Thursday, May 7, 2015

San Diego Local Road Cycling Speak: What Roads Are They Talking About?

A few local cycling favorites/locales are referred to more by their nicknames than the real/full ones, so, here are a few in alphabetical order.

- A to Z (or Z to A) = The obscure back roads connection between Rancho Santa Fe's Stud Loop and Camino del Sur by way of Artesian and Zumaque Roads. It's a gated passage with creek crossing that is usually dry (except for within a week of the last substantial rain in the area, of course), and involves steep climbing in either direction. A gorgeous short cut, tho!
- Boulevard = Boulevard Road Race, the big annual road race in Boulevard, CA (Imperial County).
- Cameron Junction = SR 94 at Buckman Springs Rd near Campo.

- ECR = El Camino Real, the main surface road running mostly north-south along the coast just east of I-5. South terminus in Del Mar.
- Four Corners = This one depends on which part of town you are talking about. There is an official 'Four Corners' neighborhood up in San Diego Country Estates SE of Ramona. Unofficially the junction of Lyons Valley Rd and Skyline Truck Trail/Honey Springs Rd is known to the Jamul locals as 'Four Corners'. Also, it could mean the junction of Morena - Stokes Valley Rd (previously known as Corral Canyon Rd) and Los Pinos Rd way way out SE of the Laguna Mountains, tho that is mostly known by the local off-road four-whelers.

Highway 76 east of I-15 is part of 'Gamblers' Loop'.

- Gamblers' Loop = (Hwy 76 - Valley Center Rd - Pala-Temecula Rd): Because of all the casinos on this network of narrow two-lane highways in NE San Diego, of course. On the north end is Pechanga Casino on Pala-Temecula Rd, then there are Pala Casino right by Mission San Antonio de Pala off Hwy 76, then a few miles further east on the 76 is the Pauma Casino. Continuing south onto Valley Center Rd there are Harrah's Casino in Rincon Indian Reservation, and then up the steep grade off from N Lake Wohlford Rd is Valley View Casino. What this means for cycling is, of course, nasty riding condition. All these highways are very narrow and curvy with little or no shoulder. And the casino traffic involves people operating their vehicles while under the influence... and quite a lot of huge Casino buses.

- Glass Elevator = County Highway S22/Montezuma Valley Rd, also known as Montezuma Grade, the deliciously twisty climb/descent between Borrego Springs and Ranchita. A category 1 climb and a marvelously scenic technical descent that drops 3400 ft down to the desert floor in just 11 miles. It may not be as technical or twisty-a-delic as Palomar South Grade Rd, but it arguably is the most beautiful descent around!

- GWL = Great Western Loop: a favorite 40 mile cycling loop comprised of Willow Glen Rd - Dehesa Rd - Japatul Rd - Lyons Valley Rd - Jamul Dr - Steele Canyon Rd. The classic GWL loop runs clockwise starting from the Rancho San Diego Starbuck. There are some variations possible (using Skyline Truck Trail instead of Lyons Valley Rd, or using Hwy 94 instead of Jamul Dr - Steele Canyon Rd, etc).

- HVR = Highland Valley Rd, a very curvy two-laner connecting Rancho Bernardo with Ramona around north side of Starvation Mountain. As good a climb as it is, it is an even better descent (albeit quite a technical one in two stretches).

Scripps Poway Pkwy climb (Purple Monster) to Hwy 67.

- Purple Monster = Scripps Poway Pkwy climb east from Community Rd to the crest just short of Hwy 67. It's the big climb on the San Diego Century's purple course, and its lower slope is lined with purple flowering jacaranda trees.

- RSF = Rancho Santa Fe neighborhood. It's full of curvy and well shaded lanes lined with spectacular ranchos and villas without much flat stretch to speak of. In short, a cycling (and horseback riding) heaven!

- Scissors Crossing = SR 78 at San Felipe Rd (S2)

- Smugglers' Run = Hwy 94 between Rancho San Diego and Tecate border crossing... for obvious reason! This is a beautiful stretch of rural two-laner, though what little shoulder it has comes and goes and drivers tend to add too much mph to the speed limit. Also, it's a main trucking route... so I'm afraid even tested local riders avoid riding the Smugglers' Run. A lot of time it is like playing Russian roulette... and the prospect of a new casino opening at Jamul Indians Village sure doesn't help things.

- Stud Loop = La Valle Plateada, El Vuelo, and Las Colinas series of side-road detour on the south side of Del Dios Hwy/Paseo Delicias in Rancho Santa Fe. Del Dios Hwy is part of a local favorite cycling route (see next entry), and most riding groups will stretch out so much that the studs end of the group can duck onto the Stud Loop detour and pop out back on Paseo Delicias at Via de la Valle right in time for the slower elements to arrive and regroup. It's only about a mile of added distance and some minor climbing, but the view is absolutely gorgeous and there is hardly any car traffic to speak of.

- Swami Loop = The usual Swami A ride loop involving Del Dios Hwy & Elfin Forest Rd. I think the ride usually goes clockwise, but it's still a nice ride either ways.

Torrey Pines 'Inside'.

- Three Witches = San Dieguito Rd (series of 3 climbs from El Apajo to Camino del Sur)
- Tidepool Hill = Cabrillo Rd, the paved service road in Cabrillo National Park that goes down to the tide pools. This is a popular hill-repeat site for local cyclist. The climb is 0.8 mile long at near constant 7.5% grade.

- Torrey Pines = N Torrey Pines Rd between Torrey Pines State Beach and the golf course. There are two different climbs; Torrey Pines 'Inside' refers to the park service road (accessed from State Park entrance at the beach), is a shorter but steeper climb within Torrey Pines Preserve. Torrey Pines 'Outside' is N Torrey Pines Rd, a wide main thoroughfare with a wide bike lane and gentler incline. As of summer of 2014, though, bicycles are banned from descending Torrey 'Inside' for safety reason.

- In Valley Center, 'The Grade' means Valley Center Rd between Lake Wohlford and Woods Valley Rds.

Did I miss anything? Leave a comment and let me know!

Friday, May 1, 2015

May is National Bike Month

Did you know that May is National Bike Month? If you ever wondered what it would be like to try to bike around town running errands or sight-seeing or commuting to work, there isn't a friendlier time of year to give it a go!
Look how many bikes you can fit into a single car parking spot!
I know, riding the bike on the roads within the San Diego city limit can be an intimidating experience. Even with all the new bike infrastructures (sharrows, new bike lanes, 'Bike May Use Full Lane' signs, etc), there is still much work to do for our town to become truly friendly to non-car mode of transportation. One important factor in making that happen that you can contribute to, though, is to increase the number of bikes on the roads.

Have you ridden on the new buffered bike lanes on 4th & 5th Ave in Uptown, yet?
The more drivers see bicycles, the more aware they are of bicycles... Sounds like a no-brainer? It is! Often time, no matter how narrow or curvy a road is, the biggest determinant of how safe that road is for everyone (driving, cycling, walking, or just standing there chatting with the neighbors rather than all cooped up in a room fighting with strangers on facebook or other social media page) is the mindset of the drivers on that road. The more you are reminded of slower road users on the same streets, the more habitually you look out for them... and that benefits everyone! (Because... unlike in the movies, real life accidents have real consequences for everyone involved).
I've had my years of 30000 miles/year behind the wheel of a car, but I think I've seen a lot more of the neighborhoods and countrysides here since I switched to almost exclusively traveling by bike. You see cool and curious things in your own neck of the woods that you wouldn't notice speeding by in a car (or even when you aren't speeding, but just sitting there stuck in traffic... but not looking out the window. Cars do that to you, cutting you off from your surroundings and often making other people outside of your little steel-encaged environment seem a lot less people/real).

All taxpayers pay for the non-freeway roads regardless of their mode of transportation. We ALL own the roads and have the right to them whether we are driving a car or not.
You can stop and hop off the road just about anywhere to check out that cool looking bookshop or cafe that you have been meaning to stop by forever... but never did, or to walk the bike through a local farmers market, or even to just lean against a rock to enjoy a fleeting spectacular view. Getting a parking spot at Torrey Pines State Beach so you can watch the sunset into the ocean is a lot easier on bike than in a car, for instance.
Did you know that you can get free refreshments and other swags at pit stops around town during Bike To Work Day? Click here for San Diego region Bike To Work Day 2015 pit stop map.
Think your commute route is too hilly? This guy has to climb Honey Springs Rd on his bike commute between Jamul and Chula Vista!
Think cycling is too physically taxing for you? This young dude here is paralyzed on his right side...
Biking to work and to run errands or even for exercise isn't as hard as you think! Try it for a day (Friday May 15th 29th (original date postponed due to rain) is Bike to Work Day) or even for a week (May 11-15 is Bike to Work Week)... or maybe even for a month! You'll save a load of $$$ (gasoline isn't exactly cheap these days, and so are car maintenance fees), get a bit less chubby while getting to eat more goodies than you used to, pollute the air we all breathe in a lot less, and get to know your own neighborhood and neighbors a lot better!

If you have never cycled much in traffic before, there are a few cycling safety videos you might like to watch before heading out.