By Doug Aguillard
It’s just another typical Saturday or Sunday morning, as the sun rises over the foothills that run along the US/Mexican border. Just southeast of San Diego, Highway 94 or the section of road called the Smuggler’s Run starts to awaken. The U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Customs agents who have patrolled all night start their shift changes as new agents start to move out from their headquarters to take their place.
The small cafes of Barrett Junction and Potereo will soon be buzzing with the sounds of high revving engines pulling into their parking lots as hungry riders start filling the seats to have a hearty breakfast.
It’s around 8:30 a.m. and Motorcycle Clubs and groups of friends are meeting each other in the parking lots of the different Starbucks in Eastern Chula Vista and Rancho San Diego. Whether it is Sport bikes, Duo-sport Adventure bikes, or Cruisers, they all share in one cause, ride the Smuggler’s Run and the “Playground,” a small section of Highway 94 from the turnoff to Tecate, Baja California, east to Potereo.
If coming from Chula Vista, you’ll be riding eastbound along a nicely paved road with no real surprises, nice curves and long straight roads, as you ride pass Otay Lakes. You’ll pass along through rolling grasslands and Oak trees all the way to Hwy 94.
When coming from Rancho San Diego, you will travel immediately through a long canyon with sometimes heavy traffic. Once you pass through the community of Jamul, it opens up into rolling grassland hills and some straight roads until it meets up with Otay Lakes Road. From here on out, all riders share the same route to get to the Smugglers Run and the Playground.
After passing a Border Patrol checkpoint, you start to climb up into the foothills and canyons. The scenery is beautiful, and the traffic seems to dwindle as you head east. You will pass by the really small community of Delzura with a “For Rent” in the window of the Delzura Café, a once thriving business. The road continues to climb and tops out with a big sweeping turn and the real fun begins. Fast and furious on smooth pavement with dips and turns coming quickly until you hit the decent into Barrett Valley Junction section of the highway.
Going down this hill is a big sweeper and an opportunity for the sport bikers to lay down a knee, racing away for a long downhill, and passing the Barrett Junction Café for a long straight ride through the valley and a long climb towards Tecate, Mexico. After a few turns and sweepers, you can go right on Route 188 towards Tecate and it’s famous Tecate Brewery (need a passport to re-enter the U.S.).
Most riders continue eastbound and continue to climb and enter into “The Playground.” This portion of the road comes with lots and lots of twistys. The traffic becomes a lot less heavy, and favors the riders. It’s in this section of the Hwy. 94 that many riders decide to start doing laps up and down the hill and its turns. Most riders will continue on to the community of Potereo, and to the Potereo Café. This is the main stop, where many riders will stop and eat. From here, it’s either continue east from where you can ride all of the way to Arizona, take a side road that heads to the mountains of eastern San Diego County and Highway 8, or like many, head back the way they came.
Back to the “Playground” it is, but once you pass the turn off to Tecate, the traffic becomes heavy as many folks from Mexico are heading into San Diego. “Smuggler’s Run” offers many an opportunity for an awesome ride, and companionship with fellow riders and friends. Stay safe!