Santa Barbara is probably the closest thing there is to a bicycle destination resort, at least on the west coast. Mild coastal weather, a wide variety of terrain, and roads with minimal traffic make it a great place to hang out and cycle. No wonder so many cycling clinics are held here (I’m not attending one, though would like to now that I’ve had a chance to play.)
I haven’t been able to take full advantage of the regional routes, but have been able to find plenty of enjoyable and challenging cycling nonetheless. One great route with relatively low traffic follows Hwy 192 through the foothills of the Santa Ynez Mountains to Carpenteria. At Carpenteria, the return to Santa Barbara is via the coast bicycle route that parallels Hwy 101. Depending on the variation, this route yields anywhere from 20 to 40 miles.
Almost every route in the area has, at a minimum, topography that resembles a Ruffles potato chip. I brought 2 bikes, but so far I’ve only ridden the one with a triple chainring, and I’ve used the granny on almost every ride.
On Sunday the 16th I did a ~75 mile loop from Santa Barbara to Ventura to Ojai to Carpenteria then back to Santa Barbara. A ~5 mile section from East of Carpenteria towards Ventura required pedaling down Hwy 101, the Pacific Coast Highway (aka “the PCH”) complete with semis rolling past. I dodged a few shredded tires along the way. The stretch from Ojai to Carpenteria was the reverse of part of Stage 6 of this year’s Tour of California, and took me over one of the KOM points.
Although I’ve mostly ridden on roads, a couple of bike trails stand out. The Ojai Valley Trail, and a stretch of the Santa Barbara bike path East of the waterfront area have three lanes: One for pedestrians and two for bicycles. I followed the Ojai Valley Trail for about 10 miles, and saw joggers on the equestrian part of the path, which looked relatively gentle on the knees.
Ventura and Santa Barbara county planners have figured out a solution that ought to have a more widespread application, and could certainly ease some of the pedestrian-cyclist tensions in the Seattle area. Although I did see some pedestrians on the bike path in Santa Barbara, most folks followed the designated traffic pattern.
I hear that the weather in the Northwest has been chilly and wet. I hate to rub it in, but I already have a cyclist’s tan.