Tour of California, May 2015
Ride the West Coast of America!
The Tour of California is 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 2015 Amgen Tour of California cycling race. Experience exciting racing, fantastic riding, beautiful scenery, great accommodation, food and wine with the experienced Bikestyle team.
TRIP DETAILS: SOLD OUT
Duration: 11 days (10 nights)
Dates: Friday, 8 May 2015 to Monday, 18 May 2015
Start: San Francisco
Finish: Los Angeles
Accommodation: Quality 3 and 4 Star accommodation
Group Size: Maximum 11 people (3 Staff)
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$1350.00
- Bike Rental A$500.00 (Scott CR1 or Addict Ultegra carbon fibre bike)
- Pre or post tour accommodation to extend your stay
- Travel Insurance – Email us for details
- Cycle along the wild coastline of California’s Big Sur, one of the world’s great rides.
- Ride through the vineyards and hills to the wine town of Los Olivos
- Experience the 4 biggest stages of the 2014 Tour of California including a stage start, stage finish, mountain stage and the final stage in beautiful Pasadena.
- Challenging rides to Mt Baldy and Mt Wilson
- Taste the modern cuisine and wines of California
- 2 final nights at Westin Pasadena, right on the final stage race route
- Sightseeing including San Francisco, Monterey, The Big Sur, Hearst Castle and Santa Barbara
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.
Friday, 8 May 2015: Welcome to San Francisco
Arrive in San Francisco today and make your own way to our hotel, situated on San Francisco Bay just north of Sausalito. There are various options to get the hotel available from San Francisco International airport including taxi, shuttles and private transfers.
On arrival 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. This is no ordinary ride though as we ride around the bay to one of America’s most recognisable landmarks, the Golden Gate Bridge via the quaint town of Sausalito. You can get a great view of San Francisco and Alcatraz Island before returning to our hotel via the winding road past the mansions of the elite in the pretty bayside suburb of Belvedere.
For non-cyclists you might like to head in to San Francisco, taking a ferry from nearby Sausalito or Tiburon, take a tour of Alcatraz Island, or stay and relax at our hotel.
Tonight we will enjoy a special welcome dinner at a local Italian restaurant in Tiburon with a nice bay view, where you can meet your fellow travellers, taste some Californian wines and find out a bit more about what’s in store for you during our trip.
Saturday, 9 May 2015: Muir Woods and Point Reyes
This morning we will take a ride through beautiful Marin County and along the Pacific coast to Point Reyes, with a stop to take a walk through the Giant Californian Redwoods along the way.
It’s a short drive up in to the hills from Tiburon to Muir Woods, which we’ll visit this morning before the throng of day visitors arrive. Muir Woods National Monument is an old-growth coastal redwood forest. The average age of the redwoods in the Monument are between 500 and 800 years old with the oldest of these giant trees being at least 1,200 years old. Before we start our ride we’ll take a walk through the giant trees in the cool of the morning.
Our ride will take us from Muir Woods to Point Reyes, a pleasant small town on the Pacific coast. The ride is a mix of hills, winding coastal roads and a fast flat run along the Bolinas lagoon past the basking harbour seals. It’s about 40kms from Muir Woods to Point Reyes where we will take a break for lunch at a great little café we’ve discovered.
After lunch we will travel on to Petaluma, known for its typical small town USA centre and grand timber Victorian houses. You can ride the 30kms over the hills to Petaluma, or take it easy in the van. From Petaluma it is a short drive back to our hotel to relax before dinner.
Tonight we will head in to Sausalito where you can choose from the variety of restaurants in this pretty little town to have dinner. Italian, Mexican, French – it’s typical Californian with a big choice and great quality.
Sunday, 10 May 2015: Pacific Coast and Redwoods
This morning we leave Tiburon and head south to start our ride through the Santa Cruz Mountains to the Pacific Coast.
We’ll drive straight through to the historic small town of Saratoga at the foot of the Santa Cruz Mountains; about 1.5 hours drive from Tiburon. We’ll start our ride from Saratoga where we can grab a coffee to kick start our ride. The ride starts with a climb up to a ridge where the road ride flattens out as we start the long descent down through the forests of giant redwoods towards the coast.
On arrival at our destination, the small beachside suburb of Capitola just outside Santa Cruz city, we’ll have a bite of lunch then head on to our next stop in Monterey. Beautiful Monterey was the capital of California from 1777 to 1846 under both Spain and Mexico and was the only port of entry for taxable goods in California. Up until the 1950s, there was an abundant fishery centered around the canning industry, made famous in John Steinbeck’s depression era novel, Cannery Row. Among Monterey’s notable present-day attractions are the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, Fisherman’s Wharf and the annual Monterey Jazz Festival.
Tonight talk a walk along Cannery Row and choose from one of the many restaurants or boutique breweries where you’ll find great California cuisine.
Monday, 11 May 2015: 17 Mile Drive and Carmel
Today we have a full day to explore Monterey and nearby Carmel.
After breakfast we will do a 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 Pebble Beach, from the dramatic Pacific coastline to the majestic Del Monte Forest.
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. We’ll have a couple of routes to ride back to Monterey, one easy and a slightly longer hillier route for those that want it.
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.
Tuesday, 12 May 2015: The Big Sur
This morning we will drive down the coast and stop at the settlement of Nepenthe, where we’ll unload the bikes and start the most beautiful ride of our trip.. From here onwards the most scenic part of the California coastline, the Big Sur coast, begins. Undulating and winding all the way to Ragged Point where our 75 km 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 San Simeon, where we spend the night in a beachside hotel. If you want a bit more saddle time then you can ride the 30kms to our hotel, 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: San Simeon
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Wednesday, 13 May 2015: Hearst Castle and Tour of California
Another of California’s top attractions is our first stop this morning as we take a tour of Hearst Castle in 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 Avila Beach. 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! It is here that we will catch up with the race and take our ride.
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 have chosen Santa Barbara as our home for the next 3 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
Thursday, 14 May 2015: Stage start and Beach ride
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 before heading down to the waterfront to see the race prepare for another day on the road.
This morning will be 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. 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. If you want a real challenge you can try Gibraltar Road, a tough ride often used by pro riders training for the European race season.
Tonight is again free in Santa Barbara to 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.
Overnight: Santa Barbara
Friday, 15 May 2015: Los Olivos and the Santa Barbara Climb
Today we will visit the Santa Barbara wine region and the charming small town of Los Olivos this morning. We’ll have a couple of rides today to choose from, an easy ride around Los Olivos and a harder route up Figueroa Mountain Road, a favourite training route for US based pro-teams and local cyclists.
Both rides today will start from Solvang, an unusual town founded by the Danes in 1911. The Danish heritage is evident in the architecture of the town, which could these days be viewed as a bit kitsch! The easier ride of 30km will take us through small farms and vineyards and along the delightful Foxen Canyon Road to Los Olivos with plenty of time to relax in this very pleasant little town.
The longer 62km ride follows a different route to Los Olivos and then takes the long climb up Figueroa Mountain Road. The main part of the climb is 14kms long and peaks out at 1350 meters, so it’s comparable to many European climbs in difficulty, but with scenery that could only be in California.
Both rides will start from the Old Mission Santa Ines, which you can visit if you wish this morning. Santa Inés was the nineteenth of the twenty-one California Missions established by Franciscan priests from 1769 to 1823.
The Santa Barbara wine region is known for a wide range of varietals including Viognier, Syrah, Chardonnay, Cabernet, Zinfandel, Merlot and Pinot Noir. Los Olivos is noted for its eclectic art galleries, wine tasting opportunities, antiques, historic homes and friendly locals. It’s a slice of true Americana in one of the USA’s premier wine districts and quite different to what you will have experienced anywhere else in the world. If you’ve seen the movie “Sideways”, based on a couple of middle age men taking a wine based road trip through California, much of it was shot on location in the areas we pass through around Los Olivos today.
After enjoying lunch in Los Olivos we’ll return to Santa Barbara for a cool “cerveza” ale.
Tonight is again free in Santa Barbara to sample some of the local cuisine.
Overnight: Santa Barbara
Saturday, 16 May 2015: Mount Baldy Stage
Today is the penultimate stage of the 2014 Tour of California with the race heading up in to the San Gabriel Mountains above Los Angeles with a finish on Mount Baldy. The race last visited Mount Baldy in 2012 and our experience of 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 cols, 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 a few steps from the route of the finish of tomorrow’s final stage.
We spend our final 2 nights at the Westin Pasadena, a very 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.
Sunday, 17 May 2015: Final Stage
Today is the final day of the Tour of California. This morning we will take a ride from the hotel, returning to Pasadena for lunch and to witness the final stage of the race as it finishes in Pasadena. We expect the race will make a few laps of the town before the peloton crosses the finish line for the last time.
Our morning ride will be a memorable one for our final day along part of the 2014 race route and up to the Mt Wilson Observatory. It’s 40kms up from the hotel, past the famous Rose Bowl, to Mt Wilson. Over the climb we gain 1500 meters. The San Gabriel Mountains rise up above the San Fernando Valley and 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.
Once we reach the observatory it is downhill back to Pasadena where we can watch the race arrive in Pasadena.
For those wanting something different, or our non-cycling guests, you can make a visit to the Gamble House in Pasadena, an outstanding example of American Arts and Crafts style architecture. It’s a step back in time and a truly unique house which is well worth the time to visit, although advance reservations are necessary.
Tonight is our final night together so we will celebrate our California adventure coming to an end with a celebratory dinner in a private room of Pasadena’s best restaurants.
Meals: Breakfast, Dinner
Monday, 18 May 2015: Farewell
Sadly today is the final day of our Tour of California. We hope you have enjoyed exploring the wonders of California by bike. 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.
- Transport throughout by air-conditioned minibus with custom bike trailer
- Services of two experienced tour guides and professional local driver/guide
- 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 the Big Sur
- Sightseeing and entrance fees to Hearst Castle, 17 Mile Drive and Monterey Aquarium
- 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
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