Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Santa Cruz Bikes Rock

My love affair with Santa Cruz bikes started in Downieville about 10 years ago when I left my beloved hardtail bike parked at the local bike store Yuba Expeditions and went on my first full suspension ride on a Santa Cruz bike. The minute I sat on that saddle I felt one with that so called Blur bike. She made the trails smoother and so much easier to ride. It felt like cheating rather than real riding.

After that trip, I tested all the full suspension bikes out on the market.  I wanted to select the best bike that would allow me to continue "cheating" on the trails. I went through something very similar to what my single friends go through when they date on-line.  I had so many dates with so many bikes.  None of them did the trick.  I kept longing for that Santa Cruz Blur I left behind in Downieville.

Until finally I tested a Santa Cruz again, and fell in love just like I did months earlier in Downieville. And since then, the only full suspension bikes I ride are Santa Cruz. Their frame design is so perfect, pretty much what I need to do when I ride is to close my eyes and let the bike do her job. And Santa Cruz customer service is also first class.

Last year, I upgraded my Blur XC to a Blur LT Carbon.  Look at her, she is so cute!

And I upgraded my Nomad to a V10 Carbon.  Talk about being sexy and about cheating big time!!!! I can hit anything on this bike.

Both of them together look even better! 

And I also noticed that I gravitate to riding with other Santa Cruz lovers.  Here is a picture of the bikes that you can find on a typical ride organized by me. What a bunch of handsome moutnain bikes.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I Wanna Be That Guy

By guest bloggers Jon Taylor and Graham Raymond from

We've all seen it. Extreme athletes who push themselves to be able to go to lengths that nobody else can.  Look at the snowboarders who jump out of helicopters, or the motocross dude whose normal race contains heart stopping jumps. It's like being a dare devil has become a competitive sport. Then there is mountain biking. Just you and the single track trail, the challenge: stay on your bike.

All of these sports have a really tough learning curve. If you fall from fifty feet in the air, you could get a learning curve imprint on your forehead. But mountain biking can be different. It's gradual. It's a thrill at every level. You can bomb down a hill at 60MPH or you can have just as much fun on the same hill taking it easy.  Then there is the race circuit! The bottom line is… how can you not have fun on a mountain bike?

The pros:
  • On a trail or rough road a mountain biker can travel faster, farther, and consequently see more than someone that spends the same amount of time walking/hiking.
  • Quite often, I can travel faster than a 4 wheel drive vehicle, I get jarred around less, make less noise, have less impact on the environment and ecosystem.
  • It is human powered!!
  • I can ride bikes with my family which encourages a healthy lifestyle.
  • I can load it up and hit the road for a "destination vacation" (I don't miss any training days).
  • There is nothing like mashing on the pedals on some monster uphill climb just so you can turn around and bomb down that same hill lacing the best line and knowing your going to stack it up in a corner the same time you realized you actually gained speed in that corner instead of scrubbing.
  • You will learn what the heck I just said.
 The Cons:
  • You will get a boo-boo.
Who Am I Gonna Be?
Like everything in life, I ask myself that question.  Most people, when faced with that decision choose to be the same guy they were yesterday, hey they can go big on X-Box anyway right?  No reason to actually DO anything.  But some people, the ones that everyone else admires, get up and decide that they are going to be mountain bikers.
Guest blogger Jon Taylor co-authored this with Graham Raymond. Jon is the star of and novice mountain biker training for a triathlon. Graham is a seasoned endurance mountain bike racer, marathon runner, tri-athlete, and professional river guide. Jon is on a quest to race in his first  triathlon. The triathlon is the XTERRA, so it is all off road, lake swimming, mountain biking, and trail running.  To make it interesting and really force them to be introspective, their team is blogging about it the whole way at

Monday, June 07, 2010

Mountain bike races and events at Winter Park Resort

Registration open for mountain bike RACES AND EVENTS at WINTER PARK RESORT

Epic Singletrack Series at Winter Park begins opening day at Winter Park, June 12
Trestle Gravity Series begins July 24
Crankworx Colorado, July 29 – Aug 1

Winter Park, COLO., June 4, 2010 - Winter Park’s Competition Center announces open on-line registration for the two mountain bike race series, Epic Singletrack Series at Winter Park and Trestle Gravity Series. Riders can test their legs on hill climbs and cross-country courses during seven race dates of Epic Singletrack Series at Winter Park, starting with opening day at Winter Park, June 12. Downhill riders can test their competitive skills in the Trestle Gravity Series beginning July 24. Just announced, Crakworx Colorado registration is also open. Either race or main downhill event of the summer, mountain bikers can experience the thrill of competition at Winter Park.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Mountain Biking Marin at Sea Otter Classic 2010

Congratulations Brian!

Brian Popplewell, Mountain Biking Marin's Lead Guide/Instructor competed at Sea Otter this year. Christina Toms sent us a post race report.

The DH course was slightly different this year and much more suited to Brian's Big Hit (that’s HIS BIKE, gutter-brains), so our airborne one had an excellent race, finishing 20th out of 35 in his Cat 2 DH class and, most importantly, beating Brill. Bad-ass looking racing shot of our hero attached. -Christina Toms
Through Mountain Biking Marin, Brian offers bike skill clinics and guided tours.

More Sea Otter News - Brill gets 1st Place!

Mountain Biking Marin's Instructor and Videographer (Reel Motion Sports) Michael Brill raced both the Downhill and Dual Slalom at Sea Otter this year.  This year Michael placed 7th in Category 2 for his age group.  This was his first year racing the exciting Dual Slalom event where you race side by side with the competition. Michael placed 1st! This year is already starting strong for him with that podium finish and also being named an Ambassador Rider for Zeal Optics.

Congratulations Michael!

Christina Toms at Sea Otter

Christina Toms, one of Mountain Biking Marin's awesome and fun instructors competed at Sea Otter this year. Here is her entertaining race report.
Brilliantly, after finishing in the bottom half of my Cat 3 XC race last year, I decided that this year I would race against the big girls in Cat 2. I’m THIS MANY, you know?!? I rode a ton, did spin class 2x a week, and only drank one Corona Lite the night before my race – I was ready, right? BWAHAHAHAHA. Not only did I jump up a category, I jumped up an age class and was now racing against 30-39-year-olds – you know, the kind who wake up every morning at 6 AM and ride their road bike for 2 hours before heading to work in their sensible yet stylish 4-door sedan that they keep in the garage with their carbon hardtail 29er. The kind who travel from Vermont, Colorado, and Arizona to race at Sea Otter. Hint: they don’t come all the way out here if they think they’re not going to win! After waking up early to be at the start by 8:30 AM (a time at which I'm usually in the shower, only 30 min removed from bed), I rode what I thought for me was a respectable race. I crashed during the first loose, sandy singletrack (my shoulder hurts), and tipped over into a mud hole about 1 mile from the finish, but otherwise didn't do anything dramatically stupid and I even climbed a bunch of fire road in my middle ring! I did 19 miles in 2:30 which was about half an hour under what I thought I'd do (I really don’t have high expectations of myself), but I still came in LAST PLACE in my class. By four minutes. The winner (from Vermont, natch) was 40 min ahead of me. Yeah. So. I’m doing DH next year! Other highlights: meeting Darcy Turrene, riding her bike (!!!), and winning a sick new Osprey hydration pack from the raffle.

 Mountain Biking Marin is offering a Women's Only Cross Country Bike Skill Clinic on May 29th.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Bikes & Beans' Bike Shop New Location

Bikes & Beans, formerly located by the Seven Eleven near China Camp, has moved to a brand new and bigger location while still close to China Camp thus being very convenient to stop by before or after riding China Camp. In particular if you like coffee, bike talk with knowledgeable people, and good deals on bikes and parts.

Bike & Beans new location is:
292 North San Pedro Road
San Rafael, CA 94903-2857

Check them out!

I like stopping by to get my coffee fix since I am not drinking beer these days. The stores offers a cozy place to hang and yummy coffee and I keep hearing great reviews about the Commencal and Jamis bikes Justin (the owner) sells in his this store.

I also like the selection of cool hip bike clothing... I have gotten a pair of cool shorts that made me feel like a hot shot :-)

And the best of all, I like it that Justin kept decorating the shop with local artist work (some of his own work!). This mural is next to the bike mechanic shop area!

Check out my previous blog about Bikes & beans to get a better sense of what this bike shops brings to Marin county.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Upcoming Tour Treats Mountain Bike Enthusiasts to an Unforgettable Vacation in the Bay Area

Summary: For the ultimate bike adventure, ride the trails where the sport was founded and join Mountain Biking Marin on a guided tour of the area from May 27-31. This vacation includes airport pickup, transportation, deluxe accommodations, daily breakfast, daily light gourmet lunch for the rides and more in addition to the best daily bike rides around scenic Marin County and beyond.

(Marin County, CA) February 8, 2010 – Mountain bike enthusiasts around the country are invited to hit the trails in and around the birthplace of the sport for a four-day cross-country mountain bike tour of Marin County and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Mountain Biking Marin has organized an unforgettable tour taking place from May 27-31, combining daily bike rides with the exploration of popular local tourist attractions.

Founder and CEO of Mountain Biking Marin, Celia Graterol, warns this event is not intended for beginners. She states, "To enjoy this tour, riders should have an intermediate to advanced technical level and the ability to handle a moderate to strenuous climbing level."

Graterol and her team of fun experienced guides will expertly lead riders through the Redwood forests, lakes, rock gardens and rolling hills of trails through Marin County, Mt. Tamalpais, the Marin Headlands and West Marin. Bikers will enjoy panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, the Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco Bay and the mountains of Marin.

After a tough day on the trails (lots of singletracks!!!), enjoy the optional excursions including world-class wine tasting in the Napa Valley and exploring the world famous streets of San Francisco.

This is an all-inclusive mountain biking adventure that includes airport pickup, deluxe accommodations, transportation, breakfast and lunch daily (dinner not provided) and the professional guiding services of 2006 Downhill US National Champion, Celia Graterol.

For this ultimate bike adventure, much care went into the choosing of the hotel. Guest are sure to enjoy their stay at the new remodeled Larkspur Hotel Mill Valley with a core focus on health, sustainability and getting people outside to connect with nature. Each morning of the tour, they’ll be serving healthy, sustainable breakfasts such as whole grains, healthy proteins and good carbs.

"We knew this was the right hotel to choose because they even provide bike parking," remarks Graterol.

This mountain biking adventure is limited to only 15 participants so anyone interested is strongly encouraged to register early. Early Bird Prices are in effect until April 15 with the cost of this inclusive mountain biking vacation at $1,150 per person ($1,350 if adding a bike rental). After April 15 the price will be $1,300 ($1,500 if bike is needed).

For more information, visit

About Mountain Biking Marin
Owned and operated by 2006 Downhill US National Champion, Celia Graterol, Mountain Biking Marin offers fun, guided tours and clinics on the best mountain bike trails in the San Francisco Bay area. Celia’s experience and training give her the skills needed to lead and teach all levels of bike tours and clinics (cross country, freeride and downhill racing).

Contact: Celia Graterol
P 415-717-2263

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mountain Biking in the Headlands, Marin County

I love to mountain bike in the Marin Headlands, especially during the fall season because it is usually sunny and warm. Also, in my opinion, the Headlands offer the most visually impressive views in the whole County. I went on an awesome ride in the headlands with Alan last week.

News: I have a new column on the MoreMarin blog which has a section in SFGate. You can read more about my Marin headlands ride here.