Mountain Biker Brandon Phomsavanh Trails up to New Heights


Photo Courtesy of Lee Phomsavanh

Sophomore Brandon Phomsavanh stops at the middle of the Moro Ridge Road trail in Crystal Cove State Park during one of many mountain bike rides with his father, Lee Phomsavanh.

At the early age of 12, sophomore Brandon Phomsavanh’s passion for mountain biking ignited. From that point on, his many hours spent steering his way through long, bumpy trails encouraged growth in several areas of his life extending beyond just athletics. Inspired by his dad, a skillful mountain biker, Phomsavanh joined him on his rides to hone his skills and tackle challenging trails. 

“He would show me his 60-mile bike rides with 9,000 feet of elevation gain, and I was inspired,” Phomsavanh said. “He’s always ridden with me, and he would always try to push me harder by pacing me to go faster.”

Throughout his many rides along local trails, one stood out as his biggest milestone — Santiago Peak, the highest peak in not only the Santa Ana mountains but all of Orange County, according to California Crossroads.

Mountain biking helps me realize that challenges are needed to improve yourself

— Brandon Phomsavanh

“I prepared for Santiago Peak by eating a lot of carbohydrates before the big ride and fueled myself. I prepared mentally by thinking I could make it no matter what because I want to be just like my dad,” Phomsavanh said. “Once I finished the ride, it made me realize that hard work always pays off, and it felt really good to be at the top,” Phomsavanh said.

The Santiago Peak ride lasted around five to six hours, including a total of 36 miles and a 5,400 feet elevation gain, according to Phomsavanh.

To build up the stamina and endurance needed to complete a ride like Santiago Peak, Phomsavanh trains with Portola High’s cross country team.

“I worked up towards my goal with shorter rides around the area and training from cross country,” Phomsavanh said. “It definitely improved my aerobic and anaerobic capacity.”

Yet, his journey to improve was not without challenges. Taking on more difficult trails often meant the risk of crashing or being thrown over the handlebars, according to Phomsavanh.

Pushing through challenges only motivates Phomsavanh further. Specifically, Phomsavanh said he strives to bike Mount San Antonio, starting from Ranger Station in Mount Baldy Village and encompassing 18 miles and 6,500 feet of elevation gain.  

“I enjoy facing challenges like going up a steep, sketchy hill or going down really fast downhills with jumps,” Phomsavanh said. “Mountain biking helps me realize that challenges are needed to improve yourself.”