By Linda Bentley, The Packed Bag

The OC 8 Day Challenge started in Irvine, which I call "the Singapore of California;" it's clean, safe and has  a large ExPat/Asian population.

It began life in 1878 when James Irvine acquired 110,000 acres (450 km2) of ranch land which stretched 23 miles (37km) from the Pacific Ocean to the Santa Ana River. His son, James
Irvine, Jr, incorporated it into The Irvine Company (which owns Hotel Irvine) and shifted the ranch operations to field, olive and citrus crops. While the crops are long gone and it's considerably smaller at 66 miles2 (170km2), Irvine is now 'one of the nation's largest planned urban communities.'

It's the perfect base for your OC vacation as the ocean is only 7 miles (11km) away and more than one-third of the entire City of Irvine is permanently preserved as parks, natural open space and trails. By all means, head out to the theme parks and beaches, then come back to the peace and quiet of Irvine with its wide streets and ample space.

Voted #20 of 50 "America's Best Small Cities" to live by Money Magazine,  the FBI has rated it "America's Safest Big City over 100,000 population" every year since 2005.

I had a ball and highly encourage you to visit this unique part of California.

Experience

Pedego Electric Bikes

This is the first time I've been on a bike since the 'Stanley Park incident,' which we will never mention again. Thankfully, this was an entirely different experience.

As I finally arrived at Pedego Bikes Irvine inside the Woodbridge Shopping Centre (my GPS thought it was further down the road) I was met by the owner, Bob Bibee - electric bike evangelist and all-round good guy - who was to give me a personal tour of the many miles of
bike trails around Irvine.

Pedego bikes are no ordinary bikes, they are battery assisted. This means you can get help climbing those hill and I did, time and time again, I'm not ashamed to admit. The most surprising thing was not that I used the assist but that Irvine has the most amazing area of - mostly unknown - bike trails.

Alas, not everything went smoothly. I decided to get off the bike and take the picture above right and in doing so, I dismounted and kept hold of the bike with my right hand...where the throttle is. Yep, I was revving the engine and making the bike do a wheelie all the while aware
something was going wrong but not that I was causing it. Bob came to my rescue, removed my hand and the bike took a header in the arroyo. If he hadn't jumped in I would have done the same! I was assured that I wasn't the first to do this and I'm going to believe it. Aside from that little misadventure, it was loads of fun and good for you, too. Not often you can say that!...

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