The road to Aptos
Like many with MTB dirt jump origins I grew up watching pros and locals shred Post Office trails in DVDs and later online, with dreams of one day joining them.
The local scene in the small town of Aptos, California, is huge and the success of many locals, including the McCaul’s, Ryan Howard, Greg Watts and Jack Fogelquist to name a few, is often attributed to Post Office and the community the spot brought together.
For years the trails were under threat from re-development. As Cam McCaul said back in 2012: ’They’ll be plowed eventually. We’ve been hearing this every year for the last decade but it hasn’t happened yet. It’s supposed to happen this spring so we’ll see how it goes.’
It seemed the end of Post Office was imminent but the date was uncertain.
‘I find a good flight at the right price and in what seems like an act of total insanity, like I’m playing a joke on myself, I type in my credit card details and press proceed.’
For myself the news came on 30 January about a farewell jam on 14 February, held on the last ever Saturday of the existence of these iconic jumps, just three days before the bulldozer would arrive to raze over 15 years of history to the ground. I’m writing this in New York airport waiting for a connecting flight to San Francisco. It’s 7 February.
The past week has been a whirlwind of emotions. I have no idea how this trip will pan out. I’m here because a voice deep inside me screamed at me to get the hell out here.
As I’m waiting to board I’m writing the start of a story which has yet to unfold. Either total disaster or absolute euphoria lays ahead; everyone knows America doesn’t do things by halves.
The run up
Friday 30 January
I’m at work taking a brief coffee break scrolling through Facebook. I spot a post by PSBMX, it’s an instavid publicising a farewell jam for Post Office. I thought the trails had already gone from previous posts I had read. I jokingly share the thought of going to the jam and think nothing more of it. That is until the evening when my subconscious cries out to me not to miss this opportunity. A friend says he’s also interested, I think of local riders I interviewed. Perhaps if someone can put me up and my main expense are the flights I can do it. Emails are sent, flight prices found. I ring my mate. He says in all seriousness he can’t make it. I’m still keen.
Saturday 31 - Monday 2 February
The replies from my emails aren’t positive. People are either no longer in town or busy when I plan on visiting. I message some other locals to no avail - as I later find out no-one has floor space, it’s already taken. Hotels and a hire car on top of last minute flights would make this exorbitant, forget it.
Tuesday 3 February
I’m really struggling to concentrate at work. My mind is in overdrive. I’ve already knocked this trip on the head, I made my decision, so why was I feeling a huge sense of loss and regret? This is ridiculous, I’ll plan a trip to Colorado later in the year, Post Office is just one of hundreds of amazing spots, stop dwelling on it, you tried. But it’s no good, as much as I try to get it out of my head it feels like I’m doing the wrong thing and that this will be a huge regret. I’ve got enough annual leave left to go away for a long week. Fuck it. I have to do this.
When I get home I do a quick scan of hotels, cheaper than I thought. I look at flights to try and find the cheapest deal. Hours later I’m stressed. All the flight options aren’t quite right, two days to fly back? No way. I go to the local skatepark for a session. My frustration is apparent and I can barely ride; I’m looping out of every deck manual. My head’s all over the place. I want to just forget about this stupid farfetched plan. However I can’t. I get back from riding with a cool head and start researching again. Finally, at 11pm, I find a good flight at the right price and in what seems like an act of total insanity, like I’m playing a joke on myself, I type in my credit card details and press proceed.
Wow. I’ve committed. This is it. I’m looking at my laptop shaking. Ten minutes later I’m still shaking so I roll one, stronger than usual, which calms me down just enough to catch a few hours sleep.
San Francisco from Twin Peaks
‘It’s humid and I’m sweating all over. It’s late and I have no-where to sleep tonight. I’m panicking. Is my car even parked in a legitimate place? Will it get towed with most of my stuff in it?’
Wednesday 4 February
Shit. So much to sort out, so much to plan. I’ve really done it this time. I’m overwhelmed. I don’t have enough time. I have three days to sort everything out, fuck! Three days to get everything booked and packed. Accommodation, visa, maps, taxis to the airport at horrific times, a plan for the trip... A friend hooks me up with an old school friend of hers who lives in San Jose. A plan emerges, I’ll meet her in San Francisco for a day where she’ll show me around before I’ll head down to Aptos. That’ll make that day much easier I think, one less thing to think about. Chris from PSBMX assures me I’ll have a great time and that all the locals will be stoked to meet me.
By the evening some things are ticked off the list and I go ride. I get back late and as I come through the door my mum calls and we go through some things and she reassures me a little. I go to bed but I can’t sleep. I’m terrified. All I can think of are the negative aspects of the trip: the gamble I’m taking, the fact the weather forecast shows rain for the first few days I’m there, the fact I’ll be coming off my flight into San Francisco and straight into a hire car. I’ve never driven an automatic, or in America, I don’t even own a car and I haven’t driven for half a year, the last time I drove on the right side of the road was eight years ago. The last time I rode trails was six months ago. Am I out of my depth? Will I meet people? I won’t even have a sat nav, I’m just going to get hopelessly lost. I’ve never even been on a trip by myself before. Why was I even going? This is a bad idea. I planned to go to a rave on Friday night, get a load of digging done at the trails I was keen to progress with, I had two days the following week already booked off to ride with friends. What the fuck am I doing?!
Thursday 5 February
I wake up still feeling apprehensive. There’s no turning back the clock now though, I’ve spent too much money already. I carry on ticking more things off the list during brief breaks at work. At lunch I buy some things I need - travel plug, string to get my bag tight with my bike inside so it doesn’t rattle about, I go into my bank so my card doesn’t get blocked when I’m away, I book a hotel in Santa Cruz. I later find out my extremely basic phone might not work when I’m away, bugger. One more thing to worry about. Knowing I won’t have a sat nav I spend the evening screen printing google maps and copying directions. I feel a little less pessimistic but I’m still riddled with fear. Every time I mention that I’m going to California in a couple of days it sounds ludicrous.
Friday 6 February
The day before my flight. At lunch I change money and buy a new phone. It’s sunny for the first time in weeks and it’s helping lift my mood. All that is left that night is to pack. I meet a friend after work for a drink; going through my plans and preparations I’m feeling much more positive. She shows me how to use Google maps on my new phone (this is the first time I’ve owned a phone that connects to the Internet). I’m feeling better. During the evening as I pack I’m excited, really excited. This is really happening! Other people seem to be excited for me too, friends I speak to say they wish they were going with me, as does my mum! By now I’m accustomed to the fear and and no longer let it freak me out. Ultimately, in the few days I had to plan this trip, I’ve done everything I can. I’m in for one hell of a ride and it’s time to embrace it.
‘Santa Cruz smells of fresh sea air and weed. I love it. In California you can get a card from a doctor to be able to buy it legally from shops. Yes that’s right, Weed ID is actually a thing here.’
Saturday 7 February
At 4am I leave the flat with my most prized possessions packed in two bags and get in the taxi. I slept for maybe two hours that night after going to bed close to 1am and waking up every 40 minutes. My alarm wasn’t necessary; I was awake before it went off. All I want to do in the taxi is sleep but the driver has other ideas.
By the end of the hour-long journey I know more about this guy’s life than I do most of my friends. I learn he was born and raised in Oldham where he still lives, that his parents are from Pakistan, that he got married when he was 17, had his first kid when he was 18, about his life grafting in factories, security, as a bus driver and now as a taxi driver, how he has only been to five places in his entire life outside of his hometown: Blackpool, North Wales, Pakistan, North Wales and Brighton. How he can’t comprehend going abroad to unfamiliar places as an outsider, of his continued sadness of the passing of his father he felt while growing up and to this day, about the typical Pakistan family structure, how he’s extremely proud of his eldest kids for making it to college and on to media and business studies.
I arrive in San Francisco airport at around 7pm, 23 hours after having left my flat, exhausted, in need of coffee and extremely anxious about my drive into the centre of the city. I can’t wait to be sitting in a bar with a beer, drive over, hotel found, car parked. The first milestone of the journey ticked off and the first opportunity to relax.
Things don’t go to plan... After getting to the car hire place and haggling an upgrade from a ‘compact’ to a ‘full size’ car including fully comp insurance for only a few dollars extra a day everything goes downhill. In hindsight not ensuring Google maps was loaded on my phone was disastrous.
Despite constantly saying to myself RIGHT remember to drive on the RIGHT I verge out from the airport onto a dual carriageway on the left side of the road, realising my error only after seeing cars coming towards me. After a lot of car horns and a wild manourvre over the central reservation (good thing I got that insurance) I’m relieved to at least be on the correct side of the road. After finally making it onto the highway I’m blinded by lights in my mirrors. Car mirrors in America are magnified more than in Europe so other vehicles appear much closer than they are, and it seems car lights are stronger too. Given the volume of traffic I’m cautious of changing lanes as all I can see in my mirror is a barrage of cars right behind me. As I approach the city centre I come around a corner and bam! The San Francisco skyline startles me. It barely looks real, like a blatantly fake backdrop in a film. In my state of shock I accidentally take an exit off the highway. I thought it wouldn’t be a big deal assuming there would be signs directing me back, I’m wrong. What followed was on hour or two of driving around aimlessly before resorting to winding down my window at traffic lights desperately asking taxi drivers and passers-by for directions. In my rock-bottom state this is almost too much to bear. In one instance a police car flashed its lights at me, but I didn’t care anymore and played dumb tourist and thankfully wasn’t pulled over. I finally find my hotel with only a parking space to retrieve. I’m quick to learn that parking spots in the centre of San Francisco on a Saturday night are about as easy to come by as useful road signs. Forty five minutes later I finally find a spot. I get everything I need and walk across the road to the hotel.
When I get to the hotel I wonder why there is no response from reception. Perhaps they have gone on a break... Forty minutes later I look at my confirmation details only to realise in horror that it’s past the reception opening time. I must have only been a few minutes late. If only I hadn’t got so lost, or asked sooner for directions, or spent less time leaving the car... For ten minutes I didn’t know what to do. I can no longer think straight. I can’t just go to another hotel and spend a fortune on a room! But I can’t not have anywhere to sleep either. I just want the room I’ve already paid for in the building I’m in! After I calm down I accept my losses and walk back out onto the street.
For the following hour I try and find somewhere. I start to panic, I learn there are two huge conferences that weekend, everywhere is full. I’m then advised to check out a different part of the city so I leave the busy streets walking down empty streets until I reach the one marked on my map, over the steepest urban hills I’ve ever seen. It’s humid and I’m sweating all over. I’m panicking, it’s late and I have no-where to sleep tonight. Is my car even parked in a legitimate place? Will it get towed with most of my stuff in it?
Finally at half midnight, after being awake for over 28 hours (I couldn’t sleep on the journey) I find somewhere to stay. $149 plus tax... Credit card’s gonna have to take a hit. I freshen up and hit a couple of bars nearby. Finally I’m having that drink. It’s several hours later than I planned and it’s not near the place I booked but at least I have a bed waiting for me!
‘It’s an overwhelming experience being stood at Post Office, a place I’ve watched in videos for perhaps over ten years. A spot rich in so much history and with probably the most famous group of locals anywhere on the planet.’
Sunday 8 February
I wake up to the patter of rain against the window. It’s miserable outside. Oh well, today I’m meeting Sarah and Derek who are showing me around. After checking the parking situation of the hire car (it was fine) our first tourist stop is the Golden Bridge. The sun even makes an appearance as it would do throughout the day in-between (and during) showers.
We spend the day mainly driving up hills to incredible viewpoints of the city, and I’m enjoying being able to relax. It’s soon time to leave this great city and Sarah kindly offers to drive the hire car, and on the way we stop off at Yahoo HQ where she gives me a tour of her workplace. Wow what a place this must be to work! Free food all day long, a bunch of facilities, arcade and game machines in the offices to play on whenever, free travel, alcohol! Talk about perks! It’s perfectly normal there to drink beer and spirits while working, and play games whenever you please, and get in and leave when you like. Wow.
We arrive in Santa Cruz early evening after the short drive and after I check in we get a burrito (one of many that week) and I’m happy to get Sarah and Derek a beer for giving me a great and stress-free day. When they leave I’m given a gift - a spliff! I’ll be saving this for after a big Post Office session.
Monday 9 February
The sun’s out, one day earlier than forecast. What a beautiful day! All the commotion from the first night seems an age ago. I can’t wait to explore this town. Santa Cruz smells of fresh sea air and weed. I love it. In California you can get a card from a doctor to be able to buy it legally from shops. Yes that’s right, weed ID is actually a thing here.
It’s the first day of the year I’ve been outside in the sun. I find a couple of skateparks, riding one of them (frustratingly half of which was fenced off due to refurb work) and being too intimidated by the huge concrete park - I’ll come back another time. I check out the main high street and purchase sun cream from a super expensive ethical shop after failing to find a normal supermarket, sorry I mean grocery store, go into the sea and grab a burrito before I’m on my way to Aptos.
I thought I keyed in the right location on my phone, turns out I was wrong. I’m lost again, but thankfully Post Office is so well known that even non-riders know about this place so I’m able to get bad directions from three different people. After driving around in what I know is the right general vicinity I turn up a road and bam Post Office is right there!
It’s an overwhelming experience being stood at Post Office, a place I’ve watched in videos for perhaps over ten years. A spot rich in so much history and with probably the most famous group of locals anywhere on the planet. I chat to some of the locals and do some maintenance with a couple of guys from Germany (who I later made good friends with) and an older guy from Quebec who moved to Cali in 1989. During the week I saw this guy up ladders, trees, poles and even in a helicopter (well, heard anyway) just to take photos.
The trails are a little damp but surprisingly dry considering it had rained a lot for three days. When we’re done with spade work the locals start sessioning. Among them is Logan Peat and Brandon Semenuk. Later on Cam McCaul rolls up and says ’Hey, are you Milan?’. It feels surreal being around some of the biggest names in MTB freestyle. Ryan Howard’s whips and threes are something else.
I’m going through the trails in my head. I’m scared, the start is tight and technical and goes from zero to a lot of speed super quick. I decide to leave the locals to ride in the jumps that night. I’ll be riding here tomorrow. I’m nervous but excited; I can’t wait to flow these lines.
Santa Cruz: Memorial off a surfing beach and a concrete skatepark
‘There is no lane system. Pick a lane, stay in it, overtake, undertake, do whatever you like if you want to get some place quick.’
Tuesday 10 April
This is the day to get it done! After a disappointing hotel breakfast of discount cereal and cheap soft pastries I take a wander on the beach then drive down to Aptos to meet my new German friends Tobi and Kobi.
As I roll into the trails I see a kid mid-way through a killer run. I soon find out the kid is Connor, AKA C-Bone, 15 years old, hooked up by Trek and living right opposite the trails. When he was young he lived on the other side of town but then his mum got tired of driving him to the jumps every day so when a house by the trails came up for sale a solution was found.
He talks me through the trails before I drop in and it takes me a good few runs to get into the trick jump line. The start is tight with a jump in-between an s berm and a jump out of it. I’ve never ridden a jump out of a berm before, or an on-off box...
After a couple of hours we ride over to the local shops and get some lunch. After breakfast burritos we get back to Post Office and Brett Rheeder’s in the car park unpacking a fresh new build he’s about to put together. I stop to make small talk and marvel at his wood camo painted frame.
Cam McCaul and some of the other locals are on the roll in and it’s time to give the main line a shot. After some pointers from Cam I give it a go. it takes some time to get the feel of the start of the line. I’m feeling rusty on trails after six months confined to skateparks. As the day progresses I go from casing and landing flat to flowing and it feels so good. By the evening all the main locals and pro visitors are getting a strong session going. I’m overwhelmed. Being on the roll-in side-by-side with the McCauls, Semenuk, Rheeder, Ryan Howard, Greg Watts and Martin Soderstrom was unbelievable. Doing trains with them was something else.
‘I attempt to get a burrito, but in my wasted state I get overwhelmed by this simple task. I go up to the counter of the Mexican place and next minute I’m back in my hotel room confused as to why I don’t have food.’
Top: Connor Gallart aka C-Bone, bottom: Milan Olivier (ed)
Wednesday 11 April
In the morning I walk along the coast in Santa Cruz to find some spots to take photos. I come across a popular surfing beach and watch the locals cruise the waves.
After a burrito and coffee I drive down to the trails and aim to record some self filmed footage. The trails are empty when I get there which is perfect for it. It’s hot. Every day of the week has been a few degrees warmer than the last and I’m glad to be in shorts. An hour later Tobi and some other locals show up and he offers to film. Over the afternoon I ride non stop, not being able to get enough of the place. It just feels so good pulling back on the bars and I’m grateful for Tobi’s efforts behind the lens.
It took close to a week to get accustomed to driving here. It’s so different than at home. Stop signs replace traffic lights in many places, giving way is a science of its own, as are four way stop signs at junctions where we’d have a roundabout or a clear give way system. Road names are signposted rather than road numbers for major roads, and as little warning as possible is given for exits leading to some interesting last second verging out manoeuvres. Motorway, I mean highway, driving is totally different too. There is no lane system. Pick a lane, stay in it, overtake, undertake, do whatever you like if you want to get some place quick.
Later that evening, after finally getting back to Santa Cruz in rush hour traffic, I decide to celebrate another perfect day with the joint. Wow this stuff is strong, way stronger than I’m used to. After getting through just over half of it (saving the rest for another time) I attempt to get a burrito. In my wasted state I get overwhelmed by this simple task. I go up to the counter of the Mexican place and next minute I’m back in my hotel room confused as to why I don’t have food. Luckily I remember my snack stash in the car.
‘Earlier in the day Ryan Nyquist was repairing a kid’s hub. It seemed the kid was oblivious to what was going on, like it was just some random guy fixing his bike.’
Thursday 12 February
I wake up exhausted. I’ve only had two long days of riding but it’s the most I’ve ridden since the previous summer.
Before the sun is at its highest I check out the concrete skatepark across town. I’m scared dropping in for the first time, this bowl is steep! After a few runs pumping around I speak to a local skater who advises me to go to a free comedy show that night where he will be playing in the back up band. I promise I’ll be there.
It’s close to 30 degrees Celsius by mid-day, which is as hot as it gets in England at the height of summer. Time to hit the beach! After venturing in the sea for the second time of the holiday I soon learn why I’m alone amongst the waves. After some time in the water I see the shore is some way away; I’m getting swept away by the current. No big deal I think, until I realise I’m not getting any closer after some time swimming. After five minutes of swimming as hard as I can in sheer panic I’m hugely relieved to make it onto dry land, and I slump onto my towel exhausted.
Back at Post Office that evening some maintenance and general chilling is happening before another big sunset session. I planned to do a few tricks rather than just flowing but end up just doing a few twists on the smaller step up at the end of the line. Half way round on one, during a train with Tyler McCaul, I catch Tyler’s face and he’s looking stoked.
After the sun’s gone down everyone has stopped riding. That is everyone except C-Bone. This kid must go heavy on the carrots cause he’s still riding like it’s light throwing big tricks like corked flips in his runs which I can barely see. ’Every run counts’ he says, what a dude.
I get back late and I’m beat but as promised I head up to the Blue Lagoon where the comedy night is happening. I’m not sure what’s funnier, the bad jokes or the cold atmosphere. The show is split into five minute stand up sets from guys (and girls) who don’t even seem themselves convinced by their jokes, and the crowd couldn’t be less supportive. The woman organising the event approaches me assuming I’m one of the acts, ’na I’m just chillin’ I reply, but later think I could probably do a better job than most of these guys, at least for a couple of minutes anyway. I think of what I’d say - my disastrous first evening and night in San Francisco (everyone loves unfortunate stories) and the first impressions of America of a foreigner. It’s probably much easier thinking about it than being on stage...
Friday 13 February
My last morning in Santa Cruz and so much left to do! I get up even earlier than usual ready for breakfast at 8am then ride out to the concrete park to flow the bowl some more and record some clips. The sun’s only been out for a few hours and it’s so hot already. When I get to the park I’m surprised, given the earlier time, that it’s busier than the day before. I also notice the vibe isn’t quite as chilled as the last time, and despite showing my appreciation to the skaters and complimenting their runs and being careful not to snake anyone, I sense a lack of stoke over my presence. After riding and filming for what must have been fifteen minutes a bystander advises I leave as the police are on their way, since this is a skater only park. I take his advice and leave. I don’t mind, I got some clips, had a fun few runs and I have plenty to do anyway.
After getting a bunch of post cards and buying a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers CD since the cool looking music shop I never got round to browsing previously for random local band CDs wasn’t yet open (I bought a couple of CD’s when I was in New York so this is my US tradition) I throw all my things into the hockey bag and check out of the hotel.
Back at the trails I’m overwhelmed by the heat. One of the many things I learn on this holiday is that you can never drink enough water. Even if you’re drinking at every opportunity and bring what seems like way too much with you it’s never enough. Luckily there’s a shop nearby and chilled drinks are the only relief from mild heat stroke.
As I’m drinking I take notice of a large house opposite the trails and a Post Office t.shirts for sale sign, so I walk up the drive way and say hi to the guy working on his car. He pulls up a chair for me and gives me another drink and we start talking, then I’m shown into his house where the attire is. Wow!, I think walking in. The house is beautiful. On the wall is a huge framed photo of an aerial shot of Post Office in black and white. It’s magnificent.
On my return to the jumps I set up my camera to get a few more self filmed clips. After the first take Tobi arrives and is happy to take over. A heavy session is now in full swing. Nyquist is a super outgoing guy, who hasn’t let his huge success get to his head or affect his ego. Earlier in the day Ryan Nyquist was repairing a kid’s hub. It seemed the kid was oblivious to what was going on, like it was just some random guy fixing his bike. Now he’s doing what he does best, sending huge flip and twist variations at close to forty years of age. Nyquist proves that age is just a number.
It seems all the locals, no matter what age, not only shred but have perfect dumped threes. It’s as if riders here are born with that trick pre-programmed, that or Ryan Howard learnt them not only for himself but for everyone. 14 year old Garret Mechem is a classic example. Style, all the big tricks, those threes and he’s how old!? It may be the norm in Cali but it doesn’t cease to amaze me.
After yet another incredible session into the dark (and beyond for C-Bone) I head out with the German guys and some of the locals to get food. On the fire road I hear someone shouting my name, so roll back down the hill to find Chris Olivier from PSBMX and his friends. They finally got here! After saying hi we leave for the Mexican place, I’ll catch up with them later.
This is for sure the culinary highlight of the trip. The burrito that arrives is the largest I have ever seen let alone held in my hands. This thing must weigh easily over a kilo! After eating we all head down to the German guys’ hotel as they have a hot tub and swimming pool at their place, which sounds ideal for chilling out after another long day at the trails.
‘I was gutted to be watching on the sidelines rather than being amongst the trains. This would be the last time I would ever see Post Office. Leaving before dark was a decision I’d later come to regret.’
Tyler McCaul training his older brother Cam
Post Office Farewell Jam
Saturday 14 February
I’m amazed I managed to get some sleep, damn Chris snores like he’s possessed! I was incredibly thankful of having ear plugs, which blocked out a substantial amount of the loud air con right next to me and Chris’s snoring.
It’s the day of the jam, we’re up early and we’re excited. After an incredible breakfast of make your own waffles we ride out to the bus stop then give up some time later on the bus showing up, so start on the long ride to Aptos.
Me and Chris are behind the others and by chance when we look back we see the bus wich we tired of waiting for earlier while walking up a hill and pull it over. Buses here have a bike rack on the front, that works in a similar war to the better ski lifts in the Alps. I appreciate how awesome this is and Chris is surprised buses don’t have this in England.
The trails are predictably busy and there’s excitement in the air and a lot of unfamiliar faces. After riding for a while I take a breather and shoot some photos and clips. I’m wondering when the day will pick up; sure there are a lot of people here and spectators, but it doesn’t feel like a jam. Many of the main locals and big names aren’t here and there’s no microphone guy... Late afternoon a few locals turn up and I start riding again. I’m super familiar with the trails now and riding them feels good.
That’s until, on starting a standard ET kickout, my feet blow off the pedals and I’m left flailing in the air. When I land my left leg stretches back in a way that feels incredibly wrong. My first fear is that I’ve broken my leg. I’m thankful when I look at my leg that it’s straight and not sticking out at some absurd angle as I initially feared. After a minute sat on the ground I get to my feet and feel lucky to be hobbling about. Nothing too serious I think. I count myself extremely lucky that on this occasion I was wearing jeans and knee pads rather than shorts as I had been riding in most of the week. My pads prevented my knee from getting shredded hard for certain.
Later that day some guy fell badly on the jump I blew my knee out on and was unconscious for over five minutes. He was having mini seizures while out of it, his neck in an abnormal position. It was a terrible thing to witness. When the ambulance arrived he had come around but still looked in a bad way. The paramedics checked him over, then, to everyone’s surprise 15 minutes later he got to his feet. It seemed idiotic to me that he refused to go to hospital after such a brutal crash, but hey. I also noticed he was wearing a super lightweight helmet too, which probably didn’t aid the situation.
The session resumed and I clocked some footage and shots, be it from the same position, as I wasn’t particularly mobile by this point. When the suggestion of going to the sea comes I take it. It seemed a little odd to be leaving Post Office while a big session was underway but I’d experienced plenty over the week, and I felt the need to get away. I was gutted to be watching on the sidelines rather than being amongst the trains. This would be the last time I would ever see Post Office. Leaving before dark was a decision I’d later come to regret.
Ryan Howard aka R-Dog
'The scene at Post Office was incredible to experience, way more than the trails themselves. Twenty people during evening sessions, everyone being so friendly and motivated, no salt or negativity whatsoever, just everyone riding together, from the local kids to pros and visitors. I’d never felt anything like it, it was like being part of one big happy family.’
The nightmare journey home
Sunday 15 February
My last day in California. The breakfast waffles distracted from the pain for a few minutes but overall my mood was low as I was dreading my long journey home. After I said my goodbyes to my Colorado friends I packed my bike and clothes and arranged to meet Tobi at his hotel pool. It seemed an appropriate occasion to consume the last two beers from the pack I’d bought a week before in the small liqueur store in Santa Cruz by the sea.
I rolled up into Aptos and chilled with Tobi for my last few hours before the journey home. Sipping cold beer in the baking sun and cooling off doing a few laps in the pool discussing plans to visit him in Munich was an ideal distraction from the day ahead.
It was soon time to drive to San Francisco so I we said our goodbyes and I hit the road. I’d left later than intended so put the pedal down and had some fun weaving in and out of people on the highway. I don’t know what I would have done if it was a manual car, as for sure I couldn’t have used the clutch with my bad leg. After I got to the airport the real challenge started. I managed to get wheeled to boarding but the flight to Munich where I had to transfer was agonising and when the plane landed I felt I really needed to have my leg checked out. My flight home was leaving in four or five hours so I thought I had plenty of time to get it looked at, but a concerned airport doctor advised I go to hospital so an ambulance escorted me there and after hours of waiting all I get is an x ray to confirm what I knew which was that no bones were broken, and receive no indication of what was actually wrong.
I make it back to the airport not quite in time to catch my late night flight. Great. After the most miserable night of my life attempting to sleep in a booth in a t.shirt in a freezing airport when every position was painful it was finally time to fly home.
I later found out I had sprained my ACL. Apprehensive about my trip to Barcelona in two weeks to ride hard for nine days with a big group of friends I did everything I could to aid recovery. Despite this unfortunate incident I had no regrets about my rash decision to fly out to California almost totally unprepared and totally unsure about what would happen.
The scene at Post Office was incredible to experience, way more than the trails themselves. Twenty people during evening sessions, everyone being so friendly and motivated, no salt or negativity whatsoever, just everyone riding together, from the local kids to pros and visitors. I’d never felt anything like it, it was like being part of one big happy family. Hopefully the scene will remain, only to move to a new location.
If you have an urge to do something, no matter how ridiculous it seems. Do it. If you don’t you’ll only regret it in years to come. I know this will be a trip I will remember for the rest of my life. Riding Post Office with all the locals and pros I’d seen for years in videos was like nothing I’d ever experienced. Before I left I said to myself that just a few sessions at Post Office would make the trip worthwhile. I got much more than that, made new friends in the process and had a more incredible time than I could have ever anticipated.