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Great Western Bicycle Rally: Calling Paso Home for 39 Years
Monday, May 8, 2017
For its first 14 years the Great Western Bicycle Rally was held in various locations around Southern California. In 1979, it arrived in Paso Robles and here it has stayed for the last 39 years. Why? Because there simply isn’t anywhere else quite like Paso Robles for cyclists; somewhere that offers variety of riding terrain, a multitude of roads to choose from, beautiful scenery and a host of a ‘off the bike’ attractions.
Held each year over Memorial Day weekend, the festival celebrates all things to do with bikes, with over 25 different ride options, kids activities, bike ‘roadeo’, cycling contests, wine and beer tasting, cycling expo, BBQ, wood fired pizza and fun festivities all weekend at the Paso Robles Event Center.
Cyclists take part in a variety of rides; discovering the beauty of the Pacific coastline, exploring Paso Robles’ renowned vineyards, tasting locally brewed craft beers and stopping to sample ice cream, local honey, chocolate, artisan baked goods, coffee and olive oil. There are rides to the zoo, to the rodeo, to the beach, to a private lagoon, to the old mission and to the farmers market. There are several tours stopping at vineyards to the West and East of Paso Robles, a tour of local breweries, a women-only (fully supported) ride and routes that allow riders to discover some of Paso Robles challenging but fun dirt roads.
On Friday evening there is a beer tasting event sponsored by Barrelhouse Brewery, where attendees can experience a selection of barrel aged beers, take part in a track stand contest, a drift trike race or join the kids in a bike decorating session.
On Saturday, after exploring all that Paso Robles has to offer, riders can return to the Event Center in time to take part in a kids bike ‘roadeo’ and face painting, roast marshmallows at the S’mores Station, enjoy a pasta meal and taste a variety of wines at the evening tasting event. This year the guest speakers on Saturday night are a challenged athlete team who overcame all the odds to become the first quadriplegic athlete team to complete the Silver State 508 (a 508 mile race) and a half ironman earlier this year.
Sunday is the day that the Giro di Paso (Tour of Paso) takes place, a fully supported ride where cyclists take on either a 104, 73 or 41 mile challenge before kicking back and enjoying BBQ and a beer tent at the finish line, rounding off the night with a closing ceremony and grand prize draw.
To be able to create more than 25 different routes for a wide variety of cyclists (from avid cyclists to kids), all within a 40-mile radius of Paso Robles is testament to the variety and quality of the cycling in this area. As a cyclist you really are spoiled for choice and its easy to ride 50+ miles on quiet back roads in the area but never be more than a 5-10 miles from downtown Paso Robles. The City is proud to be a designated Bicycle Friendly city and it only takes one ride here to understand why!