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Must-Do California Cycling Events in 2019

Must-Do California Cycling Events in 2019

Plan your next trip around one of these fun and challenging bike events

Posted 4 years agoby Jené Shaw

California is one of the few states where it’s feasible to ride a bike year-round, which makes it a perfect bikecation destination for leisurely riding, training camps, or challenging races during any season. These 2019 events below—which range from casual rides through the desert to long-distance mountain climbs—give any cycling enthusiast good reason to book a trip. And if watching the pros is more your speed, visit in May during Amgen Tour of California, America's premiere professional cycling event.



Discover the desert towns of the Coachella Valley during the Tour de Palm Springs on Feb. 9, which offers distances ranging from 9 to 102 miles. There’s even a 1.5 and 3-mile walk option so the whole family can join.


If you’re planning a trip to Los Angeles in 2019, don't miss the festive CicLAVia events, when various neighborhoods close down the streets to cars and allow cyclists and pedestrians to enjoy the open roads. The first event takes place on March 3 and includes food trucks, a beer garden, and repair station along the route.


On March 9, roll through the farm and vineyard-filled roads of the Santa Ynez Valley during the Solvang Century, Metric, and Half Century. Starting in the Danish Village of Solvang in the heart of Santa Barbara wine country, riders can choose either a flat or hilly 50, 70, or 100 miles.




Bike, run, or do both at the California Classic Weekend in Fresno on April 6. Choose from a 35, 60, or 100-mile bike ride on Saturday and a 5K, 10K, or half marathon on Sunday. Cyclists will enjoy riding mostly flat roads around the Central Valley, including 10 miles of wide-open closed freeway. Runners get the opportunity to race through the African Adventure exhibit at Fresno Chaffee Zoo, with a finish inside Chukchansi Stadium, home of the Fresno Grizzlies.

The four-day Sea Otter Classic in coastal Monterey (April 11–14) offers options for every type of cyclist, whether you’re interested in riding the 29-mile Gravel Grinder Tour, the 49-mile oceanside Gran Fondo Pacifico, or simply want to geek out on demo bikes and watch pro races.


If you’re a true glutton for punishment, test your bike handling skills and resilience at the Belgian Waffle Ride (May 3–5) in North San Diego County. Two distances (68 or 136 miles) feature a challenging combo of road and dirt terrain with plenty of climbing. Your finish line reward is craft beer from local brewer The Lost Abbey.



For cyclists who love food and wine as much as riding, CampoVelo in Napa Valley (April 26–28) is a dream event. Host and chef Chris Cosentino brings together a collection of chefs and pro cyclists for three days of wine country riding, cooking demos, and a foodie festival that all benefit Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry and the Napa Valley Vine Trail.


Explore rugged northern California and support a region affected by the 2018 wildfires at the Siskiyou Century on May 4. Opt for the 8, 21, 38, 69, or 81-mile loop to see the remote area's many wonders—from the towering Mt. Shasta to alpine lakes and wildflower-covered fields.




A new Avenue of the Giants Century has been added to the Tour of the Unknown Coast ride in the redwood-tree-filled Humboldt County on June 8. Ride along the coast and through hilly redwoods groves for as long as you choose: There are 10, 20, 50, and 100-mile options as well as a 100 kilometer event. Free camping is included with your entry.


As the name suggests, the Death Ride on July 13 is a seriously tough ride. This journey through the “California Alps” in Alpine County (about 30 miles south of Lake Tahoe) tackles five mountain passes over 130 miles.


Just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, the Marin Century gives endurance lovers six route options on Aug. 3. The beginner-friendly half metric century covers 33 miles, while the Mt. Tam Double Century tackles 200 miles and nearly 16,000 feet of elevation gain. All riders are rewarded with a hot post-race meal and live music at the finish.



Scenic drives also make for perfect bike rides—such is the case at the Lighthouse Century along Highway 1 on Sept. 28. Starting in Morro Bay, choose from a 58, 75, or 100-mile route along California's most famous stretch of road in San Luis Obispo County.


Levi’s Gran Fondo is often revered as one of the best rides in the country. The weekend (Oct. 4–6) has become more than a ride through Sonoma County’s gorgeous undulating roads, it’s now a three-day affair that includes wine and beer tasting, a paella festival, a one-mile running event, kids activities, and more.


Bike-friendly Sacramento welcomes riders on Oct. 5 for the Sacramento Century. The four distances, ranging from 15 to 100 miles, all start and finish at the Capitol Mall.


Another former pro rider, Phil Gaimon, runs an event with a delicious twist—cookies at the top of every climb. Phil’s Cookie Fondo traverses Malibu’s most challenging climbs and twisty ocean-view descents in three appropriately-named routes: Mini Chip (32 miles), Chocolate Chip (85 miles), Sugar Cookie (50 miles), and Double Fudge (110 miles). 2019 date TBD


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