By James Murren
Looking for somewhere new to bike, while also possibly getting in a few surf sessions or world-class craft beer pints? Do you enjoy sun and sand, with temperatures in the 70s Fahrenheit most of the year? How about a cycling route that requires a ferry ride across a bay to complete it?
In early October 2017, the long-awaited Bikeway Village in San Diego’s South Bay opened to the public, creating a new bicycling center in the Pacific Ocean seaside community of Imperial Beach for bike-centric activities and events. Situated on the Bayshore Bikeway, the Village serves as a two-wheeled hub between and around the cities of Chula Vista, National City, Coronado, Imperial Beach, and downtown San Diego. With political leadership from the city of Imperial Beach, most notably the mayor, cyclists now have a go-to spot when turning pedals along San Diego Bay, a.k.a. South Bay.
Bikeway Village has all the amenities you may need: A parking area with integration onto the Bayshore Bikeway, restrooms, bike racks, a water refill station, and a relaxing courtyard and deck area for taking in spectacular bay views, among other things. While sitting back and taking in the expansive view from the deck, consider that the surrounding area was a major salt-producing site. In fact, Bikeway Village is a refurbishment of a salt factory warehouse.
At Bikeway Village, there is 2 Wheels Cycling Boutique, a new bike shop, the only one in all of Imperial Beach. The shop team is highly motivated to address the biking needs of the community, as well as people passing through while on the Bayshore Bikeway. Luis Martinez, Guillermo Cazarez, Raul Felix, Allan Hirko, and Christian Vizcaya commented that locals come in to chat, or for a tune-up and maybe even a quick tire change. Committed cyclists might stop by for camaraderie and a quick tune-up, too. No matter who you are, everyone gets the same welcome when they walk into the shop.
Said Christian, “We are powered by passion. We are devoted to sharing our passion and knowledge of the sport and the lifestyle to the community.” Raul was sure to point out, “We are very grateful for the response and the welcoming of the city of Imperial Beach.” What is clear is that their shop in the Village is at the center of fostering a cycling community in Imperial Beach.
The Bayshore Bikeway, though not quite finished, which sits out the front door of 2 Wheels Cycling Boutique, will be a 24-mile loop around South Bay, using the ferry between Coronado and San Diego to close the loop, so to speak. Streets have yet to be mapped in some neighborhoods. Nevertheless, the 8-miles of bike specific pathway that sit in front of Bikeway Village and run north to Coronado are a wonderfully scenic ride, featuring views of the Coronado Bridge, San Diego skyline, the Hotel Del Coronado, and San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
On a recent outing, I pedaled into a stiff crosswind heading north from the Village to Coronado. Along the way, fellow cyclists of all ages, as well as walkers, runners, and casual birdwatchers shared the pathway. Arriving at the Hotel Del, I went on around it to take in the ocean views, stopping to check the surf, 2-3 foot rollers coming in while I ate some trail mix.
Whether you are getting started, taking a break, or are done your ride, Trident Coffee in the new Bikeway Village offers outstanding cold-brew coffee. Eric Johnson is obviously passionate about the product that he hands over to customers. “Coffee, when treated correctly, is like a fine wine, beer or spirit,” he says. “We want to make sure people can experience the complexity and diversity of coffee, and nitro cold brew coffee allows us to do that in a very unique way and creates an awesome experience. With twelve different coffees on tap, each has their own characteristics and flavor, so people can find a coffee they enjoy without having to add milk, cream or sugar.”
If coffee does not do it for you, perhaps some grub and a beer will. Opening in 2018 at Bikeway Village, award-winning Coronado Brewing Company will have a brewery and restaurant on the premises.
Turning around and going south after checking the surf, back to Bikeway Village, I pedaled again into the stiff crosswind coming off the ocean. Freddie Mercury popped into my head:
Bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle bicycle bicycle
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride my bike
I want to ride my bicycle
I want to ride it where I like
A smile filled my face. I was happy in the thought that cities’ leaders supported building a new bicycling center and a bikeway route, making it more enjoyable and easier for people to get outside and ride a bike in a safe environment.
The morning air was warming and salty, with cares drifting away across South Bay the more I pedaled. People waved and smiled as we passed each other.
Spirits seemed high and at ease.