San Diego isn't always kind to cyclists. While bicycling advocacy within the city has strengthened—due, in large part, to the tireless work of BikeSD and progressive city government—we still have some ways to go before it becomes a city for bikers. Ill-maintained surface roads are hell on street tires, motorists still don't know how to share the road, and local media—even progressive media—has a tendency to vilify bikers as scofflaws (not to mention victim-blame: take note of any report on a bike-car collision that mentions the biker not wearing a helmet).
Admittedly, these factors have kept me from exploring as much as I want to, but the ride from North Park to Fiesta Island is one that I love.
Riding down steep Texas Street into Mission Valley is probably not for beginners, but for those who've built up the confidence and maintain control, it's a rush. San Diegans are late risers during the weekends, so if you hit it early—say, before 8 a.m.—you almost have it entirely to yourself. If you've ever skied, this is the Southern Californian equivalent to first tracks in fresh powder. Early weekends also make it easier to cross over to the left lane at the bottom of the hill, a feat that's intimidating in high traffic.
Camino Del Rio South and Friars Road both have good bike lanes, and Friars takes you all the way out to Fiesta Island. There, the road is flat and smooth, and riders can circle the island to extend their trip as long as they want.
Of course, it's impossible to forget the tragedy that befell a group of bikers on Fiesta Island last year, when a car driving the wrong way collided with them. But that shouldn't deter riders from going there. If anything, it should reinforce our hold onto whatever routes we have. Fiesta Island is a place for bikers.