Take a Bike! Improving Health is as Easy as Hopping on Two Wheels
Want a great way to stay in shape and explore some of California’s iconic landscapes and most unique regions?
Try the good old-fashioned bicycle.
From coastal hotspots and urban bike paths to national parks and backcountry tours, you can undertake a cycling adventure on your own ride or grab a rental. The best part? Many bikes are now electric assisted, so you can skip the crazy calorie burn and focus on the fun. But if you are counting calories, several studies have shown that cycling burns more calories than walking, in some cases twice as many calories over the same time span. If you’re trying to slim down, cycling is more likely to suppress your appetite. And according to one recent study, biking is more efficient at reducing blood glucose levels.
Whether you’re a veteran cycler or returning to two-wheeled muscular transport for the first time since you were a kid, California offers plenty of options for all kinds of biking, from easy, flat paths to the rugged trails of Orange and Marin counties, where the sport of mountain biking was born in the 1970s.
Far and away the most popular cycling route in the Los Angeles metro area, Marvin Braude Bike Trail (a.k.a. Beach Bike Path) runs 22 paved miles along the coast between Will Rogers State Beach in Pacific Palisades and Torrance County Beach. Along the way are Santa Monica Pier, the Venice Boardwalk, Marina del Rey and other iconic Southland sights.
There are plenty of places along the Marvin Braude to rent bikes including several in Santa Monica that also offer guided bike tours (santamonica.com/things-to-do/biking-andbike-rentals).
If you’re feeling like something more urban - that showcases a largely undiscovered part of Los Angeles - consider the Orange Line Back Path in the San Fernando Valley. Paved all the way, the route meanders 18.1 miles across the valley floor between North Hollywood and Chatsworth.
Orange County offers equally enticing and easy routes including the shoreline Back Bay Loop in Newport Beach (10 miles) and a mostly downhill Mountain to Sea Trail that meanders through Tustin and Irvine on its way to the coast. Two hours down the interstate, San Diego’s premier bike paths include the popular, fully paved Mission Bay Bike Path (11.4-mile loop).
Want to get away for the weekend? Laced with 12 miles of bike paths, Yosemite Valley offers some of the state’s most scenic cycling. Yosemite Conservancy runs a free bike share program between June and October, and there are three places in the valley to rent bikes. Lake Tahoe is another stunning place to ride. Both paved and relatively flat, the Pope Baldwin Bike Path runs 3.4 miles through the woods along the south shore while the East Shore Bike Path (“America’s Most Beautiful Bikeway”) hugs the Nevada waterfront.
Despite its many hills, San Francisco offers some fairly easy rides including a four-mile cruise across Golden Gate Park that’s especially fun on Sundays and holidays when the park’s main road is closed to vehicular traffic. If you’re feeling energetic, combine the park with a roundtrip cycle across the Golden Gate Bridge. Two of the best resources for finding and following bike paths locally or across the nation are TrailLink (traillink.com) and AllTrails (alltrails.com).