Photos by Wolf Ruck, words by Brian Vernor
“It was my friend Kevin Wilkins, founding editor of The Skateboard Mag and an avid mountain biker, who first came across the film on YouTube and sent it to me. The upload date said 2010 and the quality of the video was grainy at best, a poorly digitalized version of old celluloid that made it hard to view details.
But you didn’t need a sharp image to see the obvious— if dated—skills of the mountain bikers it portrayed. The mustaches, the fanny packs, and cutoff-jeans, the insane bike setups with everything from drop to bull-moose bars, the riders’ radical style; it all added up to a masterpiece both timeless and purely 1980s.
The film was titled Freewheelin’, and was made with a windup 16mm camera by someone named Wolf Ruck. I immediately emailed Kevin back, and our conversation went crazy from there. We scoured the internet for more information, but beyond the grainy YouTube video, Freewheelin’ seemed to be completely forgotten. The original publishing date said 1985, ancient in mountain bike terms—so ancient that, as far as we could tell, the poetic, funny and, by any standard, action-packed romp was the first mountain bike film ever made.”
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