Pebble Beach and the festivities that make up Monterey Car Week have gotten totally out of hand. I'm counting over 50 different events, not including private shindigs and ultra-hyper-exclusive reveals. Add in tens of thousands of people, and it's impossible to get around – let alone park. Bike is the answer.
I've been doing Pebble for the better part of a decade, and this year I decided to make it a two-wheeled affair. This is not without its logistical challenges, but the advantages made up for it. And I learned plenty for next year.
I live in the Bay Area, so the ride down was an easy two hours. But as always, choosing a motorcycle as your lone form of transportation comes with compromises, all of which are exacerbated by the events and environment on the Monterey peninsula.
First, there's the not-so-small issue of packing. I ride a ratted out SV with no top case or saddle bags, so I had to shove everything in a small pack strapped to the seat (a Bell Helmet bag) and my always-on-me backpack (a waterproof Arkiv Field Pack from Mission Workshop). For a weekend at the track, this setup is perfect. For a highfalutin five day affair that involves wearing a suit and tie on a semi-frequent basis and shaking hands with execs, things get complicated – and wrinkled.
Somehow I stuffed a fabric steamer into the Bell bag knowing that the Airbnb we booked probably wouldn't have an iron. It didn't and the steamer worked well. One problem solved.
For getting around, I should've suited up in my Aerostitch Roadcrafter one-piece. I could where a tux in that thing, be totally protected, and look crisp and clean on arrival. But the problem is where to stash it. I only went to a few places that had a coat check, and even then it would've been awkward to hand a massive suit with acres of armor to the tween manning the desk. Next year I'm buying a cable and lock to tie it to the bike, and that also means the helmet won't have to come inside.
This year, however, I opted to wear my leather jacket and one of two pairs of "asphalt resistant" jeans. With a button-up and a pair of freshly shined boots, I didn't look like a complete slob, and only felt underdressed once or twice during the week. Thankfully, anyone that saw me walk in with a helmet and a scuffed up jacket instantly understood, and the sideways glances were kept to a minimum.
But these minor issues proved completely insignificant when running from event to event in Monterey, Pebble Beach, and the surrounding areas.
The first time I loaded up Google Maps on my phone and saw an estimated 45 minutes for a 6-mile drive, I knew I made the right decision. And there's something sickeningly sweet about lane splitting between cars that cost many multiples of my house. At one point, I passed a McLaren F1 and a P1 in less than a minute. Which reminds me: I need to strap a GoPro to my face next year, too.
When I got to the event less than 15 minutes later, there wasn't a parking space to be found within several blocks of the venue. No problem. I squeezed in between a clapped out E36 M3 and a Aventador, and walked into the restaurant right across the street.
This same scenario played out so many times over the week that I cursed myself for not doing this sooner. But there was one event that had me hopping in the car: Concours.
Decked out in a suit and tie, I piled into the backseat of our Mazda Eunos for the big day. We had to park several miles away and then hop a shuttle to the 18th green, and the entire time I was kicking myself for not opting for the bike and the Aerostich. What would've been a 5 minute ride and a 10 minute walk turned into a 45 minute hunt for parking and 30 minutes in a rolling fart tube. Double that when heading back. And even if you weren't going to Concours, traffic in and around Pebble was so bad that people were stuck in traffic for up to two hours (ask Mike Musto of Big Muscle fame).
So aside from that one hitch and lone wardrobe oversight, doing Pebble on a bike was 10 times easier and 20 times less stressful. And I wasn't alone. Blake Rong from Autoweek, as well as Chris Cantle and Zach Bowman from Road & Track had the same idea, riding up from LA for the event. Even Pulitzer Prize™-winning automotive journalist Dan Neil got in on the action, sort of – he spent the weekend running around on a Vespa, his perfectly coifed hair just slightly suffering from helmet head.