California: The Gravel Paradise
A few weeks ago, we left for a three-week van trip to California. On the menu: surf and gravel bike. Let's face it, winters can be very long in Western Canada, as the ski season starts in October and ends in May, so I was really looking forward to riding outside!
Our trip was also a "baby moon" as I am 21 weeks pregnant. It was thus our last big trip before this great adventure, but certainly not the last! We also took the opportunity to locate some places where we would like to return in winter 2023 with our baby girl.
Travelling in a van, pregnant in the second trimester, is definitely something I would recommend. I personally found the second trimester much more enjoyable (more energy and less nausea!) than the first trimester, so the timing was perfect!
Obviously, as I am pregnant, I had to adapt a few things. Here as some tips that helped me enjoy my bike rides:
Listen to your body and don't have any expectations. It's okay to do a shorter ride than usual and to stop often to go to the bathroom.
Always bring snacks you know you love and stay well hydrated.
Wear high-waisted shorts for more comfort. I recommend the new Gravel Bib, with thinner straps that are super comfortable and easy to remove for toilet breaks.
Wear a loose top, I found that this helps to not get too warm and is also more comfortable. I recommend the new Gravel Shirt.
Stay positive! One more day on your bike is always a good day.
For this trip, I decided to only bring my gravel bike, because the position on the saddle is a little more comfortable when pregnant, and on top of that, the slightly thicker tires make the ride more stable and thus more enjoyable. And of course, the versatility of the gravel bike makes it possible to combine road and gravel rides, a perfect 2 for 1 when travelling!
If you're interested in visiting the area, these were our three favourite gravel rides in Monterey-Santa Cruz, Northern California.
1. Wilder Ranch State Park, near Santa Cruz. The Wilder Ranch Park offers more than 34 miles of mountain and gravel trails. We parked near the headquarters of the Santa Cruz Bike Company and enjoyed a ride with incredible views on the Pacific Ocean.
- Our ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/6888723996
2. Monterey, 17-mile drive Pebble Beach. This is a road ride, but it is so iconic that you should definitely visit it even if you only have your gravel bike. And, since there is sometimes lots of sand on the road due to the wind, the thicker tires of your gravel bike do come in handy. You'll be riding just a few feet away from the ocean, so the views are absolutely incredible. One of my favourite rides ever! Monterey is a bicycle paradise, there are many cyclists in the area, so it is very bike-friendly. I recommend you stop at the Captain + Stoked Café after your ride, their avocado toast and affogato are a must!
- Our ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/6943051925
3. Ford Ord is located just outside of Monterey. Another road, gravel and mountain bike paradise. Ford Ord National Monument offers over 86 miles of trails, and it's also the location of the popular Sea Otter Classic race. You can't go wrong when visiting Ford Ord!
- Our ride on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/6950953927
Cheers to a great cycling season!
Marie-Eve Bilodeau Corriveau