When I first started riding the Bayshore Bikeway it was with my friend Andy more than 10 years ago. He wanted to create a ride where people rode over the Coronado bridge and he needed a test rider. He needed an inexperienced rider to sample the route. He wanted the ride he created to be a “community ride” not a race. He wanted to create a ride on a local path where people could have fun and enjoy riding through San Diego.
Since I was not a professional rider, and as close to a community rider and game for anything, I joined in the “test ride.” Keep in mind, these were in the days where I was riding a $99 Huffy that my sister bought me for my birthday and many times I was riding on a flat tire and didn’t even know it. I was the worst bike rider back then. I didn’t know hand signals. I don’t think I brought water. I did not have bike shorts with me and I never asked where we were going. I just went, for something fun to do with my pal on a Saturday, because he asked.
The premise of Andy’s vision was to have people ride through 5 of the cities that sit on the San Diego Bay with the main feature being riding over the Coronado Bridge. The cities are: National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, Coronado and San Diego. This means when not on the path, we’d be riding through neighborhoods, busy city streets, Naval Air bases, and some sketchy parts of town that were, at that time was very unknown to me. We rode it. I don’t think I helped Andy much as I was probably more of a pain in the ass then a helpful person giving feedback at that point. He probably wishes he never asked me to do it, but I am glad I did because riding that path now gives me great pride. Back then, at about mile 15 my crotch started hurting really bad, I was riding really slow and I was cashed out by the end—at mile 23.
The course is flat, very easy. However, back in 2008, the course was ragged. You had to ride through North Island Naval air station busy streets, there was a ton of debris on the road. This was before Barrio Logan was cool and riding through that area was a little scary. The course itself was patchy. There were some areas where the pavement was smooth. In most areas the pavement was full of gravel and grass, and there were cracks in the road. The signage was really bad and we were taking a lot of guesses of where to go next. When we got to the silver strand, the end of the ride—the last 10 miles or so—it got really difficult. The wind blows in your face, against you so you are using double the effort just to get down the road. We had to “draft” that whole 10 miles which means I had to ride in a straight line directly behind Andy so I was using less energy and it would make the wind less impactful on me. When you draft you’re supposed to take turns being in front, but I didn’t take my turn up front on that ride. I stayed in back and let Andy take all the gusts of wind. I felt happy and accomplished when we were done.
Eleven years later I am getting ready to set out for my weekly 25 mile ride. This week is Bayshore Bike Path. WOW has this path changed in the recent years. The signage is amazing—bright colors lead you every where you want to go. The development along the way on the path ranges from rad coffee houses like Trident, to gorgeous marina parks, to cute little boutique hotels, and stunningly colorful murals. I have ridden this path now so many times since that I know exactly where the gravel turns are, where to stop to pee and when to lick my lips because of the salt mines in the distance and my lips will be salty. Some of my favorite parts on the path are when the old ladies are taking motorcycle classes in the motorcycle training parking lot, this cool place called TRIDENT which is a cold coffee brew shop—right on the path. It’s also a perfect place to stop for a potty break as after that there’s only 11 miles left & it’s a public and clean restroom. There is also an awesome bike shop next door to Trident so if you need something on the path, you’re covered. I have noticed in the past year that along the ride different vendors have popped up offering water, or sports drinks or to fix your flat tire. The path has become a true bike lover’s dream. The path is good for seasoned riders enjoying a fast, smooth, flat Sunday ride OR for brand new riders in town with their family just wanting somewhere safe to ride. I love this path because I park down by the convention center, and ride to the Coronado Ferry landing. The treat is that you get to ride along the golf course and under the Coronado bridge at the end, take the Coronado ferry back with your bike to your car. Two different ferries come over 30-60 minutes so waiting for the ferry is a great time to stretch. Riding the ferry back is nice to reflect on the rad ride you just took & the view of the city and water is breathtaking. 11 years later, the path is so well marked, the pavement is smooth as silk and it’s nice and flat—23 miles—very easy and fun.
Every time I ride it I feel so proud of my friend Andy and his team of friends who have worked so hard with the San Diego Bike Coalition and other organizations to keep the path updated.
Andy does an annual ride called BIKE THE BAY. His vision became a reality to get people to ride over the Coronado bridge. It’s one of 2 times a year they close down the bridge to allow people to ride their bikes over it and the view is stunning. In the old days, I used to volunteer for the ride and sell tokens for the beer garden. Now a days I actually ride in Bike the Bay and go to the beer garden after. This ride is truly amazing and shouldn’t be missed if you’re in San Diego the last Sunday in August. Every single time I ride over that Coronado bridge, it reminds me of why I moved to San Diego 20 years ago.