Saturday, October 29, 2011

Circumnavigating San Clemente

San Clemente means sun & surf, tanned bodies, Marines,and Richard Nixon. Add to that short list excellent bike riding! Due to a collaborative effort between the city, developers, PG&E, CA state parks and the US Marine Corps, there are extensive trails throughout town. The city’s page highlighting the trails provides a pretty good map.

To the south of town and bordering Camp Pendleton are the popular and world-class mountain bike trails. An excellent overview to the San Clemente Singletrack can be seen on mountainbike bill's site. A mountain biker’s paradise, a mile from the ocean!

While the SC Singletrack gets all the attention from “serious” cyclists, the city trail complex gets overlooked. It shouldn’t be! These are some fantastic trails with approximately 13 miles of on-dirt, car (and mostly people) free riding.

The trails are extremely well maintained. Mostly hardpack with a few sandy sections.

There are some steep spots, maybe two or three hills of consequence, but the rest is rolling trail with minimal elevation gain.

A map showing the basic route is on That route includes sections riding from the North Beach Metrolink station. By the way, consider taking the Metrolik train down, riding the trails, then training back home. An entirely car-free day!

I most recently rode these trails with a bunch of friends from the Rivendell Bicycle Works Google group. Good people that it’s great to spend time with. We get together probably four times a year to ride. These are often mixed-surface routes, where there’s a good percentage of dirt, but not enough to bring a mountain bike. Rougher than what you would want to take a skinny-tired road-race bike on though. Rivendell bikes lend themselves to these routes as they are built around the “country-bike” ethos. Rough stuff riding at it’s best!

This ride took us about four hours when we did it in October. A few rest-stops, but pedaling pretty consistently over that time. Not tearing up the course by any means, but a collegial pace that lends itself to catching up with people you haven’t seen in a while.

A few of us took the extended route and rode a little more singletrack and utility roads to maximize our dirt time. At the end, we dropped into town for some well deserved pizza and beer at the world renown Pizza Port.

If you’re a SoCal cyclist, and you have a bike that’s versatile (that means fits tires larger than 25mm) you owe it to yourself to do this. A ton of fun!

More pix can be seen on flickr. Mine and Mike's.