Big Sur & Pacific Coast Cycling

Trip Length 6 Days
Group Size 4-13
Difficulty
Starting from
$3,399 for REI Members
$3,749 for non-members
Departures May 2020-Oct 2020

Be immersed in coastal beauty on this 6-day California cycling adventure from Monterey to Santa Barbara.

Among the top 5 cycling destinations along the Pacific Coast, this route provides ample open views of the Pacific Ocean and miles of open beaches along with beautiful winding roads and some challenging elevation changes. The route exposes the craggy coastline as the road works its way over ravines, into valleys filled with vineyards and past beaches filled with elephant seals. This is a must do route for all cyclists.

Dine along the beach in the evenings overlooking the Pacific Ocean or at local vineyards as you ride through dozens of vineyards.

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Trip Highlights

  • Ride ?Heaven Road? and other cycling gems of the central coast
  • Explore Big Sur State Park, where the Santa Lucia Mountains meet the Pacific
  • Revel in scenic climbs in Los Padres National Forest and the Santa Ynez Range
  • Experience California icons like Hearst Castle and Carmel-by-the-Sea
  • Dine well (think local produce and fresh-caught seafood) in lovely settings
  • Feast your eyes on beach towns, wine valleys and big blue Pacific Ocean vistas

Activities

This trip is rated [3-4] Moderate Plus. Participants should have cycling experience and be comfortable in the saddle for 6-7 hours per day. Rides consist of both moderate and more vigorous cycling days covering 30-70 miles. Participants should be comfortable riding a range of roads with light to moderate vehicle traffic.

We recommend a conditioning program beginning at least 3 months prior to departure that incorporates rides of at least 30-35 miles. Terrain ranges from moderate to large hills. Most hill gradients average 3-6% and a few steeper pitches that can reach up to 11% grades or higher. The better cycling shape you're in, the more you'll enjoy all this trip has to offer! Vehicle support will be available throughout the trip when needed.

  • Road Cycling
  • Cycling

What's Included

Five nights accommodations; all meals as noted in the daily itinerary; bike and e-bike (limited availability).

Accommodations

Lodge or cottage accommodations, 5 nights

Your wheels for the journey

Every great tour begins with a great bike, and our top-flight fleet has been carefully curated for your cycling adventure.

Want to bring your own bike?  You can do that too.

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Heart of Big Sur

After meeting in San Jose, your guides will transport you to our ride start in Monterey. Our ride today includes the scenic 17-Mile Drive along Pebble Beach to the charming village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, then south along Highway 1 into the heart of Big Sur. We?ll ride over the stunning Bixby Bridge arriving at our lodging for the night. We?ll enjoy dinner tonight at a hilltop restaurant overlooking the ocean. Lunch and Dinner included.

Cycling: 39 mi Elevation Gain/Loss +2639 ft / -2448 ft; Transfer: 2 hours.

Day 2

Pacific Views & Rolling Hills of Highway 1

Today we continue along Big Sur, soaking in the natural wonder surrounding us. Get your heart pumping with today?s rolling hills and climbs along Highway 1. Pacific Ocean vistas at the top of nearly every short climb will be stunning and awe-inspiring. This is the best of the best of coastal riding on the west coast. The craggy, rocky shoreline below will remind you of the geologic events that created, and will eventually destroy, this beauty of nature. We will finish our day with a well-deserved rest overlooking the same ocean that was on our right the entire day. Congratulations. All meals included.

Cycling: 50 mi Elevation Gain/Loss +5104 ft / -4990 ft.

Day 3

Cambria, Hearst Castle & a Night by the Ocean

We have an easier day today over flatter roads to the quaint town of Cambria. Along the way, we?ll stop in at Hearst Castle to tour the William Randoph Hearst estate and learn about the history and fame of this media mogul that inspired Orson Welles' movie "Citizen Kane." After a lunch stop with an ocean view, you can choose to tackle a challenging optional climb to the summit of Santa Rosa Creek Road or crash at your hotel. The reward of the sweet descent back makes it all worthwhile. Our lodging is a beachfront hotel where you can hear the waves crashing, lulling you to sleep this evening; or perhaps take a moonlight stroll before turning in. All meals included.

Cycling: 57 miles, Elevation gain/loss: 57.4 miles +4,409 ft / -4,716 ft.

Day 4

Beach Towns of the Central Coast

Today you?ll continue south from Cambria, riding down the coast to Morro Bay with lunch on own at one of the many quaint cafes in Morro Bay. It is home to the weathering volcanic plug, Morro Rock, giving rise to call the city ?the Gibraltar of the Pacific?. It will be one of our lowest elevation gain days, but no less scenic. After lunch, we will head inland a bit as there are no other roads along the ocean in the area, then we will turn west toward the coast to Avila Beach. We will dine together this evening out on the pier near Avila Beach at a popular seafood restaurant. Breakfast and dinner included.

Cycling: 50 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +1683 ft / -1692 ft.

Day 5

Explore Santa Barbara Wine Country

After breakfast you'll head through neighboring beach towns and past the many acres of farms for which the region is known. The ride continues into the wine producing region of Santa Barbara County and one of our favorite roads: Foxen Canyon. You'll ride past ranches, vineyards and enjoy a stunning ridge line view on your way to the quaint town center of Los Olivos where you may wish to grab a cup of coffee (or sip a glass of wine in a tasting room). A final spin brings you to our home for the final night in Solvang. All meals included.

Cycling: 69 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +2708 ft / -2272 ft.

Day 6

Explore Santa Barbara Wine Country

This morning we?ll shuttle to an old mountainside western saloon along the appropriately named Stagecoach Road. From there we?ll saddle up and head uphill to the famed Camino Cielo or ?Heaven Road? that undulates along the ridge line of the Santa Ynez mountains offering the opportunity for amazing panoramic views of the city down below and on clear days out to the Channel Islands. We?ll roll down Gibraltar Road, past the historic mission and into the heart of the ?American Riviera?, Santa Barbara and the end of our journey together. An optional shuttle (for a fee) is provided for anyone heading back to San Jose otherwise take the evening to explore Santa Barbara before heading home from here. Breakfast and lunch included.

Cycling: 33 miles, Elevation gain/loss: +3250 ft / -4883 ft; Transfer: 5 hours (Optional).

Gear List

This gear list has been created to help you choose the best equipment for the trip. Try to bring only what is necessary, as this will help you and the field staff. The weather and other conditions at the time of your arrival will dictate what clothing and equipment you will be required to use each day and what (if anything) can be left behind. It may be a necessary precaution that you bring certain items on the list, even if it is uncertain whether or not they will be needed.

Collection of selected R E I Co-op cycling merchandise and snacks laid out to pack for a bike tour

What to pack

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice , which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.