Dirt Rag Magazine

Watch now: ‘The Dirt Merchant’ – a trailbuilding film from Central NJ

Film by Adam Nawrot.

Mountain biking isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the words ‘New Jersey’. Nevertheless, Jason Fenton has been building and maintaining mountain bike trails in the heart of Central New Jersey since 2004. "The Dirt Merchant" takes a peek into what it means to be a cyclist in the middle of some of America’s densest suburban sprawl.

The Dirt Merchant isn’t necessarily a documentary about Six Mile Run State Park or Jason Fenton in particular but rather a film about the cycling community and how its individual members make it what it is.

About the filmmaker: "I race bikes for Rutgers University, where I study filmmaking and graphic design. I grew up riding Jason’s trails at Six Mile Run in my early teens and I’m so excited that this film is able to give back to the community that has shaped my life so dramatically."

The Dirt Merchant from Adam Nawrot on Vimeo.


Bringing the mountain to San Francisco

The Puppies & Rainbows Ladies Jump Jam at the San Francisco Bike Expo was a skills clinic and practice session that brought the joy of dirt to San Francisco’s Cow Palace. 

By Joh Rathbun. Photos by Shane Mckenzie.

While San Francisco is a culturally progressive and geographically unique city that provides everything a metropolis can offer, what it doesn’t have is legal, fulfilling singletrack. Like most urban environments, those with a thirst for tasty dirt must leave the city to find it. China Camp State Park, Joaquin Miller Park, Pacifica, and Mount Tamalpais State Park all offer great riding, but are not in the city.

Enter small businesses like RideSFO and Clayton Bicycle’s Stunt Team. They bring bike events to urban San Francisco. Phil Segura, owner of RideSFO and the man behind the San Francisco Bike Expo says there’s no money in doing this, “but that’s not what it’s about.”

Originally founded in 2003 as an online forum for riders, RideSFO evolved into its current iteration as a retail outlet with a mobile dirt jumping/park mobile set and crew. Headquartered out of a warehouse called the Sand Box on Portretro Hill, RideSFO is a unique blend of bike shop and cycle-centric traveling circus.

There’s no one like RideSFO in San Francisco when it comes to the 26-inch bike. As such, Phil is busy with coordinating with others like Hank Matheson of Bicycle Fabrications—co-habitant of the Sand Box—to spread the word and make mountain biking accessible to city dwellers.

Events like the San Francisco Bike Expo highlight technical riding like AT’s Showdown, a jump competition that features 30-foot doubles with a fear-inducing run-in. Based at the Cow Palace, these folks are bringing the mountain to the cycling San Franciscan. The event also included a female-specific event, this year it was the Puppies & Rainbows Ladies Jump Jam hosted by my publication, Shine Riders Company. Shine is an online publication and community center for women’s gravity mountain biking.

When speaking of AT—Andrew Taylor—of AT’s Showdown—Segura says, “He works really hard—the course is a labor of love—he’s not making any money off of it, but we both love riding, and want to bring something to the riders. We’re the only people putting on urban slopestyle events. So, that’s where we really want to hang our hat, and these comps show the possibilities with the parks and therefore, providing access for us, and hopefully we’ll have a domino effect.”

The cousin of RideSFO is the traveling Clayton Bike Stunt Team. While they’re a non-profit, they “provide BMX shows for all occasions.” As a non-profit, they focus on “bicycle safety, such as safety gear, obeying traffic laws…and always being aware.” Clayton Bicycle Stunt Team recently hosted the Battle of the Bay on Treasure Island in San Francisco.

Mike Henry, a competitor and native San Franciscan, is thankful for the few organizations like Clayton Bicycle Stunt Team, and said, “I just like to pedal around after work. I like the Chili Bowl, in Balboa Park. I got into bikes through a friend in the Mission District. If you want a dirt fix, though, you got to go out of town. We just got our jumps plowed. Guess the city didn’t want no one getting’ hurt out there.” Without cycling-centric entities like RideSFO and Clayton Bicycle Stunt Team, the San Franciscan wouldn’t get their dirt fix in the city.

“We got to keep building momentum so we can bring it to the people,” Segura said. “The great thing about the Expo is you get exposed to a lot of different things, but a kid riding in a parking lot gets a glimpse at a different type of sport. Promoting a healthy lifestyle that embraces alternate modes of transportation like cycling is beneficial for the urban community, and incorporating different lifestyles like mountain biking along the way can only be beneficial for that community as well.”

About the author

Joh Rathbun is a sport and travel journalist, a pro mountain biker and editor in chief of Shine Riders Company. For coverage of West Coast events, bike adventures, cool tips and bike tutorials, like her on Facebook
 


IMBA releases “Best Practices” for fat bikes

The exploding popularity of fat bikes has led the International Mountain Bike Association to put together some "best practices" for fat bike riders when using the bikes on Nordic ski trails, snowmobile trails, or in the backcountry.

Regarding equipment, what is the bare minimum I need to ride on snow?

  • Tires wider than 3.7 inches
  • Tire pressure less than 10 PSI
  • You will not leave a rut deeper than one inch in the snow
  • You are able to safely control your bike and ride in a straight line
  • You have permission to ride from the land manager
  • DO NOT RIDE, especially on groomed nordic and snowmobile trails, if you can’t meet all of the requirements above.

Best Practices for Riding on Nordic Trails

  • Yield to all other users when riding. Skiers don’t have brakes but you do!
  • Ride on the firmest part of the track.
  • Do not ride on or in the classic tracks.
  • Leave room for skiers to pass (don’t ride side-by-side with all of your buddies blocking the full trail).
  • Allow the track time to set up after grooming and before riding.
  • Beware of alternative days for bikes and for skiers.
  • ONLY ride a purpose-built fat bike, not any old mountain bike. Tire tread must be wider than 3.7 inches.
  • Be an ambassador for the sport: stay polite, educate other riders, discourage bad behavior and follow the rules.
  • Help out and get involved by joining your local nordic club.
  • Donate money for trail grooming.

Best Practices for Riding on Snowmobile Trails

  • When riding on snowmobile trails, use a front white blinker and rear red blinker at all times. Wear reflective material on both the front and rear of your body.
  • Stay to the far right of the trail and yield to snowmobiles.
  • Know and obey the rules of your local land manager. Understand that some trails may be on private property and might not be open to alternative uses.
  • Be prepared. Winter travel in the backcountry requires carrying proper gear and dressing properly. Be self-sufficient!
  • Use extreme caution when riding at night. Be visible and always use lights.
  • Be friendly! Fat bikers are the newest users and the snowmobilers you encounter might not be welcoming. Be courteous and open to suggestions.
  • Help out by supporting your local snowmobile club.
  • Donate to trail grooming and maintenance efforts.

Best Practices for Riding on Natural Terrain and in the Backcountry

In the right conditions, a fat bike can be the ultimate winter backcountry travel tool. Frozen conditions and minimal snow coverage (1-5 inches) means access to areas that are impassible during the warmer months. But just because you can ride somewhere doesn’t mean you should. Be aware and be prepared.

  • Do not trespass! Know whether or not you are on private property. Obey ALL land manager rules. Some land parcels are closed to bikes whether you are riding on a trail or not.
  • Do not ride through sensitive wildlife habitats. This may be especially important on beaches or in places where animals hibernate. Learn about the area you want to ride in before you ride there.
  • Do not disturb wildlife. Many species survive on minimal diets during winter. Stressors or the need to move quickly can deplete their energy stores.
  • Learn safe ice travel. Riding on frozen water can be extremely dangerous. Is the ice thick enough to support you? Take ice fishing picks and a length of rope when riding on lakes and rivers.
  • Understand changing conditions. New snowfall or warming temperatures can make the return trip much more difficult. Tire tracks can be covered, hard snow can turn to slush, rivers can start to melt. Always know the forecast and be aware of how changing conditions might alter the safe passage of your route.
  • Be prepared. Carry provisions in case you have to stay out longer than planned.
  • Let people know. Make sure someone else knows where you are going, when you left and when you expect to return.
  • Learn to share. Be aware that your tracks might attract other riders. Understand that "your" route might not remain a secret for long. 

13 individuals honored by 2012 NICA Awards

The National Interscholastic Cycling Association Awards were established in 2010 to honor student-athletes, coaches, volunteers and partners that have made outstanding contributions toward the development of high school cycling and the national high school mountain biking movement. This year, awards were awarded to 13 individuals in 10 different categories that were selected from a field of more than 222 nominees from NICA Leagues across the country.

The Student Athlete Leadership Award honors student-athletes who have demonstrated outstanding leadership, sportsmanship, academic performance and volunteerism in their team, school and community. The recipients are:

  • Josie Nordrum, Redwood High School, NorCal High School Cycling League
  • Zachary Tucker, Lyons High School, Colorado High School Cycling League

The Trek All-Star Student Athlete Award recognizes student-athletes for their outstanding competitive achievements and potential for future success in competitive cycling. The recipients are: 

  • Kate Courtney, Branson High School, NorCal High School Cycling League
  • Lucas Newcomb, Sir Francis Drake High School, NorCal High School Cycling League

The Jeep Extraordinary Courage Award recognizes student-athletes who have persevered through challenging circumstances and overcome adversity to develop and excel as a model student athlete. The recipients are:

  • DeShaun Smith, C.K. MCClatchy High School, NorCal High School Cycling League
  • Mark Doty, Oakley High School, Utah High School Cycling League

The SRAM Coach of the Year Award acknowledges a head coach whose qualities as a leader and motivator embodies NICA’s mission to provide student-athletes with the coaching and camaraderie to help them achieve both competitive and non-competitive goals in a safe and enjoyable manner. The recipients are: 

  • Whitney Pogue, Summit Academy High School, Utah High School Cycling League
  • Ken Mozek, San Ramon Valley High School, NorCal High School Cycling League

The Clif Bar and Company Volunteer Service Award honors an exceptional volunteer whose dedication of time, expertise and enthusiasm goes above and beyond to make a difference in the organization. The recipients is: 

  • Nick Gualtieri, St. Francis High School, SoCal High School Cycling League

The Quality Bicycle Products Community Impact Award honors an individual whose dedication to high school mountain biking has resulted in positive impacts on youth, the community and the organization. This individual is an outstanding representative of the organization internally and externally. The recipient is:

  • Ed Fischer, Camas Composite, Washington High School Cycling League

The Primal Wear Race Production Partner Award acknowledges an individual whose outstanding partnership role in race productions is key to the success of a leagues race event production. The recipient is:

  • Martha Flynn, Minnesota High School Cycling League

The Easton Foundations League Founders Award recognizes an individual’s commitment, enthusiasm, perseverance, and outstanding contributions in establishing a NICA High School Cycling League. The recipient is:

  • Lori Harward, Utah High School Cycling League

The NICA Legacy Award honors an individual for their tremendous philanthropic support of NICA and NICA Leagues. The recipient is:

  • Mike Sinyard, Specialized Bicycles

Support the winners at the NICA Awards Benefit Ride and Banquet! Both events will be on January 12, 2013, with the ride at Ft. Ord and the banquet at the Specialized world headquarters in Morgan Hill, California. Register today for either the ride and/or the banquet here. 


Mountain biker and humanitarian named one of Adventurers of the Year

Honoring her efforts as the first woman to mountain bike in Afghanistan and her fight for women’s rights in conflict zones, earlier this month Shannon Galpin was named one of the 2013 National Geographic Adventurers of the Year. The prestigious recognition highlights not only her adventurous pursuits, but also her humanitarian work in this war-torn region.

“I’ve always felt that the best way to know a country and its people is to get outside. In Afghanistan not only do I try to work with locals one-on-one, without the confines of security and convoys, but also I try to truly interact in their country. I think that the best way to rally support for our programs is to highlight our common humanity, to show a country like Afghanistan in a different light to the West, and show a different example of Americans and of women to Afghans,” Galpin said in a statement.

Cycling has allowed her to do just that, bridging cultural boundaries through adventure. Based in Breckenridge, Colorado, Galpin is committed to empowering women around the world, both in conflict zones abroad and here at home.

“I focused on Afghanistan because it’s repeatedly ranked the worst place in the world to be a woman. I wanted to fight for women that didn’t have a voice," she said. "Over time I realized that unfortunately the same issues are affecting women in the US. Using the mountain bike as a catalyst, I decided to also fight for the voice and value of women here domestically that have been victimized, giving them the chance to rise above through taking part in biking camps, which we’ll be launching in 2013.”

The public is invited to vote for the People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year contest. Fans can vote every day for their favorite nominee. The adventurer with the most votes on Jan. 16, 2013, will be the 2013 People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year. Other notable entrants include Felix Baumgartner, who skydived from 23.5 miles high while the world watched live online; Josh Dueck the first paraplegic skier to land a backflip; and ultra-runner Lizzy Hawker, who has won the 103-mile Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc five times.

Galpin is also the founder of Mountain2Mountain, a nonprofit organization working to empower the people of Afghanistan with a focus on women and girls and gender equity. M2M believes that investing in women and girls is the most effective way to achieve stability and economic prosperity. The organization works alongside the Afghan people, other nonprofits and local governments to develop programs that will create sustainable change. 
 


Fundraiser party will benefit Almanzo 100 January 5

One of the biggest gravel grinder races of the year, the Almanzo 100, will get a big boost January 5 as riders and fans will gather in Minneapolis for a party to offset some of the cost of organizing the race which charges no entry fee. 

Intermedia Arts will host the party from 6-10 p.m. Tickets are just $10 at the door. Expect a family-friendly event for cycling fans from fanatic to casual. 

Festivities will include the introduction and pre-ordering of the 2013 race kit, and short films from Salsa Cycles and event sponsor Royal Antler Films. HED Wheels will be on hand, and Challenge Tires will unveil a new Alamanzo tire inspired by the race. There will be a raffle with swag giveaways from other sponsors, including Dirt Rag. Of course, it wouldn’t be a party without live music, food, and beer, too.  

Since 2007 the Almanzo 100 and Royal 162 have provided a premier platform for gravel endurance racing in the United States. Financed solely out of pocket and with help from a dedicated family of volunteers, race organizer Chris Skogen continually sets the bar high. Eschewing entry fees, the Almanzo attracts upward of 600 entrants to the rolling hills and farmland around Spring Valley, Minnesota. Registration opens January 1, 2013 and ends January 31. The race is scheduled for May 18, 2013. You can find more details at www.almanzo.com.


Interbike to open doors to consumers by special ‘invitation’

Better head on over to your local shop and make nice. Some bike shops attending Interbike in 2013 will be allowed to invite their favorite customers to the annual tradeshow in Las Vegas, opening the door to consumers for the first time.

The limited-access initiative, called Interbike by Invitation, will allow registered retailers to invite customers to attend. These special invitees will be treated as special guests of that shop and will be afforded preferential treatment at the show.

Interbike will not be adding a day for this initiative, and instead will be extending Friday’s hours and allowing access to both consumers and retailers on Friday, September 20, 2013. The show will now be extended two additional hours that day, to 6 p.m.

Retailers that register for Interbike will be allotted a limited number of consumer access invitations based on their geography. Consumers invited by retailers will be able to register on the Interbike website beginning in April, 2013. There will be a $50 entry fee for all invitees, which will include special access and a host of other benefits planned for the event. Interbike says the program was also created as a means of strengthening the bond between retailer and customer. 

The program will not include the Outdoor demo days and no products will be allowed to be sold at the show. 


Recap: Dirt Rag visits the IMBA World Summit

Dirt Rag has been supporting IMBA since Day One.

Words and Photos by Gary J. Boulanger.

More than 350 devoted mountain bikers from 20 countries gathered for the 2012 International Mountain Bicycling Association World Summit in Santa Fe, New Mexico, October 10-13, rallying the troops to advocate increased trail access for all in a celebration of IMBA’s 25th anniversary.

Maurice and Spike, in Needles, California.

Mountain Bike Hall of Famer and Dirt Rag founder Maurice Tierney and I packed up our road food, music, mountain bikes, and gear and made the 18-hour drive from San Francisco to Santa Fe, home of 10,000 art galleries. After a night spent in Needles, Calif. (home of Snoopy’s cousin Spike—near Route 66), we arrived in Santa Fe and shared a Thai meal with National Interscholastic Cycling Association’s Rick Spittler and Austin McInerny. He was in town to speak during the panel discussion on Creating Youth Initiatives with the SoCal League’s director Matt Gunnell and Concerned Off-Road Bicycling’s Steve Messer, himself an expert and author on the best mountain biking around Los Angeles.

This guy has his priorities straight.

Hitting the trail

The solution to shaking the dust of nearly 1,200 miles off our bones was a two-hour mountain bike ride on Santa Fe’s Dale Ball system in the foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Moe and I spelunked our way through a mix of pinon and conifer trees while climbing high enough to see across the Rio Grande Valley and down upon Santa Fe, thanks to directions provided by the folks at Mellow Velo. It was a proper way to prime ourselves for a gathering of the faithful that evening in the Santa Fe Convention Center.

Beer and philanthropy

On Thursday, we heard from New Belgium Brewing’s Senator of Tour de Fat Non-Profit Relations Michael Craft (yes, that’s his title; employees are encouraged to get creative…), who regaled the lunchtime crowd with his anecdotes of beer drinking and philanthropy, and how New Belgium Brewing has raised thousands of dollars for regional trail building advocacy groups.

Throughout the day, several panel discussions were offered to attendees, including Opportunities in Mountain Bike Tourism, How to Develop and Implement Mountain Bike Clinics and Camps, Getting Kids Involved, Knobby Tires in the Urban Core, and Future Ride: How Bike Parks, Ski Resorts and Flow Trails are Changing the Mountain Biking Experience. All were filled to capacity, with extended conversations flowing out into the hallways.

 

Regrouping on the La Tierra Trails.

That afternoon, Moe and I joined several riders from various countries on a ride on the new La Tierra Trails, located on 1,500 acres of city-owned property just three miles from the downtown plaza. We rode through high-desert arroyo, pinion and juniper trees on the Caja Del Rio plateau above the Rio Grande River. The 7,500-foot elevation put us into a bit of oxygen debt, but the cool things about the La Tierra Trail are the variety of single- and double-track trails, a BMX jump area, and technical flow track with several lines for air-catching thrill seekers.

Advocacy and Red Bull

Friday continued with more panel discussions following a keynote TED Conference-esque presentation, which included several unique voices in the mountain biking community, including Mountain2Mountain founder Shannon Galpin, Breck Epic promoter Mike McCormack, and Swiss Alp native and mountain bike advocate Darco Cazin.

The gale force wind and rain couldn’t keep several dozen hearty souls (including Moe) from one last visit to the trails before everyone convened in the main Convention Center ballroom for a showing of “Where the Trail Ends.” The film was introduced by gravity-dropping star Darren Berrecloth, and includes amazing footage of his adventures with riders Cameron Zink, Kurtis Sorge, James Doerfling, and Andreu Lacondeguy. The producer, Red Bull Media, stirred up its own batch of controversy during the panel discussion “Engaging the Red Bull Generation." (Tell us what you think of the marriage between trail access, advocacy and the Red Bull generation in the comments below).

Epic saddle time

Saturday morning ushered in the Santa Fe Epic Ride, which saw 150 brave souls unpack their finest winter gear to a shuttle toward the top of the Santa Fe Ski Area at 10,000-plus feet in the southern Rocky Mountains. With freezing temperatures at the start area, we collected our demo bikes (Moe chose the Santa Cruz TallBoy; I picked a Trek Slash), clipped in, and in waves of 10 or so, began our two-hour journey back to town, literally over hill and dale.

 

My Trek Slash demo bike. See our long-term review of the Slash in Issue #164.

Starting in an aspen and pine forest, we gathered steam while stoking our way through ponderosa and mixed conifer, with a few lung-busting climbs thrown in from the Tesuque Creek Basin. The 3,000-foot drop into town included plenty of serpentine singletrack and flow trails (good thing Hans Rey was with us to enjoy it), technical bermy speed stretches, and general rocks-and-roots mayhem to keep us honest and entertained. Everyone shared war stories over lunch while IMBA executive director Mike Van Abel thanked everyone for participating in the week’s festivities before dismissing us with a smile.

Flagstaff fun

With 18 hours of driving west ahead, we decided to spend Sunday night in Flagstaff, Arizona, home of our friend Ben Proctor and MTB Hall of Famer and bike designer Joe Murray. With another delicious Thai meal in our bellies, we rested our weary bodies in preparation for our interview with Joe the following morning. 

Maurice and Joe, posing for the camera.

Murray, who began his career building wheels and complete bikes before racing for Gary Fisher, is part of Shimano’s skunkworks. He develops and tests most of the products you and I get to enjoy years after he does, and if his current riding skill is any indication, there’s gonna be some great product coming our way soon. He designed and developed bikes for Marin, Merlin, Kona, and VooDoo since 1986. The 48-year-old Marin County native won more than 70 races in his seven-year career, and hasn’t gained an ounce since high school. He graciously led us on a low-key ride through his local trail system after we snagged nearly three hours of his time during our interview and photoshoot. Look for a complete interview with Murray in an upcoming Dirt Rag next spring.

Homeward bound

With 12 hours of asphalt before us, and the high of epic riding in our lungs and legs, Moe and I decided to fuel up at Chipotle in Flagstaff (yeah, yeah; it was Murray’s idea) and drive straight through the night to be with our families in San Francisco. With my wife’s snickerdoodles and a large helping of the Replacements, Led Zeppelin, and Jane’s Addiction on the stereo, we rolled into Mountain View by 4 a.m., happier for the experience of rubbing shoulders and elbows with some of the world’s best and brightest mountain bike planners, advocates, leaders and visionaries.

For more information, visit www.imba.com.


IMBA: Two national parks open trails to bikes

Mammoth Cave National Park in Kentucky and Saguaro National Park in Arizona are the two most recent National Park Service properties to allow mountain biking on both existing and future trails.

The regulation at Mammoth Cave opened two existing and two future trails to bicycle use on October 12, 2012. Mountain bikers now have access to the Mammoth Cave Railroad Bike and Hike Trail and the White Oak Trail, and will have access to the planned Connector Trail near Maple Springs and Big Hollow Trail north of the Green River.

A press release from Mammoth Cave stated the following: "The regulation designates four bicycle routes within the park to address the interest and demand of the visiting public for bicycling opportunities without compromising the National Park Service’s mandate ‘to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wildlife’ in the park."

The regulation implements portions of the park’s Comprehensive Trail Management Plan and satisfies NPS general regulations that require a special regulation be promulgated to allow off-road bicycle use on routes outside of developed areas.

On Dec. 1, 2012, the three-mile Hope Camp Trail in Saguaro National Park (AZ) was converted to a multi-use trail. The trail — once a dirt road that allowed bikes prior to Saguaro’s National Park designation — connects Tucson, AZ, to the Arizona Trail.

IMBA prepared a set of frequently asked questions regarding the NPS rule change. The FAQ can be found here.


Buy a foot of trail for a chance to win any Santa Cruz bike

The Sierra Buttes Trail Stewardship employes 15 full-time trail builders, has clocked in more than 30,000 volunteer hours, maintains 30 trails, has built 25 miles of new trails in the past year, and serves more than 200,000 riders each year in the Downieville and Lakes Basin areas of California. 

Now they need your help. For purchasing a $5 foot of trail, you’ll be entered to win a fully decked-out bike from Santa Cruz. That includes a Fox suspension, a Shimano build kit, and ENVE carbon wheels. Not too shabby. 

Buying a foot of trail will help the SBTS continue its great work in the area.You can purchase your foot (or feet!) at this link, but do so before October 1 to enter. 

 

 


From Repack to Rwanda – Mountain bike history on display

A 1983 Cunningham R1 built in Fairfax, Calif., for Charlie’s future wife, multiple NORBA champion Jacquie Phelan. Weight is 27 lbs.

By Gary J. Boulanger

Thirty-two years ago, Gary Fisher and Charlie Kelly were selling more than 1,000 Mountainbikes-brand bicycles from their shop in Fairfax, Calif. At the same time, the San Francisco Airport Commission collaborated with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco to create an exhibition program at the San Francisco International Airport (SFO). In 1999, SFO Museum became the first to receive accreditation from the American Association of Museums, and is a widely imitated model for museums operating in public arenas. Today, SFOM features more than twenty galleries throughout the airport terminals displaying a rotating schedule of art, history, science, and cultural exhibitions.

And from now until February 2013, the main exhibition is focused on mountain bikes.

“Repack to Rwanda: The Origins, Evolution, and Global Reach of the Mountain Bike” is on display in the international terminal of SFO, and a private party was held August 4 to bring together many of the original pioneers of the sport, including Joe Breeze, Charlie Kelly, Gary Fisher, Tom Ritchey, Keith Bontrager, Steve Potts, Otis Guy, Erik Koski, Charlie Cunningham, and Jacquie Phelan.

Jack Bissell’s 1981 Mountainbike, built by Tom Ritchey. Weight is 33 lbs.

The exhibit, curated by Tim O’Brien, begins with a restored 1941 Schwinn Admiral DX balloon-tire bike, an example of the bikes Kelly, Fisher, Guy, and Breeze would convert to a ‘klunker’ to ride down Mt. Tamalpais in the early to mid 1970s. Other similar-era klunkers in the display include Breeze’s modified 1941 Schwinn B.F. Goodrich and Guy’s modified 1941 Schwinn Texas Special, both stripped of their original fenders, racks, chain guards and kickstands. Fisher’s modified 1940s Schwinn ballooner included tandem drum brakes, derailleurs, and thumb shifters, plus a triple T.A. Specialties crankset.

According to O’Brien, the mountain bike was introduced as a possible subject for exhibition at SFOM in 2008, but only developed sporadically because his schedule requires that he and his team work on multiple exhibitions at any given time.

“The first step in our process is identifying potential lenders and learning more about the subject and any objects that may be available to help us address its history,” he explained. “That my colleague Ramekon O’Arwisters reached Joe Breeze near the beginning of our search was extremely fortuitous, as we quickly realized we had a guide who not only made this history, but cared deeply about historical accuracy. Joe’s assistance is identifying and locating appropriate objects for exhibit was critical, and we remain very grateful for his dedication to this exhibition.”

A 1990 Bontrager OR with composite fork crown.

Spokesman for a generation

Breeze, whose Breezer #1 bike is hanging in the Smithsonian Institute, was impressed with what he saw at SFOM Friday night. “I really like the chronology starting off with the vintage 1941 Schwinn,” he said. “That bike is all original and shiny new as it might have sat on the showroom floor in 1941. The bike is right next to the Schwinns that Otis and I modified in 1973. This allows people to see exactly where our clunkers were derived from.

“There has never been such a complete collection of historic mountain bikes, and many of the bikes in the show have extraordinary provenance,” Breeze added. “Since I was guest curator, my months of immersion in the project muted my appreciation of the final product—the actual installation at the airport. The SFO Museum did an amazing job, first gathering the materials and then displaying them. I really enjoyed working with Tim O’Brien, with his deep interest in and respect for history and his great attention to detail.”

Klunkers to carbon

Considering the fixed dimensions of his gallery spaces, O’Brien needed to decide on a focus very early in the process. One of his first decisions was that, rather than present a specific time capsule, he wanted to provide a historical glimpse at this subject beginning with the modified clunkers in Marin County and ending in the present, with carbon machines on display from Specialized, Gary Fisher, Breezer, and Santa Cruz. According to O’Brien, although there is no single moment-of-beginning for something as universally appealing as riding a bicycle off-road, and one’s definition of mountain biking will determine their own view of its history, the Marin County group was taking its bikes off-road and downhill at a significantly different level than anyone else at this time, and he was very comfortable beginning the exhibition with their story and what they were doing at Repack.

“After addressing the local roots of modern mountain biking, it would have been impossible to present a coherent timeline had we tried to include what was happening in all other locations at any given point in time—Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Colorado, certainly the really interesting work of Chris Chance out in Massachusetts—and I hope visitors to our exhibition understand that,” O’Brien added. “Fortunately for us, the fact that so many of the Marin County pioneers and other Northern California bike designers and builders continued to push the bike’s evolution in such fascinating ways allowed us to keep our focus regional.”

Based on last year’s numbers, O’Brien estimates that well over two million SFO visitors will pass these galleries during the seven-month exhibition.

“While we can’t determine exactly how many are stopping to view the show, the exposure is obviously tremendous,” he said. “We’re very excited to share this story with so many travelers.”

Soulcraft’s Sean Walling (left) and Steve Potts in front of the SFO Museum exhibit.

What goes in, what gets left out

With regards to the frustration of "leaving things behind," O’Brien acknowledges all the work that was done before and after a particular period of work highlighted in the exhibition.

“Case in point, in our timeline we show an example of Steve Potts’ beautiful craftsmanship from 1988, but we did not have the space to illustrate the exquisite work he was doing prior, after, and presently,” he explained. “We’re exhibiting Otis Guy’s modified Schwinn from 1974, but none of his hand-crafted frames from the ensuing decades. Scot Nicol’s early and important involvement is referenced in the text, but his company’s work is only visually represented by the 1997 Ibis Bow-Ti.

“And Keith Bontrager’s archives are just fascinating, speaking to much more than the examples of his work we were able to present. The level of generosity on the part of the participants was remarkable. They shared so many great images and drawings and information, that if viewed together, can really help someone understand the motivation and evolution of one’s work. It’s folly to think we can ‘represent’ an artist’s body of work in a five-foot window and with less than 300 words of explanatory text. But I’m hopeful that this exhibition provides some sense of the individual or company’s impact at a particular point in this history, and that those who are interested, will pursue this subject in greater depth.”

Several mountain bike pioneers gathered at the San Francisco International Airport museum on August 4, 2012, including the Koski family, Joe Breeze, Charlie Kelly, Jeff Lindsay, Tom Ritchey, Otis Guy, Jacquie Phelan and Gary Fisher.

Among the highlights for O’Brien included locating the Kestrel Nitro, just 30 miles down the road at the de Saisset Museum in Santa Clara.

“The story about the work I did on the Kestrel Nitro, the first Rockshox forks, and the first V-brakes gets told,” Bontrager told me after the party. “We even found some of the original drawings I did. From an ‘evolution of the species’ point of view I think it’s cool to see that part of the story come out. I put a lot of work and thought into those designs, and they showed the way on what followed for a long time.

“Tim and his staff did an amazing job. They handle a lot of very old, rare items in their daily routine so they’ve got it down. Joe Breeze deserves a lot of credit too. He was their idea guy, the one who knew what to look for and where. The novelty in their presentation is the span of mountain bike history it covers. There’s plenty of the original Klunkers. It’s cool that there is so much of the old bikes and photos to tell that story.”

Tom Ritchey and his Rwanda coffee cargo bike, below a real Rwanda wooden bike.

According to Bontrager, O’Brien and Breeze took it further and showed where bikes went after that, beyond the stone age of the sport.

“That increased the quantity of information and the complexity of their task by a ton,” he explained. “Think about it: the original bikes were replicas of Schwinns with touring and BMX parts hung on them. After that we started developing bikes and parts from the ground up. There’s a lot more work involved to flesh out the latter.

“Extending the historical range in the exhibit means a few things to me. Some details of the Bontrager steel hardtails we worked so hard on get attention: that’s very cool. And thanks to Eric Rumpf, who supplied the bike shown there; he told me he still rides it a lot! We built them to last, and that one is more than 20 years old now; I guess we got it right.

“Other than that there were quite a few highlights for me, too many to list in detail,” he added. “The restored ’41 Schwinn was amazing. So was the Rwandan coffee bike. From the creativity and clever use of resources point of view, the coffee bike steals the show.”

O’Brien was impressed and humbled by the reception and cooperation of his participants

“It certainly helped that the project had the blessing of Joe Breeze, whose record of accomplishment and integrity commands so much respect,” he said. “I enjoyed meeting Don and Erik Koski and learning more about the valuable role their Cove Bike Shop played in the early days of this history up there in Tiburon; meeting the incomparable Jacquie Phelan and quickly realizing why, on or off the bike, others just can’t keep up with her. And I think anyone who has had the pleasure will understand when I say that intersecting with Charlie Cunningham has been meaningful on a level where words fail.” Potts agreed.

“One of the real highlights was to see how into all of the museum crew really got totally immersed into the project, you could see that everyone of them really understood the passion that drove all of us, it was clearly contagious, as the whole experience was and is for all of us,” the Mill Valley native explained.

“I thought all the setup and artifacts were awesome,” Guy added. “Very well done and thought out. My impression was that the more SFOM worked on it, the more they were inspired.”

Inspiration on wheels

Mike Varley, owner of Black Mountain Cycles in Point Reyes Station, California, a small town north of Fairfax, enjoyed the camaraderie of the evening. He took the spirit of the exhibit one step further.

“For me, one of the highlights was seeing friends who had flown in from out of state and others who I hadn’t seen in years,” he said. “I’m pretty lucky that I get to see a lot of these people on a somewhat regular basis, and it was nice seeing them all in one place. The bikes, of course, were awesome. The next day, about 15 friends who had come out to the reception, met up in Fairfax and we did a loop on Mt. Tam’s trails on our vintage mountain bikes and ended the ride with a run down Repack. The perfect topping to a fun weekend honoring the mountain bike.”

At the end of this process, the strongest overall impression O’Brien had was the joy and excitement all these mountain bike pioneers must have experienced in the wide-open days of the earliest part of this history, not just in Marin County or in Northern California, but everywhere it happened.

“Before marketing campaigns and money and patent fights and the like, the sheer joy of experiencing something so thrilling and so magical, and knowing that what you were doing made it possible to share that joy with so many others,” he said. “I think anybody who has experienced the pleasure of riding a bike off-road should pause and think about the real sources of all this.”

For more information, visit www.flysfo.com.


Rising From Ashes: Rwanda’s Olympic MTB Glory

Tom Ritchey participates in the first Wooden Bike Classic race in Rwanda, September 2006.

By Gary J. Boulanger

The eyes of the world will be watching Adrien Niyonshuti race his mountain bike at the 2012 London Olympics on August 12, but the 25-year-old Rwanda’s backstory began in the spring of 1994, when tribal genocide swept the landlocked African country the size of Maryland, claiming nearly 1 million lives.

A new documentary film, “Rising From Ashes”, is being screened across the country this summer, providing a glimpse into a nearly 7-year project led by filmmaker T.C. Johnstone. The film weaves the story of how Tom Ritchey and other Americans were invited to tour Rwanda by mountain bike in December 2005.

As a result, Project Rwanda was established to assist the country with a rebranding effort to convince the world Rwanda was a safe, beautiful place to enjoy. One of those initiatives included creating a national cycling team, with the goal of racing the Olympics. Click here to read a 2006 article by Dirt Rag contributor Martin Edwards.

One-time Tour de France yellow jersey Alex Stieda high-fives participants of the 2006 Wooden Bike Classic.

A few months after the first visit to Rwanda, American road racing pioneer Jonathan Boyer was recruited to find, identify and train potential Rwanda cyclists. Boyer was the first American to race the Tour de France (in 1981, in support of 5-time winner Bernard Hinault), and was initially unaware of Rwanda and its history.

The first Wooden Bike Classic was held in September 2006. Designed to attract local talent, the event was a huge success, with more than 3,000 Rwandans crowding into the Kibuye soccer stadium and lining the streets to watch the first ever mountain bike race in Rwanda, followed by a singlespeed race and ending with a wooden bike downhill race.

Rwandans took the top three places in each event, despite pressure from two former Tour de France racers, Alex Stieda (the first North American to wear the yellow leader’s jersey, in 1986) and Boyer, who won his second Race Across America that June.

Adrien Niyonshuti won the mountain bike race, and in time proved to be one of the strongest Rwandan racers in Boyer’s stable. Boyer moved to Rwanda in 2007, where he continues to train riders for the national team, and lead Team Rwanda Cycling.

Johnstone’s movie provides the scope of Rwanda’s beautiful terrain (‘Land of a Thousand Hills’), and the narrative focuses on Boyer’s paternal relationship with his riders, many of whom lost their fathers and brothers in the 1994 genocide. Gaining an Olympic spot is a nearly impossible task, and the road was long for Boyer and his riders. Johnstone captures the intensity of cycling, letting the coach and riders share their reasons for choosing the bicycle as a freedom tool. The global journey begins in Africa and includes racing in the United States.

Tom Ritchey (center) speak with Team Rwanda Racing director Jonathan Boyer (right) and Joseph Habineza, Rwanda’s Minister of Sports, following the 2006 Wooden Bike Classic.

“The goal of this film is for viewers to see it as their own journey,” Johnstone told the capacity audience at the Menlo-Atherton Performing Arts Center in Atheron, California on July 12. “Not only is this about Rwanda and its cycling team, but my hope is that people look at it as a framework for their own life.”

Tom Ritchey (center) addresses 3,000 spectators in Rwanda following the 2006 Wooden Bike Classic. Event volunteers included (left to right) Jared Miller, Lisa Clark, Benjo Clark, Greg Bettis, Ritchey, Boyer, Stieda, Sara Ritchey, and the author.

As one of the Americans invited alongside Tom Ritchey in December 2005, I thought Johnstone captured the essence of Rwanda beautifully. He’s always talked about the film being more about second chances than bikes, how our past doesn’t have to define our future, and how the human spirit can make amends for anything, even a genocide.

Niyonshuti is currently finalizing his Olympic training in Switzerland. Johnstone and his team will capture the opening ceremony in London, to be shared with Rwanda in August, just in time to cheer on their favorite son. The movie, narrated by Academy Award winning actor Forest Whitaker, will be completed this fall, and have worldwide distribution.

Here’s a preview:

Rising From Ashes from T.C. Johnstone on Vimeo.


Ventura Park Pump Track opens in Northeast Portland

Portland Design Works and the Northwest Trail Alliance recently to announce the grand opening of the Ventura Park Pump Track in Northeast Portland. The facility is the latest effort by the NWTA to increase access to and awareness for mountain biking in the Portland region. Late last year PDW donated $4,500 to the NWTA and Portland Parks and Recreation to pay for construction of the track.

“We hope to build on the success of this project to create more opportunities for mountain biking in Portland,” said Erik Olson, co-founder of PDW. “We’re proud to work with the Northwest Trail Alliance and we’re happy that the track has been supported by the Hazelwood Neighborhood.”

The Ventura Park Pump Track is a pilot program built in cooperation with the Portland Department of Parks And Recreation and has been used extensively by neighborhood children since the initial construction phase finished last fall.

PDW supports the NWTA as a member of 1% For the Planet, a global group of over one thousand companies that donate 1% of their sales to nearly two thousand environmental and advocacy organizations.

Portland Design Works is a manufacturer of bicycle accessories and was founded in 2008.


Capture inspiring moments and help raise $100k to protect the outdoors

CLIF Bar’s Meet the Moment program invites outdoor enthusiasts to inspire and be inspired, empowering them to Protect the Places We Play by sharing their photos and stories of outdoor adventure at www.MeettheMoment.com. Through user interaction with the site, CLIF Bar will donate up to $100,000 to five nonprofits dedicated to preserving the outdoors.

Each time a moment is posted, adventurers will have the opportunity to select the nonprofit that resonates most, choosing to direct a $5 donation to the Access Fund, International Mountain Bicycling Association, Leave No Trace, Surfrider Foundation or Winter Wildlands Alliance. Then, for each Moment shared on the site using Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest, an additional $1 will be donated to the designated nonprofit. Facebook “Likes” will also generate a $1 donation.

The Meet the Moment grand prize winner, who will be selected from the Top 25 shared and “Liked” Moments as of October 31, will have $10,000 donated in their name to the Meet the Moment beneficiary of their choice. In addition, the winner will receive a year’s supply of CLIF Bars.

How to Post a Moment: People are invited to upload their Moment at www.MeettheMoment.com. Each Moment will include a photo and caption describing it. Once submitted, the Moment will be posted to an interactive photo gallery where people will be able to learn the stories behind them, with the goal of inspiring more outdoor adventures. 


IMBA taps Santa Fe, N.M., to host its 2012 World Summit

The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) chose Santa Fe for its 2012 World Summit, October 10-13, 2012. Coming to town will be 400 of the most dedicated, experienced, and well-traveled mountain bikers in the country including national cycling journalists, bike manufactures, and IMBA members.

Santa Fe’s outstanding biking terrain combined with a city rich with outstanding art, culture, history, cuisine, and an Old World feel not duplicated anywhere in the U.S. and represents an ideal city for the IMBA conference. As part of their conference the group will be taking a number of different rides on Santa Fe’s diverse terrain, from mountain single track to land conservation trails.

Places to ride in Sante Fe

After years of planning and countless volunteer hours the City of Santa Fe recently opened La Tierra Trails, a 1,500-acre recreation site with more than 25 miles of multi-use trails. Located within biking distance of downtown, the new complex incorporates clear signage, interconnected loops to vary a ride’s length, separate single-track terrain, and stunning views. The family-friendly area also provides hiking and equestrian terrain plus a purpose built BMX area.

The Dale Ball Trail System uses a similar interconnected trail strategy that provides more than 30 miles of single-track trail with multiple trailheads and a wide variety of terrain and challenges accessible from the city limits. The Dale Ball system is a model for forward thinking land conservation in an urban-wilderness interface.

The newly created La Piedra Trail is a link connecting the northern Dale Ball trails with the more extensive trail system in the Santa Fe National Forest, including the towering Winsor Trail. The three-mile connector makes it possible to ride from the Plaza in the heart of Santa Fe to the 13,000-foot peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains high above the city.

The city’s in-town trails system is growing and includes an extension to the Chamisa Trail, connecting with the Santa Fe Rail Trail. The newly paved portion turns to dirt after the city limits and goes for 12.5 miles to the city of Lamy. This is a popular out and back ride for locals and visitors alike.

The Caja del Rio (box of the river) Bureau of Land Management area is covered in twisting single and double track that runs through a field of extinct volcanoes. From the expansive views at La Bajada escarpment to Rio Grande overlooks there is more to explore here than any one trip can hold.


Win prizes and help charity with the Cycle Burn Challenge

We’re excited to announce our partnershiip with the Cycle Burn Challenge charity event and competition, open to all mountain bikers of all skill levels. The challenge is simple: you and your riding buddies crank out as many mountain bike rides as possible in 32 days. To give your riding a purpose, the challenge involves partnering with Livestrong to raise donations and awareness for the fight against cancer. At the end of the event, the team in each division with the most ride points is crowned champion.

The Challenge begins sunrise July 15 and ends sunset August 15. It’s open to mountain bikers from all states of all skill levels. The cost is $35 registration per competitor. The first 400 competitors to register receive a one year subscription to Dirt Rag Magazine!

Get all the details at CycleBurn.com, now get out there and ride! 

 

 

Idaho creates first mountain-bike license plate

Thanks to the year-long efforts of many dedicated individuals and Mountain Bike Idaho, the state is the first in the nation to feature a mountain bike-themed license plate. Under the law passed by the Idaho Legislature, this new mountain bike-themed plate will benefit all trail users of Idaho’s 17,000-mile recreational trail system.

The plate costs $35 for the initial purchase and $25 for renewals. The Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation will receive $22 and $12 respectively from plate sales “exclusively for the preservation, maintenance and expansion of recreational trails" within the state of Idaho, where mountain biking is permitted.

The plate features a mountain biker, but all trail users benefit from buying a plate. Recreational trails are used by many, not only to bike, but also to hike, run, wildlife watch, horseback ride and many other activities. So, even if you don’t own a mountain bike, but like to recreate on Idaho’s trails, you will benefit.

 

 

 

Dream Bikes auctions off to a successful start

The 2012 crankbrothers dreambikes auction is off to an exciting start. The total raised for Wheels 4 Life is already up to $19,227. Thatʼ s enough to purchase 192 bikes for people in third world countries to use as transportation to work, to school, or to receive health care. We are already at 38 percent of our goal to raise $50,000, and we still have nine beautiful dreambikes that will be auctioned over the next few months.

Last week we auctioned an ideal bike for all mountain riding, the SCOTT Genius LT. The bids flowed in to the last second, when the lucky winner walked away with this incredible bike for $3,200 (estimated value of $5,000). It turned out that the bike was purchased for Joaquin Balaguer as a surprise by his son and daughter—what a surprise it must have been! Joaquin is located nearby to crankbrothers, so he came by the design studio to pick-up his new bike, where Hans Rey and Andrew Herrick (director of crankbrothers) delivered the dreambike in person. Whenever Joaquin is out on the trails, he should remember that his dreambike allowed 32 others to get life changing bikes of their own.

The next bike available for auction is the super slick, super carbon, Tomac Supermatic 120. This is a beautiful long-travel xc machine. Remember, 100 percent of the auction proceeds will go to supporting Wheels 4 Life.

The dreambikes program is only made possible by our incredible partners — including Charge, Focus, GT, Ibis, Rotwild, Scott, Tomac, Turner, SRAM, RockShox, Avid, fi’zi:k, and Continental Tires. View the complete collection of dreambikes here.

 

 

Dirty Kanza partners with foundation to fight childhood cancer

With online registration for the 2012 Edition of Dirty Kanza 200 fast approaching (registration opens Saturday, Jan. 14th), Dirty Kanza Promotions is announcing an exciting opportunity for race participants to join the fight against childhood cancer. For 2012, Dirty Kanza 200 will join forces with the Pablove Foundation’s Shutterbugs program, in memory of Adrian Lewis Solano.

Born and raised in Emporia, KS, Adrian was a healthy, happy 12 year-old in the 7th grade. He loved his bike, friends, video games, family and, of course, his dog. One day Adrian woke up one morning with a bad headache. That headache changed his life. Adrian was diagnosed with a brain tumor, Nongerminoma Germ Cell, which was the same cancer Lance Armstrong had. Adrian underwent four months of chemotherapy and two months of radiation, after which the cancer was gone, with a 90% survival rate. Unfortunately, only one month into remission, the cancer returned with a vengeance. Adrian fought the next six months like a champ, but the cancer had no mercy. It took Adrian on February 18, 2011.

Pablove Shutterbugs is the signature program of The Pablove Foundation, In an educational setting, the 8-week program allows children living with cancer to express and develop their creative voices through the art of photography. Each child receives hands-on experience through a mix of one-on-one weekly instruction and group classes. The students also receive their own camera equipment, which is theirs to keep upon completion of the program. The Pablove Shutterbugs program currently reaches children in Los Angeles and New York City, and will expand to other cities throughout the United States. Among its many activities, the program will provide photography workshops and summer camps for kids in 2012 and beyond.

How you can help:

Dirty Kanza 200 is not a bicycle race for the faint of heart. Not only does it require exceptional endurance and mental toughness, it also requires a solid, well prepared support crew. Well, it did, until now! For 2012, we are proud to introduce the very first Dirty Kanza 200 racer support program: Pablove Grub! Pablove Grub is a racer-paid support service. If you do not have a crew to cart around your supplies at Dirty Kanza 200, you can sign up for Pablove Grub instead. Registration for Pablove Grub will be available as part of the Dirty Kanza 200 registration process.

First pedaled in 2006, Dirty Kanza 200 has become what many consider to be North America’s premier ultra-endurance gravel road bicycling challenge. Over 400 bicyclists from across the nation will converge on Emporia, Kansas for this epic gravel road race through some of the Kansas Flint Hills’ most scenic countryside. Organized by Dirty Kanza Promotions, the mission of DK200 is to effectively utilize the ruggedness and remoteness of the Flint Hills region to properly challenge the self-sufficiency of event participants, while at the same time provide an appropriate level of support, to ensure an enjoyable, life-enriching cycling experience.

 

 

 


Wheels4Life announces latest Dreambike auction

Inspired by Hans Rey and his determination to give back to the sport that has done so much for him, Crankbrothers created the Dreambikes program to benefit his charity, Wheels4Life.

The Dreambikes started as a way to display Crankbrothers complete range of products. These products coupled with an amazing frame and other beautiful components result in a bike that any of us would create in our dreams – the best products, coordinating colors, impeccable quality. They partnered with frame builders of distinction including Charge, GT, Ibis, Rotwild, Scott, Tomac, and Turner, as well as SRAM, Rock Shox, Avid, Fizik and Continental Tires.

Hans has worked tirelessly to raise money to purchase bicycles for people less fortunate than us who desperately could use a bike for work, to receive health care, or to ride to school. For these people, the gift of a bicycle truly does change their lives.

We will auction off each dreambike and donate all of the proceeds to Wheels4Life, with the goal of raising $50,000. That’s enough to buy 500 bicycles and positively impact the lives of 500 human beings.

They provide bikes to people in need of transportation in Third World countries. For example, kids in remote areas, who have no other way to get to a school, people who use the bike to get to work or go to the market to sell their goods. They also supply health care workers, doctors and nurses and work very closely with local schools and health care organizations as well as other charities who help find the individuals in need and who guarantee us that the bikes will end up in the right hands.

Now, that really is a dreambike.

The first Dreambike up for auction is the Ibis Tranny, a carbon fiber hardtail that can configured geared or singlespeed. This version is decked out in a full SRAM XX group, a RockShox Revelation fork and of course, the best Crankbrothers offers.


 

 

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