Should You Bike the 17-Mile Drive or Stay Home?

The Lone Cypress on the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California - Should You Bike the 17-Mile Drive?
[The Lone Cypress Tree, which suspiciously doesn’t look THAT lonely with another tree right next to it]
Ahhh, the 17-Mile Drive – land of the super wealthy and amazing coastal views. Most people drive it, but what is it like to bike?

First, the pros:
– Good exercise
– Biking is fun
– If there’s car traffic you can be like SEE YA
– And there’s something about pedaling with the salt spray tingling in your nose, and the wind rushing by…

A beach, house, and flowers on my bike ride through the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California
[Biking is fun, plus you get views LIKE THIS]

Now, what you’re all here for: THE CONS:
– Yeah wind is cool and all, but it could be windy AF like it was for us (literally pushed me into the road a few times lol)
– If you don’t want to bike up a decent-sized hill at the end of the ride you have to pay $10.25 to park inside (although supposedly it’s free for cyclists if you enter on your bike)
– There wasn’t a ton of bike lane once you finished the coastal section of the road
– If you forget to pack food and wind up hungry you could end up at Pebble Beach looking like straight up peasants like we did…

A girl on a bike with the ocean behind her on the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California
[When you force your friends to pose for photos for the sake of #bloglife]
So – it was awesome and so beautiful! BUT I’d probably never do the 17-Mile Drive again.

Mainly due to the lack of bike lanes. There were a few areas where it got pretty narrow, and the twisty roads made it hard for cars to pass us. And the fact that I don’t really want to pay $10 again lol.

Cypress trees along a road during a bike ride on the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California
[So pretty but there are NO BIKE LANES in this section which kinda sucks]
We also decided we were hungry once we got to The Lodge at Pebble Beach, and it’s this fancy ass area. We were the complete opposite of that. My hair was a complete disaster from my hat, helmet, and the wind (yes, we were the epitome of cool), we were sweaty, and dressed in biking gear, with our nerdy daypacks…

But the food was bomb, the prices weren’t terrible, and we got a super pretty coastal view. Not to mention watch a wedding party walk off into the sunset (complete with a Scottish man playing the bagpipes!!!!!!)!

Two smiling girls with bike helmets on their bike ride along the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California
[Here we are, lookin’ like total newbs. Just imagine this, but next to a bunch of people in nice dresses etc.; the restaurant dress code said “resort casual” and we at least fulfilled the “casual” part!]
And the wildlife! We saw so many different birds and a few Sea Otters playing around in the surf! BE STILL MY HEART.

Plus we saw the Lone Cypress. And all the Cypress trees in general are so pretty, so that was fun.

The Lone Cypress Tree on a cliff overlooking the ocean during a bike ride on the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California
[The Lone Cypress looks so lonely, doesn’t it? But also perfect. And this is where we saw one of the Sea Otters!]
I also enjoyed the different habitats you see on the 17-Mile Drive – the coast and the forests of pines and cypress. And all the nice ass rich people houses. We rode past a school at one point, and I was just like, what in the world must it be like to go to school and get your learn on in such a pretty, perfect place??

Also, full disclaimer: we did NOT finish the whole ride. We spent a little too long at dinner and cut through on Forest Lake Road. I’m assuming the rest of it was just houses and forest, which we’d seen plenty of at that point anyway.

A girl on a bike drinking water from a CamelBak hydration bladder with the ocean behind her on the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California
[Stayin’ safe with our helmets and hydrated with our water]
So, if you don’t mind the lack of bike lanes, then definitely go! I’d also suggest going early when it’s less crowded, or a few hours before sunset (same reason). I’d HIGHLY recommend staying for sunset if you do go, because it is otherworldly. I love love love beach sunsets.

Ocean sunset with a lone tree in the background seen on a bike ride along the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California
For more directional info about the ride, check out this article by Jay’s Essential Bike Rides.

The Monterey Bay Coastal Bike Trail might be another good option. It’s 29 miles, and you get a good glimpse of the change of scenery between Castroville (lots of ag fields) and the coastal views of Monterey.

This article breaks down some good sections of the bike trail, and gives you a few other ideas, too. Just a disclaimer that I have done absolutely none of these rides but I hope they’re awesome if you do try them. Can’t go wrong with biking along the coast, though, I think.

A pink and white road bike on the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California
[My trusty steed]
But this experience just reminded me that I NEED TO DO MORE BIKE RIDES. I LOVE BIKE RIDING SO SO SO MUCH.

One day I’d love to do a longer distance bike ride in which I camp in between or stay in cheap accommodation/with friends for a week or something (I feel like that’s called something specific but I’m blanking off the top of my head. A bike tour, maybe?).

There’s something about knowing you’re doing it yourself (I mean the bike is helping, but you know what I mean), and not relying on a car, and there’s the wind rushing by, and the sunshine on your face, and the struggle, and the feeling of absolute and whole-hearted accomplishment at the end of each day.

The 17-Mile Drive just wasn’t enough (although for us, it was more like 8 miles probably LOL).

A beach and flowers on my bike ride through the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California
[Okay so this doesn’t really have anything to do with these couple paragraphs but pictures that break up the text are a good idea]
A beach and flowers on my bike ride through the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California
When I was in Belgium, I met these two guys in my hostel that were biking all throughout Europe for a few months, and either camping or staying in a hostel each night. I thought that was BADASS. And such a good work out, too. Like nothing could fuck with my legs after that.

Something just appeals to me about long distance (but not too long lol, we’re talking like a couple of months max) hiking and biking. It all just seems so glamorous (even though I know it’s really not lol) and romantic – the notion of doing it yourself, of getting from point A to B by your own volition. And struggling but growing and just feeling more WHOLE, if that makes sense.

Every time I spend time outdoors, I feel like I get to know myself better, I become more grounded, I’m reminded of what’s really important, and I feel so free.

A beach, house, and flowers on my bike ride through the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California
[Another super beautiful view and more breaking up the text shenanigans]
Okay, so that was a total digression, BUT. Do you (or have you) have the same crazy urge that I do? And if so, where do you want (or did you) to go? Let me know in the comments, because I’m dying to do something of the sort and always looking for awesome places to go.

And let me know if you end up biking the 17-Mile Drive, and what your thoughts were!

Pink ocean sunset on a bike ride along the 17-Mile Drive in Monterey, California
[The sunset wasn’t too horrible]

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4 thoughts on “Should You Bike the 17-Mile Drive or Stay Home?

  1. I cycled the 17 mile Drive with my boyfriend on a tandem and it was spectacular! The views were breathtaking! I highly recommend cycling this scenic ride.

    1. Ok, I should really get to biking it on a tandem bike! Seems to be quite a popular thing! Glad you enjoyed it 🙂

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