Living in the Canada’s Pacific Northwest, there are some huge advantages such as amazing trails, beautiful summers and of course Winter Sports. On the other hand though, winter can be cold, wet and downright miserable from a cyclist’s perspective. Looking for an alternative, it is a pretty quick trip South of the border heading into California. This December, that was exactly what we did. Picking up and driving South with Factory Team Riders Ryan Leech and Sam Dueck we head down the I5 in search of sunny skies, great trails and some riding company. Bringing along a fleet of the all-new Range 1 and Shinobi bikes, it would be a great way to lead up to the holiday season.
The first stop on the trip was a day and a half into driving in the area of Santa Cruz. The area is called the Soquel Demonstration Forest where the team from MTBR.com came out to give a tour of their backyard trails. A few of the trails that we were privileged to rider were Braille, Sawpit and Bacon. How can you not enjoy a trail called Bacon?
After spending a day in Santa Cruz, we headed south searching still further for the infamous California Sun. The second stop of the trip was in Valencia California. It was here that we went out for a ride with the crew from Mountain Bike Action. Riding in the hills behind Valencia, the trails are filled with steady climbs which are rewarded with fast, flowy and naturally burmed descents. Great trails coupled with beautiful summer skies – this is a December I could get used to.
Stop three of the trip brought us coastal to the city of Santa Barbara. This ride was a loop which may have well been designed specifically for the 2011 Norco Range. With a long and steady climb off the bat moving into a few short, steep grunts to the top.the ride up was smooth and easy with a fantastic view. Once to the top however, the six inches of plush travel smoothed out the rocky, exposed descent. Skirting the mountainside while playfully launching off the natural obsticals, the whole ride was iced off with a view of the deep Pacific Blue. A great ride in a fantastic area of California. Can’t wait to come back!
After a week on the road, something a little bit different was in order for the weekend. Instead of finding another great trail area, we headed east to Tehachapi. This is home to Woodward West. If you have not heard of Woodward before, it is a world class indoor training facility catering to those of Mountain Bike, BMX, Skate and Gymnastic disciplines. The opportunity to ride here was a great learning tool for Sam Dueck and a whole lot of fun for the rest of us. From the bowls to spines, resi-ramp and foam-pit, it is hard not to progress your riding with all these tools at your fingertips.
After a few bumps and bruises at Woodward over the weekend, there was one more riding destination to hit before the drive back North. Meeting up with the crew from Bike Magazine in San Clemente we head to the Cleveland National Forest to get a taste of the Chiquito Trail. An All Mountain Shuttle, this was again a great testing ground for both the Shinobi and the Range. Technical climbs, fast descents and even some steep rock spines – the versatility and forgiveness of the bikes brought the crew down unscathed. A great place to ride and a great way to finish off an escape from a soggy winter.
Heading home, the drive back North meant a total of 5400kms, 60hrs of driving, 25 burritos, and a whole lot of fun. Great trails, great friends and a great Pre-Holiday vacation. Back home now, the joy of riding in the wet is seeping back. There is something about being home and there is something about riding in the mud that makes us all feel like kids again.
If you want to see more photos from the trip check out the full set at flickr.com/norcobikes
To see all the videos from the trip, check out the playlist at youtube.com