I’m on vacation this week in San Diego (or as I prefer to call it, Sandy Eggo) with my family. I’m holed up in a house one back from the beach at Mission with my 15 closest relatives. It doesn’t suck.
Yesterday morning, my sister, our close family friend, Debbie and I decided to ride our bikes over to a yoga studio about four miles from the beach house to take a class.
That last sentence sounds reasonable, right? Like that’s a normal, non-ridiculous plan, isn’t it? It actually sounds so mundane you’re thinking right now, She’s going to write a blog post about going to a yoga class on vacation? Hmm, I could read this, or I could go clip my toenails. It’s liable to be equally exciting.
Yeah, well that’s what we thought, too.
I’m here to tell you that a theoretical four mile bike ride can be as exciting and harrowing as any good mugging, if you do it right. Or, I guess if you do it wrong; is what I mean.
When we got home from the excursion I mapped the route we took in blue (7.73 miles), the route we should have taken in green (4.1 miles), and labeled the notable points in orange letters.
A – This is where we started, from the beach house at 9:15 AM. The class started at 10 AM. We figured it shouldn’t take more than about half an hour to ride four miles. We mapped the route and made handwritten notes. There were six turns. How could we screw that up?
B – Here’s where we took our initial detour. This one was short and entirely my fault. I knew we were looking for a bike path near the water, so I jumped the gun and directed us to turn into a park by the bay that was notable only for its large quantity of homeless men.
C – At this point we were all still cheerful when we realized we were going in the exact wrong direction. But if you look closely, you can see my brother-in-law’s heart breaking right when we turned West instead of East. When we got home I got a long, exasperated tirade from him, berating me for not knowing by the direction of the sun and various landmarks which way we should have been going, even if the signs were non-existent (You knew you were supposed to be heading toward Sea World, right? Why, WHY would you go that way?). Sorry I don’t have a flawless internal compass, Magellan.
D – This was a little bike shop we stopped at to get directions. The nice owner-guy told us he didn’t think one of the streets we were trying to find actually existed. He said we were going the opposite direction from the other one. It was 9:50 AM at this point. We thought we still had a reasonable chance of making it to the 10 AM class on time, if we really hurried.
E – This was the second of three separate times we hit Point Loma Blvd and turned around, realizing we were going the wrong direction. If only the yoga studio was on Point Loma Blvd. If only.
Between points E and F we actually found an obscure, hidden bike path we thought we were looking for. It turned out to be the bike path South of the canal vs. the one to the North, which would have made more sense since we started North of the canal and wanted to end up North of the canal.
We also met several more domicilely-challenged gentlemen around this point. One cheered Debbie on as she biked up a tough hill. One ranted at an ant on the sidewalk while we were across the street from him, but cheerfully moved aside to let us pass and greeted us with an, “HOLA!” when we came back along on his side (we saw everyone at least twice, once while going the wrong direction, once while heading back to find where we’d just come from).
My sister has been mugged while jogging, so she has a specific and unshakeable fear of strange men along the side of the road. I, on the other hand am fine with making new friends who like to gather under buzzing power lines and build rock sculptures, but I have a specific and unshakeable fear of getting splattered across the highway by cars driving 80 miles an hour. So at any given point during the bike ride either my sister or I was scared shitless, but almost never at the same time. Debbie, however, I’m pretty sure came away from the ride with a specific and unshakeable fear of taking bike rides with my sister and me.
F – This was one of several points where my sister said, “We should get off the bike path here. The yoga studio isn’t going to actually be on the bike path, so we need to get off and look for Friar Road again. It must be here somewhere.” It was again where we encountered Point Loma Blvd. I hate Point Loma Blvd.
G – This was the official, uncontested low point of the bike ride. We got off the bike path, once again, convinced we were close. We crossed a freeway of fast moving cars, passed a tire fire being attended to by two fire trucks and ended up in some kind of a storage yard with no through street. We could see the tall building next to the yoga studio, but we couldn’t get there. We were pretty sure we were never getting there.
“If he loves me and doesn’t want me to die a horrible death, why would he have sent us here? Why?” my sister said of her husband, who had given me the directions.
“I think they sent a helicopter for us!” said Debbie while pointing at the sky. “Todd Merrill!!! Todd Merrill, throw down the ladder and I’ll climb up!” But it wasn’t Todd Merrill. It was a news helicopter covering the tire fire. If you see footage of a tire fire in San Diego, you can probably spot us in the background, weeping and sunburned in an empty storage yard next door.
Finally we turned back around and again got back on The Bike Path of Doom for the last time. No, we didn’t perish from dehydration or get shanked by the gang members hanging out under the freeway, we took the next exit and miraculously made it to the yoga studio.
H – 11:02 AM we pulled up in front of the yoga studio. One hour and 2 minutes late. The very sweet and calm yoga instructor did not shame us for registering for class and not showing up but instead aligned our chakras with her eyes and recommended next time we take a taxi to class. Needless to say, we did not yoga yesterday. We did find a sandwich shop (which did not serve bloody marys, because it was a stupid, almost useless sandwich shop) to carb up for the return journey. Which took 32 minutes without all of the detours.
I maintain that only about 30% of all of this was directly my fault. 50% was San Diego being confusing and bike paths being improperly marked. 10% is my brother-in-law’s fault for assuming that any logical person has memorized The Thomas Guide. The last 10% was clearly the sandwich shop’s fault for not serving bloody marys.