>Cycling in the ‘hood


8:00 AM, Sunday morning, and I’m riding my Giant hybrid road bike through the brilliant kodacolor San Diego streets in North Park–on my way south to the ‘hood. This is one of my favorite rides–down to Barrio Logan and around Chicano Park. A terrific one hour route that’s perfect for Sunday mornings. There’s no traffic, and no buses roaring up behind you. And riding down the center of the lane, you almost feel like a bicycle is an actual vehicle.

Lately I’ve been riding down and around the neighborhood, feeling very transgressive after hearing warnings for the last 20 years to avoid the gang-ridden, mean streets of Logan Heights. So far, I haven’t been shot at. But occasionally a young mother pushing her two-year-old in a stroller will walk right out in front of my oncoming, speeding bike –now that’s scary.

The ride is great and mostly easy. Starting out, you’re riding downhill almost all the way from El Cajon Blvd. south along 30th St. through North Park to Upas, then the quick half-block jog at the Jack-in-the-Box, to continue along down through South Park. Crossing the bridge over the canyon you have to watch it–the pavement gets a little rough, and traffic speeds up behind you once they feel that freedom of the 4 blocks of open road before them. And because you can’t speed up to 50 mph here, they simply can’t take you seriously as a vehicle.

Keep going through South Park, Golden Hill, and you end up coasting most of the way down to the bottom of the hill. Yes, you will have to climb back up eventually, so save your legs for later! Down at the bottom, you end up on Commercial Blvd. Turn right, and ride a few blocks to the corner of Commercial and 25th-26th Sts. You’ll see two wide streets going uphill–Ocean View Blvd and Cesar E Chavez Parkway. If you take Cesar E Chavez Parkway, you will end up at Chicano Park–a great excursion if you want to stop for a snack.

So, today I took Ocean View Blvd, and what a wonder! This smooth, wide street takes you straight east, with a gorgeous view of the sun coming up over the mountains for miles and miles. I rode and rode this morning–and ended up out on 47th St. (just past the 805) where Ocean View ends. Turn right on 47th, and you suddenly realize what you have done to yourself, gleefully coasting downhill like Pee Wee Herman on a bright red beach cruiser. The steep climb upward back into City Heights unfurls before you, and you can see the 20 blocks of green wooded hills and valleys that await.

The ride up was surprisingly easy, and the road is wide enough to give you plenty of space on the shoulder to avoid the 45 mph traffic coming up from behind. When I crossed Imperial, Market St. and then Home Ave, I had to laugh at myself. Was I this far south? And shouldn’t I be terrified? Checking to make sure I wasn’t accidently sporting a red bandana, I continued upward. Crossing Home Avenue, you’re suddenly faced with a massive hill–going straight up 7 blocks into the sky. So I walked it. At the top, you end up at Laurel and the street becomes Fairmount.

And the rest is flat and easy. I always take Fairmount to Meade and ride west to get back to 30th. `1 hour, 40 minutes total ride, and except for the gnarly hill at Home Ave, it is a reasonably easy route.


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