2017 Amtrak Ride – Irvine to Old Town San Diego

Write up by Mel Cutler (mel@aeacyling.org). Full ridewithgps route available at bottom of post, and via this link:

On July 22 a diverse group of eight AEA Cycling Club members and guests completed a group ride to San Diego from Irvine, a duration of over 80 miles. This ride was eagerly anticipated because it represented a new chapter in the club’s existence. Long a bastion of encouraging and monetarily supporting bike commuting and member participation in charity and other organized rides, the club, under the dynamic leadership of Lee Shelton, had taken some tentative steps towards building a group esprit de corps. For example, in 2016 club members completed the “Ride with the Tide” 100 km south bay charity ride and some even posed for a group photo at the start. In addition, an occasional ice cream ride after work has proven to be popular among the most fun-loving club members.

In fact the watershed San Diego ride was a throwback to earlier days of the club, when group rides were common, and we expect membership to continue to grow as a result of similar future opportunities.   But this edition utilized technology unavailable to the earlier club pioneers. For example, the ride was developed using “ridewithgps.com” route planning software, and riders were able to utilize premium features of the Club ridewithgps.com account that would have required $100 annual individual subscription. [Full route on bottom and available at this link. — Ed C.] he route design was reviewed in club meetings and numerous enhancements were added during the critical design process as the collective riding experience of club members was captured. As a result of this agile mission assurance process, ride participants who had never ventured outside of El Segundo nonetheless had high confidence of finishing the ride as well as a comprehensive understanding of what to expect.

In preparation for the ride, participants had secured Amtrak tickets and bike reservations back to the Irvine Amtrak station from San Diego based on their expected finish time (with margin of course!). In addition, they assured smooth access to Camp Pendleton by registering on line ahead of time on the web site, although some riders with CAC cards brought them as a backup.


Everyone was passed in and no one had to ride on Interstate 5!  All riders had reviewed the route documentation ahead of time to decide where to stop for refreshments, restrooms, and lunch, so the ride went smoothly.  The riders naturally broke into three groups, with the 3 youngest riding the fastest, another couple in the middle, and the 2 retirees bringing up the rear. Each one picked a different lunch spot from the thorough ride documentation, but all were reunited at the San Diego Old Town transportation center to swap stories. The only disappointments were that the scheduled ice cream stop in San Clemente had not yet cranked up their LN2 equipment for the day and that the expected bananas and water at the top of the Torrey Pines was not provided by the bike shop that normally hosts this needed respite. But the club’s partial reimbursement for ride expenses lessened our suffering.

A few route changes were noted for a future ride, and Mr. Shelton was satisfied that his initiative had been realized. The incoming club president, Ed Carolipio, has some creative ideas for future events and encourages interested Aerospace and Air Force riders to consider a token $20 annual investment for the former and $25 for the latter to open new cycling doors for FY 2018 and beyond.

Route Information

Regroup points are in this table:

Mileage Landmark Comments
20.3 Kalyani Coffee, San Clemente 100 km riders start here
42.5 or 47.6 Pendleton (McDonald’s, Panda Express) or Oceanside (Angelo’s Burgers) Lunch stop
58.2 Swami’s State Beach Iconic
66.2 Torrey Pines Park Water, restrooms
68.0 Top of Torrey Pines Climb Water, bananas
72.8 Rose Canyon Bike Path Entrance Easy to miss
76.2 Rose Creek Bike Path Entrance Guaranteed to miss
81.8 Phil’s BBQ, 3750 Sports Arena Blvd, San Diego Dinner Stop



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