Californian dream?

Questions about bike hire abroad and everything light bike related. No off-topic chat please

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Bigger Gear
Posts: 533
Joined: Fri Mar 27, 2009 6:58 pm
Location: Wet coast, Canada

by Bigger Gear

I am a non-native, but I have spent a lot of time as a visitor riding in California so I like to think my opinions carry no bias. IMO, the best places to ride are in no particular order:

Sonoma County/Santa Rosa - The diversity of the riding and the microclimates here are amazing. The Levi GF route is a fantastic ride. But there's the terrain to the east and over into Napa as well, Trinity Grade, Cave Creek Rd, Spring Mountain Rd from St Helena back to Santa Rosa, cruising the flats up around Healdsburg, etc. I've done 3 separate trips here over the years and it amazes me every time.

Marin - The riding here is iconic and legendary. Head up the coast toward Pt Reyes, then turn and climb up Bolinas-Fairfax road from the coast, an absolute treasure, then turn right at the top, ride the Seven Sisters and climb to the top of Mt Tam. Or start out in Sausalito and do the Hawk Hill climb right from the bottom on Conzleman Rd to get the fantastic views of SF from Marin Headlands. These are some amazing roads, but down by the coast can be busy on the weekends. And if you ride from SF, the experience of riding across the Golden Gate bridge is surreal.

Hills of Carlsbad, Encinitas, etc north of San Diego. A bit more urban, but some fantastic riding up in the hills there through Rancho Santa Fe and Escondido.

Malibu. Pick as many canyons as you want to bite off in one ride. Very easy to crush yourself climbing in Malibu. Just watch out for cars on some climbs.

Los Olivos/Buellton/Solvang/Santa Barbara area. Fantastic options, Mount Figueroa, Gibraltar Mtn, lots of dirt roads and great route options. I absolutely need to spend more time there.

And finally, the most underrated spot IMO, Santa Cruz. Great riding north on the coast, or pick one of many routes up into the hills with climbs like Bonny Doon Road or Eureka Canyon. So good, so underrated.

I still have areas left to explore in California, but the pandemic has squashed plans for the forseeable future. If you want the most bang for your buck, fly into San Fran, rent a car and you can easily visit Sonoma, Marin and Santa Cruz. Plus all the East Bay stuff, where I have yet to ride.

by Weenie

Posts: 6621
Joined: Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:02 pm

by TobinHatesYou

AJS914 wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 12:37 am
If you live in Europe then coming to California is likely a great adventure.

I always did Mt. Tam clockwise. Climb out of Mill Valley and then return on Bolinas-Fairfax Road.

The California Dream though is not what it used to be. I was born in the Bay Area 54 years ago. I've been road riding since I was 13. The population, housing, and traffic has expanded substantially. What used to be country roads with farms and fields are now covered with mini mansions. You can still obviously find some great riding but you'll deal with a lot of cars in some areas.

I also love the clockwise direction except descending to Alpine Dam on BoFax. That bit of road really needs to be repaved.

That’s one thing SoCal has NorCal beat...long, fast, sweeping descents.

Posts: 123
Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 6:23 pm
Location: Bay Area, CA

by Frisco

I’m a Bay Area native, and there’s definitely plenty of good riding around here, especially along the coast. But Yosemite, Sequoia and the entire Eastern Sierra area along 395 between Mono Lake and Joshua Tree are the most scenic parts of California that I’ve seen, by far. You could easily spend a couple weeks up there.

There’s also plenty of well regarded climbs in those areas as well ... ike-Climbs

Posts: 658
Joined: Sun Jul 10, 2011 7:48 pm
Location: NorCal

by MoPho

TobinHatesYou wrote:
Mon Aug 03, 2020 2:07 am

That’s one thing SoCal has NorCal beat...long, fast, sweeping descents.
Ever watch the Descent Desciples youtube vid series? So miss those roads


Posts: 11
Joined: Tue Jul 28, 2020 10:10 pm

by psg

dolophonic wrote:
Sun Aug 02, 2020 4:03 pm
HaHa .. thanks ! the Route for the Rapha Randonnee i made that. Glad you like.. its a big 6 day point to point but well wothh the effort.. :thumbup:
Your Julian rides are interesting; never even thought of riding out there. Most people (myself included) stick to Poway, Palomar, and Carlsbad. I love riding in San Diego and I don't mind the inland heat.

Did you develop the route for the Portland-San Francisco 11-day tour too? That one looks fun.

Posts: 203
Joined: Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:19 pm
Location: London

by eurostar

I live in London and rode from Vancouver to San Francisco a few years ago - fantastic. If you ride south you have a bit of wind at your back. The coast road is easy because there's a shoulder all the way. Roads without a shoulder can be a bit fraught. There are some terrible drivers. Get a good mirror so you can keep an eye on the ones who are wandering all over the place. If I went back there to live somewhere I'd base myself in San Francisco or further north. But I'd rather tour and be somewhere new every day. Oregon and Washington State are also great. There are so many motels you don't need camping gear. You can live out of a bar bag and tail pack indefinitely if you pack light.

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