You know the drill. You want to attend a fun event, and everybody and their brother feels the same way. The crowds of people are showing up in droves, blocking all the roads with their four-wheeled machines. One choice is to leave at the break of dawn to beat the crowds, and wait for hours for things to get started. The better way, is to take your bike. And if the ride is too far, drive to with-in 3-5 miles of the action, and then ride the rest of the way.
We do this often. It makes the event much more fun to not have to idle in traffic for a long time, or wait at the venue for hours before the show starts. Such was the case last weekend. A once-in-lifetime airshow (flyover) was planned for the San Diego Bay. To celebrate 100 years of Naval Aviation, 200 planes, new and old, were to fly over the Coronado Bridge and through the bay. With such a rare and popular show, the experts couldn’t even begin to estimate the total number of people expected to be there.
Knowing that the drive would be time-consuming and stressful, not to mention the impact on the environment, our first thought was to bike there. It is about twelve miles from home to the show, but we had other plans rather than riding the full distance. That morning, our local baseball club was hosting an open house at the stadium. Fan Fest, at Petco Park, is the way the Padres like to get the fans juiced up before the season. A free event, with free parking in the middle of downtown, seemed like the perfect way to start the day. Only five miles from the airshow, it would make the ride to the bay and back very easy.
The plan was set. We loaded our bikes into the station wagon that morning and headed for the ball field. Secure parking gave us some extra peace of mind with the bikes in the back of the car. After a great time running the bases and touring the stadium, we went back to unload the bikes and start the ride. Perfect February weather worked right into our plans as we rode from downtown to the coast line. Past the San Diego Convention Center and the Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, we cycled at a slow pace. Even still, we passed car after car mired in the heavy traffic.
We could see that a lot of people were heading for the Midway, to watch the flying from the deck of the historic ship. That would make for a good viewing platform, but we wanted a front row seat. The Harbor Island Park was our destination. That would put us front and center for the Navy’s show of air power. We had planned on stopping at Anthony’s Fish Grotto for some clam chowder, but the place was packed. No problem, we had snacks and drinks in the basket of Barbara’s Diamond Back.
We wheeled past the airport and made the turn towards the park. Once again, the bikes were making better time than the cars, plus the parking lots were already filled. Rustled drivers were searching in vain for a spot near the action. Many people were on foot making the long walk from the far-away parking they found. We wheeled our bikes to the front of the viewing area and locked them to a pole twenty feet from our spot. And what a spot it was.
Although, the grass strip and the park area was mostly filled, we found a concrete pad in front of the whole crowd on the other side of the pathway. The shirts we brought, made for a comfy pad. We had snaked our way in front of the masses and landed in the best spot. With only a twenty-minute wait for the flyover to start, we were all smiles. Cars were still visible searching for the non-existent parking spot. By the time the planes started the show, the parking patrol had rerouted traffic away from the harbor.
What a show. After some Navy skydivers, the Blue Angels roared low through the bay in a tight six plane formation. From old to new, biplanes, radial engined warbirds, helicopters, and jets paraded close to our seats. Some by themselves, and others in formation, the show continued for two hours. We nibbled on the snacks, I took a couple hundred photos, and the crowd cheered and clapped for the heroes at the controls of these fantastic flying machines. The show was concluded with the entire fleet of planes from the visiting aircraft carrier Stennis in a mile wide, forty plane V-formation.
Leaving the show is where the bikes really shined. Major gridlock was quite evident. No problem for us, as we cruised our bikes down the coastline. By the time we made it by Anthony’s again, the line was way shorter. So some sit-down time with our clam chowder was a relaxing break in this busy day. Just as we were finishing, the visiting cruise liner blew its horn to announce its departure from San Diego. Still in t-shirts and shorts, we headed back to the car to make our way home.
A great day was made better by including the bikes into our plans. We had more fun, got some excercise, saved some money, saved some gas, and helped the world in general by using our bikes to our advantage. Consider doing the same next time you make plans for a heavily attended event.
Maybe we saw you there on your bike. If not, see you next time, Turbo Bob.
“Society is singularly in debt to the bicycle, since bicycle mechanics developed the airplane as well as the automobile.”—James E. Starrs, The Noiseless Tenor.
Looking for a Brompton folding bike or a Bionx E-bike kit?
Contact Bert at http://www.nycewheels.com
Want to buy or rent an E-bike in San Diego?
Gary at http://www.iselectricbikecenter.com is your man.