Walking from my recently renovated room # 33 at Alisal Guest Ranch to the main pasture in front of the resort,  I was meeting a group of friends for a morning ride around Santa Ynez’s wine country. Then, I excitedly saw ten Titanium Motobecane road bikes resting against the white wooden fence.

Motobecane bikes offer a plush ride with sweet handling, so for a novice like me, used to riding a cruiser, I was excited to ride on a thoroughbred of a bike. Long time Santa Ynez resident and Alisal employee, Eric Larsen, greeted us, adjusted our seats, helped us with our helmets and shared how excited he was to show us his hometown.

The Alisal’s 10,500 acre cattle ranch is surrounded by diverse country roads and scenic vistas, attracting some of the top professional cyclists to the valley to train throughout the year. Larsen developed an exclusive guided cycling tour program for guests of all riding abilities to experience the varied terrain of the Santa Ynez Valley.

Pumpkin Patch

Photo by Jill Weinlein

Some of his favorite routes throughout the valley include: Figueroa Mountain Route, Jalama Beach Route, Foxen Canyon Road, The Amgen Time Trial Route, Santa Rosa Loop, and an ambitious Highway One Loop.

My 17.5 mile riding adventure was led by Larsen through Solvang and to the Mission Santa Inés. We rode out towards Los Olivos and stopped for water breaks and to take photographs of the pastoral scenery.

For guests looking for a cycling experience with a wine component, some routes ride right by Fess Parker, Firestone, Curtis and Sanford. For an additional cost, Alisal can incorporate a ride to a wine tasting destination and arrange for a van to pick up later. Alisal will also arrange to have guests see and ride through vineyards as part of the tour and then, after the ride,  taste wines back at the Ranch for a private tasting.

Not only is Alisal Guest Ranch a bucolic spot for cycling, but also horseback riding. With more than 50 miles of horseback riding trails, many guests enjoy a morning breakfast ride to the historic Old Adobe for a gourmet breakfast, cowboy sing-along and campfire.

Horses at Alisal Guest Ranch

Photo by Jill Weinlein

The Alisal Guest Ranch is known as a premier Dude Ranch, with 73 guest cottages and suites for couples, families and corporate retreats. Rooms range from newly renovated one room studios to deluxe two room suites with romantic wood-burning fireplaces. Each room has a King or CA king bed, coffee maker, refrigerator, blow dryer, iron and safe.

Later after lunch, guests play on one of the two 18-hole championship golf courses, relax in the 6,500 square foot spa and fitness center, lounge around the heated pool, hit some balls on one of six tennis courts or boat around the 100-acre spring-fed lake. Activities at the lake include fly fishing, canoeing and kayaking.

Dinner is prepared from French trained executive chef, Pascal Gode, specializing in hearty American cuisine with French and Mediterranean accents. Since Alisal Guest Ranch is located in the heart of Santa Barbara County’s wine country, Chef Gode has many opportunities to prepare elaborate wine dinners and showcase his expertise in haute cuisine.

The Alisal offers a guided cycling package for two that includes a two-night stay in deluxe studio accommodations with breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. Inside the room is a welcome basket with Alisal logo cycling jerseys and water bottles. Larsen and his staff will guide guests on two rides per day. Afterwards, guests are welcomed to the Alisal Spa for therapeutic massages. The package includes horseback riding, golf green fees, tennis, fishing at Alisal Lake for $2295, based on double occupancy. It’s available Sunday through Thursday nights, September through May, or any two nights from November through March (excluding summer or holiday periods). For weekends during September, October, April, May, add $200 to the midweek package price.

The Alisal Guest Ranch and Resort is located at 1054 Alisal Road.

For reservations, please contact Alisal Guest Ranch & Resort at 888.4.ALISAL, via email at reservations@alisal.com or visit the Ranch on the web at www.alisal.com.