“We’re going to get you born again hard!”
“O.K. wild man.”
My response is in regard to Lennie’s suggestion of a 50-plus mile bike ride from Tijuana to Ensenada.
“Let’s focus on this right now.”
I was referring to the more-sensible bike trek south down the 7-mile-long Silver Strand Bikeway (Highway 75, part of the 24-mile, bay-encircling Bayshore Bikeway). You just have to use some gentle urging-on with Lennie the Road Warrior. I just want to start with the ride to the Coronado Cays, then to IB on subsequent trips. Let’s not push it, yet.
The strand is a slim sandbar with a beach, bikeway, and highway, a golden rope stringing together Imperial Beach and Coronado proper (also called “the village”). On the east side is San Diego Bay and on the west, the Pacific.
Right now, Lennie’s pressing me to push. “You can do it,” he says.
What a positive guy. Recently, his bike was stolen outside his place in East Village—but was miraculously then sold to his friend who owns a bike shop near him. Positivity and luck.
A good place to start the ride down to Imperial Beach is at the Hotel Del Coronado (https://hoteldel.com/) at 1500 Orange Avenue, Coronado. Start on the East side of the street, as getting to the bike trek is easier from the same, bay side. As you cross Pomona on the way south, the road by bike will split between Strand Way and the bike route. Heading further south, Strand Way will end, but the bike lane will continue for the next seven miles.
It’s about an hour and a half by bike from the village to Imperial Beach and back. And we aren’t the only ones being buffeted by wind (sometimes southward, sometimes northward). It’s been said more and more people are riding today than in the Before Times. I believe it. Hard core street bikes, cruisers, grandma trikes, recumbents, and like me, hybrid mountain bikes. Add skaters, walkers, military trainees, couples, kids, and entire families, going all the way—with headphones, of course.
If you’re not using a fitness band or other gauge, you can9 simply see how far you’ve gone with the miles and kilometers painted on the bike lane below you. The four and a half mile point from the village is at the Cays and directly opposite it, on the ocean side, is the Silver Strand State Beach and campsite (http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=654). Campers, surfers, boaters, swimmers, water-skiers, volleyballers, picnickers, and fishers, all taking their breaks from news insanity. Hours until May 27, 2021, are 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. There are no hours for the bikeway and highway. Day Use Parking Rates (flat rate when staffed): $10 Monday – Friday; $12 Saturday – Sunday. For Reservations, call 1-800-444-PARK (7275)(or 1-619-435-5184).
I usually can make it to Hooper Blvd, at the new Silver Strand Training Complex South, past the Cays, just as Lennie has done the loop to IB and back to Hooper. I turn around when I see him, but then he blows by me. His yellow jersey and helmet disappear in front of me on our way back north.
The Crown Cove Aquatic Center (5000 Highway 75, https://www.swccd.edu/locations/crown-cove-aquatic-center/), operated by Southwestern College, is also bayside, where paddleboarding, sailing, surfing, canoeing, volleyballing, boating, and yoga are available, as well as CPR and First Aid classes. Various classes and events are also held at the Cove. Contact 619-575-6176 for more information.
About halfway down the strand, the Loews Coronado Hotel offers chair and umbrella packages for lounging at the state beach and the state park itself allows for camping and day parking. The General Dynamics’ NASSCO ship yards and Naval Station San Diego just across the bay seem far away in haze.
It’s my favorite time of day now. Bronze-lit and breezy, dusk has become more sparse of humans. Despite what you may think, those human developments–vehicles, barbeques, and firepits–are in some way only some far off chattering. I catch sight of pelicans plummeting into the surf for fish to my left. Push push. My meager muscles press on.
Peddling harder to appease that invisible trainer, I take in more of the route’s beauty. The bike lane is set off from the main highway by a two- or three-foot dirt and bush barrier, similar in vegetation to the nature preserve on both sides of the strand. Beside the U.S. Naval Amphibious base, the Silver Strand State Beach, and the Coronado Cays, much of the rest of the highway’s surroundings is the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, a 3,900-acre protected wetland. Bird watchers and nature lovers get a treat here.
As I pedal north, the traffic starts to increase. I can see the Tulagi Road light, which marks the beginning of Coronado village. The government employees and servicemen are leaving the Amphib base. Cars speed south with radios blaring.
I am so not speeding. My time is passing slower. My watch seems to have stopped.
The strand is always there if I need a mind tan–my term for the close-your-eyes, sun-lit journey pushing yourself to a better shape. Or just to enjoy.