There is a place not too far from the ground I sit on this very moment. A place where dreams are merely a beginning to what is really possible. Cutting edge technology, uncanny aesthetics, and an overall attitude all to its own thrives. That’s right people; I’m talking about the Santa Cruz Bicycles factory!
It’s amazing to look back to myself at 11yrs old drooling over an MBUK magazine on an Arizona road trip, dreaming of a Santa Cruz Blur, a Bullit, or a VP-Free (trans red was my desired flavor). Now here I am day to-day-day building, riding, and representing Santa Cruz in my homeland! With the back story sorted out now, what if I could go to the motherland? Well… Peter and I got just that opportunity, and here’s what we experienced on our journey!
Golden tickets in hand, we embarked from the shop at about 6:00am in pure luxury and efficiency in Peter’s sprinter van. Full of coffee and whimsy for what was to come, Peter and I had a few hundred miles of laughs, insights, and I believe the world energy crisis was solved as well to pass the time.
We arrived right on Peter’s ETA, the most cunning of captains on the road. It became clear as we turned on to Mission St. and passed the pumptrack, we had arrived at the factory! We made our way in and I just about keeled over when the row of UCI World Cup raced V-10’s came into view!
The place was a marvel of interior design (in my opinion) and displayed the achievements of Santa Cruz wonderfully. There was one of everything in every color, shape and size oh my!
What came next blew my mind and upped the cool factor to “Bond Level”. The receptionist buzzed us into the offices with a super secret red button that opened a cutout in the wall and led us in to orientation! We began putting faces and handshakes to the names and voices, and all the crew were on point and happy to answer any and all questions. The next phase was touring the factory floor, something I know myself and Peter were very excited about!
Not even a minute into the facility and above us were all the glorious frames from years past, suspended above the factory floor! Needless to say (but I will anyways) the cleanest Tazmons and Super 8s I’d ever laid eyes on! I was greeted by our awesome hometown hero Sam Markling running towards me from his station to deliver the most enthusiastic high five ever! We made our way through and realized just how well the facility operates on a daily basis as a direct reflection of the quality of the products. Being in love with wheels and having 600+ wheel builds accounted for in my career, I had to bow down to the wheel department and stare in awe at the number of ENVE wheels they build in a day! There is a lot of what we saw in the engineering department that was a no picture, no tell, but I must say wow, and prepare yourselves for the future! We witnessed the whole process top to bottom and we pleased, especially since there is a face and story to every person on the floor at the factory.
I’ll keep the meetings stories concise (really hard for me as you can see), but I had a beer in one hand and Rob Roskopp’s shaking the other hand at one point. Yes we met Wonka himself, and my mind was blown. Now to the demo riding!
I’ll put this as a disclaimer: “The trails I rode in Santa Cruz we’re not to be video recorded or photographed”. I CAN tell you that I took a Large Nomad CC with XX1 spec’d down Braille and some other phenomenal trails whose names we’ll leave out to keep them intact.
Hands down the most rewarding and informative trip in my cycling career. I am open further storytelling on the trail and at the shop whenever you’d like, but I’ll leave you with this…I got my “Golden Ticket” and it changed my life and what I know and I have seen can change yours on a Santa Cruz!
Living the dream,
Derek. L. Starr