James Durand

Santa Cruz

If you're not familiar with this town, it's located south of San Francisco on the California coast.

  • Jan. 25, 2018 12:00 a.m.

If you’re not familiar with this town, it’s located south of San Francisco on the California coast.

It’s known for its amazing surfing. It’s home to Mavericks, one of the biggest surf breaks in the world, and according to locals, it’s the original surfing spot on the west coast.

I’m not much of a surfer. But what I know of Santa Cruz is that a bunch of industry friends have lived there, and bragged heavily about the great mountain biking. It’s been on my bucket list for 15 years.

How tough can it be to check this one off?

Drive down the coast and ride for a few days …Done, right? Nope, apparently not that simple.

I can remember three different business trips, when I worked for Norco, where I added on a side trip to squeeze in some riding. Each and every time, something came up that stripped me of the extra time, and forced me home early. It was like the industry didn’t want to share this gem with me.

Six years ago, Chenoa and I bought a travel trailer. Our first trip was to drive down the coast to Santa Cruz. The entire trip was planned around getting there, riding a bunch, and heading back home. We gave ourselves two weeks, so nothing could ruin this plan, and I would finally ride the trails I’ve been dreaming of.

What I didn’t anticipate was having a sick baby on the trip. Between that, a few trailer repairs, and regular travel woes, it took us seven days to get to central Oregon. At that point we turned and headed slowly home. It was a great trip, but no Santa Cruz …again.

My family and I have been in southern California for the last 5 weeks. Part of our plan this trip was to head home along the California coast at a leisurely pace. That would put us right in Santa Cruz and we would spend a few days riding.

Then a large piece of the coast slid into the ocean, and took the highway with it. Not being deterred this time, we headed inland, drove up the I-5, and darted back to the coast north of the slides.

After 15 years of attempts, I am actually here, Santa Cruz, California.

I spent most of last night planning my ride, picking the best trails, and working out a way to include every technical DH possible.

I woke up this morning to pouring rain. Nothing like Campbell River is experiencing this winter, but enough to close the trails for the day. (Rain kind of freaks them out down here)

So as I write this, I am praying to the biking gods, asking for clear skies tonight, and a bit of good luck.

I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’ … MAYBE…

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