Mountain Biking, 10.5 Miles 1,620 Feet Elevation

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Hey adventure seekers! I was recently invited by friend to go mountain biking in Topanga Canyon, California. In true Ashiko form, I immediately commented to doing it on the spot, before realizing that I’ve never actually gone mountain biking on a trail like the one my friend had been suggesting. After looking at the photos of the trail, I knew I might be in just a little over my head. And if you know me, thats the hook that got me.

I wanted to share the experience with you as I ended up having a blast! If you’re looking for a way to stay fit and enjoy the fresh air, I highly recommend you try this (of course, with mindfulness of pre-existing health conditions or prior injuries that could be triggered by the intense sport). For example there will be allot of pressure on your wrists, so if you have any injuries or arthritis this might not be the ideal activity for you. It’s also an intense cardio workout, so make sure you’re ready to get your heart rate high!

We rented bikes from Topenga Creek Outpost. I went with a small BMC Fourstroke Carbon bike, 29” wheels and a Shimano SLK drivetrain. This was the perfect bike for someone like myself being entry level to the sport. After playing around with the bike a bit, I learned to switch gears relatively easy. I packed my Gregory day pack with a 3 liter camel bag of water, power bars, wraps, dried fruit for instant energy.

After situating our equipment, we set off on the Topanga Canyon Loop Trail, which was 10.5 miles and an elevation of 1,620 ft. The guy’s at the shop were more then helpful, providing us all the information we needed along a map. They highlighted the most difficult points and suggested where to walk and when to rest. I also downloaded the “AllTrails" App which I highly recommend, even if your outdoors once in a while.

Along the trail there were some extremely challenging hills— going up, yes but more so going down. On the tougher portions of the ride, I made sure to take my time and asses the situation. Sometimes your adrenaline can get the best of you, and that’s how you can get yourself in a dangerous situation. I pushed myself, and learned quickly that it would take time to really maneuver over the rocks. Once my initial fear subsided, slowly but surely, I was able to navigate the tough terrain.

My advice for first timers? Take your time! You’re not expected to become a pro in a day (I certainly didn’t). Mountain biking is about doing something new and challenging, enjoying the experience, and connecting with nature. What are some sports you’ve always wanted to try? And if you haven’t, what’s holding you back? I would love to hear your thoughts.

-Ashiko

Ashiko Westguard