What to Expect at the Great Western Bicycle Rally

What to Expect at the Great Western Bicycle Rally

The Great Western Bicycle Rally has become one of the most anticipated family cycling events in the central California region. This is partly due to the variation of activities, from long scenic routes like the Giro di Paso to shorter fun family rides With dozens of beautiful and exciting options, the opportunities are endless and offer one heck of a weekend for any outdoor lover or cyclist. Here’s a short snippet of what to expect to help you kick off and maximize your Memorial Day weekend festivities at the 2016 Great Western Bicycle Rally.

Participant registration officially opens on Friday May 27th, bright and early at 8am. After registering for your desired events, participants can chill at the rally cafe to warm up for the 25 scenic rides of the morning. After enjoying an incredible day of bike touring around the area with family and friends, the day only packs in more fun! Shower trucks are open, so go ahead and refresh yourself for the rest of the day, which offers everything from the Artisan market, the cycling village, kids bike decorating sessions and of course: beer tastings and Pacific pizza. As you socialize, dance to live music and chill the evening will commence with the official Grand opening of the 2016 GWBR.

The next day offers the salsa ride: choose your hot, medium or mild ride preferences or hop on your bike to one of the 25 available scenic rides. Most participants are gearing up for the long-awaited Velo de Femme, the infamous women-only ride through the rolling hills of Paso. The beautiful course offers 49 or 33 mile rides and is fully supported with a winery rest stop and a visit to the Templeton farmers market. The rest of the day continues to kick off on a high note: enjoy more family rides, a wine tasters group ride and wind down with Cyclists massage and a fabulous BarrelHouse brewery tour. More events include Matt Hoffmann’s RAAM movie, the Bike Rodeo awards ceremony, a BMX stunt show and the Velo de Femme awards.

The last day of the event climaxes with the start of the Giro di Paso. The Giro di Paso is a beautiful, fully supported cycling event which takes riders over the range of hills to the West of Paso Robles and down to the Pacific Ocean before a challenging return to Paso Robles up Old Creek Road.  The Scenic Route offers riders wanting shorter miles and less climbing a chance to experience the pretty back roads and winery roads around Paso Robles, Templeton and Atascadero. More activities commence throughout the day, including the Taco truck, G Brothers smokehouse BBQ, Sierra Nevada beer tent and an evening of closing ceremonies, raffles and prizes. Not ready to go home on Monday? Stick around for the awesome director's ride and get a peek into the sights and scenes of the most beautiful gem: Central California.

Don’t miss out on this incredible Memorial Day weekend event. Whether you come alone, with family or friends, you’ll be sure to enjoy an unforgettable event and refresh yourself for the summer ahead!

Register today for the entire four days at $87.50 or $175.50 for the entire family (2 adults and 2 kids).

The History of the Great Western Bicycle Rally

The History of the Great Western Bicycle Rally

The relatively recent, impactful history of the bicycle catches many by surprise.

In the 19th century the bicycle became known as the “freedom machine”, allowing people to travel further and catalyzed women to gain civil equality.  After women experienced what it was like to cycle, necessity caused them to develop more functional clothing, beyond the gigantic fluffy dresses.

Before World War II, the United States had cruiser style bicycles which were mostly single speed.  Faster racing style bikes were being produced in Europe with internal hub and derailleur gearing.

Dr. Clifford Graves was a surgeon and cycle tourist who founded the Great Western Bicycle Rally in 1965. He purchased a European bicycle in France during WWII when he was serving as doctor in the American Army.  In 1944 Dr. Graves found himself in the path of advancing German soldiers when he used the bicycle to ride to safety through the countryside.

 His passion was displayed further by his work and philanthropic creations including founding the International Bicycle Touring Society and the La Jolla Symphony Association, and two books including My Life On Two Wheels, and Front Line Surgeons.   Dr. Clifford Graves is pictured second from right.

In more recent times the festival chair positions have been passed on to other inspiring folks in the cycling world - Robert and Josephine Panzera of CCSD are the chairpersons, bringing extensive cycling and organizational experience to the event attracting cyclists from all over the country.  

The present and past chairs have developed relationships with the Paso community and partners, and the event significantly increases the local economy as a whole. It’s great to see thousands of cyclists exploring the region and interacting with community members, farmers and wineries, developing relationships that will serve us all for decades to come.

There’s something exciting for everyone in the family at the Great Western Bicycle Rally in Paso Robles.  Come visit Paso for a celebration with others who enjoy using freedom machines for fitness, fun, travel and racing.   The Great Western Bicycle Rally features events from Friday May 27th through Monday May 30. Sign up today and come with your freedom machine!

Cycling Event Activities All Weekend

Cycling Event Activities All Weekend

As the cycling industry grows with more riders, the 52nd annual Great Western Bicycle Rally is going to be bigger than ever.  It’s not a trade show, it’s a cycling festival to celebrate and bring your favorite bikes and people - and to celebrate riding with them.  It’s the Grandfather and future of cycling - the essence of cycling;  days in the country with epic routes, family and friends in no hurry or need to get home after the day’s activities. 

The Memorial Day festival is an opportunity for cyclists to #VisitCalifornia for a premier weekend long event with dedicated programs for children, 25+cycling routes, wine touring, competitions, camping and relaxation.   Paso Robles is the meeting place for people to explore and chill with their favorite bikes and friends.   

Family Activities

On Friday, kids can decorate their bikes in the art space, materials provided.  Saturday is the Bike Roadeo: an event that is creatively designed for youngsters and cyclists to accelerate the learning curve of essential bike handling skills.  Riders come out to test their bike handling skills in a series of courses and challenges.  After the Bike Roadeo Saturday also features an organized bike train to Star Farms. Rack up some family miles during an hour of riding to arrive at the oasis, with a pool, beach and palm trees.  Smoothies and Pizza available.

More Fun In Store...

Ride one day in a fully supported gran fondo - the Giro di Paso.  It's common for someone to ride all day like normal only to find they missed out on other adventures, such as.... soaking in one of the local hot springs. Or creating a wine tasting route by stopping at favorites including Justin, Sculpterra,  J. Lohr or a hundred others.  Visit the beach or Big Sur. 

For more information on the rally, visit this article or register here

5 Tips to Prep for a Bike Race

5 Tips to Prep for a Bike Race

Now that you’re looking forward to a 30, 60 or 100+ mile bicycle ride, these five coaching tips will help you reach your goals; from having a fun day on the bike, to finishing towards the front of your age group.   

Comfortable bike fit
We are all different shapes and sizes.  Our inseam, torso, and arm length measurements mean some bicycles will fit us better than others.  First, ask yourself, ‘Do I like getting on my bike? Does it feel good?’  Whether your answer is affirmative or hesitant, do yourself a favor and get a professional bike fit at your local bicycle shop.  At a minimum, ask experienced riders for feedback on your cycling position. 

Why does bike fit matter? A proper fit on a bicycle means being comfortable riding for hours at a time, the ability to handle the bicycle for control and safety, and ensures efficient pedaling dynamics for power output and longevity. 

In advance hydration and nutrition

It’s impossible to give actual food suggestions when there are a variety of ketogenic, paleo and vegan athletes lining up. So instead, the fundamentals are as follows.  Staying hydrated and sustained with nutrition is part of an everyday active lifestyle.  Observe what your body needs to eat and drink on a daily basis to provide sustained energy and stick with these same habits working towards race day, having a substantial breakfast more than an hour before any big ride.  Consume food and water early and often to avoid hitting a wall on your longer training rides.  Drink 1-2 bottles of spring water or RO water with added electrolytes, and the equivalent of two bananas (200 simple calories) per hour while cycling on longer rides.  Supported events have plenty of water, sports drink, fruit and other foods available so make sure to eat in advance and during. Happy eating means happy riding!

Training rides that simulate the event

Learn out about the road surface, distance and elevation profile.  For assurance, train by practicing on hills of different gradients.  Many cycling events, like the Giro di Paso travel for 30 miles or more without any stop lights, so if you’re used to riding in the city, you’ll want to find a road where you can practice an endurance pace - a steady pace you can hold for more than an hour.  Discover your pace that is not too easy and not too hard. This will improve your speed over time.  Practice with intervals of higher speed and then recovering at your current endurance pace.  Your longest training ride should be at least 60% of the race day distance.  Start easy and build.  Too much too fast can cause pain.  Stay within your capacity while still pushing constant improvement. 
Training rides as described imply that you’ve tested all your gear so there are no surprises on race day.   Ask your local bicycle mechanic to do a once over on your bike during the 10 days leading up to the event, leaving time to make any needed repairs. Install any new tires with enough time to test them before race day. 

Practice bunch riding

On the event day, thousands of cyclists share the same roads.  This is good news for the prepared! By leveraging the physics of the peloton traveling through space, aka, a group of cyclists riding together, one can travel further and faster while saving up to 40% of energy.  How to be prepared: practice bunch riding!  Reach out to a local cycling club and let them know you would like to learn bunch riding.  Feel free to ask a fellow cyclist on the road if you can practice riding together and experiencing the draft phenomenon.  A few main tips for drafting cyclists are to hold a steady line, use hand signals and voice to point out obstacles, protect your front wheel, and when you can do those things, take turns doing the harder work at the front.  


On the night before race day, relax knowing you’ve already done the hard work in training.  This way you can fall asleep trusting that you’re in good shape to enjoy the ride. If Perhaps you’re reading this the night before, with no prep time - just go have fun and remind yourself how glorious it feels to ride a bicycle.

Come join us for the 2016 Great Western Bicycle Rally! We've got you covered with massage, support and recovery stations.

7 Routes to Cycling Nirvana in Paso Robles

7 Routes to Cycling Nirvana in Paso Robles

The routes listed here feature a variety of terrain, wineries and inviting picnic areas to choose from, and few or no stop lights.  The routes below range from 22 to 162 miles, with several choices for fitness riders, wine touring, and gran fondo routes routes. The Great Western Bicycle Rally every May features many organized rides, the two most popular are listed below.

Probability boldly suggests there will be sunshine, and delicious rhone style wines available.  During the harvest there are quaint fruit and nut stands to replenish with nutrient rich foods.  The east side is relatively level and warmer and the west side has foothill and mountain roads. All of these routes have options for more miles and elevation, some can be made shorter. 

Velo De Femme
All Women’s ride! 33 and 49 mile options, beautiful roads, fully supported with ride leaders and opportunities to get coaching and riding tips from local bike store Best Bike Zone.  This is the main women’s ride at the Great Western Bicycle Rally. There is a winery rest stop and an optional visit to the attractive Templeton Farmers Market on the way back. Support van included to carry your farmers market bounty back to the rally.  Learn more about this ride or register to ride!

Linne Rd.  ‘bike trail’
Eastside Paso is much flatter than the west side, but still has some inclines ranging from gentle to pitchy. Cass and Sculpterra wineries on this road have partnered to raise cycling awareness in the community by openly developing the notion of the Linne Rd. bike trail and inviting cyclists to enjoy their environment. 

Take Union east and turn right on gravel Penman Springs Road, turn left on Linne Rd.  It’s 11 miles one way to Cass Winery, where they provide ice water on tap.  Their hamburgers are extraordinary.  From here one can head back on Linne Rd. all the way to town or continue for a loop route for further eastside exploration.  A hidden gem in the area for nature and produce lovers is windrose farm. Continue east on Linne Rd. which becomes Geneseo Rd., go up the short steep climb, continue downhill and turn left on El Pharo Drive.  

Peachy Canyon

Just peachy! Canyon is a must for anyone interested in a super scenic challenge. The climb starts in central Paso at 6th and Olive St. gaining 1,200 feet over 7 miles with respite, a brief descent, coming at the halfway mark.  Peachy canyon is a descenders dream ride made of smooth, sweeping turns.  Go up to the summit and back down for a 14 mile out and back route.   Peachy canyon is a highlight of many famous loop routes in the area.

Peachy Canyon Loop with Adelaida or Chimney Rock Rd. 

These are the three main roads in western paso that run east to west through the vineyards, eventually intersecting Vineyard Dr, running North to South. Vineyards, tasting rooms, farms, and natural habitat make these loops a road cycling dream.  For 27 miles with more than 2,000 feet of climbing, start just north of town and take Nacimiento Lake Dr. west, then turn left on Adelaida Rd. continuing up a long climb before turning south on Vineyard Dr. Then left on Peachy Canyon. For 40 miles and 3,300 feet of gain and even more remote sections, start the same way,  but instead of turning left on Adelaida Rd., continue straight uphill onto Chimney Rock Rd. Here is a map to give you a visual on the loop route.

Star Farms Bike Train
The oasis of Star Farms, swimming is welcomed here. This is a great place to be and you can get here with a group of cyclists this May, take part in the supported bike train route for cyclists of all abilities, simply throw picnic supplies and towels in the van and enjoy the day!  More information on joining the Memorial Day weekend festival.

Kiler Canyon
Roadirt cycling is growing in popularity and this route shows us why.  If you’ve practiced on dirt or gravel, and like climbing, you might be ready to find out why some locals call this wickedly unique road ‘killer’ canyon.  Kiler Canyon is paved for a few miles, giving way to dirt, climbing rapidly under oak canopies and passing through olive, nut and veggie farms.  The gradient eases for the last couple miles and eventually meets the pavement at the summit of Peachy Canyon Road. Turn left to extend your ride, or turn right to descend paved Peachy Canyon into Paso.

Cayucos and Old Creek Road

The fully supported Giro di Paso features 60 and 100 mile century options, which both ride along the coastal highway one into the seaside town of Cayucos. After lunch, the fully supported route climbs above the sea through the avocado and oak groves of Old Creek Canyon.  Rise first above the ocean, then beyond whale rock reservoir, and through the lush canyon sides of Old Creek Rd.  The climb is a feat for any cyclist, and competitive ones can push their limits to strive for the King of the Mountain.  Check out the Giro di Paso, which happens every May during the Great Western Bicycle Rally.

Big Sur Bonus Route

For hard core riders who like to ride for 10+ hours, here is an idea for a 162 mile loop with 10,000+ feet of climbing.  Featuring pacific ocean frontage and remote, long, steep mountain roads, this route pays homage to the essence of randonneuring and extreme feats.  Verify road conditions and use caution throughout this journey.

Top Memorial Day Cycling Events

Top Memorial Day Cycling Events

What to expect at the Most Popular Memorial Day Cycling Event:

The Great Western Bicycle Rally, taking place in the premier wine producing and cycling destination of Paso Robles, CA epitomizes California’s active vacation culture. On Memorial Day weekend, May 27th-30th 2016, thousands of cyclists, friends and families will congregate here, in California’s central coast, for a weekend full of bicycle events, vineyard relaxing and exploring.   

Location & Accommodations
    Located in the pacific coastal hills of San Luis Obispo County, routes flow and wines stem in a variety of terrain and flavors including lower elevations and high up in the Santa Lucia Mountain Range.

The 51st Great Western Bicycle Rally, held this Memorial Day weekend from May 27th to May 30th has exclusive use of the Paso Robles events center, also known as the county fairgrounds.  ‘The Hub’ is the cycling village where people can relax and laugh together, especially during afternoon and evening festivities.  25+ cycling routes begin here and parents take comfort that young children can safely ride around the western themed venue.

Grassy camping areas abound plus a separate space for trailers and RV’s.  On site amenities include clean and hot showers, santa maria style community bbq pits, picnic areas, and gardens.  If camping isn’t for you, many ralliers stay at a partner hotel or vacation rental. The Rally is located one mile north of the Paso Robles downtown district and city park - an adorable town square lined with enough cute shops to keep any shopper blissed out.  

What’s included?

Full registration includes four days of cycling festivities including supported bike rides, access to the cycling village, competitions, family and kids events, cycling films and live sessions, pasta night, local craft wine and beer tasting nights, and more.

Fully supported Gran Fondos include Saturday’s Women only Velo de Femme and Sunday’s Giro di Paso.  There are also organized adventure rides, the famous wine tasting ride and family outing to the Star Farms oasis.  Additionally, there are 25 mapped routes for riders to co-create their own adventure.  All routes begin on site, save a couple of the mountain bike rides.

The fun yet competitive events are as follows:

 The hill climb competition happens two miles from the event center and requires a short and dedicated effort, great for spectators! Everyone can enter for fun and accomplishment. There’s also a time trial competition and a King and Queen of the Mountain competition during Giro di Paso with a climber’s jersey prize.  A track stand competition happens one evening in the cycling village. 

Additional Event Info:
Every afternoon and evening after the day’s adventures, the hub is flowing with freshened up cyclists, local beer, wine, food, vendors, and a velo-give where you can name the price on a sweet bike part or jersey, raising money for velo-youth.  There’s a number of other happenings including guest speakers and a Professional BMX show.
A four day pass with all events and tastings included is only $87.50, and can be purchased on the registration page

Wood fired pizza available all weekend, fresh brewed locally roasted coffee, ice cream, snacks and drinks available. Supermarkets and restaurants are close by.  Sunday afternoon BBQ available and the option to use community coals for your own cookout.  Sierra Nevada truck will be present.

A full event schedule is available on the Great Western Bicycle Rally website. 

Who attends?

Thousands of people who enjoy cycling, exploring California, wine tasting, and friends have a blast here.   At the venue you’ll see people on fitness bikes, road bikes, tandems, recumbents, cyclocross, mountain and beach cruisers.  Newer is the trend of Cargo bicycles loaded with grinning kids. You’ll also notice groups of friends from all generations, social and adventure clubs, beginner and veteran cyclists, even world record holders.

When one newly discovers the joys and benefits of cycling it is common to ask  ‘how did it take me this long to discover?’.  When I first discovered the Great Western Bicycle Rally, the same question came up.