News flash: Bestrides.org has a baby brother, a comprehensive guide to road riding named Bicycle School. Check it out by clicking on the link in the header above.
What’s New in Bestrides?
If you’ve used the site in the past and want to know what rides have been added since you were here, at the end of this page is a list of recently-added rides.
The Bestrides Mission Statement
When I’m in an area that’s new to me and looking for a good ride, I do what you do: I google “bicycle rides Area X” and poke around in whatever sites pop up. And what pops up is almost always not what I want.
I get one of three things: either I get a site like Map My Ride, which lists all the possible rides in the area (Oh boy—if I want to do 200 rides, I’m set!); or I get a list of the longest, toughest, most badass rides in the area; or I get huge loops, where 30 miles of the route is really good riding and the other 70 is to get you from one good stretch to another.
I’m not in town to do 50 rides, I don’t ride for difficulty’s sake, and I don’t want to spend the bulk of my riding time getting to the good stuff. I want the best, prettiest, sweetest road in the area—maybe the best two—I want it short enough that I can do another ride the next day. And most of all, I don’t want the merely-OK miles of connector roads. If I want to ride from good section to good section, I can consult a map and find the connector roads myself.
So that’s what this site offers you. Nothing but great rides. No loops for loops’ sake. No climbing for climbing’s sake. No mention of the fifth-best ride in the area. No dull parts. Just the 141 best rides I know on the West Coast.
A great road ride has six virtues:
- It’s scenic. There are no rides on this site that aren’t eye candy.
- It’s interesting. That is to say, the road contour has character. It goes up and down, back and forth, presents you with changing conditions. No endless 6% pitches. No ruler-straight flats.
- It’s small—two-lane certainly, without a center line ideally.
- It’s untrafficked. Not even trafficked with a substantial shoulder. I don’t do shoulders unless I have to in order to get to better riding.
- The road surface is good.
- It has some climbing. Flat is boring. A flat road would have to have San Francisco Bay or the Redwoods for scenery to make my list.
If we were to do only rides with all six virtues, we’d rarely get on our bikes. So I include rides that have missing virtues but make up for that in the other ones. On such rides, I’ll warn you about the missing virtue(s). For instance, all the rides in Sonoma County have poor road surfaces but are worth riding anyway.
So that’s what you’ve got here. One hundred forty-one rides around California and Oregon, each one being one of the two or three best rides in the area.
How to Use This Site
You’re welcome to use the site any way you want, but readers seem to use it in a few distinct ways:
A. If you’re traveling to a spot on the West Coast that’s new to you and you want to do a couple of rides there, look at the Ride Locator Map to see what Bestrides rides are nearby and click on them.
B. If you want to know what Bestrides thinks of a particular road (say, you’re thinking of riding Hwy 1 from San Francisco to Mendocino and want to know what you’re in for), type the name of the road in the search window in the upper right corner of any page. Counting the Adding Miles sections, Bestrides contains evaluations of about 500 West Coast roads. See the How to Get the Lowdown on a Given Road section below for more detailed instructions (there’s a trick to it).
C. If you’re coming to the West Coast from afar and want to know where to ride, you can work from the Best of the Best page and put together a short list of Bucket List rides you want to do, then map a route that connects them, or you can use the Planning the One-Week Bicycle Vacation section below.
D. If you’re going to an area in California or Oregon that’s new to you, you can look at the Ride Locator Map or the Rides by Region page to see what rides are nearby.
E. If you live on the West Coast, you can build a bike vacation around the Best of the Best list.
F. If you’re driving from point A to point B, you can use the Ride Locator Map to see what rides lie along your route.
G. If there’s a particular kind of riding you like (great vistas, splendid descents, hard climbs), you can probably find a list of rides with your chosen feature among the Best of the Best lists.
How to Get the Lowdown on a Given Road
In the upper right corner of every page of Bestrides is a “search” window. There you can find out what I have to say, if anything, about any road or location in California and Oregon. Enter the key word/phrase (“Markleeville,” “Hwy 1,” “redwoods,” “Laureles Grade”) in the window and click on “search.” A search for “redwoods” will turn up a list of every Bestrides ride description where the word appears. However, if you enter multiple words (“East Bay”) or numbers (“70,” “Hwy 70,” “Highway 70”), the search engine will give you numerous false hits in addition to the true ones. To prevent this, enclose in quotation marks all phrases (everything consisting of more than a single word) and everything including a number. The search engine is idiotically fussy: for instance, in the Philo-Greenwood Rd discussion I mention Signal Ridge Rd. You can find it by searching in the search window for “Signal Ridge” or “Signal Ridge Rd”, but if you search for “Signal Ridge Road” (without the abbreviation) the search engine draws a blank because I didn’t spell it that way in the post!
Once you’re in the post, do a word search to find the mention of the particular road within it. On my Mac, <command> f opens a search window.
Planning the One-Week Bicycle Vacation
By far the most common question I get from readers of Bestrides is, “I’m coming to the West Coast for a week (or two) of riding—where should I go?” Here is my answer:
1. Plan to rent a car. Even if you settle in a ride-rich location, if you are carless, you will have to begin and end all your rides from your residence, which will involve a lot of mediocre miles.
2. As is obvious from the Best of the Best list, if you want to ride only the best rides in California, you’ll have to cover an enormous amount of distance getting from one to the other. This is tiring and eats up vacation time. It’s probably wiser to stay in one spot that’s rich with good riding and drive to rides nearby. The Ride Locator Map doesn’t make clear where those places are, so here’s a list, not in order of excellence. For details on any one of them, read the discussion of the area in the Rides by Region section, then read the discussions of the Bestrides rides in the area (there’s a list in the Rides by Region section), including the Adding Miles sections:
A. The San Francisco Bay Area—IF you can stand to do a lot of driving in freeway traffic and tolerate the other evils of the megalopolis. The Bay Area without doubt has the densest population of good rides on the West Coast—Bestrides lists a whopping 16 Bay Area rides, at least 10 of them outstanding, and that’s not counting nearby Marin. Drawback: long, stressful drives in awful freeway traffic. BART helps.
B. Marin and Sonoma Counties. Bestrides lists 13 rides, from Mt. Tam to the south to Tin Barn/Annapolis Rd. to the north, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. A primary appeal here is cultural—the Wine Country towns are world-famous for their charm, their food, their wine, and their expense. The riding around the town of Occidental is particularly rich (five Bestrides rides within easy riding distance)—see The Coleman Valley Road post’s Adding Miles section for a survey. Drawback: Marin terrain is not spectacular—mostly rolling dairy country—and Sonoma roads are notorious for their broken road surface. Nearly every Sonoma ride in Bestrides has a poor road surface.
C. Santa Cruz. Endless good riding, charming rural atmosphere, one very cool city, and three cool villages. This and Paso Robles below are the two locations where you could ride to many good rides from your door without logging tons of mediocre miles. You’re closer to the riding if you stay in the small towns north of Santa Cruz: Felton, Ben Lomond, or Boulder Creek. Drawbacks: the terrain is all the same (though gorgeous)—dense redwood forest—and everything involves a lot of climbing, much of it steep. In addition, in late summer 2020 the area suffered a devastating fire which did major damage to the forests on all of our routes on the western side of the Santa Cruz area.
D. The Gold Country. The Bestrides routes are just a sample of the area’s riches—there is no bad riding here. Stay in any of the charming towns along Hwy 49 (Sutter Creek, Jackson, Plymouth, Placerville, San Andreas). Drawback: no flat or easy rides, few short loops.
E. Eugene, Oregon–IF you’re willing to do some driving. Oregon’s great rides are spread around the western half of the state, and Eugene is as near to a hub as there is. From there it’s an hour west to the nearest coastal riding and an hour east to the McKenzie and Aufderheide rides. There is a ton of pleasant farmland and creekside riding around Eugene itself, especially SW and NE of town, but nothing on anyone’s bucket list. Drawback: long drives to the rides, unless pleasant is good enough for you.
F. Paso Robles/Atascadero. Bestrides has 5 rides in the area (7 if you include nearly San Luis Obispo), and they’re the tip of the iceberg—there’s plenty of riding to keep you happy for a week. The riding is either rolling hills covered by vineyards and thick oak woodland (west of town) or flattish, open, grassy cattle/horse country (east of town), so you get some variety, both in landscape and difficulty level. Paso Robles itself is a pleasant little town, and there are three charming coastal communities nearby: Cambria (very small), Cayucos (tiny), and—by car—San Luis Obispo (small city). In Paso, as in Santa Cruz, you can get to all or most of the good riding without using a car. The nearby stretch of Hwy 1 (11 miles west) isn’t good riding, but it’s great for exploring by car, since it includes the Hearst Castle, a resident pod of elephant seals, and some other cool stuff. Drawback: Vineyards attract oenophiles in cars, so the traffic can be bad on the primary wine roads, so I suggest riding someplace other than west of Paso on weekends. All of Bestrides’s rides in the area that are not west of Paso are relatively vineyard-free. See the Adding Miles section of the Peachy Canyon Road ride for details on other routes.
G. Oakridge, Oregon. At least 5 great road rides out of one little town. See the Aufderheide Highway ride for details. The only drawback is that the town itself is interesting for perhaps one afternoon and evening—after that, it’s all about the riding.
H. Boonville, California. Seven rides worth doing from a charming little town—see the Mountain View Road Adding Miles section for the list. Extra credit if you can go during the Mendocino County Fair, a classic old-school rural fair of great charm.
You’ll notice that the Sierra Nevada and the California coast, the West Coast’s most spectacular geology, aren’t here. That’s because:
The Sierra rides, while wonderful, are spread out, and driving from one to another is often difficult in the extreme. Would you believe it’s a 7-hour drive from the Ebbetts Pass ride to the Kings Canyon ride immediately to the south?;
and Hwy 1, California’s most popular bike touring route, is, as I say in many of the coastal ride write-ups, with a few exceptions, a sucky, tedious death-trap, albeit stunning to the eye.
3. A common sort of bike vacation is the enormous loop, where you get on your bike and ride hundreds of uninterrupted miles over several days. Bestrides isn’t very helpful here—it’s designed for another kind of riding. The best you can do is take a map, highlight all the Bestrides routes in an area, and try to map out a loop that incorporates as many as possible.
The “Adding Miles” Sections
At the end of each post, an Adding Miles section discusses the pros and cons of the less great but still worthy routes nearby—either within riding distance or a short car trip away. These are often rides I haven’t done, and I try to be clear about that in the description.
The Readers’ Comments
Below most Bestrides rides are comments from readers. These are usually much more than “Wow, what a great ride.” More often than not, they are useful updates on the ride by riders fresh from the experience. Has the road been resurfaced? Has the traffic intensified since my write-up? Is the water turned off at the State Park mid-ride? More important, they frequently suggest other roads nearby that are worth riding. And here’s the catch: the Bestrides search engine cannot search readers’ comments. So unless you read the comments below the ride you will miss hearing about all those great roads, even if you search for them by name in the Bestrides search window.
The “Shortening the Route” Sections
At the end of each ride description I’ve suggested ways to cut down the mileage or the labor without missing the ride’s best miles. If I don’t suggest a shorter route, it’s because I couldn’t find one—either the route is an unshortenable loop, it’s all equally good, or the means of shortening is obvious (ride out so far, then turn around and ride back).
How to Use the Maps
Early Bestrides posts display Mapmyride maps, with links to RidewithGPS maps below them. Recent posts display RWGPS maps only.
1. To interact with any of the Mapmyride maps and elevation profiles, click on the bold-face ride title in the upper left corner just above the map. This will display a larger version of the map with no visible ride route. If you then click on the “full screen” icon (black square in upper R corner of map with arrows pointing to all 4 corners), you’ll load a fully functional map with ride route. Click the “elevation” box to see the elevation profile. If you then click on “show elevation with grades,” you’ll see the % grade of each section of the elevation profile. Putting the cursor on the elevation profile will produce a red dot which you can move around to determine the elevation of any point on the map, the distance or elevation difference between any two points on the map, and so forth.
2. Mapmyride consistently underestimates elevation gain totals. Comparing their figures to repeated riding with an elevation-recording bike computer, I’d say any elevation gain total on one of our ride maps is about 70% of what you can expect to encounter. There isn’t anything any of us can do about this except to go in without rigid expectations. I’ve left Mapmyride’s numbers alone unless I mention otherwise, but in the write-ups I usually refer to numbers from my computer.
3. The maps display differently on different computers. For instance, the elevation profiles are wider on some machines than on others. So if you see some odd formatting, it may look normal on someone else’s computer.
4. RidewithGPS maps are, to my mind, superior to the Mapmyride maps. Their elevation/pitch data is more detailed and easier to use, and they show precisely any places on the route where the pavement turns to dirt. I encourage you to work always from them. Their use is pretty self-explanatory.
How to Use the RidewithGPS Links
immediately below each post’s map there is a link to the route on RidewithGPS. RWGPS maps have a number of advantages over the Mapmyride maps, most obviously their detailed information about elevation and pitch and their reliable info about unpaved sections of the route, if any. I suggest you use the Mapmyride map to get a visual sense of the ride, then use the RWGPS map for ride details.
Each ride begins with an estimation of total elevation gain. 90% of the time this is the number generated by the Mapmyride map. But Mapmyride elevation gain estimates sometimes go haywire, and in cases where I notice this I give the RWGPS elevation estimate, and indicate this by writing “(RWGPS)” immediately afterward. Since RWGPS elevation gain estimates are always more accurate than MMR ones, and since Mapmyride always seems to underestimate total elevation gain, I encourage you to use the RWGPS numbers in your ride planning.
RWGPS offers several different formats in which to view their maps. When you click on one of our RWGPS links, if the map that opens has a box in the upper R that says “RWGPS” (and it almost certainly will), click on it, and from the drop-down menu that appears select “map.” It’s a far superior format, with more road names and fewer distractions.
How to Use the Photos
The photos accompanying the rides were all taken by me unless attributed, and were almost all taken from the saddle during the ride. Often, if you click on the photos they will go full-screen so you can see them better.
Readers often ask me why Bestrides doesn’t cover Washington state. The answer is, I don’t think the riding in Washington is good enough. I’ve done a fair amount of riding there, and it’s often nice, but it can’t match the two states below it. Sorry, Washingtonians. I’ve described the five rides I know of in Washington that are exceptional at the beginning of the Rides by Regions chapter.
Obviously I’ve only been able to include rides I’ve done, and I’ve ridden probably 1% of the good roads in California and Oregon, so I welcome nominations from the floor. Tell me about the ride you treasure (not the ride you just do all the time or the ride that’s a really good work-out, please), and be as specific about its virtues as you can. And be clear about connector sections that are necessary but aren’t in themselves particularly rewarding.
Where’s the Gravel?
“Gravel” bikes and dirt road riding are the hot trends in road riding at the moment. Yet there are no specifically gravel/dirt road rides in Bestrides. A very few of the rides have unavoidable dirt sections, but that’s it. I don’t recommend dirt routes for two reasons:
a. You don’t need me for that. Good dirt roads are literally everywhere. There are 100 good dirt roads in my neighborhood alone. Really good paved roads, on the other hand, are relatively few and hard to find.
b. I hate riding a drop-bar bike on dirt or gravel. You’re welcome to differ, but to me the perfect dirt-road bike has been around for years: a light-weight hard-tail mountain bike.
How Many of the Rides in Bestrides Have I Actually Ridden?
All of them—most of them several times. I only bring this up because people have asked me. I gather it’s not always true of other ride directories. Sometimes in the Adding Miles sections I will discuss rides I’ve only been told about by Bestrides readers, and in those cases I try to be clear that such is the case.
What’s New in Bestrides?
Here is a list of all the rides added to Bestrides recently.
Lower Colfax Road/Rollins Lake Loop
Muir Woods Loop
Monterey Bike Trail
Prospectors Road to Bayne Road
Wildcat Canyon Road/Happy Valley Road/Nimitz Way
Cañada Road Plus
Alma Bridge/Old Santa Cruz Highway Plus
Eureka Canyon Road/Highland Way
Tunnel Road/Claremont Ave. Loop
East Dunne Avenue
West Fork Evans Creek Road Etc.
Briggs Hill Rd./McBeth Rd. Lollipop
Comptche to Ukiah
Sacramento River Trail
Mission Bay to La Jolla
Cabrillo National Monument
Shirtail Canyon Road
Las Pilitas Road Lollipop
Bohemian Highway Loop
OUTSTANDING job, Jay! Wow! What a great resource for cyclists who want to do more than the standard organized rides. Kudos to you! And thank you for sharing with all of us. I for one, will be back, often.
Great website! I plan on trying at least three of these rides when I visit in May/June. One question though: Why is Tioga Rd not on the list?
If you ever include rides in Washington, I think Mt Baker Hwy, Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, and Stevens Canyon Road to Paradise in Mt Rainier National Park all possess many of the characteristics in your description of what constitutes a great ride.
How coincidental that you should write about rides in WA. I am in the midst of planning my first serious cycling trip to that state. The WA road map is literally spread out on my kitchen table and I’m about 1/3 of the way through Mike McQuaide’s very nice guide book (75 Classic Rides Washington). All the rides you mention are in his book and on my to-do list.
The road to Tioga Pass is reputed to be a very long, grinding climb. Not my sort of thing. The scenery is without peer, of course.
One year later: Washington is now in the can. I did all the rides you recommend except Hurricane Ridge, and they’re all (briefly) discussed in the Rides by Region section. Thanks again.
Hey Jay!!! Thanks for the great biking info…..we ended up in Mendocino looking for a bike ride, found your site and chose the comptche ride…. However we did it in reverse as I was tired of biking NORTH up the coast and wanted to get the hwy 1 part over..ll I loved doing it reverse… We did get the ten miles south done WITH the wind…loved the gentle ascent up the Navarro …. The climb up to comptche was fine as were both the up and down back to hwy 1.. Thanks again…r andye
Glad to hear it went well. How thoughtful of that ride, to be a vigorous climb in one direction and a mellow ride in the other, and wonderful either way. A ride for all seasons and fitness levels.
Great site! Very comprehensive.
If I may suggest one climb to add: Quimby Road — which is an alternate approach to Mount Hamilton. Amazingly hard climb — but in minutes you are looking down at the valley. It is, by far, the hardest climb I’ve done in the Bay Area.
I saw that the Tour of California did Quimby this year, and I meant to check it out. They were going downhill, as I recall. Thanks for the tip.
Indeed…and going down Quimby is quite dangerous (I take it pretty slow). I was very surprised that the Tour chose this as a leg….
I can’t recall why I chose California. I only remember that a mate in Sydney suggested we do some rides in the US, so I went online and eventually ended up here. It’s still the best guide to local cycling routes I’ve seen anywhere.
We did most of the rides in Wine Country and Marin, and they were all amazing (if you enjoy eating sandwiches and pie as much as I do, get on the Bakery ride.) By the end of the Kings Ridge ordeal my friend turned to me and whispered: “Jay is watching.” He was a little dehydrated.
I live in Tokyo, and I’ve often wished there was a comparable guide to the back roads beyond the suburban gloom here. I’ve done some of the good routes, but mostly I’ve been frustrated at the paucity of information online. So kudos to Jay-san, who’s built the best cycling guide on the internet.
Thanks for providing this site. Your criteria for featuring routes is identical to mine. You have motivated me to explore these roads this spring.
I am so glad that I found your site. I live in Bakersfield and there are several rides that should be on your site such as Lion’s Trail and Breckenridge climb as well as Deer Trail climb.
Lion’s Trail is now a Bestrides ride, called Caliente Loop. Breckenridge Rd. heads E off Hwy 184 just north of the Hwy 58 junction and goes forever. Deer Trail Dr. takes off from hwy 223 SE of Bakersfield and heads SE to Bear Valley Springs. If there’s a way to loop it, I don’t know what it is. Other routes in the area are at http://www.kernwheelmen.org/RidesEvents/KernCountyRouteMaps.aspx. I gather from Internet sources that Deer Trail Dr. a) isn’t paved and b) is private land unfriendly to cyclists, so I’m not sure I can get behind that one. It’s described in the site http://www.pjammcycling.com, which lists the 100 hardest climbs in the U.S.
To make Deer Trail a loop, you drop out of Bear Valley Springs and then to Tehachapi. Exit Tehachapi and continue to Keene and on to the National Cemetery or Bakersfield. A long loop for sure.
Thanks much for your site. I’m a CA ex-pat for many years, but I do occasionally return from western CO (the old Tour of the Moon is our regular ride) and I will definitely consult your guide. Planning a short stay in Santa Barbara, and both Jalama and Gibraltar look good. I also found this link on the web, but from what I have read access to Hollister Ranch and Cojo Rd is restricted. Do you (or any other readers) know if this ride is possible for a non-owner https://ridewithgps.com/routes/4128148 ? Cheers, and happy trails. Dave
I don’t know that area myself. Anyone else can answer Dave’s question? I’d do Figueroa before I did Gibraltar, but they’re both great.
Jack, I love your site. I have lived in Eugene for 20 years and you even gave me a new ride to go check out (Eagles Rest Road). I did want to echo something that someone else suggested to you. The NE part of Oregon is pretty outstanding for rides and the topography can be diverse in a surreal way. One of my favorite rides up there is a giant loop that begins and ends in Baker City. The route is easy to find on a map and virtually impossible to get lost on. Head north out of Baker City in the flats that skirt the base of the Blue Mountains until you find Anthony Lakes Hwy. I would tell you which roads to take, but there are so many tiny backroads to take you there that part of the fun can be picking a way through there. Once you get on Anthony Lakes Hwy, you need to mentally prepare for a beautiful and beastly climb up to the Anthony Lakes ski resort. It is 10.5-mi climb that gains around 3,500′ of elevation. If you are not riding it while the Baker City Cycling Classic is in town, you will be riding mostly alone. After you get to the ski resort, you continue on the same pristine road that changes name from Anthony Lakes Hwy to NFD-73. NFD-73 T’s off, but continues with the same name down through the micro-towns of Granite and Sumpter. This road eventually dumps you out on state route 7, which takes you back to Baker City.
The length of the ride is 108 miles and it can be done in a one day slugfest, or taken in two medium bite-sized chunks. (Note: If taking the two-day option, it is probably better to start from Sumpter and ride the course in reverse, with a designated camping night at the lake up by the ski resort). This loop is unbelievable. The distinct lack of cars and the remote nature of the ride will make you feel like you stepped into some sort of futuristic Westworld scenario, where technology has intersected with an Old West aesthetic. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that the last 17 miles on State route 7 are somewhat forgettable with the exception of a great swimming hole on the Powder River just below the Phillips Reservoir dam. The loop is so fantastic that these throw-away miles are more than worth it, especially when you arrive back at the undeniably interesting town of Baker City. In a lot of ways Baker City makes no sense at all. At one time it was the second largest town in Oregon and it boasted a population of near 25k people, but those days are long past and the town now has a population well below 10k that is very welcoming toward cyclists. Because Baker City was once a grand lay-over stop on the Oregon Stage coach trail, there are some things that you wouldn’t expect in a town of this size. Things like a 10-story federal style edifice in the middle of town, or a Westminster style Victorian Hotel (Geyser Grand) in the center of town. If you do go, and I highly recommend that you do, be sure to get a frothy beverage at Barley Brown’s brewpub.
I am sure that there are some other great riding opportunities up in the Eagle Cap wilderness area by the towns of Joseph and Enterprise to the NE of Baker City, but each time that I have been up that way, I have been trapped in a car, so I can’t comment too much on those rides.
Thanks again for the great website and I hope that my suggestion provides you with a new adventure to seek.
Great website! Very much appreciated the tip on the ride in Mt. Shasta and looking forward to doing more of your rides as my wife and I work our way down through California.
This is an amazing amount of work you’ve done here and I cannot offer enough praise or express enough gratitude. I did the Mendocino-Comptche route on a family vacation last week and had one of the best rides of my cycling life. Now I want to go back and bike all the routes. I hope the spouse & kid will understand why I have to leave for a year or two. They would if they’d ridden California 128 with me.
What a big difference you have made in my cycling life! I live in the SF Bay Area, and am pretty familiar with most of the popular rides around here, but you have made it easy for me to find great rides wherever I travel in California. In the past four months I’ve ridden Mosquito Road, Blue LakesRoad,and Ebbets Pass while visiting my daughter up in the Sierras; and Mt. Figueroa, Gibraltar Road, and Jalama Road while visiting the Santa Barbara area. I’m looking forward to trying Tuna Canyon when I’m at my in-laws in the LA area next month. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!
I just wanted to say that this website is so obviously a work of passion, and incredibly well done. I’ve picked up a half a dozen rides from this site so far, and every one has been absolutely killer.
Much praise and appreciation for all the hard work put into this–no way I’d have had the same experience down the California coast without it.
What an phenomenally awesome website you have put together. An impressive amount of work has gone into this and it truly shines. It’s a long, long way off but it certainly provides a great road map for my retirement years!
Rides leaving Etna include going north on Highway 3 “over the hill” to Yreka, then down to the Klamath River, turning left onto Highway 96 and then, twenty-four miles later turning right to head back towards Fort Jones and Etna on Scott Bar road. It’s a great loop and just about 85 miles total. I also enjoy bicycling down Highway 3 to Tangle Blue Lake Trail, hiking to the lake and returning via Highway 3.
We road the Red Dog/Pasquale Loop last weekend. Beautiful Fall color and Pasquale Road is simply amazing. Thank you for posting such a stunning route.
I have enjoyed so many of your rides over the past several years. So far you’re batting a thousand—every ride has been a good one! Now one of my daughters is at UC Santa Cruz, and your rides in that area are providing me with an excuse to visit her every few weeks (“Hey, Honey, I’m going to be in your vicinity for a ride this weekend—can I swing by and take you out for breakfast?”). Another reason to say “Thanks, Jay!“
Don’t park in the Mission lot unless you plan on returning before 5pm. They lock the gate!
Love your site, Jay. Great work! A truly excellent collection of routes with something for everyone.
My comment: your persistent concerns about road surface only apply to traditional “road” tires less than 28mm wide. It’s 2020, and the bike industry has (begrudgingly) come around to accept the physics and make bikes that will accept wide, comfortable tires. Almost every rough or poor road surface you warn of on this website is neutralized by 40mm+ tires. Wide tires open up countless crummy roads to cyclists, all the while improving safety (grip) and comfort at the same time. Try it!
Matt: True. But they do take away the sharpness of handling that narrower tires enable. On good pavement narrower tires provide a level of finesse that wider rubber just doesn’t know.
I discuss tire size at length in the Bicycle School companion to Bestrides, but the short version is: What Matt says is true. The down side to large tires is, they’re heavier, slower, and harder to push (more rolling resistance) above 25 mm . That’s why no road racers that I know of use tires larger than 25 mm. Bike manufacturers have embraced large tires because riders want to ride on dirt now, because it’s free of traffic. If you want to ride on dirt, large tires are a must. On pavement, I don’t want to do the extra work it takes to push them all the time in exchange for a smoother ride over the occasional poor road surface. It’s a trade-off–pick your poison.
Hi from a longtime reader. I wanted to point out Mt. Umunhum in the South Bay. The road to the summit opened to the public a few years ago, and while I haven’t done the ride yet, it looks very promising. There’s two approaches, both very steep, but taking Hicks Road from the south is slightly easier.
Trip report I found:
Umunhum is very steep but rewarding. I believe it’s also been recently repaved.
Your list of rides has been absolutely amazing! Very detailed when it comes to the information on every route and never disappointing. Keep up the great work and thank you for creating this list for us cyclists out here who look forward to planning their next ride.
“ 1. Plan to rent a car.” This exposes a car-centric world view that I urge you to reconsider. There are, for instance, trains.
Absolutely, take trains and leave your car at home…if you can find trains going where you want to ride. That’s not easy in California. I have a cyclist friend who doesn’t own a car, and he rides huge multi-day loops, but spends 80% of his riding time on roads Bestrides would consider mediocre.
You are right, Piet. Sadly, we do not have a well-developed train system. Besides spending hours on mediocre roads, eschewing a car and riding to these great rides can be dangerous. I live in Santa Rosa and I love riding out of Occidental. If I rode there I could easily get killed. I prefer not driving at all, so I usually ride Annadel State Park on my mountain bike, but still, I’d hate to miss riding Coleman Valley Rd.
From a reader: A shout out to Jay and this damn fine website. My wife and I have spent MANY trips searching out Jay’s Best Rides up and down California and Oregon and none of them have yet to disappoint. Someday, in future non-COVID times, we should rally in Chico to toast Jay and all ride a local ride together … I’ll buy the keg.