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Road Cycling in San Diego

Much of San Diego is best seen from a bike

From South Bay to Oceanside and well into the back country, cycling is a popular sport throughout San Diego county.

Weekend warriors, Ironman champions, Olympic hopefuls, and scads of newcomers pedal their way up and down the San Diego coast. On some weekend mornings it seems that the only bikers off the road are lounging in front of coffee shops, sipping their mid-ride java, or gathering at one of the many bike shops along the way.

Besides being a center for the cycling sport, a great way to experience San Diego is to cycle through it. Try riding along the historic waterfront, for instance, for quaint charm and magnificent views. Or cruise through La Jolla or Del Mar. Sport as transportation: Is this Heaven?

Places to Ride

Mission Bay

This 4,600-acre aquatic public park is a favorite picnicking, sunbathing and weekend recreation spot with locals, not to mention the home of SeaWorld San Diego. A combination of paved bike paths and roads wind through the park, most of them within yards of the bay. It's a great ride for sightseeing, though it's best done in the morning or evening—the ocean winds tend to kick up a notch in late afternoon. The parking lot north of the Mission Bay Visitor Center is a great place to start. Ride a mile or ride 20, depending on your mood. There are no hills.

Bayshore Bikeway

A 13-mile loop that winds through downtown, Coronado and the Silver Strand State Beach. As far as coastal rides go, it doesn’t get much better than this. For most of the ride, you’ll be on smooth palm tree-lined paths but this fun ride also includes a trip across the San Diego bay on the Flagship Coronado Ferry, a ride past the historic Hotel del Coronado and a trek next to the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, a 3,900-acre wetlands that hosts many endangered and migratory birds. A stop along the path here has a good chance for some great birdwatching.

Mission Trails

Mission Trails Regional Park is 5,800 acres of biking trails for virtually any type of ride. It is centrally located eight miles northeast of downtown San Diego, and it has both natural and developed recreational areas. Whether you are searching for a day-long trek or a leisurely sightseeing expedition, the many different trail options allow you to create a custom fit journey. Split in the middle by the North and South Fortuna Mountains, the eastern side is home to easier routes and the western side is frequented by more experienced riders. Be sure to visit in the spring to enjoy a beautiful display of wildflowers.

Ocean Beach

Adjacent to Dog Beach and just a few blocks from the restaurants, shops and bars on Newport Avenue is the mouth of the San Diego River, its preserved estuaries and the Ocean Beach Bike Path that lines the south side of the river bank. Paired up with the Old Sea World Drive bike path on the north side of the river, a ride can last more than 11 miles.

Balboa Park & Uptown San Diego

Each year in December, San Diego bicycle enthusiasts partake in a "jaunt through town whilst wearing their Sunday finest." Tweed, gabardine, flannel, houndstooth, hats, dresses and "well-groomed moustaches are welcomed." This jaunt is called the Tweed Ride and covers around 14 miles through Balboa Park, Hillcrest, University Heights, North Park and South Park. Starting at the Bea Evenson Fountain at the end of El Prado in Balboa Park, the route leaves the park along the west end of El Prado and winds through neighborhoods and commercial districts, mostly on streets fit for vehicles and bicycles, then back into Balboa Park.

San Diego Bay

Take a ride from the Gaslamp Quarter to Liberty Station via pedestrian and bicycle paths that allow you to roll through downtown and San Diego's Marina District, along Spanish Landing Park and into Point Loma. The recommended route incorporates almost six miles one way of flat, scenic bike paths along the northeast corner of San Diego Bay. With the exception of one short section and the easy going roads of Liberty Station, this bike route is vehicle free.

Mount Palomar

Unlike Mission Bay, this climb to the world-famous Palomar Observatory is nothing but hill. The 13-mile ascent is for fit cyclists looking for a challenge, an awe-inspiring view from the top, and a screaming downhill. It's something of a San Diego tradition for cyclists to tackle this 6,140-foot peak. The ride will be memorable, especially if you warm up along scenic Route 76 before beginning your summit bid.

Pacific Coast Highway

Pacific Coast Highway, or PCH, is the consummate San Diego ride. The road actually stretches all the way up the California coast, but local cyclists like to begin their journey in Del Mar and travel north to the Camp Pendleton Marine Base above Oceanside before turning around and heading south again. The route is flat in places, rolling in others, paralleling the Pacific Ocean throughout. Nytro Bike Shop in Encinitas offers two groups of training rides every Saturday morning for bikers at intermediate and elite levels. For the elite-level ride, professional cyclists can frequently be found in the mix.


Find out more about cycling in San Diego here! 

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