[TOO MUCH INFORMATION?]
LATE UPDATE!: We've made some changes to the original route layout. Please read the paragraph just before the new links for some added useful info.
Especially in comparison to Ventura County, the Santa Clarita Valley's (abbreviated as SCV) huge asset for cyclists is its hundreds of miles of Class I bikepaths. There are two distinct types of bikepaths here. The first is a series of long routes that feature more change of altitude than direction. These paths typically run beside the (usually bone dry) waterways of the valley; for the route planned for a Ventura County Recumbent Riders (VCRR) Group Ride, the primary routes of this type are beside San Francisquito Creek, the Santa Clara River and its South Fork.
The second type of bikepath here is usually called 'paseos'. They're Class I or Multiple Use Paths (MUPs) that typically squiggle along on the borders between housing tracts. Some of these paseos have passive entry gates to block auto traffic, made of fences that go partway across the path, alternating from the left and right sides. These gates are sometimes called chicanes, speed breaks or simply zigzags. They can be challenging obstructions for some cyclists, especially bikers that tend to wobble at low speeds, tandem teams or trikeys with wide tracks or large turning circles. A narrow tadpole with a tight turning radius is probably ideal for these obstacles, but those on our route have also been successfully negotiated by a high-tech Lightning recumbike, a motorized ICE, and a handcycle.
SCV's paseos also include a number of bridges that cross over major streets, with ramps on either sides. Unfortunately, the ramps are most often blocked by the same kind of zigzag fencing, apparently to limit downhill speeds. All the ramps and climbs on the route we've planned have been traveled on purely pedaled tadpoles by a couple about to begin their ninth decade of life.
The route currently planned for VCRR's "minor incursion" of the SCV is a mix of the two types of bikepaths. The long paths make up about two thirds of the route and are, for the most part, fairly simple and straightforward. Long climbs can be a tad stressful, but cyclists with minimal navigational skills aren't very likely to get seriously lost. Plumbing facilities aren't quite as common here as they are on the paseos, and keeping hydrated is a valid concern. Paseos are much more entertaining, with a continuous sequence of curves and turns. For our group, riding in these areas should be considered 'socializing' rather than 'exercising', expecting to include fairly low speeds and challenges to climb the ramps to crossing bridges; it's not a good venue for Faster Folks intolerant of pokier partners.
UPDATED COURSE INFO: We've changed the basic route we've planned. It's still about 20 miles, with an option for three alternate lunch stops, but we've avoided the most challenging climb on a bike lane and the crossing bridge with the steepest ramps. We've made it easy for riders who want to avoid all the crossing bridges to take an alternate route, and we'll offer shortcuts in several areas for folks who want to shorten the ride. It will still be very practical for folks who want to ride faster and farther on more open trails to coordinate some interaction with those riding the paseos. More detailed info about the basic route can be found in the following links: the first is an active Google map; the second is an updated quicky narrated simulated flyover video cropped from Google Earth; and the third is the GPX source file for this route.
PLEASE NOTE: Unlike the longer riverside paths, paseos present ample opportunities for riders unfamiliar with this area to get hopelessly, sometimes frustratingly lost, and even unsure how to get back to the lunch or start areas. It's a good idea to stay close to someone who knows where he's going. Impatiently 'following from the front' here is very seriously discouraged!
SPECIAL CAVEAT: Folks with motorized cycles should be aware that the low speeds needed to negotiate the uphill zigzag gates may make it challenging to get their cranks turning fast enough for pedal assisted power to kick in to continue the climb. If throttle regulated power assist is an option, this may be a good place to use it.
AN EXTRA TIP: Possibly as a tradeoff for the SCV's extensive trail network, very few of the major streets there have Class II bikelanes, and the secondary residential or side streets have very limited connectivity to other tracts or commercial districts. Traffic is usually pretty heavy, at least compared to our area. Using busy streets for cycles, especially trikes, is at the very least not much fun. If necessary, it's probably best to use sidewalks to travel short distances on the major street network.