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View Full Version : You've only got a few days. Where would you go/what route to ride in California?


VonTrapp
02-17-2016, 10:29 PM
Here's the premise, I've got a few days off (thanks to Easter and my profession of teaching) on the horizon. I want to go somewhere in Northern California/Central Coast. I live here, but love exploring my own state. The idea is to...


Step 1: Ride/Amtrak to a beautiful location in California.

Step 2: Glamp/Airbnb/whatever in an awesome destination. Preferably in some tiny 1 man cabin.

Step 3: Ride in that area. Eat good food. Drink good beer.

Step 4: Ride/Amtrak back home.


Where would you go? What rides would you do?

Thanks for the help!

roguedog
02-17-2016, 10:30 PM
Paso Robles / SLO or Santa Barbara


Oh and I heard that Death Valley is beautiful in Spring... That's been on my to do list for a bit

VonTrapp
02-17-2016, 10:33 PM
I should add a note. I don't mind being in remote areas, with a lot of silence.

Teaching has me constantly around noise/movement/controlled chaos.

The middle of nowhere sound lovely. :)

joosttx
02-17-2016, 10:34 PM
Bishop, CA:: many good routes there.

Can you bring bikes on the Amtrak in Cali. On the east coast is was not allowed universally

beeatnik
02-17-2016, 10:40 PM
^you can from santa barbara to LA so I'm guessing it's qoo up and down the coast.

cat6
02-17-2016, 10:51 PM
Bikes are welcome on Amtrak but you now must purchase a ticket w/bike reservation in advance. No extra fee for the bike but they have a limit for how many can fit on the train.

Benneke
02-17-2016, 11:09 PM
I would look for a cabin somewhere in Loma Mar, La Honda, or the Boulder Creek area. The redwoods are breathtaking and there is a vast network of forested mountain roads perfect for cycling. I know there are many small cabins in the area (including a ton of geodesic domes), but I'm not sure how many are listed on AirBnB. There are many incredible rides in that area but the can't miss spots are the roads thru Big Basin State Park, Tunitas Creek Rd, and Alpine Rd into La Honda. Make sure to try the artichoke bread at the bakery in Pescadero.

Jaq
02-17-2016, 11:16 PM
Paso Robles / SLO or Santa Barbara


Oh and I heard that Death Valley is beautiful in Spring... That's been on my to do list for a bit

With the rain we've had, the desert wild flowers should be pretty spectacular. I'd go for a desert odyssey. Maybe do some of the big high desert climbs like onion road and so on. If monitor pass is open you might try that.

livingminimal
02-17-2016, 11:29 PM
Paso Robles / SLO or Santa Barbara

This +10000000

ofcounsel
02-17-2016, 11:40 PM
With the rain we've had, the desert wild flowers should be pretty spectacular. I'd go for a desert odyssey. Maybe do some of the big high desert climbs like onion road and so on. If monitor pass is open you might try that.

Yeah, the Southern end of Death Valley is blooming now: http://www.desertusa.com/wildflo/ca_dv.html

ColnagoFan
02-17-2016, 11:53 PM
This +10000000

Thirded. But it might be a haul via train from the Bay Area. That said it has all that you desire, and more. And WARM!

Louis
02-18-2016, 12:00 AM
My only comment would be that if you only have a few days to do this, don't choose a base location that's too far from home - you don't want to spend too much time getting there and getting back.

Peter B
02-18-2016, 12:15 AM
Day 1: GGB to Seaside.
Day 2: Seaside to Morro Bay.
Day 3: Morro Bay to Santa Barbara
Day 4: Amtrak/Bart Return.

~125 miles/day. Spectacular scenery. PM for more specific route info & hotel/dining suggestions.

Drmojo
02-18-2016, 12:37 AM
every cyclist needs to experience Big Sur
you need to be up for 200k days, heaps of climbing on Day 2
This is known as "the Coast Ride" an annual event on MLK weekend, now in its 18th year or so. Between Peter B and other buddies we have collectvely done the ride at least 20 times
twice fixed
Glorious
Full stop

CampyorBust
02-18-2016, 12:59 AM
Not exactly Northern California or the coast, but since Death Valley is being offered up I’ll throw this one into the mix… Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Though I am not sure if Amtrak even goes near there.

http://www.steephill.tv/galleries/2005/sequoia-kings-np/

Actually it looks like it might be possible...https://www.amtrak.com/sequoia-national-park-holiday-packages

Ken Robb
02-18-2016, 01:32 AM
Cambria; Ponderosa,
You might have to drive to these but they are worth it.

Catdr
02-18-2016, 07:41 AM
... The redwoods are breathtaking .....
+1

Bob Ross
02-18-2016, 12:59 PM
I should add a note. I don't mind being in remote areas, with a lot of silence.

I was going to suggest PCH until I saw this addendum.

My second choice -- not really remote or quiet, but moreso than PCH -- would be loops around Lake Tahoe. Stay in Truckee.

ptourkin
02-18-2016, 01:30 PM
^you can from santa barbara to LA so I'm guessing it's qoo up and down the coast.

With a free bike reservation, you can go as far as SLO unboxed on the Pacific Surfliner. Above that, on the Coast Starlight, you need a box, which is available at the station.

Death Valley in the spring is epic. So many wildflowers. Personally, I think that although Big Sur is beautiful, it's a relatively small section of the coast and the 1 is not the most bike friendly route. You're in very close quarters with traffic.

slidey
02-18-2016, 02:34 PM
Santa Barbara (biased opinion based on self-exp)

nm87710
02-18-2016, 03:24 PM
Not exactly Northern California or the coast, but since Death Valley is being offered up I’ll throw this one into the mix… Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. Though I am not sure if Amtrak even goes near there.

http://www.steephill.tv/galleries/2005/sequoia-kings-np/

Actually it looks like it might be possible...https://www.amtrak.com/sequoia-national-park-holiday-packages

Beautiful parks but keep in mind the CA central valley and Sierra Mountains near Fresno/Bakersfield including Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have some of the worst air pollution in the US. All courtesy of the SF Bay Area.

PaulE
02-18-2016, 04:04 PM
This Spring will be my 9th year spending a week in central California and 7th time in Paso Robles. Can't say enough good about Paso, which is why I keep going back, but Santa Rosa and Los Olivos/Los Alamos are 2 other areas I've stayed at and ridden to consider.

If you go to Santa Rosa, you can ride-

Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge Grand Fondo route and lots of other out of the way rides to places like Tomales and Occidental.

From Los Olivos/Los Alamos, you can ride-

An out and back ride to Jalama Beach

Figueroa Mountain loop starting and ending in Los Olivos, CA

In any of these areas, you can find tons of empty back roads through beautiful scenery and you're never far from civilization, wineries and good restaurants!

ptourkin
02-18-2016, 04:45 PM
This Spring will be my 9th year spending a week in central California and 7th time in Paso Robles. Can't say enough good about Paso, which is why I keep going back, but Santa Rosa and Los Olivos/Los Alamos are 2 other areas I've stayed at and ridden to consider.

If you go to Santa Rosa, you can ride-

Levi Leipheimer's King Ridge Grand Fondo route and lots of other out of the way rides to places like Tomales and Occidental.

From Los Olivos/Los Alamos, you can ride-

An out and back ride to Jalama Beach

Figueroa Mountain loop starting and ending in Los Olivos, CA

In any of these areas, you can find tons of empty back roads through beautiful scenery and you're never far from civilization, wineries and good restaurants!

And beer! Figueroa Mountain is way better than Firestone IMO.

schwa86
02-18-2016, 10:08 PM
I can't speak to the Amtrak question, but I spent a week just outside of Healdsburg in a great Airbnb with many of the routes, beers, wines, and dining options crowd sourced here on Paceline. Kings ridge was a total highlight.

rounder
02-18-2016, 10:30 PM
I have only been to California a few times on work jobs. But met went with a friend there on one job a few years ago to see sites. One place that we went to was Pont Reyes or something like that. It was in Marin County. Drove across the Golden Gate Bridge while the fog rolled in. It was hard to see with all the fog...there were deer all over, saw an elk in a field. I would go for a bike ride in better daylight definitely.

homagesilkhope
02-19-2016, 12:23 AM
Remote? Check.
Epic riding? Check.
Great beer? Check.
Great food? Well, not really.

Trinity Alps/Mount Etna. Probably still chilly mornings at Eastertime, possibly snow atop Mount Etna.

Amtrak to Dunsmuir, then Siskiyou Co. bus to Etna, CA (pop. 700). Sleeping at Motel Etna. Eating across the road at Bob's Ranch House. Etna Brewing's just down the road. Mount Etna's up, up, up the road. Easy riding options in the valley, too. Big riding, little traffic.

Here's one of the best loops up there or anywhere: http://bestrides.org/etna-loop/

Peter B
02-19-2016, 01:01 AM
Remote? Check.
Epic riding? Check.
Great beer? Check.
Great food? Well, not really.

Trinity Alps/Mount Etna. Probably still chilly mornings at Eastertime, possibly snow atop Mount Etna.

Amtrak to Dunsmuir, then Siskiyou Co. bus to Etna, CA (pop. 700). Sleeping at Motel Etna. Eating across the road at Bob's Ranch House. Etna Brewing's just down the road. Mount Etna's up, up, up the road. Easy riding options in the valley, too. Big riding, little traffic.

Here's one of the best loops up there or anywhere: http://bestrides.org/etna-loop/

Seiad Valley, Scott River, Klamath River, Callahan, Gazelle Summit, Hamburg, Sawyer's Bar, Forks of the Salmon, the Marbles...good times!

jtakeda
02-19-2016, 01:04 AM
Ride to Santa Cruz? Do some SC rides.. Ride down to Pinnacles and hike around, ride back?

Drmojo
02-19-2016, 01:15 AM
With a free bike reservation, you can go as far as SLO unboxed on the Pacific Surfliner. Above that, on the Coast Starlight, you need a box, which is available at the station.

Death Valley in the spring is epic. So many wildflowers. Personally, I think that although Big Sur is beautiful, it's a relatively small section of the coast and the 1 is not the most bike friendly route. You're in very close quarters with traffic.

thattallasiangu
02-19-2016, 02:09 AM
Monterey, Big Sur, Salinas - general area -- Salinas Amtrak Station SNS

English Ales Brewery
Alvarado Street Brewery
Cannery Row Brewing


Davis and surrounding areas - around Fall. -- Davis Amtrak Station DAV

Device Brewing
New Helvetia Brewing
Yolo Brewing


Dunsmuir/Mt Shasta -- Dunsmuir Amtrak Station DUN

Dunsmuir Brewery Works
Mt Shasta Brewing
Siskiyou Brew Works


Escondido, Oceanside, Encinitas, La Jolla - general area. -- OSD, POI, SOL

Stone Brewing
Ballast Point
Green Flash Brewing
Karl Strauss Brewing
Iron Fist Brewing

oldfatslow
02-19-2016, 08:22 AM
I've ridden extensively in the section from SLO down to Solvang. Great riding throughout that stretch. With a few days I'd just find an AirBnB place in SLO and ride extensively from there. Great town with lots of restaurants and bars and super-bike riding.

Ken Robb
02-19-2016, 11:12 AM
I was going to suggest PCH until I saw this addendum.

My second choice -- not really remote or quiet, but moreso than PCH -- would be loops around Lake Tahoe. Stay in Truckee.

You might get snowed in at Tahoe around Easter. ;)

Ken Robb
02-19-2016, 11:16 AM
Beautiful parks but keep in mind the CA central valley and Sierra Mountains near Fresno/Bakersfield including Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have some of the worst air pollution in the US. All courtesy of the SF Bay Area.

I never noticed air pollution in Sequoia/King's Canyon.

joosttx
02-19-2016, 11:20 AM
I never noticed air pollution in Sequoia/King's Canyon.

But Fresno and that SQV area does have to worse air pollution above it in Sequoia/King's Canyon is very nice.

Ken Robb
02-19-2016, 12:17 PM
For secluded riding I have had some great times riding around Ponderosa which is a wide spot in a road in the mountains east of Visalia/Porterville. There is a Bar/restaurant with a few rustic rooms plus a small community of private homes/cabins some of which are available for rent. There have been wildfires since I have been there so I don't know if the area is as lovely as the last time I was there.

OTOH, as I wrote about Lake Tahoe, the elevation is high enough that snow could be a problem around Easter.

CampyorBust
02-20-2016, 01:11 PM
Beautiful parks but keep in mind the CA central valley and Sierra Mountains near Fresno/Bakersfield including Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks have some of the worst air pollution in the US. All courtesy of the SF Bay Area.

Yeah it could be all the smug floating down from San Fran, just joking I couldn’t resists, low hanging fruit and all that.

I never noticed air pollution in Sequoia/King's Canyon.

Me neither, it was gorgeous when I was there. Crescent Meadow which John Muir called “the gem of the Sierras” very magical place. If memory serves me right his cabin is still there, or the remnants. The meadow is accessible by bike, though I doubt you are allowed to actually ride around it.

nm87710
02-20-2016, 03:18 PM
I never noticed air pollution in Sequoia/King's Canyon.

Maybe Californian's are used to it ;)

http://www.nps.gov/seki/learn/nature/airqualityinfo.htm

http://www.nps.gov/seki/learn/nature/air_synthchem.htm

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/09/140910-sequoia-national-park-smog-ozone-california-science/

http://www.motherjones.com/blue-marble/2015/07/these-national-parks-have-worst-air-pollution

Ken Robb
02-20-2016, 06:14 PM
My visits have been in the Fall and Spring to avoid Summer crowds so I guess that's why I never noticed any pollution. I notice that the NPS stops issuing air quality reports there from Fall-Spring because there is nothing to report.

doomridesout
02-21-2016, 10:57 AM
If you can handle a little adventure and a good amount of climbing, Humboldt County riding is pretty awesome.

mhespenheide
02-24-2016, 04:59 PM
I'll chime in that I live in Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez valley north of Santa Barbara... in your situation, for what you asked, I'd take the train to Paso Robles or SLO and ride from there. Lots of great roads, particularly if you've got an "adventure road" bike with wider tires and lower gearing. Fascinating rides in the surrounding hills, and good food to boot. I'd guess it's a good combination of near enough that the travel won't be oppressively long, but far enough that it will feel different. Los Olivos/Solvang have good riding, but the train loops out to the coast and misses us (without adding a connection).

If you really want to stick to the train idea, Redding and McCloud look like the might have good riding, but that's just judging by the maps of the area. I haven't ridden there.

Mendocino and farther north have some great riding, but aren't accessed by train (I don't think). Sonoma has great riding, but might not be different enough for the feeling of a real vacation.

I'm a teacher as well -- I just got back from a week's vacation in Death Valley and the quiet was one of the best parts of the break.

vertebraille
02-26-2016, 02:19 PM
Could anyone recommend some good rides between 30-60 miles in Marin County? Thinking of heading to SF for a few days and would love to get up there.

thegunner
02-26-2016, 02:44 PM
Could anyone recommend some good rides between 30-60 miles in Marin County? Thinking of heading to SF for a few days and would love to get up there.

hawk hill to paradise would be about that...

so is alpine + tam.

https://www.strava.com/local/us/san-francisco/cycling/routes?hl=en-US actually this isn't half bad.

ptourkin
02-26-2016, 04:08 PM
I'll chime in that I live in Los Olivos in the Santa Ynez valley north of Santa Barbara... in your situation, for what you asked, I'd take the train to Paso Robles or SLO and ride from there. Lots of great roads, particularly if you've got an "adventure road" bike with wider tires and lower gearing. Fascinating rides in the surrounding hills, and good food to boot. I'd guess it's a good combination of near enough that the travel won't be oppressively long, but far enough that it will feel different. Los Olivos/Solvang have good riding, but the train loops out to the coast and misses us (without adding a connection).

If you really want to stick to the train idea, Redding and McCloud look like the might have good riding, but that's just judging by the maps of the area. I haven't ridden there.

Mendocino and farther north have some great riding, but aren't accessed by train (I don't think). Sonoma has great riding, but might not be different enough for the feeling of a real vacation.

I'm a teacher as well -- I just got back from a week's vacation in Death Valley and the quiet was one of the best parts of the break.

I love that area for riding but Paso is a no service station and bikes have to be boxed north of SLO, so you can't do that. You can get off at SLO and ride to Paso, though.

etu
02-26-2016, 05:29 PM
Cranes Flat to Mono Lake (then to Bridgeport).
Ride through Yosemite without going down to the valley, over Tioga Pass. I was in my thirties when I did this ride, and it made me feel like I could leave this world satisfied with my life...
Best ride ever.

Ken Robb
02-26-2016, 06:39 PM
Cranes Flat to Mono Lake (then to Bridgeport).
Ride through Yosemite without going down to the valley, over Tioga Pass. I was in my thirties when I did this ride, and it made me feel like I could leave this world satisfied with my life...
Best ride ever.
Tioga Pass is not likely to be open by Easter.

etu
02-26-2016, 07:54 PM
You're right. Late summer/early fall ride for sure.