+1 on CBR. Jeff does a great job supporting new riders with clinics/mentored races. Both courses are wide open/sweeping good roads and fast races.
Any Ontario criterium. They are on the SoCal calendar as the “Dare to Race Criterium” January 27th the “easter Sunday Criterium” April 21st and “End of Season” June 30th. The course again is wide open and the roads are very good. Great vibe, good promoting.
Tour de Murrieta is fun. Last year it was just a criterium followed by a circuit. The criterium is an L shape, slight up and down. Decent roads and great promo. The circuit is slightly rolling and maybe half the course the roads were pretty chewed up. Not a big deal just FYI.
I try and do Dana Point and Manhattan Beach GP each year and like them. However, with the larger purses they attract more powerful/experienced fields. I can’t speak for cat 5 but, the Pro1/2’s and masters races have been filled with crashes each year. More at Dana Point. Still recommend it as bad mojo can happen anytime anywhere. Super fun vibe and really strong competition.
Redland is another criterium for the amateurs that is a fun course and super fast last half. The fields for this the last three years have been pretty low for whatever reason. If they have it this year it’s always mixed in with the real Redlands (pro) race and it’s fun to watch them race.
I’ve done others that I don’t see on the schedule. Basically, every race I’ve done over there has been a positive experience. So for me I race any race on the calendar that works with my schedule. I’d make the same recommendation for pretty much anyone.