Make no mistake, West Coasters like their cars, but they’re absolutely crazy about their bikes. The region’s diverse terrain and endless beauty makes it the perfect place for every type of cycling. Whether you’re training for a competitive, multi-day tour through the mountains or just cruising the bike lane on your way to work, you love biking. You relish any opportunity to get together with other cycling fanatics to talk shop, share a few beers and bask in all of the glories that bike culture has to offer. Luckily, there are plenty of amazing events all over the West Coast for professional cyclists and environmentally-conscious bike pedestrians alike. From races to festivals, here are five events you need to mark on your calendar right now:
- The Downieville Classic: This early-August event culminates with a 29-mile point-to-point race across the Sierra Nevada mountains before descending into Downieville, California, for an epic celebration. The five-day festival also includes a downhill event and the famous River Jump World Championship on the Yuba River. During your downtime, enjoy a street fare, bike expo and all the West Coast craft beer you can handle. You’ll have earned it after a 7,100 feet climb.
- Tour de Fata: Tour de Fat is Fat Tire’s weirdly wonderful (and wonderfully weird) celebration of the bicycle as a miracle of modern transportation. In addition to advocating for increased sustainability, the festival is a one-stop shop for music, comedy and small-batch beer tastings. Don’t forget to test your balance and calf strength in the bike corral, where bike builders have pushed their creativity to the outer limits. Attendees are highly recommended to wear costumes to match the vibe, so plan your wardrobe accordingly. California bikers can check out Tour de Fat when it hits San Francisco on September 19 and San Diego on September 26.
- El Tour de Tuscon: Tucson is second only to San Diego in miles of bike lanes (610 to be exact). So it’s no surprise that the city is home to one of the most popular bike events of the year. Held on the Saturday before Thanksgiving, El Tour de Tucson typically welcomes over 9,000 participants of all ages and skill levels, and you can choose from a range of route lengths up to 107 miles. The late-November weather means you can enjoy your tour of the Sonoran Desert without fear of heat exhaustion. Best yet, it’s a great chance to burn some calories before the holiday season kicks into gear.
- L’etape California: With over 10,000 feet of climb, L’etape California follows the same route as the final stage of the AMGEN Tour of California. Riders of all experience levels can test their limits with this 20 mile tour along the steep hills and winding paths of Mt. Baldy, California. The race ends with a BBQ and party along the course's final stretch. Last year, participants got to ride alongside cycling legend Jens Voigt. Who knows who will show up next year?
- CrossVegas: Held in September, CrossVegas is the centerpiece of the yearly biking trade show, Interbike. Sponsored by the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., this event also marks the rowdy start of the ‘cross season. The crowds are loud and energetic, and non-competitive riders have the added bonus of finding cash that has been scattered across the course. Oh, and did I mention the event takes place at night just a few minutes from the Vegas Strip? A true win-win for participants and onlookers alike.