Sunday, May 25, 2014

Just a few favorite views from a few recent rides

It's still spring here in San Diego, CA, and I've been trying to get my adventure rides in before the weather gets inhospitably hot in the summer months... and so have been neglecting the blogs a bit. Sorry! Here are a few shots from a few recent bike rides around this scenic little big town.

Rose Creek Bike Path just south of Garnet Ave.
 Spring is a purple season here in San Diego. The jacarandas are blooming all over town and I can't seem to get enough of them! They really perk up the place.

A sweet female pitbull hurrying over to say hi on Bullard Rd.
I know many cyclists are afraid of being approached by dogs when they are out riding in the countryside, but I absolutely love it when local dogs come over to say hi! This lovely pitbull terrier was the sweetest pooch. She came running over from a property along Bullard Rd near Alpine and was petted silly by yours truly. It was a really good break for me, since there was another leash-less dog there that didn't look nearly as friendly as the pitbull was, but he let me be when he saw me getting on handsomely with the other dog.

The new Smorgmobile... a bit off the beaten (and paved) path!
 Oh, yeah, the Smorgmobile got a drastic make-over a couple of months ago. It turned out that the creak that the old Smorgmobile Giant Defy 5 had been indulging on on climbs came from a cracked fork, so Giant sent over a new fork (a composite one rather than aluminum!). The new fork wouldn't fit the old frame, tho, so Giant shipped over a new (lighter aluxx) frame as well. The new frame wouldn't fit the old crank, but cranks aren't included in the life-time warranty, so I had to buy a new one, but it was quite worth it to spend $200 and got an almost all new bike that is quite a bit lighter than the old one and that rides so much softer. Naturally, some trail-testing was in order... and that was how the new Smorgmobile found itself marooned on a rocky island in the middle of nowhere when the dirt road that branched east from Bullard Rd narrowed into a track and then a nothing... Oh well, it was a fun little off road excursion while it lasted!

Looking ENE down Cuyamaca Lookout Fire Rd toward Lake Cuyamaca and Garnet Peak.
On a clear day, it's hard to beat the view from almost any open spot along Cuyamaca Lookout Fire Rd to the top of the 2nd tallest peak in San Diego County. Mind you, you have to pay quite a physical fee to see the view. That road is some of the goriest sustained super-steep climbing I've ever had to put up with!

Treed-in section of Jeremy Ln in Pala.
There isn't much forest-riding to be had here in arid San Diego, so I found the treed in sections along Lemon Line Rd & Jeremy Lane between Rainbow and Pala quite enchanting... And the fact that it occupies only a short stretch of the road made it even more appreciated than the same sort of scene in De Luz or Fallbrook, where you can stay in the forest for miles on end.

Ha! Finally a clean shot of the Greater Roadrunner (Geococcyx californianus)!
Roadrunners really live up to their name. They are always running! Well, at least when I run into them on rural roads around town. I've had many attempts to photograph these beautiful little spookadelic birds foiled by their speed and unfavorable lighting condition before, but last month I finally got lucky and caught a shot of one pausing in between his speedy dashes under bright sunlight while heading west on San Luis Rey River Trail. Now if only I can get a clean shot of a coyote to go with him...

Looking down the steep couple of blocks on Santa Monica Ave in Pt Loma.
 When people ask me why I keep riding up hideously steep streets around town, all I can say is that you have to have labored up a few blocks of them, park at the top and look back down on a clear day to know the answer. Some views just can't be gotten from the bottom of the hills!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

National Bike To Work Day This Friday

Feel like trying out bicycling to work for a day but also a bit scared of riding in traffic? This Friday (May 16th) is National Bike to Work Day and there will be lots (more) of other people on bike out and about. A good time for a try out if you are bike-commute curious!

Get on your bike for a day and join a happy commuting crowd this Friday!
Aside from there being more cyclists around (there is more safety in number! Drivers see more bikes on the road and look for us more), many local business and bike advocates are putting up free pit stops on cycling routes around town to make your bike commute even more pleasant! Check out the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition page for map of pit stops in San Diego area. Some pit stops even offer bike repair & tune up to make sure your machine runs properly!

UPDATE: 15 May 2014: Due to conditions of the local State of Emergency and the wildfire situation, all official Bike to Work Day events are POSTPONED to May 30th.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Why drivers should tell cyclists to NOT ride to the far right of the lane

The next time you drive down the street and see someone cycling up ahead in the lane and you start to get annoyed at the prospect of having to slow down a bit and change lane to pass a bicycle (even though you wouldn't be half as annoyed if you have to do the same thing for another car), and the voice in your head goes; 'look at that inconsiderate biker! There are 3 feet between him and the parked cars. Why can't he scoot a foot or two closer to the car so that I can just squeeze by without losing any speed?' Watch the videos below and be glad that the bike rider is riding outside of the 'door zone' rather than in one, and tell the next cyclists you see on the road who do ride close to parked cars on the right side of the lane that they SHOULD BE riding closer to the middle of the lane instead. The cyclists you can easily see near the middle of the lane are the ones you can easily avoid getting into a collision with. It's the cyclists riding nearly invisibly (obscured by parked cars) to the far right of the lane that have the potential to suddenly get bumped into your path with little or no notice at all.

Do you see what happens when a cyclist is hit by an opening car door? Here is another look...

What happens to the cyclist when she is hit by an opening car door? She gets deflected into the next traffic lane, doesn't she? Now... imagine yourselves the driver of the car just innocently passing by in the lane to the left... Do you see what I'm talking about now? It isn't the idiot that opens the car door without first checking traffic that will end up delivering the fatal blow to the hit cyclist. It's YOU!

You will be the one that ends up with recurring nightmare of a helpless cyclist suddenly landing on the pavement right in front of you with no reaction time at all. You will be the one that feels the thump of the impact (and probably also the sickening sensation of the wheel rolling over a human body). Your car will be the car with almost all the damages and all the blood splattered on it. Yes, you... all because another person opened his car door when traffic isn't clear, and because another person was riding his bike close enough to the parked car to be hit by its opening door.

Also, to my fellow cyclists, you actually need to ride a bit further away from the cars than the length of their doors. You need to be far enough away to not instinctively swerve away from the opening door because there's no time to check for passing traffic! It's much better to get honked at by impatient people than to end up dead and making a manslaughter out of another innocent road user. Don't ride in the door zone where you can end up a human ping pong ball or be screened (by parked cars) from view of any car coming out of the side roads! This is especially important when you are riding in a group (where if you get hit by a car door you could end up sending the cyclist to your left flying helplessly into the next traffic lane... not to mention causing many others behind you to crash into the wreckage, of course)!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Cabrillo National Monument in Santa Ana Wind & Sun

We are on our third straight day of heavy duty Santa Ana condition here in San Diego. It's a bit of a bummer since I'm having an easy work week and had been eying a few delicious roads up in the mountains to the east, but there is no way I would head east of the city limit in this sort of weather (being crazy for adventure is one thing, being stupidly suicidal is another).

Having spent the whole work week inside was driving me silly, though, so I compromised and headed out for a short ride, with a friend, to Cabrillo National Monument instead. Cabrillo is at the south tip of the Pt Loma Peninsula just a few miles around the San Diego Bay. My $15 Cabrillo Pass had just expired at the end of April, so renewing it gave me quite a good extra excuse to stay on the coast. I'm afraid morning commitments meant that I couldn't start until 10am, so the morning was already quite warm and getting moderately windy when I rolled into Moment Cycle Sports' parking lot in Liberty Station to pick up Kim, my cycling co-conspirator for the day.
A rather bad bike lane on N Harbor Dr approaching Scott Rd. Naturally we rode in the 'buffer zone' rather than in the door-zone bike lane.
Taking Rosecrans south into La Playa.
We had planned to follow my Utterly & Horribly Unnecessarily Steep Pt Loma Tour route, but by the time we got to the Shelter Island turn off the wind was starting to get unfriendly. Luckily for me, Kim raised no objection to my skipping the packed dirt (and amazingly scenic) Bessemer Path and headed into La Playa on Rosecrans instead. We turned uphill on Owens and followed San Elijo Ave to the secret neighborhood path that connects to picturesque Armada Terrace, where we slow-rolled for a bit to shake the lactate off the legs before scaling La Playa's resident ogre, 23% grade first block of Lucinda St.
The secret passage to Armada Terrace.
Living on Armada Terrace in La Playa means you're never short of spectacular view!
Lucinda St's ouchy first block at Harbor View Dr.
Kim had spent a lot of her winter cycling miles on Palomar Mtn, and so it was Lucinda St that cried at their encounter! I haven't been riding much in the past 1 1/2 week (tho I ate as if I had been doing back-to-back brevets), so I was pretty surprised that I managed it up the hideous block without having to get out of the saddle. We stopped to enjoy the view from the leveled out intersection with Golden Park Ave, of course. As horrible for cycling the Santa Ana Wind is, it also produces really nice clear skyline all the way to the mountains!
View of the bay from half way up Lucinda St.
Kim rolling past Rosecroft House.
We took Golden Park to Charles and Gage Rds and weaved our way through The Wooded Area while goggling at the neighborhood's over-abundance of gorgeous houses. Rosecroft House is, of course, an attraction worth a little detouring to see. Eventually we made our way to the main road and headed south on Cabrillo Memorial Dr to Cabrillo National Park where the super nice ranger at the entrance booth sold me a new annual pass and wished both of us a good ride.

The view of the bay from Cabrillo visitor center on a clear Santa Ana day is worth getting off the bike for!
Hotel Del Coronado with Mt San Miguel in the background.
Kim was sort of caught between Juan Rodrigo Cabrillo and the Old Pt Loma Lighthouse...
The park was relatively busy! We made a beeline to the soft-drinks vending machine at the visitor center, though arrived to find it in the process of being resupplied (so the drinks weren't cold yet). Luckily I had taken the measure of half-filling my 2nd water bottle and freezing it overnight, so the slightly salted water in that bottle was still nice and cold as we walked around admiring Cabrillo's drop-dead gorgeous bay view.

San Diego Bay view from Ft Rosecrans National Cemetery.
Hot weather and I really don't get along!
1st block of Bandini St in Mission Hills.
We loitered around at Cabrillo for quite a while until the wind started to feel like we were stuck in front of a giant blow dryer with the cooling effect rivaling a blow torch, when we made our escape north on rolling Cabrillo Memorial Dr/Catalina Blvd to Chatsworth Blvd down to Liberty Station. Kim's ride was done there, and I had a nice and easy roll back up the Uptown mesa by way of Old Town and scenic Bandini St where I was once again cheered up the 25% first block by a nice local driver.

It was a nice little 30 mile ride! Yes, yes, I went up a few ouchy steepies unnecessarily, but streets like Lucinda and Bandini are so much more interesting and so less trafficky than things like Canon or Catalina or Juan or Washington Sts. Besides, I've got the granny gear... and why have the granny gear (and all its extra weight) if you aren't going to find a good steepie or two to put it to use?

Palm fronds are getting blown everywhere. If you can, move them away from handicap access ramps!
On another note, the Santa Ana wind has been blowing a lot of tree debris and palm fronds onto the roads and sidewalks. We able-bodied folks don't think about it much, but it would be great if my fellow cyclists and pedestrians would take the time to, when they come across debris & fronds that block the handicap access ramps on the sidewalk, stop and move the obstacles out of the way so our wheelchaired neighbors can get from place to place. It's just a few seconds of your time, and the fronds aren't heavy at all. A bit inconvenient, perhaps, but really good good karma building opportunity!

Today's riding route: