Sunday, May 11, 2008

San Diego to National City

So, I took this ride last weekend, and have just now gotten around to posting about it. I've never really taken the Peugeot for a real ride, so I took advantage of a cool, cloudy Sunday and took a spin down to National City (about 20 miles round trip from North Park). I wanted to check out a cemetery down there to see if I could find the headstone of a Civil War veteran I've been researching, so off I went at about 1pm.

I biked down along the east side of Balboa Park, through Golden Hill and South Park on 30th Street/Fern Street. I passed a huge Cinco de Mayo celebration somewhere along in there, and was tempted to stop, but pressed on for the sake of time. I kept going on 30th Street, which zigs and zags a bit, to where there is a pedestrian bridge over I-5. I crossed the bridge, kept going on 30th for a block, then turned west on Main Street for two blocks to 28th Street, turned south on 28th, then southeast on Harbor Drive. To my surprise, there is a bike lane on Harbor, but in places it's kind of like riding on a washboard. I was passed here by a spandex-clad older man on a very slick-looking new road bike. "Go get 'em, chief!" I thought, but didn't yell.

I took Harbor Drive all the way down through the Naval Base to National City, where I hung a right on Civic Center Drive, which turns into Tidelands Avenue. Tidelands runs south through warehouses, shipping depots, and giant manufacturing yards. It was completely deserted on a Sunday, except for the strange wind-and-percussion ensemble of about a dozen people that was standing conspicuously on a sidewalk, playing (quite loudly) apparently for no one. I guess they were practicing, but it was kind of surreal. The railroad tracks that criss-cross that part of town are a little rough to cross, but the streets are nice and wide.

I stayed on Tidelands all the way down to 32nd Street, where it ends, and took a left. In a couple of blocks, I came to the north entrance to the Sweetwater Bikeway (see photo), a paved path that runs along the Sweetwater River for a ways before turning south down through Chula Vista. I stayed on the path until 2nd Avenue, then turned north to Sweetwater Road, then east to get to La Vista Cemetery. Turns out, I didn't find the grave site I was looking for, but it was a really great ride, and fully worth the three hours (round trip, including time spent at the cemetery; about an hour, one way). In fact, I was pleasantly surprised at how easy it was to make this ride, which I had expected to be a real challenge. Mind you, I'm not in great shape--decent, but not great. The take-home message is: getting around by bike doesn't have to be hell-raising, butt-busting, sweat-fest if you don't want it to be. If you live in San Diego, and want to check out my route, see my Google map.

I did notice a few funky problems with the Peugeot once I got going, but I'll save these for later posts. Hopefully things I can fix.

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