricane Point, a popular stopping point along Hwy 1 .
Looking east at Pico Blanco.
These are views south from one of the nicer places to stop and look at the views along Old Coast Road. It's at the top of The Wages Of Fear switchback (south of this point). This ridge divides Bixby Creek to the north and Little Sur River to the south. This ridge is about 1/3 of the way down from the north end of the road.

In the photo on the left, one can see where the pictures above were taken.

The north end of Old Coast Road leaves Highway 1 at the north end of Bixby Bridge. The afternoon was quite pretty so I thought it would be nice to take a few shots of this iconic bridge.
One doesn't often have very long to see the little beach below the bridge while zooming along Hwy 1, but it's pretty.

As one can see in the photo below, the road loops behind Bixby Bridge in a very picturesque way.

Overall, it was a very nice evening...