Stage 5 of this year’s Tour of California covers epic Central Coast scenery on a ride from Santa Barbara to Avila Beach. Get a sample of the big ride on an 8-mile loop in Santa Barbara that covers the first 5 miles the professionals will race. Ocean views start from the get-go as you cruise up a bike trail along Leadbetter Beach paralleling Shoreline Drive. Pedal beneath tall palm trees to an ocean bluff where you’ll pass Shoreline Park and some impressive oceanfront homes. It’s a zippy descent to Las Positas Road (Las Positas Bike Route) before you swing inland and up a verdant canyon towards gorgeous views of the Santa Ynez Mountains. Unlike the pros, you don’t have to tackle the mountains, so relax, leave the race route, and circle back to the start on the Crosstown and Castillo Bike Routes.
BONUS: Brake at FisHouse (101 East Cabrillo Blvd.) for some locally caught seafood in their signature cioppino. Or carb-up with the spicy seafood pasta.
Start from the intersection of Castillo St. and Shoreline Dr. in Santa Barbara (map). Bike west up Shoreline Dr., using the bike path, for the first mile to Shoreline Park. Just beyond, Shoreline Dr. becomes Meigs Rd. At 2.4 miles, turn left on Cliff Dr. Bike a mile down to Las Positas Rd. and turn right. Ride 1.6 miles up to Modoc Rd. and turn right. Pedal to the end of the road and turn left on Mission St. Pass under the 101 Fwy. and make the next right on Castillo St. to bike 2 miles back to the start.