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From the Pro’s Closet: #29 Cunningham – A 1983 Tribute to Jacquie Phelan’s “Otto” Bike

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From the Pro’s Closet: #29 Cunningham – A 1983 Tribute to Jacquie Phelan’s “Otto” Bike

“Gravel bikes are just XC bikes from the 80s/90s with drop bars.” You hear that over and over again, ad infinitum on the internet. While that might be true to some degree, I think this statement does XC bikes from the 80s/90s a disservice. Back when the big companies were slow to pivot towards innovation, smaller builders were the ones tinkering in their shops, fabricating step-up cassettes, designing bikes with boost spacing, 1x drivetrains, quick-release seatpost collars, and more. It took people like Charlie Cunningham and Jacquie Phelan to really push the paradigm until it broke.

Take, for example, this tribute of Jacquie’s 1985 “Otto” Cunningham, which was built in June of 1983 for a customer in Marin and later acquired by the Pro’s Closet where it resides today…

From the Pro’s Closet Museum: Norm Alvis’ 1992 Team Motorola MXL Eddy Merckx with Dura Ace 7400

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From the Pro’s Closet Museum: Norm Alvis’ 1992 Team Motorola MXL Eddy Merckx with Dura Ace 7400

Longtime readers of this website will recall our weekly “Merckx Mondays” posts that began back in 2008. Well, let me just get this out of the way and say don’t get your hopes up for its return, but I am very excited to share this Eddy Merckx with you, on a Monday, as a part of a little sub-category of vintage bikes we’ll be doing at the Radavist over the next few months.

Last week, I traveled to Boulder to see the Pro’s Closet‘s new facilities and their forthcoming bicycle museum. After years of being stored in boxes, over three hundred bikes are being unpacked, built, and displayed at their new facility just outside of Boulder. I spent two days there learning all about their operations and browsing their extensive bicycle collection, while sneaking off to document a few I thought the readers of the Radavist would enjoy, so let’s jump right in…

Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part I – Trail Visions Ahead of Their Time

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Full Circle on the Grand Loop: Part I – Trail Visions Ahead of Their Time

“It took 18 miles of new trail to get around that 800 feet,” Paul Koski explained to me, shaking his head incredulously. “18 miles for 800 feet! I couldn’t believe it. It took years to make that happen, but I really think it was actually a huge improvement for the Paradox Trail.”

I stood leaning against a table saw in Koski’s woodworking shop in a massive quonset hut in the tiny town of Nucla, Colorado. He was sharing stories spanning several decades of history related to the Grand Loop and the Paradox Trail. Folks like Koski rarely receive the recognition they deserve for years upon years of dedication to mountain bike advocacy. The afternoon before, I had finished riding for 53 hours straight to set a new record on the Grand Loop, and although my mind was still a bit foggy from the effort, I was excited to finally have the chance to meet Koski. Whether he realized it or not, his efforts and those of others like him in the area had literally changed the trajectory of my own life years before.

Stridsland: 94 bcd Narrow Wide Chainrings

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Stridsland: 94 bcd Narrow Wide Chainrings

Matias Stridsland is really into old 26″ bikes, so much so that he’s developing a line of products to keep these bikes and their period correct parts on the roads and trails.

Dropping today are these chainrings for 94 bcd 5-bolt cranks, in 36, 38, and 40 tooth count and five colors. There’s also a Ti top cap, chainring bolt sets, self-extracting crank bolts, and “Ride Slow, Die Whenever” stickers in today’s drop.

Follow along on Stridsland’s Instagram if you love old bikes like this, and keep an eye out for the zitted-up Barnacle fork and aptly-named Anchor bar later this year.

Colin’s Rat Rod Kona Exsplosif

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Colin’s Rat Rod Kona Exsplosif

The story of this bike starts before it entered my life.  It starts with a place, a center of creativity and bike culture. It starts with Citizens warehouse. In 2007 my sister Cailin joined a newly formed youth cycling club called El Grupo through her high school. The club centered around a DIY ethic and she built herself a bike at a then 18-year-old bike collective called BICAS. BICAS lived in the basement of a haggard old warehouse called The Citizens Transfer Warehouse affectionately known as Citizens.  Cailin quickly fell in love with cycling and being my best friend she built me a single-speed road bike and encouraged me to come to see what El Grupo and BICAS were all about.