There’s a short list of required cycling pilgrimages and Carrizo Plain gravel definitely makes the selection.
I have been literally waiting for years to do this ride, not only timing it with the cooler months, but for the same reason this National Monument becomes such a focal attraction: the Superbloom!
Rainfall has been scarce in California, but this year was the first reversal in awhile and immediately went to Instagram to see how the blossum was developing.
Really all I had to do was looking at the news coverage because Carrizo Plain is front and center as poppy central.
My problem for making this trip was similar to my Glacier Point excursion in that nature dictates the timing and when Ride California happened to open up a second day for their Peregrine Grondo that fortuitous worked with my schedule.
I was so thrilled to have experienced it this way because even though this 66 mile loop has a short amount of climbing and the surfaces are in very good shape, having support and water stops took away that worry so I could immerse in the environment.
What also made this a proper day was how this was a ride and not a race as everyone was centered on looking around instead of worrying about getting ahead of the next person.
The west side of the loop is more popular with tourists and is paved in parts, but is pretty flat even when doing some of the offshoots into the hills.
Crossing the San Andreas fault brings the only main effort of the day and if you’re new to cycling, even hiking up this moderate grade is worth it as it’ll just take a few minutes more than biking.
From here, you get a nice perspective of Carrizo Plain, but crossing the other side of the ridge is where it gets special just be cautious of a short, steep part of the descent.
If you haven’t already taken notice, Elkhorn Road raises the bar placed closer to the hillsides not to mention more solitude from tourists and vehicles.
The east definitely has more rollers that’s super fun to plug through and the reward is the descent down around Soda Lake.
While the colors were amazing, Carrizo Plain gravel is exceptional enough to experience any time of the year.