mountains + bikes
June 10, 2020 1:57 PM   Subscribe

It started innocuously enough. A motorcyclist turned bikie discovered the old dirt road west of Fairfax, Marin County, in the early ‘70s. He and his buddies would ride or push their 1930s or ‘40s ballooners to the top of the ridge for the downhill thrill. The road plummeted 1300 feet in less than 2.1 miles. On the twisting, sometimes precipitous decent, the bikes’ antiquated hub coaster brakes would get so hot that the grease would vaporize. After a run or two, the hub had to be repacked with new grease (thus the term “Repack”)
Joe Breeze recounts the beginning of people taking cheap bikes down forest roads on the Marin Peninsula, and what would become 'mountain biking,' for the Marin Museum of Bicycling.
Racing klunkers on Repack Road posted by the man of twists and turns (12 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
It's been fascinating to me to watch the recent rise of the gravel and "adventure" bicycle recently which seems to me at least superficially to be almost the same as old school mountain bikes. There's a few key differences (flared drop bar instead of flat bar), but I'm riding a steel framed bike with no suspension and enough room in the frame to run 45mm/1.75" tires. It's got Breezer's name on it, but I don't know how much design he actually put into it. Regardless it's my favorite bike ever even if it weighs a ton. My wife got to meet Joe Breeze at NAHBS last year.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:31 PM on June 10

posted by the man of twists and turns

posted by RolandOfEld at 2:37 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

[that would be MeFi’s own Charlie Kelly]
posted by a box and a stick and a string and a bear at 2:57 PM on June 10 [5 favorites]

If you are local to Southern California, be sure to check out Atomic Cycle's Bi-Annual Coast Brake Challenge that carries the torch for this kind of hooliganism:
posted by 3j0hn at 4:06 PM on June 10

The old video is great (and not just for the hair).
posted by Dip Flash at 5:36 PM on June 10

seems to me at least superficially to be almost the same as old school mountain bikes

I've got a 2000 model "hybrid" bike which is the same as a mid-90s "mountain" bike, and handlebars aside, pretty much the same as 2018 "gravel" bikes.

It seems to be an instance of that weird trend in cars where the compact models will get bigger and bigger over time until eventually a new type is introduced which is about the same size as the early models. I've seen the same thing in running shoes, too.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 6:07 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

I wonder how MBHoFer Charlie Cunningham's doing these days. He had a really bad fall five years ago.
posted by scruss at 6:40 PM on June 10 [1 favorite]

And in the UK you had the Rough Stuff Fellowship.

I fell in love with cycling through exploring trails by mountain bike. It's a bit of a shame that the bikes themselves have evolved to be more gravity-oriented and less all-round adventure machines. But that's where modern gravel and bike-packing setups come in. Still, when I got into cycling in the early 90s, $800 would get you an awesome bike that you could race XC or even downhill (eh, pushing it), explore trails all day, ride to the trail, and put on racks for touring or commuting. That $800 then equates to $1500 today, and that kind of money will get you a pretty mediocre trail bike that also makes a lousy commuter. And a really decent trail bike will set you back another several hundred dollars and is pretty much exclusively a decent trail bike.

I have the good fortune to work in the field, and must include links to the International Mountain Bike Association and its European affiliate, who work hard to promote cycling, ensure access, and build and maintain sweet trails.
posted by St. Oops at 1:04 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

I remain amused that my 1993 Specialized HardRock looks like a completely different bike than my 2006 HardRock. One looks like your basic bike, the other looks like a square tubed beast meant to crush trails. And yet they are ostensibly the same model. How people rode them changed significantly over the years, and the design followed. Beefier frame, disc brakes, fatter tires, suspension system. Neither was on the high end of trail bikes, but both have been fun, and I’ll ride them until either they wear out, or I do.

No trail riding for me these days, I’ve been away from it for years thanks to the kid - kind of hard to do a jump with the bike trailer attached, right? So aside from the occasional run my trial bike has been used just for fun in town. But as my son gets older he is getting interested in trail riding, so perhaps I need to get back in shape and go cruising on some single track with him. My wife doesn’t ride her ‘06 any more, and my son is already eyeballing it, even though he’s still several inches too short for the frame.

Last time I was on a trail, maybe 2 years ago, I kept getting lapped by an aggressive guy on a balloon-tired monster, just floating over the rocks like it was smooth asphalt. Fun to watch, but also incredibly annoying that he was apparently pissed to have to share the trail with slow out of shape and/or inexperienced people. It’s a single track dude, not your private racecourse. You share the trail or go home. How are you going to help others get interested in the sport if you run them off the trail the second they give it a try? It’s not like I was even in the advanced or expert section, for Pete’s sake.
posted by caution live frogs at 7:40 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

I wonder how MBHoFer Charlie Cunningham's doing these days.

Jacquie Phelan, Charlie's partner, and a cyclist of renown in her own right, posts frequent updates on their gofundme page.
posted by Drab_Parts at 8:16 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]

seems to me at least superficially to be almost the same as old school mountain bikes

They definitely grew out of the cyclocross bikes rather than the original MTBs.

My All-City Cosmic Stallion (steel is real, y'all) is the plush modern SUV compared to my older aluminum Scott CX Team race bike which his more of a twitchy bare bones rally car fueled by cocaine.

But these days "Gravel Bikes" are more for people who ride on the street hard without breaking a bunch of shit. I have 650B X 47 WTB Byways mounted to some HED rims and Paul Component hubs, and I can just literally just ride over everything without even thinking about it.

I still have my 700C wheels with Gravel Kings when I want to hit the dirt. I actually just use that instead of my MTB (All-City Electric Queen) most of time since I'm usually on fire roads these days and I don't need the suspension.
posted by sideshow at 12:56 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]

But these days "Gravel Bikes" are more for people who ride on the street hard without breaking a bunch of shit.

Why I bought one; it handle potholes and going off curbs, but running over a parking strip took out my steel frame and fork.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:00 PM on June 11

« Older How are newspaper comic strips handling (or not)...   |   NASCAR Bans Confederate Flags Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments