What attributes does a hotel and a restaurant have before you would consider it to be a mountain biker friendly establishment? The following is a partial list of properties that I look for when looking for hotels/motels and restaurants when I do a mountain bike road trip.
Secure places to lock/store bikes
A lot of mountain bike tourists will travel with their bikes - which may be worth up to $5K. Leaving these bikes locked outside or on a car is not an option. Some of the better hotels I have stayed in will have a secure bike storage locker in the hotel near the entrance with the concierge escorting the cyclist to the locker. For motels, I have always brought my bike into the room. This tends to be tricky when you have 4 riders in a room. It's not unusual for mountain bike tourist to bring more than one bike. I'll usually take 2 bikes on a solo road trip but 1 bike if I fly. On one road trip to Vancouver/Whistler a few years ago, 2 of my friends packed a mini-van with 5 bikes - 2 bikes each and a spare.
Convenient place to wash/work on bikes
More often than not, we may work on our bikes before or after a ride. This could be as simple as lubricating a chain or more complex maintenance which involves tools and a bike stand. When we do a road trip we prefer to stay in motels rather than hotels. We usually prefer a ground floor unit. The room is close to the car (where we store tools and bike stand) and it's easier to put the bike in the room.
Close proximity to trails and nice restaurants
I'm a cyclist so when I get to a destination I don't really want to drive everywhere. Riding to the trail head is ideal. Walking/riding to restaurants is also favorable. Added bonus is to be close to local bike shops for trail knowledge and local maps and wares.
Camping is always a favorite activity of mountain bikers. Bikers travel with a lot of gear so car camping is preferable. I really don't know of any great places for car camping which is close to riding areas in Santa Cruz. I know that there are campsites at Henry Cowell but I haven't seen them nor have I heard of any mountain bikers who use them.
Secure place to lock the bike
Finding a safe place to lock the bike outside of the restaurant is essential. Santa Cruz is notorious for the bike theft. I hear about a sweet ride being pinched from downtown Santa Cruz on weekly basis. Sometimes they will cut the cable lock while the bike is still on the car. I like 99 Bottles and Seabright Brewery since they have bike racks in front of the patios. It's not unusual to see pricey rigs in these racks.
Good beer and hearty food
Mountain bikers are (mostly) athletic and they do pay attention to the type of fuel they put in their bodies. Beer and hearty road house food - burgers, pasta and Mexican food - are great to refuel after a long ride. There seems to be a cultural aspect of good beer and mountain biking. Brew pubs are a huge hit with mountain bikers.
Many of the big group rides I have attended during the week usually end at some pub/restaurant where there is a recounting of the ride around beer and finger foods. A pub type atmosphere is good here since people will be moving around.
Willingness to put up with dirty, stinky and potentially bloody people
Very often, mountain bikers will ride to a restaurant after the ride since they are pretty hungry. They may be covered in grime and trail dirt but at least they don't smoke (unless they're European). Again, the patio is a good thing.
Some examples of Bike Friendly Places
Whister, BC, Canada - the ultimate mountain biker destination - have hotels which specifically cater to the mountain bike tourist. Not only do all these hotels and lodges have secure storage for bikes but they also have cameras and motion detectors. They also bring up another good feature: laundry facilities.
This Forest Freeride Bunkhouse in Wales sounds like a great place to stay. Not only is this place near trails but there is a BBQ area outside. Wales is a place that really "gets" mountain bike tourism. Scotland is another great mountain biking destination that has made the effort to make mountain bike tourists feel welcome. This impressive listing of accommodations breaks it down into categories like hotels, B&Bs, camping and bunk houses.
In Santa Cruz, my favorite bike friendly restaurants are the above mentioned 99 Bottles and Seabright Brewery. For faster food, I like Taqueria Santa Cruz (although I hear that Taqueria La Cabana - across from ABS - is definitely worth checking out) and the Summit Store for a post ride snack after riding at Soquel Demo Forest.
Do you have any other features that you like to see in accommodations and restaurants when you travel with your bike? Can you recommend places to stay and eat in Santa Cruz which you deem to be mountain bike friendly? Please post some comments and share them.