Pedal Power: Laguna Canyon Riders

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Laguna Canyon Riders tackle the trails and give back to the community.

Section by Sharael Kolberg

Facundo Malbran (center) is founder of the Laguna Canyon Riders, which bikes together and helps preserve trails. | Photo by Jody Tiongco
Facundo Malbran (center) is founder of the Laguna Canyon Riders, which bikes together and helps preserve trails. | Photo by Jody Tiongco

As Facundo Malbran whizzes down Water Tank Road in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, his mountain bike absorbs the impact of the rocks, roots and ruts he rides over. Coasting down the fire road is a reward for the leg-burning climb up Willow Canyon Road and across Bommer Ridge Trail. And joining Facundo on the two-hour Saturday morning trek are about a dozen other riders—of various ages and ability levels—known as the Laguna Canyon Riders.

With 33 miles of world-class trails open to mountain biking in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, it seems natural that a group of local bike enthusiasts have joined forces to traverse them together. The nonprofit, formed in late 2014 by Facundo (who is also the head coach teaching skills training) focuses on fitness, camaraderie and giving back to the community.

Laguna Beach Magazine recently spoke with Facundo to find out more about this local mountain biking club.


Laguna Beach Magazine: What is the mission of Laguna Canyon Riders?
Facundo Malbran: We specialize in mountain biking training, promote safe and responsible use of our local parks … and work to continue the tireless efforts of those that took the necessary steps to guarantee that the land we now enjoy would be here for generations to come.

LBM: From your experience, what are the benefits of mountain biking as a form of exercise?
FM: Health—in order to ride, you have to be strong; you can’t be weak. Stress relief—after a long day of work, you go for a spin for an hour and it gives you an appreciation for the environment you live in, so you come back home with a big smile on your face. Camaraderie—[a] great way to make friends, relax and build community.

LBM: Where does the club ride?
FM: Currently, Laguna Canyon Riders meets on Saturday mornings at 8:30 a.m. at Big Bend [off] Laguna Canyon Road. We typically do a 2.5-hour ride on trails such as Willow Canyon or El Moro Canyon [in nearby Crystal Cove State Park]. Find out about our rides by liking our Facebook page.

LBM: What are your top mountain biking trails in Laguna Beach?
FM: Some great trails include Water Tank Road … and Bommer Ridge Trail off Laguna Canyon Road, and West Ridge and Mathis Canyon trails from Alta Laguna [Park].

LBM: What are some tips for beginners?
FM: Laguna is not like anywhere else, so don’t be frustrated on the first hill. Hydrate—because you’re going to sweat a lot once you’re on the bike. Always call a friend—that’s a lot of fun. Go with someone that has ridden before, so they can give you tips. A good bike is key for good riding—right size frame, wheel [and] seat height are important. It’s a tool you’re going to use three times a week and it lasts five years, [so] it’s worth the $600 to $3,000 value of these bikes. It’s for your health.

LBM: Laguna Canyon Riders has decided to give back to the community. Can you explain?
FM: We are working with the Orange County Parks and Laguna Canyon Foundation, helping with trail maintenance, at the nursery, installing irrigation and donating needed materials. We have a lot of trails, but they need work and there aren’t a lot of resources available. We wanted to create a network of users that can start attacking the immediate needs. Simple things can make a big difference. Also, some of the Laguna Canyon Riders have volunteered to get certified through the National Interscholastic Cycling Association in order to coach … students from the Laguna Beach Interscholastic Mountain Bike Team. … It’s great for the schools to have an alternative sport. No one is cut from the team and it is a skill they can use for life. We really care about the trails, the kids and safety.

Gearing Up

Taking a spin through the local hills is always more enjoyable with the right equipment.

Like any sport, there are must-have items that riders need to make the most of their mountain biking experience. Here are some recommendations for hitting the trails like a pro.



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