During our tour of Southern California, we headed down to San Diego to meet up with some friends and get some riding in. Jason and Alison are active with the local Mountain Bike Advocacy Club, (the SDMBA, San Diego Mountain Bike Association) and were helping promote the Tour De Fat, where we met up with the kids to indulge in Fat Tire Ales.
The next day, while on a coffee run, we stopped to check out a nicely landscaped pumptrack, and ended up getting a later start than we planned.
Our original trail plan was to ride the Noble Canyon route, which is supposed to be quite the ride, and is one of IMBA’s designated epics. Instead we rode a series of trails near Noble Canyon in the Laguna Mountains. Our hosts took us on a ride around Big Laguna Lake on our tour. Most of the terrain consisted of fairly mellow tread, and it wandered through fields and pastures along side grazing cattle. At one point I neglected to watch where I placed my tire, resulting in cow pie splashed around my shins and the bottom bracket area of my bike. Nice. (watch out for that)
Much of the riding in the area is very cross country oriented, with long straight sections better suited for a light weight 29er hardtail. However, the SDMBA has been working with the USFS to add some spice to the riding experience. Recently during some trail work sessions the SDMBA received approval to add some technical trail features. As they have a considerable amount of downed trees, the bulk of the trail features incorporate it in some fashion. It isn’t a lot quite yet, (it reminds me of Ashland, Oregon, from about 6-8 years ago, when log rides were the thing that excited people) but the locals are pretty excited about the fact the Forest Service is beginning to come around. It’s welcome progress.
There really isn’t much, if anything in the way of jumps- the trail has signage that warns novice users that there are “jumps ahead.” Coming from the northwest, and fresh from a trip to BC, their definition of “jumps” is pretty loose. Not to knock San Diego, but after living in close proximity to two of the best freeride destinations in Oregon, they have a ways to go. That said, I’m stoked for the locals. Being able to add technical trail features is a major step forward for them.
We ended up running one particular section of trail several times, as it was by far the flowiest and most fun section we rode that day. With a slalom like flow, the trail linked berm to berm sections that were extremely railable. I ended up lowsiding at one point, but falling over in sand offers minimal consequence and adds to the fun. This section of trail was the highlight of the day, and really highlighted some of the potential for riding in the area. Hopefully we can make it back soon to check out the Noble Canyon epic.
Aside from the cow dung in the fields, the ride brought us face to face with some beautiful scenery. While it didn’t satisfy the jump addicted adrenaline junkie in me, in the context of an XC ride, it was a great time, and the occasional rocky sections here and there made up for the tame tread in other areas. For someone seeking a good ride to take a novice or intermediate rider on, its a great choice, with lots of spin off trails, and a lot of options to create an epic.
Trail: Big Laguna
Technical level: low, some TTFs, (log rides) a fun slalom-like section of trail
Nearby destinations of note: Noble Canyon
Must haves: National Forest Adventure Pass on your parked car. Lots of drinking water.
SDMBA – San Diego Mountain Biking Assocation
Laguna Mountain Recreation Area Via Mountain Bike Bill
From the eclectic shops and restaurants of North Park San Diego to the natural attractions in and around the city, San Diego is definitely one place that you wouldn’t want to miss spending a vacation in.