Thursday, April 24, 2014

Saturday is Bikeist Day (Part Tré)

Here it is loyal readers -- the epic conclusion to the Bikeist's three-part series detailing every excruciating detail of my Saturday bike routine.  Could I have done this in a single post?  Probably.  But, what fun would that be?  It's much more enjoyable to get carried away (pretty much describes my approach to both biking and blogging, and, well, just about everything) --

When I left you last, we were about to embark on the (insert negative adjective here) Rose Creek Path on our trip up to UCSD and back along the coast through La Jolla:

This path is a necessary evil.  It connects Mission Bay Park to Damon Ave and the I-5 frontage road that leads to the Rose Canyon Path and points north.  Taking it allows one to avoid fighting with the "bros" on East Mission Bay Drive (if you think they're bad in the park just imagine how they treat bikeists when in their natural habitat), but presents an obstacle course of broken grass, narrow uneven pavement, potholes, roots, feral animals and humans, and overgrown brush.  If I hadn't had so much experience on the Pearl Harbor Bike Path, I might just declare this the worst bike path in America.  Worst in San Diego will just have to do, then.  

Thankfully, the path isn't much over a mile.  It pops you out onto East Mission and the longest cross-walk light on the planet.  It has the obligatory button to (supposedly) let the light know you're there, but, whether you push it one or a hundred times (and, believe me, you'll have time to push it a hundred times), you're going to spend a good five minutes waiting for your window to cross safely to Damon.  Once, you do, though, it's time to crank -- there will be few obstacles and little traffic all the way to La Jolla Shores.  Pass the (secret) In-N-Out on the left (shhh, don't tell anybody about this hidden -invisible from any and all freeways and thoroughfares- jewel) 

 -- cross under the overpass, and then hang a left on Santa Fe, which parallels the 5 until it dead ends at Rose Canyon.  If you are in need of anything bike-related, hang a right instead and The Bicycle Warehouse (which IS visible from the freeway) will be up the short hill on the right.

Thanks to being a dead end with just a few businesses and an RV Park, Santa Fe is almost car free on Saturday mornings.  Before you know it you will be on the Rose Canyon Path (wider than the Rose Creek Path, but also uneven and poorly maintained with several sandy spots).  

The nice thing about this path, though, is that you often see locals out removing trash and debris from it.  Thus, despite the complete lack of professional maintenance, it is cleaner and less foreboding than the Creek Path.

The path ends with a quick climb up to an I-5 exit ramp that empties onto Gilman.  Now that you're in La Jolla, you get your first glimpse of what nicely maintained roads look like (especially interesting to me because La Jolla is actually part of the City of San Diego -- I guess certain voter's tax dollars are worth more than others).  Anyway, Gilman provides nice, smooth asphalt and a wide shoulder along a steady climb up to UCSD.  Pass by the (empty) guard shack and the sleepy Saturday morning campus awaits.  Gilman rolls for a few miles around the east perimeter of the campus until it hits Voigt with a bunch of soccer and rugby fields to the left.  Keep them on the left as you make a left on Voigt.  The water polo natatorium will soon appear on the right.  Wave to the beautiful people inside the fence as you head to a "T" with Warren.  I cross the road and follow the walking path straight ahead here taking me through "Warren Mall" and the heart of the campus.  UCSD is a gorgeous, sprawling, woodsy campus with some amazing pieces of architecture.  One of my favorites sits atop the School of Engineering:

I half expect to see a woman's legs with striped stockings sticking out from under this mis-placed house every time I pedal by.  It's hard not to love this bit of whimsy.  Is it the result of one engineer's dare to another?  A lost bet?  Come on UCSD grads -- fill the rest of us in on the story behind how this house got here.

At the end of the mall, I do as the students do and bike past the sign saying no bikes, skateboards, etc. (although, there is a large bike-rack in the very area where bikes are supposedly banned), and follow the short, steep, sidewalk up to the Thurgood Marshall School.  Here, we follow Scholar's Lane to the left as it parallels Torrey Pines Road for a bit before crossing it onto La Jolla Shores Drive and the highlight of the ride.  Ahead is one of the best descents in San Diego.  After a big curve, it screams along the ocean past Scripps Institute with no intersections and little traffic until the bottom. Like all thrill rides, it's over in the blink of an eye.  Make a right at the light to continue to hug the coast Past La Jolla Shores beach-park until you come into the quaint little business area of the Shores.  Here, I make a quick right onto Calle de la Plata and the next right onto Paseo Dorado which goes by the Tennis Club and the famous Marina Room Restaurant where it becomes Spindrift which is steep but short.  It ends at Torrey Pines Road which you make a right on to climb up to the Village (in a newly renovated bike lane that will suddenly disappear as it spits you into the right turn lane at the top of the hill).  Take the lane aggressively and pedal like hell for the right turn onto Prospect which takes us directly into La Jolla's fabulous shopping and dining district.  The Living Room, on the right, is a good place to stop to refuel on espresso (and, perhaps, a pastry). 

There are several choices of roads to navigate down to La Jolla's gorgeous coastal park.  

From here on, the ride is sheer bliss all the way through PB.  No need for a road by road account, just hug the coast where you can, following the bike route signs.  The route rolls and turns easily along the coast through ultra-chic neighborhoods all the way through Bird Rock to PB.  My favorite stretch is along Windansea Beach -- great view -- beautiful people -- iconic surf spot.  Love it.

Once the road west of La Jolla Blvd dead end's with the Blvd (with a convenient bike connector between the dead end and the road), head right for about a quarter mile past a couple of apartment buildings, then follow the bike route to the right where you'll connect with the northern end of the PB Boardwalk.  Now, there are much faster ways to bike through PB, but none more scenic.  Just be patient and drink in the long beach and the sea of people (still thinly spread out enough to allow biking on a Saturday morning).  If you're lucky, you might just see Slomo:

Locally famous for a while now, this retired doctor, who gave up the rat-race for the joy of slow-motion roller-skating, has hit the big time after being featured in The New York Times and a new documentary.  I would do exactly the same thing (substituting long-distance biking for slow-motion skating) if I had a neuroseurgeon's nest egg.

Once you clear the throngs near Crystal Pier, the boardwalk broadens and you can actually pick up a decent head of steam.  Make sure to exit the path after a few miles, though, at Belmont Park, home of the "Giant Dipper" wooden roller coaster -- almost as thrilling as riding down la Jolla Shores Drive.

Here we get on West Mission Bay Drive, which has an excellent, wide shoulder -- go over the bridge, and then make the first right (and quick left) onto Quivira, which dead-ends, but has a short access path to the Sunset Cliffs Bridge.  At the end of the bridge, I pedal for dear life again as I merge into the traffic exiting the 8 and heading to OB.  The merge is necessary in order to catch the left fork onto Nimitz which has a decent bike lane and takes you all the way back to the Bay and Harbor Drive.  From here it's a nice warm-down through the Embarcadero until I get back to Little Italy for lunch.  My favorite spot there these days is Underbelly on the corner (literally) of Kettner and Date.  Awesome Ramen, great beer selection and cool staff.  Best of all, though, they give 10% off to any customer who arrives on a bike!  Nice reward for 60 miles in the saddle on a Saturday morning.

After filling my belly with noodles, it's back over to Harbor to catch the ferry home to Coronado and my little bikeists as they return from theater rehearsals.  Perfect end to a perfect bikeist Saturday morning . . .

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