Tania and I have ridden our bikes all over the world and Santa Barbara is right at the top. Great weather, incredible scenery, the ocean, mountains, and places you can ride without a lot of traffic. We stayed at the Canary Hotel downtown. Great place right in the middle of town and near State St. where all the action happens. The first ride was about 20 miles and around 1300 feet of climbing. Data thanks to my Node computer. Get the same kind of information that I get from my Garmin and I don’t need to worry about charging it up.
We start the ride down State St., to the ocean, and then on the bike path along the ocean towards Montecito. Absolutely beautiful with the sun coming up in the morning. Follow the bike path to San Yisidro and take a left towards Monticeto. This is really a nice road once you get over the 101. A steady mild climb for a couple of miles until you hit East Mountain Drive. Take a left and head back towards Santa Barbara. Very winding road with not a lot of traffic. Incredible views of both the mountains and the ocean. Even a stream to ride through. Take Mission Canyon back to Santa Barbara.
One of the more colorful and memorable mailboxes that I have seen in my travels!
The next ride is one of my all-time favorites. As large as I am, (trying to get smaller) I really like to climb. One of the best rides I've done is what I refer to as the Gibraltar ride. It's around 34 miles long with 5,000 feet of climbing. We start in downtown Santa Barbara and head up past the Mission to Mission Canyon Road and from there to Gibraltar road. Gibraltar heads straight up the mountain — one of the best climbs in the United States. The distance from downtown Santa Barbara to the top of Gibraltar is 12 miles. Once you hit Gibraltar the climb averages over a 7.5% grade. Some spots hit 15%. The views along the way are amazing!
Once you get to the top of Gibraltar, take a left onto El Camino Cielo which goes along the ridge of the mountain. Views on the left of the ocean and on the right of the Los Padres National Forest. Amazing!!! After 3 miles take a left onto Painted Cave Road and hold on tight. Lots of turns and a very steep decent. This goes on for quite a ways and we had to stop just to stretch our hands from all the braking. From Painted Cave we took San Marcos and back on the 192 to Santa Barbara.
My advice? Take a cycling vacation in Santa Barbara. If you want a great experience (I'm biased, of course), Trek Travel offers their Classic Climbs of Santa Barbara trip.