Peaty, Luca and Santa Cruz Bikes - Dealer Days at Highland Bike Park

Preach buddy.

Fun should always be the goal when it comes to bicycles. The continual mastery of this concept is best championed by Seb Kemp of Santa Cruz Bicycles, from whom we received an invitation to go hang out at Highland Mountain Bike Park in New Hampshire in late September. He said it was going to be a fun, casual gathering put on by Santa Cruz, and that Steve Peat and Luca Shaw would be in attendance along with the Northeast dealers of the NorCal brand. Never ones to pass on a day of hanging out with friends on bikes, we provided a digital high-five for confirmation of attendance.

Two giants, Mike and Matt, starting the day with a thunder-clap-five.
Paul and Seb give a good one up top as everyone gathered around for some morning brew.

He's a man with a lot going on - Steve getting the morning admin out of the way to clear the plate for a day of shredding!

Rolling into the parking lot, there were already rows of vans, pop-up tents, and a big ol’ Sprinter Van with “Santa Cruz” vinyl markings parked in front of the lodge, serving up hot caffeinated beverages. JP, the SC rep from Quebec was the man on duty waking up the excited-but-it’s-still-a-Monday attendees. The familiar and new faces got acquainted over the steaming cups, stoke was on high. With Steve and Luca milling about, the morning vibe had a very official-but-casual feel; it’s always a curious sight to see such prominent industry figureheads outside of familiar contexts.

Regional rep or barista? JP helping everyone fire on all cylinders.

True story.
The Life-Giver aka JP's coffee machine.

That's a cup of bike riding right there.

One guess whose bike this is...
Morning Luca!

Lance Trappe and his fleet of demos were out early and ready for the eager attendees.

The Earthed movies were playing on the lodge TVs, so there were usually two Steve Peats in and around the hill all day.

Everyone was eager to ride, and the lift was full right at rope drop.

Sheffield Steel in the house!

Steve Peat in audio

With the sun creeping over the hill and a beautiful day upon the eager faces, the lift got turning at 10 am sharp, with bikes and bodies immediately packing the chairs. The SC demo fleet was present for the taking, Lance Trappe [of trials and Vegas fame!] looking after the fresh rigs. With around 130 people in attendance for the invited day of riding, the lift line was always a short bustle of stoke, with different groups ebbing and flowing through; people only stopping to grab water or swap out bikes. The Syndicate gents were grabbing laps with whoever wanted to join, the group being led out by Kevin Sweeny, one of HMBP’s trail builders and someone who wears a permanent smile. He was the perfect guide for the group, ushering all those willing into the big lines and showing everyone what it means to shred!

Kevin Sweeny and the gang having a laugh, probably about a wild moment on the hill.

Luca Shaw in audio

Kevin riding to the top and off!
Steve was eyeing up the inside on Luca with that cheeky grin!
Power Hour is big line, and the big man was happy to give it a send.
Kevin opted to see if he could reach low-Earth orbit on the last jump.
Style for miles, Luca cruised the line with such ease.

The lift up the hill isn't fast, but the nice day and greenery made it a pleasant uplift.

Various jam sessions took place, most notably a mid-day impromptu jump jam the infamous Tombstone drop and step-up. Riders were ticking off “firsts”, with several of the women hitting the drop for new personal-bests, and a handful of the guys doing the same with the whole line! Kevin put on his own clinic, with Steve and Luca swinging out whips like only they know how. Steve had one hang out a little longer than intended, the consequences of which left a phone looking like a potato chip and one elbow turning into two. Sheffield Steel lives up the nickname, he’s one tough dude!

That is a Hall of Fame inductee hanging out a huge whip! The one and only Steve Peat...Won't Back Down, indeed.

Peaty hung a whip out a ways and it wandered off on him...expensive hip protection.

It was a big day of progession - Jenna dropping Tombstone after doing it for the first time about 30 min before this shot!

Geez Kevin...!

Kevin maintains these jumps and then some!

This shot of Luca doesn't really need a caption, does it?

Hi again!

Hey, we ready to go or what?
Peaty's bike is an XL, but it barely fits in the trays, so...

Party in the Park!

No hands.
No foot.

Honestly, Kevin is a gnarly dude.

 

Most impressively, the guys who could be considered the ones “doing the admin” for the event were the ones shredding the absolute hardest; Santa Cruz employees Seb, Garen, Jorge, and dealer helpers Mike, Paul, and Matt were taking hot laps and sending everything possible. To say that they all “walk the talk” would be an understatement. If ever there needed to be proof of people who live what they sell, it’s this group of people. While it’s easy to knock big brands and [wrongly] attribute a corporate attitude to them, this gathering is a perfect example to dissuade that sort of chatter. Seb and Garen were the first to say that yes, this was a gesture of goodwill and thanks to the people who represent the brand, but in the end, it was really just a great excuse for a working holiday, because lest we forget why we are all in this line of work!

Garen Becker works in the office in CA, but apparently to work at Santa Cruz you need to also be a hammer on a bike!

Seb Kemp and Garen Becker in audio

Classic style.
Endless steeeeze.
Mike Mansman runs a shop in northern VT, but he still manages to get out of the shop and send it!
Seb Kemp, steezedawg.
Paul stretching it out on the step up.

Seb has flips on lock, fun fact.

Garen was blasting lap after lap!

A post-DH DJ session was in order, Seb wasted no time getting to it.
Seb may do a lot more computer admin these days, but he is still a true talent on a bike!
Peaty on the Insta story duties for Luca.
Luca rolled through this set first try and was onto huge Nac's by his second lap.

Jorge with Seb in tow jumping over Amy on the hip!

The day of catching up with friends was an excellent kick-off to the off-season, and it was also a cool insight regarding the brand-to-dealer relationship that many of us forget about as consumers. We are used to attending press camps, product launches, and more formal gatherings with intentions, so it was a lovely reprieve from the usual, as this invite was simply just to spend time with friends and enjoy the fruits of our labors. 

Mark Hayes, Owner of Highland, in audio

Is Luca exclaiming how much he likes waffles or his Worlds bike?
Peaty. 'Nuff said.
Brandon Cassell and his Hightower LT.
Mike Mansman and his Nomad.
Slim and his Nomad - he's one of the full-time trail guys at HMBP.
Slim, repping.
Jenna, Amy, and Brittany all shred on the Green Machine from Juliana.
The 27.5 V10 is almost odd looking after seeing the new 29er's all season from the World Cups! But this dude is stoked on his step up.

This colorway looks edible.

The classic end-of-day Pour and Pass.
Mike monitoring Seb's skills on the pour.

Despite finishing the day with an extra elbow, Steve was still all smiles!

The Squad! [LtR] Seb, Chris, Mike, Paul, Matt, Garen, and Jorge.

Last lap of the day! Luca letting go over Freebird behind Kevin, with Slim in chase.


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