San Juan Trail

I’ve recently discovered that I can no longer call a new bike trail “My New Favorite”. If I were to do this every time I found a new bike trail (which I would like to) I would have a lot of new favorites! California offers such beautiful trails and with every new trail I find myself falling more and more in love with this sunny state!

Tyler did yet again find another stunning trail for us to ride. San Juan Trail was the new trail we checked out yesterday! The trail is a little over an hour drive from San Diego (north).  Here are the directions we followed: Directions: From the I-5 in San Juan Capistrano take Ortega HWY (74) East for about 12 miles.  Turn left on Camp Road. There is a sign for the Lazy R Ranch as well as a CDF Fire Station on the corner. Go down the road for about 1/2 mile until you reach a large dirt parking lot in the trees on your left.  The trail is right beside the road.

We arrived at the parking lot and took our choice of parking spot (obviously there were a lot to choose from, only one other car was there). This trailhead had something most trailheads we’ve ridden do not offer, an outhouse! This was defenitly a bonus and a luxury!

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prime parking spot
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Outdoor luxury

I have to be honest I was pretty terrified of this trail before we arrived. I had looked up the trail online to find out more about it and realized a large majority of the trail is narrow and near-cliff riding. I have a slight (well more than a slight) fear of heights. On the hour drive out I began to psych myself out. Thinking I wasn’t a good enough biker, I might hold Tyler back, that I might fall off the edge, or maybe wipeout into a boulder. Ty soon noticed I was anxious and gave me the sweetest prep talk. He encouraged me to push myself, believe in myself that I am a good mountain biker, and have the confidence that I could do it. He told me a nice story about a BMX biker who performed a stunt no one had ever performed and once he was done his wife told him she was so happy he did it and that he never had to worry about it again, but he did, he had to do it again on his next run. Ty reiterated that he needed to be confident in his skill set and that he knows what he’s capable of and confidence will allow him to do it again. Confidence is what I needed, but was running low on.

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Trail Info

We started to get geared up and Tyler found the trail information board and read up on the trail a little more. Feeling as ready as I ever would we began the climb.

The climb started off with about 10 or so switchbacks. The switchbacks were technical but nothing I couldn’t manage. I was having fun and almost forgetting my nerves and anxiety. Once we reached the top of the first hill it soon turned into a very narrow trail (about 3 feet wide) with a view directly down the mountain to my left. Fear filled my entire body as I was biking on this narrow path. I had to stop for a second to gather myself and realize that the path wasn’t any smaller than other path and I could do it (just without looking to my left).

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This is about as wide as the trail ever got. This was a little higher up the mountain where the drop off was a little more gradual.

Tyler would stop periodically to check on me and give me more words of encouragement (which definitely helped). I know my fear of heights is irrational, but for some reason I couldn’t shake it for the first half of the climb.

Almost to the top of the mountain is where I was able to calm down. Even with the higher altitude I seemed to feel more confident and less scared of the height. Once we got to the top of the first mountain (which took us about an hour and a half and was about 5 miles) we decided to turn back. With all that climbing we felt climbing another 9 miles might be a little ambitious. So we stopped here and had a snack and took in the beautiful scenery.

We also had to take a few pictures together…I realized I might need to get a selfie stick to get a wider range photo (oh well).

After getting fueled up we started our descent. After gaining confidence I thought the downhill would be a piece of cake. But I seemed to forget that most of the trail was loose rock (which made putting the breaks on almost pointless), I was still on the edge of a cliff, and I was going significantly faster.

Somehow I managed to make it down the mountain without any scrapes, broken bones, or falling off the mountain. This trail definitely pushed me both physically, technically, and emotionally. We didn’t go the full 19 miles we cut about 9 out and only went for 10 (which I was ok with). Even though I was terrified for the majority of this ride I really liked that I was able to push myself outside my comfort zone and was able to finish this trail. Next time I would like to do the whole 19 miles, but I feel really good about this starting point. Until next time San Juan!

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