An inspired farewell to the iconic Post Office jumps

Scheduled to close February 17, the Aptos Pump Track and Post Office jumps launched freeride careers and enduring friendships

By Michele Lamelin

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Hallowed turf (Bogdan Marian).

Early Days
Kids had been sculpting and riding dirt jumps in the the vacant lot across the street from the Aptos post office for about a decade when Barry Swenson Builder, the real estate company that owns the property, recognized the community need for an official bike park suitable for all ages and skill levels. While plans for a residential/commercial development project (Aptos Village) for the property were in the works, Barry Swenson Builder leased the lot for $1 (yes, $1—that’s not a typo) to the Santa Cruz County Parks Department in 2007 on a temporary basis for such a purpose, taking the Post Office jumps to a new level.

In 2010, the area adjacent to the Post Office jumps—and, incidentally, Epicenter Cycling’s Aptos store—was also made available. Epicenter’s owner Shawn Wilson rallied employees and volunteers to quickly transform the shop’s weed-choked backyard into a playground of jumps, rollers and berms, giving birth to the family-friendly Aptos Pump Track—a huge hit in the community.

A New Era for Bike Parks
The development of the Aptos Pump Track and Post Office jumps heralded a surge of bike park construction in Santa Cruz county. The spirit of cooperation in which the grounds were developed influenced other bike parks near and far.

In Santa Cruz County alone, these parks paved the way for the Aptos Polo Grounds dirt jumps and several pump tracks including Chanticleer, Westside, Scotts Valley and Capitola, with Velocity Bike Park—a full service bike park currently in the planning stages—following suit.

Barry Swenson Builder Senior Vice President Jesse Nickell III reflects, “Many good things have come out of these temporary model parks. We now are seeing bicycle pump track parks being built throughout Santa Cruz County. This method of developing public parks on private land and with community stewardship has become a role model and many grassroots bicycle parks have been built using this as a model nationwide. We are proud to have demonstrated the social/community need and been a catalyst for generating world-class freestyle dirt jumpers from our area.”

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Epicenter Cycling orchestrated the construction of the Aptos Pump Track (Katie Jo McNair).

Superstars
The Aptos Post Office jumps have been the training ground for some of dirt jumping’s most extraordinary talent including Cam McCaul, Tyler McCaul, Greg Watts, Ryan Howard, Kyle Jameson, Ray George, Jack Fogelquist, Jamie Goldman, Alex Reveles and Jeff Herbertson, as well as notable up and comers Simon Silver, Connor Gallart and Owen Marks.

Slopestyle champ Greg Watts sums up his journey, saying “It’s hard to put in words what Post Office has meant to me over the course of the last several years. It started out as a fun place to ride with friends, with only a few jumps that seemed to grow with us in size and quantity as our riding progressed. When we started to get international recognition for our riding abilities as well as the riding scene Post Office created, it served as a great training ground for contests and the highlight of media surrounding the Aptos riding epicenter. I owe my entire career to those jumps, as well as my longest friendships.”

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Pro freeriders Cam McCaul and Greg Watts mentor a new generation (Bogdan Marian).

Air time with Cam McCaul (Bogdan Marian).

Air time with Cam McCaul (Bogdan Marian).

Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival
The Aptos dirt jump community’s famed talent has turned out year after year for the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival—the Pro Jump Jam being a wildly popular spectator draw. The Barry Swenson Builder property has been home to this beloved community event for the past four years, and Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBoSC) President Mark Davidson has fond memories of scouting the premises and working with the Aptos pump track and dirt jump communities to prep the sites for the festival. “Both the pump track and the jumps were a huge draw for the festival and I’ll never forget all the joy and wonder the competitors and spectators had at these special places.” Davidson continues, “MBoSC thanks Jesse Nickel and Barry Swenson Builder for their generosity in providing the community with these spectacular places to ride. A big thank you to the Aptos pump track and dirt jumping community for pushing the boundaries of the sport and for having a ‘no dig, no ride’ ethos of stewardship and cooperation. We XC/AM riders can learn a lot from you folks.”

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The pro jump train is a crowd favorite at the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival (Bogdan Marian).

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Supergrom Jackson Goldstone wows the crowd at the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival (Katie Jo McNair).

Legacy
After a few years of false alarms, the Aptos Pump Track and Post Office jumps are scheduled to close once and for all on Tuesday February 17, 2015 to make way for the new Aptos Village development.

Although plans for the development project allocate space for an “active recreation area” which may be used for a community pump track, a concerted effort is being made to secure a new venue for the jumps as soon as possible. Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz formed a Bike Parks Committee tasked with finding a new locale and has raised $16,000 earmarked for the relocation. Barry Swenson Builder has offered to move the hallowed dirt if a new spot is secured by the time they break ground with the Aptos Village development. The bike parks committee and local dirt jump community recently collaborated to launch postofficejumps.org to rally community support and facilitate relocation. The ideal area would be zoned for recreation, have a slight slope to the land, offer easy access via bicycle, and consist of one or two acres. One acre would accommodate expert jump lines; with up to two acres, much needed beginner and intermediate jump lines, as well as a pump track could be included.

The local business community realizes the value in having a world class dirt jump park, and are helping to facilitate Post Office’s relocation. People have come from all over the world to ride, photograph, film, and spectate at the Post Office jumps, and the Aptos Chamber of Commerce reports that visitors from as far away as Germany have come by to ask directions to the revered spot. MBoSC Bike Parks Committee Chair Brian Peterson adds, “Aptos has become an international tourist destination because of the jumps. It’s not uncommon to hear several different accents during a session at the jumps.” Local dirt jump riders have been asked to present at an upcoming Aptos Chamber meeting, and the Chamber even plans to create a small addition spotlighting the celebrated jumps at the Aptos History Museum.

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The Post Office jumps are so much more than a place to ride your bike. Friendships are made there that last a lifetime (Bogdan Marian).

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Flight (Bogdan Marian).

Farewell, but not goodbye
As the sun sets on the jumps that launched his career, legendary freerider Cam McCaul reflects, “Obviously it will be a sad day once the heavy machinery arrives to break ground on the Aptos Village project, but with the right perspective on the whole story, it takes a different tone. Like building sand castles at the beach, you know the tide will eventually rise. Like an old dog, you know he’s around for a good time, not a long time. I started riding and digging at the corner of Granite and Cathedral about 17 years ago and I thought this day would come much sooner. We are all so grateful to Barry Swenson Builder for allowing our sand castles to stand for so long. It would have been much easier for them to tear down the jumps as soon as they acquired the land, but through an appreciation for culture, recreation, and community, they allowed us many bonus years with our old beloved dog.”

Watts shares the sentiments of his friend, adding, “Coming very near to the end, I can’t help but feel sad. I feel like I’m speaking at a dear friend’s funeral as I’m reflecting on all the good times we had together. What Post Office has built, though, is something way bigger than a half an acre lot with jumps on it. It has created this monster of talent in such a concentrated little area —talent that has reached the entire world, shaped a new sport, and inspired a new generation of riders. What Post Office has built won’t die anytime soon.”

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Dropping in (Bogdan Marian).

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Sunset on the Post Office jumps (Bogdan Marian).


Epicenter Cycling and Aptos Street BBQ are hosting a send-off bash on Saturday February 14, 2015, preceding a final jam by the local dirt jumpers who made this hallowed ground famous worldwide. More information about the RIP Post Office BBQ at epicentercycling.com.


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Media from around the world has come to shoot at Post Office (Bogdan Marian).

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Greg Watts is doing what he can to help secure a new location for the dirt jumps. Watts says, “The Aptos community has recognized the positive impact post office has made, and there is an immense amount of support to find a new home for our sport. I feel very confident that, in the future, we will have an even bigger space for our sport to thrive. It’s more of a need than a want at this point because what post office has built won’t die anytime soon.” (Bogdan Marian)

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Jeff Herbertson explains that he moved to Santa Cruz primarily due to the Post Office jumps. He reflects, “The hours I’ve spent in that dirt lot have changed my life in more ways than I can count. Because of what I learned in that lot, I get to travel the world riding my bike. I’ve met some of my closest friends there, broken bones there, and learned lots of things about myself and my community. All from playing in the dirt.” (Bogdan Marian)

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Ryan Howard is well known for his effortless style in the air. The Aptos native says, “I have met so many awesome people in that dirt lot, going to be sad to see the jumps get torn down. Over a decade of hard work have gone into building the Post Office jumps. We can’t thank Jessie Nickel and Barry Swenson enough for all the years of great times. The town of Aptos has become a mecca for mountain bikers throughout the winter months and I can’t imagine this place gone. Would love to see a new park for the younger generations to keep the scene of Aptos alive.” (Katie Jo McNair)

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Jack Fogelquist, shot mid-train at the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival is grateful for his experiences at the Post Office jumps. “I feel absolutely blessed to have been able to grow up at Post Office. Besides the obvious years of fun that it offered, it taught me a lot. I made some amazing friends and learned tons about what work and dedication can bring. Obviously it’s sad that its time has come, but we’ve been so fortunate to have it for as long as we did. I want to thank [Barry Swenson Builder VP] Jesse Nickell and all who worked so hard to give us this amazing place to ride and grow.” (Bogdan Marian)

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Tammy Donahugh sending it in the Sugar Showdown comp (Katie Jo McNair).

Alex Reveles, shredding the pump track in 2013, explains, “Post office is more than a lot with some dirt piles, it's where friendships were made and tricks were learned, and careers got made.” (Katie Jo McNair)

Alex Reveles throws his signature move. “Post office is more than a lot with some dirt piles, it’s where friendships were made and tricks were learned, and careers got made.” (Bogdan Marian)

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Kat Sweet brings on the lady train with Bailey Goldstone, Rosie Bernhard and Tammy Donahugh during Sugar Showdown Santa Cruz. Sweet says, “The Post Office has played an integral role in progressing the sport of mountain biking and jumping in particular. Some of the best jumpers and riders in the world have come out of there. It’s also been great for the ladies to have a place to progress our riding and build our Sisterhood of Shred community.” (Katie Jo McNair)

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Connor Gallart is without a doubt one of the most talented kids to be schooled at Post Office. Sweet expressed how fun it was to come out to the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival each year and see the progression of the young riders. About Connor, she says, “Connor Gallart competed with us on the smaller lines 3 years ago doing one-handers and no-footers. The next year he was doing styley whips on the big side. Now he’s doing flip-whips and filming for movies.” (Katie Jo McNair)

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This shot of Simon Silver on a misty morning throws a bit of central coast gray into this bright set. Simon is glad for the memories and looking forward to the future. “The Post Office jumps have shaped who I am as a rider, and person. Not only have I been able to make friends locally, but I’ve become friends with people from around the world. I’m sad to see the jumps go, but also happy to watch a younger generation of riders progress at a new and possibly even better spot. Thanks Post Office! We will miss you!” (Bogdan Marian)

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Kyle Jameson (far left) was one of several pros judging the FMB World Tour Bronze competition at the 2014 Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival. Jameson shares, “The Post Office Jumps have been a huge influence in my life, from learning how to shape the dirt into perfect lips and landing to progressing my dirt jumping skills to offering an awesome hangout spot and molding lifelong friendships. I’m a professional mountain bike jump/trail builder as well as a professional freeride mountain biker, so having a local dirt jump spot like Post Office has allowed for me to stay sharp on my dirt maintenance skills and also able progress my dirt jumping skills on the same plot of land.” He adds, “The level of riding from the next generation of dirt jumpers coming out of Aptos is next to none—I see the future in our groms and I hope to see them pursue their passions as professional freeride mountain bikers.” (Bogdan Marian)

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FMB World Tour Bronze comp judges keep all eyes on the sky (Bogdan Marian).

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Bailey Goldstone taking Post Office by storm, just like her brother Jackson (Katie Jo McNair).

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The astounding number of kids out on pump tracks and jumps today testify to the necessity of bike parks in every community (Katie Jo McNair).

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So long, farewell, until we meet again (Bogdan Marian).


This segment from Strength in Numbers really captures the spirit of Post Office:

And THIS aerial footage of the 2013 Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival jump jam courtesy Richard Masoner / Aerography!

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Send me a postcard // You KNOW you want this shirt designed by Jeff Herbertson (modeled by Brad Williamson). Shirts will be available for sale at the RIP Post Office BBQ hosted by Epicenter Cycling and Aptos Street BBQ on Saturday, February 14, 2015. (Click here for more information.) Or, contact postofficejumps.org to order on-line. Proceeds benefit the relocation effort!

 

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Santa Cruz Connected: A Monthly Review Of Online Local Life - santacruzlife.com - […] We always knew the day would come eventually and, in February, the Post Office Jumps in Aptos hosted its last…
  2. Press Release: The Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival returns to its roots in Santa Cruz | Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival - […] in nature, this bike park was recently closed (learn more here) and although we’re disappointed to lose this beloved…

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