California Cycling

I know, I know, it’s been a while. I’ve been quite ill and recently I’ve had some family issues that have kept me off the bike. But I’m back, I’m feeling great and I’m back in the saddle! I’ll be riding much more over the coming months and I hope I’ll be writing about it too!

There really is nothing better than taking my bike out on a sunny day and getting some fresh air in my lungs. When I first started I didn’t go too far, but there were still lots of places to go and things to see. I was pretty unfit and wanted to get in shape. I tried jogging but I really didn’t enjoy it and so I had to force myself to do it. One of my neighbors told me about a cheap bike in a local second-hand store. I bought the bike and started going for rides around my neighborhood. If you are anything like I was when I started, you just need to get out there and do it.

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I didn’t realize how many great places there are to cycle around California. Once you get started you’ll find more and more places you will want to ride through. For beginners I suggest you find a bike that you’re comfortable with. My second-hand bike was OK for a couple of weeks but I quickly realized that the uncomfortable seat and dented wheel rim were not going to do. I did a bit of research on line and ended up buying a mid-range hybrid bike that was a much more comfortable ride.

Once you’ve found your wheels I also recommend some safety wear. Helmets are mandatory if you’re under 18, but if you value what’s inside your skull you should wear one anyway. If you plan on riding at night you’ll also need a light on your bike and reflectors so that cars can see you. If you don’t want to purchase a bike right away there’s always the option of hiring a bike. Many places will hire one out at half or full day rates.

For beginners there’s some easier rides that will get your body used to peddling. Although you never forget how to ride a bike, but I can tell you from experience that your leg muscles may have forgotten. Keep with it though, you’ll get used to it again and it’s well worth it.

California has some great places to ride regardless of your fitness level and expertise. Get the kids involved too, riding is great for everyone. For beginners there are plenty of short distance rides over flat to moderate inclines. It’s easy to spend the day casually peddling along beach causeways, enjoying the fresh salty sea air. The Pacific Coast is ideal for this with many dedicated bike paths that meander right through beaches and light business districts.

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I definitely recommend riding over the Golden Gate Bridge if you’re ever near San Francisco. If you’re too tired to double back you can always take the ferry to get home. If you are up for something a little more adventurous you could try a wine tour by bike. Along the central coast you’ll find several different tracks that wind between wineries allowing you to spend half a day or a whole weekend checking out the sites. Another great family outing is Yosemite National Park which offers reasonably flat riding tracks through the valley.

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For more experienced riders California offers endless cycling experiences and destinations. For some amazing wilderness you can’t pass up riding through the Joshua Tree National Park in the south of the state. Cycling can take you places where cars aren’t allowed. If you’re really up for a challenge I suggest mountain biking through the Sierra Nevada ranges. Keep in mind if you are going off-road be sure to carry plenty of water and let someone know where you’re going and when you expect to be back. It’s easy to lose track of how far you’ve traveled and not make it back before dark.

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For the absolute cycling enthusiast there’s the AMGEN Tour of California. For 8 days in May some of the world’s elite cyclists participate in a grueling 1,255 km (780 mile) race across California. Each year thousands of spectators come to watch and enjoy the race that is the USA’s answer to the Tour de France.

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So whether you are just taking up the sport or are a seasoned rider you’ll be certain to find some amazing cycling experiences in California!

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