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Escape to San Diego for the Holidays

Cycling and motor sports are big in San Diego all year-round. From packs of hardcore triathletes training out on the Pacific Coast Highway, to kids commuting to school, to mountain bikers and motorcyclists blazing in the Borrego Desert and local backcountry mountains. So it comes as no surprise that the U.S. Bicycle Motocross - or BMX - Team chose the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista to call home.

BMX used to be an underground, under-appreciated sport relegated to vacant lots and backyards. In recent years it's become a mainstream sport with a worldwide following, six-figure sponsorships and professional prize money. Like surfing and skateboarding, it claims its own colorful culture and specialized repertoire of stunts. And like these fellow action sports, BMX has several different disciplines, each of which you can enjoy right here in San Diego.

The urban and suburban hardscape in San Diego will provide no end of possibilities for street riders, looking to boost off of curbs and ollie over obstacles. As a rule, bike riding is prohibited in private plazas and parking lots, business districts, school grounds and other tasty terrain you'd love to ride. But there are bike paths and boardwalks at your disposal all over town.

Dirt

In Eastern San Diego's rural deserts and mountains, BMXers and mountain bikers alike will find all kinds of epic single track and offroad opportunities. Even in the more populous coastal communities, there are undeveloped canyons, creek beds and open spaces to explore. By no means should you stray off established trails or alter the landscape in any way. But, if you keep your eyes open, you're likely to find small dirt hits here and there, constructed by neighborhood kids.

Track

Though not as prolific as skate parks, San Diego does boast a handfull of good BMX and motocross dirt tracks and terrain parks. These private concessions require liability waivers, adult supervision and approved protective gear. These tracks are the real deal, with big kickers, rhythm sections and banked corners. The aforementioned track at the Olympic Training Center is the world's largest permanent supercross circuit. It's not open to public use, but you can watch the pros train and compete, or even sign up for camp programs.

Mount Up

You can rent beach cruisers and low-end mountain bikes at some of the same shops that offer surf and skate rentals (mostly centered around the busier beach communities), but not the kind of tricked-out dirt bikes used for BMX or high-end road bikes used in racing. If you didn't bring your own ride from home, you'll find many bike shops and sporting goods stores all over town who will be more than happy to sell you one. It goes without saying that you should wear your helmet whenever and wherever you ride.

Mountain and Moto

For the best natural mountain bike and moto terrain, head east to the Palomar, Cuyamaca and Laguna mountains, and the world-class offroad wilderness of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Ocotillo Wells and Imperial Dunes. On weekends you'll find happy campers jeeping through the boulders of Coyote Canyon, jumping dirt bikes in the Glamis sand dunes and bombing mountain bikes down Noble Canyon trail.

Closer to town, good mountain bike trails can be had at Los Pensquitos Canyon Preserve, Tecolote Canyon and Mission Trails Park, and there are motocross tracks in El Cajon, Carlsbad and other parts of the county. The WorldMotoPlex in San Marcos hosts a full-size, fully-indoor motocross arena.

Competitors and Cruisers

Cycle racers, triathletes and recreational road bikers will love San Diego's endurance sports scene, and find limitless miles of highways and byways, level bike paths and challenging hill climbs to satisfy them here. Local bike shops and bike clubs organize group rides for athletes of all ages and levels.

Single-speed beach cruiser bikes are available for rent and for sale all over Pacific Beach, Coronado, La Jolla, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Mission Bay and other popular tourist destinations. Whether you're looking for romantic sunset ride on the Boardwalk, or just a little hassle-free holiday transportation for the family, beach bikes are your ticket to ride.

Down and Dirty - The Inside Scoop

If you're trying BMX for the first time, consider the Kearny Moto Park in Clairemont, a family-friendly track where kids are king. And you don't need a trick BMX bike or four-by-four monster truck to get loose in the dirt. If you've got an SUV or pickup truck, you've got the makings of an unforgetable offroad outing, through the graded desert roads of the Borrego backcountry.

Check out these local organizations' websites for more tips to help you get the goods:

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