Our tour begins when we meet in the morning in San Jose. After a brief introductory meeting, we transfer to the Wine Country town of Paso Robles.
Upon arrival in Paso Robles, we take a warm-up ride through the rolling orchards and vineyards surrounding Paso Robles. Tonight's stay is at Paso Robles Inn, a historic boutique hotel locating in downtown Paso Robles.
After breakfast in Paso Robles, our first full stage takes us on an even bigger loop through the rolling hills of wine country. With over 32,000 acres of planted vineyards, today's ride is sure to be scenic. Stop in to any that catch your eye, there are tasting rooms sprinkled throughout the route, most specializing in Zinfandel and Rhone varietals. Lodging tonight is back in Paso Robles where you'll have an on your own evening to explore town.
After breakfast at our hotel, our route takes us over the coastal range to the Pacific Coast and the harbor town of Morro Bay. The stage's finish is at the water's edge, where you can watch the fishing boats, sea birds and harbor seals. Today involves a short shuttle at the end of the ride, busy roads have never been our favorite to ride! Our destination for the evening is along the ocean at Avila Beach, where our lodging for the night is Avila Lighthouse Suites. Relax in your room or stroll the beach before dinner together at a location nearby.
After another hearty breakfast and a shuttle through to the best part of the cycling route, we pedal out of Santa Maria Valley and inland once again through the rolling pastures and oak studded hillsides that recline beneath the majestic San Rafael Mountains. Here we are treated to one of the Top Ten bike rides: Foxen Canyon and Ballard Canyon. Remote and scenic, this route rolls past quiet pastures and wineries with unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains. Our first town to visit is the Danish influenced Solvang, known for its quaint Scandinavian architecture and Old World hospitality. The feedzone is at the Solvang Coffee Co, where you can re-caffeinate and re-fuel before we then roll towards our destination for the night: Santa Ynez, an even tinier hideaway. Our lodging for the next two nights is the elegant and luxurious Santa Ynez Inn, a Victorian bed and breakfast.
Stage 5 in Santa Ynez is officially a "rest" day. But since cyclists on a multi-stage tour know that riding on "rest" days is a good idea, there are a few rides to choose from. You may choose to join a casual ride to explore more of the local area. You may wish to revisit Solvang and its myriad shops and tasting rooms. You may decide to test your climbing legs on a local climb. Or you may truly want a rest day to luxuriate at the Santa Ynez Inn's spa.
The final stage of the tour is a morning promenade on another great ride that roughly follows the individual time trial route the pros rode in the Amgen Tour of California. We once again get to experience that little slice of cycling heaven, Ballard Canyon, but this time in the opposite direction. Then it's a fast spin back to Santa Ynez to clean up, before we transfer you back to our meeting location in San Jose.
Had a great time cycling on the Desert Escape Tour. Undiscovered Country Bike Tours really know what's needed to provide exceptional service on a fully supported bike adventure. From start to finish everything was taken care of - from great bikes that were accurately sized, to goodie bags, maps, repair kits, drinks and snacks - they had thought of everything. That combined with a great group of people of all ages and abilities made for a very enjoyable experience. The cycling was challenging but lots of fun - everyone could go at their own pace. Scott and Rick, our guides, were very friendly, fun to hang out with and they went out of their way to make sure everyone was looked after. The accommodations were very comfortable and there were plenty of opportunities to enjoy the facilities at the resorts. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend - I'm sure I'll be back for another adventure.
TripAdvisor January 2013