Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Christmas Toy Run Made Simple

This is the time of the year for Christmas toy runs, and last Saturday I managed to get some riders together to do one.

Except I didn't want to ride in the actual "run". Instead, I just wanted to ride to the dropoff point, just donate the toys, and eat lunch. Afterwards, we'd continue our ride elsewhere.

The toy run in particular is the Toys for Tots run sponsored by the San Diego County Goldwing Riders. They start the run in Oceanside, CA, and do a 30 mile ride to Pauma Casino in Pauma Valley, CA.

Last year I did the official run, and I've ridden in several others as well. Because they have hundreds, or thousands of bikes, the run travels at a very slow pace, usually 10mph on average, and you always get that stop-n-go "accordion effect". I grew frustrated with it over the years.

So this year, I got together some members of our riding club, as well as some riders from my motorcycle meetup group, and we set out on our course, through the valleys and hillsides of Southern California, finally arriving at Pauma Casino about a hour before the official run got there.

When we arrived, I was surprised to see about 100 bikes already there. These were all from other riding clubs and motorcycle clubs. They had figured out the same thing I did, and probably had been doing so for the past several years. They still brought lots of toys, but did it without all the attention.

In fact, the event was serving lunch to these riders for $6.00 a head, instead of the $10.00 a head you have to pay if you do the official run.

It made sense to me. Why subject ourselves to a slow 10mph ride, surrounded by hundreds or even thousands of riders, when we can just ride to the dropoff point on our own, on our own time, donate toys, and avoid all the fanfare?


  1. Makes perfect sense to me. We were on one of those slow parades last year. 20 mph on the freeway without a police escort and the cagers were getting angry with the 400 or so bikes. We pulled around at freeway speed, went and dropped off the toys, watched the first 100 roll in, went off for an enjoyable breakfast, and then did our own little 100 mile ride. It was just so much better and the kids still got the toys.

  2. I couldn't agree with you more. There's an MDA run another local HOG Chapter here puts on every summer. After the first time I did it, I felt exactly like you about it. Too slow, too many bikes, not really a fun ride. I had intended not to ride in it again, but my new girlfriend rides and she wanted to go on it because she'd never been. I knew telling her wouldn't be enough, so I endured it once again for her sake. When it was over, she declared, "Now I see what you meant...I think I'm all set on doing this ride again."

    As far as toy runs, my HOG Chapter does one every year, which I'm happy to say is the antithesis of the one you described. Our ride is fully police escorted, scenic, not too long, and most importantly, a lot of fun. I know they all can't be that way, but it's cool you and your friends were still able to support the cause and still get to ride your own ride. Nothing wrong with that.


About Steve

A vagabond who hauls a motorcycle around the country in a toy hauler, earning a living as a website developer. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, craft beer, and/or public nudity. (Read more...)