On an early Thursday morning, we met up with five cyclists preparing to take off on their pilgrimage from Irvine to Mexico for the annual Rosarito to Ensenada Bike Ride. Steve Loughran Miguel Perea, John Renowden, Rob Tripp, and Stuart Gaston loaded their custom-built bikes with gear for a weekend of camping and riding that would conclude with the donation of their bicycles to the One Way Ride Program associated with the R-E event. Although some public figures argue for isolation from our neighbors to the south, these cyclists would rather bridge the border and connect with them.
The One Way Ride Program officially began in 2012, but these men have been carrying on this tradition for over a decade. It all started after the 2001 Rosarito to Ensenada ride when local resident Raymond “Randy” Kiefer and his riding partner, Hank Williamson, generously gave away their bicycles to two local teenage boys who were hanging around the finish line watching the riders come in. After a few minutes breaking through language barriers using the universal method of hand and body gestures, the men began to understand each other. Randy and Hank hitched a ride back to base camp to carpool back home, and the two teenagers rode away with a brand new set of wheels.
For 14 years Randy has continued the ritual of spending a few months before the ride building bicycles in his garage. Over time, friends like Steve, Miguel, John, Robb and Stuart, and others from his local bike club OC Wheelmen, have joined him in this venture and built their own bikes to give away. In addition to the 50 miles they will eventually ride to Ensenada, Randy and his band of cyclists will usually ride from Irvine to Tijuana to Rosarito a few days before the event. They camp out and spend the weekend enjoying the electric vibe that runs through Baja California.
Currently, the One Way Ride Program facilitates the donation process and decides which of the various organizations the bicycles will be donated, such as Hospital of the Californias, DIF Municipal, Inmudere, Walking with Sense, Red Cross Bikers San Quintin, Auxiliary Police, and others. Without the inspiring generosity of Randy and friends, programs like the One Way Ride Program would not exist.
Though the May ride has passed, another opportunity to contribute to the One Way Ride Program is coming up. On September 24, Randy and friends will be riding again for the fall version of Rosarito to Ensenada. They hope to donate even more bikes than they did in May, surpassing the group’s current record of 21 bikes.