Growing up in the beaches of LA, we believed the saying “there’s no life east of Pacific Coast Highway” at least until we discovered punk rock and Hollywood. In San Diego, a large portion of the population draws a Maginot Line at the 94, keeping to the north. Even folks in my hipster ghetto of South Park, which abuts the line, tend to stay on their own side.
Even on bike, when considering the realm of possible bike errands, we tend to look north, even though Mission Valley and the mesas are filled with dangerous on-ramps and gnarly hills. We tend to forget that the South Bay exists (if you are brown or grew up down there– not you.)
Since I’ve begun my journeys on bike, I’ve been fairly guilty of this myself, with the exception of weekly laps down to Imperial Beach and up Coronado to the ferry on the newly completed South Bay to Silver Strand bike path but that is going to change due to my pleasant ride this weekend.
My swap meet specials are pretty scratched up, so Saturday morning I was going to check out Performance’s summer sale for some cheap sunglasses. Their shop on Midway in Pt. Loma immediately came to mind, but on a bike, this puts you through some of the sketchiest bike commute zones in the area.
A quick google revealed told me that Performance has a store on Bonita Road in, you guessed it– Bonita. I took a quick look on Ride the City’s San Diego test site which showed a way to get there using the bike path along the Sweetwater River. Looking to lengthen the ride and combine errands, I also found the Chula Vista Henry’s on 3rd and J.
With the route firmly locked in my mind (I forgot to bring the printout) I set out through Logan and down Harbor to Pepper Park in National City, where you can pick up bike-only paths heading east and south. I’ve done the south route plenty of times on the way to Imperial Beach but never headed east. Very cool, pretty well-surfaced and no fucking traffic, plus it goes through a nature preserve. You’re finally dumped out at the Westfield Plaza Bonita– so if you ever need a mall (yeah, I don’t either), this is a lot less stressful ride than the aforementioned slog into Mission Valley on bike and actually very fucking easy and mellow.
Without directions in hand, I unnecessarily climbed one mesa but found Performance pretty easily. From there it was a cruise through mostly residential neighborhoods to the Chula Vista Henry’s which is huge compared to North Park, totally clean, and filled with old ladies who totally look like they know their mangoes– a welcome alternative to the pseudo-high school reunion of all your crunchier friends that you get when shopping uptown. To get back, go west on any of the letter (L, K, J,) streets and follow the Bayshore Bikeway signs back to Harbor and 32nd. Only a 25 mile round-trip and totally low stress, low hill and low traffic.