The amount of buzz and excitement generated from this trip was way beyond anything I had expected or experienced. When it was all said and done, we had 16 RSVPs, 116 comments, 13 riders, 12 campers, 5 new bike tourists, and 2 dogs in baskets jump on board a beautiful weekend ride on March 26th to 27th. We also had someone who had been riding the Wednesday before through Angeles Crest to join us and another 6 riders camp overnight on the Friday before at a nearby campsite in San Clemente.
For Sang Hyun and I, our journey started at Fullerton on Saturday morning. We unloaded our bikes from Sang Hyun’s car and was cheerfully greeted by one of the newbies at the train station, Maria. The three of us stuck out like a sore thumb as we were the only ones loaded up for our mini journey. The station was bustling with travelers going both directions. We forgot that this was going to be a busy travel weekend as it was Easter Sunday the next day. We quickly became well-acquainted with Maria and even though we passed the time chatting about her new experience to bike touring, we couldn’t help but notice that the train that was supposed to show up, never did. That was when I received a text from another one of our newbies, Gabby, informing us that she just got on the train 45 minutes later than scheduled. The 4 of us ended up arriving at San Clemente an hour later. Just to make things more difficult, the door for our car did not open when we arrived at our destination. So Maria, Sang Hyun, and I had to endure another stop over at San Clemente Pier. I was not happy. Luckily, the door at San Clemente Pier finally opened up and we quickly got off the train before it changed its mind.
The three of us found the dirt path that led us back to the San Clemente station where Gabby got off and everybody else congregated. I was flustered because of our tardiness, but quickly got over it when I saw all of our riders waiting right outside the coffee shop – all 13 of us. This was the biggest group I’ve ever had a chance to travel with. I gave my standard introduction and game plan speech to everyone and we all headed over to the 7-Eleven store a block away to procure some snacks for the road. Between San Clemente to Oceanside was 20 miles of riding without any snack stops.
The Journey South
Our parade of touring bikes configured in every which way certainly turned heads everywhere we went. We were constantly asked by people where we were going. I was sure that most people expected us to tell them that we were coming off the tail-end of an epic bike tour, but we deflated that dream when we told them we were just doing an overnight bike ride from Los Angeles. Nevertheless, people were very curious.
One of the main goals for the day was to make it into our campground so that we can finally enjoy tacos. That is correct, there is a taco stand right in the campgrounds called Bull Tacos. I later learned that this was a restaurant chain, but that didn’t matter as everyone was looking forward to getting there to indulge in some delicious Mexican food.
Our group was separated from time to time, but we all stayed together because we stopped frequently to hydrate and take in more calories as we made our way South. Getting through Camp Pendleton wasn’t any different, even after they implemented a rider registration procedure. The guards took our drivers’ licenses and scanned it on their handheld machines and waved us through. I suppose the registration had no bearing until we do something wrong. That way they know who we are. All this is just my speculation, so don’t take what I say as the absolute truth.
2 of the new riders decided not to continue their trip to the campgrounds as they were freezing from the night before while camping. Little did they know that their second night would have been a warm one. We swapped out 2 of the riders with another rider, Joe, who had been waiting for us in Oceanside. So now we were rolling into San Elijo with 12 riders strong.
Anticipation into Camp
There was a collective sigh of relief when we made it to the campground. Everyone with varying degrees of exhaustion and excitement rolled in a few feet in front of Bull Taco. Many ordered a taco or burrito while some of us (including me) added on a platter of their chili cheese nachos. In any other occasion, this meal may seem a little on the glutinous side, but after biking 40+ miles, it was well-deserved to stave hangriness away.
The campgrounds were full, so we weren’t able to stay at our own camp spots, but the hiker/biker site was accommodating even though we paid them $120 ($10 each) for it, whereas we would have only had to pay $43 per site split amongst 12 people, which would have been such a bargain. We can’t cry over spilt milk, right? At least we had a spot way at the end of the campgrounds.
Everyone picked out their spots for the night as our group wound down. Some of us went to the grocery store across the street, while others relaxed at the campgrounds taking turns to go shower and stand guard at our campsite (not that we have to). We were actually joined by another bike tourist who was riding North to Los Angeles. A few of us bought beer and wine as a nightcap. Everyone went to bed full and tired. Probably the best combination after a good day of riding.
Here is the video from the first day of riding.
The next morning, we had 2 riders take off earlier than the main group while another 2 kept their journey South into San Diego while the remaining 8 of us crossed the street and focused on our ride back to Oceanside to catch the train back into Orange County and Los Angeles. We made it there with time to spare. Richard got in his car with his dog, Wiley, while the 7 of us bought our Metrolink tickets back home. The train ride home was relaxing as everyone, to some degree, reflected on the trip. For me, I couldn’t help but think how funny life works. What started as just a simple idea over a year ago to start my first MeetUp group (even though I had never been to one myself) blossomed into beautiful events like getting 12-13 people together to be share moments and forever be part of each other’s memories. From the looks of it, April isn’t going to be any different as we look to explore the Santa Barbara area.
- MeetUp page for this ride with more photos
- Ride With GPS Route
- My Strava from San Clemente to San Elijo
- Register with Camp Pendleton before you ride through