mountain bikers of santa cruz – Bike Intelligencer All bike, all the time Wed, 11 Nov 2015 18:11:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival 2014 Beckons! Mon, 24 Mar 2014 18:39:37 +0000 In its 5th year, a unique festival with good vibes for all.

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It’s hard to believe the once-modest, now-booming Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival has grown so big, so fast, in just five years.

This year’s edition of the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz-sponsored event, running April 5 and 6 in Aptos Village (home of the Post Office jump videos we’ve all marveled over), promises to top even last year’s blowout, which drew 9,000 attendees and 395 registered participants (a 50 percent increase in attendance and 220 percent increase over 2012).

MBOSCFest2014We used to call the Santa Cruz festival a “mini-Sea Otter,” and in some ways it still is. A lot of bike vendors use the MBOSC fest as a trial run to Otter.

But in the past couple of years, the Santa Cruz fest has evolved a character and flavor all its own. True to the ideals of its sponsor, the festival has a focus on advocacy, trail maintenance and mountain biking “good deeds” that leaves everyone feeling great about our sport. Plus there’s lots of stuff tailored to kids and families — no rider left behind!

And some things, like Kat Sweet’s renowned “Sweetlines” Sugar Showdown girls skillz camp and “femtb” jump competition, just aren’t available at Sea Otter.

There’ll be lots of bikes to demo (get there early!) and our pal Dave Smith will be shuttling bikers up to Soquel Demo Forest in his rockin’ Shuttlesmith Adventures van.

This one’s not to be missed!

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Mountain Biking at UC Santa Cruz: No more “don’t ask, don’t tell?” Fri, 31 Jan 2014 21:56:13 +0000 Should mtbers stay in the shadows or "come out"?

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The mountain–biking boom in Santa Cruz has created a delicate PR situation for the mtb community:

Do we come out of the shadows and lobby for more trails, more access to existing trails, and more recognition of our sport?

Or is it better to stay obscured in the twilight zone between authorization and illegitimacy? In other words — don’t ask, don’t tell?
For years the University of California at Santa Cruz campus has served as the dilemma’s classic case history. A world-class network of unauthorized but increasingly popular trails has provided ample opportunity for everything from cross-country to big-hit riding. On any given day you can find families, XC racers in team colors, club rides, groms in full-face helmets riding coil shocks and triple-crown forks, and weekend warriors all enjoying the multiple varied singletrack loops on campus.

Occasionally you even run into Big Heat — pros like Steve Peat, the British World Cup champion and arguably the best downhill racer of all time, visiting Santa Cruz Bicycles headquarters nearby. Peaty and pals were ripping it up just a month or so ago on a trail called Mailboxes.

The thing is, they’re all “illegal” — a word, incidentally, we don’t care for. Because there’s little case law on trail use, and in fact unmarked or “gray” trails are for the most part not even posted, “illegal” is in most cases an overstatement. “Unauthorized” or “closed” are typically more accurate, and less inflammatory as well. (There are exceptions, e.g. the New Paradigm and Split Rock trails in Marin.)

Anyway, a dad and mom with two toddlers enjoying flowy campus singletrack on a sunny weekend morning are hardly what you would call scofflaws. In many cases they don’t even know they’re doing something wrong.

This was a point underscored by a recent survey conducted by Hilltromper, a Santa Cruz outdoors Web site. The survey of more than 300 respondents found that fully a third of riders did not realize the trails are closed to bikes. (An estimated 1,000 riders use the trails each week, a number we consider on the conservative side.)

So you have a situation of trails that shouldn’t be there and riders that shouldn’t be on them, but with no one particularly complaining. Why not let sleeping dogs lie, as often happens in these situations?

Hilltromper convened a panel discussion at Stevenson Events Center on Wednesday evening with hopes of answering that question. The two-hour event drew a polite crowd of 200 that included officers of Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC), a leading advocacy group, and Save Upper Campus, a coalition of local groups concerned about university plans to add 3,500 students, new roads, dorms, classrooms, faculty and staff by 2020 at a time when water supplies are reaching red-zone depletion.

Several points were raised at the gathering: Rider safety, trail stewardship, environmental concern, preservation of the Ohlone tiger beetle.

But for us, the most compelling was simply: Mountain biking has really come into its own as a mainstream activity. The tenor of the meeting was that mountain bikers want to ride responsibly while helping land stewards take care of the environment.

All-day riding on campus

UC Santa Cruz trail network

We’ve been to scores of meetings like this in the past and have come to expect heated opposition from hikers and other trail users. That was notably absent in Wednesday’s session. Instead there was a feeling of solidarity from all contingents. Mountain biking is just too popular to dismiss with the outdated canards about erosion, trail conflict and ecological sanctity — at least, in Santa Cruz.

And why not? It turns out that mountain bikers are a trail’s best friend. We’re the user group most actively building new trails. The trails we do build are expertly crafted toward maintaining ecological sustainability and minimizing erosion while still providing the best possible riding experience. And then we come back season after season to repair, improve and otherwise keep the trails in good condition.

Panelists and audience members agreed that if everyone cooperates in good faith, trail conflicts can be diminished and ecological balance maintained. Regarding the tiger beetle, Alex Jones, campus reserve steward, pointed out that slowing down to 5 mph gives beetles a chance to elude bikes. Five mph is not much faster than walking, but then again, only limited portions of trails are used by the beetle for migration. When riders are informed about the beetles, both panelists and audience commenters noted, compliance is high.

Some other takeaways:

No one complained about user conflict. We ride up on campus all the time and seldom encounter hikers. When we do, we find they’re cheerful and accommodating (they often step aside or wave us through even though we signal a willingness to yield). It was surprising not to hear a dissenting word against mtbers. (Note: Especially since news blurbs on the meeting drew some nasty comments on Facebook and newspaper Web sites.)

Support for mountain biking is community-wide in Santa Cruz.
Although held on campus, the event drew as much from the public at large as from student communities.

The university “tolerance policy” is likely to continue. Although university officials declined Hilltromper invitations to attend, Chris Wilmers, a UCSC biology professor, said “there’s no budget” to fund enforcement. (Given the university’s grandiose plans for expansion, we wonder how well finger-pointing at mountain bikers would go over anyway.)

What’s next? Hilltromper’s aim with the session was to start a conversation. The terms of discussion are now clear. If anyone wants to raise the issue at UC Santa Cruz, what’s obvious is that rather than being part of the problem, mountain bikers want to be part of the solution.

Further reading:

Mountain biking survey
UC Santa Cruz expansion
Ohlone beetle preservation
Hilltromper report on meeting
Santa Cruz Sentinel report (note crowd size is incorrect; 200 people attended)
Film “Pedal-Driven”
Film “Freedom Riders”

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News Cycle: Catching up on a Tour off-day Wed, 21 Jul 2010 16:58:42 +0000 Somehow the cycling world has not come to a complete standstill during the 2010 Tour de France.

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London cycletracks reviewed. Would they work in the US, or just be another way for those ever-clever car drivers to double park and zip around backed-up traffic? Seattle is looking at cycletracks for Dexter Ave. N.

Bike sharing in Boston gets a $3 million boost.

A wi-fi bicycle lock that beeps you when your bike is being stolen is an interesting concept with a lot of caveats, the first being: You must lock your bike in a public wi-fi area.

You thought Alberto Contador showed poor sportsmanship not waiting for Andy Schleck? Check out Joe Papp’s analysis of John Gadret’s treatment of teammate Nicolas Roche.

What happens when two bike legends
run into each other unexpectedly? If one happens to be Jacquie Phelan, well … read for yourself.

If Floyd Landis were to pick a place, any place, to return to public visibility following the Landis-Lance affaire de doping, he could do no better than Bend OR.

Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz are doing yeoman work to promote trails in a heroin-infested park called Pogonip. For more, check out its Facebook page.

Now it’s back to the Tour!!!!

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News from Cruz: Pump track, ShuttleSmith and Grand Openings Thu, 15 Jul 2010 15:01:54 +0000 Tiny Aptos is becoming the hotbed of next-gen mountain biking.

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Things are popping in tiny Aptos just south of Santa Cruz, where freeride rules!

Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz has the update on Epicenter Cycling’s new pump track in the former dirt lot behind the shop alongside the road leading up through Forest of Nisene Marks.

Bike Station Aptos has made the move to its new shop in the Rancho Del Mar Shopping Center (just up the main drag from their former place). And Bicycle Trip is celebrating its new accommodations as well.

Plus Dave Smith is getting great response to his new ShuttleSmith service operating out of the parking space next to Epicenter Cycling. ShuttleSmith Adventures takes riders to the top of Nisene Marks, where they can play all day in Soquel Demo Forest and then cruise back down the fire road into Aptos. has all the info.

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Shuttle Service Lets Santa Cruz Mountain Bikers Avoid an Ugly Drive Fri, 04 Jun 2010 15:14:55 +0000 A great new shuttle from Aptos to upper Nisene Marks solves a lot of problems for Santa Cruz freeriders.

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Now this is pretty cool. A new shuttle service will take mountain bikers from the freeride hotbed of Aptos near Santa Cruz all the way up to the east entrance of the Forest of Nisene Marks, where they can ride all day at Soquel Demo Forest and then cruise back down the fire road to Aptos.

At $15, it’s cheaper than driving our own van up and back. And that’s a drive we dread anyway, along narrow winding roads. Plus you’re carpooling dude — doing your small but still important bit to conserve on gas and save a seabird or two from the likes of the Gulf Oil leak.

One other thing: Parking and leaving an empty vehicle up at the top can be an invitation to car prowls. Every time we go to the Demo Forest we see the broken glass of burgled vehicles.

It all starts tomorrow, Saturday June 5th. The shuttle will leave from the Epicenter Cycling shop at Aptos Station at 9, 11, 1:30 and 3:30. There’s a Shuttle Smith flyer with more details.

Thanks to Mark Davidson of Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz for posting. And to Dave Smith for starting the service.

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News Cycle: Doing the full loop Tue, 27 Apr 2010 21:55:46 +0000 Port Angeles Pro Gravity Race Tour revisited, Five Ten shoes, Bicycle Hall of Fame move & more ...

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PinkBike has the full rundown on the Pro Gravity Race Tour kickoff in Port Angeles this past weekend.

Jason Alexander may have played
the bumbling schmuck George on the Seinfeld TV series, but he shows how a class act handles things when he hits a kid on a bike.

It’s not your grandfather’s,
or even father’s, bike company, but Schwinn is alive and kick…er, pedaling!

Five Ten shoes had its new line of SPD compatibles at Sea Otter. This is a bit of a puzzler, since you don’t particularly want a sticky sole if you’ve got cleats installed. And if you don’t, you won’t get the sticky sole effect because the cleat cap is lacking. One for the Five Ten rep next time we run into him.

Bicycle “Hollow Famer” Jacquie Phelan on the Hall of Fame’s move to Davis CA.

Nice signage added to Wilder Ranch State Park, courtesy in part to Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz and you, the gang who attended its big festival in February.

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Time for a Seattle Mountain Bike Festival? Tue, 23 Mar 2010 08:27:26 +0000 The mountain biking boom in the Northwest deserves its own signature event

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The success of the recent Seattle Bike Expo raises the question for the region’s mountain-biking community: Has the time come for a mountain bike festival in the Seattle area?

Now before the protest mail from the good people at Cascade Bicycle Club starts flowing in, we’re happy to acknowledge that Bike Expo includes mountain biking as well as road.

But everyone knows that road dominates Expo. Newly named interim director of Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance, Glenn Glover, noted recently the blank stares he got from way too many Expo-goers at the EMBA booth — even from mountain bikers.

The reason? First was context. Surrounded by roadie booths, demos, personalities and lycra, even mountain bikers weren’t expecting to find an mtb advocacy group in the mix.

Second is emphasis. A glance at the list of exhibitors this year — a record number, btw — shows only a handful of mtb-focused vendors. Missing were some of the hottest names in mountain biking circles, Evil Bikes, Obtainium, Transition. Even IMBA, a mainstay at mountain biking fests, was not on the list.

It’s true, as Glenn pointed out, that Evergreen can do much more to promote its image in the mtb community. But that could be Argument No. 1 for hosting a local mountain bike show.

Bike Expo aside, has not the time come for something along the lines of a Sea Otter North (Sea Wetter?), or Fruita West, Crankworx South (Dankworx?) or even Bike & Brew (Leavenworth) on the wet side of the state? Seattle deserves a signature mountain bike event to call its own.

Visiting in northern California we recently had the good fortune to attend the first Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival, a two-day event highlighted by an in-town jump jam and the California premiere of “Women of Dirt” (which premiered worldwide in Seattle earlier in February). Although unseasonably wet and cold weather forced cancellation of a big group ride, the event packed Santa Cruz’s Rio Theater and, despite inevitable glitches with a first-time venture, was a roaring success.

Mark Davidson, President of sponsoring Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, said the festival galvanized the cycling community in Santa Cruz — a significant accomplishment given the seaside city’s bigger reputation for surfing — and has led to a number of unsolicited “we want to be part of this next year” queries from major bike names. His group will have an Interbike representative this fall to solicit sponsors and raise awareness in the festival, and at least one internationally known mountain bike manufacturer is knocking on its door.

Davidson does not minimize the huge challenges associated with staging a festival. Months of organizing, mounds of communication and hour upon hour of meetings and phone calls and emails are required to pull the thing off right.

But the rewards are not only commensurate, Mark noted, they go beyond the organization and event itself to permeate the community at large.

Ironically, cycling in Santa Cruz is still kind of ‘underground’ as a mainstream activity, despite the huge number of enthusiasts and a vibrant bike industry. People who are cyclists know that Santa Cruz is a mecca, but non-cyclists are not aware (i.e., Chamber of Commerce, tourism/visitors center, local paper).

The Amgen “Tour of California” is helping to raise awareness. So did the mountain bike fest.

The current (March 2010) issue of BIKE magazine, in a page-long feature, “7 Reasons Why You Should Host Your Own Event,” notes “it’s an effective economic stimulus” and cultural catalyst:

Greg Williams, one of the Downieville Downhill race’s founders, says that the weekend of that race is ‘the biggest for restaurants and grocery stores in the area by far for the whole year.’

There’s potential payoff for bike vendors as well. It’s starting to dawn on the industry that if it’s going to keep selling its wares, it had better get behind building new places to ride. The style of riding preferred particularly by younger riders — bike park, jump jam, pump track and other more structured, less open-country — needs bikes designed for specific purposes. That’s a huge market potential — but only if the places to ride exist.

The new generation of dirt boyz n grrrlz deserves an event to call their own. At the Santa Cruz fest I noticed how across-the-board the age group was. And in fact it was a great family event, with freeride groms and their parents alike eating it all up.

The explosion of freeriding in Seattle environs deserves a special gathering to coalesce its energy and enthusiasm. A local mtb festival would be just the ticket.

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Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Fest a Real Ripper! Tue, 02 Mar 2010 16:54:55 +0000 Our favorite part was the panel discussion with the ladies...

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Despite a week’s worth of downpours that left its signature ride at Soquel Demo Forest undoable, the first-ever Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival was a pounding success, capped with a near-endless raffle of $15,000 in giveaways at the Rio (is grand!) Theater.

I haven’t seen email or tweet from event maestro Mark Davidson and have to think he’s still sleeping it off. The guy was on his feet non-stop and spent more than an hour on-stage giving schwag away; he deserves a rest!

There was a day-long jump jam at Depot Park in Santa Cruz, booths with demo rides and cool gear, and lots of great folks from Bones Over Metal, Black Market Bikes, Titus and of course the sponsoring Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz. It’s always great to be able to meet a tweep face2face — plus I got to see Fenriq’s (Erik Orgell’s) vintage Ibis Mojo hardtail up close (sheesh…I’d forgotten all about MORON tubing!).


A near-sellout of hooting, whistling, stomping, amped mtb fanz showed up for the California premiere of “Awesome Land — Women of Dirt” inside the Rio. And while the hour-long film didn’t disappoint, with jump and DH action, killer scenery and personal insights from the riders, my favorite part of the whole festival was the panel discussion afterward.

Karen Kefauver, who writes the Spin City column for the Santa Cruz Sentinel, tossed out intelligent questions and the ladies — Kathy Pruitt, Emily Johnston, Lisa Myklak and Tammy Donahugh (left to right on stage in video) — were not only insightful and forthcoming, they repeatedly cracked up the audience with over the top answers.

I caught a couple of the better moments on video. Miles Sullivan and Mark Brent (he’s the guy on the panel), “Women of Dirt” co-makers, were there filming as well and I’ll post their more professional version when it hits. Suffice it to say everyone had a rad time, and congratulations to MBOSC for hosting a memorable fest. We can’t wait till next year!


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Fewer Women Riders? Wait a sec… Thu, 25 Feb 2010 14:52:26 +0000 British data suggest a lower headcount for women on bikes, but are they right?

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Angela taming a log roll in St. Ed's

Why are fewer women cycling? asks BikeRumor. Well, er… are there actually fewer women riding? Most data in urban areas suggests the opposite. And on the trails, there’s a real explosion in women mtbers (granted the base was small). On Twitter and Facebook, more women riders all the time. Still, it’s worth a read…

Case in (counter)point: Angela Sucich takes the Diamondback Lux Sport out for a thrash.

Gregg’s Cycles in Seattle has reprised W.O.W. — Women on Wheels, a Ladies Night Out. Mark it down: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 4, at the Green Lake store.

And at 86, still pedaling.

Then again, Martin Krieg, the “FarthingPenny” guy, checks in with this report:

“Who should roll up but Ellen Fletcher, America’s first politician/bike activist. And the woman for whom America’s first bike boulevard here in Palo Alto was named. Ellen asked me how our ride to Boston was coming along, and among other things, told me she had seen our bus parked on the other bike boulevard, Park Blvd, at Park Automotive Services. And as she pedaled off, I felt the need to corroborate her age for Chris and Caroline, the passer by who took the below photo. Ellen had to stop to get enough wind to answer me. She was still on the mend from having had a cancerous part of her lung removed.

“Eighty two”, she answered. She got back on her bike and pedaled away!!”

Alice Telford rides like ... a girl!

A less encouraging case in point: Woman rider clotheslined in steep gully.

Don’t forget the always cyclesque Kate Hudson!

And then there’s “Women of Dirt,” which is getting premieres all up and down the West Coast. The Cali premiere is this Sunday in Santa Cruz, rain or shine.

Which brings us to the subject of the bizarre dreariness and slop of this winter. In Vancouver they’re sweating in sunshine but the SF Bay Area can’t buy a ray. The big question-mark this weekend is the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival. “Women of Dirt” will show, but the rides and events planned around the festival aren’t being helped by the wet. Mark Davidson & the gang at Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz have put together an incredible weekend, with more than $15,000 worth of merchandise to raffle off. At last tweet everything is still on, Soquel Demo ride and Jump Jam included! Got my ticket from Another Bike Shop in Santa Cruz and am ready to rumble!

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“Women of Dirt” Santa Cruz premiere: Hot deals! Tue, 16 Feb 2010 07:18:35 +0000 The big Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival is in countdown mode for Sunday!

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Could be yers, ALL yers, dude...or dudess!

The big “Women of Dirt” California premiere is two weeks away, and Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz keeps sweetening the pot. Titus has emerged as the lead sponsor and is offering up a killer bike, the El Guapo, for raffle giveaway. Plus Black Market Bikes is offering 10 percent off in-stock items purchased from its online store. And the general raffle includes “an Intense 5.5 EVP frame donated by our good friends at Trailhead Cyclery, a Fox 36 Talas RC2 donated by Fox Racing Shox, a BlkMrkt Bike Mob frame donated by Black Market Bikes and many, many, many items,” MBOSC says. Tickets are at most area bike shops, grab ’em before they sell out like they did in Seattle Feb. 5th!

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