Why California Is One Of The Top Cycling States In The US

KAV is proud to introduce you to all the wonderful cycling spots in the USA. The nation offers different types of terrain and a wide range of races, so naturally, there’s a ton of ground to cover. This is why we’re going to be providing all this information in a blog post series! 

We're going to talk about a different state in each article, and we're kicking things off with the most popular destination for southwest cycling. In our opinion, it's the best state for cycling: California! Although we're biased (it’s our home state, after all), California is a real hotspot for cyclists. Many professional riders and amateurs will come from all over the world to train in the off-season. Plus, there's sunshine, smooth roads, stunning climbs, and the best burritos for that post-ride refueling.

General Riding and Geography of California

In California, when it comes to terrain, climbs, and climate, you’ll definitely experience variety. You can bike along rivers, next to the mountains, and through valleys, or you can bike right beside the cool ocean breeze. Because of the varying landscape across the state, there is always an opportunity to try a new event or discover a new route. There's a different sort of ride for every day of the week!

Key Events and Races in California

No doubt, competitive cyclists should absolutely register for at least one event in California in their lifetime. First, we have to mention The Tour of California, which is sadly no more. This was the biggest professional WorldTour bike race in the USA and covered some classic routes and climbs.

Though the event has ended, there are plenty more that you can participate in, and we’re listing a few of our favorites below.

The Belgian Waffle Ride (BWR) in San Diego County, California

This California cycling event is jam-packed with festivities! Think live music, exceptional (and challenging) routes and — of course — luscious waffles. Don’t hesitate to register. You won’t regret it.

The Grasshopper Adventure Series in northern California

This event includes multiple days of rides spanning various areas in the state. Because what’s better than adventuring in nature, competing for prizes, and savoring cold beers post-race?

The Bovine Classic near San Luis Obispo, California

A cow-themed event in beautiful wine country, Atascadero, California. The Bovine Classic makes for memorable rides. Enjoy a weekend full of rides tailored to all fitness levels. 

Ride Santa Barbara 100 in Santa Barbara, California

As its name suggests, the event takes place along the Santa Barbara coastline. You can choose from a handful of rides, including the Gibraltar Challenge, which is often recognized as the best road cycling climb in all of Southern California.

LifeTime Sea Otter Classic in northern California

We can’t talk about events in California without gushing about this one. It's one of our favorites here at KAV! The Sea Otter Classic takes place in picturesque Monterey, and regardless of ability, it offers a race for everyone.

Tour de Big Bear in Big Bear near San Bernardino, California

We’ll always recommend a trip to Big Bear Lake, a southern California city that offers an ideal spot for enjoying the mountains. This event offers several courses you can conquer with family or friends—and it's only a stone’s throw from LA.

The Best Places to Bike in California

Besides events, you’re also probably curious about where you should bike. Below, we’re sharing what we believe are the most famous and most ridden routes in the state.

King Ridge Loop - Santa Rosa, CA

If you don’t mind high elevation, take the day and head out to Santa Rosa. Breathtaking views of Sonoma County can be found during the King Ridge climb. Cyclists commonly mention that the loop is challenging, so you’ll need to properly train before taking on this route.

King Ridge Loop cycling route map

Latigo Canyon - Malibu, CA 

If you’ve got a few hours to explore around Malibu, you have to take your bike out to play. Latigo Canyon provides almost 60 miles of interesting terrain and unbelievable sights, including a glimpse at the Pacific Ocean. The climb up truly keeps things fun, so you won’t be thinking about your aching legs or the miles you have left. Your mind will be busy taking in the views and considering the best rest stops for some photos!

Latigo Canyon cycling route map

Mulholland Highway - Los Angeles County, CA

Experience 50 miles of climbs and descents through the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Along the way, you’ll even catch some amazing ocean views. Keep in mind that the majority of terrain is paved surfaces, but this doesn’t mean you’ll be in for an easy ride. You’ll need to prepare for this rewarding adventure.

Mulholland Highway cycling route map

Portola Climb - Northern CA 

If you find yourself in NorCal, you’ll need to try this route. Because you’re near a few different preservation areas, your cycling landscape features plenty of redwood trees. Plus, you’ll likely come across some charming places where you can grab a bite along your journey. Fun fact: we named our helmet after this climb!

 Portola Climb cycling route map


Tuna Canyon - Malibu, CA

When you cycle in this area, you’re in a little slice of paradise. Your journey starts on Highway 1, then, you descend down winding roads through the gorgeous canyon. Which, by the way, is not named after the fish, but rather, prickly pear fruits! If you decide to embark on this route, remember to be careful when navigating around heavy traffic.

Tuna Canyon cycling route map


Like we mentioned, these are just a few of the many roads and trails you can embark on within the state. All in all, from the energizing events to the sweet sights, cycling in California can be an unforgettable experience. Don’t forget to periodically check back on our blog, as we’ll be crafting guides for cycling in other states across the country.