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Wintertime Gallery + Holiday Tips

Who’d bike in winter? In Monterey County, lots of people. Check out the photo gallery below of some of the many folks out “braving winter”—bicycling in the city of Monterey on a brisk December morning. And biking like that happens all around the county in winter!
Below the gallery are some tips for the winter holiday season. 

Among the many seasonal delights in Monterey County are Critical Christmas / Lighted Bike Parade and First Night Monterey. First Night is an alcohol-free, family-friendly event featuring scores of arts and entertainment favorites— nine hours of fun to ring in 2020!

During December many people are shopping for gifts. Click here for Monterey County places giving discounts when you shop by bike—bike shops, miscellaneous retail shops, and wineries participating in the HER Helmet Thursdays Project. For general shopping-by-bike tips, click here.

Coach Jim Warwick of Salinas High’s mountain biking team and his daughters Justine and Rebecca had biked to history—that is, to the historic Custom House Plaza, one of many plazas in the City of Monterey. On this fine winter’s morning, they were enjoying local sites by daylight, but two days earlier, they’d biked from that same spot at night: they’d met up with others for Monterey’s annual Lighted Bike Parade AKA Critical Christmas ride!

“Thanks for thinking of this trail-a-bike, Dad.  When I’ve got you pedaling with me, it’s a lot easier to keep up with the Warwick sisters and their pop.”

See Bicycling Monterey’s “Children and teens growing up bikewise” and other Children and Teens posts of special interest to that young lad and others.
Wish you had a river you could skate away on? Nov 21, 2018 to Jan 6, 2019, for an alternate activity to biking, enjoy Ice Skating by the Bay at Custom House Plaza. 
Ice Skating by the Bay is sponsored 2018-19 by four HER Helmet Thursdays spots—Cafe FinaDomenico’s on the Wharf, MYO Pure Frozen Yogurt, and Portola Hotel & Spa— along with California State Parks and Sunstar Media.

Who else is out biking in winter?

Bike love in any language:  Angelica y Herman speak of bicicletas!

“I’ll scoot to the right so you can bike alongside me in this lane while we visit.  There’s a big move for share-the-trail harmony around here.

Gal pals agree that one great thing about a Class I path is they can just toodle along and catch a visit.  Listen in:

“Do you ever feel like a dork asking questions about bike stuff when the repair person isn’t a woman?” 

“Heck no, not at Monterey County’s maintenance and repair shops!”

“Let’s swing by one more bike shop.  I promised my esposa I’d  find a helmet for our daughter‘s birthday in her favorite color!”  Amigos enjoying the coastal views as they run errands.

And the hillsides of town are mighty beautiful this morning too!

Pretty in pink, heading into town from NPS.

I biked over to Copy King, on an errand to help with a Christmas letter.  There I saw this happy dude, who agreed to pause for a photo.

(Need last-minute gift ideas?  Copy shops are a great place for something inexpensive and unique.)

Just down from Copy King–and wearing a smile as bright as the morning—I spotted this San Diego visitor.  Back home, she does a lot of mountain biking—just like the MORCAns in Monterey County!   While waiting for the Monterey Airbus (see tips in Bike-and-Ride), she hopped aboard my bike awhile to try out her own cycling chic style.

“How’d I miss that San Diego bike woman downtown!  Maybe if I head back that way now, the airbus won’t have arrived yet.”

“He who hesitates…loses. That won’t be me, buddy! I’m en route now.

Let’s get serious: Heading north, where he can pick up speed, apart from the busier sections of the path.

“Darn! Forgot my canvas bag again.  I’m gonna get a lot of mileage out of this plastic bag, especially since California passed a Single-use Carryout Bag Ban in November 2016 (

“I love biking where you can wear shorts Christmas week!”

“Glad there are plenty of bike rental spots in Monterey.”

And with Cali laws requiring helmets, it’s a good thing most provide them.

“Maybe when I get back home I’ll deco-out out my helmet. Wonder where to find tips on that?”

“I sure can get to work a lot faster on my bike than by car or bus!” 

Trips under 3-5 miles often take less time by bike, which is one reason so many people like to do errands and shopping by bike too.  Seaside has the highest number of bike commuters in Monterey County.  Many hospitality workers who live in Seaside take advantage of the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail for bike-commuting to work in Monterey and Pacific Grove, or even en route to Pebble Beach.

“I’m just cruisin’ this morning. Soaking up the sunshine and loving life.  Hmm…With such a beautiful day off, wonder where else to bike in Monterey County today!”

“Pretty much doesn’t matter where you’re headed for.   If it’s anywhere in the vicinity at all, the trail is the best way to get closer to your destination!”

And when you’re heading elsewhere in the county, check out the various Monterey County bicycle maps.

A team of two enjoying this winter morning.

Too nice a day to eat lunch indoors? Pick up a deli sandwich and bike to the beach! Whether you’re biking to catch a wave or just to kick back,  HER Helmet Thursdays spot La Sala’s Bi-Rite Market & Deli will reward you with a discount on Thursdays if you bike.  What to order? Ask the owner’s daughter, pictured above, or the other friendly staff at La Sala’s!

Bike-and-riders from Prunedale, this couple used their own vehicle to tote their bikes to Monterey on this beautiful sunshiny morning.

“You mean you want me back on my bike? I thought you wanted me to take a picture of you!”

Eduardo, a local custom bike builder, was happy to accommodate the request to show another image of the many people–locals and visitors–who love biking in Monterey.

“Sure, I’ll pause for the cause.”  Yet another bike advocate turned photo model!

Vy and Nolan

were alongside Museum of Monterey (AKA MOM), venue for Brandon Boyd’s 2012 appearance.  Bike to Museum of Monterey on Thursdays year-round to save bucks at this HER Helmet Thursdays spot!

Missed Boyd’s MOM gig?  Hear Boyd at MOM on Youtube, thanks to the Monterey County Weekly.   Boyd is the Incubus frontman, and his concerns about plastic pollution made him the perfect back-up for MOM’s Perils of Plastic exhibit, “Flows to Bay.”  For more about plastic, see “Bike to the Beach–and Care for What You Love” on this site.

Why bike?

Plenty of reasons!  Just ask Robert Kelley, one of the many local elders who bike. I met Robert in the bike lanes on Garden Road when I was heading back to the office.  He’d biked to Pacific Grove to visit his son and was now biking home, to Toro Park.  He’d already have a thirty-mile round-trip in by early afternoon.

For weather updates, check NWS Bay Area. Weather can vary widely in Monterey County this time of year. For example, people biking 17-Mile Drive, Pebble Beach and other popular spots around the county often have clear skies and sunshine, and occasionally even beach weather. In our county seat, Salinas, Christmas Day 2013 had a record high temperature for the date of 82 degrees.

Winter holiday tips

An annual favorite for many people of all ages who bike is the Lighted Bike Parade AKA Critical Christmas Monterey. Click here for details.

For other biking and bike-related activities and events, check the Master Calendar for Bicycling Monterey County.

Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwaanza, or other gatherings?

Consider biking to worship. If you’re heading out to evening-hour observances, remember to prepare for biking in the dark.

New Year’s Eve

Please check the “alcohol and bike safety” tips in California Bike Laws and Personal Safety–Tips for Kids, Teens, and Adults.  Monterey County’s Constables of the Peace will be out in full force.

Consider biking or bike-and-riding to alcohol-free, family-friendly First Night Monterey, or to a First Night event wherever you live. 

First Night Monterey begins at 3 p.m. and continues through midnight (check with First Night for any possible changes).  See Fast Facts.

Remember to charge up your light/change batteries as needed, consider high-visibility apparel and accessories, and otherwise night ride safely.

Whenever feasible, it is recommended to lock up your bike in a secure location and not walk it through closed streets, which are likely to be crowded with pedestrians. If you must take your bike onto a closed street, be sure to walk it–no riding. And be extra courteous to pedestrians, taking care not to bump someone with your handlebars, etc. 

Click here for bicycle parking tips and etiquette.

Thank for reducing vehicle traffic in the vicinity by biking to First Night Monterey.

Do you bike-and-ride MST / “The Bus”?

Monterey-Salinas Transit / MST’s news section for the latest info on their free service to people wearing a First Night Monterey button!

Also note MST’s revised schedule for the winter holidays.

Other holiday activities to bike, or bike-and-ride, to…

Find more things to do in the Monterey County Weekly, the largest circulation newspaper in the county, and the Monterey County Herald, the local daily. Salinas Californian and Off 68 are the local Gannett papers, published in our county seat.  And the Monterey County Convention and Visitors Bureau See Monterey blog, provides lots of tips for maximizing fun in the City of Monterey and all of Monterey County.

If you live out of the area…

and are coming to Monterey County for New Year’s Day, or another time soon, see “Piping in the New” (biking Pebble Beach) for another dose of inspiration about our wintertime biking.

More Tips for Bicycling in Monterey County

See the 20-section guide, which includes bike maps, where-to-bike suggestions, bike valet and other bicycle parking, bike rentals, shopping-by-bike tips, and much more.  Have questions? Feel free to contact me.

To find other leaders in the Monterey County bike community, see Bicycle Shops, Services, Clubs, and Resources.

What to do if the weather turns? 

Consider Bicycling in Rainbow Weather.  Or refer to Rain, Cold Temps, and More, which includes other bike-love activities too.

Lilah, Aaron, and Lorena Alejo summed up their recipe for getting a healthy, happy new year off with a bang:   “We had an awesome day bike riding in beautiful Monterey County!”

The Alejo family is shown above on Monterey Bay Coastal Trail’s Pacific Grove section, New Year’s Day 2012.  Good biking weather in wintertime is hard to beat!

Most people portrayed in this post were biking on December 20, 2011.

This post was originally published December 22, 2011; was updated for 2013; and was partially updated for 2014, 2017, 2018. Check with sources referred to for later updates.

This post was published on 18 December 2018. One or more changes last made to this post on 24 March 2020.

  1. Sandi Laney says:

    Looks like lovely bicycling weather there. Steve and I have fond memories of pedaling along many of those spots last March with Mari. Spokane is not very bicycle friendly today with frozen fog on the streets and 19 degrees. Happy, sunny Holidays.

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