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Those on the group flights will be met at San Francisco airport and transferred to our start hotel in Healdsburg, approx. 100km outside of San Francisco. Those on Land Only arrangements should make their own way to the start hotel this afternoon or arrive in time to join the group transfer. Following a short trip briefing this evening, it's time to get some rest before our first day of cycling tomorrow.
Cycle in Napa Valley; optional wine tasting.
After breakfast we transfer to Napa Valley where we'll spend some time getting fitted with bikes and other equipment. Our cycle route takes us into the heart of Napa Valley, one of California's finest wine making regions. In Napa there are over 400 acclaimed wineries, many of which are family owned and run. Our view from the saddle will be dominated by rolling hills carpeted with vineyards, usually under a sunny California sky! The Napa Valley vineyards produce some of the finest wine in the USA, including varieties of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. We join the Silverado Trail, a scenic route along the eastern side of Napa that compromises more than 40 wine estates. We'll stop en route for a picnic and there's an optional visit to a winery for those that would like to sample some of Napa's acclaimed products! Transfer approx. 90km.
Ride through wine country.
The beautiful vineyards of Alexander Valley and Dry Creek Valley surround charming Healdsburg, our overnight location, and so it's from here that we set off this morning to explore the countryside surrounding the valleys. We are likely to see many different types of tree, from towering Redwood to oaks, palm and even cactus on this round-trip along the valley roads. Returning to Healdsburg in the afternoon, there will be some time to explore the pretty town.
See the Russian River by bike.
We transfer from Healdsburg to Russian River where today's cycling begins. The river flows from the heart of California's wine country out to the Pacific coast. Following the bends of the river, we'll take in the vast scenery - much of this area was covered in forest before logging began in the 19th Century. There's an optional 10km cycle detour in order to visit Armstrong Redwood State Natural Reserve, where we can walk in the shadow of California's mighty Redwood trees. By far the tallest living trees on the planet, Redwood's grow up to 80 metres high, with a lifespan of 500 - 1000 years! Back along the river, our route takes us through Sonoma Coast State Park where the salty coastal region beckons as we join our first stretch of Costal Highway 1 - California's most scenic road. Today's final destination is Bodega Bay, a pretty coastal town on a rocky inlet. We will stay overnight in nearby Occidental. Transfer approx. 10km.
Cycle along Tomales Bay to Point Reyes National Seashore.
We transfer to Tomales where we start our ride following Highway 1 along Tomales Bay to Point Reyes National Seashore. This vast area juts out into the Pacific Ocean and is characterised by rocky headlands, expansive grasslands and windswept beaches. Marine wildlife such as sea lions and Elephant seals thrive in this protected habitat. Migratory birds are also attracted to the area and Grey whales pass by on their annual migration. We spend as much of the day as possible exploring the park and learning about its unique history. Our overnight stop will be in the Inverness area which looks onto Tomales Bay. Transfer approx. 25km.
Across the Golden Gate Bridge by bike.
Today's ride takes us from Point Reyes back to Coastal Highway 1, through Samuel Taylor State Park and past Muir Beach and the Muir Woods National Monument where we'll stop for a short walk. Scottish born John Muir, who the Muir Woods area has been named after, was one of the earliest pioneers for ecology, conservation and land protection. Returning to Highway 1 we will pass through the small town of Sausalito, overlooking Richardson Bay. The day ends with one of the most iconic rides of this trip as we enter San Francisco from the north by crossing the Golden Gate Bridge.
City tour of San Francisco; to Monterey Peninsula.
We spend this morning getting to know San Francisco by visiting Union Square, North Beach, Russian Hill, Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf. San Francisco is widely regarded as one of the most picturesque cities in North America. At just 7 miles long, it is a densely populated city, with 43 steep hills overlooking a calm bay and golden beaches. We'll explore the city by foot and minibus, rather than navigating the hills on our bikes! In the middle of the afternoon we'll transfer to our next destination, the Monterey Peninsula. We stay in nearby Salinas. Transfer approx. 185km.
Cycle 17 Mile Drive; visit Point Lobos State Reserve; to Big Sur.
Our day starts on the famous 17 Mile Drive, a scenic route along the edge of the Monterey Peninsula that passes through Pacific Grove and Pebble Beach, with scenic viewpoints along the coastline of the rocky headlands below. Back on Highway 1 we cycle one of the most beautiful sections of the famous road, which curves around the cliffs as waves crash onto the shore below. En route we'll stop at Point Lobos State Reserve where seals, sea lions, sea otters and thousands of sea birds reside. Point Lobos was once described as 'the greatest meeting of land and water in the world' by landscape artist Francis McComas. Our accommodation tonight is in a wonderful country lodge in Big Sur, within the Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park - enjoy a short walk through the Redwoods at the end of the day!
Visit McWay Falls; optional Hearst Castle excursion.
Cycling directly from our accommodation we re-join Highway 1 for another incredibly scenic section of road that passes straight through the Big Sur region. We reach Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, named after a well-respected pioneer, where we'll join a trail to McWay Falls. This is the only major waterfall in California that empties straight onto a beach by the Pacific Ocean, and was once a favourite viewpoint of Julia Pfeiffer Burns. The McWay Falls is now one of the most photographed sights in Big Sur. Back on bikes our ride continues to San Simeon, a small town surrounded by the history of Hearst Castle. Built for the famous newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst, the hilltop castle is now a State Historical Monument. For those that would like to visit the castle (optional extra), it's possible to miss the end part of today's cycling (around 20km) in order to fit this in before the group transfer to Santa Maria. Transfer approx. 125km.
To Santa Barbara, ride to Lake Casitas.
Rather than riding coastal from Santa Barbara, we are starting the day with a short climb into the foothills above Santa Barbara, where will ride along the ridge line with scenic views of the coast below and past some of the finest homes, farms, and ranches of Santa Barbara. We’ll descend to our beach side picnic stop at the coastal town of Carpinteria. After lunch, our route starts to climb 350 metres over the Casitas Pass. Our reward for the long ride is the wonderful view of Lake Casitas from the top and then a great ride downhill towards the lake. We'll take the River Bike Trail back towards Ventura, an affluent beach town typical of California. Transfer approx. 105km.
Free morning for optional excursions; cycle to Santa Monica.
There are various optional excursions to join this morning in the Channel Islands National Park. The park consists of 8 islands off the coast of Southern California, some 14 miles out to sea. A 3 hour excursion focusing on wildlife can be taken around Anacapa and Santa Cruz Island, where it's usually possible to see seals, sea lions and birds. Alternatively, join a 3 hour whale watching excursion, where guides specifically look for whales and dolphins - it's possible to see Orca and Minke whales throughout the year, whereas Humpback and Blue whales only enter the area between June to September. Many species of dolphin are likely to be encountered! In the afternoon we ride towards Santa Monica on the western edge of Los Angeles, before transferring to our hotel. Transfer approx. 45km.
End Los Angeles.
Depending on the time of your return flight you may have the opportunity to visit Los Angeles today! Clients on group flights are then transferred back to Los Angeles airport for their flight home. Land Only clients are free to leave at any time today.