I recently completed my Trans Europe bike tour at the end of June and have been jonesing to go on another bike tour. So when it came time to figure out where to take my Los Angeles Self Supported Bicycle Touring MeetUp group for the month of July, I decided to find something in the San Diego area due to some confusion about June’s tour. Long story short, I had to find a place that was far enough for a decent 40+ mile journey and back by bike.
The first destinations that I looked at were along the coast at various campsites – San Clemente, San Onofre, San Elijoh, etc. Unfortunately, none of these state campgrounds had any available campsites open for our group. Thanks to good ‘ole Google maps, the search for “nearest campgrounds near San Diego” led me to Kumeyaay Lake Campground. It satisfied all my requirements of a ride about 40+ miles, somewhere I’ve never been to, and was moderately challenging to ride. My only concern was having a spot with enough shade for my group as I know the weather in Southern California has been sweltering from the summer heat.
I navigated through their online reservation system and saw that there were plenty of spots open for reservation. I quickly added this location to my MeetUp event and asked if anybody had been there before. In less than 48 hours, Ken responded, telling me exactly which site was best for shade. He actually drove through for some reconnaissance work and spotted the best locations. This made things way too easy, so I booked 2 sites at $20 each. There was a maximum of 6 people per site, and we already had 6 attendees on the MeetUp.
When July 25th arrived, we still had 6 riders signed up. Some folks dropped out while others replaced them. I had 3 new riders. Two of them were people I knew personally, including my brother-in-law, Sang. The plan was to take the first Metrolink train from Los Angeles Union Station at 8:50AM to Oceanside. Sang and I met Joge right in front of the train track entrance. Another rider, Amoxeh, was already on the train, so we proceeded to find the bicycle train car. Like previous trips, we occupied the majority of the spaces for bicycles with our fully loaded bikes. We chatted and got familiar amongst ourselves for the next 2 hours down to the last stop of our train trip.
We arrived a few minutes after 11AM and immediately found a Burger King at the train station to have our lunch. The 4 of us waited for the remaining 2 riders, Ken and Andrew, who were arriving by car and by Sprinter train. When we finally got our group together a little after 12 o’clock, we were ready to roll south along the beautiful San Diego coast.
The weather was perfect as the cool ocean breeze helped push us towards the inevitable left turn inland. There were no surprises, except the old Torrey Pines road we took through the golf course, which I had never traveled through before. That was a big treat for me since it was something new and the climb was steep and challenging, but to be able to soar above the coast made it all worthwhile.
Another highlight of the route took us through a few bike paths in Rose Canyon and Pacific Beach that I had never been through. In previous trips, I rode through La Jolla, which has challenging climbs, but steady streams of car traffic to deal with. The paths eventually led us right into the Mission Bay Park area where we were treated to a vibrant environment with dozens of people enjoying the bay with their jet skis and boat. We finally made it to Friars Road where we had to make a left turn and start our eastward journey to the Mission Trails area, which is where the campsites were located in. It took us another 2 hours with plenty of stops to conquer a tough climb up to the entrance of the wilderness area.
It was close to 7PM when we arrived to our designated campgrounds where high-fives were exchanged and celebratory beers were cracked opened for the conclusion of riding for the day. A long-time friend of mine, Jeff, decided to join us by car since he live in the area to test out his emergency bug out kit. We had a great time joking and laughing until we were the last few people awake in the campsite.
The Next Day
The next morning, we all woke up naturally around 6:30 and had our breakfast. Sang was picked up by my sister because he had a work day ahead of him, and Jeff had to get home by 9AM to join his family. Everyone broke down their tents and packed everything back up onto their bikes. We left the site knowing that there was a pretty good climb coming up, so when we made the right turn onto the protected bike path along the 52 highway, we were not surprised by the long stretch of incline going up.
The heat was much more intense this morning. I suppose it was probably just as bad the day before, but since we did not make it in the area until it was closer to sunset,it wasn’t noticeable. I definitely took advantage of the extra water that I was carrying with me in my dromedary bag. We sweated out the long hill and eventually made it through the Kearny Mesa area. After several rolling hills, we finally made our way to our stop at Cycle Quest near Sorrento Valley area. This store specializes in bicycle touring and the owner, Eric, is very knowledgable about his inventory. He carefully told us each model’s history and the differences from one year to the next. He reminisced with us about several multi-day tours that he’s done. You can hear the passion exuding from his voice as he rifled off story after story. If you’re ever riding through the area, you have to stop by his store and check out the largest selection of Salsa and Co-Motion bikes I’ve seen in Southern California.
Back To The Coast
We finally found our way back to the coast after having lunch in Del Mar. We were treated to our last major hill over Del Mar before we were back to the familiar rolling hills of the coast through Solana Beach, Cardiff by the Sea, Encinitas, Carlsbad, and finally, Oceanside. Ken jumped back on the Sprinter train, Andrew loaded up his car for his drive home, and Amoxeh, Joge, and I waited for another hour for the last Metrolink train to Los Angeles. A sea of people overwhelmed the train while we waited for everyone to board and pick out their seats. We found a spot for our bikes in the first cart and sat across the sunset on a beautiful ride back home. Certainly one of the best feelings in the world where I was exhausted, but extremely happy that I got to be out with really good people riding our bikes. Can life be any better?