Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival celebrates record weekend

By Joh Rathbun

Cycling fans from as far away as Pennsylvania flocked to the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival this past weekend with approximately 6,000 folks in attendance on each day. The genesis of the festival was showcasing mountain biking as a great form of recreational tourism in Santa Cruz County, driven by the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz.

As the needs of the mountain bike community has involved, so has the SCMBF. The inaugural SCMBF was in 2009, and was a movie premier of “Awesome Land: Women of Dirt,” which featured local talent like Tammy Donahugh and Lisa Tharp. But with the incomparable and widely-filmed Post Office jumps being razed for development of the Aptos Village, this year most of the fund-raising will go towards re-location of the jumps. The rest will go towards supporting legal, multi-use trails like the Emma McCrary trail, currently under construction at the Santa Cruz city park, Pogonip Park.

The Sugar Showdown, a day of skills classes followed by a day of competition for ladies only, was one of the highlights.

“Dirt jumping has always been intimidating, but Kat [Sweet] and the coaches really made it accessible and fun,” said Lauren Gregg, winner of the novice class. “The expert coaching brought my riding to a whole new level, and being around such amazing female riders really inspired me to keep jumping and pushing myself. The Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival as a whole was a super awesome weekend and a great way to bring the mountain bike community together.”

This year’s iteration trumped them all—with the local bike community coming together over the same cause this weekend—and it was a success from this competitor’s perspective as well.

Big thanks to Barry Swenson Builders for allowing the Post Office jumps to have been built in the first place, well over 10 years ago. With their history of bike advocacy, I have faith that they will take care of the next generation.

Kat Sweet also wanted to give a special thank you to the Sugar Showdown sponsor, Diamondback bikes: 

"I’m really stoked to have a bike company that believes in the sisterhood of shred and backs that up by supporting the Sugar Showdown in Santa Cruz," she said. 

The Sugar Showdown, sponsored by Kali, Shine Riders, ETC, results are:


  1. Lisa Tharp; Black Market Bikes, Stache Surfboards
  2. Tammy Donahugh; SuperCo, Native, Deity
  3. Shelby Reily; SuperCo
  4. Gale Dalagher; SuperCo
  5. Whitney Thompson; SuperCo
  6. Meg Pattilo; Ride SFO, Sweetlines
  7. Mariam Appel
  8. Cortney Knudson; POC, Electric, Five Ten
  9. Lindsay Beth Currier; Shine Riders Co


  1. Nova Hairston; Trips for Kids
  2. Rosie Bernhardt
  3. Kelly Damschen
  4. Joh Rathbun


  1. Lauren Gregg

The Specialized and Scotts Valley Cycle Sports Shortrack results are:

Pro/Expert Women

  1. Katie Jay Melena
  2. Katie DeClercq
  3. Renee Shelton

Pro/Expert Men

  1. Alex Wild
  2. Will Curtis
  3. Anthony Sinyard
  4. Colby Pastore
  5. Mark Howland

About the author: Joh Rathbun is a freelance writer and columnist for To stay up to date on West Coast events, like her Facebook page or contact her through her website


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