8 Tips for Cycling in California vc_eightsmarttipsforcyclingincalifornia_rf_99904_1280x640_0
Mike Basher/Offset

8 Tips for Cycling in California

8 Tips for Cycling in California
Want to see the Golden State by bike? Use these tips to make the most of your ride

1. Learn the basic road laws. Ride in the direction of traffic and use the bicycle lanes when available. California law says you must ride as close to the right side as possible, unless the road is too narrow to be shared—in which case you are allowed to “take the lane.” (Not all motorists understand this, though, so always take precaution in this situation.) The California Bicycle Coalition outlines all the bike laws to know before you ride.

2. Wear this, not that. Cyclists under 18 must wear a helmet, but realistically it’s a good idea for everyone. And if you need to hear your playlist while you ride, keep it to one ear—a law passed in 2016 does not allow for headphones in both ears.

3. Nervous on the road? Find protected trails. Road riding isn’t for everyone, and California has miles upon miles of protected road. Go to traillink.com and type in a specific city and it will show you the distance, surface type, and mileage of routes in the area. Or start by reading Bicycling magazine’s list of the best bike paths in California.

4. Research your route. Check out bike mobile app Strava’s city guides for routes in Bakersfield, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Sacramento, San Francisco, and more—coffee shops and photo ops included. Also, the California Bike Coalition has a solid list of free online maps for routes from Humboldt County down to San Diego. You can also get turn-by-turn directions using Google maps: Dark green lines denote protected bike trails (read: no cars), light green lines show dedicated bike lanes, and dashed green lines indicate bicycle-friendly roads.

5. Consider a cycling event. Start by choosing an enticing ride and let that inspire your trip planning. On any given weekend, you’ll find dozens of cycling events throughout California. Want to tackle a century (100 miles) in wine country? Attend a mountain biking clinic? Check the event calendars on SoCalCycling.com, Raceplace.com, Active.com, or TourOfCalifornia.bike for ideas.

6. Try a cycling tour. An organized bike tour can be a simplified, luxurious way to see new parts of California. Dozens of companies—including Backroads, Trek Travel, Bicycle Adventures, DuVine, and many more—offer trips everywhere from Joshua Tree to wine country to the northern coast, and they often include gourmet local cuisine and overnight stays at high-end resorts.

7. Find a group. Local cycling clubs often have group rides for all levels, either through a local shop or otherwise. USA Cycling has a fairly comprehensive list of clubs, but sometimes just walking into the local bike shop and asking is the easiest way to get info.

8. Watch AMGEN Tour of California in person. If there’s one way to get inspired, watching a world-class bike event is it. With Tour de France-level riders cycling throughout California every May, the AMGEN Tour of California presents a rare opportunity to see a pro peloton up close.

8 Tips for Cycling in California Pillars_Outdoor_OR_RD_50003619_1280x640
Rachid Dahnoun

California: Outdoor

ALL DREAMS WELCOME

What's Hot Now
8 Tips for Cycling in California Groomer_Jeff-Engerbretson_1280x642
Discover the High Sierra

With ski-tan smiles and serious gear propped in the racks, Squaw attracts elite skiers and their families, with all ages welcome on and off the slopes. Long-time fans,...

8 Tips for Cycling in California vc_eightsmarttipsforcyclingincalifornia_rf_99904_1280x640_0
Mike Basher/Offset

8 Tips for Cycling in California

Want to see the Golden State by bike? Use these tips to make the most of your ride

1. Learn the basic road laws. Ride in the direction of traffic and use the bicycle lanes when available. California law says you...

8 Tips for Cycling in California OceanfrontHotels_VentanaInn_AdamBaker_Flickr_1280x642
Adam Baker/Flickr

Ventana Big Sur

8 Tips for Cycling in California vca_maps_centralcoast
Soulful elegance in Big Sur

Edge-of-the-earth views across the Pacific, wood and stone details bringing nature right into your room—...

8 Tips for Cycling in California VC_LonePine_ST_RF_722224619_1280x640
Room/Getty Images

Lone Pine

Discover the natural beauty and another side of California in a historic Owens Valley small town

Head to Lone Pine to see a different side of California—one that is less connected to...

8 Tips for Cycling in California VC_8GreatCaliforniaDogBeaches_Rosies_PascalShirley_C0A0231_1280x640
Pascal Shirley

11 Great Dog Beaches

Whether your pup wants to ride the waves or lounge in the sand, there’s a Golden State beach calling

Few places in the U.S. are as dog-friendly as California. With its comfortable climate, open spaces, and welcoming cities, the Golden...

It [Pinnacles] represents what nature often does, all the great conflicts and tensions are there, of volcanic activity and fault lines, and the sort of geology of it is just spectacular to see on display.
Ken Burns
8 Tips for Cycling in California VC_Questionnaire_AlexHonnold_ED_29790110_1280x640
John Dickey/TandemStock.com

THE CALIFORNIA QUESTIONNAIRE: Alex Honnold

The El Capitan free-solo rock climber explains his love for Yosemite and more California favorites

On June 3, 2017, Honnold became the first person to ever ascend El Capitan, the 3,000-foot granite wall in...

8 Tips for Cycling in California VC_CaliforniasEpicWaterfalls_Stock_RM_EBPEKT_1280x640
Picture Lake/Alamy

California’s Epic Waterfalls

Record precipitation means water is flowing better than ever—go see these waterfalls while they’re still at their peak

Winter 2017’s epic rain and snow may be old news, but its stormy consequences keep unfolding in wet-and-wild ways across...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Find whitewater rafting fun for all—from newbies to nerves-of-steel experts

Think of a river, and chances are you’ve got your own daydream. Maybe you want to float on inner tubes, or maybe your style is to careen through raucous rapids in an eight-person inflatable raft....

8 Tips for Cycling in California VC_RiverRafting_Preview_Stock_RM_172652806_686x885
Groveb/Getty Images
8 Tips for Cycling in California VC_California101_ChannelIslands_Stock_RM_152836733_1280x640
Cody Duncan/Getty Images

How to Explore the Channel Islands

Spend a day—or a week—in this idyllic national park off the Central Coast

This chain of five islands—Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, and San Miguel—is rich with untouched natural beauty and a California...

8 Tips for Cycling in California VCW_D_Yosemite_Hero_20140503_Yosemite_hero_1280x642

Trip 6-7 days 10 stops

Sierra Adventure

Granite peaks, alpine valleys, towering trees-the High Sierra is nature's playground all year-round
8 Tips for Cycling in California VCW_D_HS_T3_Tahoe_Swim_Farnum_0

Blue as a topaz and circled by majestic peaks, this High Sierra gem straddling the California-Nevada border is a bucket-list staple, a place where the air is “very pure and fine...it is the same the angels breathe,” according to author Mark Twain. Lakefront towns dot the shoreline, each with...

8 Tips for Cycling in California CalaverasBTSP_sized

On your way to this park, save time to visit the charming Gold Country town of Murphys (a great place for wine tasting and innovative dining along the town’s main street). Then continue north and east to discover peaceful groves of giant sequoias at this under-the-radar park. Established in 1931...

8 Tips for Cycling in California VCW_D_Jtree_heroDE_JoshuaTrees_1280x642_downsized
Alex Farnum

Spotlight: Joshua Tree National Park

8 Tips for Cycling in California vca_maps_deserts_0
Rugged mountains, vibrant sunsets & uncountable stars

Boulders and buttresses, rugged mountains, gold mining ruins, desert plains dotted with the oddball trees—this is one weird place. Joshua Tree,...

8 Tips for Cycling in California VCW_SI_Hero_HS_Yosemite_UpperFalls_KG_preview_686x885
California is blessed to have the most designated National Parks in the United States.
8 Tips for Cycling in California VC_PismoBeach_ST_RF_579831770_1280x640
Harri Jarvelainen/Getty Images

Pismo Beach

8 Tips for Cycling in California vca_maps_centralcoast
Wine and waves meet at the vintage Central Coast town of Pismo Beach

Whether you’re driving from the north or south on U.S. Highway 101, there’s an unforgettable moment as you reach...

SPECIAL FEATURE
Hands-on fun for all at farms, ranches, and fields statewide

From almonds and olives up north to avocados, oranges, and dates in South, the Golden State has a crop (or 10) for nearly every stretch of terrain. After all,...

8 Tips for Cycling in California SC_Chaffin_Eliaschickens_TPS_preview_686x885
Tai Power Seeff
8 Tips for Cycling in California CarlsbadFlowerFields_ynnil_1280x642-1_downsized
ynnil/Flickr

Farm Tours & Drives

Gorgeous scenery, tasty bounty

Country roads, shady orchards, gnarled wine vines—these trails, drives, and unique farm tours provide close-up looks at...

California’s Best-Kept Secrets

Discover 8 of California’s Best-Kept Secrets

These remote and surprising spots fly under the radar for even the most well-versed California travelers

Think you’ve seen all of California? Think again. We traveled to eight different remote locations to showcase some of California’s lesser-...

10 Super-Scenic California Road Trips
Jeffrey Murray/Getty Images

10 Super-Scenic California Road Trips

Follow these classic routes for magical scenery and worthy stops

The Highway 1 road trip that passes through Big Sur on California’s Central Coast is perhaps the most famous scenic drive in the...

The mountains are calling and I must go.
John Muir
8 Tips for Cycling in California VCW_D_DeathValley_T6_Chao Yen_9068899095_b6a2bbfd4f_o_1280x642
Death Valley National Park is the largest national park in the continental U.S., at 3.3 million acres.
There is science, logic, reason; there is thought verified by experience. And then there is California.
Edward Abbey