Riding for a Cause

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By Sharael Kolberg, Special to the Independent

Team director Tony Zentil with pro rider and 50-mile finisher Larissa Connors.
Team director Tony Zentil with pro rider and 50-mile finisher Larissa Connors.

Almost 100 riders took off from Laguna Beach Cyclery recently for 25- or 50-mile rides in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park, the second annual Dirt Fondo Challenge mountain bike ride to benefit the Laguna Beach Interscholastic Mountain Bike Team.

Sponsored aid stations were set up throughout the course. The first 25 miles was designed to gain 3,000 feet of elevation on the trails of Aliso and Wood Canyons and finishing at Top of the World, with a return through town on Laguna’s neighborhood streets. Riders would end at Laguna Cyclery with cheers of family, friends, and community support.

The riders on the 50 mile course were treated to an additional 3,700 feet of elevation gain on an advanced level course with more technical terrain. These riders also rode Laguna Ridge trail, recently re-opened after a wildfire in June and repaired by the Laguna Canyon Foundation’s Trail Mix team. They created an alternate route to make the trail more sustainable, given that the old trail was steep and subject to erosion. Less than 20 riders finished the long course.

Free ride pioneer, Hall of Famer and local resident Richie Schley said, “It was very cool to see how many kids are really excited about mountain biking here in Laguna. Due to the nature of being out in the mountains, it isn’t often everyone is in one place. This gives me hope that one day we can have a great mountain bike festival here in Laguna Beach.”

Several riders from Hans Rey’s Wheels For Life charity organization joined the ride as did World Cup racer Anneke Beerten, and Ride Biker Alliance cross-country rider Larissa Connors

Kids from the local team created hand made trophies   awarded to all finishers. About $5,000 was raised, which will underwrite professional coaching and equipment.

Sponsors included The Ranch, Laguna Canyon Foundation, Troy Lee Designs, Laguna Cyclery, Simple Green, La Sirena Grill and Crank Brothers.

Learn more about the Laguna Beach Interscholastic Mountain Bike Team at www.lagunabeachmtb.org.

The author is a local writer.

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