My wife and I rode with another couple who we hadn't met previously and were accompanied by one guide; it was one of the best trips we have ever had.
Guide and support - It's hard to believe that UDC could have another guide as good as Susan, there was nothing more she could have done for us (guide rating = 6 stars). She has all the skills and more right down to being a paramedic (very handy for patching up some scrapes that I brought upon myself). Riding with Susan on the rest day was a highlight.
Food - quality of all meals, snacks, restaurant ambience, American regional experiences (e.g., peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, ollaliberries, and so-called biscuits), right down to the electrolyte water was excellent. Lodgings - perfectly pitched and probably all rate high on TripAdvisor (we'd give them all 4-5 stars, especially the Burton Inn in Cambria but they were all of similarly high standard).
Bikes - I ride a TDF Cannondale EVO back home and was more than satisfied with our Scott Carbon Ultegras. Perfectly set up to our specifications, brought our own saddles just to be fussy, and rode well all week. The ladies had the uber-comfort frames with thinned rear stays and the boys got more standard racing styles - perfectly pitched! They even provided a USB stick with all the routes that could be downloaded to a Garmin.
Riding in company - UDC are very skilled at managing different clients with different preferences, speeds and so on. We were fortunate to be paired with a lovely couple of cycle enthusiasts and enjoyed their company as much as the ride, learning a lot about life in America, the various nuances of language and etiquette (and snow globes!) We breathed a sigh of relief every time we rode past a different tour company with dozens of people, phew!
Countryside and routes - Lovely little maps were provided every day at nightly briefings that clipped on to the handlebars. These were apparently the work of "Terry", who's a bit like Charlie of Charlie's Angels fame - omnipresent but never seen. The daily rides were very well chosen and reflect a lot of thought and planning. The option to do top ups and extras like the Nascimento hill and loops on the rest day ensured that everyone got their fill of good riding.
Value for money - worth every penny and apparently considerably cheaper than some other companies. I would be surprised if anyone else could deliver a better experience.
Wouldn't hesitate to recommend them and wouldn't hesitate to do another ride with them, including trying to match our schedule with Susan's.
TripAdvisor September 2012
Note: The same amazingly great road bikes we use on our tours are now available for bike rental in the San Francisco Bay Area.
All of our tours include the use of a premium road bicycle at no extra charge. The essence of our tour experience is the pure joy of riding light and fast road bikes, so we provide only the lightest and highest quality road bikes in the bike tour industry. Each bike has a full carbon frame and high end Shimano Ultegra components—equally appropriate on a century event ride, a fast training ride, or a local race.
The bikes are made by Cannondale and Specialized. Frames and forks are made of lightweight carbon fiber, stiff for efficient energy transfer yet compliant to soak up road vibration. Gearing was selected to handle the California hills, with a compact double crankset and a wide range cassette.
We carry a complete range of frame sizes, from 44 cm to 63 cm, so just about any adult will fit on our bikes.
Riding one of our great road bikes is a true pleasure–made even more enjoyable when that bike fits you correctly. That’s why we custom fit a bike for you before your trip begins. For our road bikes, you are welcome to send us your fit measurements, or we’ll use average measurements for your height. We mount the pedal style of your choice, or you can bring your own pedals (we have 16 types of pedals to choose from). If you bring your own saddle, we mount that for you at the start of the trip.