Written by Noa Rapoport
While some students relieve their stress from school by baking, reading or shooting hoops, others find it in mountain biking. Mountain biking is the sport of riding bicycles off-road, over rough terrain, using a specially designed bike. This is a popular sport in the Bay Area, as well as at Gunn, as there are many locations for students to mountain bike. Mountain biking terrain can be found in Pearson Arastradero Preserve, the Baylands, China Camp State Park or Santa Cruz. All of these areas have different levels of difficulty, ranging from beginner trails, to the most advanced.
The Pearson Arastradero Preserve is easily accessible from the highway and offers a trail of easy riding on a dirt road. It is mostly a wide road with some sections of steep hill. The China Camp State Park has a great view of the bay and a well maintained trail. Santa Cruz has more than 37 trails and is a great place for students to improve their mountain biking skills.
Senior Sonny Cristfollis started the sport because it was very popular where he previously lived. “In my hometown of Aptos, it was something absolutely everybody did at some level,” he said. “My neighbor Gabe showed me around Nisene Marks State Park and the late Post Office Jumps.” He has been mountain biking for 8 years, and still continues to this day because of the supportive community that surrounds him. “It’s an unbeatable way to get outdoors with a top-notch racing community and trail-building organizations,” he said.
Mountain biking is not a typical sport, which is one of the many reasons why people love it. According to Senior Will Jackson, there is nothing else in the world like mountain biking. He has been riding for years ever since his friends convinced him to do it. “It’s a great stress reliever,” he said. “Bombing a hill and hearing the wind around me always clears my head.”
However, mountain biking also comes with many difficulties and hardships. According to Jackson, many injuries can occur when biking on the terrain. The injuries and learning curve are huge in the dangerous sport, for both the average person and the rider with years of experience. “Unlike our friends on the road, the slightest margin on the trail can make or break your year,” Cristfollis said. “We don’t have guardrails or signs or pavements, when you crash you actually go down.” Jackson said the biggest challenge in mountain biking is going over bars on new trails.
Mountain biking has been a very memorable sport for both seniors. Cristfollis’s favorite memory from mountain biking is when he rode from 5am to 8pm and biked up Santiago Peak, a southern mountain in Orange County. Jackson’s favorite memory is when he acquired the scar on his arm. “I was starting out and went way too fast and crashed.” he said. “I learned hella quick how much solid control and knowing your limits is important to biking, and it set me up to always be mindful about the next root or rock or turn coming up.” Jackson said this memory helped him learn to push himself when mountain biking.
Both seniors hope to continue mountain biking in their future. Cristfollis hopes to continue riding everyday, and eventually, to compete in world cup venues.