Many of us are content with riding the local trails available to us, depending on where we live. The BikeThisTrail.com crew is fortunate to be based out of Orange County/Riverside, where the trails and parks are in abundance. We can choose what type of ride we wish to embark on, whether it’s an all-sun exposure ride with miles of climbing, or a shady loop with plenty of single-track to shred. However, not everyone has it as good.
One of my good friends from El Paso, Texas, recently came to visit for the purpose of riding some of So Cal’s finest trails. Not only does he have a great resource in the Bikethistrail.com website, but he also has us, his friends, to show him around. In El Paso, they have the Franklin Mountains, which is a beautiful range with a lot of southwest flavor (desert landscape, cacti, all sun, etc). But aside from this range, the options or variety of trails and parks are very minimal. It is no wonder that many of the local riders long to ride in other areas when they get a chance.
When we go out and check out new terrain, we are basically in the same boat as a lot of riders. We are not familiar with the range, nor do we have a clear idea of what the best loop will be. It takes a few rides to start piecing together a loop that is fun and challenging in order for us to post it on our site. So how do you navigate new terrain? Here are some ideas to help you:
In today’s social media environment, it is easy to hook up with local riders and meet up at trail-heads. Riding with people that are familiar with the terrain is the best way to get informed about a park and navigate safely through new trails. There are a few groups out there that meet on a weekly basis and you can find plenty of options through sites like meetup.com.
Another great resource is your local bike shop. Several of them will host daily or weekly rides, with an experienced rider at the helm. Bike shops such as, “The Path” in Tustin, or “Jensen USA” in Riverside, will often host rides in their local areas. Even if they don’t take their customers out on rides (which is a great way to build relationships with your clientele), you can simply ask them about some of the local areas to explore. You will find that they are more than willing to help and steer you in the right direction. Ask if they have maps of their local terrain as well.
Mountain bikers are a close knit community, so another option is to hook up with riders at the trail-head. Don’t be shy! We have taken plenty of people on rides with us that we met on the trail-head. They are not familiar with the terrain, and wisely ask if they can ride along to enjoy a safer and complete ride. Conversely, we have also hooked up with riders who will show us some of the best trails or loops each park has to offer.
Several parks such as Santiago Oaks, Laguna Wilderness Park, Bonelli Park, Limestone Canyon, or Whiting Ranch, also offer maps of their terrain. These can be accessed through their websites and make for a great resource. Another great resource for maps can also be found in your local book shop. Of course, the internet is a great way to learn about parks and terrain, with Bikethistrail.com, being one of the best resources. We also like Geoladders.com and will use their site to learn about different places to ride.
At the end of the day, it is all about safety first. Riding new terrain or trails can be exciting and refreshing, but the last thing you want to do is go astray and get lost in there. Getting educated on the terrain and trails beforehand is the best practice. We look forward to seeing you out there!