The Tour of California has now become a World Tour Event and fast becoming a must see event attracting many of the world’s top pro teams and cyclists for a week of racing in a relaxed atmosphere that is unlike any other race. Our trip is a unique 11 day cycling experience from San Francisco, taking in the best of coastal California, California’s wine regions and challenging mountains, plus the 2017 Amgen Tour of California cycling race.
Duration: 11 days (10 nights) Sold Out
Dates: Thursday 11 May 2017 to Sunday 21 May 2017
Start: San Francisco Finish: Los Angeles
Accommodation: 3 star and 4 star hotels
Group Size: Maximum 18 people (4 Staff)
Suitable For: Cyclists and Non Cyclists
Cost: A$5,990.00 (US$4,310.00)
Deposit: A$1,000.00 (US$720.00)
Note: All trip costs are per person, not including airfare and based on two persons per room. If travelling alone we will match you with a person to share. Alternatively you may choose to have a room of your own by paying the single supplement.
Single Supplement: A$1,540.00 (US$1,100.00)
- Bike Rental A$600.00 (Scott or Specialized carbon fibre bike)
- Travel Insurance – Email us for details
- Cycle along the wild coastline of California’s Big Sur, one of the world’s great rides.
- Sightseeing including Sonoma Valley, Monterey, The Big Sur, Hearst Castle and Santa Barbara
- Experience 4 stages of the 2017 Amgen Tour of California
- Challenge yourself on the TOC climbs of Mt Baldy and Mt Diablo
- Relax amongst the vineyards of Sonoma Valley in the beautiful town of Healdsburg
Who is this trip for?
This trip is not just a trip to the Tour of California but a trip designed to offer our guests the opportunity to see the fantastic sights of California from its extreme natural beauty to its lively towns and cities. Enjoy it’s food, wine and the hospitality of its friendly, relaxed people. Our trip is a great mix of cycling, tourism, gastronomy and of course the race.
As with all of our tours you’ll be guided by our expert team of ride leaders, drivers and guides.
Thursday 11 May, 2017: Welcome to California
Our Tour of California trip starts with our staff greeting you late this morning at San Francisco airport at 11.30am. Once we’ve loaded your bags and introduced ourselves we’ll head north, crossing the famous Golden Gate Bridge to the beautiful wine region of Sonoma Valley, with a stop for lunch along the way.
On arrival at our small family run hotel we will help you assemble your bike, or introduce you to your rental bike, before we take an afternoon warm up ride of approximately 30 – 40 kms. Our ride will take us to on mainly flat roads to the quaint little town of Geyserville, in the heart of the Russian River wine country.
Our first two nights are spent in one of California’s most beautiful small towns, Healdsburg. A favourite weekend getaway for affluent San Franciscans, Healdsburg is a delightful mix of a small historic town, funky and fine dining restaurants and a laid back atmosphere. Add to this some beautiful back roads that wind gently through the local wineries and river valleys and you have the perfect ingredients to start our trip.
Tonight we will enjoy a special welcome dinner at one of Healdsburg’s restaurants, where you can meet your fellow travellers, taste some local wines and find out a bit more about what’s in store for you during our trip.
Overnight: Healdsburg, Sonoma Valley
Friday 12 May, 2017: Wine roads of Sonoma Valley
We have a full day today to explore the Sonoma Valley wine areas of Russian River and Dry Creek Valley by bike.
We will have 2 ride distances to choose from, a challenging 100 kms, an easier tourist option of about
50kms. The rides will highlight why this area is so popular for cycling. Quiet undulating roads punctuated by picture book rural scenery passing through the vineyards of Russian River and Dry Creek Valley make for a perfect afternoon on the bike. We’ll go past many of the picture book wineries of the region. All rides today will finish back at our hotel in Healdsburg, where we can have lunch in one of the many cafes and explore this beautiful little town.
This afternoon there is the option of visiting a local winery or two, including the fabulous Francis Ford Coppola winery just north of Healdsburg. This is a winery that could only exist in the USA, with a museum dedicated to Coppola’s many movies including the Godfather trilogy.
Tonight you are free to dine in one of Healdsburg’s many great restaurants.
Overnight: Healdsburg, Sonoma Valley
Saturday 13 May, 2017: Mt Diablo and Monterey
This morning we leave the wineries of Sonoma Valley and head south to Monterey on the Pacific coast. Along the way we’ll tackle the climb up Mt Diablo, which has featured in three editions of the Tour of California. The race skips the climb this year but we think it’s a great option for today, a nice steady climb through a unique landscape that could only be found in North America. This is a favourite route for Bay area cyclists and a nice easy climb with an average 5.6% average gradient from the valley, although just before the summit it gets steeper, just like a European mountain!
Over the last sections of the climb and from the 1155 meter summit you can enjoy great views over the whole San Francisco Bay area. We’ll meet the van at the top where we can enjoy a picnic lunch with a view before finishing our ride with a lovely descent down to the valley. At the end of our ride we will meet up with the van where we drive on to our hotel in the famous California coastal town of Monterey, roughly 2 hours away.
Monterey was the capital of “Alta California” from 1777 to 1846 under both Spain and Mexico. It was the only port of entry for taxable goods in California. In 1846 the U.S. flag was raised over the Customs House, and California was claimed for the United States. Today Monterey attracts visitors from all over the world to see the historic buildings on Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf, the world class Monterey Aquarium and the annual Monterey Jazz Festival. It’s an atmospheric, but quiet town, with a charm of its own.
Meals: Breakfast, Picnic Lunch
Sunday 14 May, 2017: 17 Mile Drive and Carmel
Today we have a full day to explore Monterey and nearby Carmel.
After breakfast we will take an easy ride around the scenic road that is the beautiful 17 Mile Drive to Carmel. 17-Mile Drive is widely recognized as one of the most scenic drives in the world. The famous coastal landmark runs through Pacific Grove to the homes of the rich and famous of Pebble Beach, from the dramatic Pacific coastline to the majestic Del Monte Forest outside Carmel.
At the end of our ride around 17 Mile Drive we will arrive in the exclusive small town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, for our morning coffee before riding back to Monterey for lunch. Carmel is a delight, famous for its unique architecture and for having film star Clint Eastwood as its mayor for many years. After relaxing in Carmel we’ll ride back to Monterey with a quick visit to downtown Monterey and a ride along the waterfront to our hotel.
This afternoon is free to relax in Monterey and there is plenty to do and see. You can go to the famous aquarium (which we highly recommend), wander around Fishermans Wharf or even take a whale watching cruise. During the summer months humpback whales, fin whales, minke whales, orcas (killer whales), blue whales pass through Monterey Bay, attracted by the rich food available.
Monday 15 May, 2017: Big Sur
This morning we will leave Monterery and make the scenic drive down the coast and stop at the settlement of Nepenthe, where we’ll unload the bikes and start our ride along the Big Sur. From Nepenthe onwards the most scenic part of the California coastline, the Big Sur coast, begins. Undulating and winding with surprised at every turn all the way to Ragged Point where our ride ends.
The Big Sur coastline is one of the world’s great drives or bike rides. Think of the better parts of Victoria’s Great Ocean Road, but better and bigger and you have some idea. One thing the road is not is flat. Our 80 km ride today will work up an appetite for dinner or a beer on arrival at Ragged Point. It’s a fairly remote area, so we’ll provide a picnic lunch along the way for you today to enjoy.
The state first approved building of the Carmel-San Simeon Highway, to connect Big Sur to the rest of California, in 1919. San Quentin Prison set up three temporary prison camps to provide unskilled convict labor to help with road construction. It’s a truly amazing piece of engineering and with a tailwind from the seasonal northerly winds to push us along the coast an exhilarating ride.
After our ride it’s a short shuttle to Cambria where we spend the night in a beachside hotel. If you want a bit more saddle time then you can ride the 25kms to Cambria, for a total for the day of 105 kms. Along the way we will make a stop at the Piedras Biancas Elephant Seal colony. It’s quite a sight as hundreds of these giants of the sea bask in the sun and have the occasional battle to see who is boss.
Tonight we will have dinner at a lovely local restaurant in a garden setting in the quaint little town of Cambria.
Overnight: Moonstone Beach, Cambria
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Tuesday 16 May, 2017: Hearst Castle and Race Finish
Another of California’s top attractions is our first stop this morning as we take a tour of Hearst Castle at San Simeon. Hearst Castle is a National Historic Landmark mansion located high above the coast and was built over 28 years between 1919 and 1947 for newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, who died in 1951. This truly amazing complex of buildings and gardens is like nothing you will ever see and was the inspiration behind the “Xanadu” mansion in the 1941 Orson Welles classic film, Citizen Kane.
After our tour of Hearst Castle we will head off and start our ride to see today’s Tour of California stage, from Pismo Beach to Morro Bay. The exact route isn’t known yet, but we believe it will head up above the coast in to the canyons and hills of inland California, cowboy country, before returning to the coast. Once we know the exact route we’ll plan the best place to view the race, with the most likely being the finish line on the waterfront of Morro Bay.
After our ride and seeing the race for the first time we will head to our hotel in Santa Barbra. A laid back city, Santa Barbara is known for its coastal beauty and lush sub-tropical gardens combined with an eclectic mix of Spanish, Victorian and Art Deco architecture. It’s a prosperous and undeniably attractive city, which is why we have chosen Santa Barbara as our home for the next 2 nights.
Tonight in Santa Barbara we can sample some of the local cuisine. There is an amazing choice on offer with the emphasis on casual outdoor dining to take advantage of the mild climate. If you like Mexican food, then you will be in heaven, as they do it better here than pretty much anywhere.
Overnight: Santa Barbara
Wednesday 17 May, 2017: Santa Barbara and Race Start
Today’s stage of the Tour of California starts a short distance from our hotel in Santa Barbara, so we’ll enjoy a ride up the beach this morning for a coffee before heading down to the waterfront to see the race prepare for another day on the road.
Santa Barbara is always a great place to see some of the big names of cycling up close as they arrive to sign on for the race this morning. As a UCI World Tour race the Tour of California attracts the biggest teams in cycling, although it’s a lot more laid back than the big European races so the chances of scoring a photo or autograph of your favourite rider is pretty good. Once we know the exact timing and location of the start we’ll finalise our plans.
This afternoon we’ve left free for you to explore this beautiful city. Santa Barbara is a delightful city with much to see and do from our base in the historic centre. There is of course shopping galore, but for some culture you could make a visit to Santa Barbara Mission, Santa Barbara’s 18th century birthplace.
For those that didn’t find this morning’s coffee run down the coast enough of a challenge we’ll offer the option of a ride up in the hills that start just outside the city limit on to Gibraltar Road, where the race had a stage finish in 2016. It’s an amazing desert landscape with fabulous views to the coast below and quite a challenge if you head all the way up to the ridge.
Tonight is again free in Santa Barbara to sample some of the local cuisine. There is a big choice of dining styles on offer with the emphasis on casual outdoor dining to take advantage of the mild climate.
Overnight: Santa Barbara
Thursday 18 May, 2017: Mt Baldy – The Queen Stage
Today is the “queen stage” of the 2017 Tour of California, the stage that could make or break it for the race leader, with the riders heading up in to the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles with a finish on Mount Baldy. The race last visited Mount Baldy in 2015. Our experience on that day tells us that today will be a great stage and ride to experience the Tour of California in the mountains.
Leaving Santa Barbara early we’ll head straight to Pasadena where we will start our ride up the race route and Glendora Mountain Road. This is our hardest ride and comparable to many of the European peaks, although it’s generally well graded. We’ve got plenty of time and the rolling road closures mean that we’ll be able to stay on the bike until shortly before the race approaches.
After we’ve seen the race mid-afternoon we’ll descend back down to the valley and on to our hotel, situated in the historic centre of Pasadena and close to the finish area for Saturday’s final stage.
We spend our final 3 nights in a comfortable 4 star hotel on the edge of Old Town Pasadena, where you’ll find a wide range of shops and restaurants to keep you entertained during your stay. Pasadena is situated in the north of Los Angeles at the foot of the San Gabriel mountains is a city famous for the Rose Bowl stadium and the elegant leafy estates created by wealthy industrialists at the turn of the 20th century.
Friday 19 May, 2017: San Gabriel Mountains
Today the race is a couple of hours drive away from Los Angeles, with a 15 mile time trial around Big Bear Lake. Rather than subject you to hours of sitting in a van, we’ll enjoy what is arguably the best ride in the Los Angeles area through the San Gabriel mountains.
The San Gabriel Mountains are a popular recreation area for the people of Los Angeles, particularly cyclists who enjoy the quieter roads and unique dry climate mountain landscape. The climbs are generally well graded and the roads smooth and wide, making for pleasant riding. Today’s ride will be a memorable one, riding from our hotel to the 1745 meter Mt Wilson Observatory. It’s a challenging ride and scenic all along the route. We’ll offer a shorter option for those that had enough of the mountains yesterday.
We’ll meet the van at the top of Mt Wilson and grab a cold drink and a snack before the long downhill back to Pasadena, where we can relax, perhaps watch the race live on TV and do a bit of exploring of Old Town Pasadena. Or if you have an interest in architecture and history make a visit to the historic Gamble House, a short distance away.
Saturday 20 May, 2017: Final stage in Pasadena
The last full day of our trip sees the final stage of the 2017 Amgen Tour of California finish in Pasadena. Today’s stage starts at altitude in the resort of Mountain High and descends to Pasadena where it will make multiple laps of a city circuit, a great spectacle and chance to see the world’s top teams up close.
This morning we’ll have a relaxed start to the day and after breakfast at our hotel take a tour of Pasadena and the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains. Our route will follow wide tree lined streets and the hills above Pasadena, a lovely bike friendly route that is more country than city. After the ride we will return to the city for coffee in the old town before we head off to see the finish of today’s final race stage. The 2015 finish in Pasadena was a nail biter, with the stage win taken by Mark Cavendish and the final overall honours by crowd favourite Peter Sagan.
After the race finish the afternoon is free to explore Old Town Pasadena, do a bit of last minute shopping, visit the beautiful Huntington Gardens or just relax. Art lovers can make a visit to Pasadena’s Norton Simon museum, which houses one of the world’s greatest collections of art and sculpture.
Tonight is our final night together so we will celebrate our California adventure coming to an end with dinner at Bistro 45 in downtown Pasadena.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Sunday 21 May, 2017: Farewell
Sadly today is the final day of our time together. We hope you have enjoyed exploring the wonders of California by bike and seen the stars of cycling up close at the Amgen Tour of California. You are free to depart any time today after breakfast.
We will offer one complimentary transfer to Los Angeles airport (LAX) this morning for those with late morning or early afternoon flights. For those leaving later in the day or staying on in the USA, shuttle or taxi services are easy to organise from Pasadena.
Tour cost is per person twin share and includes:
- Transport throughout by air-conditioned minibus with custom bike trailer
- Services of two experienced Bikestyle tour guides and professional local drivers/guides
- 10 night’s accommodation in quality hotels with breakfast daily.
- 3 course dinners on 3 nights.
- Californian wines with welcome and farewell dinners
- Picnic lunch on Mt Diablo
- Sightseeing and entrance fees to Hearst Castle and 17 Mile Drive
- Detailed itinerary, Ride Maps and GPS routes for Garmin Edge GPS (GPS unit not included but can be hired).
- Bikestyle Tours cycling jersey, bib shorts, cap and musette bag