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E-bike guide pointing out trail on Alisal Ranch

Earl Richmond Knows the Lay of the Land at Alisal Ranch

Earl Richmond has been enjoying the view of Alisal Ranch for the last 23 years from his backyard, just steps away from the Ranch’s borders. Yet it wasn’t until 3 years ago that he got to know the Ranch intimately. Other than the Jackson Family and the wranglers, Earl is more familiar with the wide-open range of Alisal Ranch than most other staff members on site. This is because Earl leads pedal-assisted e-mountain biking excursions twice a day—morning and evening—where he and his partner Sam are able to explore hard-to-reach areas, inaccessible by vehicle.

The lead guide can’t stress enough how helpful the pedal-assisted e-bikes are for roaming the Ranch: “It evens the plate for everybody which allows me to take out grandparents and their grandkids. The uphill part is the hard part. It takes really good endurance and physical ability to do it on non-pedal-assisted mountain bikes. With the pedal-assisted, full suspension bike it allows you to go up the hill with ease which means you only have to have minimal physical conditioning to be able to ride the trails.”

E-bike tour excursions are truly available to anyone of any age. The only catch: you have to be at least 5’2” due to the size of the bikes. Earl hopes to bring smaller bikes on property soon. “75% of the people we take out are novice or beginners. We also have groups that include more experienced riders.”

E-bike at Alisal Ranch

One of the oldest couples Earl has guided left a lasting impression on him. “I’ve taken people out as old as 85. A couple was celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary and their granddaughters signed them up for the trip. I took them out on a paved section of the trails and then took their grandkids out on the unpaved trails later.”

Guests often tell Earl “this is the one of the best things I’ve done on the Ranch”. He explains, “People who ride one year tend to sign up again when they come back. They get to see areas where horses and vehicles don’t go. It’s a firsthand opportunity to see what an operating cattle rancher experiences.”

There are ten e-bikes available to take on guided excursions, allowing large groups to book a tour as well as smaller groups and couples. If there are large groups, Earl prefers to bring two guides so they have the option to split up into smaller groups for a more intimate experience. He will get to know the group’s interests and skill level to best assess what trail to take them on. “I pick trails that fit the riders’ needs,” he says. “I train them up front and watch how they ride.”

E-mountain biking trails cover both sides of the Ranch and Earl is always adding more trails. Currently he is working with a longtime wrangler to develop the new trails. “We are always exploring different parts of the ranch, looking for areas to build new trails.” This allows Earl to take guests on new rides each time they visit.

When asked what he sees on the rides, besides the beautiful views, Earl responds: “we see wildlife all the time! We have a lot of bobcats here. They are awesome to see. Sometimes we get a rare occasional mountain lion (for a brief glimpse).” Of course, there are a lot of deer. “There is so much natural food here. The mountain lions have never taken a calf off the ranch because they have enough food here. There are thousands of turkeys here, red tail hawks, coyote,” his voice trailing off as he ponders. “We ride under the bald eagles nesting area and there is a red tail fox mom with her cubs on the Ranch, too.”

Earl walks us through the Ranch’s terrain describing the three natural springs, one of which feed water troughs for the cattle and fills Alisal Lake. He anticipates a lot of wildflowers popping up this spring due to the winter rains. When asked what his favorite views are, he pulls out his computer and displays dozens of photographs of Ranch vistas and has a story for each image. As a former wildlife filmmaker, Earl has a great eye for landscape photography.

To book a guided mountain e-bike tour excursion of the Ranch, contact (805) 693-4209 or email Ranchconcierge@alisal.com. Rides are offered in the morning (8am) and evening (3-4pm in the winter and 4-6pm in the summer).

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