Looking for bike rides around San Diego
July 11, 2008 9:43 AM   Subscribe

Know of any long road bike rides around San Diego, California?

I'm spending a couple weeks down in SD at the end of this month, and I'm in the middle of training for a week-long 500 mile ride in September. I should be taking my mileage up to 150 miles/week during this time.

I'll be around Mission Bay (above Sea World, in the hills) and aside from the main El Camino coastal route, I have no idea where to find safe 25-35 mile loops to ride. About half the roads I've driven down there don't seem very bike friendly and I'm mostly used to quiet Oregon country roads for riding long distances.

I know up north the Palomar Observatory road is the killer hillclimb to try one day, but other than that, what are some good up to 40 mile loops in San Diego county worth checking out?
posted by mathowie to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Bikely? I know SD has no shortage of cyclists, for sure. Del Mar was packed in each direction last time I was down there. You should do ALC next!
posted by kcm at 9:52 AM on July 11, 2008

Best answer: Here's a link to a page that has pdfs of bike-friendly routes (color-coded by amount of bike-friendliness!), so that you can put your own together.

Otherwise, lots of people bike the Silver Strand (Coronado to Chula Vista), but that's not really a loop, and it's not really 30-40 miles. You could probaby loop it back up into downtown and take the ferrey over to Coronado to complete the loop, but riding towards downtown might get hairy.

There's also circumnavigating Mission Bay, but again, not really long enough.

If you felt like doing some mountain riding, you could do a loop going north on Sunrise Highway (highway S-1) north through Laguna, then cut back south through Cuyamaca State park on the 79, then through Guatay and Pine Valley on Old Highway 80. It's not really "bike-friendly"-- just rural two-lane roads-- but I see people doing it all the time. It'd be significant elevation gain/loss, and the last climb up back up to S-1 out of Pine Valley would be pretty tough.
posted by LionIndex at 10:23 AM on July 11, 2008

Map My Run search for San Diego.
posted by KathyK at 10:25 AM on July 11, 2008

Just looking at the map I posted, a halfway decent, but not incredibly scenic route would be a loop of Miramar Road, Genessee, and Kearny Villa Road (with minor deviations onto other streets). All bike lane, plenty long, and the streets involved are fairly major, so there's relatively few stoplights and long stretches with no stoplights at all.
posted by LionIndex at 10:37 AM on July 11, 2008

Here's a list from mapmyride.com. Also, this list of area bike clubs will probably link to some route descriptions.
posted by TDIpod at 11:09 AM on July 11, 2008

Best answer: The problem with San Diego is you have to spend all your time getting out of the city. A normal 25 mile loop would be from my old house to my old job. Boo. Plus, pretty much everything is on rather highly trafficked roads.

Riding up the coast is the most logical route from pretty much anywhere in the central city area. The roads are good, the terrain is varied, the ocean looks nice, etc. You can't go west (ocean!), and going south you hit shittily maintained roads (poor people don't use the streets!) and there's only city until you hit the border. Last option: head east.

The eastern route I did most frequently while living in central San Diego was to ride out through La Mesa towards Alpine. The first 15 miles are ugly, gritty, city riding, but the last 10-15 (depending upon where you're going to) can be really nice. Of course, you have to re-cover those horrible first miles on your way home. IIRC, these were generally 50 mile loops. The general route is ride into Hillcrest, follow Washington, get onto El Cajon Blvd, and follow that out to El Cajon (the box!), the bust out of El Cajon going northeast towards Alpine, following the 8 freeway. Here, I made you a map.

The other way you can go, which I only did once on a horrible blazingly hot summer day is to ride up Mission Gorge. This isn't very far, but it's crazy steep. Oh, look! A cyclist!

Anyway, those are my suggestions if you want to cycle from where you're staying. Otherwise, drive out east, then bum around out there, which would be more fun I think, since you'd avoid all the hellish city riding.
posted by beerbajay at 11:29 AM on July 11, 2008

I should note that the map probably isn't 100% the best route. I haven't ridden in SD for around 3 years. So, YMMV.
posted by beerbajay at 11:39 AM on July 11, 2008

The ride out of La Jolla, on Genessee, past Torrey Pines National Park and into Del Mar where you can pick up El Camino Real, is one of my favorite rides. I usually start in Del Mar because that's where Mom lives, so I go south on El Camino do that crazy hill up to Torrey Pines, then turn around at UCSD, come back through Del Mar and ride north to Oceanside. One of my favorite rides.
posted by ikkyu2 at 12:08 PM on July 11, 2008

I unfortunately don't have the entire routes memorized, but I had good (i.e., non-scary) trail riding experiences going (1) from Scripps Ranch (near Miramar Reservoir) through Los Peñasquitos Canyon (pretty much all downhill for that portion) to Torrey Pines / UCSD / La Jolla and (2) from south of Mission Bay down to Cabrillo National Monument (which is insanely scenic to boot, but requires paid entrance). My sense of it is you could combine the two if you manage to find a safe bike path south from La Jolla and around Mission Bay, and the whole route would be about 30 miles each way.
posted by kittyprecious at 12:27 PM on July 11, 2008

Best answer: Avid cyclist here, when I traveled SD, I eschewed the local stuff in favor of Mt. Palomar. Its a long, tough, unforgiving climb, which never seemed to go below 6%. Don't know if its your cup of tea though. The Palomar Observatory and a old-timey convenience store (with $3 gatorade OUCH!) are your rewards at the top.

Bicycling Magazine published an article on the pros' favorite rides, this was Floyd Landis' entry.
posted by neilkod at 12:31 PM on July 11, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the advice. I ended up using the PDF of bike-friendly streets map to plan my routes and I ended up doing a few coastal rides along favored roads mentioned.
posted by mathowie at 4:29 PM on August 2, 2008

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