Mountain biking has become one of Santa Cruz County’s most popular sports, and this year the Museum of Art and History (MAH) is paying tribute to its legacy—and looking to its future.
“Trailblazers: The Creative Story Behind Mountain Biking in Santa Cruz County” opened Feb. 7 and will run through September at the MAH. The exhibit dives into the history of off-road cycling in Santa Cruz County, displaying everything from prewar Schwinn cruisers to full suspension downhill speed machines.
MAH Exhibition Catalyst Whitney Ford-Terry said the idea for the exhibit came from the mountain bike community.
“We had done a show on the history and culture of surfing in Santa Cruz… it felt like an organic next step,” Ford-Terry said. “I… worked with loads of community partners to build this exhibit.”
MAH collaborated with groups including Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz, the Marin Museum of Bicycling, Santa Cruz Bicycles, Specialized, Salsa Adventure by Bike, Bike Santa Cruz County and more to create “Trailblazers.”
Santa Cruz County has for decades been an epicenter for bike innovation. In the 1970s, riders all over California were experimenting and designing new bikes—and the mountains of Santa Cruz, with its forests and coastal trails, became an ideal “testing ground.”
One focus of the exhibit is how important public lands are to mountain biking—how people’s desire to explore has affected land stewardship, trail building and maintenance. In turn, this has also had an affect on the design and innovation of bicycle brands, including many that cyclists buy today.
“We worked with [Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz] to share the story of our unique trail system,” Ford-Terry said. “How we as riders… are responsible for taking care of these natural spaces that we enjoy.”
During the exhibit’s run, people can participate in a variety of programs, from trail building days and workshops to organized group rides. Ford-Terry said that that events are posted on the community events board inside the museum and online at santacruzmah.org. You can also follow the museum on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
“Trailblazers” is installed in the Second Floor Solari Gallery at the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History, 705 Front St., Santa Cruz. Hours are Sunday-Thursday 10 a.m.-6 p.m., Friday 10 a.m.-8 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m.-3p.m. Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for students and free for children under 5.
Visitors are invited to come view the exhibit and the rest of the museum for free every first Friday of the month as part of First Fridays, which also features live music and other activities.
For information visit santacruzmah.org.