Anthony Trujillo always knew he wanted to do something memorable once he completed college.
The 2010 Oakdale High School alum did not know, however, that getting struck by a car while riding his bike during his final college spring break, would inspire his post-college graduation journey. In late spring of 2016, Trujillo completed his studies at California State University Monterey Bay with a Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology.
In October of 2016, Trujillo loaded his road bike with supplies and began a 63-day quest from Los Angeles to Costa Rica. A journey he would not have fathomed six short years before, yet became inspired to try following his initial journey from Monterey to Los Angeles during his final Spring Break from college.
“Cycling became a huge part of my life during college,” the former OHS athlete said of his relatively new hobby, “beginning as a convenient and cost-effective way to commute to school and work. It quickly became an obsession that progressed to single day rides (100 plus miles).”
That initial multi day trip, the trip from his Monterey college home to Los Angeles during Spring Break and the subsequent injury from being struck by the car, left the former Mustang down for two months.
“It was just a crazy goal I started planning during summer while I was rehabbing,” Trujillo said of coming all the way back – and then some – from a deep tissue injury sustained from the accident.
“The best thing you can do for cycle touring, is just to read as much as you can,” he said ... and that he did.
The cyclist set his plan in motion, equipping his bike to hold all his daily and nightly needs. The rear end of the bike held two packs which carried all of his gear including air mattress, sleeping bag, kitchen set up, clothing, shoes and necessities. It also held three water cages for bottles to be refilled regularly, as the cyclist consumed two gallons of water per day. Once loaded, the 23-pound road bike weighed between 45 to 50 pounds. From start to finish, Trujillo rode 3,352 miles in nine weeks.
“I only planned the first two days of the trip,” he said, noting Christmas in Costa Rica with a fellow OHS graduate as the goal end date. “Once I was in Mexico, I’d just see what happens.”
The plan was to ride at least 60 miles per day to reach the goal destination. He averaged 73 miles per day, with some days as high as 120 miles traveled. Breaks during the days would range from five to 20 minutes.
“The route was very simple,” he stated. “Once you get into Mexico go straight for 1,000 miles.”
The climate wasn’t bad either. Trujillo shared the average daily temperature stayed around 85 degrees, a stark contrast to what he had left behind, as the Central Valley weathered a rough winter.
“I stayed pretty cool as long as I kept moving,” he said. “It was when I would stop that the sweat would just come.”
Proving as testament to the human spirit and cross cultural kindness, during his 63 day dour the 20-something experienced just one bad encounter shortly after leaving the states on his first night camping in Mexico. His cycling shoes were stolen from outside of his tent during the middle of the night.
“That was a tough decision,” he confided. “It was disheartening a little bit. I wanted to stay the course and get it out of my head.”
With 65 miles between him and Ensenada, Trujillo pulled on his remaining pair of shoes (Chaco’s) and continued on.
“That was the absolute worst thing that happened the entire time,” he shared. “It was non-threatening. He probably just needed the shoes.”
It would seem the kindness of strangers following that encounter, did anything but damper the spirits of the cyclist. As he journeyed from town to town, on occasion locals would offer accommodations, invite him for a meal and in one instance invite him to speak with a class of school children.
“People would ask just out of being concerned for me,” he shared of initial interaction. “Some of my best memories were staying with people who opened up their homes to me.”
The teaching opportunity served as a nice break for the Mustang as he made his way through Mexico. It was a connection, which happened by chance, as he stopped in Acapulco to have some work done on his bike. The cyclist shared the shop owner took interest in his story and asked if he’d stop in San Marcos to visit a friend, who happened to be an elementary English teacher.
“I ended up staying three more days in that town teaching English to these kids and helping my friend,” he said of the San Marcos visit. “That was a really good memory. I just kind of fell in love with the kids too.”
As for training, nutrition, expense and physical exertion, Trujillo shared his body never got used to the daily grind.
“Luckily my training grounds ever since I started biking were Monterey, Big Sur and Carmel,” he said. “It never got easier. My legs were always heavy, even with taking a couple of days off. That’s where the mental strength comes in. I have to keep going.”
Trujillo spent an average of $15 a day, splurging once or twice a week on an economy motel stay. Breakfast was his favorite meal during his travels.
As for the overall experience, Trujillo gained a few things, personally speaking.
“No matter how tired I get doing anything,” he said, “just don’t stop moving.”
He also drew inspiration from those with whom he crossed paths.
“The thing which impressed me the most was how they make more with less,” he explained. “The people are just incredible and so happy. I also became less reliant on technology; that was nice.”
Now back in Oakdale, Trujillo plans to spend his summer continuing his work at Sunshine Rafting and planning another adventure for late fall.