Grand Prix Racers
Chuck and I ushered in the month of May with bikes! I read about the Barrio Logan Grand Prix a few weeks ago and thought it would be fun to watch, and we had a Groupon for Lil Piggy’s BBQ in Coronado, so we decided to bike to the Grand Prix in the morning, then continue on the Bayshore Bikeway over to Coronado. We checked the race schedule the night before and discovered that the men’s pro race was starting at 1:30 pm, so we decided to head back to the Grand Prix after lunch as well.
We woke up bright and early on Saturday morning, biked south on Harbor Drive for about two miles, and got to the race course shortly after the start of the first race – the riders were already speeding around the corners as we approached closed-off streets.
Chuck stands along the course
Before we got to the race, we weren’t quite sure how the whole thing worked, but we quickly figured out the important parts. The race course was a very curvy .8 miles with two main loops, and each race ran for a set length of time. An announcement was made for the last five laps, and then the real race to the finish began.We walked around the course to a few different vantage points – it was impressive to see the riders flying through the curves.
Men's Cat 5 race
Lining up for the Masters Race
We stayed for the first three races in the morning, the men’s category five, masters, and category four races. I thought it was funny that the music changed from Chariots of Fire-style inspirational music during the Cat 5 race to Oldies for the Masters start, even though the guys in the Masters race were probably too young to remember most of the Oldies from their original release. I also liked how the winners of the races were each given a bag of tortillas in addition to their trophies – where else but Barrio Logan does that happen?
After the Cat 4 race we cast a wistful glance toward La Dona, a tempting Mexican restaurant right near the race course, then rejoined the Bayshore Bikeway and made our way to Coronado. The ride is a mostly flat 20 miles, and the biggest challenge was the wind – with the bay on one side and the ocean on the other, there’s no natural wind break, and it felt like we were battling a headwind pretty much the whole way to Coronado. We reached the Ferry Landing shops and made our way to Lil Piggy BBQ for some pulled pork sandwiches. I was impressed by the beer selection and the tenderness of the pulled pork, and intrigued by their array of sauces – a standard sweet sauce, a spicy BBQ sauce with bold red chile flavor, and , and a honey-mustard style sauce. I think we’ll definitely be repeat customers!
After lunch we bought our tickets for the ferry back to downtown San Diego – biking the 20 miles back along the bay wouldn’t be much fun after a big BBQ lunch! I took in the view while we waited for the ferry:
Waiting for the ferry
Coronado Bridge from the ferry landing
Ships at North Island Naval Station
After the ferry ride (I didn’t get TOO seasick, although I felt a little woozy while we were waiting at the dock), we retraced our early morning path to the races. We got back in time to watch a few of the kids’ rides – only a one or two half-laps each, but it looked like they were having fun! The crowd had grown since the early morning hours, and there were a good number of people on hand to watch the Pro/Cat1/2 race.
The announcer's stand
Lining up for the Pro race
They were fast! This was the longest race, at 75 minutes, and there were several lead changes and breakaways and chases, including a big breakaway that just barely got caught right at the finish line – it was pretty amazing to see all that happen as the race unfolded over the successive laps of the course. I also had fun playing with the multi-shot mode on my camera, both at high ISO to capture the riders in more detail, and then at low ISO to get a blurred image effect:
Close to the Action!
High-speed racers, low-speed ISO
We had a lot of fun at the race! I think Chuck wants to get in on the local racing action after watching the Grand Prix. I think it might be fun too, but I’d need to upgrade both my speed and bike handling skills – otherwise I’d go crashing into the hay bales!