The Old Cabin Classic Returns

Registration opens March 21 for the first mountain bike race at Wilder Ranch State Park in over 20 years.

by Christian Yungert

March 17, 2016—Ladies and gents, start your engines. And by engines, I mean legs. Mountain bike racing is back in Santa Cruz. After a 23-year hiatus Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC), in association with Wilder Ranch State Park, is proud to present the Old Cabin Classic on May 21.

Named after the Old Cabin Trail at Wilder Ranch, this cross-country race will take 250 competitors of all ages, skills, and genders through some of the most beautiful single-track trails Santa Cruz County has to offer. Whether you’ve yet to be blooded in a race or you’re one of the pros battling for cash prizes, the Old Cabin Classic is primed to slake that competitive thirst. Registration opens March 21 at 7am, online only.

Mountain biking is as popular as ever, but prime trails are hard to come by. “There’s not a lot of legal mountain biking in Santa Cruz,” says Matt De Young, MBOSC’s trail and business manager. Wilder Ranch is a haven, though; all its trails are multi-use, and MBOSC wants to celebrate that fact. The race is a benefit for the state park, with proceeds going directly to trail development.

“The goal is to highlight Wilder Ranch State Park and show the State Parks that mountain bikers are responsible,” says De Young. “We can build trails, hold events, and are contributing members of the community.”

MBOSC has an ongoing relationship with Wilder Ranch. Most recently, they began constructing a re-route of the Enchanted Loop Trail. The trail features a steep valley exit that De Young suggests is not only discouraging to riders, but also suffering from erosion and upkeep issues. A sustainable re-route “makes it a better trail,” says De Young. “It’s more accessible now and requires a lot less maintenance.”

This was the inspiring moment for the race. “We were working on the trail project and thought maybe we could ask for something,” says De Young. “We like mountain bike racing and were trying to make it easy to say yes.”

The event features an 11-mile loop and 5 competitive groupings: 1 lap for beginners, 2 laps for the open and sport categories, and 3 laps for experts and pros. Medals will be awarded for the top three finishers in each category, but only the pros are riding for cash prizes. The race is limited to the first 250 entrants. It’s first come, first served in this expected sell-out. The number of entrants per category will dictate the size of each field. Registration fees are $90 for pros, $75 for riders under 18, and $85 for everyone else.

Given the local landscape, it’s surprising that Santa Cruz County has gone without cross country mountain bike racing for so long, but MBOSC wants to change that. “We hope to make it a yearly event that benefits Wilder Ranch State Park,” says de Young. “It’ll be real fun, and not just for racers. It’s going to be a family event.”

Read about the 2013 Santa Cruz Super Enduro
Read about Wilder Ranch State Park, including mountain biking routes
Read Riding the Flow Trail With A Builder

In addition to the race, the Old Cabin Classic will have plenty to satisfy spectators. A kid’s race and skills zone, details still to be finalized, will be available for fledgling trail shredders. An expo center will feature local sponsors, including title sponsor FOX as well as local vendors and raffles. Bring your appetite for on-site Mexican food. And for the thirsty, local brewery New Bohemia will be featuring a custom brewed beer, The Old Cabin IPA.

Whether you’re planning to race, watch, or both, the Old Cabin Classic is set to reinvigorate a lost portion of Santa Cruz culture. “It’s great to hear people so excited about it,” says De Young. “They are almost disbelieving.” Leave that disbelief behind you like so much dust on the trail. This race is real and it’s happening.

Want to join the cause? MBOSC is hosting a volunteer workday on May 7 to complete the Enchanted Loop re-route. On May 18, New Bohemia will host Pints for Purpose, a benefit release of the Old Cabin IPA. A portion of the proceeds will go to MBOSC.

The Old Cabin Classic is Saturday, May 21. Race registration opens Monday, March 21 at 7am. Visit for more information.