The Post Office Jumps: an Aptos retrospective

Bike

a look back at two of BIKE’s tributes to the legendary jump spot

aptos post office jumps aerial view

What follows are two pieces gathered to memorialize the closure of the Post Office Jumps in Aptos, California. The first is an article written by Joe Parkin which first appeared in the August 2012 issue of Bike, and was revised for this feature by Jon Weber. The second is a video filmed and edited by Rupert Walker. All photography is by Sterling Lorence.

ryan 'r-dawg' howard at post office jumps

Written by Joe Parkin

scene

Imagine yourself in a friendly and relaxed crowd of people gathered around a collection of perfectly sculpted mounds of dirt that have been constructed solely for the purpose of sending mountain bikers skyward. Know it or not, you’re likely rubbing elbows with one of the guys who engineered your Fox fork, the person who boxed up your Santa Cruz bicycle, the voice on the other end of the phone when you called customer service at Easton or Bell or Giro, a World Cup mechanic or two, the founder of Ibis and/or Cam and Tyler McCaul’s mom. Some of the most celebrated mountain-bike photographers in the business are on hand, posting up in various locations with the hope of nailing a shot or two that might possibly find its way onto the pages of Bike.

You’re getting ready to watch a Post Office Jump Jam in Aptos, California, roughly 80 miles south of San Francisco.

The neighbors are making themselves comfortable in lawn chairs, preparing for the inherent possibility of seeing something—some new move that they haven’t seen before. Whether any of these neighbors have logged enough airtime to even clear a pair of fallen leaves, those who have spent more than a season or two within a stone’s throw of the Post Office Jumps are likely more qualified to critique a rider’s style than all but a scant few forum-dwellers. These neighbors watch riders flow this set of jumps every day.

Brandon Semenuk at post office jumps in Aptos, California

A collection of the sport’s notable names is here too. But, unlike most other gatherings of great athletes, when a meeting of the aerial genre’s most celebrated mountain bikers happens within this arena it’s about the shared experience, as opposed to the bolstering of one’s own palmarès. For those riders with the skills, creativity and desire required to take the stage for this jam, the word ‘fun’ isn’t some rehearsed, hollow sound bite adopted after an hour of sponsor-imposed media training, but rather an honest conveyance of enjoyment.

post office jumps in Aptos, California

And why shouldn’t the riders who’ve shown up for this event be stoked? The original goal of these jumps was to be a place where like-minded friends could hang out, ride bikes and have fun. And for a solid number of the Post Office Jumps’ pioneering members, fun has turned into a downright respectable career.

“People tell you, when you’re in high school, and you’re skipping homework, and you’re leaving school early to come ride Post Office Jumps, that that’s a bad idea—that you’re going to wake up one day thinking, ‘I shouldn’t have spent so much time on my bike [and] with a shovel in my hands. Because I should’ve, maybe, gotten better grades and gone to college and gotten a job so I could get paid right now,’” says Cam McCaul in Anthill Films’ “Strength in Numbers.” “But it sure seems to be working out pretty darn well for everybody.”

Jack Fogelquist, Brett Rheeder, and Brandon Semenuk at post office jumps

riders

Some of the Post Office Jumps’ notable alumni are Cam and Tyler McCaul, Jamie Goldman, Ryan Howard, Alex Reveles, Greg Watts, Kyle Jameson and Jeff Herbertson. That list has continued to grow over the past years as films, magazines and riders from around the world have continued to visit Aptos. The riders here seem to feed off of each others’ skill and creativity, as if this particular patch of ground has had some kind of magical power to make riders better.

at post office jumps in Aptos, California

final hour

Impending demolition has long loomed over the sun-bathed jumps, but the Post Office crew has always maintained a decidedly optimistic outlook, taking each day as it comes. But now after what seems like years of the inevitable demo day being pushed back, the jumps have been shut down and bulldozed. Yes, the Post Office has seen its final jam, but its ubiquitous influence will abide in the legacy of every rider that came up on its lips and landings.

“Just because this place is getting torn down, it’s not going to stop us from doing what we love,” says Ryan Howard in “Strength in Numbers.” “It’s Aptos—we ride bikes…we’re going to keep it alive, for sure.”

Brett Rheeder at post office jumps in Aptos, California

The Post Office community has formed a coalition and is seeking a space in which they can rebuild their trails. postofficejumps.org