The Trip Begins
Upon arriving in Santa Barbara, make your way to The Cheshire Cat Inn. This is where you will be residing for the next four nights and we will be there to give you a warm welcome. After checking into your room, we will get all bike details or any other bike related "wrinkles" ironed out, so you can relax and enjoy the evening. Hopefully you arrive before our happy hour festivities begin at 5pm. Our first night is dedicated to getting to know each other a little better, to discuss some trip specifics and answer any questions or concerns you may have. Dinner will be at a local gem that has been a Santa Barbara staple for over fifty years.
Gibraltar and Beyond
This morning begins with breakfast on the patio and a debriefing of the day's events. Today's ride is one of my all-time favorites and a great way to see Santa Barbara in all it's glory. Leaving from the Cheshire Cat, we head towards the Historic Old Mission, past the prize-winning rose garden, gradually winding up to the base of Gibraltar Road. Gibraltar is one of California’s claims to fame when it comes to spectacular mountain road rides. This past year, the Amgen Tour of California utilized this road for the second time as a Stage Finish. If that doesn’t tell you something, I don’t know what will. It is approximately 8 miles long and summits at La Cumbre Peak, the highest point in Santa Barbara. We’ll continue along East Camino Cielo or “the ridge” as the locals refer to it as.
We ride the ridge all the way to the end, crossing Hwy 154 and making our way up to Lizard’s Mouth. The views from West Camino Cielo are magnificent and even though this road dead-ends at dirt it is well worth the out and back.
As we make our way back towards Santa Barbara, we will climb back up ECC and descend down the famous Painted Cave and Old San Marcos Roads. Painted Cave has been called ‘one of the steepest roads in the US.’
The Lake Ride
This long loop around Lake Casitas provides a little bit of everything. We will be doing the ride in the clock-wise fashion, taking to the hills of Casitas Pass first before descending into Ojai. Casitas Pass, or Hwy 150 rolls through a lot of open farmland, horse ranches and nurseries. At the top of the second hill climb, we will stop to re-group and take in the scenic overlook. The views are fabulous and you feel like you’ve been transported into a much simpler time as we begin our approach to Ojai. Ojai, "(pronounced “Oh, hi!) is a small community known for being quite artsy, open-minded and just totally laid-back. There isn’t a lot going on in Ojai and that’s exactly why we love it.
After a light lunch in Ojai, we return to Santa Barbara via the coast on the newly constructed bike path. We will pass a handful of sweet little beaches, like Rincon, a critically acclaimed surf spot known around the world. It doesn’t get more Californian then checking out the surf and breathing in the fresh salty air of the Pacific Ocean, from the comfort of your bicycle.
Go Big with Fig
After breakfast, we shuttle to Santa Ynez Valley to ride good ol’ Figueroa Mountain. Warming up on the rolling flats of Happy Canyon, past ranches and vineyards you’ll notice we’re in a much different locale that still adheres to a slower pace of living and honors the rural and rustic love of simpler times.
We reach the base of Figueroa Mountain and the climbing begins. Make sure to ride at an enjoyable pace because Fig is “the gift that keeps on giving.” The climb is long and never gets too steep, but remains challenging at best. Take time to look around enjoying the natural beauty and the endless amounts of open land and naturally preserved forests.
After a descent that needs to be taken slowly and with care, we ride Figueroa Mountain Road back through the small towns of Los Olivos and Ballard. We have been invited to have lunch and rinse off at a friend’s house before an afternoon of wine tasting at one of Santa Barbara’s most beautiful and award-winning wineries, the Demetria Estate.