I think I lost interest in joining the San Diego Critical Mass kids after I heard they rode down Highway 163 one night. Not only is that not safe; it's just not cool. The point of group rides—at least in my helmet-wearing brain—should be to increase awareness of cyclists' rights while promoting safe-riding practices and not acting like assholes.
That sort of tomfoolery was nowhere to be seen at last Friday night's Paseo de Todos ride through the streets of Tijuana. As they do around 8 p.m.
every first Friday of the month, a group of roughly 200 cyclists met up under the arch in Tijuana and patiently waited as stragglers joined the mostly helmet-donning, spandex-covered crowd for a leisurely, dozen-or-so-mile ride.
There were a few tandems, a handcrafted tall bike and even a dude towing along his toddler in a bike trailer, a testament to how safe the ride really feels. Organizers had an escort vehicle most of the time, plus a support car for those who might lose battles against Tijuana's notorious hoyos, or potholes, which put the little cracks on this side of the border to shame.
Yes, there are a few obstacles you'll encounter in TJ that you'd never see in San Diego—we passed a grate in the street that could've destroyed every bike that attempted to ride across it—but the folks who run the thing are prepared. They successfully thwarted danger at every turn.
A few people gave us long, angry honks, but most of the cars and people we encountered cheered. Surprised kids came running to the curb as the mass of bikes rolled by.
There was beer and rattle-snake-cured shots of tequila available at nearby bars before and after the ride, but Paseo de Todos isn't a party; it's about taking back the streets of a city with a reputation that's taken a few gnarly hits in recent years.
As a handful of San Diegans, led by the Tijuego.com crew, road back to the border, a woman rolled down her window and yelled, “You're so brave!” But it isn't the gringos with the guts; it's the Tijuanenses, who continue to get on their bikes and ride even when talk of dangerous drug wars surrounds them.
Make it a date
If you go out just once this week, this should be it
From 4 to 9 p.m. Sunday, April 10, in the Celestial Ballroom of the U.S. Grant Hotel (326 Broadway, Downtown), the San Diego Bartenders Guild will host a competition pitting 25 local bartenders against one another to see who can make the craftiest cocktails. When mixologists compete, the real winner is everyone who shows up to watch and drink. The event is open to the public and features $6 Don Q Rum cocktails alongside other drink specials, live music and food.