Recently, Destination Irvine hosted travel blogger, Elena Sonnino. Elena's interests were hiking and outdoor recreation so as the Director of Tourism Marketing, I thought this would be a great opportunity to showcase biking in Orange County and Irvine's 300+ miles of on-road cycling lanes and its 50 miles of off-road bike trails.
I heard about the Mountains to Sea Trail, a 22-mile trail that runs from Weir Canyon (Irvine) to Upper Newport Bay (Newport Beach), which connects networks of urban parks, trails and preserved natural lands, however, while I am an avid runner and swimmer, I have not been on a bike in more than two years so the thought of a 22-mile ride as part of my "work" day seemed a bit daunting. Not to mention, where would I get bikes as the blogger was traveling from D.C. and my bike was in desperate need of a tune-up.
I did some searching on the Internet and discovered Trail's End Cycling Center; they offer a bike concierge - they deliver bikes and helmets to guests' hotels and provide either a guided ride or a pre-programmed GPS for visitors. I decided since this was all new to me that I would have Trail's End navigate.
Prior to, Trail's End asked me a number of questions to make certain the equipment they were providing best suited Elena's and my needs. What was our skill level? Did we want clipless or flat pedals? Water bottles with water or sports drink and what was our preference of bike, drop-bar racing or flat bar?
We met Dan in the hotel parking lot and began the process of adjusting our helmets and bike seats to best accommodate our individual proportions. And then we were off - we started our ride at approximately 9:15 a.m. on a Wednesday with minimal amount of traffic for the area and rode from the Hilton Irvine (MacArthur Boulevard) down Campus Drive to the corner of University Drive to pick up the Mountains to Sea Trail across from the UC Irvine.
My 22-mile fear was put to rest as we decided to ride from the corner to Upper Newport Bay, approximately 13 miles round trip.
The trail is largely asphalt with some sections of concrete and crushed rock. Much of the trail is accessible and nearly flat grades, although there were two or three inclines that made me aware of my gluts.
The Mountains to Sea Trail runs is part of the 50,000 acres of open space preserved on The Irvine Ranch. The trail runs through the Cities of Anaheim, Orange, Tustin, Irvine, Newport Beach, and the County of Orange.
And it's not just for cycling; we saw plenty of runners, moms pushing strollers and couples walking dogs during our ride.
It's a shame that I've lived in Southern California for more than six years and first now took advantage of this picturesque bike trail. I swear, with you as my witness, that I will bike the Orange County trails more often.