Bicycling down the Pacific coast is one of the most amazing experiences I’ve had so far. Each section of the coastline is unique, with different geologic features. Sometimes the road is a hundred yards above the ocean. Other times you’re riding with the waves crashing right beside you. The section between Monterey and Moro Bay is particularly scenic as you pass through Big Sur, which is home to the southernmost coastal redwood forest. If the traffic quiets down enough, you’ll hear the cormorants and seagulls, as well as sea lions and elephant seals. You may catch a glimpse of the California condor, soaring on updrafts above you.
South of Big Sur, just before Limekiln State Park, a new structure will greet you. In 2011, Matt and I were riding through this section and got a particular thrill. There was road construction in progress, which made the traffic very nice on this stretch of road. First we rode through this construction zone trying to imagine what it would look like when it was all said and done. There were giant columns being erected and a ton of heavy machinery.
Next we ended up with the road to ourselves for a little while as the cars were held up. Directly overhead, on the side of the mountain, we could see workers. Then, the sound of a helicopter. We stopped and watched, fascinated, as the helicopter landed on the road, picked up some men and supplies, and took off, heading to the top of the mountain. It was a thrill to watch the process. We weren’t sure what the end result was going to be, as they had just started, but we were sure it would be incredible. And we had front row seats and the ability to pause and enjoy the show.
Fast forward to 2014 a few weeks ago, we were driving the same route we had biked before. What had taken us almost a week before now took us only a few hours. As we approached the place (we refer to it as the helicopter spot), I started to get excited. Surely the construction was done. What could it possibly look like?
Well, as you can see, it looks amazing. At a point on the highway that was prone to rock slides, now there is a tunnel/castle/feat of engineering.
As you ride down the coast, take a moment to marvel at what human ingenuity can accomplish. And be sure to snap a picture!