Half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles lies the California Central Coast. Often called America's "riviera" for its great combination of mild weather and expansive countryside, the Central Coast draws tens of thousands of bicycling enthusiasts every year. From the Great Western Bike Rally to the Solvang Century to the professional cycling teams, there seems no limit to the variety of great cycling opportunities.
At the northern end of the region lies the laid back Wine Country town of Paso Robles. South from here, the land stretches broadly across miles of valley farms and rolling hills to the historic town of Santa Maria. Continuing south, quiet country roads wind through broad canyons to the Santa Ynez Valley Wine Country, its vineyard covered foothills resting beneath a backdrop of tall mountains. This area is home to the wine country towns of Santa Ynez, Los Olivos, and the Danish-inspired town of Solvang.
The roads, the scenery, the mild weather, the wine country, the inviting towns with quaint inns and restaurants: it’s no wonder that the California Central Coast region is such a popular cycling destination.
In keeping with the Undiscovered Country spirit, we designed a cycling experience befitting this grand terrain. We strung together a back roads route that spans the whole region, from Paso Robles to Santa Ynez, in six days of continuous biking. We built in mile after mile of lightly traveled roads for those who love to ride a bike. And we located the inns and restaurants that are both unique and authentic. But we did leave out a few things: wine tasting junkets, cooking classes, museum walks, shopping sprees. We still cling to a romantic notion that these "cultural" activities would only distract from an amazingly great cycling experience.
If you like taking cultural bus tours with some bike riding thrown in, this is not the tour for you. But if you’re drawn to the idea of day after day of spectacular routes, great food, and charming inns, our California Central Coast Bike Tour may be just the kind of trip you have been looking for.
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