Thursday, May 26, 2011

The History of Mountain Biking

Mountain biking as a sport is a relatively young development – especially when compared to other sports such as tennis which has been around since 1871! Mountain biking was born in the 1970s and was an outgrowth of the recent surge in popularity of bicycling.

As with most good things, mountain biking was developed in California, around the time of hippies and anti-Vietnam War rebellions.

Tired with the increasing presence of cars in the streets and the clogged lanes, Gary Fisher, a bicycle racer, moved to the country with his partner to avoid the hectic city life. It was there in Marin County that Fisher met Joe Breeze and the ‘Clunkers,’ a group of cycling enthusiasts who regularly organized races using cruiser bikes from the 30s, 40s and 50s with coaster brakes. This group converted cruisers and balloon-tire bicycles into human-powered machines that are capable of passing through all kinds of road conditions, even the notoriously tough Repack, a downhill trail so named because one descent would overheat the hub breaks requiring that they be re-packed.

In 1977, Breeze designed what would become the first mountain bike (called the “Breezer”) featuring lightweight tubing originally used for road bikes, and fatter tires for improved traction and control. The revolution was further propelled in 1979 when Breeze and Otis Guy took one of the early Breezer models to 22 year old bike-frame designer and creator Tom Ritchey, who, upon seeing the bike, noticed the potential and began churning out fat-tire frames.

With a slew of frames and no business plan to speak of, Gary Fisher and fellow cyclist Charlie Kelly strung together a few hundred dollars and opened a bank account for a company called “MountainBikes,” they began to assemble the mountain bikes are Ritchey churned them out and started to market them locally. Eventually, the company names became the name everyone used for all off-road bikes!

Below, the original logo for Kelly-Fisher Mountain Bikes, which later became Fisher Mountain Bikes once Charlie Kelly left the company in 1983:

Necessary Mountain Biking Gear:

Sports Sunglasses: protect your eyes, block out the sun, and keep debris at bay with the right pair of sport sunglasses. We recommend a pair of polarized sunglasses for cycling as they will reduce glare!

Biking Gloves: mountain biking gloves are made of heavy construction and provide all over finger and hand protection.

Replacement Bike Tubes
: mountain biking can be rough on your bike so come prepares with extra bike tubes! Don’t forget to bring a tire pump too.

Also important for hitting the trails? Plenty of water, bike lights for those out at night, GPS tools so you don’t get lost, and sturdy shoes!