Monday, July 28, 2008

Irvine to San Diego--A Birthday Cycling Extravaganza

When you're a triathlete, "best days ever" are usually described in terms of massive mileage, gallons of sweat lost, and a ridiculous amount of calories consumed.

Enter the birthday ride: a hundred mile social ride with several friends who also happen to have their birthdays within a few weeks of your own. There is no better way to celebrate. And absolutely no other reason to average 9.5 miles an hour on a century ride.

Here's how to make your own birthday ride:


10 crazy people, half with birthdays within 2 weeks of each other

birthday cycling girls

(ex: 2 bday girls above)

10 bikes

Tons of water

50+ of either PowerBars or Cliff Bars

50+ of either PowerGels, Shot Blocks, Gus, Hammer Gels

Tons of Gatorade, Cytomax, or other powder carbs may be substituted

5 PB & Js

100s of salt pills


10 valid driver's licenses

10 changes of clothes

10 good attitudes

10 excellently padded cycling shorts

TIME NEEDED: 5-12 hours, depending on the number and skill of aforementioned crazy people involved.


  • Make plans to arrive before 7:30am at Irvine Amtrak station for a 7:30am clip-in time

  • Clip in a little after 8am

  • Ride 4 miles out in the wrong direction

  • Ride 4 miles back to start

  • Ride approximately 20 minutes

  • Stop at Starbucks to commandeer the 1 restroom available

  • Ride approximately 20 more minutes, generously add Gatorade and PowerBars to riders

  • Puncture one rider's tire with large nail & washer

  • Hang around in shade for 40 minutes, keeping riders' core body temperatures at a comfortable degree

  • Ride to a beach town. Revel in gorgeousness and wonder why the beach 60 miles south of you has pretty blue water when your ocean is black. Decide not to think about it because that's nasty. Remind self that down here, people get eaten by sharks because even the sharks don't want to swim where you do.

  • Stop for 40 minutes at local bike shop so unfortunate rider #6 can get new tire. Drink more Gatorade and water.

  • Ride to the entrance of Camp Pendleton. Get excited to see men in uniform.

  • Get unexcited when man in uniform tells you the bike path is closed for military exercises.

  • Get excited again realizing that even though you have to ride on the shoulder of the I-5, you'll be riding faster than the current traffic thanks to a strategically placed accident.

  • Stop at overlook to check out "military exercises". Remark that it would be cool to see something explode. After nothing explodes, decide it would be cool to ram the port-a-potties with a military Hummer.

  • Continue down freeway with your stomach in your throat. Dodge debris. Pretend to be in the Tour de France, and that the cars now whizzing by each carry your very own Johan Bruyneel and support crew.

  • Arrive in Oceanside. Prepare for massive lunch break. Call husband to relay the information that you have ridden 50 miles in 5.5 hours. You are awesome. Lunch in Oceanside

  • Split group into two groups: one of 4, one of 6.

  • Send group of 4 onward while letting group of 6 simmer a little longer in Oceanside.

  • Every 2-5 miles, make group of 3 stop for 20-40 minutes to wait for straggler.

  • Have enraged roadie yell at group of 3 for stopping in his way on the bike path.

  • Regroup, then blast by roadie shouting "on your left!" and giving an ironically friendly wave.

  • Wonder exactly where Solana Beach is and if you'll see a shark there.

  • Remark that Nytro, the triathlon shop you have heard of that is along your route, is a lot dinkier than you thought it'd be.

  • Somehow miss Solana Beach entirely, feeling relieved that you went by and lived to tell the tale...even when not swimming.

  • Balk at the huge 1.5ish mile climb into Torrey Pines.

  • Decide Mission Bay is super cool.

  • Decide riding by the San Diego Airport is the most opposite of super cool.

  • Celebrate making it downtown to the Amtrak station by adding a 4 mile loop by creepy airport to make it an even 100.

  • Feel befuddled that Group of 6 arrives only 10 minutes after you.

  • Miss the 6:20pm train back. Acknowledge that you have officially been in the same bike shorts for 10.5 hours--without doing an Ironman. Realize nobody will want to be in your 8pm train car with you.

  • Take Amtrak back to Irvine. Watch ticket puncher man hit on your friend.

Cyclist Amtrak to Irvine

Happy Social Riding!

PS. On the next page are directions for the Irvine to San Diego ride, should you feel like doing it. If you do it right, it's 88 miles. Mostly good roads. A few sketchy parts through downtown beach town areas (like Oceanside) where there is no bike lane and there are quite a few stop lights. Gorgeous along the coast!

PPS. If you have a large group, make sure to ask for a group discount for the train ride. Our tickets were only $13 per person!


15215 Barranca Parkway, Irvine Transportation Center, Irvine, CA 92618

  1. Turn L onto BARRANCA PKWY (approx 0.8 mi)

  2. BARRANKA PKWY becomes MUIRLANDS BLVD (approx 2.8 mi)

  3. Turn R onto LOS ALISOS BLVD. (approx 1 mi)

  4. Turn L onto PASEO DE VALENCIA (approx 0.6 mi)

  5. Turn R onto LAGUNA HILLS DR (becomes Aliso Viejo Pkwy) (approx 0.7 mi)

  1. Turn L on MOULTON PKWY (approx 3.8 mi)

  2. Turn R on CROWN VALLEY PKWY (approx 4.8 mi)


  4. At the south of Dana Point, HWY1 turns into EL CAMINO REAL. Keep on this. You’ll go under the freeway to be on the east side of I-5. Take EL CAMINO REAL until it ends at Cristianitos. Turn RIGHT.

  1. Immediately after you go over the I-5, you’ll make a left turn immediately after the on-ramp – it looks like a relatively narrow paved pathway (this is the way down to Trestles Beach.) Take this pathway SOUTH – you will end up on what appears to be an access road that is adjacent to I-5 passing the Southern California Edison facility to your right. You’ll also end up riding in the parking lot of the beach. Keep going until you pass through a gate (there is a space for cyclist on the LEFT.)

  1. You are now on the old HIGHWAY 101. It will eventually go back under the I-5 and finally ends. You’ll pass under a gate similar to the one at the turnaround at Leo Carrillo. There’s also a part of a house on a truck that has seemingly been there forever where the road ends in Las Pulgas Road.

  1. Take a LEFT here. After 200 yards, you’ll reach one of the Camp Pendleton gates. You MUST present a valid DRIVER’S LICENSE!

  1. Once in the park grounds, take your first RIGHT (you’ll turn right onto LAS PULGAS ROAD). After ½ mile or so, take your next RIGHT (onto EL CAMINO). Follow this road, generally staying to the right (you’ll end up on STUART MESA ROAD). Ride all the way to VANDEGRIFT ROAD where you will make a RIGHT (note, Vandegrift is a major housing project on the right and after a ½ mile long decent). (OR you'll have to take the I-5 shoulder about 7+ miles to the Oceanside exit!)

  1. You’re now in Oceanside! Take the PAC COAST HWY south. It will eventually turn into Carlsbad Blvd. Just stay on Carlsbad Blvd which travels pretty much to the ocean. The road turns back into COAST HWY through Encinitas and Solana Beach.

  1. Same road, the name changes to CAMINO DEL MAR through Del Mar.

  1. Same road, you climb a hill and the road becomes TORREY PINES ROAD. At Genessee, veer right to remain on Torrey Pines Road. At La Jolla Village Road, make a sharper right to remain on Torrey Pines Road. Stay on this road until it winds its way down to La Jolla Blvd. At this point, you can stay on the road parallel to La Jolla Blvd to the west. As long as you follow the coast, you’ll be fine.

  1. La Jolla Blvd. eventually becomes MISSION BLVD. When you finally hit the roller coaster at the intersection of MISSION BAY, make a left onto MISSION BAY BLVD.

  1. Merge onto SUNSET CLIFFS BLVD.

  1. Turn slight L towards NIMITZ BLVD.

  1. Turn slight L onto NIMITZ BLVD.

  1. NIMITZ BLVD becomes N. HARBOR DR. (Turn L onto N Harbor Dr.)

  1. Turn L onto W. ASH STREET

  1. Turn R onto KETTNER BLVD.

  1. End at 1050 KETTNER BLVD., SAN DIEGO, CA 92101 (SAN) Amtrak.


  1. Hi
    Great Pics and blog..My husband is riding this next weekend for fun.Where did you eat in Oceanside? Any tips you have for a great ride?

  2. Thanks Tonia! We stopped for food at the Oceanside Harbor, and I'm pretty sure we ate at the Robin's Nest Cafe (280-A Harbor Drive South). There are a bunch of cute little burger-and-fries places to eat right there on the harbor and it's beautiful! As for tips...dress in layers if you're riding long, watch out for cops since riding around there is pretty urban and there are a lot of stop signs, and if you have to ride on the 5, make that your sprint interval! :)