With much needed rain in the forecast, including the possibility of thunderstorms, the spirit in the air for the weekend-long SDMBA Mount Laguna Trail Fest presented by Zoic Clothing was nothing but positivity and cheer. Many of the 275 registered participants rolled into the festival area on Friday afternoon, set up their tents, parked their RVs and campers, and then squeezed in their first trail ride of the festival before dark set in, with a few more adventurous riders setting out on a guided night ride later in the evening. All weekend long, old friends reunited in the pine-oak forest and new friends were made, the camaraderie of fat tire fiends being ever-present and a joy to see and experience.

Participants scan the list of clinics and rides scheduled for the day, with beginner to advanced routes sketched out, and even a guided night ride for the more adventurous participants.

Hero Dirt

Indeed, the rain, thunder and lightning arrived overnight Friday into Saturday morning, dropping just the right amount of precipitation to turn the trails to “hero dirt” and providing the meadows, trees, and wildlife a much needed drink. Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced rides headed out mid-morning, some people opting to demo bikes from Ellsworth, Eminent, Ibis, Marin, Trek, Turner, and Specialized for the rides. Groups stayed mostly in the meadows area and the well-known spider web of trails that go out from it, venturing out on Chico Ravine, Los Gatos, and Red Tail Roost. The more adventurous connected over to Noble Canyon, going down the rocky-in-parts tech fest and then climbing all the way back up to Indian Creek and on to Champagne Pass. Then back around to the meadows, returning to the festival with tired legs but also having a little pep in the step that comes from long rides in the saddle.

A group of riders make their way up single track during a morning ride in the Mount Laguna area during the inaugural SDMBA Trail Fest. The event saw 275 fellow mountain bikers come together for some epic camping and biking in SoCal.

City Living, Country Life

Skills clinics on Friday and Saturday ranging from fundamentals to high speed cornering to jumping were put on by Ninja Mountain Bike Performance. Bicycle Warehouse held a workshop on how to fix a flat tire. For the young mountain bikers, a kids’ pump track was set up. There truly was some-thing for everyone, including corn hole games with prizes and a bike scavenger hunt. No matter the age, fun was playing out in every direction you turned your head. Food and drink were aplenty, with Rouleur Brewing providing a specialty beer for the event: Big Laguna Trail Ale. Leap Coffee was on hand to take off the morning chill. Tacos were the Saturday evening meal, followed by BLTs (bacon, lettuce, tomato sandwiches serving as a play on the acronym for the Big Laguna Trail) the next morning for brunch, prepared by REI. There were hot dogs and s’mores, with campfires and entertainment (a film and music) to round out the evenings.

Camping with Friends

Susie Murphy, Executive Director of San Diego Mountain Bike Association (SDMBA), commented on the positive feedback from participants, thanking the volunteers and volunteer coordinator Karen St. Germain for coming together and coordinating such a superb weekend. Said Murphy, “The first annual SDMBA Mount Laguna Trail Fest presented by Zoic Clothing was a huge success by all accounts. Attendees, vendors and USFS Staff all had great things to say about the sold out weekend full of exploring the Mount Laguna trails. Attendees ranged from age 2 to over 70 and some came from as far away as Canada, Colorado and Arizona. One of the best reviews we received was that the event just seemed like a bunch of friends put together a camping weekend and everyone was welcomed.” A big “thank you” to all the SDMBA partners and industry folks, as well, was expressed by Murphy, including: United States Forest Service/Cleveland National Forest, Zoic Clothing, REI, Ninja Mountain Bike Performance, Ibis, Trek Superstores, Marin, Ellsworth Bicycles, Eminent Cycles, 100%, Trail Boss, Giant/Liv, Bicycle Warehouse, Rouleur Brewing, Velofix, and Julian Beer Co.

Monies raised at the event go to Cleveland National Forest to assist in facilitating the Mount Laguna Recreational Trails Plan, part of which includes expanding mountain biking opportunities within the larger federally-managed forest, as well as Laguna Mountain Recreation Area. It is not too early to begin planning for next year’s event, as SDMBA and the US Forest Service envision this to be an annual gathering. Put October 11-13, 2019 on your mountain bike ride/road trip/race/event calendar and watch SDMBA’s website for registration details as it gets closer. Big Laguna Trail Fest 2019 is an ideal way to enjoy autumnal mountain biking bliss in southern California’s peninsular mountain range.

SDMBA Mt Laguna Trail Fest Event Information

Ride:SDMBA Mount Laguna Trail Fest presented by Zoic
Location:Mt. Laguna, San Diego
When:October 11-13, 2019
Difficulty:All Levels
Start:El Prado Campgrounds
Attendance:275
Hosts:San Diego Mountain Biking Association

James Murren is an independent writer and the author of Go Here, Go There: Travel and Work, Whispers of Honduras: A Peace Corps Experience, and Ethiopian Vignettes: Seeing is Believing. You can read more from him at  jamesmurren.com.