• Mandi Graziano

Sloppy Signage and Fun Flashbacks

22 miles down. 78 to go. Ride Stats: 10.41 miles. 8.3 mph. 19 mph max speed.

This time I took to the streets of San Diego. I rode through my old favorite neighborhoods of Kensington, Normal Heights, University Heights and North Park. I normally fancy me a path girl but in the days of yore, I rode the mean streets of San Diego like a boss as a bike commuter. Yep, I used to ride only to work, the grocery, the gym. One time, I even picked up a load of balloons for a wedding shower on my bike during that phase. During those years, I had a dedicated bike blog. Car-Go-Bye-Bye Check it out if you really want to dive into my old bike commuter days. I wanted to rekindle with the busy streets so I hit Adams Avenue.

I rode from Adams Avenue in Kensington to the end in University Heights. Door to door that's 2.75 miles each way. It's an easy way to hit 5.5 miles and lots of eye candy along the way. The gorgeous Spanish style quaint homes and neighborhood of Kensington is a good place to start and day dream. Quickly I was thrusted into the busy streets of Normal Heights and University Heights. There is a "share the road" bike lane that I know my husband would not appreciate, but, I was safe and the drivers were kind on this sunny super bowl Sunday.


The first mile of my ride I chatted with my almost eight year old niece Lyla. She had texted me just as I arrived so I put her on speaker phone and away we went. She seemed to enjoy being on a busy road with me and hearing large trucks swoosh by. It felt like we were in the adventure together even though I was pedaling and she was relaxing in her new canopy bed waiting for her mom to finish cooking BBQ meatballs.

As I left the fancy houses of Kensington, I noticed at least six signs on the streets for restaurants or bars that said "Carry Out, Open" but these signs were atrocious. They were falling off the building. It made me wish they were friends with a rad graffiti artist or sandwich spinner. Either would carry out the Carry Out, Open message much better than the sloppy vinyl signs blowing in the wind. It made me feel that their kitchens were dirty or infested with Covid and certainly didn't make me interested in their Sushi to go.


I unexpectedly located my new Optometrist that I'll see later in the month. I blindly made the appointment, not really knowing where it was on Adams Avenue. It was in my healthcare plan. I like that neighborhood and my friend's wife runs the joint so I thought I'd give it a try. Now that I know it's in that cute Normal Heights area, it gives me exciting ideas about post eye appointment errands.

Riding on a main road is definitely dangerous but not as dangerous on a Sunday morning. I felt safe. I felt the drivers respecting me on a bike, and vice versa. No one was driving so fast that I thought I'd be hit. I did have to pay close attention to the cars parked on the streets for fear of being "Doored". I once saw a guy get "doored" on his bike right in front of me on University Avenue in Hillcrest. He was just minding his own beeswax when a man in a parked car opened the door and knocked him off his bike, knocked him out, broke his nose and the car coming next ran over his bike. It was not pretty. Ever since I saw that I am super cautious when riding on streets, like Adams Avenue that have many parked cars. You never know if someone is sitting in their car- texting, listening to music or napping when they suddenly decide to slam their door open and jump out of their car. Did you know there is even an attorney in San Diego that specialized in bicyclists that were "doored" Check out this guy...and there's a whole bunch more just like him.

I veered away from Adams cruised down Louisiana street from Normal Heights to North Park. I like this stretch of Louisiana because it's a wide, quiet street and easy to navigate- no hills. I took a quick jog over El Cajon to Alabama Street--another wide, quiet road in North Park. That took me to University where I climbed the hill up to Texas, popped over on Madison and back to Kensington where I finished my ride out with a couple more laps of those gorgeous Spanish homes.

Riding in these neighborhoods was a good reminder of all my old favorite spots I used to visit all the time by bike when I lived over there. It was also enlightening to see some of the new spots that have opened since I left. I made a voice to text note to order "Carry Out" food or to visit the places below I passed on my ride:

Ponces, Dark Horse Coffee, Blind Lady Ale House, Adams Avenue Bicycles Mama's Bakery, Olympic Cafe, Tibet Gift House

At the end of the ride I found myself feeling so lucky to be in San Diego where within a three mile stretch is four distinctly different neighborhoods that I can get to by bike, foot, bus or car, quickly. There is so much flavor in those neighborhoods from rad bike shops to record stores to gift shops and coffee shops. I need to be better about returning to my roots and taking a day to stroll the old stomping grounds. Maybe, after my next eye appointment:)

Next time you ride, if you're bored of your path, I highly recommend an Adams Avenue stroll or ride. It brought back so many memories, sharpened my brain, and reminded me of how awesome it is to live in San Diego.

Virtual Tour De Palm Springs in full effect, 22 miles down, 78 miles to go. I have three rides slated for this week. If you have a bike route I should try or a ride playlist I should jam too, send it my way on my Instagram account here. To get alerts on Mandi's journey to 100 miles in 28 days, add her to your RSS feed or check back on the Brain Trails blog on https://www.mandigraziano.com/sales-tales-book.


#TdPS21 #Kensington #NormalHeights #UniversityHeights #NorthPark #sandiego #sandiegomagazine #bikes