Jeff Archer, 52, owner of First Flight Bicycles was hit by a drunk driver and killed while crossing a road on July 20. Archer was a longtime contributor to Dirt Rag with his Specialty Files column and also penned a similar column in our sister publication Bicycle Times.
Dirt Rag magazine’s founder and publisher, Maurice Tierney, offers this retrospective on an event that Archer put on at the Museum Of Mountain Bike Art And Technology (MOMBAT), which is housed in the bike shop he owned. — Ed.
Welp, it’s another day of mourning for cyclists everywhere. Jeff Archer has fallen from our ranks, another bike/pedestrian death that could have been avoided, but I won’t go there now. Now is the time to celebrate what Jeff brought to our lives as mountain bikers, and all he has done for the sport we love.
As you may know, Jeff had amassed a huge quantity of vintage mountain bikes and parts and memorabilia and shared it generously through the auspices of his shop, First Flight Bikes in Statesville, North Carolina. The shop won numerous awards over the years since opening in 1994 and also housed the Museum Of Mountain Bike Art and Technology. Check out the MOMBAT website, which is chock full of vintage mountain bike information.
I was lucky enough to travel to Statesville in 2005 to ride with Jeff and others at the Crossroads Vintage Bike Fest/MOMBAT Legends Ride. That trip resulted in this short report and gallery, which we now reprise in Jeff’s honor.
There’s growing interest in vintage mountain bikes, and the epicenter is at the crossroads of interstates 40 and 55 in Statesville, North Carolina, home of First Flight Bikes. That’s where Jeff Archer has amassed (correct me if I’m wrong) the largest collection of vintage mountain bikes on the planet. Two hundred and fifty at last count, and Jeff likes to share. That’s why First Flight has been putting on the Crossroads Festival for five years running and inviting key luminaries to attend.
OK, so, I hate to name-drop, but there were some cool people there who I always wanted to hang out with and get autographs from. People Like Joe Murray, Jacquie Phelan, Paul Sadoff, Ross Shafer and Paul Thomasburg. These guys and gals shaped and continue to shape the sport, and it was really bitchin’ to get them all hanging around drooling over some of the greatest bikes ever made.
The Fest started with a Saturday night open house at the shop, where we all hung around looking at old Cunninghams, Breezers, Groves, Fat Chances and the like. Sunday was the swap meet, featuring a bunch of Jeff’s bikes on display. It was also here that Paul Thomasburg showed off some original prototype parts from his work with Shimano’s skunk team.
The weekend culminated with Monday’s “legends” ride in the Pisgah National Forest with the above-dropped names ripping up some of the best track in the east.
You will be sorely missed, Jeff.