On my recent trip to San Diego, I had to visit the velodrome at Balboa Park. We really didn’t check the schedule, seeing as it was a Sunday, we just missed a class winding down. So I managed to sneak a shot at one of the members leaving for the day. There were some people milling around. Some with geared bikes and some with track bikes. It was a nice velodrome, considering that it was outside. The pavement was well maintained and free of debris. The association that looks after it offers all sorts of classes and races. If you’re ever in town, look them up and check the schedule…or you’ll wind up like me, looking like a dork with a camera standing by an empty track.
I need to start this post with an apology: I know that it has been a little while, but this is the furthest thing from my day job. You may be thinking “How can an international man of mystery do everything he does and still be able to blog about cycling?” Before I answer that, let me thank you for having such an awesome perception of what I do for a living. If you knew the truth (indeed, you can check my About page for the truth) you would be horribly disappointed. The real excuse is that I have been busy with my alternate identity, hard at work, coming home late, etc. Not to mention we had record heat for the few days following my last post. My being a Southern Californian used to mild weather did absolutely nothing to stop me from withering like a raisin under the oppressive jackbooting of the hot Santa Ana winds. Enough whining about the weather. Let’s get into more about my trip to San Diego (which, it seems is all on fire right now due the aforementioned heat wave).
If you’re anything like me, bicycles are an important part of your life. Maybe you don’t work in a bike shop on the weekends like me. Maybe you just prefer to think about or be around a bicycle to feel comfortable. I certainly do. If there is bicycle talk going on within earshot I tend to become more alert and attentive. Like many of you, I do like to visit other bike shops whilst traveling. I had the chance to visit Bike Bling in Escondido, CA. It is a pretty cool shop with awesomely nice, non-snobby employees. They took the time to chat with me even though they clearly knew I wasn’t buying (I bought some pedals anyway). Working in a much smaller shop like I do, I took notice of their repair and maintenance area. it was clean, well organized and pretty big in comparison to others I have seen.
Being a larger shop, their sense of humor wasn’t totally gone like other shops. The rescued Coca-Cola menu board listing some of their services was evidence of that. It was pretty cool to see the mechanics have so much room to move. It also was nice being in a shop where they weren’t really pushing one brand. It seems like a lot of shops are getting redone, and in some cases relocated, in order to feature one major brand. This trend seems like it is going to continue and clearly sucks, in my opinion. Sure, a lot of brands have full lines of bicycles to suit most riders’ needs. But having more brands and not really pushing one or the other is the best way to get the customer the best bicycle for them. In any case, I was also struck by Bike Bling’s vast offerings of bicycle accessories. Being from a smaller city, I had not really seen so many options for helmets, kit, triathlon gear (including wetsuits), computers, components, clothing. It was well organized and easy to locate. A salesperson was always available to help if I needed it. In fact, I was greeted by at least three of them during my first five minutes of my initial inspection of the sales floor. It’s a nice place. Even though they have a big presence of the Google Machine, their shop had a good local vibe with plenty of knowledge of the surrounding bikeable area. I highly suggest you stop by when you are down San Diego way. That is all.
I love bicycles. I love beer. I don’t drink beer often enough. During a recent trip to San Diego, staying classy was the last thing on my mind. We were called down there on semi-official business. It seems that F. was needed to translate at a Japanese/American wedding. My friends Chris and Hitomi are definitely made for each other and I wish them all the best. However while they were getting hitched, I was hanging with my friend Lane in Scripps Ranch just outside the city proper. From there, we rode bikes and drank beer and generally misbehaved as much as we could. He has two young boys (3 and 6) so we were limited but not dissuaded from having fun. Indeed, the hijinks ensued as demonstrated by the first picture Lane tried to take of me:
That’s me, trying to do my best to look cool and hipster drinking an Orion Beer whilst wearing an Orion Beer shirt. In any case, it turns out that photobombs are awesome if done right. Notice the bullhorns this kid is rocking. This picture was taken the day after my ride with Lane and John. Let me explain that situation:
Lane likes to volunteer for the San Diego Center for the Blind‘s Blind Stokers Club. It’s a club within the nonprofit that gets blind people out on the back of a tandem and into the open air, to exercise and have fun. Riding a bike is not something that blind people normally do by themselves, so they have sighted riders like Lane to captain the tandems for them so they can concentrate on riding. It’s actually pretty awesome. John, our stoker, is a great guy. Right after I was introduced to him, I got the impression that he was the kind of person who was super excited to be there. To be honest, this was the first time I had ever seen blind stokering in action so I was very intrigued. Well, my intrigue soon led to my riding a lot faster than I normally do as a bike with four legs that are more in shape than mine is way faster than I thought. Let me put it this way: I saw the back of the tandem a lot.
After riding from Scripps Ranch through Del Mar and into South Carlsbad, we doubled back and took on Torrey Pines Hill. That hill must be some kind of sick joke as I found myself barely able to pedal by the time I got to the top. But I made it (swoon, ladies) and we soon headed to the Torrey Pines Glider Port for some sandwiches and awesome views. It was a great ride and I will never forget it. Well, I am not going to forget how totally out of shape I am and that I need to do some hill repeats to get my confidence back up.
We soon drowned the pain out of my legs that night with a visit to Ballast Point for some spirit tasting. For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you may recall how I drunkenly proclaimed that wine tasting is for pussies and spirit tasting is where it’s at. This is still true. I do not refute that one little bit. After more shenanigans after picking F. up after the wedding, we continued to eat well and reminisce and generally have an awesome time. We capped it all of with a visit to our friend Jerry in Pacific Beach. We ate some empanadas and talked photography and kendo (it’s what we all have in common). San Diego rules. I hope to get back there soon. It’s an amazing place to ride and it’s filled with amazing people. Too bad it’s named after a whale’s vagina.