The trails we ride often have stories that long pre-date mountain biking. On a road trip from Los Angeles, to Mammoth, and finally Downieville, Eric Arce takes time to understand some of the troubled history behind these popular riding destinations in the Sierra Nevada.
This is part two of an in depth conversation between Tom Ritchey and Ryan le Garrec where Ryan seeks to identify key periods in Tom’s life alongside key people. Perhaps second only to Tom’s father, it seems that Jobst Brandt had significant influence of the young Tom. Below, Ryan shares excerpts from Tom’s side of their conversation that highlight Jobst’s character, his notorious rides, and his lasting impact. Enjoy!
Earlier this year Amy Danger blew us away with the story of her intricately restored and documented dumpster find Cinelli Laser Rivoluzione Prototype. Today she’s back with another stunning historic track bike from her personal collection, a Custom Gianni Motta Personal 2001r low-pro track bike with Mondrian-inspired color scheme and Columbus Air tubing. Let’s check it out in detail below!
Tom Ritchey is not what you would call an open book. Rather, he’s a whole library; a labyrinth with many alleys, chockfull of stories, where everything splits and branches like the best network of singletrack, and there are no cul de sacs. Every door leads you to another room. Every answer opens up another question. There are no shortcuts.
The following is just a casual conversation. In it, you might not find all the details of the next frame that he is working on but you may find a better understanding into what it took for Tom Ritchey to become Tom Ritchey.
“I have a public self and I have a personal self. I could answer that question on a public side and tell you I just love riding my bike and being by myself and all (…) That would be an authentic answer but it’s not the whole answer of course. So I’ll give you the personal one too.” – Tom Ritchey
As a kid, I wanted to fly. Like Superman. The recurring dream never materialized but the fantasy took flight when I met the mountain bike. The history of the early mountain bike is often seen through the lens of a handful of guys who modified their old Schwinns back in the mid-1970s. However, as the lone woman participating in those early riding adventures, I snapped a few photographs along the way, capturing the age of innocence often associated with those seminal days. A small group of trailblazers, pioneering a new course of action riding these old relics, would soon change the future of cycling.
The 80’s and 90’s were a wild time for track bikes as design teams competed for gains through technological innovation. Cinelli was right there in the melee shaving power loss through aerodynamic design in partnership with Columbus tubing. The resulting Cinelli Laser changed bicycle design forever, winning more track world championships and Olympic gold medals than any other bicycle in the history of the sport. Andrea Pesenti’s hand-hammered steel gussets curved elegantly between tube junctions producing a fluid, edgeless art that slid through the air and whose DNA can be seen in all of today’s curvy carbon racing machines. Antonio Colombo brought vision and fidelity to art in design. Paolo Erzegovesi brought revolutionary engineering through liberation from lugs telling him where tubing should intersect and at what angle. These customizations nudged riders over the finish line first and set off raging bike crushes on Lasers that some of us never recovered from.
More than a year later, I’m still captivated by the memory, the scene, the moment.
It was a hot autumn day, one of the last of the year before the seasonal chill poured from the Bay of Biscay into the Spanish Basque Country. A young man stepped into the middle of the road. He wore a flapping outfit of white with a red handkerchief and belt. It was the kind of attire that flails down the narrow streets of Basque cities during the annual running of the bulls in Northern Spain.
Kittie Knox might not be a name you’re familiar with and that’s ok! Let’s learn about her today. She was a bike racer at the end of the 19th century, the first black person to be inducted into the League of American Wheelman, and pushed the paradigm at the time by wearing clothing only associated with males, like pants! Kittie fought for the rights of black Americans as cyclists, pushing for the ability for more to be allowed into the League of American Wheelman.
Head to Medium to read this great story.
When you’re done there, head to Bicycling.com for more stories by and about black cyclists.
The city of Denver got a new mural recently. One of Major Taylor, who won the sprint event at the 1899 world track championships and fought racism during his career.
“But what most people don’t realize is that way back in 1900, Los Angeles began construction on the world’s first bike highway. During this bike-crazed era, cities across the US built the earliest precursors to today’s protected bike lanes — and the country as a whole was briefly at the forefront of global bicycle infrastructure.”
Check out more of this interesting historical story at Vox!