In the last three months I've ridden five double centuries in the Triple Crown schedule, ranging over quite a wide area of the state from Solvang to the Bay Area to the Sierra and Sonoma County. Specifically, Solvang Spring, Devil Mountain, Davis, Alpine Challenge and the Terrible Two.
Biking is a good way to see the countryside, you often ride back roads where you might not take a car and you travel at a pace that lets you see the sights. Yet 200 miles covers quite a lot of ground. My executive summary is that California is truly one of nature's marvels. Every single ride took me through stunning countryside, most of it unspoiled by man, and I have barely scratched the surface of what the state has to offer.
It's just too bad that, with a few notable exceptions, e.g., the Golden Gate bridge, man's contributions, particularly the recent ones, don't come close to living up to what nature provided. In fact in many cases, the man-made stuff is truly hideous and is an affront to the natural surroundings. For example, I can't get the ugly, out of proportion, housing developments in the Diablo valley out of my mind. There is obviously something about wide open spaces that bring out the worst in planners. Of course it is not lost on me that, without the tarmac road surfaces that are a by product of development, none of the double century rides would be practical. But something has gone badly wrong in recent years. The early development in California, which is where most of the rides go, was scaled appropriately and didn't overwhelm the natural surroundings. Not so any more. Whenever I see a new subdivision in the middle of nowhere, I worry that next year when I'm riding the same route, another one will have sprung up, and endlessly on, until I'm riding in exurbia wherever I go. Because, make no mistake, the developers would happily pave over the entire state in the name of economic growth and "progress". With luck we will run out of fossil fuels before that can happen.