Late last fall, we shot the Terry Spring 2011 catalog in Santa Barbara. There’s no better place to ride in winter’s meanest months or get a jump on spring. In Santa Barbara, there are endless mountain, valley and coastal roads–you’re virtually guaranteed to discover something new each time you visit.
Here are three of our favorite rides. (See trimbleoutdoors.com for actual maps.)
Coastal Route (approx. 35 miles)
Get to know Santa Barbara with a scenic bike path ride through historic downtown. Follow the signs for Coast Village Road from the Montecito Inn (a great place to stay and ride from) to the Biltmore, along Butterfly Beach, past the Andrea Clark Bird Refuge and Santa Barbara Zoo. Finish by following Cabrillo Blvd to Shoreline Drive (http://www.sbbike.org/region/rides/rides.html). Tip: Bring a bike lock so you can stop and tour the Santa Barbara Mission along the way.
Gibralter Road/Camino Cielo (approx. 50 miles)
A sweaty, heart pumping ascent from sea level to 9500′ with breathtaking vistas along the way, this ride is known as “America’s Alpe d’Huez”. From the Montecito Inn, head north up San Ysidro Road and take a left on E Valley Road through Oprah’s neighborhood. You’ll ride several miles along this tree-lined, winding road, which becomes Sycamore Canyon Road, then Stanwood Drive.
Just past Parma Park, turn right on El Cielito Road for a preview to the climb, then watch for an eventual right on Gibralter where the climbing will take you out of the lush neighborhoods of Santa Barbara onto 11 miles of progressively steeper switchbacks.
At the top of Gibralter, turn right to ride out along Camino Cielo, the “road to the sky,” famous for its extraordinary views of the ocean on one side and sweeping valley views on the other.
At the pavement’s end, double back and retrace your route for an exhilarating but challenging descent (potholes and loose gravel on the shoulder). Tip: the descent can be cool. In winter, bring a wind jacket, arm warmers, beanie, full finger gloves.
Lake Casitas Loop (approx 60 miles)
A training ride for the pros, this one is rated 6/10 for difficulty by Bicycling magazine because it’s got 5300 feet of elevation gain. Lake Casitas has scenery, climbing and unfortunately, traffic, so leave early. From the Montecito Inn, ride south along the coast, eventually turning onto Highway 192, winding through miles of orchards in Carpinteria. At the intersection with Highway 150 begin the climb toward Casitas Pass. You’ll be treated to expansive views of brilliantly blue Lake Casitas, fragrant eucalyptus groves and descents on wide roads with sweeping turns prior to reaching the Ventura River Bike Trail back to the ocean. Pedal north along the Pacific Coast Highway and see world class surfers catching breaks.
Tips: Bring a wind jacket, and wear bright clothing since you’ll be riding with traffic. We recommend the Xenon from GORE BIKE WEAR.
Stay: Montecito Inn
Built in 1928 by Charlie Chaplin as an LA weekend escape, this charming inn has been restored to its vintage Hollywood glamour, and it’s riding distance to great restaurants and shops. Rooms are small, but winter rates are good and locked bike storage in included. montecitoinn.com
Eat, Drink and be Merry:
Breakfast: Jeanine’s for breakfast quesadillas or scones. jeanines.com
Post Ride: The ride-to patio at Lucky’s for cold beer, slivered onion rings and
celebrity spotting. luckys-steakhouse.com
Dinner: Three great restaurants within walking distance:
– Tre Lune (amazing pastas and wild mushroom risotto) 1151 Coast Village Road
– Lucky’s (eat in the bar with the locals) luckys-steakhouse.com
– Los Arroyos (for massive Mexican on the patio) losarroyos.net
Dessert: Sample designer cupcakes at Whodidily, 1150 Coast Village Road whodidily.com
Fascinating blog. I miss biking in Santa Barbara as much as I used to when I was a UCSB student with no car. Looking back-I was in the best shape of my life and it allowed me to really experience Santa Barbara. I really enjoy your pictures as well-must of been a great day/trip! The front country is so much fun to hike so to bike it must be an amazing experience. The Montecito Inn is a lovely place to stay but not all of us can afford that! I travel to town to visit friends so often- I love staying at the South Coast Inn (www.goleta-hotel.com). Elegant and well placed.
Thanks, Glennie — always on the lookout for alternative places to stay and ride!