Mark Langton is Mr. Mountain Bike
About 40 aspiring cyclists spread around the parking lot at Malibu Creek State Park, each riding a bike in tiny circles, first left, then right. Theyr'e so focused on mastering the task that they don't quite realize how outlandish they look until a passterby leans out his car window, wags his thumb, and shouts, "The hills are over that way!"
The cyclists get the last laugh, though, when their class culminates in a daring ride down steps carved into a hillside. Many have never so much as ridden over a curb when the class begins, but by its end, they've learned techniques for tackling bumps, ruts, and sand with ease. Their teacher is Mark Langton, who's been volunteering time to teach skills and etiquette to novice mountain bikers once each month for 13 years.
In the Santa Monica Mountains, mountain biking is a source of both pleasure and controversy, as cyclists must share trails with hikers and horseback riders. Langton, a mountain biker for more than two decades, is a founding member of Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association. CORBA's aim is to maintain and increase trail access for cyclists and, though this monthly class, to help bikers learn correct and courteous use of trails. "Mountain biking is a great way to enjoy the backcountry, and you'll enjoy the backcountry most by being safe, " Langton explains. "We're all part of a community when we're out here in the mountains, whether you're an equestrian, a hiker, or another cyclist."