7 of the best bike events in California

This winter has officially been an all-time winter in Lake Tahoe. The California drought ended, precipitation records were broken, and Northstar broke its winter snowfall record (now at 708 inches!). However, we’re now in the final days of the winter ski season. Snowy ski trails are receding, and soon, hiking and biking trails will be appearing.

As such, it’s time to start talking all things spring and summer around Lake Tahoe and beyond. And there are few things I love more about spring and summer in California than biking. Lake Tahoe is home to amazing bike experiences, whether it’s speeding down Northstar California's Bike Park, home to the only Specialized Bike Academy in the world, traversing the scenic Flume Trail and Tahoe Rim Trail, or cruising the Truckee River Bike Trail.

In the coming weeks I’ll be sharing more about some of Lake Tahoe’s best bike experiences. However, today, I'm switching things up on Tahoe Ascent by discussing the best bike events in California, around Lake Tahoe, and beyond. 

Best Bike Events in California

Sea Otter Classic

Sea Otter Classic is one of the world’s largest cycling events, taking place in one of the most beautiful places in California, Monterey. Sea Otter is the be-all bicycling event in California, featuring everything from recreational rides to the Bike Play Zone for children to competitions for pros and amateurs alike to North America's largest consumer bike expo. Bring your own bike for a quick tune-up from the Velofix Mobile Bike Repair or demo the latest and greatest bikes. This is the bicycling event in California. For those attending, look out for Northstar's booth, next to the big Specialized booth, for discounted bike park season passes and prize giveaways.

Tour de Tahoe – Bike Big Blue

Tour de Tahoe is just that, a bike ride circumnavigating the 72-mile shoreline of Lake Tahoe. The ride, dubbed, “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride,” begins in South Lake Tahoe, following the highways around Lake Tahoe clockwise. However, be forewarned, it’s not for beginner bicyclists, as the ride involves several thousand feet in elevation gain, including a couple challenging climbs like Emerald Bay and Spooner Junction. Not to mention, highways are still open to motor vehicles during the ride.

Tahoe Trail 100

The Tahoe Trail 100 is to mountain biking what Tour de Tahoe is to road biking, characterized by beautiful summit and Lake Tahoe views, but without car traffic. Hosted by Northstar, the course features a 2-loop, 50-kilometer course amidst the beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. At more than 60 miles long and thousands of feet of elevation gain, this is for the serious mountain biker. Additionally, Northstar plays host to Sierra Prospect, a road bike rally from the lake to the desert and back. 

Her Mountain

Last week on Tahoe Ascent, Luke Sheppard shared about Northstar California’s Specialized Bike Academy, which is the only one of its kind in the world. And one of the academy’s coolest things is Her Mountain, an exclusive event exclusively for females of all riding abilities. The two-day event features coaching and riding Northstar’s Downhill Park, as well as other cool perks like meals, free recovery yoga and a wine mixer on the last day. No bike, no problem. The latest and greatest Specialized bikes are available for rent each day. This summer’s Her Mountain dates are July 22-23 and August 19-20.

Amgen Tour of California

Dubbed the Tour of California, this annual professional cycling stage race of the UCI America Tour and USA Cycling Professional Tour covers several hundred miles over eight days. It is the California road race, with some of the past winning teams and cyclists having also won the Tour de France. For this year's women's race, North Lake Tahoe is a featured sponsor, with South Lake Tahoe hosting the first two stages. While spectators line the routes, there are also a number of VIP experiences available, such as time trial rides for amateur bicyclists and VIP car rides in the official peloton vehicle.

CicLAvia

CicLAvia is my personal favorite California bicycling event, happening several times per year in Los Angeles when the streets of an L.A. area are closed off to motor vehicles all day for bicycles. The original term to describe the open streets project is Ciclovía, which is Spanish for “cycleway,” originating in Colombia, where every Sunday, miles of roads in cities like Bogota are closed to cars. L.A.'s most recent CicLAvia, from Culver City to Venice, had everything from free bike repair stations to food trucks to a beer garden to local merchants giving away free water and selling everything from fresh lemonade to tacos. The event, which usually takes place several times a year, has grown to become the largest open streets event in the U.S., with walkers, runners, skateboarders, and roller bladers also cruising the streets. The next one is June 11 in Glendale.

CampoVelo. CampoVelo is the newest bike event to California, its inaugural event happening in a couple weeks in Napa Valley. CampoVelo, taking place April 28-30, combines three of my favorite things: Bicycling, food, and wine. Best event ever? The weekend will feature a number of different rides for all skill levels, including women’s only rides and rides with current and former pro cyclists. Other events over the course of the weekend include guided hikes paired with yoga, multi-course dinners, and wine and beer tastings.

Southern born and bred, Spencer was bitten by the travel bug at a young age, flying on a plane for the first time at age five and by himself for the first time at seven. While he continues to travel around the world in search for the best whiskey, Spencer now calls Reno home, where his search is for the best cocktail (and first tracks, naturally). He has written about travel, food, and drinks for a number of publications that have included the Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Outside Magazine, and Travel + Leisure, just to name a few. See a more candid version of Spencer on his website, whiskeytangoglobetrot.com, and follow him on Twitter and Instagram.