Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Out the Train Window

Shortly after starting my new job in Calsbad I needed to leave my car at the mechanic for a day to be checked before getting smogged and I looked into other ways to get to work. The Coaster is a local commuter train operated by the North County Transit District that parallels the 5 and the coastline between downtown San Diego and Oceanside. I catch a bus 1 block from my house that goes directly to the Old Town Transit Center. 10 minutes later The Coaster comes along, I find an upper level seat, sit back, and let someone else do the driving. It’s a smooth, fast, quiet ride with spectacular views of Mission Bay, Del Mar, Solana Beach, Cardiff-by-the-Sea, Encinatas, and Leaucadia. The train crosses 3 estuaries and lagoons and goes right along the coastline in many places allowing great views of the sand and surf. No matter how early there are always surfers out in the waves.

In Carlsbad there's a shuttle bus timed to meet the train that goes right by Invitrogen putting me at work about 7:40am. At the end of the day the bus comes back at 5:15 and gets to the train station about 10 minutes ahead of the 5:45 return train. Sometimes I’ll leave work a half hour early and get an earlier train. The downside is door to door the whole trip is about twice as long as driving so I’ve been doing it just a couple of times a week. The cost is about the same as gas, but savings in wear and tear on my car, and on me, plus the views and the fun of it make it well worth the time.

Do you see the bird?

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Bike Ride Sat. 06/20: 32 Miles: Lost in La Jolla

One lonely boat emphasized the expanse of the Pacific. The clouds allowed some sunlight through that did a slow waltz with the sailboat and the sea.

I can’t believe this ride was over 3 weeks ago. Time flies when everything hurts!

This ride started out like the ones before: through Mission Hills, down the Presidio, through Mission Bay Park, along Rose Creek, along the railroad tracks, then up onto La Jolla Colony Drive. When I got to the point where I stopped and turned around the previous week I was so proud of myself for not dying and relieved to reach the top of a very long hill. My plan was to continue for another mile or two, then turn around and head home. But I was having so much fun exploring new territory and enjoying the ride and a couple stop lights and small downhills gave me some energy that I soon found myself staring down a big hill to a bridge that crossed the 5 and I recognized where I was: I was clear up on Genosee, the exit we take to get to the Glider Port and Black’s Beach. Being so close, within a couple miles, I decided to go for it and see the ocean.

Westbound on Genosee across the 5 is a nice downhill, but up the other side is much longer and steeper; I walked most of it. A left turn at the top, turn right at the 2nd light, and I’m going past the Salk Institute heading for the Pacific. As the photos show it was cool, cloudy day, but there’s always something new to notice by the ocean.

After a nice long rest and a couple energy bars I headed back to retrace my ride through La Jolla. I reached 40 mph going down Genosee and didn’t have to walk up the other side. I tried to retrace my route exactly, but somewhere I missed a turn and found myself going by businesses I didn’t recognize and across the 5 on a bridge I’d never been on before. I would have been worried except there were these frequent signs pointing out the turns to stay on the Rose Creek Canyon Bike Path, which is what I wanted so I just kept following the signs. Eventually I found myself on this long downhill, which should have been fun except the wind was so strong coming up that I actually had to pedal pretty hard into it.

Towards the bottom of the hill I recognized the start of the paved path along the train tracks up ahead and realized I was on Gilman Drive: I’d just come back through La Jolla on a slightly different route.

Pedalling back through Mission Bay Park was pretty but everything started to hurt and I still had to hike up Presidio Hill which was looming ahead like a wall. By the time I limped home I had gone 32 miles, about 6 miles more than I had planned and did I mention that everything hurt?

One curious thing happened on the ride: While stopped at light in La Jolla this basketball suddenly dropped from the sky, landing 10 yards away from me, almost in the middle of the intersection. There was a 5 story apartment complex behind me and I assume it came from its roof. Then on the way back, while stopped at the same intersection, a sedanful of twentysomethin’ guys made a left turn in front of me and they were all hanging out the windows yelling and cheering and gesturing in my direction.

Did they recognize me as the one they threw the basketball at? Had they started their Saturday night binge early and were cheering at everyone? Perhaps. But I think the paparazzi finally caught up with me. And next year, when this blog is bigger than Perez Hilton’s, my paparazzi will actually have cameras.