Handcycleing in the Santa Barbara wine country
This past weekend my wife and I took a gander up the beautiful California coast to hook up with an outfit called Santa Barbara Wine Country Cycling Tours. It is tough to know what to expect from a tour company that does not deal with handcycles on a regular basis. It turns out that these guys are awesome and we had a blast.
They are located in the small community of Santa Ynez, CA nestled in the Santa Ynez valley, home to some of the best wine country in the Santa Barbara area. It is also home to some of the best cycling in California, with tons of quiet back roads with virtually no traffic. It is no coincidence that the Amgen Tour of California passes through the area, and in years past held a time trial in Solvang, just 3 miles from Santa Ynez.
Solvang is a Danish community, and a veritable tourist trap. It is pleasant enough, with loads of great restaurants and hotels. There are loads of accessible options for accommodation. There are plenty of opportunities to taste the local wine…..
Sunday morning we met with Tim Gorham, the owner at the shop in Santa Ynez. Unloaded the handcycles and Catrike….. spent about half an hour getting to know them, talking bikes, and discussing a route. We decided to ride happy canyon a moderate – easy 26 mile ride. After a few adjustments, we saddled up and set off with our guide Chris.
Happy Canyon is a spectacular picturesque ride that winds through back country roads past sun draped vineyards and horse ranches. It is an out and back ride, with a net gain in elevation on the way out, which makes for a fast, and enjoyable ride back. The terrain was mostly rolling hills with a couple of steep climbs, all perfect riding country for a handcycle. We turned back once we started to get into the oak studded foothills of the mountains. All the way Chris imparted pearls of wisdom upon us which could only have come from years of riding these same back roads.
We rode back to the Bridlewood winery, just 4 miles from the bike shop, where we were greeted by a gourmet picnic in the picturesque winery gardens. The lunch stop was very welcome by 1pm, when we finally sat down to eat. During lunch Chris took the opportunity to hop on the handcycle and take it for a spin.
Following lunch we headed inside to the tasting room to check out the local wine. One thing to consider at this point is that it is still a decent ride back to the bike shop, so over-indulging is probably not a very good idea.
All in all if you are a handcyclist or a recumbent rider, looking for a fantastic cycling vacation, I can not recommend these guys enough. We had an amazing time. The pace which was set was perfect for a leisurely handcycle ride, and they were very accommodating all along the way.
For more information about tours contact:
Tim Gorham, Santa Barbara Wine Country Cycling Tours
3630 Sagunto Street, PO Box 1439, Santa Ynez, CA 93460
3555 Roblar Avenue, Santa Ynez, CA 93460