Come On And Take a Free Ride
Newport Beach may conjure images of surfers, sunbathers and sandy groms, but there’s a popular outdoor activity here that’s oft overlooked, points out professional mountain biker and local Richie Schley. “This community is very focused on surfing and a lot of people don’t even realize how much, how good, and how exciting the mountain biking is here,” says the pioneer of the Freeride and Slopestyle movements, who has graced the cover of more than 100 mountain biking magazines around the world. “And, the trails are always there — you don’t have to wait for a swell or anything.” Here, Schley shares his passion for the sport as well as some tips on how to get the most out of your ride.
How did you get started with mountain biking, and what “feeling” keeps you going for more?
I became a BMX racer when I was 12 years old, and before that I was always a bike, since the time I was about 3. I discovered my first mountain bike at around age 17.
I love being in the outdoors on an adventure. I originally was taken by the sport as a way to get my “skiing” fix in the summer, after being tire of spending long days at one location on a BMX bike going in circles.
What are some of your proudest career highlights?
I was inducted into the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame a few years ago for creating the Freeride scene, with my childhood friends, Wade Simmons and Brett Tippie; being on the cover of the local Bike magazine eight times in 14 months at the beginning of the Freeride movement; and winning the 1993 Pro Class Canadian BMX Championship.
What’s the gnarliest trick you’ve mastered?
Doing no-handers as well as no hands or feet on a bike while jumping from steep terrain.
What’s your favorite locale to ride?
The west coast of British Columbia: Vancouver to Whistler.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve experienced while mountain biking?
There are a lot. I have encountered a grizzly bear (too close for comfort!), several black bear, and rattlesnakes. I was once 20 feet from being struck by lightning in India at 15,000 feet.
What is the most challenging aspect of the sport?
Fitness is huge, but overcoming the fear to let go in sections that might not seem possible to ride is bigger. Once you are committed, in a lot of situations, you either have to stop or run it out until it is over. Otherwise, it usually results in a crash. When in doubt, run it out.
What trails/terrain in Newport Beach are best for amateur bikers?
Old Emerald, Bommer Ridge, and Fence Line trails — the views are world-class, especially just before sunset. Absolutely breathtaking.
What is your favorite trail in Newport Beach, and what does it serve up for more experienced riders?
Lizard Trail and T and A are both challenging and technical.
What are the essential items for a day of mountain biking in Newport Beach?
- A helmet (I have a pro model from IXS called the Trail RS)
- Water (I use an Ergon Hydration pack to carry a few liters of water with me)
- Either a map or a good sense of direction
- Spare tubes and a pump, and the tools to change them (Continental makes all sizes and thickness of tubes. There are a lot of thorns, cactus and rocks out there to get flats on)
What are some other tips for fully enjoying a joyride?
Make sure you bike is dialed, suspension is set up correctly for you, the tires have enough air, and your chain is lubed.
Photo Credit: Ale Di Lullo Photography