Ride report: Mailboxes, Santa Cruz

The drizzle began to fall just as I walked out to the garage to pound the cranks onto my brand new Profile hub. The weather report called for a 40% chance of rain but that just got bumped up to 100%. We all know what that means… muddy muni! Excellent…

Nick Brazzi and I met Corbin Dunn and Trevor Blackwell in a little neighborhood just off the UCSC campus. Instead of our usual rides down the backside of the campus into the San Lorenzo valley, we planned to take a trail skirting the outside edge of Wilder Ranch State Park. Like our usual rides, we had several miles of winding singletrack ahead, all underneath a canopy of towering redwoods. We shuttled up Empire Grade to start the ride, saving us a few miles of uphill riding (yecch!)

The trail launched us straight into the redwoods on gently rolling singletrack. The tree cover afforded us a little shelter from the drizzle, but the ground was already saturated. The redwoods pawed at us as we rolled past… the trail was a veritable slalom course where one dodged redwood trunks, roots, branches and even a few deadfalls. After a few mild downhill sections we found the beginning of the many stunts Mailboxes has to offer… several doubles challenged us to “clear the gap”. We took a few launches apiece and with no success we rolled on.

Now the trail got a bit more challenging. Here and there we came upon trees laying across the singletrack, some with dirt ramps, others requiring a rolling hop to continue along. I’d hear an “oomph” and someone would shout “pileup!” as a tree would bring our train of riders to a temporary halt. Where we found a nice ramp we’d all stop and give ‘er a few goes until we all felt that we had conquered the obstacle (we’ll see on the next ride :slight_smile: ). Then we came upon another or Mailboxes’ treasures… a nice, wide ladder just a few feet off the deck gave us all a little taste of North Shore.

Just beyond, we encounter another tree across the trail. The tree was shaped such that a natural ramp appeared in its midsection. Of course, we all had to stop and give it several tries. After a good 10 minutes of various comical dismounts (Nick ended up sitting on the log comfortably after his first UPD), Corbin rode the tree until the overbrush mobbed him. I made it up and over the log, as did Nick, and that was good enough to keep going.

Around a bend, the ground dropped out from below us. A long, steep downhill section threatened to gobble us all up and spit our munis out. There was a “left” and a “right” option to continue, “left” being a twisty, rocky descent that alternated between steep and kinda steep… “right” was a straight shot, straight down. Very steep. Don’t try walking down steep. Slide down on your butt steep. Did I mention that it was raining? At this point the trail was good and muddy, and the rocks had become rather slick. Corbin made quick work of the “left” option with the help of his squeaky Maguras, and hiked back up to brave the “right”. After a couple slides he determined he was taking it too slowly, so he powered down with a turbo-charged quickness. To our amazement, he made it about 3/4s of the way down. His uni got too anxious and flew the rest of the way down, leaving Corbin with a small hike to find his wheel.

I took the left with a good amount of backpressure, clearing it on the first try with a whoop and holler of joy. Nick followed after a false start, and Trevor pieced it together to bring us to the bottom. We played on a couple more stunts before continuing on to the Next Big Drop. This one was shorter, but had way more rocks and roots. Luckily there were trees at the bottom of our attempted lines that helpfully caught Corbin and I before we plummeted off into the ferns. Yes, we’re treehuggers and we’re proud. We cleaned this section in small pieces, slipping constantly; some of us decided to slide down on our rear ends, but we all soon met at the bottom.

The rest of the trail was uneventful, although the terrain varied widely from soft loam to slick mud to slick rocks and all variations inbetween. The rain picked up a little more, dripping down through the canopy to strike our helmets with a “thwap” and drip down off our noses. We ended up on some overgrown fire road, dodging horse droppings, heading towards the gate that would take us toward the UCSC pastures. As we hopped the gate, we finally emerged from the canopy, with a view of rolling green pastures blanketed with fog and cow patties. We zipped across the pastures back to the roads, the rain now washing off some of the mud I collected in the forest. A few blocks of pavement and sidewalks took us back to our cars, where we concluded our riding for the day.

The combination of yesterday’s flag football and today’s muni ride leaves me walking stiff-legged like a modern Frankenstein (as Nick had observed), but I’m already looking forward to riding Mailboxes again on Christmas eve. The new Profile setup is infinitely greater than my old UDC square taper hub with mismatched bicycle cranks, and it’s begging to see more airtime. Trevor got bitten by the Muni bug and the trail left Nick hungering for more, so it looks like our little group will reconvene in the 'Cruz shortly!

Sounds like a good time. Does nick have new cranks now too?

jason, that sounds like a blast!
i might be workin the morning of xmas eve, but i could easily get off if my mom would let me come on the ride!!!

PM me w/ the details please


Nice write up.:slight_smile: My first Muni weekend was in Santa Cruz. That is a beautiful trail in under the redwoods. Loved It!

You’re in Sunnyvale, right. I grew up in Los Altos. My parents still live there. Occasionally, we visit. On the next trip up, I will bring a uni and maybe we can meet for some trials in Sunnyvale. If I can get away from the family, that is…


“Mailboxes” is now one of my favorite trails in Santa Cruz.

We may do it again on saturday; everyone should join in on the fun!!!


You might be thinking of a different Nick. I’m the one that was with the group at mailboxes last weekend. I recently switched back to 170s and its a huge help. But your probably thinking of a different Nick, because I don’t know why you’d be asking about my setup.

You boys have to post some pics of all your good rides, like we don down in SB, that way the psych rubs off and reaches a critical mass where everyone goes out breathing fire and has the time of their lives–minus the beat marks.


Either we’ll have to find a waterproof camera or wait until we ride on a dry weekend. There wasn’t a square inch of me that wasn’t wet and/or muddy after this adventure! It’s hard to describe in words, sp one of these days you’ll have to come up here and experience this thing called “rain”… I know some of you So. Cal. dudes have never seen such a thing :stuck_out_tongue:

I have to agree, though, that our pictures to rides ratio is quite low compared to you dudes. We’ll get some shots one of these days…

Posting the pics is not nearly the trouble I thought it would be–I just send them to Josh and HE posts them. Just get a cheapo digital camera and in between burns on the trail–or when you’re sectioning a hard bit–and simply snap off the odd shot. Then you type out some jive and the trip report is on. This is a great way of generating buzz about this trail or that mountain and that way more people tend to travel to other areas and we have bigger and crazier group rides. I know Corbin has a camera . . . We’d love to see the mud pics.