Ian Pike 2 p.m., Dec. 7
After a month-long hiatus, I decided to hop back on my bike this week. I rode Bike the Bay on Sunday (39 miles door to door), and it reminded me how much I love to bike ride around Point Loma. So, 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 Blvd. 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 5:00 p.m. Which kind of stinks for people wanting to ride their bikes down to the tide pools 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 at the red light, then proceed to go through it 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 Benz, past the gated entrance to Kellogg Street, home to Point Loma glitterati such as Joseph Wambaugh and the W-D 40 heir. Flying down Gage at 30 plus MPH, I felt exhilarated and extremely fortunate to be alive on such a beautiful day in such a beautiful place.
In the village of Point Loma we turn to get to Shelter Island. Going past the Rondelet condominiums, I am 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 pass my old office, where many former clients still work, still a place I can walk into any time, any day, and be welcomed with a smile and a crowd of happy-to-see-me faces. We cruise by The Brigantine and The Red Sails, two venerable establishments that have their fair share of regulars (we prefer The Red Sails, love the deck). Pedaling on, we pass Humphrey's, where we had our wedding rehearsal dinner. We just saw Garrison Keillor’s "A Prairie Home Companion" there. Love him, but he really does have a face for radio. We get to the end of Shelter Island and turn around, past the old Kona Kai, which is now The Shelter Point Resort, and where we got married, then back around to Bali Hai, whose views cannot be beat. We repeat this lap and head 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 look to my right and see the marina, filled with giant floating condos and lots of other watercraft, big and small, and wonder to myself at which end of the spectrum are the owners on in the happiest days of their lives. We turn into Harbor Island and pass the Sheraton, the site of many a work party I’ve attended over the years. Lots of glitzy holiday parties, last year’s being saddened by the discovery the following day that the speeding coast guard boat we saw and assumed was just getting some revelers back in the Parade of Lights line-up was horribly not what we assumed at all. Many, many parties here, with many, many wonderful friends.
There is a strong headwind heading north on Harbor Island, so it is a relief when we turn at Tom Hamm’s Lighthouse, benefactor of one of the best Bloody Mary’s I have ever consumed in my life, and there have been many, and begin the southward portion of our lap. Looking to the right, there is a small sailboat relay race going on, consisting of maybe 20 boats. Their pretty white sails stand in stark contrast to the bright, cloudless blue sky, and the downtown skyline is sharp and glinting and brilliant. It is so bright I have to squint my eyes to take it all in. There are lots of people fishing off the rocks lining the bay, husbands and wives and their small children and their dogs all happy and smiling and thankful for this gift of a gorgeous day. We continue down to Island Prime and C-Level and I cannot 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 take another lap around Harbor Island, and head back to Harbor Drive for the trip home.
As we pass the airport, I am 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. The only ones who do not like its proximity to our home are the cab drivers who take us home after trips and become surly when they ask “where to?” and we tell them “Point Loma”. 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. That airport has brought us to and from some really great places. Some trips have been for sad occasions, like my dad’s funeral, but most have been really fun, and a couple life-changing.
Crossing over Harbor Drive where Nimitz connects, we have to ride in the center of the road. This is scary, but in a good way. I look over my shoulder once, twice, three times and finally shout “clear” to my husband and we race to the center bike lane while cars whiz by. Up through Rosecrans we go, left on to Locust Street through Tunatown, then past our old condo where we lived when we first got married. We reach Canon Street and begin the slow climb back home. I want to turn at Point Loma Avenue, but my husband wants to go all the way up Canon, so I follow him up, maxing out at 7 MPH on the incline. Going past the new Fresh and Easy I am a little sad, because I think they are being nominated for an Onion for not using a different façade than all the other Fresh and Easys. We are just glad a store is there. Turning right on Catalina we barrel home, horses after the turn around. I am tired, but in that good exercise way, and as I pull my helmet off I catch a glimpse of myself in the bedroom mirror. I am grinning from ear to ear.
Afterward, I am filled with gratitude. 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 just 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 them.