Hardtail on Tunnel Trail?


Dunno who else to ask this question, if you’ve got a second, that’d be awesome.

I’m in Santa Barbara, CA on a family trip for the next week. I searched for the Tunnel Trail, since it’s the only one I’ve heard of and your site came up, like, 3rd on the search. Only got a 29er hard tail here (it lives at my parent’s house in Newport Beach). Was thinking of riding up Gibraltar road (since I guess that’s a pretty well known climb) and then down the trail. Will I die if I do this? I figure I can just be slow on the down. For comparison’s sake, I wouldn’t ride, say Keystone or Sol Vista with anything less than 6″ of travel (and DH tires for that matter), but I can’t think of anything on the Front Range that I couldn’t ride with a hardtail (including Left Hand OHV area — at least last time I rode it like 7 or 8 years ago)



Hey Scott,

Tunnel Trail in Santa Barbara, CA is a classic. I rode it XC style during my 2002 Tour de California, and I’ve run DH shuttles on it a couple times since. As I recall, the trail has some fast flow with significant rocks. Plus: Any day you’re mountain biking and can see the ocean is a great day.

Jim Norman, now a Fox OEM stud, rocks the rocks in 2002.

Check these out (on my old site).

2002 Tour de California – Day 6: Tunnel Trail, Santa Barbara

Tunnel Trail! (DH runs in 2004)

To answer your question:

Yes, you can ride it on a hardball. If:

• You’re in great shape. That climb is a monster, and the DH is a punisher.

• You have great balance and range of motion. Basically, if you can ride your bike very well.

• You lower your seat. That’s helpful but not mandatory. Heck, people have been ripping Tunnel since the fully-rigid, rim-brake, long-stem, short-bars days.

• You take it easy. Don’t relax and slip into a Demo 9 moment.


Santa Barbara rider/hiker relations have been terrible. In 2002 my buddy Jim Norman got caught in a wire snare. Really. It caught his right foot at full speed, and he crashed hard. Luckily he wasn’t hurt, but dang that’s serious. Be cool to everyone. Watch out for snares in the trailside grass.

Rip it!

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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