by Bethany Rutledge

When I first purchased my Santa Cruz, my mind’s eye was full of epic gravel adventures, pioneering efforts where no bike—or few bikes—had gone before. John and I had started spending part of our time living in the North Carolina mountains just over the Georgia border, and it expanded our cycling life beyond the well known “six gaps” area for riding.

Now there were tons of new, undiscovered rides right at our fingertips. (Sure, in most cases someone had ridden up them before—probably, but if it’s not on Strava…) In prep, we purchased a tourist map on the Brasstown Bald gift shop that showed the mountain tops, their local names, and how many feet they climbed into the sky.

On many occasions, I would meet a friend at a random place on the map and we’d head out on an adventure, mapped out loosely ahead of time or sometimes not at all.  But strangely, many of the roads that led to the most exciting looking mountains—in some cases the directly-ish way without a car—ended in gravel. So John and I decided to purchase gravel bikes.

When I first purchased Cruzy, name picked in homage to Santa Cruz and because of the assonance to “Bikey” my felt IA, he had some awesome adventures. First up we climbed the ridic steep Bell Mountain. Visited by locals, yet only recently paved this view trumps that of Brasstown and the climb up is steeper. Next, we finally tackled Brasstown Bald, the more well known steepest-climb-in-Georgia that connects with Jacks Gap.

Prior to owning Cruzey, I was skittish of attempting these climbs, not because of the ascent (because you can always walk) but because of the descent. Cruzey makes these adventures possible because of the brakes.

Disc brakes give comfort. I had always been a granny descender, but this bike changed that. As I explained to someone else, it feels like you’re riding a (high performance) sofa not a bike. The ride is incredibly stable, and suddenly worries of speed wobble and wimpy cornering fell away. In fact, I think I landed in the top ten on Strava for the descent of Brasstown Bald when I rode Cruzey down it the first time.  Anyone who pays attention to these sorts of things knows that the true accomplishment would be top ten UP Brasstown. Still... it’s something.

That’s not the only thing I love about Cruzey. The same things that make it great on gravel make it the ultimate town bike. I’ve enjoyed bringing him on trips where you need a bike, but not to ride-ride, to spectate a race, or to get from point A to B without the hassle of a car.

I also love riding it close-to-home with Bailey, my ten year old Vizsla.  In situations where bothering with a road bike seems silly, but a mountain bike does too, Cruzey goes over the mountain and through the woods, across the field, and through the neighborhood.

Looking forward to more epic adventures with Cruzey, but, in the meantime, I’m riding him more than I ever thought I would!


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