Santa Barbara Trip - MTB or Gravel Bike

I’m headed to Santa Barbara for a few days with the family and planning to do a few rides. I’m a life long Northern California native but haven’t ridden much in the Santa Barbara area. Should I bring the Epic Evo or the gravel bike? Any route recommendations would also be appreciated. My wife will have her road bike and also do a few short rides but doesn’t ride off road. Thanks

My vote is Epic Evo. It can be chunky if you go off road. And there’s no harm in doing some road work on the MTB. Personally on a trip I’d rather be over-biked than under-biked. Always nice to have options.

I don’t MTB so I can’t recommend either, however I was there a week ago and attempted to this ride: Gravel Guide: Gibraltar Road - Gravel Bike California gravel adventures
I ended up pulling the plug at the top of Gibralter because the weather up there was cold, wet, and windy, and I was totally not feeling it and I was just totally unprepared for that. So, my advice is to bring clothing for all conditions.
The other ride I was contemplating was this one: Gravel Santa Barbara: West Camino Cielo - Gravel Bike California gravel adventures. Whichever you decide, have fun out there!

I am visiting family in SB in August and also looking for routes. I was there last year and did the SB100 road century. (it was cool and foggy at the top of Gibraltar that time as well). I’m thinking about taking the gravel bike this time. There was a 100k partial gravel route last year that I did not do but I have the route saved… I’m looking at climbing up Gibraltar and then dropping down in to Los Padres National Forrest but still looking at potential roads.

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I haven’t been there for almost 10 years, but I used to live in Ventura and dated someone in SB and spent a ton of time there. I recommend the gravel bike. There may be more trails there now, but I wasn’t particularly impressed with the MTB options. Tons of awesome road routes, though, flat along the coast, really good climbing to be had as well.

Gibraltar was mentioned above and this is just a great, great climb. I liked to start at N. San Marcos Road and climb up to Painted Cave onto E. Camino Cielo which will bring you down Gib. Another great route is from SB to Lake Casitas, then south to the coast and back on 101 to Montecito.

I once took 154 up and over to Ojai and back. Fabulous, but only a narrow shoulder and can be traffic-y if you go too late in the day.

I’m a bit in love with SB in general. I would live there if I didn’t have to sell internal organs and a couple of kids to do it.

I ended up taking my gravel bike and mostly riding on the road. I did not explore MTB trails other than a hike we did so I don’t have much to share there.

Gibraltar had more cyclists than cars, but was pretty sketchy with major washed out sections that narrowed to the width of one car. Not an issue going up, but would make for some added risk on the descent.

The road riding was great, drivers were pretty aware and respectful. Lots of little bike only paths to connect larger routes. I didn’t do any big rides, but it was pretty easy to connect routes from the coast up to the hills. There are some group ride options as well. Also, make sure to hit Handlebar coffee if you are at all a coffee drinker.

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My mother lives in north county SB and I’ve looked at bringing a gravel bike a few times and have even scoped some routes, but in the end I keep finding all the best possible loops are cut off by at least one section of ‘private property no trespassing’.

Small concentrated MTB parks and trail centers look decent from what I’ve seen but I’m not really a MTB rider so that’s not been an option for me. I’m much more of an ‘explore the area by bike’ kind of person though so I’m not sure that would appeal to me anyway.

I’ve always ended up bringing a road bike - there seems to just be endless good riding around there. I think some teams even go to the central coast for their training camps.

Maybe that whole ‘no trespassing’ interrupted loop thing doesn’t bother US-based riders, but I live in Scotland where land access laws mean you’d be able to ride those roads/trails anyway so I guess I probably have a stronger reaction to encountering the “American Way”.

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I’m guessing that people who are wealthy enough to own a chunk of land there are not the type of people who would take kindly to random people transiting their property. I could be wrong, but that’s my sense.

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Ah right I wasn’t clear. I didn’t mean I thought locals should or do ignore the signage, I just meant it’s probably more frustrating/upsetting for me to have to turn back than it is for those who are used to encountering that on a regular basis.