Two of Laguna Beach’s mountain bike legends reveal their lust for Laguna dirt.
Section by Stephanie Nitsch
Between Brian Lopes and Hans “No Way” Rey, the Laguna Beach residents and Mountain Bike Hall of Famers might very well know every root, rock and ridgeline in the area. Over the years, these two veteran cyclists have built indelible careers out of their distinct riding styles—Brian for downhill racing, Hans for adventure cycling.
Brian has 26 UCI Mountain Bike Word Cup victories and four World Championship titles to his name, which is more race wins than any other mountain biker in the sport’s history. Hans, a pioneer of extreme mountain biking, has been named Trials National and World Champion multiple times and has completed stunts such as jumping over a car on the 405 freeway in LA, his “volcano dance” in Hawaii and underwater bungee jump.
Separately, they each have amassed a long list of accomplishments, but together, they share a passion for pedaling in Laguna Beach. Here, the duo weigh in on their favorite trail locales, the challenge of Laguna single-track and what keeps them coming back for more.
Laguna Beach Magazine: You’ve both traveled the globe, riding some of the best single-track in the world. Why Laguna?
Hans Rey: It’s a choice of where we want to live. Laguna has great nature and good riding. It’s a beautiful place and it’s our home.
Brian Lopes: I grew up not too far away from Laguna [in Mission Viejo]. When I got into mountain biking, Laguna was the closest place that I’d go ride on a regular basis. There’s a lot better riding in other areas in the world, but there’s quite a few positives. For an expert-and-above rider, it’s challenging terrain.
LBM: What are your favorite trails here?
BL: T&A [the Laguna Ridge Trail]. It’s one of the longer trails and drops all the way to the canyon. It’s an aggressive downhill trail; starts super rough with some fast sections. The bottom part is really rocky and a little slower, but it’s a different feel. You can coast the whole trail and go pretty fast from top to bottom.
HR: I have to say Rock-It Trail because it has a lot of diversity. There are rough sections, but the lower [section] is really flowy for Laguna standards. Rock-It is also a trail you can ride uphill. Overall, it’s not as steep as other trails.
LBM: What’s the best place for beginners to get started?
HR: That’s tough. It’s hard to bring a first-time rider here because the hills are so steep and demanding, and you often have to walk your bike. Laguna could use some purpose-built, beginner trails.
BL: Larry’s Trail [also known as Stagecoach South Trail in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park] is really fun. It’s the closest thing to what Hans is talking about, but it does have some steep pitches in it. Of the little climbing that there is, it’s steep and you need to have some skill.
LBM: What are some riding tips for new mountain bikers?
HR: Being able to drop your seat post is something people learn very quickly. You need to get your weight behind the seat so you don’t flip over your bars [on steep terrain].
BL: Be careful on the front brakes going through turns. The soil in Laguna is very loose, dry and sandy. Any kind of erratic turns in the sand or hitting your front brake can lose traction.
LBM: What’s Laguna Rads all about? It’s a secret bike club, right?
HR: It’s a very old bike club. It’s been around for 30 years and has a lot of riders. The club was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, and they’re notorious around the world. It’s a unique crew of people who keep riding, and who live and breathe the spirit of mountain biking.
These must-have products will have you hitting the road in no time.
Thinking of splurging on new bike gear this season? Before you start cruising, make sure that you have the right tools. Here, Brian Lopes and Hans Rey suggest a few pieces of essential accessories to take along for the ride.
It’s not uncommon to shoulder your bike up (or down) technical trails, so good footing is crucial. Designed with Brian, Pearl Izumi’s X-Project 1.0 clipless shoes, $280, at Performance Bicycle, Laguna Hills, feature a hybrid carbon sole that’s stiff enough for pedaling yet flexible for mandatory hike-a-bike sections. (949-707-0344; performancebike.com)
Protect your noggin with Troy Lee Designs A1 helmet, $139-$185, at Troy Lee Designs, Laguna Beach, which is built with a longer profile for increased protection and extra skull coverage. (949-715-8142; troyleedesigns.com)
The polarized Adidas Raylor sunglasses, $99, at Milano Eye Boutique, Laguna Beach, not only feature a hydrophobic technology that repels dirt and mud, but also self-tinting lenses that adapt to variable light conditions, even at high speeds. (949-715-7822; milanoeyeboutiqueoc.com)
Get behind the handlebar with Hans in his book, “A Life of Mountain Bike Adventures,” $40, at Electric Cyclery, Laguna Beach, which covers his 25-year career as an international adventure-travel mountain biker and details the evolution of the young sport itself. (949-715-2345; electriccyclery.com)
To help negotiate Laguna’s undulating terrain, adjustable seat posts are “a no-brainer,” Brian says. The Crankbrothers Kronolog seat post, $300, at Laguna Beach Cyclery, Laguna Beach, uses a mechanical design with a hydraulic feel to adjust the height of any saddle with the push of a handlebar-mounted lever. (949-494-1522; lagunabeachcyclery.com)