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La joie de les bicyclettes: French visitors biking California’s Central Coast

On the day that I met Sylvie and Robert, visitors from France—see them and hear their story below—they caught my eye as I was leaving a meeting at Cafe La Strada, a HER Helmet Thursdays spot on the Dolphin Plaza in Monterey.

Laurel-at-Mtry-Plaza-Hotel-fountain-distanceBeing on my bike, I had traveled via the coastal trail and was not slowed by traffic jams. I also had front-door parking. As a result, I was the first person to arrive at the meeting. The others had driven, and they apologized for being late because of struggling with traffic and parking.

Traffic alert for summer 2016 for Lighthouse Ave, Monterey and vicinity: “If you’re driving during the peak morning hours and peak afternoon hours, it is definitely faster to use your bike, and probably walking, too.”—Andrea Renny of the City of Monterey traffic and engineering department. Learn more in this 5/10/16 KSBW report by Caitlin Conrad.

Below: Front door parking at the Monterey Plaza Hotel’s Cafe La Strada on the Dolphin Plaza—the black iron divider to the left serves handily as a bike rack. You may also use the bike valet parking at the Monterey Plaza Hotel. Pictured is musician Laurel Thomsen.

As I was leaving the meeting, I spotted Sylvie and Robert in front of the Monterey Plaza Hotel. Because of their gear, I recognized that they were apparently touring cyclists, so I stopped to greet them, “Bonjour. Comment allez-vous?” And to ask, “Avez-vous des questions, Madame et Monsieur?”

Oui,” Sylvie answered, as Robert pulled out their guide book. They would appreciate some tips on heading north from Monterey to Santa Cruz, as their guide book provided the barest of details.

No problem, I assured them. They didn’t carry a mobile phone so had no web access; they would need printed information. I requested help from the gracious valets at Monterey Plaza, who were happy to respond to my request to print directions from the HER Helmet Thursdays listings for a HER Helmet Thursdays spot in Moss Landing–direx to Haute Enchilada Cafe & Gallery would work just dandy! Those bike-there tips for the Haute Enchilada would give Sylvie and Robert some information that would make their trip north easier.

I retrieved the print-out from the valets and provided it to Sylvie and Robert. We chatted a bit before going on with our respective plans for the day.

I casually bid them à bientôt. Perhaps my intuition knew I would indeed see them soon!

Three days later…

I was north of Davenport–this time, driving–on my way to pick up guests who’d flown in to San Francisco. My eyes are ever alert for people on bikes, and this time, I saw two familiar faces:  Sylvie and Robert!


They’d had a good ride up from Monterey and had found the HER Helmet Thursdays bike-there tips very helpful. After fun stops in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, they were now biking up for the San Francisco experience.

The coastal fog from north of Davenport nearly to Half Moon Bay meant Robert’s glasses needed frequent cleaning. But Monterey and Santa Cruz were sparkling in sunshine that morning!

Sylvie asked, “Can you see us in the fog?” I told her that it was their bright yellow bags that were first visible, then the flags–although they weren’t so bright. (Click here for more about high-vis gear–including flags in much more visible colors.)



IMG_3063Enchanté, Sylvie et Robert. Au revoir. Bon voyage!


This post was published on 1 April 2013. One or more changes last made to this post on 1 November 2017.

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