Santa Cruz is a great bicycle-friendly town. It’s a quick getaway from Silicon Valley (if you plan the Highway 17 traffic properly, or if you bicycle over “the hill” on Mountain Charlie Road or Soquel-San Jose Road) I’ve written about a leisurely day along the coast before https://alpharoaming.com/2013/11/05/chillin-whale-watching-santa-cruz-and-capitola/
Santa Cruz is also the home of “Santa Cruz Bicycles” http://www.santacruzbicycles.com/ They’re a well known maker of high-end mountain bikes. If you’re in the area, or plan to be, how about a 4 hour spin on one of their awesome carbon bikes? They have a “Factory Demo” program that allows you to reserve one of their bicycles of choice for a $20 fee (donated to local trail building). http://www.santacruzbicycles.com/en/us/factory-demo On-line reservations are highly recommended, though you can try a walk-in.
Just like in the video in the link above, I walked into the showroom, with my helmet and gloves, ready to ride, and was warmly greeted and set up with an awesome bicycle.
I chose the 27.5 inch “Bronson”, which took the mountain biking world by storm a few years ago by being the first (one of the first?) carbon mountain bikes (http://www.outsideonline.com/1926996/six-month-shootout-santa-cruz-bronson-versus-devinci-troy-carbon-sl) Their demo models usually include the carbon wheels and the lighter “CC” frame. This one listed for ~$8600, but less expensive versions are available, with carbon wheels being the priciest option. (If pink / magenta is not your style, you can buy them in different colors. The demo model colors are random. No whining!)
The Santa Cruz folks will help you find the awesome Wilder Ranch State Park http://www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=549 which is a very short ride from their showroom. In the correct season you’ll pass a field of pumpkins and brussels sprouts!
…and a map at the bottom of the hilly part of Wilder Ranch.
Pick some trails and up you go! Note carefully that some trails are wide-open fields and fire roads, while others are steep, twisty and jumpy. The more difficult ones usually are the ones that cross canyons and gullies between the ridges. Rocks, roots, (usually dry) creeks, and steep switchbacks…
The Pacific Ocean is down there in the haze or “marine layer”
One of the steep-but-direct single track trails. Looking uphill:
…and looking downhill behind me. Down in the redwoods below were some seriously steep and twisty trail sections. I’m not afraid to admit I walked up AND down some portions. My balance and riding skills not perfect and I’m not interested in broken bones or a broken helmet!
If you’re a younger or more experienced rider you’ll enjoy these bits. THESE are the trails that these bicycles were developed on and for…
On the way back I passed a few polite equestrians. They were quite used to the many local cyclists and were grateful that I approached with caution and courtesy.
That was my ride! I returned to the showroom and asked a few questions and gave my impressions. There was absolutely no sales pressure. They are professional, courteous, and let their fine machines speak for themselves!
(Last year I tested the “5010”, which used to be called the “SOLO” until they had a trademark issue. Very similar to the Bronson, except for the frame geometry. Next I’ll try the 29 inch “Tallboy”. I’ve been told the Tallboy may fit my less-technical riding style and cruises nicely for someone used to a road bike. The Tallboy is also more budget-friendly, starting around $2600.)
Great demo program, great trails, and a GREAT bike! Compared to my old hardtail, I loved the lightness, the drop-post seat, and the very convenient 1×11 gearing. Give it a try and you might buy!