I never pictured Malibu as an area with so much untouched natural beauty. Sure, I knew the coastal highway and beaches were world renown but I was not aware of the large expanse of quiet hills and parks that rest on the interior. We camped at Leo Carillo State Park which ended up being the perfect base camp for a week of cycling and hiking (also an ideal surfing spot). There are a few roads close by that will take you up into the Santa Monica mountains.
I'd recommend taking Yerba Buena from the PCH if it's your first time to the area.
You can't miss this road as it starts off on the north side of local favorite restaurant Neptune's Net. It's a steady climb at about an average grade of 4 - 5% with a few spots just below 10%. It's a quiet road and if you cycle it in the morning you'll be shaded from the sun for the majority of the climb. I also recommend starting from this side because the road can be a little rough in spots and ends up making for a bumpy descent. Yerba Buena (the road transitions into Little Sycamore Canyon Rd) will take you to Mulholland Hwy. From here you'll have a lot of options. You can loop the ride by turning right and riding down Mulholland Hwy back to the PCH or you can explore the country roads by turning left, also Mulholland Hwy, and connecting to Encinal Canyon Rd (which will also lead you back down to the PCH). The beauty is the amount of options available to you. You can easily do a 60 miles or 30 miles depending on the direction(s) you choose.
Ojai made a cameo during this years Tour of California. A good portion of that stage encompasses some perfect routes that can be ridden from Ojai. Again, you have a lot of options for varied terrain and distances. My favorite would be hwy 33 that goes from Ojai up into the Los Padres National Forest. A steady climb that offers beautiful scenery and quiet roads.There is some construction that may cause minor delays. This area was hit hard by the 2017 fires but overall the road is very smooth. There are no services on this route so make sure to bring extra water and tubes. There's also not many spots that offer shade so head up early or choose a cooler day. Don't forget that you are climbing 1800+ meters so the temperature and weather can change quickly, bring a wind jacket or gilet. You'll come close to the highest point of your ascending near Rose Valley Rd. The climbing isn't over but you'll start to get some more breaks with a few descents and a flatter spot that goes along the Sespe Creek. You can choose to turn around at any point as this is a one road out and and back route.
1830 m - 50km ascent, top grade 11.5%
Santa Ynez, California
If ever there was an area where you could live and never tire of your cycling options it would have to be the Santa Ynez Valley. There are so many cycling routes here that it doesn't surprise one to see all the travel companies bringing their cycling packages to SYV. We ended up staying in Los Alamos (technically just outside of SYV but considered a part of it) at a small motel in the one street town which is known for it's culinary offers. Close by is the Foxen Canyon Wine Route, a quiet ride with rolling hills along farmland and wineries. From Los Alamos head to Alisos Canyon Road which will intersect and end at Foxen Canyon Road. Here you can go right or left depending on the duration of ride you're looking for, either way you won't be disappointed. Going left will take you on a nice 32 mile loop back to Los Alamos. It's mostly flat for this portion of the ride with a few minor rolling spots. There is a tough climb at the 28 mile point. It's short but rises quickly with a 4% - 10% gradient.
Visit the following site for more great rides in the Santa Ynez Valley.
Cambria is a seaside village in San Luis Obispo County. It's a quaint spot to unwind with walks along the beach and strolls in the small village.
Heading inland from Cambria is Santa Rosa Creek Road where you’ll find a favorite route for local cyclists with a nice winding road that slowly climbs up to hwy 46. You can then take the scenic 46 back down to hwy 1 or continue along the quieter Old Creek Rd. Both Santa Rosa Creek Road and Old Creek Rd feature a lush, green landscape and make for a very peaceful cycling experience. The route shown in the picture is 25 miles one way and offers approximately 760 meters of climbing.
Another riding option in the Cambria area is to head north along hwy 1 towards Ragged Point. Hwy 1 is currently closed at Ragged Point due to the slides in Big Sur. This closure offers a temporary relief from heavier traffic that would normally travel this highway. The coastal ride is a breathtaking rolling ride with lots of opportunities to stop and take in the ocean views. There's the Hearst Castle property with Zebras roaming the fields along the highway. You can also see a beach full of elephant seals at one of their main migratory spots. Stop in at Sebastian's in San Simeon for a bite to eat. The ride is 42 miles out and back with an elevation of 208 meters.
Marin County, California
Marin County is one of the greenest and most eco-friendly regions in California. This bounty of nature sits just north of the San Francisco Bay. There are many paved bike trails, unpaved trails and paths that flow through the region. Some areas are busier than others with travelers visiting popular scenic and historic spots.
Our base camp was at the Samuel P Taylor campground near the community of Lagunitas. An ideal spot to ride from as it offers a nice variety of cycling terrain. There's the 5.3 mile Cross Marin Trail, the former North Pacific Coast Railroad, which offers a car free route through Samuel P Taylor State Park. It's a wide and quiet path that goes along the river and over a few bridges connecting you to some swimming holes and redwood groves.
You can easily connect to the Sir Francis Drake Blvd which traverses Marin County. It's especially nice from Faifax to Olema where it winds through redwood forest. If you're heading south from Lagunitas I'd recommend turning up Nicasio Valley Road for a nice climb through Lucas Valley (Yes, the Lucas of Star Wars) up to Point Reyes - Petaluma Rd. From here you can turn left and head back down towards Tacoloma or Olema or continue right which will take you to the city Petaluma.
335 meter elevation - 30 mile trip