After a month-long hiatus, I decided to hop back on my bike. I’d ridden the Bike the Bay event (39 miles, door to door), and it reminded me how much I love to bike ride around Point Loma. So, on a Tuesday, we took a 22-mile ride that we fondly refer to as the “Tour de Pointe.”
We left the house at 5:15 p.m. and rode out Catalina Boulevard to the guard station. You used to be able to go to the lighthouse and Cabrillo Monument during the summer, but they changed the hours and now no one can get past the guard after 5 p.m....which kind of stinks for people wanting to ride their bikes down to the tidepools after work or people who have out-of-town guests because this site is a favorite destination for out-of-towners as well as locals.
I asked them why they were closing early now, and they told me it was for security reasons. I think it has more to do with saving money, but I can’t confirm it.
Turning around at the guard station, we stopped at the red light and watched a motorist stop and then proceed to go through the light while it was still red. Some people do own the whole damn road. We turned into the Wooded Area and rode down Silvergate — a lovely street dappled with rosebushes and festooned with BMWs and Mercedes Benzes — and past the gated entrance to Kellogg Street, home to Point Loma glitterati such as Joseph Wambaugh and the WD-40 heir. Flying down Gage at 30+ mph, I felt exhilarated and fortunate to be alive on such a beautiful day in such a beautiful place.
In the village of Point Loma we turned to get to Shelter Island. Going past the Le Rondelet condominiums, I was reminded of their swinging history, where the occupants reportedly had a swell time in the ’60s and ’70s. It seems that the same swingers still live there, only now they have walkers and blue placards. Sadly, their swing has swung.
We passed my old office, still a place I can walk into anytime, any day, and be welcomed with a smile and a crowd of happy-to-see-me faces. We cruised by the Brigantine and the Red Sails, two venerable establishments that have their fair share of regulars (we prefer Red Sails — love the deck).
Pedaling on, we passed Humphrey’s, where we had our wedding-rehearsal dinner. We recently saw Garrison Keillor there (love him, but he really does have a face for radio).
We got to the end of Shelter Island and turned around, past the old Kona Kai where we got married, then back around to Bali Hai, whose views cannot be beat. We repeated this lap and headed out Scott Street to Harbor Drive.
Harbor Drive can be a bit treacherous for a cyclist — lots of airport taxicabs, who do not yield for any man, woman, or child, let alone anything with wheels. I looked to my right and saw the marina, filled with giant floating condos and lots of other watercraft, big and small, and wondered at which end of the happiest-days-of-our-lives spectrum are the owners.
We turned into Harbor Island and passed the Sheraton, the site of many a work party I’ve attended over the years. There was a strong headwind heading north on Harbor Island, so it was a relief when we turned at Tom Ham’s Lighthouse, benefactor of one of the best Bloody Marys I have ever had (and there have been many) and began the southward portion of our lap.
Looking to the right, there was a small sailboat relay race going on, consisting of maybe 20 boats. Their pretty white sails stood in stark contrast to the bright, cloudless blue sky. The downtown skyline was sharp and glinting and brilliant, so bright I had to squint my eyes to take it all in. There were many people fishing off the rocks lining the bay — husbands and wives and children and dogs.
We continued down to Island Prime and C Level, and I couldn’t stop thinking of C Level’s amazing garlic fries. Thin, crispy, and fragrant with garlic, I can stuff ten of them in my mouth at once, and I do whenever we go there. We took another lap around Harbor Island and headed back to Harbor Drive for the trip home.
As we passed the airport, I was grateful for its proximity to our home. Some want to move the airport. I think it is just fine where it is, and so do our visitors. We can hear the planes where we live, but just barely. I do feel for those directly in the flight path. I used to live in the flight path, and it can be deafening.
Crossing over Harbor Drive, where Nimitz connects, we had to ride in the center of the road. I looked over my shoulder once, twice, three times and finally shouted “clear” to my husband, and we raced to the center bike lane while cars whizzed by. Up through Rosecrans we went, left onto Locust Street through Tunatown, then past our old condo where we lived when we first got married.
We reached Canon Street and began the slow climb back home. I wanted to turn at Point Loma Avenue, but my husband wanted to go all the way up Canon, so I followed him up, maxing out at 7 mph on the incline. Going past the new Fresh and Easy, I thought about the store being nominated for an “Onion” architectural award for not using a different façade than all the other Fresh and Easys. We are just glad a grocery store is there.
Turning right on Catalina, we barreled home like horses after the turnaround. I was tired, but in that good-exercise way, and as I pulled off my helmet I caught a glimpse of myself in the bedroom mirror. I was grinning from ear to ear.
Sometimes I think I have no memories here because none of my family lives here. When I ride my bike, I am astounded at how many people and places in this 22-mile loop hold memories for me. They are everywhere, and I was lucky to have had the opportunities to create them. I just have to remind myself to remember that.