santa cruz bronson

2019 Santa Cruz Bronson First Impressions Review!

2019 Santa Cruz Bronson First Impressions Review!

I spent the summer of 2014 in Santa Cruz, California. When I wasn’t working I spent my time in the woods on my All City Macho Man. I thought it couldn’t get any better and then my buddy set me up on a Bronson. My mind was blown! 

I eventually sold that Bronson and picked up a 5010. I loved the 5010 so much that I’ve owned two of them! The 5010 loves to jump and jib around but I’ve always found it let me down on the fast and rough stuff. So when Santa Cruz dropped the new Bronson I knew it was time to try a big bike again.

And I am Getting a 2019 Bronson!

And I am Getting a 2019 Bronson!

My buddy started me out on a Bronson 1 with a bunch of spare parts while I was living in Santa Cruz. Since then I've owned two 5010's and have been super happy in the jibby trail category. I don't think my riding style has changed but I am finding myself pushing the limits of the 5010 just way too much.

Syncline : The Wizard + Hidden Valley

What do you do when the weekends forecast calls for rain and snow in the Pacific Northwest? You pack up the bikes and drive 75 minutes out of Portland to ride mountain bikes in Washington. Despite heavy winds the conditions in Syncline were perfect! 

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Larch Mountain 2.0

Larch Mountain is an extinct volcano roughly 25 miles from downtown Portland topping out at over 4000ft of elevation. The name Larch Mountain does not come from the Western Larch tree but rather how early loggers would describe Noble Fir. The mountain has been heavily logged in certain sections and is now a mixture of second and old growth forests. It’s become an iconic climb for cyclists due to it’s infamous 14 mile climb to the summit. Most climbs around Portland are rolling while Larch goes straight up for over 12 miles. [portfolio_slideshow id=4448 width="1200"]

After some last minute planning Craig and I set off from the Velo Cult parking lot at 7 am. The streets of Northeast Portland are empty and we gladly take the road. Riding out to Troutdale is probably my least favorite thing to do but with good company it aint half bad.

We cross the Sandy River and head up the Historic Columbia River Highway aka U.S. Route 30 aka the King of Roads aka HRCH. The hangover is fading and the weather is perfect. It’s a little after 9am and we pedal up to the Portland Woman’s Forum State Scenic Viewpoint. I take some obligatory photos of the Columbia River Gorge. The view is epic! I’ve taken dozens of photos from the exact spot yet I still feel compelled to snap a few more. It’s our last chance to fill up on water before making the 14 mile ascent up Larch Mountain. Its Craigs first time up. I am looking forward to the summit. I brought a slice of pizza to celebrate at the top; like a boss!

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Larch Mountain Road is quiet. The occasional cyclists zooms by; teary eyed from the long ascent. We’re all out here early trying to beat the 90 degree heat. Some earlier than others. At mile marker 2 I tell Craig that it’s all up hill from here. The climb is infamous for it’s long 12 mile ascent and probably more so for the incredible descent back down! We’re surrounded by towering Noble Firs and my legs settle into a rhythm. The mile markers slowly go by as we crawl to the summit. I am feeling good and all of this Mountain Biking is really paying off. Mile 9, Mile 10, we’re getting close. The trees are getting shorter, the sky is bluer and Craig is bonking. I back off and we push forward. Cadence is everything.

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We summit. I drop five bucks into the Fee box and we hike up to the viewpoint called Sherrard Point. Mt St Helens, Mt Rainer, Mt Hood, Mt Adams and Mt Jefferson. It’s all fucking there. I love this ride and this is why I celebrate it. Pizza has never tasted so damn good. Am I the first person to bike up Larch Mountain with a slice of pizza? Fuck yes I am.

The descent back down to U.S. Route 30 is incredible. The roads are still empty and we occasionally fly by someone climbing. This time we’re the ones teary eyed, focused on the road ahead. Craigs out in front and I can only imagine he’s smiling as much as I am.

Wilder Ranch State Park

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[portfolio_slideshow id=3339 width=1200px] Wilder Ranch is a coastal preserve just a few miles from downtown Santa Cruz featuring dozens of trails and fire roads that are mostly legal for cycling. During my three months in Santa Cruz I found myself exploring Wilder in the early mornings every day before work. I fell in love with the sunrise, the thick coastal fog, the dew covered meadows and the grazing deer.

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Wilder became my morning sanctuary and I am grateful for all the time I got to spend there.

I can recall climbing up Old Cabin in the stillness of morning, Niterider on, headlamp on, ascending in the darkness, nothing but the sounds of breathe and tires rolling over soil. Eventually the thick forest giving way to a blooming sunrise, deers grazing to my left, dew covered spider webs blanketing the meadow floor. Life seems infinite during these momements.

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There are endless ways to get into Wilder but here are the ones that I come to love :

- Up Bay St and hop onto the Fire Road in UCSC. Check out the sunrise at the top and then climb up Star Wars. Take the Single Track to Pipeline. Follow Pipeline along Chinquapin to the Twin Gates.

- Up the Emma Mccrary Trail to U Con Trail. From the top of U Con take one of the many trails that link up with Pipeline. Roast Pipeline to Twin Gates. [su_divider top="no" divider_color="#DDFF99" margin="0"] [su_spacer size="10"] [su_quote cite="MBOSC" url="http://www.mbosc.org/local-parks/wilder-ranch/"]Wilder Ranch is home to some of Santa Cruz’s most iconic riding. On the coastal side of Highway one, trails wind along the bluffs overlooking the Pacific. On the inland side of the highway, trails climb up rolling grasslands that overlook the ocean, and dip down into verdant redwood timbered drainages. Wilder offers a up miles of fire roads and singletrack. Some singletrack highlights include, Enchanted Loop, Twin Oaks, and Old Cabin.[/su_quote]

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Here is a breakdown of the trails I regularly rode in Wilder :

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Chinquapin Trail : This is where most people pedal into Wilder via UCSC / Twin Gates.

Enchanted Loop : The first time I rode down the Enchanted Loop I was on my Cyclocross bike. It was pretty radical to say the least. This is arguably the most gorgeous Single Track in Wilder and my personal favorite! Radical descent littered with roots and rocks followed by flowy Single Track and a extremely steep climb out.

Mailboxes : Arguably the most frequented illegal Single Track in Santa Cruz. First time down this I was on my Cyclocross bike and had to walk two steep rock gardens. Worth it for the river crossing at the end!

Fence Line : Another really popular section of Single Track that will take you down to the end of Mailboxes. Make a left at the bottom to navigate a gnarly rock garden and river crossing or head right to head back into Wilder.

Old Cabin : Yet another trail first explored on my Cyclocross bike. I love looping Enchanted and Old Cabin together. Highly recommended. After Old Cabin hop onto Wild Boar and smash down Engelsman to the Bike Path at the bottom.

Engelsman Loop : I love this trail. Perfect for the Cyclocross bike and my go to way to loop back into Santa Cruz.

Eucalyptus Loop : This is a Fire Road that will connect you with various Trail Heads. I tend to avoid this trail unless I am climbing back up Wilder to do some more loops.

Wilder Ridge Loop : This is a great way to climb up Wilder from Highway 1. It seems like a lot of group rides will meet at the bottom.

Baldwin Loop : This is probably the most unused trail in all of Wilder. When I rode it the fog was so thick I could only see 10 or so feet in front of me. The Woodcutters : A fire road that goes through Wilder via Chinquaphin Trail up to Smith Grade. Theres a lot of hidden single track in the surrounding area if you keep your eyes peeled.

Woodcutters : Fire Road at it’s best. Lots of Single Track out there if you keep your eyes open. Drops you off on Smith Grade.

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So if you ever find yourself in Santa Cruz, wake up before the sun, gear up and pedal towards Wilder. You won't regret it. I promise!