PCH Tour: Riding Through Camp Pendleton

Surfers in Leo Carillo

Day 58 – What a horrible night of sleep. The AmTrack train blew past our campsite at least 20 times through the night. The tracks couldn’t have been more than 100 ft away. If it wasn’t a train, it was an RV blazing down the road on the other side of the fence. It was light enough to see, so I got out of the tent and started packing.

The fog was thick as we rolled a few miles into San Clemente. We found a little coffee shop to sit and wait for the sun. I got a coffee and a cheese danish. It worked. After an hour, the sun blasted away the clouds. Downtown San Clemente was another great little oceanside town. With some tips from the locals we found a great bike path that ran along Route 5. It was a wide empty road and we could cruise and BS without worrying about getting run over.

When the path ran out, we made a left turn and entered Camp Pendleton. There was a guard at the gate. He checked our IDs and let us pass through. We could hear bombs, or explosions of some sort, going off on the other side of the mountain. Military trucks and compounds were in the distance. It was really interesting to be riding through such a large Marine base. We came up to a little town center. It looked like a mix of military barracks and offices. Further down the road we saw a platoon in full uniform and war paint going through some maneuvers. They were kneeling with their rifles pointed in different directions, while some of the men climbed over obstacles 20 ft in the air.

We could hear hundreds of gunshots, blasting away at a hillside as we neared a shooting range. We both wanted to take pictures, but we didn’t want to risk getting in trouble, so we kept going. There was a large housing development that must have been where officers and their families lived. It looked like a little desert suburb.

Near the main gate, there was a large shopping plaza, where we found a Panda Express. We stopped in for some Chinese food. It hit the spot. We even talked a bit with some men from the Pendleton Fire Department. They asked us about our journey and we told some stories of our adventures. Not far out of Camp Pendleton, I got my 3rd flat tire. I felt my front tire go soft as we rolled down a hill into Oceanside. There was a giant thorn, as hard as metal, stuck in the rubber. I pulled it out and I could hear the air hiss from the tube. We found a shady spot to change the tire. I was starting to get good at changing tires, and it only took several minutes to get the new tube on. I hoped that 3 was my lucky number and that I wouldn’t get anymore flats for the rest of the trip.

We took our time passing through Oceanside and Carlsbad. Both nice coastal towns. It was a short day of riding, and we were almost to camp, so we grabbed some beers and made for the beach in Encinitas. We took turns taking a dip in the ocean. It was my first swim in the Pacific, since starting the trip. The water was cool, but refreshing. I went under a couple of times, and then just waded around and took in the relaxing scenery. We cracked open our beers and sipped them on a bench, while the sun dried us off.

We grabbed some supplies for the night and then went into our camp at San Elijo. It was a long narrow campground along the coast. The hiker / biker site was relatively small, but we were the only ones there. It was the first time we made it to camp with a few hours of sunlight to spare, in a long time. We took our time eating and taking in the warm afternoon air. We chatted for a bit. When the sun went down we hit the showers and passed out in our tents.

It would be the last night of camping of the trip. I couldn’t believe that I had come so far. The adventure was nearing an end. Tomorrow, San Diego.

(Repost of my 2014 Pacific Coast Tour Instagrams)

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