PINE VALLEY, Calif. – San Diego Gulls Head Coach Dallas Eakins spends most of his time on the ice, but when he's wants some high-adrenaline relaxation away from the hockey rink, he heads for local trails on his mountain bike.
When FOX 5 Sports Director Troy Hirsch learned that Eakins spends much of the offseason riding his mountain bike, he invited him to ride down Nobel Canyon from Mount Laguna to Pine Valley. The trail is one of the premier mountain bike rides in San Diego County, starting among the pines and oaks of Mount Laguna and dropping into desert terrain before climbing out to Pine Valley.
"I've heard a ton. I've heard all about Mount Laguna, over in Alpine, all these spots," Eakins said before the ride. "It's one of these things I have in the back of my mind: one of these days I've got to get out there. But with the hockey team and a family, it's hard to get out here sometimes, so I'm extremely excited to get out here with you guys, and glad that you twisted my arm to make it happen."
Eakins loves endurance riding. He has completed the grueling Leadville 100-mile ride in Colorado at more than 10,000 feet of elevation – and he's done it eight times!
Eakins' ride with FOX 5 began at about 6,000 feet in Laguna Meadows and descended nearly 2,000 feet over 17 miles through Noble Canyon. The trail twists, turns, climbs and descends on rocky, technical single track.
The 50-year-old Eakins cruised comfortably for the most part, using his coaching skills to stay steady.
"You have to have a plan. You need to be looking ahead to see what's coming. You focus so much!" he said. "I've got two little girls who are 9 and 6. I want mindfulness to be part of their lives and I want fitness to be part of their lives."
After about 2½ hours, the ride finished in Pine Valley. Eakin wiped out on the trail twice, but he still gave the ride a rave review.
"Unbelievable! What an incredible experience," Eakins said. "And thank you for showing me some real mountain biking. I think coach got 'dirtiest rider' and 'most times on his face.' That was awesome."