Friday, February 21, 2014
Yesterday we rode along the coastline around Monterey Bay; today we’re heading east for some climbs along the quiet back roads around Carmel Valley. This is a moderately hilly ride which includes a scenic jaunt along Carmel Bay and a run along the west and east side of Carmel Valley Rd.
We exit the RV Park onto Fairground Rd and head west on Mark Thomas Dr; this is a frontage road which runs parallel to Hwy 1 to Aguajito Rd.
Aguajito Rd is a two-step climb; the first step is a gentle ascent up Gentry Hill-it’s 1.5 miles with an average grade of 4.2%. This quiet road goes along the wooded west edge of Del Monte Golf Course through the surrounding residential neighborhoods.
The second step begins at the sharp left turn up Devil Hill; it’s one mile long with steep 9-12% gradient ranges. The road pitches up under the shade of the pines pass several horse ranches with mules and or donkeys.
The descent drops us down onto CA-68; we watch for traffic and navigate our way to the immediate left turn onto 17 Mile Dr. We pass through the Pacific Grove Gate and descend 17 Mile Dr for 1.4 miles to the Carmel Gate on Carmel Way. This turn is really easy to miss-there is no signage; it’s the first left turn at the Y intersection.
We drop down into Carmel and stay on San Antonio Ave to Ocean Ave and Scenic Dr. It’s easy to miss the turns as the street signs run perpendicular as opposed to horizontal-the eyes are not conditioned to read words upright and straight.
The 1.6 miles along Scenic Rd is just that-very SCENIC! The road meanders under the beautiful cypress trees along the gorgeous beach front homes with unobstructed views of the pristine white sands of Carmel Beach City Park.
The road continues to wind along the rugged rocky shores of Carmel Bay to Carmel River State Beach.
Carmel River State Beach is a great place to stop to enjoy the views of surrounding marshes and the dense forests of Pine Ridge at Point Lobos State Reserve. You can even take off your shoes and walk on the soft white sand!
We make our way through the residential neighborhoods on Carmelo St toSanta Lucia Ave out to Rio Rd for a quick photo stop at Carmel Mission.
We cross Hwy 1 on Rio Rd and ride through the commercial business district of Carmel to Carmel Valley Rd. The gentle rolling terrain on this road stretches all the way inland along Carmel Valley out towards Los Padres National Forest.
The west send of Carmel Valley Rd runs along several different golf clubs situated below Saddle Mountain with its surrounding resort communities and schools. The open valley has a few horse ranches with training facilities and rich agricultural farmland for Earthbound Farms.
The Mid Valley community has several churches, shopping centers & plant nurseries. It is also home to the beautiful Chateau Julian Wine Estate.
Robinson Canyon Rd winds its way along the eastern edge of Saddle Mountain up towards Chamisal Ridge. The steady climb up the canyon begins after the bridge crossing over Carmel River. The first 2.6 miles has an average grade of 4.2% as you roll under the shade of the wooded canyon up to the next river crossing over the narrow bridge.
The road exits the woods and continues winding its way up the ridge for another 1.8 miles with an average grade of 9% and steeper sections with grades of 12-14%!
The ridge top mountains views are spectacular!
You’re near the summit when you see the yellow steep downhill sign at the beginning of the wooden fence line. At the top, enjoy the surrounding views of the deep green forest and mountain ridges!
We descend Robinson Canyon Rd at a fun pace with absolutely no traffic except for the one postal truck zooming up the canyon to make his deliveries.
We continue east on Carmel Valley Rd and make our way up and over the valley with fabulous views of the residential community around Carmel Valley Ranch Golf Resort below Saddle Mountain.
The road continues on flat to rolling terrain pass Garland Ranch Regional Park towards Hidden Valley and the vineyards and wineries at Carmel Valley. We make a quick stop at the Chevron Station for cold drinks and snacks.
The traffic dies down considerably as we exit Carmel Valley and stay eastward on Carmel Valley Rd. The road climbs for a bit as it cuts between Buckeye Ridge from the north and Osborne Ridge from the south.
Cachagua Rd is steep climb up to Tularcitos Ridge; it’s 1.9 miles with an average grade of 9.5% and steep pitches of 11-12%. It weaves its way under a canopy of trees towards the steep switchback at Black Mountain.
The road continues snaking up and around to the top of the ridge with fabulous mountain and forest vistas. The road levels out at the top for about a mile or so around the protected guard rails.
The road quickly descends into the small town of Cachagua to our lunch stop at the Cachagua General Store. The store has the basic soda and beer, ice cream and a variety of snack items. Everything inside is a bit kitschy with vintage posters and advertisements.
Cachagua Rd continues east and follows alongside Cachagua Creek through a few ranches, wineries and vineyards.
After the creek crossing over the narrow bridge, the road gradually ascends up Conejo Grade along Conejo Creek to the open ranch and meadows on Tassajara Rd.
We head west on E Carmel Valley Rd for the short climb up through the gap below Burned Mountain.
The next 13+ miles on Carmel Valley Rd is a splendid fun rolling descent through the valley floor back to Carmel Valley.
From Carmel Valley Rd, we go up and over Sierra De Salinas on Laureles Grade to get back to Monterey. Laureles Grade is a taxing grind with a false summit. It’s 3.4 miles to the summit at 1284′ with grades of 8-10%.
There is a yellow sign at the bottom of the road with warnings of “10% grades ahead”. The road does have an ample shoulder area to ride on, so don’t worry about the amount of traffic passing by.
The climb up to the 1.0 mile marker:
The climb up to the 1.6 mile marker:
The climb up to the 2.4 mile marker:
At the false summit with gorgeous mountain views:
Climb to the summit-mile marker 3.4 at 1284′:
It’s a very fast descent down the north side of Laureles Grade to CA-68. Traffic is pretty heavy on CA-68 but there is a wide shoulder area. From CA-68, we take Olmstead and Garden Rd back to the RV Park on Fairground Rd.
Today’s ride was a good mixture of terrain from flat and rolling to short and steady climbs along the quiet back roads of Carmel Valley and beyond. We got to see the natural beauty of the blue waters around Carmel Bay, the serene deep green forests and the spectacular inland mountain ridges.
Everyday is a celebration of life-I am blessed!
76.08 Miles with 6719′ of elevation gain
Max elevation: 1392′
Max grade: 14%
Terrain: Moderately hilly with steep climbs
Weather: Sunny and warm with temps ranging from the mid 40’s to the high 70’s. Morning NE winds with NW afternoon winds-39% humidity
Follow this route for today’s ride: