Bike The Bay
Posted on July 26, 2017
When dedicated marathoner Andy Hanshaw traded in his running shoes for cycling ones, he was simply looking to “switch it up a little.” Instead, he says, “I got on a bike and I haven’t stopped since.” Wanting to share his love of biking with other riders, Hanshaw set out to put together a fun ride that anyone could enjoy while taking in the stunning sights along San Diego Bay. The result became Bike the Bay: a 25-mile ride around the Bayshore Bikeway, the dedicated bicycle circuit that hugs the coastline along Coronado, Imperial Beach, Chula Vista, National City, and downtown.
This year marks a significant milestone for Hanshaw and Bike the Bay, as it will celebrate its tenth anniversary when riders take to the course on August 27. Aside from sparkling ocean and bay views along the route, which includes roughly 13 miles of car-free bike paths, the highlight of Bike the Bay is that it provides the sole opportunity for bikers to traverse the iconic Coronado Bay Bridge. Despite this incredible distinction, Hanshaw, the event’s executive director, feels its most significant feature is its mass appeal. “It’s a non-competitive community bike ride, with kids, families, and people of all ages with all kinds of bikes, the serious and the not-so-serious riders coming out,” he says. “And the distance, being only 25 miles, is very, very doable for some people, and very, very challenging for others, and we really like that.”
That length may sound daunting to some, but Hanshaw assures it’s not as hard as one might imagine. “The ride itself is very flat, with a small climb going up to the top of the bridge,” he says. “It’s a very gradual, small grade, and once you’re up there, the views are spectacular. It’s not the Alps,” he adds, reassuringly. Plus, with four rest stops along the route, there’s opportunity to take a break right when things might start feeling a little tough. Most importantly, he wants to ensure that everyone is there just to have fun, offering the reminder that Bike the Bay “is a ride, not a race,” adding, “It really falls in line with what we try to do here at the Bike Coalition, which is to teach and educate, but also encourage and celebrate the joy of bicycling as a way to get around; a way to have fun.” That fun doesn’t end when riders complete the course — the end of the ride means the beginning of the post-ride festival, featuring food and beverages, a beer garden, and entertainment, plus a special tenth anniversary commemorative medal.
Participation has nearly doubled since its inaugural year; Hanshaw is expecting about 3,500 riders this month. While over the years adaptations have been made to accommodate larger crowds, with route adjustments as the Bayshore Bikeway has been improved, Hanshaw says, “I’m very proud of what it’s remained, and that it’s a bike ride for everybody. We’ve never really deviated from that.” Since its beginning, the event has benefited the San Diego County Bike Coalition, an advocacy organization committed to promoting bicycling as a mainstream, safe, and enjoyable form of transportation and recreation while protecting the rights of all people who ride bicycles. Hanshaw estimates that since Bike the Bay began, it’s raised more than $500,000 for the organization.
Despite all its success, Hanshaw’s focus remains simple: “I’m just really proud that it’s become a tradition here in San Diego.” bikethebay.net Deanna Murphy
Hanshaw and cyclists: Photography courtesy of the San Diego County Bike Coalition